Tuesday, August 4, 2015

First Day of School Love Fest

Albertsons, my grocery store, donated a cart full of baked goods.  I exchanged a letter suitable for tax purposes for donuts and cookies and brownies and croissants and pies and cakes and anything I could find on the bottom two shelves of the rack near the freezer cases.

It was the most fun I've ever had in a grocery store.  It felt like the end of Wonderama, my favorite Sunday morning tv show, where the winning kids got a shopping cart and free rein in a toy store for 60 seconds.  I breezed by the cashier, waving and saying thank you.

Arranging the goodies in the trunk took some figuring; carrying them across the parking lot at Prince was easy.  I grinned as I remembered the first year I came bearing treats to celebrate the start of a new school year.  I needed a cart and a helper and a cane.  This year, I stacked the boxes in my arms and I marched over curbs and I knocked on the door with a smile on my face.

I know the recipients think I do this for them... and I do.... but I do it for myself, as well.

I made the first delivery before the chocolate covered donuts imploded; sweets and temperatures nearing triple digits are an unpleasant mix.  I drove next door to the middle school, where I left a poster taking credit for the sandwiches GRIN volunteer Phil the Magnificent organized for the staff.

I was really enjoying the hassle free volunteering experience, until I got turned around on the way to the next school and drove in the exit and did my best apologizing to the teacher I encountered as she drove in the right way.  Schools should have clearly marked front doors.... or should they, in these troublous times?

I knew this principal when he was at Prince; we've run into one another at book stores across town over the years.  Since my trunk was still filled with goodies, his colleagues were the next recipients of GRIN's largesse.  The faculty was in a meeting, they would be free for lunch, we moved a plant to the outer edge of a round table and set out cakes and pies for dessert.

CTG's got a connection there, too, and we talked for a while about her wonderfulness. She's why I started this effort; it was nice to have her along for the ride.  I took their Thank You's wrapped around my heart and dropped off the last batch of decorated cakes at the middle school on my way to mah jongg.  With a brief precis of GRIN, some hugs and many smiles, I was on my way to the rest of my day.

I came home to a donation check from another fabulous GRIN volunteer, and so tomorrow I will be back in the grocery store, this time with cash in hand, to fill up another cart and put smiles on some more faces.  One of those smiling faces will be mine.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Freebie for 25 of You

I'm still recovering from the last flight out of Chicago, the same flight I've taken twice before, the same flight which was delayed by hours.... yes, hours.... and threatened with crew members timing out and the flight being cancelled.... twice before and this time, too... and landing us in Tucson at midnight, which felt like 2am and leaving TBG and me overtired and cranky.

The older I get, the harder it is to re-regulate my systems.

I have to ease back into the world of work, leaving the world of FlapJilly behind.  I never understood heart wrenching in quite this way.... it's a physical sensation surrounding my beating heart.
It hurts.

In order to concentrate on the joys of life, rather than the missing you's, I'm going to clue you in to a nice group of people with a great idea.  They shipped my swag home from BlogHer'15, and asked for nothing in return.  And they gave us freebies!
Swag is one of the perks of attending BlogHer conferences.  Stuff We All Get.... I just walked around the Expo floors and picked up frisbees and tee shirts and reusable glasses and key rings and stickers and mobile battery rechargers.  I collected giveaways for the next Stroll and Roll.  After an interesting discussion about the problem of getting my whites white here in Tucson, I was given organic, vegan laundry detergent to try.  I scored a Downton Abbey mug and an kid sized apron.  

I was in heaven.... until I sorted it out on the other twin bed and realized there was no way it was fitting into my carry-on.  My under-the-seat bag was already stuffed to the gills; Lenore the Lenovo, my Kindle, my sweater, my water bottle, the book and the crosswords and the mesh bag with don't leave home without it items... they take up a lot of space.

Jet to the rescue.

Stuck in a back corner, three twenty somethings with big smiles and Yes, we can! attitudes let me rest my weary self in front of their booth.  I was handed a purple bag folded in a purple pouch.  I was given a purple card with a code and space for my name and address.  I was told to put all my stuff into the bag - and if it all didn't fit, not to worry, they'd find a bigger box - and return it to their booth before close of business the next day.

OK.  That was perfect.

I made another tour of the booths, snagging another frisbee or two, returned to my room, filled up my purple bag, and dragged it and myself to the Jet booth.

One week later FedEx delivered it to my front doorstep, just as promised.  It hadn't cost me a dime.  I was pretty pleased with Jet.

Described by the smiley booth-dwellers as a combination of Amazon and Costco, but less expensive, Jet offers usable size merchandise at discount prices.  Not everyone is happy buying in bulk.  As Kumail Nanjiani so aptly puts it in the Jet promotional video, "buying 5 pounds of mayonnaise is fundamentally ridiculous.  When you finish it you can live in the jar... in 7 years.... that's how long it's going to take."

I related to that on a deeply personal level.  I loved pushing the Cuters around Costco on the flatbed, loading up on toilet paper and ketchup and oatmeal every six weeks or so.  Now, just for TBG and me, it is fundamentally ridiculous.  

The initial prices are comparable to most discount brick and mortar or on-line stores, it seems.  The benefits begin as you add more items to your cart.  The more you shop, the more you save.  Special items are offered at steeper discounts, and combining them brings the prices down even further.

There are links to other sites which promise some kind of reciprocity, but I haven't delved that deeply.  This isn't meant as a review post; don't judge my tired self too harshly, please.  What it is meant to be is a giveaway post.

So, here's the giveaway.  Jet gave me a code which can be used 25 times.  The code is redeemable for a one year membership.  It's a $49.99 freebie, and it's yours if you want it.   The promo code allows you to bypass the 3 month freebie offered to everyone.  You are special; you'll receive a 12 month freebie.  

The code is at the bottom of the post.  Go to jet.com.  Enter the code in the box which appears when you click Have a promo code? That's it.

You have to act fast.  The codes are only valid through August 18th.... and there are only 25 of them. Once they're gone, they're gone.

Let me know if you like it.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Our visit is coming to an end.
FlapJilly and her parents will have to get by without live-in sitters and errand runners.
The grandparental units will have to survive without this:
It's not going to be easy on any of us.

We went to the park this morning, for swinging
and greeting our public with a queenly wave.
The sandbox came home with us in her diaper, but she wasn't worried at the moment.

Once we got home, crawling between Mommy and Grandpa 
left me with plenty of time to admire her curls.
There will be many milestones before we see her again.
She'll be walking and sleeping through the night and cutting her molars.

One thing will never change, though.
Grandma will always love her.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

And Even More Baby Pictures

I'm not going to make any excuses.
It's FlapJilly's birthday and we've been celebrating all day.
Grandpa helped her downstairs 
and then we went out to breakfast.
She was the belle of the ball, amusing the owner, the waitress, and the grumpy old man who entered with a frown and ate with a grin, waving and playing peek-a-boo with our little darling.

She brings joy wherever she goes.
We're the passive participants, reveling in the reflected glory.
It's among the most fulfilling roles either of us has ever held.

After a nice, long nap, Little Cuter set up the water park in her backyard.
She didn't want to break out the air pump, so the palm tree and the slide were left uninflated.
Grandma's lungs filled the orange ring,  
but the water was much more interesting.
She brought her mouth closer and closer, 
tried to grab the droplets, 
and then
 There was a gentle breeze, a sunny sky, and a happy baby.
Life was good.

The afternoon nap was a fantasy.
Between the afternoon's excitement and Thomas the Wonder Dog's barking, sleep was elusive.
So, down she came to the living room, where much fun ensued.
Dinner was eaten, a bath was given, and down she came for more fun.

and sitting 
this sturdy birthday present with the twirling, colorful animals 
held her attention  
until Daddy needed just one more hug.

She went to bed, the kids went to the movies, and Grandpa and I are babysitting.

Life is good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

And More Baby Pictures

I tried, denizens, I really did.  
I was four paragraphs into a more serious post, and then FlapJilly woke up from her nap.  
That was it for thinking.  It was time for loving. 
There was a lot of that going on. 
When that tush started toddling away, 
my heart followed right behind.
The pink kitchen was a birthday gift.
It's a perfect foil for the toss everything onto the floor stage she's inhabiting right now.
We can discuss the politics of pink kitchens in another post.
For now, I can only discuss the adorableness of playing Where's the Baby? with the living room drapes.
The balls are on loan from FlapJilly's own Mary Poppins. 
She brought them with the mesh bag, but FlapJilly prefers them on the floor.
(cf. pink kitchen comment above) 
The baby tosses and the grandparents clean up.
The baby is not amused. 
and takes action on her own.
Grandma doesn't seem to mind at all.
Look at that face.
Would you argue with anything she did?

One year ago today, she came into the world.
It's time to start on the second million kisses.
Excuse me while I begin.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More Baby PIctures

Because I am having so much fun, because I am overwhelmed with the wonderfulness that is my littlest relative, I am incapable of typing anything resembling profundity.

I could write about the books I've read lately, but Goodnight Moon  and Sandra Boynton's Pajama Time don't lend themselves to in depth analysis.  They do, however, lead to snuggles and that is, at this point, much more important to me.

Yes, it's true, I have baby brain.

We took her out to lunch yesterday. SIR carried her on his shoulders because the stroller lost its space in the trunk to our suitcases and never made the return trip.
She grabs on with a serious grip; TBG's senior citizen follicles are no match for the tugging. SIR has no such problem; he enjoys the trip as much as his daughter does.

The front of her shirt has pictures of The Avengers - Captain America, The Hulk, and two others whose names escape me at the moment.

The back of the shirt has ruffles. 
That encapsulates my little one - tough and delicate in one delectable package.

I'll try to be more thoughtful tomorrow, but I'm making no promises.
This grandparenting thing is just too delicious for words.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Where Has The Time Gone?

One year ago today, I was here in Illinois.  Little Cuter, pregnant and nesting, took me to the garden center where her neighbor's child gave us a great deal on a pink and white hyacinth.  We planted it in a pot destined for her deck, and decided it was a lovely present with which to greet her baby.

That baby arrived on July 29th, but parties in the middle of the week aren't the most convenient for working parents.  So, family
 and friends
  gathered on Saturday at FlapJilly's house to celebrate 52 weeks of babyhood.  

It was perfect, just like the birthday girl herself.
Little Cuter painted the antique high chair to match the decor.  

The local grocery made wraps and croissant sandwiches and there were salads and sangria but mostly there was this
 and this
 and this
The personal smash cake was much too hard for her to penetrate.
 Grandma had no problem using fingers as cutlery and moving the process along.
 FlapJilly would like to thank all of you for the birthday wishes.
As is our family tradition, she'll be celebrating all week.
More pictures will follow.
I'm having too much fun to think about writing.

Friday, July 24, 2015

On The Road Again

Off to see the grandbaby, because she's turning one and she'd notice that we weren't there... right?

No, TBG, it's not a surprise party.... although we did have fun with that thought after you verbalized it.  According to our daughter, "it can't be a surprise party because FlapJilly doesn't know what a party is."  

I disagree with that - the party is wherever SHE is!

And that, dear readers, is in Illinois.  I am still creating birthday gifts and doing laundry and haven't even begun to think about packing, but that all paled when Little Cuter called this morning, with a mommy question.

"Talk me down off a ledge, please," came right after her subdued "Hi" ... the Hi with the tremor right behind it.  That tone clutches at my heart and sends my stomach into my throat, but I calmly tell her that I have nothing else to do but listen, and help.

That's the same kind of story Michelle Obama told me in my hospital room when I couldn't stop crying.  As she held me in her arms, tubes snaking everywhere, my face leaking on her from every available orifice, she patted my back and cooed in my ear.  "That's okay.  Just cry it out.  We've got nothing but time."

The leader of the free world and his spouse had nothing else to do right then but listen to me weep.  I believed it then and I believe it now, just as my child believes me when I say that I will listen until she is no longer in need.  That kind of belief keeps us going in the most difficult of times; we're lucky to have it.

And so I listened and she talked and she wondered and we planned and she listened and we shared memories and agreed that trust your gut is the most important rule of parenting, and she went off to do just that.

She called back fifteen minutes later.  With her questions answered and her anxiety relieved, she could worry about ruining a birthday party for a human who doesn't know what a party is. 

We laughed.  She went on to work and I had my nails done and I worked out and I shopped for last minute essentials and came home to finish the laundry and pack.

There may be a lot of picture posts next week.... I'm warning you in advance.  An adoring set of grandparents will be fawning over the most perfect little human on the planet, and we might just have to share.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How I Appear to My Daughter

In yesterday's post, I described myself as a person who is often more tentative than I'd like to be.

That surprised Little Cuter, who took ten minutes out of her busy work day to put her feet up on her computer tower and call me to wonder.  

"Really, Mom?  I never think of you as tentative.  You are a hard charger."

It's nice to know that the illusion I strive to create has been accepted. 

I'm always anxious inside.  I carry with me a sense of unworthiness.  I can trace it back to my first day of 1st grade.  I spent the first 8 days of the school year in kindergarten, then skipped up to the big kids' realm.  The playground was different.  The rules were different.  There were so many more children running around, all of whom seemed to know exactly where to go, and with whom.

My neighbor, a "real" first grader, all of 2 months older than I, escorted me to the #4 painted on the playground's asphalt, and instructed me to wait there.  Obediently, I stood still, watching the world revolve around me and feeling alone.  It was obvious to me that I was deficient in some unknown trait which would have allowed me to join her and her friends.  

I was uncertain, uncomfortable, and frightened.  I had assumed that my friends from my street at home would be my friends on the playground at school.  But the boys were on the other side of the school, playing ball games and tag and climbing on the jungle gym.  The girls were segregated under the trees, playing house and running up the steps of the slide.

That slide.... oh, that slide.  It was taller than any I'd ever encountered.  The line moved quickly, not pausing passively for a tentative newbie who was terrified of heights. When the playground monitor took pity on my lonely self and walked me over to join the line, I was living a nightmare.  Nearly 60 years later I can, without much effort, conjure up the fear I felt as I stood at the top, too scared to bend my knees and sit down.

That feeling of social isolation and physical terror was with me all through elementary school.  I didn't like the school bus; I was afraid that I would be stuck in the back and never make it off at my stop.  I was afraid of the bus stop, and the giant dog running loose on the same corner.  

I didn't watch the same television shows the other kids saw; years later I realized that they all had older siblings who were driving the viewing decisions in their homes.  My little brother and sister and I were happy to watch Mickey Mouse and Mighty Mouse and Crusader Rabbit.  I didn't know that would be ground for derision, and I was blindsided when the teasing started.

As an adult, my verbal skills and general resiliency have helped me to overcome my childhood angst. I try to project a positive, confident persona, and, given my daughter's response, I must have been successful.  Still, hiding inside that outgoing exterior is the little girl who's worried that people won't like her, who doesn't understand what's going on, who is petrified and flummoxed and stuck.

I'm glad I didn't show that to Little Cuter; I wouldn't want that to be her expectation for how a grown woman should act.  I wish I could banish her entirely from my psyche, though.  She reappears more often than I'd like, sending me into a tailspin of anxiety... less often as the years pass, but there nonetheless.

Don't tell anybody, though.  I like the notion that my kid thinks I'm tough.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Feeling Inspired

A fellow BlogHer '15 attendee called it falling into Wonderland. 

Sharing my Kathleen-provided bottle of Prosecco with total strangers seemed an absolutely natural thing to do.

I began to use hashtags in my texts and emails; Little Cuter was quite impressed with me.

Anyone was welcome to sit anywhere.  If only Junior High School had been like that.  Imagine the Grand Ballroom of the Midtown Hilton filled with women who wanted you to be their friend. Everyone had something to offer; the only problem was finding the time to learn it all.

I took notes on the recto. I wrote the phrases which touched me on the verso. SheKnows Media was thoughtful enough to include a bound journal in our welcome bags.  That right there encapsulates the entire experience - a social media mavens gathering whose organizers gave us paper notebooks to record our thoughts.

Soledad O'Brien made a return appearance,this time with three of the scholars her Starfish Foundation is sending to college.... colleges like Smith and Princeton...."not inexpensive universities!" as she pointed out with a laugh.  Her pride in the young women sharing the stage was contagious; several thousand of us in the audience were beaming.  My takeaway?
Philanthropy doesn't have to be with a Capital P.  You do what you can.  Small is good.
Majora Carter, who is working to revitalize the South Bronx through one amazing project after another, spoke to us about her newest venture: urban on-shoring of tech jobs. This links to a video - with sound.  Tech companies were having trouble finding reliable, off-shore beta testers.  She offers training and then job placement right there in the South Bronx, creating jobs for those who thought there would never be one for them, and providing a solution for which companies were willing to pay.  My takeaway?
See the problem for what it is and know that there are many solutions. 
Teneshia Jackson Warner had us guffawing as she described her months long, ultimately successful campaign to get Russell Simmons to hire her at no fee.  He blew her off time and time and time and time again, yet she kept faxing and calling and showing up.  She flew across the country, west to east, north to south, which was, she admitted, somewhere on the other side of normal. 

But that was just where she encouraged us to be. On the journey required to become who you are meant to be, you have to examine the distance between your comfort zone and your dream. As a person who is often more tentative than I'd like to be, my takeaway was simple:
Be willing to stretch when the moment is before you.
I'm going to work on that.

Patrice Cullors and Opel Tometi, the creators of #BlackLivesMatter, set my head spinning.  Gwyneth Paltrow did not.  There were blog advisors and Girl Scouts and SEO's, and I'll get to them over the next few posts.  For now, though, I'm going to work on stretching.


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