"they say the owl was a baker's daughter. lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be." (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Taking it All In

We're moving in to November and I figured I better get a blog post off before my birthday hits and sweeps me reluctantly forward, adding yet another year to the passage of time. This hasn't been a typical year and there is lots to consider, plenty on which to reflect, and reflections too abundant to measure. Where to begin and what is next?

I look around and take inventory of my space.

I have a beautiful apartment in the middle of what my father refers to as "the concrete canyon". Will I ever love living here? Probably not. But, I can make the most of this area: enroll my children in an excellent school, register them for sports, and find local friends to enrich us with their company. I can also hold on to my home in New Hampshire, visit if often, and think always about its many memories. The love that was shared, the anger that was spared, the relationships that were raised and those that were razed, and the legacy that survives, evolves, and continues. Home.

I see my children. So much their own people now. Bringing home report cards, batting in home runs. We travel with a giant bin of sports equipment on the back of our car. I have thrown countless pitches, hosted endless fielding practices, punted infinite footballs, blocked, passed, served, volleyed, spiked, tackled, outrun, outwit, outlast. Their childhood. I hope it's enough.

I see my husband. I am calmed.

Turning a corner, another year, and the road continues to stretch before us. I'll probably still ignore the posted speed limit. I move at my own pace. Try to catch me. I'll consider the traffic signs and the guideposts, but chances are, I'm going to do this my way.

I feel the momentum of 35 years gathering behind me. All the mistakes. All the regrets. All the lost opportunities. All of missteps. All of the errors in judgement. Everything I've bumbled, jumbled, tumbled, and tangled. And I see it for what it is. The most imperfect road through the most perfect storm. And I have arrived at the most likely place. The place where I am. And, oh! The places I will go from here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

1001 Ways to Lose With the Shoes: Just Average July August

I know, I know ... you're probably all thinking that I forgot to write a blog post in July and that I am probably going to forget again in August too. A-ha! NO SUCH LUCK. Suckers.

I haven't had much time to write blog posts about my boring life, because I have been going cross-eyed grading papers, writing project plans, and trying to decipher the four-page, seven-column, tri-colored, school supply list for my children. I had NO IDEA that one child could possibly need to so many varieties of glue (but no pencil box?), or that it could take fourteen hours in the school supply aisle of Target to locate the last-standing 1.5-inch, soft-cloth, three-ring, zipper-snap-velcro-close, durable, bottom-folder, binder. I'll be honest. I'm not proud. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a 1.5-inch soft-cloth, three-ring, zipper-snap-velcro-close, durable, bottom-folder binder. But I found it.

Hell yeah, I did.

In other news, I've been working. Watching way too much "Real Housewives of New Jersey" (did someone say train wreck because I simply cannot look away?), and listening to a lot (too much) American Top 40 (don't even act like you don't have Adam Lambert or Lady Gaga in your iTunes library.).

Well, it's not all AT40 all the time. I've been digging back, way back, into my old school archives, and stumbled upon this little gem in my iTunes library. Just when you thought you couldn't love Ray Allen more (and I might never be done loving Chuck D.)

It's also been hotter than Hades out here on the Atlantic Coast this summer (Al Gore, I've got your number. Global warming is for the birds). This heat, combined with my recent obsession with hot vinyasa yoga, makes me think that I have probably sweated out all of my genetic material and every last possible ounce of hydration that my body might have ever hoped to retain. On the bright side, sometimes, after leaving yoga, it actually feels cool outside, when the heat index is 103 degrees with 571% humidity. Also, as widely chronicled on Facebook, I also flipped my dog, popped out a wheel, and somehow managed a fully bound extended side angle. I think I might look taller now.

How do my boys deal with this heat? Easy. They play Twister on their Twister beach towel, courtesy of Miss Sara who always finds the best gifts everrrrrr. When it comes to gift-giving, she really makes the rest of us look lame.

I hope this update isn't a tragic disappointment. In the words of Adam Lambert, "Whadd'ya want from me?" Not much to report: It's Just Average, July August.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Just June

Some pretty sah-weet things happened in June. Here they are in random order.

1.Scott graduated from Basic Training and I got to travel to Fort Benning with my parents, my sister-in-law, and my super-best five year old. You’ve all seen the pictures so I won’t prattle on and on about it. Suffice to say: it was awesome.

2. I went mini-golfing with my three best dependents, at the most horrifying, macabre, miniature golf course in the history of mini-golf courses. It was so terrifying in fact, that both of my boys started crying in terror, and at one point, I think even Casey almost wet her pants. I did NOT wet my pants, but I did get sprayed, in the face, by a ceramic makeshift poisonous dart frog, and I am quite sure that if it weren’t for the benefit of modern western medicine and inoculations, that I would have contracted quite the case of typhoid fever.

3. After a rousing day at the darkest putt-putt course in the free world, Casey and I thought we should try to redeem ourselves as, “providers of all things fun” and take the boys to play tennis … which we did. Naturally, as soon as we stepped foot on the courts, the sky opened, and instead of shining the light of the heavens on us, it began to downpour an angry rain. Fear not! We were not deterred! We fulfilled our mission and served up the best game of soggy tennis you’ve ever seen.
Just June

4. I said farewell to a few friends at a local establishment. I am so grateful to all the remarkable people in my life, especially those who put up with me interrupting their jokes (Kelly), hijacking their stories (Jen), and invading their personal space (Allyn) all night long.

5. My husband isn’t one to leave love notes for me all over creation, but every now and then he reminds me that he loves me too much in history by changing the battery on the motorcycle without his shirt on. Love you too babe, xoxo ~

That’s a wrap. It’s just June.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

May in a Major Way

This blog post, like many other things in my life, is long overdue. May ended weeks ago, but its memory lives on.

To start, my mother, my sister, my two nephews, and my two sons took a trip to Ohio to visit my 96 year old grandmother. Nothing like traveling with four dependents, three baseball gloves, two car seats, one double stroller, and a diaper bag to make you think twice about ever leaving your home again. The highlight of the trip might have been my jaunt to the local Super Wal-Mart at 12:45 AM to buy milk and groceries. So many questions still linger in my mind. “Why are so many people shopping at 12:45 in the morning?” “Does that four year old boy really have a mohawk?” “Does that tank-top really only cost 19 cents?” Most of these mysteries will remain unanswered for time in perpetuity, and I just have to accept that.

We, of course, had a great time. I loved watching my boys playing in the fields that memorialize my childhood. Roscoe village, the bethlehem grange, the ditch, chocolate mountain, the red tractor, the smell of the shed, and the rumble of pebbles under the tires as we pull up to the front porch. The heavy smell of sweet country air, the weight of the sliding glass door as you enter the home, the familiar and comforting cocoon of the low ceiling and narrow hallway, and the eyes of my grandmother. Someone asked me, “Well Jeannette, was it worth it?” Yes. Unequivocally. Yes.

Other fabulous things that happened in May. The little person that changed my life forever celebrated his ninth birthday! I love this boy so much that sometimes I feel like I am going to crumble to pieces over it. But instead, I decided to demonstrate the depths of my affection. It was simple. I put his name in lights at Fenway Park. And thanks to the Red Sox for pulling it together and winning on his birthday. We had a great trip into the big city, seats right behind homeplate (what’s up Jason Varitek!?), enough ballpark food to last a lifetime, and the memory of the night forever burned into our retinas from the glow of the Red Sox scoreboard, “Happy 9th Birthday Liam!” Yeah buddy. That’s you.

There was also Mother’s Day (thanks to my amazing and super-handsome husband for making that a wonderful occasion), there was also some moving from here to there, and then back again, two graduations (college and high school), a Memorial Day play, and a commissioning. In short, May made all things possible and the Campos-clan with all its extensions, isn’t looking back. Lock step. Forward march. Confidently, into our futures with the grace of our many amazing achievements supporting us, the fatigue of a month of milestones behind us, our eyes wide open with gratitude, and our hearts eagerly seeking the many adventures that await in this new life that we have crafted for ourselves. I love each and every one of you … so much that I could crumble to pieces.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Chicken Crossed the Road

Sometimes, my dad likes to ride his Harley up to New Hampshire to visit with the boys. Sometimes, a herd of chickens likes to waltz into my driveway and make themselves comfortable in my backyard. Just ask my dad. He witnessed it with his very own eyes. From where do these larger-than-life chickens come? Impossible to say. Why did these larger-than-life chickens cross the road? Well, I still don't know the punchline to that riddle. Check out the snap shot above. After scratching up my entire backyard, they settled in under the deck, to nest on top of the many stray wiffle balls that can be found there. Welcome! And PS: those aren't eggs!

It was also Easter ... which is kind of funny when you think about it, because I had just hardboiled 2 dozens eggs for fancy decorating fun, and I could have conceivably hardboiled 2 dozen more depending on the stamina and productivity of my newly registered tenants. If nothing else, we could have had some very pretty wiffle balls in our Easter baskets on Sunday morning.

Speaking of Easter baskets, even Carli got in on the fun and participated in our outdoor egg and easter basket hunt. I didn't make it too tricky for him, and I even waited for him to brew a cup of coffee before forcing him in to the fun. "Shut up and have fun!" Isn't that what my mom always said? (hee-hee)

Although we were adorned in a far cry from our Sunday best (who wants to be in their Sunday best when the chance of a surprise attack of filthy fowl in one's own side yard has risen to a red alert of terror?), we cleaned up real nice to spend the afternoon with our families. We had a grand time, and hats off to Auntie A for organizing a 50 egg hunt, and for Grandma for making those delicious cheese potatoes. A slight tip of the hat to the Celtics who managed to win, but only after blowing a 22 point lead in the last five minutes of regulation play. Lame.

And last, if you are either of the two people that I have actually crawled out from underneath my avalanche of details and red tape to speak with in the last three weeks, I might have mentioned that I am entirely obsessed with the song Kandi, by One eskimO. Maybe, you will be too?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

February Frenzy Meets March Madness

While the majority of America is (or was) betting on brackets and watching ESPN makes Hessians out of college basketball players (or should I say "scholar-athletes"?), the Campos clan was busily trying to arrange something nearly as complex as an NCAA tournament. Rather than bore you with the details of our multi-state move, two new jobs, three children starting new schools, one joining the Army, and our buying and selling of homes all over the Atlantic coast, I'll just quote Dave Eggers here (again), "I have no idea how people function without near constant internal chaos. I'd lose my mind." (~A.H.W.O.S.G.) And ps: if you haven't read his memoir yet, it's time to get to your local bookstore and pick up a copy. You can borrow mine if you want. While you're at it, grab a copy of WHAT IS THE WHAT, and then you'll be a hero(ine) and a legend among your book club friends.

In the midst of the chaos, we were able to enjoy my nephew's baptism (Hunter Allen Roberts), and a going away party for my younger brother Scott, who, as chronicled in a previous blog post, recently joined the Army and got engaged. We had Scott, and his fiancee Jeanine out for dinner recently, and we enjoyed a delicious meal, including charmoula, the recipe for which my sister-in-law Diane gave me last year. We also managed to drain a few too many bottles of wine, some scotch, and a few martinis in between. What can we say? Everything tastes better, and goes down more smoothly, when the company is good, and the conversation lively.

Speaking of conversation, my husband and I regaled our dinner guests with the 2006 story (replete with reenactment) of how he nearly drown me by recommending that I clean the bottom of the pool while wearing his weighted SCUBA belt. Considering that my husband has the densest body mass of any human I know, and I lack the strength to kick the covers off in the morning, I think it is obvious how my first (and last) pool vacuuming experience ended. The paramedics were not called, but I attribute that miracle entirely to the Beverly YMCA for teaching me basic lifesaving skills in the 5th grade. (I would also like to attribute it to my incredibly slim waste that was able to wiggle out of the weight belt without unfastening it, thus allowing me to escape its death grip, but I am 1) not sure that is true, and 2) not sure if those are the types of things one should admit in public.)

Other fun and exciting things that happened this last month. Casey, the boys, and I went to Time to Clay pottery so that each of them could make a "wish box". A place for them to put their wishes as a way of lessening their anxieties about the many upcoming changes. Of course, my two little tightwads only want to put money it their wish boxes, because the idea of an online bank account just doesn't make sense when you are 5. It doesn't matter how many times I show them their online balances, I get the same question each time: "If my money is in the computer, why do we have to go the ATM?"

Last, my husband and I were able to enjoy a few days off from parenting, and attend the wedding of a dear family friend. A few notable events happened during this brief escapade.

First, we managed to take less than two pictures the entire time. This tends to happen often. Probably far too often. I've included the one picture I took of Carli, standing near the fort in St. Augustine. He's handsome. I don't need tons of pictures to prove it.

Second, we drove our first hybrid vehicle. A rather frightening experience when you realize that the car is moving (super silently) and you are about to run over an entire pod of innocent pedestrians.

Third, I got a tattoo. Well, to be more accurate, it's a temporary henna tattoo, which is still pretty risky for someone like me. The best/worst part was that I had to sit in a store front window while the "artist" painted it on me, and then I had to walk around with my shirt tied with a rubber band in the back for about an hour while it dried. I felt like I looked just like one of those horribly tacky people who want the world to see their lame tramp stamp tattoo so they wear a half-shirt and parade around tourist locations, when they really have no business, and the weather does not call for, wearing half-shirts.

Fourth, we saw an amazing band at a colorful local establishment called The Trade Winds Tropical Lounge. If you haven't been, you should really visit Trade Winds, because it is the type of place that reminds you, that the majority of people in this country are not concerned with feeding their children organic food, are happy to drink the well vodka, and are really and truly not concerned with how much your shirt is, or is not, riding up and revealing your alleged "back fat".

Fifth, at this same establishment, I met Steven Segal (or his doppleganger, see the photo to believe it), AND an honest-to-goodness, living and breathing guy named Bubba, who had to be at least 6'5", with feathered bangs, and wearing a full denim suit (with vest). Bubba is a mortgage broker, and he was in town to receive payment on an outstanding debt in the form of a motor boat. Bubba was possibly the most friendly person I ever met, and he astonished us with his plans for "making that boat rock" all night long. Bubba, I hope all your dreams came true.

And like I said, there was an AMAZING band playing, The Red River Band, and here's a short clip of them covering a Charlie Daniels tune. I thought the man was playing the violin, but I was later corrected, and learned that he was playing the "fiddle". Whatever it was, it was awesome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Heroes Among Us

I have recently come under criticism for not encouraging my children to believe in Santa Claus. When asked, "Mama, is Santa real?", I would simply respond, "It depends on what you believe." I really didn't see the point in fictitious elaboration, when vague honesty seemed like such a bette alternative.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Every now and again I get a glimpse into the world through the eyes of my children. What I see is so endearing.

Last week, we were watching "This Is It" (the Michael Jackson documentary). My boys have inherited my love of music and dancing, and they were fascinated by the amazing dance moves and groovy beats. Right in the middle of it all, when Michael Jackson (surrounded by back-up dancers) was busting a move like nobody's business, Eamon announced, "Duke is the only man in the whole world who can dance better than these guys." I looked at him, evaluated for a trace of sarcasm, and saw only the most sincere eyes and loving expression. He really truly meant it.

Later that week, I asked Eamon not to pull on the spindles on the second floor landing. I tried to explain that if he pulled too hard, they might break off, and someone might fall. It would be dangerous. He looked at me, dumbfounded and replied, "Well, don't worry Mama, Duke wouldn't get hurt, because he has a parachute." A parachute? Seriously?

While watching the Super Bowl, Liam told me, "These guys are lucky that Duke doesn't play professional football, because he's an amazing quarterback." Wow. Watch out Drew Brees.

If you are in third grade you often weave tall tales to earn the respect of your undeserving peers. Stepdads like Duke become urban legends. I heard Liam telling his friends, "My stepdad can hit a wiffle ball over the roof ... with a shovel." Well, actually he can do that, so it wasn't really a myth or a tale, but definitely a legend. Liam also told me, "It doesn't matter where we are, Duke will always protect us because he is so strong."

The way I see it. My boys have invented their own mythical being. The legend of Duke. Their hero is alive and well. It all depends on what they believe.

And, he has a parachute.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Behind the Barn

Whoever invented January should be taken out and shot behind the barn. The only two good things that have happened in the history of January are that my mom and my sister-in-law were born. Well, my friend Hanan and my friend Andrea's husband, Derek were born too. Other than that, January comes up pretty short.

When I haven't been busy freezing, slipping on the ice, or fumbling around in the dark (because daylight is so scarce this month), I have been teaching a lot and preparing for a very exciting move. That's keeping us all pretty busy. Anyone who knows me, knows that I like nothing better than a big project to keep my gears grinding at a breakneck pace at all hours of the day. In fact, just the other morning at 0200, I figured out exactly where I am going to hang all of my framed photos in my new house (c'mon you know, my new house ... the one I haven't bought yet). My poor husband. He keeps saying "Just relax, don't get all keyed up." And I keep looking with at him with intense curiosity and wondering if he has ever met me before.

I would be remiss and negligent if I didn't mention one really exciting thing that happened in January 2010. My baby brother, Scott, was accepted to the United States Army Warrant Officer Flight Training program. Then, he stupified all of the Munroes, and got engaged a week later. Last time I checked, he was riding a tricycle and eating Zwieback. I guess I need to stay more involved. The good news is, I really like his fiancee, so I'll forgive him for growing up without notifying me in advance.

Duke and the boys started cleaning the garage to get ready for the move. Liam announced: "Wow, Duke, you have a LOT of tools!" to which Eamon replied

"Of course he does Liam! You can't be a MAN without tools."

You heard it here first.