Honey, I’m Home

I was mesmerized by the massive gray clouds, and I realized I could see miles of them. It wasn’t just over our city like in Poland; it stretched well into the next county. And I thought it was beautiful. Seeing for miles and miles was a treat. I could see where I had been and where I was going; I felt like I had my compass reset.

Our adventure in Poland is over, and we are home in Texas. I’ve been giddy about it since we landed, and I kissed the ground at DFW.

And lo, the glory of Texas shone all around her booted toes.

And lo, the glory of Texas shone all around her booted feet.

Our first dinner in America? Sonic corn dogs and cheeseburgers. Or, as I like to call them, ‘Merica Meats. We’ve had my mother’s homemade tacos and chili con queso. We’ve had bagels and Lucky Charms. I’ve even already had my parents over for dinner in our new apartment. It’s a culinary wonder, and we are eating it all. I still need a nice steak, but I think I’ve hit most of my food cravings including 12 pounds of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I’ve been running. The boys have played in numerous parks without jackets or gloves or frostbite. We’ve seen the sun pretty much every day as is needed by my soul.

Even the dentist is fun here.

Even the dentist is fun here.

And oh how I’ve been talking. My blog title has once again been proven true. I’ve talked to friends and strangers. If you speak English and are in earshot, I will speak to you. Excuse me kind Target worker, where are the Ziploc baggies? Did you know the plastic baggies in Poland are useless and come in weird sizes and aren’t always at the grocery store and that their idea of cling wrap would make my mother weep?

Of course I’ve been talking the most with my family and friends. We’ve had our first friend group gathering, and I tried my hardest to slow my motor down. Luckily, the boys needed my help dealing with a crowd of kids and grown-ups we hadn’t hung with in a while.

Friend gatherings involve food and fun.

Friend gatherings involve food and mess.

On Friday I met my friend Christine for a drink after work. (I’d worked two days. I deserved it.) Poor, poor Christine. She didn’t know it, but she was my first outlet for real gabbing and laughing without watching my kids or my foul mouth. We talked about approximately 439 topics, with most of the words coming back to how the topic affected me. I was loud and happy. I was hoarse by the time I left. She kindly said we should do it every week, but I’m sure she went home and prayed I’d be out of words next time.

My tutoring job started last week. I’m working with seventh grade students getting them ready for their state test in reading and writing. I go two days a week, doing writing one day and reading the other. I was so happy about it I actually planned my lessons before I got to school, a new personal achievement. I even packed my lunch and had my clothes ready. And boy did those girls in my first class get the best me ever. I’ve got many friends at the school, so I’m feeling right at home.

I’m also really feeling my teacher soul jump for joy. When we lived in Poland, the owner of the boys’ school and my friend Zosia both made comments about how obvious it was that I was a teacher. They felt my personality and the way I talked to my kids (in public) suggested educator. I took that as a huge compliment. Then, at our gab fest Friday, Chris and I talked about my looking for a full-time teaching job next school year. I told her I had also considered just working retail or something so I could be free of grading and school-bureaucracy nonsense. She said, “No, you love teaching. You’re good at it.” Pump my ego up a little more with props from a fellow educator.

So, my Twitter presence has diminished, and I’m behind in my computer time-wasting, but, we’re settled in our apartment and happy as pigs in Texas mud. Soon I hope to be back to writing regularly and keeping up with the people in my computer. It may be annoying because I’m so peppy, but you’ll get used to it.

And finally, I leave you with things I’m loving about America:

garbage disposal, washer and dryer with large capacity, not having to haul my toiletries all over the house for a shower nor find my clothes in the closet in the kitchen, English-written & spoken, variety at the grocery store, Target.

No,This is 40

Okay, everyone get out your shiny new day planners, calendars, and time management apps.

Got ’em?

Good. Now put a big star around October 11. That is my 40th birthday, and you are all invited to my dance party/dinner/fun fest. I want an excuse to buy a new dress and laugh until my sides ache. And I want to be happy. Because you know what? I’m pretty damn excited about where I am and where I’m going.

I know that turning 40 is supposed to make me cry and wonder where all the time has gone. I remember the black party decorations for my mom when she hit this milestone, and the ‘holding at 39’ jokes. I guess she was supposed to be sad about being that age and that her life was over. My brother Michael did not handle 40 like a champ. It was probably because we threw him a lame family party he told us not to do. When my brother Rob turned 40, he had a big party at his house and doubled down on sporting hobbies that proved his youth and vigor. And I haven’t been exactly kind to the myth of the death of youth and fun at 40 myself, having deemed our friend Old Man Curtis when he became the first of our group to hit that age.

And now 40 has come for me, well, in nine months anyway. And though I’ve been upset about it in the past, today, I’m not. I am not giving in to the stereotype recently reinforced by the movie This is 40, and neither are a lot of really smart women I know.

First, my marriage is in a good place. My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years, and we have figured out a lot about how to work together. I’m sure we have a lot more to learn, but for now, we compromise well and take good care of each other. I firmly believe my husband puts his family first and is intentional in the way he loves us. We’ve survived loss, new lives (Twins! What a fun marriage test!), and two years in Poland away from friends and family. Also? My husband is hot with grey hair at his temples and his toned legs from walking to work every day.

My twins are going to be in kindergarten when I turn 40. I’m not sure why, but it feels like I’ve reached some sort of achievement by keeping them alive until school age. It’s like I leveled up in the parenting game, and I am so ready. Though things are harder emotionally for big kids, and I already worry about how they will face bigger disappointments, I also get to watch them begin their life’s path. They have blossomed so much in this past year, and I know it will only get more interesting as they enter school. I love their perspectives on life and the way they look out for each other. I can’t wait to see the next steps.

But Stephanie, you say, turning 40 for a woman is all about lost beauty and lost opportunities. Well, to you I say:

Because I’m too busy being awesome. I’m not a super cougar hottie. I’m not Stacie’s mom. But, I’m not too hard to look at. This body has done a lot for me, and I can’t blame it for being a bit worn in places. My stomach? Dude’s been in battle. My legs? They have danced a thousand dances and continue to carry a five-year-old when needed. My face? Lined with laughter’s left-overs reminding me of how much happiness I’ve seen. (My neck? Crap. My mom told me for 25 years to take care of it, but I didn’t listen. Thank God for expensive neck cream. I will continue to buy it even if it means I can no longer afford new shoes. Yes ma’am. It’s that serious.)

I have a good vibe going on in my mental and spiritual world too.  I know me well. I’m not perfect, but I know where my imperfections lie. I’m somewhat able to work around them. For example, I know I procrastinate, and I try to fight that natural tendency with lists and self-imposed screen-time restrictions. I face all the parts of me, and I’ve even been known to make a joke or two about them. I know my passions. Writing is back in my life, and I am a happier woman for it. Not only that, but I think I’m a more driven person as well. I want to improve my writing and be read and appreciated by more people. I will write my Poland book and who knows what else. I am surprised because I guess I thought you couldn’t have new goals and dreams at this age.

My heart is also screaming out and yearning to get back to teaching. I remember going to my 10-year high school reunion. I had just decided that teaching sucked, but I had no real plan for another path. So, I worked an hourly job at Citibank and wallowed in existential questions. Could there be a better time to meet up with people who knew you when you were an over-achieving honors graduate? I cried a lot that weekend.

But now, I’m sure. I am a teacher. I love English. I would marry the rules of grammar if it were legal. I am here, ready to help you with your writing and work on my own. I want to talk about books and themes and the power of language.

I have so much to look forward to just in 2013. We are moving back to Texas. I get to see my friends and family. I get to go to writing conferences and continue to meet women who inspire me. When I went to my writing conference last October, it was like a new world opened up to me. I guess I didn’t think old ladies like me could make new friends. But I did. And they happen to be women with goals and dreams and positive attitudes. I want to start a new part of my blog that includes video lessons for families needing grammar and writing guidance, and these women helped me solidify this idea. They make me a better person, and I can’t wait to see how that manifests for me as I turn 40.

We may not stay up until dawn, but we still got it goin' on.

We may not stay up until dawn, but we still got it goin’ on.

So, Judd Apatow, this is really what 40 is and can be. It’s being at a place where you can use the lessons you’ve learned and try new things. It’s a time to enjoy some of the rewards of your hard work while you continue to seek new successes. It’s a time when anything is still possible though sometimes at a slower speed. So, if you come to my 40 and fabulous party, don’t bring any tired stereotypes or weak jokes about getting older. I will punch you in the throat and then blog about it.

So, what about you? What do you like about your age? What are you looking forward to as the next milestone approaches?

Lizards NOT Welcome

This was certainly not the swingin’ Saturday night I’d hoped for.

My roommate was out with her boyfriend and some of his friends. They didn’t even think to ask me along. I guess I would have been the nerd wheel. I didn’t quite fit in. I was in Austin but not enrolled in the university that semester.

As I surfed channels, I pondered adding some excitement by heading to the laundry room. Doing the laundry was the only thing I could think of to keep me from going to bed at eight. What might I find in that room on a Saturday night? Might there be some wet underthingys clinging to the drum of a washer? Maybe there would be some discarded jeans of unknown cleanliness on the counter. There was a guarantee that I’d be fighting the mother from next door for my turn with the dryer as she was prone to cooking her clean clothes well past done.

I headed to my room at the back of the apartment and gathered my supplies. Dirty clothes? Check. Quarters? Check. Detergent? Check. Softener? Check. Borax? Check.  Basically my basket was more supplies than clothes, and I hauled it downstairs without shame because I knew no other kids my age were home to see me.

Back in my quiet apartment, I headed to my room to return the laundry detergents to their rightful spot in my closet. As I got closer to my room, I saw a lizard on the wall. In the back of the apartment. Between me and my room.

Dear God, how long had it been here? Was it in the carpet as I passed back and forth getting laundry? How close were my feet to his teeny, creepy little toes? (Lizards have toes, right?) I got light headed. Lizards and I are not friends; we are in fact sworn enemies. We’ve battled in El Paso, and we’ve battled in Florida. I was in no mood for another round with them tonight. I tried to slow my breathing because the only thing worse than having a lizard a few feet from your bed, is passing out on the floor and having a lizard crawl on your face.

Hold on. I need to take a break. The memory is making me panicky.

Then, I pulled up my britches and did the bravest thing I could think of; I slowly backed my way into the living room and called my daddy. I’m not sure what I thought he could do because he was in El Paso which felt about a million miles away from Austin that night. He advised me to either try to use a broom to guide it out or to wait until my roommate and her boyfriend came home. Then he wished me good luck, and I was once again on my own.

I sure as hell was not going to let the lizard explore our apartment until my roommate happened home. So, I got out the broom from the kitchen and headed back into the hall. I stood there trying to gather my nerves. Every twitch of his little lizard body made my blood pressure shoot up so that I had to talk myself down from the ledge of hysteria again. During one of these moments of panic, I realized the front door was closed, and it would be tough to open it while also shooing him out and not peeing in my pants. Then again, what if more lizards came in through the open door? I decided to chance it by leaving the door open. It seemed like a sign of hope that this was going to work and work fast.

It did not.

The lizard was not impressed by my sweeping motions. They did not inspire him to head to the door though they did get him onto the carpet and closer to my feet which was super. My next brave step was to actually touch him with the broom to get him going in the right direction. This move was successful in only one way; it made things worse. The broom separated lizard from tail and me from the sliver of calm I had remaining. I burst into tears as the lizard hung out in my carpet completely undisturbed by this new development.

I was sobbing with fear and loneliness. Why didn’t I have anyone to call to come save me from this menace? Why couldn’t I do just one thing without making it worse? The lizard and his stupid flimsy tail had broken me.

But even in my distressed state, I could not handle sharing floor space with a lizard. A voice from deep inside told me that I absolutely had to get that damn thing and its tail out of my apartment before it touched any part of me. And so, my OCD helped me move forward and give it another try.

I grabbed a red Solo cup and a plastic bowl. The bowl went over the lizard, and the cup covered his tail. This bought me time to remember to breathe again. My next step, after another internal pep talk, was to slide a piece of paper under the cup and lift both cup and tail. I walk-ran to the door and threw the whole mess over the railing and into the night.

I knew the lizard would not be as easy and gave myself the biggest pep talk of the night. I’m pretty sure I promised myself a beer once it was over.

I used a nice sturdy piece of paper, the back of a notebook, and gave it a go. The first attempt just pissed him off. I had to recover and refocus. And breathe. The second try was a success. I carried my impromptu cage to the door and set him free.

In front of my neighbor’s door. I needed the dryer later.

Where Are All The Words?

That cloud you see over Texas? That’s what’s left of my three-week word storm. I chatted up friends, family, and strangers until my thoughts swirled around the place like a good ‘ol Texas dust devil. So, as you can imagine, I ran out of words to spew here.

Our visit was fast and only a little bit furious the first few days after my steroid shot. The dermatologist promised relief and then disappeared with a medical emergency. It seems even doctors in Texas have been unable to cure my dry, painful skin condition.

The boys had so much fun seeing friends, and I was really pleased with how quickly they jumped into the fray and made themselves at home. When we got to their godparents’ house the second time, they left me at the door and ran upstairs. They played with all of their toys and then learned how to shoot Nerf guns. There was swimming and bounce houses and fireworks, oh my!

I too enjoyed ‘playing’ with my friends as did my husband. We share a lot of the same buddies so that worked out well.

My parents were, as always, fabulous hosts. They got up with the boys in the mornings and always had food at the ready. I won’t even tell you how much ice cream we went through, though I can tell you it was less than it could have been due to my amazing self-control.

My dad and I revived a tradition of watching bad TV together that began when I was 12, and we enjoyed Friday nights filled with WWF (Wrestling, not pandas) and American Gladiators. This time we found Cajun Justice and Swamp People. My mom and I fought over the crossword puzzle in the paper even though they were rightfully hers. She graciously gave it to me on our last day as a parting gift. We also dreamed of a shopping and massage day which will have to happen later.

Our flight home was easy but not something we’d like to do again in the next month or two.

I’ll be back on the blog this week with all the words. I’m also making a guest appearance at Aiming Low in the coming weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you a million times when it is published.

Stay tuned……

Texas Multi Mamas Episode 2: “Weekend in Paris”

Howdy!

Get it? A review about a show from Texas?

Anyway…..

I finally got to see the second episode of Texas Multi Mamas.  If you missed my review of episode one or just don’t know what I’m talking about, you could check out my first review. There are also links to the episodes online in case you’d like to watch.

I am on a cattiness and ‘all-dolled-up mommies who go out too much’ watch.  I enjoy reading the feedback about my blog and the show, but anyone who was turned off by it seemed to complain about those two things.  Two things I really didn’t see much of on the first episode.  I also read some complaints about the commercials  making the show look like it was trying to compete with trashy shows (which I love) like the Real Housewives.  While that may be true, I think that’s just what they thought they had to do to get viewers.  Duh.

The second episode began with the ladies having some spa time.  It was the first gathering after Stephanie attempted to quell any drama created by her Candace feud.  It was a bit tense but not at all like those crazy Beverly Hills mommas do it.  As happens with moms, the ladies began talking about leaving the kids with the husbands.  I’m so glad none of them said the fathers of their children were ‘babysitting’ them.  Just no.  Let’s add that kind of talk to our list of no-no’s, shall we?

Not all dad's would do this. By the way, I'd be fine with this if I got out of one grocery shopping trip. Photo courtesy failblog.org

Stephanie noted that during this husband talk Tonia, currently divorced, was quiet and withdrawn.  That must be so very hard.  The married friends have a right and like to talk about married life, but it is also important to know the crowd you are with and be kind to them.  Tonia broke my heart when she said, “I never wanted to be divorced.”  However, after Stephanie tried to include her, she said in an interview, “Stephanie doesn’t know me or know how I feel.” Nice.  Stephanie has been divorced too.  Also?  If you want her to know how you feel?  Tell her.  She’s opened the door to that conversation.

I’m just going to casually mention the discussion at spa day about Stephanie getting new boobs.  Listen, this happens a lot in Texas and for Mothers of Multiples.  I could have done without her giving the, “Everything’s Bigger in Texas!” line.  That’s true; even our politicians are bigger a**es than any other state’s.  (I’m looking at you Rick Perry.)

In more Candace and Stephanie news, they arranged the show made them have a play date at Candace’s house.  Steph went in with a semi-open mind, which is all I think we can ask of her.  Of note during this scene was the women’s apparel, pants and t-shirts.  Normal, non-fancy-pants stuff.  Steph gets annoyed by Candace being a topper.  (That friend who tells a story about the topic you just told but bigger and better.)  Steph also was annoyed that Candace cared when Stephanie’s kid got hit in the face by a foot.  How dare she?!?!

Little Miss Sunshine Stephanie got to tell the ladies about her upcoming in-laws visit over drinks.  She also got to poo poo Candace’s advice to just kill her mother-in-law with kindness.  Not bad advice for a woman who has kindness in her…..you know like…well, not Stephanie I guess.  Stephanie on the other hand said, “That was a really pretty answer honey.”  Methinks she is treating Candace like her mother-in-law is treating her.  No matter what she does, it’s wrong.

Thankfully, we were treated to a World Wildlife Fund commercial about how we’re slaughtering tigers left and right to move away from anything uncomfortable……(Another commercial break at some point was the one with the family trying to mail away the creepy clown.  Makes me jump every time.  Stupid clown.)

Photo courtesy Satan.

Teryn, you are a brave girl!  Not just for doing what it takes to feel good about yourself but for letting the world see your consultation and your well-earned mommy pouch.  Let me just tell you that mine looks like that, and I only have twins.

Teryn’s tummy tuck procedure brought us her first story and a closer look at her husband, Ryan.  They were both worried about each other.  I laughed when Ryan asked if her ‘knockers’ were going to be pulled down too far.  A very legitimate husband concern.  Teryn cried to think of the worry an elective surgery was putting on her parents.  Her dad’s face looked just like my dad’s when I was last in the hospital.  Tough for a daddy’s girl to see.  Ryan was very choked up as they wheeled her in for surgery, and he told us how he couldn’t live without her.  Good stuff and very sincere.  Teryn makes it through and begins her recovery.  Ryan heads up the household and cleans her drain tubes.  It is a sweaty position he is now in, and he’s ready to be done.

Meanwhile, we see Stephanie and husband Jerald packing and then heading to Paris, Texas.  (Hence the episode’s title.)  Again, please know that not all Texans pack six guns for a family visit, though it’s something some of us should probably consider.  I thought it was cute when Jerald told Steph that he loved her under the fake Eiffel Tower (complete with red cowboy hat of ridiculousness).  It was also sweet later in the show when they took some time together to shoot those guns, and it turned into a date with each person saying the other was hot while armed.  However, Stephanie being Stephanie, she got pretty pissed off later when everyone ordered dinner while she was in the restroom and took it out on Jerald by calling him fat for shoving a school of fried fish in his face.

We had two chances to see how the couples get alone time while still being good parents.  Candace and Steve got a date night thanks to Candace’s mother being able to watch the kids, while Casey and Robbie begged the children to go to sleep and ate dinner  and hit the hot tub after.  Steve gave Candace a framed poem and pretty necklace, while Robbie sprayed whipped cream on Casey in a funny way.  I loved how they turned strawberries and whipped cream silly.  Both couples seemed happy and in sync.  I’m sure they have to work at it, but it seems important to stay a good couple to survive multiples.

Casey, Robbie, and quads of cuteness. Congrats mom and Dad, you did not embarrass your kids in the hot tub scene. Photo courtesy WEtv.com

Casey seems like me.  She’s a bit anxious and thinks controlling things will calm her.  Her husband keeps her looking at the lighter side as mine does.  Her monitor addiction is hilarious.  Casey, momma, you are not alone.

We get a short glimpse of Tonia lamenting that the guy from the first episode tried to ask her out again via text.  Sorry dude, Steve already warned Tonia about you.  You’re done.  Also, Tonia can’t stop saying the ‘r’ word.  Please, get her some help.

We also got to see Suz break it to her little Savi that she was about to have the 6th surgery of her short life.  Gut-wrenching.  Suz explains how this is the hardest part of being a parent, and I feel for her.  Savi says, “Surgery agian? But I don’t wanna have surgery!”  I am so proud of Suz for not losing it at that.  Too much.  This story will complete on the next episode, and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to see them wheel that little girl in for surgery.

And with that we wait until next Tuesday for more episodes.  What did you think?  Are these moms going out too much?  Too dressed up?  I don’t think so, but I’m a Texan; maybe I’m biased.  Did I leave anything out? (Ha! That’s funny.  I’m never telling stories that are too short.)  I’d love comments, especially from Moms of Multiples.  A special thanks to all who shared my link to the last review.  I loved getting so many readers!