Friday, May 14, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

We found a house that we agreed was perfect. We're renting it, and we're all moved in. In fact, we have been here a month. We have decided that we're living adventure life. Every year when our lease is about to come up, we'll check the realty sites for other interesting places to live. Right now we're in a cute little suburban development. It's a blue collar neighborhood with lots of machinists firing up their grinders during the day, and kids riding around on their mini-bikes and quads and such. We have a caged pool, a big lanai, and Pete has his office. I even have a place for my antique fainting chair where I can mesh the old with the new by lounging and reading my Nook.

There are always downs to the ups, and of course here, too. The drive to my eldest son's school is intolerably long, but that will be over on June 7th, and we'll enroll him somewhere closer next year. The pool isn't heated which means I can only swim in the hottest temperatures. But it looks like it will be a hot summer, so there's that, too. We live further from the Gulf than I could have liked, but we still go on beach picnics for dinner on Fridays so I guess we're not too far away.

Life is getting back to normal. I am doing the food shopping, the cleaning, the homework, the diapers/potty training, and I can sit watch TV without worrying about disturbing the rest of the household. Pete does the earning, the cooking, the laundry and story time. On the weekends, we each do nothing much. And we like it this way. It makes us happy. Sometimes at night we sit around talking about how happy it all makes us. How pleased we are to have found each other, and how lucky we are to have such a fantastic family.

Tomorrow is Lucian's big dance recital and I am SOOO excited. I can't wait to see what his part in the production will be. I know that it's a production of 4 year olds, and I'm not expecting to see Swan Lake or anything, I just - I dunno - I'm excited!

This is the year, people! The year when everything is going to move forward. Val will poop in the potty this year. Lucian will read a book. I will get a dark tan that may last until 2011. Pete will have a 36 inch waist.

Please don't point out that my optimism is coming in May. Perhaps I mean 12 months rather than calendar. Maybe not. But I'm very excited about this year. So far everything has gone according to plan, I foresee it continuing to do so.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Makes a House a Home?

We have been out searching for a new house to live in. We're renting so the idea of having to find something that we'll be happy in for 30 years isn't really an issue. But we've spent over a year living with Pete's parents and, while they are probably the best in-laws ever, they live differently than we do, so it hasn't always been the most comfortable situation. So there's a little pressure (that we've put on ourselves) to find the "perfect" house.

We have a few musts that we know for sure. Location is a big one. I drive my slowly toning butt to the gym every weekday. Currently, it's a forty minute drive each way. I want it to be less than fifteen. I must have a pool. I have two small children, I live in Florida. If I can't spend my summer days in my back yard watching my kids swim, why did I move to Florida? Also, that pool has to be caged - I hate bugs. Pete needs an office. He works from home and deserves to have a space in the house that he can reasonably expect to be left alone to think and work. The neighborhood needs to be family friendly. Not that it has to have a park within walking distance, or that the development needs to be brand new, but, you know, just... nice. Quiet, even would be good.

After that, it's all gravy. One story, or two? One car garage, or two... or three? Close to the water, or close to the highway? Gated community, or not? Do we care if the neighbor has a boat in his driveway? No. We don't.

I thought we weren't being very picky. I thought we'd be thrilled with the first place we found with our musts. And honestly, we were. But it was a little pricey, and even though I hate to admit this, it was too big for us. We fell in love with a townhouse in a posh development, too. But it was also a bit pricey, and the community pool was a little too far. Now our favorite is an older house, which the owner has renovated, remodeled, added-on, and basically turned it into a one-of-a-kind place with a lot of character. It looks like a jungle in the back yard, in a good way. I kind of expect to find pirate treasure buried back there. And it has a view of the bay from an upstairs wrap-around balcony. The master suite is upstairs, and is HUMONGOUS. Room enough for our king size bed, and a couch and our giant TV, and then the closet is a room big enough to use as a nursery - not that we plan on needing it for that, but you know, it's BIG.... but the master suite is the only thing upstairs. The kids bedroom is downstairs. And that makes us nervous, because we don't like to be that far away from them when we're sleeping.

So we're continuing to look. We're keeping in touch with the owner of the current favorite, thinking we may be able to reconcile ourselves to sleeping a whole floor away from the babies. But we have appointments to see at least four more houses. And now that the new month has started there will be more listings to search through.

But I wonder. Will we find a house that screams our name? One that is cheap enough to afford our lifestyle, and big enough to house our hobbies? Will we find a house that we can agree on that it's perfect? And what makes it perfect anyway? Will we have to compromise on one of our musts to get more of our wants? How much responsibility for our happiness can we reasonably put on a building, or a town? I can't stop wondering if we will ever find a house that we don't feel lukewarm on. I've always been of the opinion that happiness is yours to make and that you can be happy anywhere. But this last year has clouded that opinion. And I feel that if I don't pick the right place, I have a year of awfulness ahead of me. I don't want awfulness. I'm ready to shed all my discontent and bask in the joy my family brings me.

I hope I find the right place... before I sign a lease on somewhere else.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Beginnings

I know my title sounds a bit trite, but I am staring down a LOT of new beginnings right now. Pete and I have begun looking for places to rent. We're checking out houses that we mostly know we don't want just so we can get a feel for the neighborhoods. We're not ready to move until we get a few more things worked out, so the places that are available right now aren't actually the ones we could apply for anyway. But our town is filled with a lot of the same few models for single-family homes, so it's worh knowing that we DO like the Hibiscus II model, but NOT the Matheson model. Even if one isn't open right now.

And the neighborhoods here are wonky. You could be driving down one street looking at mansions with big walls, and gates, and lots of balconies that just make you assume this is the house that hosts Operah's book club. Then you take a side street from there and you think, "There are more teeth in this car than there are on this street!" So we need to look around. Also, I think the more I look, the more I like the townhouses here. A lot of them have fun layouts, and I sort of like the idea of the bedrooms being upstairs, rather than off of the main living space. So we'll see, you know?

Lucian starts school this coming Monday. I can't wait! Not at all in the way I'm supposed to, though. I can't wait, because the wondering will be over. It's like the difference between slowly climbing in to a pool in winter and jumping in. While you're climbing in, you have time to think about how awful it's going to be once you're submerged. But if you jump in, you just have to figure out how to deal with the suck. I'm sure that it will suck. I know every kid (except for home-schoolers, I guess) goes to school. Some like it, some don't. But either way, I lose my little boy. He's going to have friends that I didn't make for him. He's going to have to use what I've taught him to make good decisions. He's going to have to be responsible, and motivated, and honest, and and and... And I'm terrified.

Is this normal? I should probably seek proffessional help, but who has the time?

I feel like I'm embarking on a journey. I hope that it leads to happiness, and contentment. But I fear it's going to lead to the assylum.

2010 has a lot expected of it. I hope it can meet my desires.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 - a breath of fresh air

So, it’s 2010. I think it may have been 2008 the last time I wrote in here. 2009 was a cocksucker of a year, and I don’t think I want to rehash any of it. Well, except to say that Christmas morning was so exciting for my boys that Val actually woke up first! And Lucian was so happy with all the presents he received that he literally couldn’t contain himself (read: He shit his pants! LOL).

So, now that that’s taken care of, let me get on with 2010. This is going to be a banner year for me, I think. We have plans in the works. We have vacations planned, if not actually scheduled. We are going to move back to the part of town that had us feeling like we had reached Nirvana. We’ll both be able to get to the gym regularly, so we’re going to get even MORE sexy than we already are – hard to imagine, I know. And Lucian is starting school. It’s just VPK, which is Pre-Kindergarten for those of you not in the know. It’s a full day 8:30am to 2:30pm from January 25 – May something-or-other. I’m very excited, and I’m very nervous.

Today, Lucian and I went shopping for school supplies. We bought the bookbag, lunch box, folders, a binder, markers, paints and paintbrushes, art smock, pencils, sharpener, crayons, scissors, and um… more stuff. He’ll be going to a school that specializes in performance art, so we also bought ballet shoes and tap shoes. I think I may have to buy some tap shoes for myself; they look like lots of fun! Next pay, I’ll be taking him out to shop for clothes. This is where it starts to get difficult, because here in Florida, winter doesn’t last too long. I don’t want to buy him too many wintery things, but at the same time, I don’t want him going to school in the same outfit day after day for weeks, either. Financially, this shopping trip is difficult too, because his little brother doesn’t really need lots of new clothes like he does, but they like to match when they go out, and Val gets a bit jealous when Lucian gets new things and he doesn’t. I should be saving our money for things like vacations and bunk beds, but I fear my desire to spend it all on consumables. I guess we’ll just have to see.

I think I’m going to try to contain my nervousness until we get closer to the actual first day of school. Otherwise, I may just spin out of control. If you have school age kids, what were your biggest fears, and how did you handle them? If your kids are still too young, what kind of goals do you have for your child(ren) once they are ready for school? Would you choose public or private school? Why?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Life is too busy for blogging.

I know it has been a while since I've blogged. I'm sorry. I know that my last post was depressing. I'm sorry for that, too. But it was well written, I think. So that's good.

My life has been busy. I have been adjusting along with everybody else to the new living arrangement. I think that's going well. We seem to have settled into a living each of our lives they way we choose, while remaining courteous of everyone else. While the holiday season was filled with family, and presents, and hub-bub, all my normal routines closed up for several weeks. Forcing me to find new ways to entertain my children. Not too many new ways, mind you. Lucian got a Leapster 2 for Christmas, and he has been perfectly content to play on it for hours when I let him. Valentino got a circus tent that was also a bounce house, and a ball pit. (it's 4x4x4 so it fits in the playroom) So he was mostly content to crawl in and out of there and throw balls all over the house. Did you know that even though there's a waist-high wall around the playroom, the balls can be found in the living room, the bathroom, and the bedrooms? I hadn't thought about that much when I chose the gift.

I've continued my search for girlfriends. I've hung out at the parks like a vagabond looking for well-behaved children who are similarly aged to my two. And then, when I find them, I look for the mom. Is she on the cell phone the whole time? I don't want to be her friend. Is she hovering over them so they couldn't possibly have the freedom to act up? I don't want to be her friend. Is she wearing heels and a skirt to the park? I don't want to be her friend. Maybe I'm too picky. BUT! A week or two ago, I found a mom who looked like she had a head on her shoulders, and she was letting her 3 year old daughter play at the park even though it was raining! And she was available to her daughter for swinging or catching, but mostly she just watched from the sidelines. My kind of woman!

Since she and I were the only two at the park in the rain, I was less nervous about talking to her as I would have been if she was one of twenty. I would have assumed that she was life-long friends with one of the other moms and wouldn't have time for me. But I approached her, and we talked. Our kids played together, and all was well. At the end of our time at the park I gave her my number, with the explanation that I'm awful at calling people. Even when I want to. Last week, she called me, and today we went to a different park, together, and we had a blast. We snacked together, and we had similar snacks! Our kids fought over a shovel, and we both sat and watched while they worked it out between them! We admitted to each other that our kids sometimes swear, just testing which words are OK, and that it's our own fault! And when I told her that Lucian's learning how to read by sounding out the letters, she told me her daughter is doing flash cards, and it's coming along well! YAY!!!!

I hope this turns to a real friendship. She seems down to earth with similar concerns where her children are involved, and even though she works and I don't, she seemed to have a pretty open schedule. And she has two children, 7 and 3, and they were both very well-behaved, and considerate of both of my boys, and I think this could be fun!

I think this week is my county fair, and next week we think we might go to the beach. So if all of that goes well... when do I start doing things like inviting them over for lunch? Is that next? Well, I guess I'll have to see.

Anyway, I've been busy. I plan to continue to be busy. But, I will try to update slightly more often.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Eight Years Ago, Yesterday...

I was taking a nap hoping that with some extra sleep I would be able to party the night away, and not have to suffer the consequences tomorrow. It was snowing, it was supposed to snow all night, and my mom had asked that I not leave the house, unless there was an emergency. I wasn't planning on listening. But I had decided that I would either abstain from intoxicating substances, or I would sleep wherever I wound up. I didn't want to take foolish chances, but I did want to ring in the new year in style. I was, after all, going to be 21 this year, and this would be my last opportunity to start the year off illegally drunk. I liked doing illegal things then. I felt like I was a rebel. My mom called me her "rebel without a cause." I had a cause, but it was a dumb one. I thought that society put unfair taboos in place, and it was my mission to break all of them. Multiple sex partners makes you a slut? I was nearing 100. Doing drugs made you a loser, I had several prepared for that night. You had to be 21 to drink? I had been drinking since I was 18. It seemed to me that everything that was fun was illegal, or morally wrong, or simply looked down upon. I smoked cigarettes, I danced for money, I took risks, and I lived my life uncaring what anyone thought of me. When my friends told me I was shallow, I told them they were too serious. When they told me I was too skinny, I told them they were fat and jealous.

I had no intentions of staying home, just because my mother had told me that this was a dangerous night. But, I was taking whatever precautions I could think of. So, I slept. The phone rang. It half woke me out of my slumber, but my boyfriend and I were the social coordinators of our group, so I dismissed this phone call as probably one of my circle calling to find out when exactly we were meeting, and other such details.

When Carl came in the bedroom, I was prepared to yell at him, and tell him that he would just have to coordinate without me, I needed my sleep. I'll never forget how unsure he sounded when he told me my dad was on the phone. He sounded scared of being in the same room with me, and prepared to hug me at the same time. I couldn't figure out why. Despite my rebellious nature, I had a great relationship with my parents, and I was sure this was just my father's attempt at telling me what my mother had already sent in an email. "Stay home. The roads are icy, and they're just going to get worse. Celebrate next year." She had written in bold at the bottom, reiterating her entire email in one sentence, "Please do not drive unless it is an emergency. I don't want you to spend New Year's Eve at the hospital."

I got on the phone with my dad prepared to blow him off. To tell him it was OK, the party I was going to was only a few streets away, and they were my friends. I'd be able to crash there until morning, but I wasn't going to miss my favorite party night. When I heard his voice, it was obvious he'd been crying. "Baby," he said and I panicked. " I'm at the hospital. Your mom, she collapsed. They think she's had an aneurysm. She's being air lifted to [my mind goes blank here. I can't remember if I had to go to Cooper, or Jefferson] Hospital. Can you meet us there? I don't know what's happening, but I need everybody there." The fear was clear. I could hear how his voice shook, and how he didn't sound hopeful, even as he tried to reassure me while giving me directions.

I told Carl he had to drive. He didn't really like driving further than the 7-11, but I was in no condition. I cried and screamed all the way to the hospital. Carl kept asking me to tell him happy stories about her, and I tried. I can't really remember what I talked about. I just babbled and cried and screamed. And navigated.

I was the first one to the hospital. I went to the counter to tell them who I was looking for and they asked if I was eighteen. I told them no, I was twenty. They smiled gently, and told me that was good enough. They needed me to check her in to the hospital. No one had arrived yet to do it. They led me into a small conference room, and a doctor sat across the table from me asking questions about about her name, age, birth date, medical history, and such. He asked me if I knew why she was there, and I told them I only knew she had collapsed. He explained to me what an aneurysm is and that since she had survived the initial burst, there was a chance she would recover, but it was a small chance. Then he asked me if it was OK to give her a blood transfusion if she needed it. My mother was a Jehovah's Witness. I had been raised in her cult, but I never really understood their viewpoints on blood transfusions. They don't allow them. That's all I really know. And that it was important to her that she follow her beliefs. I told him as much, and then I told him that he should come back and ask me specifically again if it came to her needing one. I would deal with her being mad at me if she survived. I would explain to her how I couldn't have let her go, based on what I, by then, considered to be fairy tales.

When I walked out of the intake room, my whole family was there. I collapsed into tears the minute someones arms were around me. My grandmother's. She was the reason we were all Jehovah's Witnesses. She had converted when my dad was young, my dad brought my mom in while my older brother was young, and my mom kept us all going until we were old enough to decide on our own what we believed. I told my grandmother that I had respected my mother's wishes, even though I didn't want to. I asked her why she would make me do that, but she had no answer, except to say thanks.

I looked around and noticed my little brother. He was seven. I tried to pull my tears back into my eyes, then. I didn't want him to see how serious this all was. I wanted him to cling to hope for as long as he could. The doctor had made it sound as though with some surgery, and time, my mother would at least be home soon. She may not have all her faculties, but she should come home. I was prepared to move home and take care of her, since I knew it would be too much for my father to have to take care of a son, a wife, and the house. My little brother looked like he was shaken, but he wasn't crying. I was thankful for that. I tried to just remain quiet for as long as I could, staring out at the fireworks exploding over Philadelphia. I remember thinking that it was too bad she was unconscious, my mom loved fireworks, and she wouldn't want to miss this display. I also remember being angry that they would dare to use smiley face fireworks, while my mom's life hung in the balance. Like they knew. Or cared.

Eventually, my grandparents took my little brother for a walk, and my dad, my older brother, and Carl and I went tot he cafeteria. WE talked about mom, and how strong she was. WE talked about hospitals and how awful they were. We made inappropriate jokes like only people who were terrified and sad could. We even laughed at how people must have been thinking we were there for a birth instead of tragedy. I felt guilty for laughing. I think we all did. I know Carl was appalled. He was an outsider. We couldn't stop, though. If we stopped laughing, it would've meant we had given up hope. And we weren't prepared to do that.

I don't remember how long we stayed. I know that eventually we left. My mom was in a coma and we wouldn't know if she would make it for a while, yet. The sun was up, and we needed sleep. I couldn't keep Carl there. This wasn't his tragedy, and he needed to get back to his life.

My mom stayed in the coma for ten days. People took turns sitting with her. Everybody who knew what had happened had written her letters to tell her how important and loved she was. Her co-workers, fellow cultists, friends far and near. My dad and the others who visited read them to her all day. I didn't visit her. I went to the hospital to visit the visitors, but I couldn't go into her room. She didn't look right in that bed, and I didn't want too many chances to burn that image on my mind. My mom never liked having the camera pointed at her, so my memories were the only pictures I had. She seemed to get better for a while, but never better enough for the the doctors to be optimistic. I had been in my own sort of coma. I felt like I couldn't hear when people talked to me. I felt like time wasn't real. I didn't sleep much, I ate when I was forced to. I didn't talk on the phone afraid that I would tie up the line, and I wouldn't get the call. I tried not to hope that when the call came it would be to tell me she had opened her eyes. I tried not to hope that I would drive her to rehab soon. I tried not to imagine her arms around me while she told me she forgave me for wanting to give permission for a blood transfusion. I tried not to think of how empty the mother of the bride chair would be if I ever convinced someone I was worth marrying.

I failed miserably. These were the thoughts that followed me everywhere I went. I walked around in a daze of self-pity. I don't think I even worried about my dad, or my brothers. They were stronger than me. They didn't need her as much as I did.

Eventually, though, I did sleep. I laid down to take a nap. Carl was home from work, and I felt safe that someone was there to answer the phone if the call came. And come it did. It was about an hour into my nap that Carl came in sounding every bit like he did on New Year's Eve. I knew this was not good news. My dad was on the phone saying that the doctors wanted a decision from him. They could keep my mother alive on machines and hope that someone discovered technology that could save her, but as of now there was nothing that could be done. It was my dad's decision, they said, since she had no living will. Fortunately for my dad, my mom had been adamant about not wanting to be kept alive by machines. She had told us all several times. And we knew what she would want. I told my dad with all the calm I could muster that if I were in his shoes, I would do what mom wanted. That, as his daughter, I supported the decision we both knew he had to make. He thanked me for not making it more difficult on him. I guess we all knew that I was the most selfish of us, because he said he'd waited to call me last. I still feel bad about that.


It's been eight years, now. I have two children of my own. Not a single day goes by that I don't wonder if I will put my boys through this someday. I worry constantly that my boys will look to the mother of the groom chair, and see a picture of me taped to the back. I try to make sure I get as many pictures of me as I can so they have one to tape there, just in case. Today, at the beginning of another new year, I can't stop myself from crying. Crying over the loss I've suffered. Crying over the fear that lays inside me. Crying over how selfish I am that I am locked here inside my bedroom blogging instead of out there enjoying my family as best as I can while I have them.

That having been said, I'm going to go share a sandwich with Pete, take a percocet to kill the pain, and do the mummer strut with my children in the street.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Probably, this will ramble and meander.

*****WARNING***** THIS POST IS VERY LONG*****WARNING***** THIS POST IS VERY LONG


I haven't written a post since before Thanksgiving, and I apologize. The holiday was lovely, we spent it with Pete's family. They are really a very warm and accepting group of people. I love them. They always have people there that aren't exactly family, but who are close friends, and it makes me smile to know that I am a part of this cherishable (Google tells me this isn't a word. I don't care.) group. Of course, they are also a bit loud, and coarse. They yell a lot, they fling around the f-bomb the way Valley Girls use "like," and they're opinionated. Obviously, this is what attracted me to them in the first place. I like to argue, but I don't like to fight. I like to get into the heat of having strong different opinions, and having them dashed, and then turning around and dashing someone else's opinions. This is a big part of hanging out with them. Another big part of it, is that they LOVE my kids. They put in special movies for them on the big screen TV, they look forward to changing diapers, and they wrestle around on the floor with them. It gives Pete and I a much needed break from chasing our own kids around. Sometimes I wonder if the family thinks we always are so lax about the kids behaviour, but I rest assured knowing that if I was lax, my kids wouldn't be so lovable.

One highlight from Thanksgiving, and then I'll move on. Pete and I sat at the kids table with our kids, and Pete's cousins who are 16 and 19 years old. We didn't talk about what we were thankful for before the food came out, because it's hard to be thankful for anything when you're hungry. So once we were all quietly chowing down on turkey and stuffing, I began by asking the 19 year old what she was thankful for. After her, I asked her younger sister, who gave a straight answer and then went on and on with petty thanks (ex. my new phone, brown hair, that so-and-so is not here [this may not have been her actual petty thanks, but this type of thing). I moved on to Pete, who gave the appropriate "Daddy thanks" of being thankful for family, and having them so close even though we're so far away from where he was born and grew up. Next was Lucian's turn, and the 16 year old was still being silly, now accompanied by her big sister. Lucian didn't answer me at first, so I repeated the question, and he looked at me and said, "I want Chelsea to listen so I can tell her that I'm thankful for Chelsea!" I was touched. Chelsea was touched. Chelsea's big sister Samantha, was jealous. I had been expecting all week that he was going to say that he was thankful for Santa Claus because he would bring DACS Digital Arts and Crafts Studio this year. So that's my holiday update.

Playgroup update time. Remember when I said I needed a new playgroup because Lucian was too big for the little kids at the old one? Well, I didn't exactly start taking him to a new playgroup. I hadn't found one in time for this past Wednesday, so I took him back. This time, the other moms went too far. They didn't stop at just yelling at my kid. They put their hands on him. They waggled their fingers in his face. They pushed me. And as you're reading this I imagine you're saying to yourself, "Ohhhh, so she hasn't been writing because they don't have wireless internet in jail. Got it." But no, sadly, I didn't go to jail. I should have. Because that would have meant I did something other than shout in these women's faces. It would have meant that I taught my kids that NO ONE is allowed to touch them outside of our family. Instead, I taught my children (according to Pete) that there is a time and place for knocking a bitch out, and that playgroup, in front of other children, is not it. Which means that I'm hoping to teach them that Sweetbay, or Target is the time and place. Because if I ever see any of those bitches out in public away from playgroup, I'm totally going after them with all my South Jersey charm. I did, however, get banned from playgroup for two weeks. Apparently, the overseer of the group could tell, I was one teensy, tiny push away from killing some hoes.

My father in law says that the reason other moms don't like my kids is because I dress funny. I wear rainbow thigh-high socks with shorts, I wear two different color Chuck Taylor high tops, and I wear t-shirts with teenage girl pictures on them (neon skull and crossbones, rock'n'roll instruments, etc). I never leave the house with out a hat, usually a Jeff Cap, or a Pork Pie hat. And most grievously, I never wear make-up, or spend a minute on my hair. My nails are never filed, or painted, not even with clear top coat. In FIL's opinion, the fact that I'm a "free spirit" makes them hate me, and since they hate me, they hate my children.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. First, I don't know if he's right. I wonder if I'm really a bad parent who has failed to teach my children how to behave properly. The thing is, as soon as I start thinking this way, I take my oldest to play miniature golf, and he remembers to say thank-you to the the lady that handed him the club - without being prompted. And when I took him to the local (private) park, his brother threw a tantrum because he wanted to ride in the power wheels jeep, Lucian came to me, and told me, "Val's crying. Maybe I should ask him if he wants to play with me." And then he promptly went over to his little brother, got in his face, invited him to play, then took his hand and coaxed him over to the jungle gym to climb and slide together. So, I believe I have come to the conclusion that I have good kids. I have been raising them well, and they are well behaved and thoughtful. Val has even been known to come over and hug his big brother while Lucian melts down. Pretty impressive for a boy who turns 16 months tomorrow.

Second, I wonder about what I should/can do about this. I have always been an outcast. I was never popular in high school... let's face it. I wasn't popular in grade school either. I always chalked this up to moving around a lot and having been raised in a cult. (Jehovah's Witness's) It's hard to make friends when the people you're told to respect consider the kids you go to school with heathens and mongrels. When you're taught that being a good Christian means that everybody in the world should hate you and ridicule you, it's hard to want to change how you present yourself to your schoolmates. I was fairly popular in K-2, but then we moved in the middle of the school year, and it never seemed quite as easy to make friends. Even after I decided that religion of any sort was not for me, that I would live by the Golden Rule without having God and Satan to fall back on, it was still difficult for me to find people who "got" me. Of course, it was never hard to find guys who wanted to sleep with me, and usually once I got them in bed, they realized that even though I was quirky, I was also smart, funny, and interesting. Then they introduce me to their friends, who also had to warm up to me, but eventually, I would have a circle of friends. The circle would remain loyal to my boyfriend when we broke up, but sometimes I was able to really connect with one or two of the circle and find friends of my own.

The point is, I never changed who I was in order to make friends, or be liked by my peers. I still dressed wacky at work, and when I went out on the town with my built in friends. Mostly, they learned to like my style. Some of them see it as being rebelious against society's conformist regime, some see it as my way of warning others that I am not a follower, and should not be recruited to go along with something mindlessly. For me, I see it as fun. I like to have fun with my clothes, my socks, my kids... there's a lot more to it than different color shoes. I think that more women would understand if they realized that their decision to wear make-up, or cute(matching) shoes fell into the same category. Sure there are some people who wear make-up and designer labels because they want to fit in, but mostly I think they do it because it's fun for them. And for me bright colors, rainbows, and clashing patterns are fun.

So what do I do? I want my kids to be able to have fun with the other kids at the park. I also want to feel happy when I pick out my outfit for the day. Should I change the way I look to appease the other moms at the playgroup? Do I stay the course and wait until my kids go to school where they can make friends without their mommy's around to tell them who they can and cannot play with on the playground? What if by not changing my look I ruin my children's chance at a normal childhood? Would it be worth it if they grow up learning that they can do or be anything they want and that true friends won't judge you based on what color shoes you have on? Or, is it better that they learn this lesson on their own, when they get older and want to dress funny themselves. I'm not big on conformity. I like to get stared at when I walk through the mall. I like that people look at me and wonder if I'm sane. But I also went through life on the outside of the cliques. I never had more than two friends at the same time. I was miserable about it, whenever I thought about it. I wanted to be popular, but I wanted to be popular on my own terms. My little brother is going through this right now. He's 15 years old, and he wants desperately to be popular. He also really likes the "goth" clothes, and even some "goth" music. So, the kids at school tell the teachers that he has a bomb strapped to his chest and that he's hiding a gun in his locker. They tease him mercilessly, and they knock him around a good bit, too. He's not prepared to dress differently, or to listen to Fallout Boy, but he does want to find a circle of people who have similar interests... and it's hard for anyone to look past his goofy black exterior.

So which is more important to me? That my kids be popular, which I really have no control over, or that my kids know that I'm not a conformist, and in the end, I'm happy with who I am, and who my friends are. If they are observant, though, they'll also see that I wish I had an easier time making friends, and that I want friends- but don't have them- here in my new neighborhood.