How ‘bittersweet’ it is…

My aunt and uncle moved back to Ohio last Tuesday, after living near Washington D.C (in Leesburg, Virginia) for the past 8 years.

And I’ve been so excited, that I’ve repeated myself for months.  Honestly, it was NEW to me every time it came out of my mouth. Didn’t realize I was repeating…

KATE IS COMING…

Kate is coming soon.

Kate is coming next month. Next week.

Then finally.

Today! Kate will be here today!!!

My children said it was like a child telling everybody Santa Claus is coming. And really, it HAS felt a bit like Christmas. Especially since Kate arrived. My wonderful uncle, too. It is a HUGE gift for our family.

And yet, we’re sad. Wrung out.

One of Kate’s dearest friends (A close family friend to all of us) lost her 24-year-old son last week. He passed away unexpectedly. And my aunt and uncle got word on Tuesday, while they were driving their cars back to Cleveland.

Which made last week bittersweet.

Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, Daughter and I gathered around the kitchen at the New House several nights ago. Had dinner. (And cupcakes…) But our hearts were heavy.

As a family, we’re heartbroken for those parents. We know ‘these things’ happen. But they aren’t supposed to. And certainly NOT to a family such as THAT one. Happily married a million years, dedicated, loving parents and partners. The best. And yet, they are without their beloved son. Left with only memories.

Losing a child isn’t the natural order of things. It isn’t something any parent imagines—or cares to imagine.

So I’ve spent the past week sick to my stomach one minute. Thrilled to have Aunt Kate nearby the next.

The movers arrived at the New House on Saturday morning. Five days after they packed the last box in Virginia, which is typical for a move from one state to another. They unloaded the truck, set up beds and placed furniture and boxes in the New House under my uncle and cousin’s direction.

And while they did so, Aunt Kate and I attended a funeral mass. Followed by a service at the cemetery where a young man was laid to rest. Far too soon.

We watched two parents cling to each other. When one faltered, the other supported…with words, a hand gently rubbing a back, an arm wrapped protectively around a shoulder. They comforted one another. Their bond was obvious and true. Always has been in the nearly 20 years I’ve known them.

They carried themselves with more dignity, courage and grace than most could muster under similar circumstances.

And so my family begins this week intact. Overjoyed to be living near each other again. We can gather for dinner, to watch The Olympic Games, take a walk in the woods. Simple things.

But another family is left with a gaping hole. And that type of loss isn’t something that is ‘gotten over.’ More something people learn to live with. They were (and are) a close and loving family. A family who spent time together, appreciated the moments.

The words “You never know…” roll off the tongue easily. Everybody says them. Everybody has heard them over and over.

But we don’t often stop to think of their meaning. How uncertain life is. We take this precious thing called ‘time’ for granted. Or waste ‘moments’ being angry, bitter, unhappy or dissatisfied. Instead of choosing to be happy, or grateful.

Certainly, I cannot make sense of this past weekend–though I have tried.

I know there is nothing I can do. Nothing anybody can do to. But I’ll make a special effort to support our grieving friends. To be kind and thoughtful.

And I’ll embrace having my aunt and uncle living just 10 minutes away again. I’ll continue to enjoy and appreciate my children—and other favorite people. As long as I am lucky enough to spend time with them.

Which is just what I did last night.

Because I COULD.

I gathered in my family room with some of my favorite people in the world. (The dogs, too.) And we watched The Olympic Games. I got teased. Some laughed until they cried…

And I felt very, very lucky.

Single, Over 40 & Online Dating

Ugh.

There seems to be a constant stream of advertising to promote online dating services.

Or maybe I notice because I am single. Same as taking note of car commercials when we need to buy a car. Weight loss commercials when we are chubby.

Confession. I’m terrified of online dating.

I’m not afraid of meeting new people. I do that all the time. Nor do I fear rejection. Been rejected and survived—even see the benefits of it in hindsight. And I’m not afraid of putting my information ‘out there.’ Thanks to the internet, we are ALL kind of ‘out there’ anyway. And I typically only write, email or say things that I would say directly to a person, or admit to saying. That wouldn’t embarrass me (or others) if they were on a billboard.  Life is more simple that way. Straightforward.

So it isn’t a privacy issue. Or that I am a single, divorced, mother of teenagers. Just a hair over 40. All of that statistically makes dating more complicated. But none of it bothers me.

Quotes and claims from a couple of well-known sites:

eHarmony – #1 Trusted Online Dating Site for Singles

Unlike traditional dating websites, eHarmony matches compatible men and women based on 29 Dimensions of Compatibility that are predictors of long-term relationship success. To begin your eHarmony experience, register now and complete your Relationship Questionnaire. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you will receive your FREE Personality Profile and our Matching System will begin prescreening singles against your profile.

Match.com – The Leading Online Dating Site for Singles and Personals

The Match.com site promotes taking a personality test with Chemistry.com. Amarnath Thombre, Match.com’s vice-president of strategy and the keeper of the site’s matching algorithm said this online:

We don’t pretend to know who is right for you, but we use mathematics to quickly learn how your complexity shows itself on the site, we are like a bartender who is always observing particularly which types of people are talking to each other and hitting it off.

Seems to be a whole lot of testing, analysis and psychology going on.

My (quirky?) fear…

What if I take the personality profiles and ‘tests’ then get matched with a series of fu#kwits? If they are my Perfect match, then I am a fu#kwit, as well. And I’ll have confirmation of it.

So, it isn’t so much a fear of online dating. It’s more about the ‘test results.’

If I avoid the sophisticated dating websites–and the ‘high tech’ surveys and personality profiles–then I can keep the illusion that I am a sane, normal, person. Because who the computer matches me with surely reflects me–especially if I am completely honest when I take all the ‘tests.’

And even if I’m not honest, these sites are designed to ‘catch’ the liars. And also those who think they are being truthful…

For example, I say I’m attracted to dark-haired men and that money/career aren’t important as long as Mr. Perfect is ‘nice.’ But then I only view profiles of gray-haired men. Many photographed behind the wheels of  their expensive sports cars. The jig is up and the computer is onto me…

So I’m NOT doing any online dating. No thank you. Maybe I am as self-evolved as I want to be just now. And these sites are going to match crazy with crazy.

But what if I miss out on meeting the man of my dreams? Getting engaged. Or married again? (Lord help me…)

I guess I’ll take my chances.

A FINAL THOUGHT…

Where’s the story?

“You two seem soooo happy. How did you guys meet?”

Well…we sat down at our respective computers. Spent about an hour filling out a series of online forms, profiles and tests. Paid our fees. Got our passwords, then a list of Perfect matches. I looked at his photo and bio. He looked at my photo and bio. And we just KNEW. The computer cross referencing was spot on!!

OR:

Her Story: I paged through hundreds of profiles. And there he was. He loves kids and dogs. Cooking. Spending time with family and friends. Going on picnics. Watching the sunset. Loves butterflies, unicorns and rainbows. Blah, blah, blah…

His Story: She was the ONLY one who responded to me.

Online dating isn’t for me. I’ll stick to meeting who I meet, dating who I date. Taking one day at a time. Winging it. For now, anyway…

Note to Readers: Comment away. But please don’t point out my oddities and shortcomings. Or tell me I’m riding the crazy train. (I’d rather not know) In other words, don’t burst my bubble!

Aurora, Colorado

This morning, I woke to a very, very sad story on the news.

Once again, families will never be the same…

Right now, the facts aren’t in. The investigation is far from complete. Nobody can confirm how many were injured, passed away or how they died. We don’t know the back story of the killer, his circumstances, how he got the weapons or what drove him to murder.

We haven’t heard from grieving families. Cannot put faces to those killed. There are no photos rolling across TV screens. Not yet. But that will come.

And when it does, it will reach into our hearts. We’ll not be able to express the depth of our sadness. There will be no words…

The Blame Game…

In the search for answers, there is always blame. People blame violence in movies, television and video games. Or on religion. Either lack of religious beliefs. Or a ‘wrong’ belief system. Then there’s the economy with its ebbs and flows. Lack of jobs, financial constraints that create desperation. Or the cost of education—making school systems inadequate, college out of reach.

Blaming is a way to identify the ‘problem.’ Which often helps people to assure themselves that  ‘these things’ can’t happen to them. That they are safe.

The Bottom Line… (Some will like me for this. Some will hate me.)

Whenever I see tragedy or young people acting out—I cannot help but wonder at my generation’s parenting skills. Fact is, we seem to be raising some angry children.

Generations before us made plenty of mistakes when raising their children. And I’m quite sure I’ve made, will make or am making my share of mistakes in raising my own children.

But I’m thinking it comes down to stability. Many children these days don’t have it. They run back and forth between houses and families—never quite being ‘part’ of anything. Never quite having a home base.  Something solid. Their parents have significant others who are in and out of their lives. Which isn’t right or wrong. I get that.

I also understand the economics of it all. I am a divorced, single parent. It is simple mathematics. You cannot take ONE family income, divide it in two. Then provide for two separate households—and STILL provide for the children to the same standard as if two people remained together. And I guarantee that we parents cannot give our children as much of our time. We are simply pulled in too many directions.

So when events such as Aurora, Colorado come across the television. I’m thinking;

Where are we parents going wrong? What are we failing to give our children that they are capable of such monstrous actions? That we are raising such an angry generation of young people? What can we do better?

Because we need to do better. No doubt about it. And I include myself in that. Because I’m PART of raising another generation.

Our children ARE a reflection of us. If they are angry, sad, depressed, bitter, confused, needy—we are part of that.  Have helped create it. We are responsible for who/what our children become. Be it good. Bad. Or somewhere in between. They mirror us. They are our reflection.

Back to Colorado…

In the coming days, the facts will come out. And from my experience, people are generally good. They want to reach out, to help others, to comfort others. And so tragedy will pull another community together. No doubt, we’ll see the best of humanity. Which is a good thing.

It’s just a shame that it will have been born of another heartbreaking event.

Welcome #5 (Hint…#5 is a table)

I wonder what my neighbors think? We’re always dragging large furniture in and out of the house.

The antique, metal Johnson & Johnson cabinet left today…

Went to a great home. An entrepreneur who is in the beginning stages of developing  medical product. He’ll use it to display the product. I planned to use this ‘find.’ But found it another home, when it didn’t fit into my small house.

Most exciting? I welcomed #5 today.

A preliminary photo. Or teaser…

Early days. I need to pick up the chairs tomorrow. The red chair isn’t staying. Not sure how I will arrange the room, what accessories I’ll add. Whether I’ll use an area rug under the table.

I know there will be fresh flowers. There always are, because they make me happy.

This is my 5th dining table in the past 6 months. It’s becoming a game. Thinking of doing 12 tables in 12 months–just for fun. And to see if I can do it.

I’ll post more photos this week when I finish the room.

Though I use the term ‘finish’ loosely…

What’s for Lunch Today?

It’s a beautiful thing.

Daughter has taken to cooking this past year. Not only does she make her own meals. She makes mine. (And her brothers)

Or at least offers to make enough for all of us.

Yesterdays lunch…

PRETTY & DELICIOUS

Fresh spinach, strawberries and pecans. Dried cranberries and golden raisins. A hint of vinaigrette dressing. Perfect.

Daughter is making homemade, creamy asparagus soup this evening. We got fresh asparagus at the farmers market yesterday. Somebody will probably throw a salad together.

And I’m making a lemon icebox pie. Found the recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. (Aug 2012) It’s made with a 32 oz tub of vanilla greek yogurt and graham cracker crust. We’ll see how it turns out…

The best part of Daughters newfound hobby?

She makes the grocery lists and plans the menus, with Son and my input. Both kids often grocery shop with me. They load the cart, bag the food and help put it away. They also wash the fruit, lettuce, etc.

I know teenagers are supposed to be awful. But so far, I’ve enjoyed most every minute of raising them. I LOVE the teenage years.

The only bad part?

My grocery bill has increased some. Okay, A LOT.  

A small price to pay for spending time with the kids. Time with them I wouldn’t have if I was in charge of ALL the food planning for the family.

Plus, its fun. Fun to shop with them. To cook with them. Even if they pull up a bar stool to chat with me while I cook, or vice versa. We’ve always sat down to dinner together, but now we often ‘hang out’ while somebody is cooking.

Lets face it, teenagers are busy. Too busy to be around that much.

And I’m busy. Working, (single) parenting, maintaining our home, paying bills and making time to have a social life. Then there’s the dogs…

If we didn’t spend time together doing mundane tasks, we’d spend far less time together. And the more I turn over to the kids, the more responsible they become. I’m confident they can figure things out–And they always do. Maybe not the way I would have done it. But what does it matter, so long as the task gets done?

Both kids tend to do their own laundry, empty the dishwasher, cook when they are hungry. Son rides his bike to work out, to friends houses. They are slowly evolving into adults. And I’m happy to let them…

Instead of being sad they are growing up, I’m embracing it. If I continued to do everything for them, I suppose I would have control. I’d hold all the cards.

There would be no mad dash for towels to wave at the smoke detectors when the latest ‘culinary experiment’ failed. Just last weekend, we opened windows. Doors. Waved towels. The Little Black Neurotic Dog howled like a banshee. (She howls at sirens) The Red Dog ran in circles. He wanted to hide, but didn’t know where to bury his head.

It was chaos for a few minutes. Then Daughter and I pulled a meal together from the mess. Son closed the windows. Dogs settled down. And we sat down to dinner…

All this talk of food has me wondering whats for lunch today?

If somebody is kind enough to make lunch, I‘ll happily do the dishes.

There’s just one small problem. I sold the dining table. Again.

Technically, we don’t have a place to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner today.

But I’m sure I’ll find another dining table soon…