with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: marriage

“This Is Us” and the importance of rituals, even if they seem weird

by SweetMidlife
Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that's weird that you think it's weird.

Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that’s weird that you think it’s weird.

SPOILER ALERT FOR A VERY POPULAR TV SHOW!

Leslie here! Lynne and I don’t live close to each other, so our Monday-morning quarterbacking of TV shows is part of our enduring togetherness (We also like talking, and seem to like talking about the same things, so we’ve found maybe the only other person who will endure in-depth 20-minute dissections of one episode of “Survivor.”) “This Is Us,” NBC’s next-level “Parenthood”-like exploration into emotional manipulation, is not one of those things that no one likes but us. EVERYBODY likes it, and cries about it, and then goes on Twitter and cries so more. Fans like us all seem to agree that it’s one of the best new shows this season.

But there’s something a lot of us can’t agree on, and that’s Toby, the too-enthusiastic love interest of Kate, a gorgeous, talented but insecure young woman who lets her lifelong struggle with her weight (and the baggage of her mother’s apparently early disapproval of it) make her hide her considerable light under a basket. Toby, who she met at a weight support group, initially seems like an encouraging factor in Kate’s life, pushing her out of her comfort zone to, say, use that gorgeous voice to sing to the folks at his aunt’s retirement home, or be chauffered around LA and be a star, like her sweet, pretty, famous twin brother.

But increasingly, Dude’s behavior has bordered, at best, on overbearing and at worst completely and insufferably creepy. He’s right that she throws herself into her brother Kevin’s life at expense of her own, but he seems to be mad that she doesn’t choose the whims of him, a guy she’s known for a week at that point, over her twin brother who also happens to be her employer. (He is, however, right that stalking and then accepting a job with his ex-wife is cray.)

On Tuesday night’s episode, Toby steps up the overbearing behavior to a disrespectful level, by ignoring something sacred to sports fans – the game day ritual. Honestly, it’s rude to ignore someone’s gentle but emphatic refusal to change the way they do something that means more to them than to you, no matter what it is. But when it’s about sports, whose personal importance is usually tied to deeply-seated details like national and regional identity and family tradition, you need to step off. I have a friend who broke up with a guy once for that same thing, and honestly, Toby deserves the same.

I feel strongly about this because I am related to, by blood and marriage, people with very strong sports rituals, that seemed quirky and inconvenient until they let you inside of them. My Granddaddy Streeter would retreat down the hall to his bedroom after dinner and lie in the dark to silently listen to Baltimore Orioles games on the radio. If we were very quiet, we were allowed to sit there with him, quietly bonding over strike-outs and home runs and the sparkling crack of the bat. It seemed like an inheritance. And anyone who ever met my late husband Scott knew that he had as many sports-related rituals as he did Ravens Jerseys, including buying football magazines before the NFL draft to study the upcoming picks, and then before the season to do his fantasy draft. He also brought a dancing Purple People Eater doll we called Purpie to every Ravens game he watched at Kirby’s, our local Ravens bar, and made it dance at every Ravens touchdown. It was fun, it didn’t hurt anyone and it was cool to have a thing.

Kate’s thing, apparently, is watching football by herself. That should be enough explanation, and she doesn’t owe anyone else more than that. But Toby decides that if he doesn’t get her motivations it must be sad, because Toby seems to need to worm his way into every part of her life in some supposed attempt to break her out of her shell. So he won’t accept “No” for an answer when she declines his invitation to watch a game together. Because Toby’s appointed himself Kate’s personal confidence guru, he can’t give her credit for choosing to do things he doesn’t get, because he doesn’t allow her the autonomy to know the difference between stuff she does to hide and stuff she does because she just wants to. She’s a person, not a project, loser.

Anyway, because he’s a pushy bastard, Toby does his usual public declaration thing that’s seeming less and less spontaneous and more and more like bullying, when he makes a homemade invitation to a supposed football party at his place, and passes it to Kate across their weight loss meeting. Nothing says “I respect your boundaries:” like involving a bunch of other people in it, particular because he assumes correctly that she’s easier to coerce when other people are watching. So she shows up, reluctantly, to his house, and he and the random friend he’s also invited yap through the whole thing and actually pause the game to keep yapping, so that Kate almost misses a touchdown.

So she bails, as you do when you aren’t having any fun at an event you got badgered into in the first place. Toby shows up at her house demanding an explanation, because how dare she not find his pushiness charming! So she explains that football, particularly Steelers games, was her family thing (she and her twin were conceived in a sloppy bar bathroom during the Super Bowl), and that they always watched together. Then she explains that they still do, in a way – her father Jack (whose absence in the show’s present-day scenes was, until now, a mystery) has passed away, and she sits with his urn and watches the games.

There are writers who think this is a sad cry for help, which seems awfully judgey. Everyone’s rituals are not yours. Everyone’s life is not yours. People keep their loved one’s ashes for a reason, and as long as they aren’t smoking, eating, or having untoward relations with them, I don;t know what is weird about silently enjoying an activity they would still be enjoying were both still alive. I was sometimes annoyed by his insistence on always having to watch Ravens games, even if we were traveling and it was a pain in the butt to find somewhere broadcasting them. Sometimes it seemed selfish. But he asked for one afternoon, once a week, for like four months, to be in his element, and it was OK with me, because he gave so much of himself to everyone else.

The people who love you should respect, if not completely understand, the things that are important to you. If they don’t, they don’t deserve you. Sorry Toby.


This Is 45. At Least For Lynne.

by SweetMidlife

Hi y’all! It’s Lynne. It’s been like a month since we wrote on this here blog, because I started a theater that does shows about kindness for kids and we were doing our first performances, and Leslie has been busy at work writing about the lifestyle stuff in West Palm Beach for the paper she writes for, and we both have been trying to make sure that the little boys that we live with at our separate houses are fed and not throwing themselves off of things in a way that can hurt them. But I have missed you bunches, and missed talking to you and gabbing and maybe you have missed us, too? Well, we’re back, and YAY!  The last post we did was Leslie talking about the milestone of us reaching the age of 45 at the end of April, which we did on the same day, being twins and all. And I have been meaning to write something on my own musings of being this age so far, and I haven’t, so now I am.

I will say going in that this is not a definitive look at what it means for everyone to be 45. This is just my personal experience, but maybe you will find something in it that looks like you!.

So. 45.

Hi!

Hi!

It sounds really old, doesn’t it? Like 40 sounded empowered and stuff (which our awesome blogging friend Fadra just said in a comment on Leslie’s post), but something about 45 sounds firmly planted in middle age. Because it is. And sometimes when I tell people that I am 45 they say “What? You? No, you are lying! You can’t be that old.”, while some people go “Okay.” And those reactions might make me feel some kind of way about them or me, but that is because 45 just sounds kinda old. Like it’s still young, and my Grandma is almost 90 and that lady lives life, and I am exactly 1/2 her age, so I know that I got a lot of living to do, which is also a song from “Bye Bye Birdie”, which is a movie that Leslie and I watched 70 million times in middle and high school (Whattup, Betamax? I miss you), and is also a play that I did both in 7th grade and in dinner theater when I was 26 and I was way skinny even though I ate full-fat everything because that show is all dancing and jumping and fainting 8 shows a week. It feels more substantial.

But I digress. But actually, maybe that’s what 45 is. It’s remembering all of the things that have happened up to this point, that have added up to me being where I am now, and figuring out how that makes me who I am. Like my parents, and my sister, and us living overseas then coming back to the states and not being accepted by everyone, but still finding a niche, and me not finding a job in social work, and going into acting because I could do that and do shows that reached kids, and me loving it and choosing that life and getting training, and now me starting my own business and using all that I have learned. And there is also me getting married at 39 (and not having sex until then) and having a baby at 41 and having the loves of my life later than some might have and loving every minute. Well, most minutes. Because tantrums are not fun. And I miss people, like my dad, and my brother-in-law. That comes with being alive, the grieving, which I actually said to a good friend today who is missing someone she loves, too.

And it brings me here, to where I am writing this in a shirt with pictures of big cats on it and pajama bottoms that I worked out in earlier, and I need to take a shower, and my kid is watching TV from the kitchen as he looks into the family room because he can’t eat in there, so he is standing in the doorway drinking apple cider so he is still technically in the kitchen but he did just put his empty cup in the sink, so that’s good. I have a schedule for today, and I have already missed some of it, but I have moved things around, and I will get done what I need to get done. And I have okay grown-up things to do like get my oil changed, but also fun grown-up stuff to do like make cupcakes for my kid’s class tomorrow and also really awesome fun stuff to do this weekend like celebrate my son’s birthday and eat more cupcakes, this time made by my sister-in-law because she is really good at that. And I am still trying to be more organized with time, and with cleaning things up, and not going out with stuff in my hair, and I was NOT the last person to pick up their kid at school yesterday, and even if I was, at least I picked him up. He is here right now eating blocks of cheese and sticking pens into the salt shaker. Hold on.

I’m back.

And I am working on being more present for my friends, and doing what I said I would, and trying to make them know how much I love them, although I don’t do that right all of the time. And I am calling my mom more, and my sister more, but less when she has to work.

And I am working on owning up to my mistakes and feeling the shame that makes me want to do better, but not living in it and staying there. Don’t have time for that.

And I am loving my husband and seeing where I have changes to make and where we both do, and taking care of my crap, and diving into his love and also knowing that I don’t have to work to earn his love, but that his love makes me want to put in the work that it takes for us to do right by each other. Funny how that works, no?

And I am working on being a woman whose life in real time matches up to who she says she is when she says she is a Christian and wants to love people like Jesus showed us we should.

And I am working on loving me, and giving myself breaks, and realizing that I am kinda cool. I am making time for myself and honoring me. That is a work in progress. But I really like me. That felt weird to write. It will hopefully get less weird.

This is 45 to me. I have grown, and I am growing, and maybe you are younger and have figured this out before I did, and maybe you are older and you still have not, but that it okay. We are moving at our own pace, hopefully, altogether, forward.

I am liking this so far.


Oh, we’re 45, we’re beautiful, and we’re fine: Claiming your middle-aged awesome

by SweetMidlife
Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

This post was originally going to be about Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and whether a middle-aged viewer who is an admirer but not by any means a super fan would find it as enlightening and transformative as so many have, and whether anything in a soulful piece about anger, forgiveness, betrayal and acceptance could spur that admirer toward writing death threats to strangers who may or may not have betrayed another stranger. I doubt that. Anyway I’m not writing that story right now because I’m a really busy single mother and haven’t had the time to watch it – which alone I guess says something about my investment in some “Lemonade” transformation. Do with that what you will,

So that is not the story we will be writing today. The story I am writing is about how my sister Lynne and I turned 45 yesterday, a sort of milestone birthday that doesn’t have the same punch as those ages that end in a “0” but is the sort of age that people toss off as an example, like when a younger acquaintance was talking about a male contemporary and said, increduously, “He likes old women, like 45 year old women!” and I didn’t snatch her teeth out. I am fairly sure I thought 45 was old when I was 25, although only in relation to myself. The coolest people I knew, the most together, were in their 40s, and I was awed by what seemed to be their poise, their experience, their lived-in sexiness. I could not imagine what would have to happen in the 20 years between me, at the time, and my 45th birthday, and even imagining it was weird. I hoped I would be awesome. But unimaginable.

Guess what? It happened! I’m 45! I’m 45! And I am awesome. I am not as rich or thin or internationally famous as I imagined I would be, but I have a bunch of other things that are more important and I’m not even saying that to make up for not being rich and thin. I know that my sister feels the same way, because we talk on the phone and read each other’s minds. No we don’t. We’re not psychic.(OR ARE WE?)

What we are, every year, is more comfortable in our skin, more willing to claim the stuff that we know, and to not do what we and other women do all the time which is to downplay it and be self-deprecating. I still do that, too much, but I am learning to accept it. Not only because it seems phony to those who note their admiration, and maybe a little ungrateful like they’re stupid and wrong to think you impressive, but because a lot of people with a lot less reason to be proud are claiming their stuff, and the stuff of others, without even a thought.

I am not perfect. I am not where I want to be in a lot of ways. But I have built a good career that I am proud of, that I fought for. I am doing better in taking care of myself. I am a good friend, a good mommy, a good daughter. I was a good wife (but not “The Good Wife.”) I am better at most things, besides running and having good knees, at 45 than I was or would have been at 25 or 35. I have had losses and struggles, disappointments and giant, giant self-made mistakes, and some stuff that was just all-out stupid. I have learned from all of those things, that happened to me and that I made happen, and I have become a better, smarter, more humbled and yet more confident person than I would have been without those lessons.

And I am particularly proud to be 45, an age that my sweet goofy husband did not get to be, because I am living it for both of us. What an insult it would be to him and the things he was robbed of to whine and wrap my head in my hands and wail about getting old? Scott would want to be 45, and 50, and 75. He can’t. But I can. And I’m gonna start it off by saying:

I am excited to be 45. I earned this age. I earned these wrinkles and this cellulite, and also this common sense and distaste for drama. I have earned my career, and my friendships, which are mostly years old and healthy, because I have worked for them. I will not be coy about it anymore, pretend that I’m not proud so I seem nicer and more  humble. This is not a time for humility. It’s a big day. And I’m happy for it. Light them candles up, y’all.

I have earned them. We both have. We all have.


A Thing To Stop Saying To People

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne!

So, maybe you have a friend who comes up to you and tells you about something wonderful that is happening in their life. Let’s say that they just got a new job, and they are so excited about what this is going to do in their life, because it’s more money, and it is actually the job they have always wanted to have. Their dream.

And maybe you, at that moment, have also been looking for a new job, because maybe you don’t have one at all, or maybe the job that you have is killing your spirit, and you know exactly where you want to be, and where you are ain’t it. Maybe your friend with the new job knows that you are looking for a job too, or maybe they don’t, and maybe they work in a different field than you, but let’s say that they have the very kind of job that you want. And that is really annoying you. Because you want a fantastic too.  Maybe you wanted THAT job. All you know is that they are somewhere you want to be. So you say:

“Must be nice.”

Which sometimes means, “Must be great to get everything you want. Must be great to not have to work as hard as I did. Must be nice to have good stuff.”

“Because I don’t.”

Because you have made someone else’s successes about YOU.

And unless that person took the job that you were about to get buy lying to the hiring people about you by saying that all you do all day at work is play on Facebook and eat Pop-Tarts, or that your friend getting married instead of you tripped you as you were walking down the aisle in your white dress and grabbed your bouquet and said “I Do” to your love, or stole your boarding pass and ID at the airport and got on the plane to Jamaica and took the vacation that you paid for, they didn’t take anything from you. They worked what they had, and it paid off for them. Because other people get to be happy even when you aren’t. Even if it is something that your soul really needs. Would you want to announce your engagement then have other people burst into tears and run away because they got engaged before you? No, you wouldn’t. I know something of this, and I will admit this to you.

When Beautiful Twin Leslie got engaged to her dear beautiful late husband, she and Scott had only been officially dating for 6 months, although they had known each other for years. And they were breathtakingly in love. My now-husband and I had been dating at that point for a year and a half, and I wanted to be married BADLY. And the person with whom I share identical DNA with got engaged and married before I did. And as deliriously happy as I was for her, I have to admit that when she called me to tell me that she was getting married and described her ring, I looked down at my empty left ring finger and thought, “But I was supposed to get married first.” And I hate that I thought that. Because her love story had nothing to do with mine. But we are selfish creatures, and of course we think about what is affecting us. But that doesn’t have to come out of your mouth after you take a minute to process it. Or continue in your spirit, even unsaid. Because that will make you bitter. Don’t be bitter, sweet friends!

Because other people get to be happy. And so do you!!! I hope that your happiness is coming. Keep working for it, or praying for it. But happy shouldn’t be a competition. There is enough to go around. Really. I am not lying to you.

So, the next time someone tells you about the wonderful thing that is happening in their life, even if it’s a thing that is kind of or maybe exactly about the thing that you want, say this:

“Wow. That IS nice.”

Because it is. And when you get your thing, hopefully they will say the same thing to you. Because you are both cool like that.

You go with your bad self, doing the thing. Good on you.

You go with your bad self, doing the thing. Good on you.


Would you be “Married By Mom and Dad?” Probably not. But maybe….

by SweetMidlife

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This is Leslie, and as you might have read, I was married until about five months ago, and then, completely involuntarily, I was suddenly not. (He was awesome but he passed away. It’s a whole thing. Read HERE for the sad story I don’t feel like telling over right now, because we were having so much fun, weren’t we?)

I’m only 44 years old, so I imagine that at some point I’ll hopefully meet some other suitable man – Unlike before I met my husband, I’ve got standards now! – but am still feeling so married to my other guy, and so weary of the whole prospect of falling back into the rancid sinkhole that was my pre-marriage Internet dating situation, that I’ve told my friends that when the time is right they’re gonna have to shake the trees and introduce me to someone. (Someone good. Again, I’ve got standards now!) I know now what a good marriage is supposed to be, and in what ways I’d gotten in my own way when looking the last time. I trust my amazing and brutally, brutally honest village of friends to steer me in the right direction.

But the question that TLC’s “Married By Mom and Dad” asks is whether a modern woman or man would let someone else – their parents, specifically – not only steer you in the right direction, but pick the destination, park the car, carry you up the stairs, select the room and then lock you inside with a key you don’t have a copy of. Four singles – Mitch, Marivic, John and Christina – allow  their folks to narrow down a list of potential matches, meet them, winnow them down some more and then suggest they marry. The situations vary – all of them are between their mid-20s and early 30s, never married and with different expectations. Marivic is a nurse who lives at home and seems, honestly, brattier and less cool than her parents. Mitch is a super-pretty Ken doll wine rep, whose dad and stepmom have reluctantly teamed with his mom, who they all went to high school with (!) to find him a woman. John, like Marivic, is sort of a blur when compared to his outsized, outdoorsy parents, and Christina comes off kind of lame and immature, honestly.

The show reminds one instantly of “Married At First Sight,” another reality show about people leaving their romantic decisions up to someone else, except here that someone else is not the parents who raised and know you, but some complete strangers who do science math calculation situations to find you a match. And the stakes are way higher – at least with mom and dad, you get to meet the person before saying “I do” – but here you don’t meet your spouse until you’re at the altar, and then you’re in a legally binding marriage that’s not annul-able (the scientists seem practically giddy when they say that, like “What you gonna do now, girl? WHATUGONNADO?”). This of course leads to panic and drama and ridiculousness that makes great TV and horrible real life.

The producers of “Married At First Sight” maintain that they are a more scientific and therefore better version of traditional arranged marriage, but I think they’re full of this. This is like letting that EHarmony algorithm and the dude in the commercials with the glasses do your profile, have all the conversations online and then drive you to the wedding, and after you sign the release, because you’re an idiot, there’s nothing to do but settle in for the discovery and the humiliation. I actually prefer “Maried By Mom and Dad,” even though I cannot fathom a moment where I’d let, say, my mom and my Uncles Lester and Andre arrange my marriage. I can’t imagine what that person would look like, talk like, do for a living or explore in his spare time, but I know one thing – the pickers in question love me. They saw my heart break this year and would never throw me at some person they did not truly believe would be a great fit not only with me, but with my family, my culture and my life.

Understand: YOU GIRL IS NEVER GOING ON “MARRIED BY MOM AND DAD.” But I can see why one would. One who is not me.


Fake it till you make it: Creative widowing, one day at a time

by SweetMidlife

 

IMG_0635

I think you guys know that I (I, being Leslie) lost my husband at the end of July, a phrase that, as I’m writing it, doesn’t make me seize into sobs and hurl the computer across the room, so progress, right? My sister has held down the blogging fort, for real, even though she’s been dealing with her own grief over Scott’s death, cuz her was awesome. So today, for the first time since that horrible stupid thing happened, I’m back blogging. And I promise not to make you cry..

…much.

I am new at this craft I’m having to master involuntarily, because it’s either figure it out or Brian Wilson-ing it in bed for the rest of the year. I’m still working it out, and I got through last week’s challenge of coming back to work. And guess what? It was kinda crappy, mostly because I had to come home and have my husband not be there, and realize that he never is going to be again, but that this is the deal, so I’ve got plug through. I like my job, and also my paycheck, so I’m going back again today, with a made-up face, a smile, and these bits of knowledge I Forrest Gumped my way into:

– Sometimes you have to fake it: The above picture was taken on Friday, which was pretty awful. I actually cried in front of people, which is not a thing I do, and the looming task of going home…again…to start this hamster wheel all over felt like a giant hamster was running the wheel over my head. But you know what? I pulled myself together, wiped my face off, touched up that lipstick and smiled. Always smile. It freaks the hamster out.

– Let people help you: I am bad at accepting help, sometimes taking it as some sort of affront to my strength. This is stupid. I need help, I’m lucky enough to have people who want to help, so I welcome it. Sometimes people are trying to lift you up because you really are sinking, and sometimes because you’re skimming along but they can see the rock ahead better than you can.

– It’s OK to cry. Rosey Grier said so.

I have no doubt that Week 2’s gonna have its own potholes, and I’m gonna run right into them. But I’ll have to dig out of those, too. I can’t get cable in a pothole and “Dancing With The Stars” is on tonight.


Today’s best thing: The “Love” channel on Sirius XM, and the sweet, sweet sap of it all

by SweetMidlife

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After 20 years of car ownership, mostly as a single woman, I had my first experience of having someone else pick my car out for me, which I liked. This is not a statement on feminism or anything. My husband and I share expenses, but it happened to be my turn for a car, and this one was in his name, so while I was inside talking to the people, Scott went outside and chose between the two cars we’d test-driven, for three reasons: One, because he wanted to do something nice for me as a gift of sorts; two, because it was a cute little Kia Soul like all the cool hamsters drive, and he liked the idea of me driving a car with my red ‘fro against a seat that had the word “Soul” repeatedly printed on it. I feel like a commercial for some hip product that would never have me on the commercial.

And three: Because of the already-installed Sirius XM satellite radio. I never had it before, except in select rental cars and whenever my dad wasn’t looking and I got to drive his Honda CR-V. But it’s amazing, because not only can you listen to the newer music of the day, if you so choose, you can also just pretend it’s still 1987, or 1977 or 1998 (Backstreet’s back, all right!) by sticking to the decade specific station of your choice. OR you can pretend that the world is a giant American Top 40 Long-Distance Dedication and just park on Channel 17, also called “Love.”

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“Love” reminds me of the light rock stations of my teens and 20s, where the rest of the world was into Duran Duran or Prince, but that one station was doubling down on England Dan and John Ford Coley and Bread. Lots of Bread. Enough to make you want to cry and go check on singer David Gates, because that dude was depressed. But it was glorious – I loved studying to those stations in college, because they were background enough not to be distracting but had lyrics stirring enough to keep me awake. Songs about finding your beloved’s diary and reading it thinking you were finding out how much she loved you and then realizing she wasn’t writing about you? That sticks with you.

“Love” is just like those stations, but without the commercials. It’s amazing the stuff they come up with – in 48 hours I heard both the Rita Coolidge and Boz Scaggs versions of “We’re All Alone,” which made me happier than it should. Yesterday they played 4PM’s version of “Sukiyaki,” and an Air Supply song I can’t even remember because I was too excited to be hearing Air Supply on the radio in 2015.

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I have never been cool, so I don’t care what anyone thinks of me gushing over possible 24/7 access to Barry Manilow and Anne Murray. Its what I like. And it’s not just me, because there’s a whole station appropriate for spontaneous hand-holding at lights, or crying, in the case of Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are.” Your car is your fortress, and my kid and my husband have learned not to touch the radio if I’m driving. I’ll listen to other stuff, but Love is my default.

LOVE SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOUR DEFAULT.

 


The binky and the damage done: Flying with a toddler

by SweetMidlife
Sigh.

Sigh.

My sister is the expert in toddler observation and research, but as the kid who lives with us edges – makes that throws himself headlong- towards his second birthday, I identify more and more with her stories about Alex. I got to see him, and our little one, together in loud, nutty action two weekends ago when we traveled to Maryland for my husband’s college reunion weekend. The visit itself was amazing – if not a little messy, ear-shattering and yelly – but it was the getting there that made me want to buy a Winnebago or a Partridge Family bus and do all of our future travel that way until the kid’s, like, 12 and old enough to carry his own suitcase.

The above photo was taken on the first of our two flights back from Baltimore, to our stopover in Atlanta (that turned out to be more like a run-through.) We were already stressed from the logistics involved with traveling with someone who has more paraphernalia than the rest of us, but can’t carry it or logically understand what a stopover is, or why he can’t stand up in his seat when the seatbelt light is on. We found out that on our second leg, from Atlanta to West Palm Beach, we were seated in three different rows, which would have been disastrous, because in the overtired missed-nap moments, I don’t always love sitting next to my own toddler, let alone the toddler of someone who’s not in shouting distance to handle their business. Nobody wants that.

My husband had tried to handle it at the counter in Baltimore, but they couldn’t help, so he called the customer service number and was told they were looking into it. So we were nervous about that, and about the fact that we had a very, very short window to make our connection in Atlanta, where we often find that we land in Concourse A and our connection is in Concourse Z. (There is no Concourse Z. It just feels that way.) I sat with Toddler while my husband sat directly in front of me, next to a very nice lady who he accidentally knocked some water onto. She was lovely about it and said “Well, it’s water. Water doesn’t stain.”

But you know what does stain? Diet Coke! And it was that caramel-colored fluid that our kid, bored and trying to get my husband’s attention, hit dead-on with the above pink binky which we gave him to suck on to lessen the popping in his ears upon take-off and landing. He threw it backwards overhand and nailed the cup, which spilled all over the lady next to Scott. She was not happy. Scott and I were mortified and both offered to buy her a drink and pay for her drycleaning. She calmed down and smiled and said “No problem. I know what it’s like.”

I think part of our mortification is not wanting to be those parents, the ones that let their kids run up and down the aisle and knock into the flight attendants, who don’t comfort them when they freak out, who let them kick the seat in front of them (On or first leg to Baltimore, at 6:50 in the stupid morning, we turned Toddler’s car seat, which he was sitting in, around to face the back of his own chair, because he was kicking the back of the seat in front of him. The dude sitting in that seat was very appreciative.) Kids are humans, and cannot be expected to always sit quietly and be invisible. People don’t expect adults to do that, so the side eye I get when my kid sometimes even speaks on a plane is unfair. But I don’t want to raise a jerk. I will not raise a jerk. He knew he was being naughty, and when the binky was removed and only handed back upon landing so his little ears wouldn’t pop, he knew why.

I’m not sure when we’re going to fly again, but whenever that is, maybe he’ll be a little older and a little more…chill. And not knock over people’s drinks. I must add that the gate agent at our Atlanta gate, which was actually in the same concourse, not only didn’t make our kid sit alone, but put us all in the same row. Of course, we sat in the wrong row and didn’t realize it until someone came looking for their seats, but they were all cool about it and just sat in front of us. They might have been through this before too.

 


Saying Yes Even When It’s Scary

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here! Today’s post was inspired by a blogging link-up (where bloggers share their favorite posts as a way to network and whatnot) called “That’s What She Said”. Every week, they give you a quote and ask you to write a piece inspired by it. This week, we are to write on this..

Pretty powerful, right?

I am very very loud. And I have been adventurous. But I am also an over-thinker. A mulling-over-thoughts-ad-nauseum person. I am not saying that you should leap off of cliffs without looking. That can literally kill you. But I have found that over the last several years, I tend to toss thoughts back and forth, over and over, until the indecision torments me. And that ain’t good either.

I got married at 39, and had my son at 41, so I spent the majority of my life thus far as single and not a mom. And I don’t know how you can be sure of something but also worry at the same time, but that’s me. And before my wedding, then 2 years later when my son was a newborn, I felt God tell me that He had this, and that He was going to give me everything that I needed to be a wife, then a mother. That didn’t mean that it would be easy, and that I wouldn’t have moments when I wanted to run away from everyone who lives with me, or that I wouldn’t have moments when all of it is hard, when the tantrums seem unending, and I can’t seem to remember to change the laundry and have to rerun the loads over and over, and I feel that all that I do is apologize for things that I have neglected, moments when I have dropped every ball I was trying to juggle. But in those moments, under all of the noise, I remember that God promise, because in those whispers He was telling me just what the brilliant Miss Fey said above: that if I said “yes”, we would fill in the blanks. Because for every doubt, there are a million moments that confirm that I am actually not doing a bad job. Dare I say it, I am actually doing a good job. Because we laugh, and we smile, and we eat, even if it is later than I thought it would be. We thrive. And that’s worth all of it.


Some Stuff I Cooked, Part 1: Tasty Trumps Pretty

by SweetMidlife

Howdy! Lynne here. It’s been a minute because I have been having computer issues, which seem to have been resolved for now, so I’m back, y’all!

So, if you have read The Sweet Midlife at all (and if not, welcome!), you would know that while we aren’t a food blog, we have written before about what we eat, sometimes in relation to eating better, or because we were trying new vegetables, or just because we made something good. Well, this past week, I made some stuff and I want to tell you about it.

And I will say this going in. I am not the neatest person. I don’t know how to draw inside the lines. I have horrible handwriting and I always got an S- in elementary school penmanship. That is Satisfactory Minus. Yes. So even though I do a lot of cooking, and most of it tastes really good, it doesn’t always look great, so even though I will post Facebook statuses ABOUT what I cook, I don’t always post pictures OF what I make. Because it sometimes looks like my toddler made it. But this past week, inspired by Valentine’s Day, I got the idea to make some things that I had never made before, and that had the possibility of looking majorly crazy. I made a cake, but I will write about that in a latter post. But I want to tell you now about the first thing I made this week.

Someone on Facebook posted this recipe for boxes made out of chocolate. Kinda like a gingerbread house, but it is made out of freaking chocolate. And filled with candy. Isn’t this is a thing of beauty? This is the one from a site called Oh, Nuts, and not the one I made.

From Ohnuts.com. Not the one I made.

And it looked delicious, and since we were doing our Valentine’s Day celebrations at home, I thought that I would take a stab at it and add to the festiveness. And before I said to myself “You can’t do that, Sloppy”, I shared the picture on our blog Facebook page. And people started saying things like “Hey, if it’s ugly, the worst thing that can happen is that you have a bunch of chocolate to eat.”

And liking those odds, because leftover chocolate, I forged ahead. Even though I tried again to not do it. Because I got scurred. But emboldened by the fact that I told people I was gonna do it, I did it.

So, umm. it looked like this.

20150214_183409It’s lopsided, and some of it broke, and if it was a real structure, it would be condemned. But it made me smile. Because it actually stayed together and stood up on it’s own. All by it’s crooked, yummy self.

So my husband and son and I started eating it. And when we ate off the top, and one of the sides, my man complimented me on how nicely constructed the remaining pieces were. It looked like someone took the back seat out of a van and put it on my table. Or like something you see in a dorm. Behold, Chocolate Futon…

20150214_185125

Don’t you want to sit on it on a Friday night and get sugared up and make parallels between the purple aquarium lights of your friends’ roommates fish tank and “Purple Rain”, which is playing in the background? What? That’s just me? Okay. Because I totally did that in 1992. And no drugs or alcohol were involved! But back to the chocolate. You get it, right?

So, then I tried another one with the rest of the chocolate pieces, because all you have to do is remelt it and start over. And eat more of the leftovers. Yes. And this next one fell apart from the beginning, but it looked like a shelter of some kind, and I made some accessories, and my husband added my son’s brand new drugstore-bought school bus (which is already falling apart, so don’t buy those), and we got Candy Bus Stop.

20150214_193155So, yeah. My journey into candy architecture didn’t look like the original picture. But it tasted good. And more importantly: I DID THAT. I am branching out, doing the thing. Because the only thing worse than an ugly chocolate house is the chocolate house you never made. Because seriously, those things are delicious.

 


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