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How Do You Know You’re “Home?”

There is a reason “Home” is called “Home,” and I’m not quite sure where mine is right now. I’m sort of in between worlds. See, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio (Go Browns!), but I have lived on Cape Cod every summer of my life– and now year-round for 14 years. That’s a long time! I think I finally qualify for the “local” special at the diner, and I can legit say I hate summer people (even though I don’t–just the traffic).

I’ve lived on Cape Cod longer than I’ve lived anywhere, other than Cleveland (15 years). I spent many years in New York City (10) and Boston (3). But, now, I guess Cape Cod is my home, or well, it’s where I own a house and raise my children and have a job. So that’s home? It doesn’t always feel like it.

The reason I bring this confusion up is this: my partner lives in Cleveland, many of my best friends live here, and a lot of my heart is, well, here.

But my children are not.

Here’s a typical “home” in Shaker Heights, Ohio (where I grew up)

So yeah.

I thought about this today when the airplane was landing in Cleveland, and I could see the snow covering the acres of flat ground. The familiar grey sky had cover from Lake Eerie, and I felt a sense of relief.

“Ah, I’m home,” I thought, stepping off the plane and seeing the “Welcome to Cleveland” sign in Hopkins International Airport.

But, when I was taking off in the plane, I cried. I cried because I missed my kids. I saw them this very morning, but I felt so far away, and I was scared. I was scared that maybe something would happen on my flight, and that I’d never see them again. And maybe I was a terrible parent for flying and leaving them behind, even though they are safe with their father for the weekend. I sent my daughter a text on her Gizmo (for those not in the know, a Gizmo is like an Apple Watch for kids, where they can get a call or text from their parents or send a limited set of texts). I said, “I love you so much! I miss you already.” I also texted my parents (who now live on the East Coast).

When I arrived in Cleveland, I was greeted by my boyfriend, and we then met up with my best friend from high school for lunch. It was so nice! I was so happy and thought, “Yay! I am home!” This is where I’m meant to be!

But part of me is missing.

A big part. My kids.

And I know, deep down, this is not where I live. I’m just a visitor.

I just wish it could all be one. I wish I could feel whole in one of the places.

Wherever I am, someone I love is missing.

So what makes a home a home?

You tell me.

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Top 3 Things That Made Me Laugh Today

BWAHAHA! That’s all I have to say about my day! (Well, really, about life in general, but we will just focus on then funnies of today for time’s sake). So, the day started out with a trip to Michael’s to get some crafts for the kids, so they are not up my grill. We buy some clay, a scrapbook, cool markers, and baking supplies. We’re good, yes? Well, not exactly. When we get home, we first decide to delve into the “YOU*NIVERSE Crystal Growing Unicorn” craft, in which you “Grow a Crystal Sculpture!”

Seems easy, yes? Um, no! First off, they don’t mention that not only do you need to wait two hours for the crystal liquid to settle in a bowl once you mix it (this is SO not a kids thing–anything requiring patience), but then you have to let the unicorn sit OVERNIGHT in the crystals before painting them. This sucks! Like, who wants to wait till the next day? It should have a warning on it that reads: “This is 24-hour craft! Beware that Children will Be Bored and You Will Be Responsible!” It’s like when you buy them a hamster, and then you’re the one caring for it after day 3 (#truestory). But, at this point in the crystal unicorn, I am legit involved and want to see this through.

So I go to clean up the mess and leave this nasty fish tank of crystals to sit overnight, and I can’t find the paper towels. Oh, wait, guess where they were, these coveted paper towels, of which I am allowed to buy just ONE at the store because of restrictions!? In the living room…#chewtoy

Onto the next craft, my daughter decided to be innovative and philosophical. Thinking about Santa, and how one should be rewarded for being good and punished for being bad, she devised a list of good behaviors that merit rewards (or points) and bad behaviors that force you to pay. Some good behaviors, such as not complaining, brushing teeth, and setting the table (ha! AS IF!), are compensated with points and rewards, such as “stay up an extra 20 minutes.” Bad behaviors, on the other hand, like hitting and punching, result in chores.

I realized, after looking at this extensive list, that the consequences and payments on the bad list are essentially MY LIFE. Yes, that’s true. Cleaning, raking leaves, shoveling snow, matching socks, folding laundry, garbage, recycling, and “making my bed for a whole month” are basically what I do on a daily basis.


Makes me wonder…

I mean, I am GOOD! Very good! In fact, I found $80 in cash on Friday outside this person’s Jeep, who was parked next to me. I could have legit pocketed that and gone holiday shopping. But, no, because I am good person, who believes in Karma (Um….when’s it coming?), I put the cash in an envelope, and I wrote, “Looks like you dropped this” and put it on their car.

But, I’m the one living the punitive chores list! Seems off, no?

SHEESH!!

Happy Holidays! Wish me luck with the crystal painting tomorrow!!

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It’s Okay to Cry

I have cried, I think, once a day for the last seven days. That’s unusual for me…now. In my 20s and 30s, I am pretty sure I cried every day. I remember one of my close guy friends told me he hadn’t cried in several years, and I was befuddled. I was like, ‘HUH!? You must be so repressed! What is happening!?”

So I used to cry about big life things, such as, “I am never going to find ‘the one,'” and ‘Why can’t I figure out what I want to do with my life?” Ya know, your basic lame, white girl problems when you’re still on the dole of your Dad.

I know I’m 28, but can you send me my rent?

Now, I cry about things like when my son and I were walking the dogs last night, and he told me that my ex-husband probably married me for my looks, but “those have lowered.” Or, when I miss my long-distance boyfriend, and it hurts. Or, that I don’t always fit in.

I am not sad, really, no. I am just in-tune with my emotions, I guess?

I cried, too, this week when I saw my daughter sleeping next to me, as she does every night, and she’s so big now. She’s almost 8. I know, I know; she should sleep in her own bed. But, I’m alone, and I like to touch her ankles with my cold feet, and to hear her breathing, as I did when she was an infant and wouldn’t nap unless I lay down with her. I cried, because I remembered how tiny she was, in her zebra, zip-up, onesie, and how she smelled of powder and cornsilk on her fine hair. And how, at that time, things were so different, and I didn’t envision co-parenting and sleeping alone on Wednesdays.

The point I guess I’m trying to make is, it’s okay to cry, even if you’re happy. The tears stream down, cleanse you of those thoughts, and you can move on. People seem so concerned with appearing happy. I guess I’m just here to say, well, it’s okay to cry…

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A Comedy of Errors: First Full Day Back!

First full day of school in seven months and off to a great start! (er…well?) So, I will map out the comedy for you in just the first HOUR!

1. We pull in for drop-off, face shields intact, and my daughter forgets her backpack. Looks like I’ll circle back in a few!

2. Screeching out of the driveway to return to school, I nearly hit my friend, who is delivering a roadie wine glass forgotten from the other night. (PS-the roadie was on foot, not in car–just sayin’). I grab the shopping bag, thank her, and when I arrive BACK at school, I’ve already blanked out what’s in the bag and think, “Hey, how did that get here?” #tired

3. I’m wearing a flannel, Dachshund Christmas pajama shirt! Enough said. Ew.

4. Haven’t gone grocery shopping in a week, so I put together a random hodge-podge for kids’ lunches, comprised of a varietal of cheese and yogurt. It’s a full dairy bomb. So aggro that peanut butter is banned. That was an old go-to.

5. Start to do the accumulated dishes from last night and find this Dis-GUS-ting glass filled with Extreme! Sour Warheads that my son wolfed in one huge gulp and promptly spit out. They are now essentially super-glued to the bottom of my new Crate and Barrel glass.

6. Wonder how my dog got a large black mark on his leg, and I realize it’s my new Infallible Maybelline eyeliner in Charcoal Black that I just purchased. He has eaten it.

Check spot of black on leg on right

Honestly? Still super happy THEY ARE BACK! (well, for now…) xo

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Revisiting Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

I am revisiting being a stay-at-home mom since the pandemic and brazenly quitting my job. I haven’t done this since 2007, and I have to say it’s interesting? Well, first off, looking for a job, particularly now, is fairly rotten. I hit up all the job sites, like Indeed and Glassdoor, in addition to going to actual websites of places I might like to work, and I have not had much success. It takes forever, and you have to enter a lot of search filters, leaving you eventually tired, exasperated and cross-eyed. Plus, I don’t even know what I want to do. I clicked on a wide array of positions, including being a Door Dash delivery person, an online social media designer, a development director, and a reporter. I freaked out that I’d get murdered with being a delivery person, so I opted out of that search.

But, then, I stumbled upon what may be my real talent and niche: Camp Counselor Philanthropist! Since school has yet to begin here in our town (first full day is October 13 #brutal), I started Camp Alex: Endless Summer. It’s essentially impossible for working parents now when kids are home all day, so I am helping them out while simultaneously entertaining my own children by having them over for camp. Win-win!

Here’s a look at Camp Alex. First, we have Puppy School, in which the dogs do math and get grades. The kids do “drop-off,” bringing the dogs upstairs with treats, and I do “pick-up.” At this time, I am versed on how well they behaved. For example, today, Poppy got an A+ and Winnie struggled with some addition and got a B+

Didn’t make Honor Roll

Around noon, we have lunchtime, which consists of whatever I can find in my fridge that they might like: edamame, french fries, grilled cheese and gummies.

Healthy!
Questionable

Next, we have play time on the trampoline and on the slide. One of their favorite games, which I created a long time ago as a disciplinary method, is “The Crab.” It’s really quite simple: find some tongs, and chase them around with the tongs biting at their ankles (gently, of course) and their knees. This is the crab! They absolutely love it, and it only costs a pair of tongs! Cheap, officious and fun. Next, we have pool time, in the baby pool, and finally quiet time with puzzles and crafts.

It’s interesting how we fall into things and unknown talents, like me being a camp counselor, during difficult times. I’m making the most of my staying at home during COVID, because I know it could be short lived. I don’t miss being in the office cubicle even one bit. The paycheck? Er, well, that’s another thing. For now, though, these kids laughing is a pretty good payoff.

My kindness rock garden