Tag Archives: neighbors

The Gooball Story

Recently I met a fellow busy mom (to clarify, ALL MOMS are busy moms,) for a much needed  coffee-and-catch up session.  The craziness of Jr’s 2nd grade school year has combined with an amazing year of challenging and fulfilling growth for me in my role at work, and all the other stuff-of-life that we all experience, creating a whirlwind that carried the whole family from late summer and into the holiday season in a blink.

I was glad to stop and take a breath and spend some time with my friend and a large sugar free hazelnut latte, and somehow our conversation turned to school fundraisers, which quickly led into fundraiser prizes, which brought us to the dreaded goo ball.

Do you know the goo ball?  My dear friend, who always seems to me to be the textbook example of composed super-mom, started into a story about her daughter bringing home this racquetball-sized squishy, sticky ball made of a material that allowed it to stick to whatever it was thrown at, and crawl down slowly.

“OH THE GOO BALL!! ”  I shouted, probably a little too loudly for the quiet of the coffee house we were in, “I know the damn goo ball…. I have A Story about the goo ball!!!”

“I HAVE A STORY ABOUT THE GOO BALL!!” she exclaimed (also loudly… I bet they don’t wish we could come in every day at that coffee shop.)

Both of our stories involved the aforementioned goo ball becoming stuck, seemingly permanently, to a very high ceiling, and the ensuing circus that unfolded in an effort to get the damn thing down.

Mine was a harrowing tale involving The Mr at the tippy top of an extension ladder trying to swat at the devil ball with various poking devices while I held the ladder up at the bottom.  Spoiler alert, I can’t hold The Mr up and the ladder slid all the way down, taking my legs out from underneath me as The Mr rode it the whole way down the wall until we were both in a heap trying to see if the other was ok.

Fun facts to know and share – goo balls stain.  Significantly.  Along with the dark goo smudge on my ceiling, I also have a front entry table with “goo ball marks” all over the bottom shelf…  a greesy reminder of hard-learned goo ball lessons.

As we told our stories and described the many and varied household items we used to try and dislodge the nightmare “prizes” from our respective ceilings, we howled with laughter and clutched on to each other, caught up in the camaraderie  created by the mutual understanding of such a ridiculous situation.

It was just what I needed. It was perfect.

Over the coming days as I told other moms in my world about the conversation and how hard we laughed and how perfect it was, I learned that having a goo ball story is actually FAR from a unique experience.  Turns out those suckers have haunted the homes of almost every mom I know.   Somehow knowing this gave me an even bigger sense of renewed connection within my mom village.

Momming (yep, it’s a verb,) can be isolating at times.  It can feel like no other person is going through just what you are going through as you guide and root for and love and prod and sometimes yell your offspring through their days… everyone else seems to have it together.   It can SEEM that way.

But really?

Really we are all just trying to figure out how to hide our goo ball stain.

 

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They are all my child.

This weekend I was watching my son running a neighborhood playground through its paces with a buddy from his T-ball team, when my phone started buzzing with news updates.

There had been an accident involving a bus filled with athletes from the high-school in our neighborhood.

Reading the details beginning to come in regarding the crash, I fought (and lost) a battle with my tears as I thought about those teenage passengers returning from a weekend trip.

Because once you become a mom- once you have a child – they are ALL your child.

Every baby that  you see precariously practicing their walking skills on a blanket in the park who makes you gasp and unconsciously reach out your hands when they fall forward, no matter how far away you are, is your child.

Every name on every tag on every giving tree at Christmas time – with wish lists ranging from the grandiose to the basic, is your child.

Every neighbor kid with a skinned knee, every story of a food reaction in the school cafeteria, every little one you see struggling to keep up with the others at soccer practice… they are all your child.

And so also, the picture of the boy sitting quietly in the middle of the aftermath of an explosion halfway around the world, caked in dirt and blood, is your child.  The Amber Alert that wakes you at 3 a.m. providing details of a kidnapping, is your child.  The bus full of high school athletes that crashes on the way back to the school after a game, is full of your children.

The hungry, the abused, the hurt, the abandoned -are all your child.

You think what you would think if it was your child…. You pray the child isn’t scared, isn’t alone, isn’t in pain….

Knows that they are loved.

Because your heart IS that mother’s heart.  We are connected by the most primal instinct – to nurture and protect our children.

And so we cry.  And we pray.  And we hug our own children a little tighter.

But also – we act.

We reach out, we plan and we fund-raise and and we search and we work and we raise our voices to anyone who will listen for the little people who make up our worlds, both very near, and very far away as well.

Because they are all our children.

_____________________________________________

The following sites are accepting donations for those affected by the bus accident in my community:

The driver of the bus was tragically killed.  She was a mom, a wife, and a grandmother. You can support her family here

Three coaches were seriously injured in the crash. You can support them and their families here. Two of the coaches have been released from the hospital.

Coach Kroupa remains hospitalized with severe injuries. You can support him and his family here. (This gofundme was funded to 150%! Thank you!)

A Legacy High Senior has a general gofundme page for those affected. The school administration will have oversight of the funds. You can support the page here

 **If you are in Broomfield or in the surrounding communities, an online auction organized by the Broomfield Area Moms FB group is taking place with all proceeds benefiting those affected. More information is available here.**

 

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Maybe Reality Really DOES Bite.

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Ya know what, Troy?   Cram it.  (Credit: http://www.spot.ph)

40 is coming. Or rather, I am currently rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell toward my 40th birthday in June. If you smash my twin sister and I together, that is 80 years of twinny “us-ness” on this planet. Scary stuff.

I didn’t think 40 was going to bug me. After all, 40 is the new 30, right? We are a FAR CRY away from the 40th birthday I remember my mom having, complete with coworkers stringing black streamers everywhere and outfitting her with a cane and veiled black hat to go with her “over the hill” cake.

That just isn’t what 40 means today. Think about who else is turning 40 this year. Reece Witherspoon. Ryan Reynolds. Melissa Joan Hart – Sabrina the teenage witch, yo! Keri Russell – awesome first name to match her awesome looks! 40 ain’t nothin’ at this point, right?    I remember thinking when Jennifer Aniston turned 40 (7 years ago, people,) that 40 was spectacular. That all you had to be by 40 was a grown-ass version of you. (With apologies to Troy from Reality Bites, because none of us knew ANYTHING at 23, really dude.)

But therein lies the rub. 7 years ago, 33 year old Keri was, if I remember correctly, putting some fairly substantial pressure on herself regarding her Jesus year, and thinking that “way far off into the future” of Keri-ness, at the ripe old age of 40, she would finally have gotten it together as a grown up.

Guess what? NOPE.

I am a warmed over mess. Don’t get me wrong, it is my warmed over mess… this is my 40 year old bed, I made it and I can lay in it, blah blah blah… It isn’t the whole “I’m so damn old, woe is my aged self” thing that has me reeling, although I do confess feeling kind of old of late. It’s the nagging “shouldn’t I feel like a dang grown up by now?” question. I am like, way far into this dog-and-pony show, right? At what point, exactly, am I going to stop feeling like I should be calling my mom to come and pick me up from this charade, because it MUST be way past my curfew? The ghosts of Keri-ages past would be pretty disturbed to know that at 40 it was all still going to be feeling like a total crap shoot. That sucks, yo.

I briefly considered diving into a good old-fashioned midlife crisis- but dipping my toe in those waters by taking an ill-advised shopping trip in the Juniors’ section for clothes that look ridiculous on me, drinking like a 23 year old at the neighbors’ house, taking on a bunch of contract work in all my free time so I can “do what I love,” and otherwise generally acting “un-Keri” just left me feeling embarrassed and desperate and old.

Man, I miss just feeling old.

So the midlife crisis is off the table, as I don’t have time for self-destruct just now since I can’t get even my adult shit together without that added BS.  There’s really no spare time to blow everything up when you are just hoping to get your kid and yourself out the door with lunch packed and pants on both of you, can I get an amen?

But what then? Or what now, I mean. Here I am being all old (but not,) coming to terms with the idea that maybe, JUST maybe, this is all there is.

I am not destined to change the world, or even my little corner of it. There is no cosmic line to cross or switch I have to find and flip to make things “the way they are supposed to be.” No fairy godmother is going to come donk me on the head and pronounce that I am now fully qualified for adulting and open a door to some wonderland of grown-up-edness.

I always pictured myself as the girl humming the Mary Tyler Moore theme song and whipping my hat off to toss as I spun around knowing I was “gonna make it after allllllll.”

But staring down the barrel of the very adult age of 40, all I seem to be able to muster is a half-hearted bit of the theme from “One Day at a Time.”   Then I realize that BOTH of those shows are so ancient, I can’t even come up-to-speed on TV references. AND I LOVE TV!

Again I find myself back at Reality Bites, and Troy; the-once-and-now-again voice of my generation…  Now it seems, is “the winter of my discontent.”  But Troy remains forever frozen in fresh-college-grad smuggery as he utters that line through his 90s facial hair.

Here in 2016 and MANY years away from my English lit degree, borrowing lines from Shakespeare seems awfully grand a way of phrasing the realization that I’ve been on the planet for 40 years and still cope with stressful situations primarily through nacho consumption and magical thinking.

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Here we go again….

Ahh, the holidays…. The most wonderful time of the year.

In yet another telltale example of how I am slowly succumbing to the ways of the suburbs, I found myself longing to bust out the Christmas decor prior to Thanksgiving this year (although still not the day after Halloween, like the boldest in my hood , because Jr needs some recovery time in between giant Inflatable Frankensteins and seizure-inducing jingle-bell-rock lighting displays, yo?)

I also broke down and caved to The Mr’s requests to get a larger tree for The Casa. Even I had to admit that our medium height, thinner profile tree that worked perfectly in the tiny corner of The Treehouse looked a bit sad in our cavernous vaulted-ceiling living room.

So, a week-and-a-half before hosting my first actual traditional Thanksgiving, The Mr. dragged all of the bins of decorations up out of storage, along with the new tree (purchased at 90% off sometime around Valentine’s Day, TYVM,) and I set out to deck the halls.  That tree?  That tree was my Everest.  It is tall, it is heavy, and its directions ?  Non existent.  Also – my cute little condo tree was pre-lit, but not this bad boy – OH NO – this is 100% Keri-illuminated. (Props to my dad who did that every year on the family tree….  and how did my husband disappear SO fast when I mentioned that the lights might be a dude job?  Christmas magic or just a fast car?)

Getting the star on top? Short girl, big ass tree – this shit pretty much actually happened to me:

GIFSoup

Except not even that cool, because I tipped off a stepladder, flopped forward clinging to the tree (still determined to just get the dang star on,) and took it down, becoming hopelessly tangled  in a heap of faux-branches and precariously strung twinkle lights that took a good 10 minutes to extract myself from, at about 11:30 at night.  No one woke up, and I considered just sleeping there until The Mr came downstairs to assist.  But that is NOT the kind of “holiday family story” I want my 3 yr old telling at school.  (He already told his entire class that he was “VERY thankful for Bacon” during their Thanksgiving discussion.)

So, the ginormous tree eventually got the star up on top, and Jr assisted in the decorating of it it by doing all the things that I remember used to piss my mom off when we did them:  hanging 20 ornaments in a 10 inch square section of tree,  hanging ornaments on the afore-mentioned lighting cords instead of the branches (maybe DON’T stab that metal wire hook INTO the cord there, sparky,)  grabbing uber-delicate old ornaments with his “Hulk-smash” preschooler grasp, attempting to eat the ancient foodstuffs from the old-school DIY ornaments of my youth, and on and on until I was frazzled as heck and he was squealing with 3-year-old Christmas glee.  (Cute and understandable, but an untamable force of nature, to be sure.)

The pull of super-sizing the decor hasn’t been contained to the inside of our abode either – Where once I swore I would always be strictly a “tasteful wreath on the door ONLY” kind of gal, I have been sticking silver bows and greenery everywhere on the front of our house.  There are even two spiral, clear light trees staked into our lawn.  (FYI – setting those things up is like stretching a really big spring well beyond where you should be – I let go too soon on the first one and it shot like a rocket half way across the street.  You’ve been warned.)

If we get all True Confessions about it , I would actually like to see a single strand of clear/white lights tracing our roof line.  But I don’t see The Mr heeding the call of his inner Clark Griswold, and Keri draws the line at anything involving a ladder.

Maybe.  But all the neighbors’ lights look so pretty….

Another holiday season in the subdivision is off and running – we also survived another round of the holiday party last night.  This year The Mr made an appearance, I secured seating to eat right away and parked him in it,  and all that ended up coming home in my purse was a goody bag from santa.

Let it never be said that Keri doesn’t learn from experience.  (And next year – The Mr is putting that damn star up on the tree.)

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Pocket Park Politics

I can’t lie – there were some, um, “relationship dynamic challenges”  that occurred in the highrise we called home during the majority of our urban days.

You can’t share that many common amenities (and walls,) and never have even a minor disagreement.  Goodness knows there is always that one busybody who LOVES to tattle on the person using the elevator to move furniture without the fire key; and in the city there is bound to be a group of renter kids who seem hell-bent on having one of their Coors Light bottles end up broken in the bottom of the pool if someone doesn’t parent them into less stupidity (yeah that was me,  because don’t jeopardize my pool time.  Like ever.)

Still I have to say that in spite of the barking dogs, squawking parrots, the  occasional waft of weed in the HVAC vents, the creepy dude who threw weird parties on the 2nd floor that STARTED at like 3am, and all of the other little annoyances that cropped up, most folks remained friendly and sort of just let everyone else live their lives without paying too much attention.

In the ‘burbs?  Not so much.

I have distinct memories of my mom leaning on the chain link fence of our childhood back yard, getting (and giving) the news of the neighborhood with the neighbor lady – which person was ticked at which other person for the dog that was going from yard to yard, impregnating the pedigreed masses of the female pooch population  (it really happened – actually our family dog was one of the puppies produced, but I digress,) or WHATEVER the buzz was up and down the block.

There were clicks, and almost fist-fights, and “I heard the Joneses DYED their lawn” type scandals enough to make it easy to understand exactly how the concept for Desperate Housewives came into being.

So last night when Jr and I drove into the subdivision to find a swarm of Police presence, I confess I was rubbernecking all over the pocket park trying to see what I could see.   I attempted to send The Mr out into the road to see if he could shake down neighbors passing by for the dirt (he was in comfy pants already, and having none of it. Party pooper.)

Then it occurred to me – seeing that kind of thing in our old ‘hood would barely have caused a sideways glance as I passed.  We lived in a nice area, but still, police activity was a normal occurrence there.  I might have popped out on to the patio to get a bird’s eye view of whatever was going down while sipping on my martini or something, but the concept of attempting to figure out what was up would never have crossed my mind.

Meanwhile, back in the present, here is “Suburban Keri” plotting to chase down the paper boy next Thursday at the crack of dawn to get a first look at the Enterprise Police Beat column.

Hell I full on tackled The Mr on the patio last summer to keep him from making any noise and alerting the neighbors arguing over a fence with each other to our eavesdropping presence. In contrast,  patio time in the city always involved a polite “here I am on the other side of that sheet metal wall” cough or throat clear so the guys next door didn’t get TOO romantic on the balcony over their late dinner with me practically sitting at the table with  them.

I can’t really figure out where the shift occurred – it seems like there was just so much EVERYTHING going on in the urban heart of it all, that no one really paid attention to almost anything.  Slow things down a bit in the subdivisions and soccer practices, and everyone kind of expects to have the whole damn scoop all the time.

Interesting.

No time to think about it now, I see my neighbor coming up the walk to get the bouquet the florist left with us in their absence…  going to brew some coffee, dig out the Kahlua, and see what’s up around the loop.

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