Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 8 & 9: Day at Sea & Barcelona, Spain

Friday was our one day that we had at sea.  We spent the entire day on the ship, which I had figured would bore me to death, but it ended up being a nice reprieve after such a busy and exhausting week.  

Dave and I slept until 10:30 that morning, which is something I haven't done since college, I think.  We went to a late breakfast/early lunch and then made our way to the pool deck.  We secured some chairs and then went over to watch the flowrider competition, which wasn't too interesting.  Afterward, though, Dave had a chance to do the flowrider 3 times.  It looks pretty tough.  I would have loved to do it if no one was watching me... I just can't get myself to the point of doing things like that in front of a bunch of people.  While he finished up there I went back to our chairs and read my book in the sun.  It was lovely!

We sat there for a while, then went to the room to pack and get dressed for the final cocktail reception and dinner.  We ate with Alan and Amanda (from Nashville) for our last dinner on the ship and had a really nice time, as usual.  Since dinner was so late, we went off to bed right afterward because we were scheduled to depart the ship at 7am the next morning.

Saturday morning we got off of the ship at 7 and helped everyone in our group weigh their luggage (I bought a luggage scale a year or so ago and it was definitely a good $20 spent), then went to check in.  As soon as we got to the checkin line, we were told that they had overbooked the flight and were looking for volunteers to be bumped.  Bryan and Dena-Marie immediately volunteered.  I hesitated because I didn't really think it was an option for us, but ultimately we volunteered and asked if we could get home earlier than 8:45pm on Sunday.  They switched our flights and got one to get us home by 12:30pm on Sunday afternoon - at that point it was a no-brainer!  $500/ in airfare, hotel, food & transfers in Barcelona... and most of all an extra day to actually see Barcelona!  We were jazzed!

After finally getting settled in our hotel, the 4 of us went out to explore the city.  Bryan and Dena-Marie had been there for a week last summer so they were our tour guides.  Dave navigated our way on the Metra...  our first stop was the Segrada Familia, which is absolutely incredible.  This temple is amazing and the pictures we took cannot begin to do justice to seeing it in person.  From there we went to the beach and sat there for a couple of hours.  We drank some beer and swam in the Mediterranean Sea (how awesome is that?)!  And from there we walked down Port Val to Las Ramblas, did some shopping, found a place to have tapas, and did some more shopping and went back to the hotel.  It was the perfect, relaxing way to end our trip and I'm in love with that day!

Sunday morning we flew out of Barcelona at 7:30am to Paris, ran through the entire Paris airport to catch a flight that left less than 1 hour after we landed, flew 9 hours to Chicago and finally saw our girls at 1:45pm!  It was amazing. They are so beautiful and I missed them more on this trip than I had on any of our other trips combined.  I think because they are now at ages where we could have done this trip with them and they would have been awesome and it would have been fun... so I felt a little incomplete.  It was so great to see them when we got home!  Dave and I crashed hard by 8:45pm that night - they were still going strong and we just prayed that they would stay in their room, fall asleep at a decent time, and not burn the house down :)  All was good the next morning... but Dave and I didn't feel normal until Thursday.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 7: Civitevecchia/Rome

{These posts are taken from emails that I sent to the girls everyday during our trip.}

Good morning girls!

We had a long day yesterday so I'm writing you on Friday morning instead.  It is 10:30am here on the Mediterranean Sea and you are sound asleep - 3:30am for you!  Daddy and I just woke up!  We've been so busy this week and got up pretty early yesterday so we were tired!

Yesterday we ported in the city of Civitevecchia.  Our tour guide told us it is pronounced Chee-vee-tee-veck-ya.  We arranged for a private tour guide with 2 other couples that we met here - it was expensive, but it was definitely a great way to do as much of Rome in a day as we possibly could.  Our tour guide, Salvatore, picked us up in a minivan at 8 am and drove us the 90 minutes into the city of Rome.  On the way there he told us many interesting things about the country of Italy, the areas we were driving through and about Rome.  Rome is interesting because it is modern city (modern = like today), but the city has been here for thousands of years and has buildings and walls that are thousands of years old.  There is a lot of history in Rome.

The first thing we did in Rome was stop at the Colliseum.  Only the guys wanted to go inside, so while they toured the inside, the women walked around outside and we ended up seeing the filming of some scenes from an Italian movie.  Apparently the people we were watching in the scenes were very, very famous Italian actors, but we had no idea who they were!  The Colliseum is a huge brick structure/arena where the ancient Roman people had big fights.  On the floor of the arena there would be gruesome fights between people - with chariots and spears and animals.  Usually the fight would result in the death of one of the participants.  And all of this happened while the Roman people sat on the side and watched it like they were watching a baseball game.  There is a movie about it, called Gladiator.  It was horrific!  That stuff happened before and after Jesus was alive.  

From the colliseum, our guide drove us past a place called Circus Maximus, which many people saw in the movie, Ben Hur.  Right now this is just a grassy field in the middle of the city, but in ancient times (before and after Jesus), the Circus Maximus is where the Romans held chariot races.  From there we went to a Palazzo that was designed by Michaelangelo.  And then to the Pantheon.  The Pantheon is a HUGE domed church (by the way, there are 300 churches in Rome - every time you turn around you see another church).  There was a lot of artwork in the Pantheon.  Daddy liked the Pantheon, I preferred to sit outside by the fountain and watch people!  And from there we went to the Trevi Fountain.  This is, apparently, a very famous fountain and the Roman people think it is ugly, while the rest of the world thinks it is beautiful!  It is HUGE!  And I think that the entire world was there looking at it - it was SO crowded!

Then our guide brought us to one of his favorite restaurants for lunch.  It was an experience!  The owners kept bringing us food and we hadn't ordered anything!  We had so much food and it was all sooooo good!  Right after we started eating dessert an argument broke out in the next room - some American's were there and found that someone had taken their wallet and taken all of the money out of it (1300 euros which would be over $2000) and left the wallet on the ground.  The people they were accusing were gypsies and they were fighting back.  It was loud and the owners were upset that it was happening.  We believe they were probably right, but they would never be able to prove it.  Just a good lesson to not have that much money on you and to not leave your stuff on the ground!  Our lunch, though, was amazing!  And then the owners brought out a whole bottle of limoncello for our group - it is a sweet/sour liquor that is made here in Italy with fresh lemons.  And it is good!  

After lunch we went to the Vatican.  The Vatican is a separate state inside of Rome and has its own government.  This is where the governing of the Catholic church takes place.  The pope lives in the vatican and it is a very special place for catholics.  We went through all of the Vatican museums and finally the Sistene Chapel.  The ceiling of the sistene chapel was painted by Michaelangelo.  There are many, many different religious / roman political scenes painted on the ceiling and he did it all by hand.  It was beautiful.  We were unable to look at it for long because it took so long to get into it and we were running late for our guide.  And it was incredibly crowded.  The sistene chapel is one of the most famous places in the world.  And finally, we stopped at St. Peter's Basillica, which is a huge church on St. Peter's square in the Vatican.  It was incredible and beautiful and by far the highlight of my day.  

So we did a lot in Rome in one day.  Almost everything that anyone would want to see, we saw yesterday.  We went quickly, so we want to return to Rome someday and take our time!  We are so lucky!!!  Hopefully we can take each of you to rome someday - it is an amazing city!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 6: Naples, Mt. Vesuvius & Pompeii, Italy

{These posts are taken from emails that I sent to the girls everyday during our trip.}

Hi girls!  We just finished our second day in Italy.  Today we arrived in Naples, Italy around 10am.  I watched the boat dock at the pier - it was very interesting.  The ship had to back in to the spot and there were several other cruise ships in the port.  It was almost like it was parallel parking in the port.

We did an excursion with the cruise line today so we got onto a bus in the port and drove through Naples to get to Mt. Vesuvius.  We stopped in a little jewely factory to see how they make a particular kind of jewelry - the cameo.  A cameo is made from a big shell that they import from the caribbean.  The master carver removes the outer dull layer and then draws a picture on the middle layer then carves away at the middle layer until the shiny under layer is revealed.  Typically the picture is of a roman emperor's profile or a woman's profile.  I bought a pendant necklace with a J on it and wanted to buy one for each of you, but they didn't have all of your first letters available.  Maybe if we ever come back i can find one for you then!  I almost cried - i was very disappointed because i think you would have loved the necklace!

When we were done there we drove to Mt. Vesuvius.  Mt. Vesuvius is an active volcano that erupts very irregularly.  It erupted in 79A.D. and destroyed the city of Pompeii with its ash.  The most recent eruption was in 1944 and at that time the lava flow destroyed all of the towns between it and the bay of Naples.  For some weird reason, they keep rebuilding cities in its path.  And every time it erupts the cities are destroyed again.  Right now the volcano does not seem dangerous - we walked around the crater and it seems pretty dry and dead, but there is a wisp of steam coming from the center of the mountain which means that it is still alive and active.  There are volcanologists that monitor the mountain at all time and will hopefully  be able to warn people to leave if they think there is danger of it erupting again.  It was a very steep hike up the mountain - our legs are soooo tired!

After leaving Mt. Vesuvius we went to the city of Pompeii.  Pompeii was destroyed by that eruption in 79A.D., but archeologists found it many years ago when they were digging and they have continued to dig and uncover much of the city.  Many parts of the city were preserved pretty well.  we saw a huge house, a roman bath, a brothel, a bakery, a restaurant, a fountain.  Lots of stuff.  The city of Pompeii is much, much larger than we imagined it would be.  we were there for 90 minutes and didn't see hardly any of it.  I think you could explore that ruined city for a full day!

When we were done there we took the bus back to the port of Naples.  By the way Papa - Naples doesn't have anywhere to go with their rubbish/garbage, so at night people drive up Mt. Vesuvius and toss it around there.  Mt. Vesuvius and Naples are FILTHY.  There is rubbish everywhere you turn.  Litter in the streets, in the grass, in the trees, everywhere.  Maybe veolia should take a trip over there from France and see if they can help out!!!

When we got off of the bus in Naples, we decided to walk through Naples for a bit and get some pizza.  Naples is where pizza was invented and since I have no desire to ever return to that dirty city, I didn't want to leave without having their pizza!  We walked and ate with a newlywed couple that we met on tour.  They got married on Labor Day weekend and are doing this cruise as their honeymoon.  We enjoyed our dinner with them!  The pizza was good, although daddy said he would rather have Chicago pizza any day of the week.  I think I would prefer the Naples pizza.

So now we are back.  Once again we almost missed the boat!  We came back to the ship and as soon as we got on they pulled the equipment back into the ship and we are leaving.  We are going to dinner in a few minutes and then to bed - we are exhausted!  Tomorrow we go to ROME!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 5: Livorno & Florence, Italy

{These posts are taken from emails that I sent to the girls everyday during our trip.}

Bon Journo from Italy!

We arrived in Italy early this morning.  The port where the ship docks is not very pretty - it is very industrial, which means that there are a lot of business warehouse buildings and machinery and rusty boats and equipment on the docks.  Livorno must be a working port, while the ports in France were more recreational (meaning, fun!).  Daddy and I got up and ran 3 miles again while our ship docked.  It was not as pretty as the other morning that we ran, but it was still fun to be running while the ship was moving and other cruise ships around us were docking, too.

We had quite an adventure today!  Florence, Italy is a very famous town in Italy because it has a lot of ancient/old churches and artwork by a famous artist named Michaelangelo.  Florence is 90 minutes from Livorno where the ship docked, so we had to get there somehow.  We took a bus from the ship to Livorno, then a bus from Livorno to the train station, then a train to Florence.  We had no idea what we were doing and we don't speak or read Italian, so it was amazing that we got to Florence!  

When we got there we walked from the train station to a museum that holds one of Michaelangelo's most famous statues - David.  We stood in line for about 20 minutes before we found out that the line was 3 hours long - and we didn't have that much time!  So we left the line and started off on seeing Florence on our own.  The biggest problems, though, were that it was 90+ degrees outside and there were so many people in Florence that you could hardly see anything or do anything because the lines were so long.  We got to the main pilazzo (square) and were overwhelmed by the people and the heat that we decided to have some lunch instead of fighting the crowds to see anything.  So we had some bruschetta (bread with diced tomatos) and a plate of cheese and a bottle of white wine, Ovierto.  It was deliciouso!  We enjoyed that more than waiting in line for anything!  

After that we explored the city a little bit and looked in some of the shops.  We started to walk uphill to see a garden, but figured out that we didn't have enough time to do it so instead we made our way back to the train station.  We did really good getting there in time for the train, but then the train ride ended in a city called Pisa and the next train to Livorno was coming later than we had hoped and we were worried we'd miss the bus back to the ship!  We ended up running into some friends that we met and who had taken the train into Florence with us and they were getting on the same train.  When we finally got to Livorno and found the bus, we got on and so did a ton of other people.  The bus was so crowded I didn't think the doors would close!  And it was still 90+ degrees outside and hotter inside!  And the stinkiness was back - but I think we were included this time!  The bus got us back to the place where we were supposed to get on the Royal Caribbean charter bus to get us back to the ship, but the last charter bus had left already, so we had to find a cab for 12 people!  It was really stressful, but it was a fun adventure!

After we got back we were still sweaty and sticky and exhausted, so we went to the bar with our friends and got some fruity drinks to cool off.  It was a fun day!  Daddy and I are soooo tired!  And I have a blister on my toe!  

Tomorrow we are going to climb a volcano that erupted a long time ago and completely covered a city called Pompeii.  we're going to climb the volcano and see Pompeii - it will be a 5 1/2 mile hike!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 4: VillaFrance & Nice, France

{These posts are taken from emails that I sent the girls every day during our trip}

It is 6:00pm here in France and 10:00am in Illinois.  You're sitting in school right now and we just came back from France and are going to rest a little bit before dinner at 9:00pm!  

We had a great day in Nice, France - Nice was much better than Toulon, France yesterday!  Our ship docked in the port city of VillaFrance, which has a really, really pretty marina that we could look at from our balcony.  We took a lot of pictures of the view to show you guys!  The ship couldn't get right up to the city, so it anchored in the water and we had to take a tender boat (a ferry boat) from the ship to the shore.  Once we got to shore we walked uphill for about 5 minutes and got on a bus that would take us into the city of Nice (pronouced Neece).  The bus ride cost 1 Euro for each of us, which is about $1.45.

When we got off the bus in Nice, we walked around for a short time to find the bus stop that we needed to get to in order to get back to VillaFrance later in the afternoon - we wanted to know exactly where we needed to be so we could get back in time (daddy is really good at planning our days here).  We found the right bustop at a large marina/port in Nice.  It was a beautiful area.  We walked down one side of the port and around the rocky shoreline and found another section of Nice that was absolutely stunning.  People were laying on the beach and swimming in the mediterranean sea.  We went down to the beach and were surprised to find out that the beach is made of ROCKS - not sand like our beaches, but rocks that are probably larger than the rocks that are in our landscaping at our house.  It was hard to walk on them, but we made it down to the water so we could put our feet in it.  The water made the coolest sound as it came on shore and rolled back out into the sea.  I took a short video for you so you could hear the sound - hopefully it works!  The people on the beach are different than the people on our beaches... here in Europe the men wear really tiny swimsuits, called speedos - they not like the shorts/swim trunks that boys wear here.  Also, european women lay on the beach without tops on their bathing suits so everything is showing that we try to cover in the states.  Its kind of strange to see people like that!

We sat on the beach for a short time and then got up and walked to an old ruined castle that used to be a fortress of protection many, many years ago.  There were a LOT of stairs to get to the top and it was pretty hot, but it was well worth the climb and the sweat because the views at the top were amazing!  We took lots of pictures of that, too!  At the very top of the fortress there was a big park with grassy areas to hang out in and a playground for kids and a big giant thing to climb on - which daddy and I climbed on just because we knew you guys would have loved to climb on it!  

When we got back to the bottom of the fortress we went back over by the port where our bustop was and walked down the other side of the marina to find a place to eat.  We had a nice plate of cheese, some bread and some wine - it was perfect!  After that we waited for our bus and went back into VillaFrance and walked around a little market area and had some dessert and coffee (daddy had an ice cream cone & I had a nutella crepe).  We had such a great day here in Nice and I decided that I would like to live here.  I think you girls would like it, too!  And good news: the people here do not smell as bad as the people in Toulon!  That was good news indeed!

So now daddy is making notes on our day so he can give them to Mr. & Mrs. Kalafut who are coming on this cruise in October.  I'm going to read on the balcony and then we'll have dinner at 9.  Tonight is a casual dinner, which means we don't have to wear a dress or a suit.  We talked to our waiter for a little bit last night: he is from the Phillipines (where Jenny grew up) and he is married and has a 2 year old son.  He works on the cruise ship for 6 months every year.  That is half of a year!  Can you imagine if daddy was gone for 6 months and didn't come home at all?  He talks to his family over the computer, but we would sure miss daddy if he was gone like that!  Another good reason to be thankful for Edward Jones, right?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 3: Toulon, France

these posts are taken from emails that I sent to the girls everyday during our trip:

This morning we woke up early and went running on the pool deck. We ran 3 miles while the ship was getting closer and closer to the port. The sun was rising behind the clouds and it was really pretty to see while we were running. One funny thing that we saw was that one of the ship employees was on one side of the deck closing all of the beach chairs. And on the other side of the deck there was another ship employee opening every one of the chairs that the first one closed. That made me laugh every time we ran past them. After running we had room service breakfast on our balcony and looked out at France. 

We got off of the ship and walked around the port city for a while. It was pretty dirty and ugly and I'm convinced that no one here wears deodorant because I am always smelling sweaty people. After we figured out we were in the wrong place, we walked back to the ship and got on a huge bus that took us to Toulon, France. We walked through the marina and saw some really cool yachts and boats, then walked through a huge farmers market, which was actually just like the farmers markets that we go to, except they sell a lot of olives at the one here. Then we walked for about 35-40 minutes UP HILL to take a ride on a cable car to get the the top of the mountain so we could look down on the city and the marina. The view was beautiful! Up in the mountains it is Provence, France. This city is known for smelling like lavender, which I decided they planted to cover the smell of sweaty people. I didn't smell lavender, really, and was kind of disappointed, but maybe we weren't in the right area? The view was pretty, though. We had a snack at the top of the mountain - I had a brie crepe and daddy had a citrus crepe. Crepes are like really big, super thin pancakes that they fill with all kinds of things. Brie is a creamy soft cheese that was really melty inside the crepe. After that we went back down to the ship and now daddy is in a meeting and I'm writing you! Tonight we have the Captain's Dinner, which just means that we have to dress fancy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Days 1 & 2

Everything went perfectly with our itinerary.  All flights were fine.  In New York JFK airport we had no idea what we were doing or where we were going and some other EJ people found us and directed us to Gate 3.  We found it, went to grab lunch and while we were there an older couple introduced themselves and we learned they were going on the cruise, too.  After some discussion we found out they were actually going on the Black Sea cruise - and were flying out of Gate 3.  This mean we had to figure out what gate we were actually going to fly out of.  It all worked out, was kind of humorous though.

Our flight to Barcelona was 2 hours less than I thought it was going to be.  I think it ended up being slightly over 6 hours.  We both watched 2 movies.  It was fine.  We landed at 12:30 on our bodies, but it was nearly 8am in Barcelona.  We met the Maritz people and they brought us to a little restaurant for breakfast.  
View of the city of Barcelona, Spain
from the village where we had breakfast.
We had 4 hours there and we were all wiped out and so incredibly tired.  Neither of us slept on the plane and couldn't wait to get to our room to take a nap.  The ship boarding was quick, but our room was not quite ready so we grabbed some lunch first and then went to our room.  We literally brought our bags in and dumped them in the middle of the room, checked out the balcony and then fell on the bed and took a nap.  I felt like I was pretty wide awake and told Dave that I didn't know if I'd be able to get to sleep.  Not sure that I even finished my sentence.  We slept for a couple of hours and were woken up by the announcements telling us it was time to do the safety drill.  I've never felt so exhausted... I did NOT want to get out of bed, just wanted to sleep, but knew it would make it difficult to get to sleep at night if I kept sleeping all afternoon.

We got up, went to the drill and then explored the ship.  Somehow after all of that it was already time to shower & go to the cocktail reception and dinner.  Dinner was at 9pm.  Afterward I was still more tired than I can remember being in a long time.  Felt soooo good to sleep! We've met a lot of nice Jones people already.  Its kind of nice because this was an add-on trip, so a lot of these people are younger or newer in the firm.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A tangled web of life

I've been struggling as of late.  Struggling with myself & my inability to feel God.  And my inability to solve the puzzle.

I'm a puzzle solver.  I really, really like it when life follows an "if this, then that" pattern.  I like patterns.  I like the process of recognizing that there is a pattern and then observing life to find the pattern.  Or, alternatively using a lot of trial and error to find the solution to a puzzle.  I love this in all aspects - whether it is word puzzles or actual life.  Wait...  I DON'T like it at all when its math ;)

And I'm struggling with the fact that I've been created this way.  I have been created to be a puzzle solver and a pattern identifier.  Yet, it is exactly that part of me that is keeping me from living my best life right now.

I've gotten so incredibly tangled in the web of trying to find the pattern of exactly how much exercise and how much eating I should do to maintain or lose weight.  So much so, that I no longer have a healthy relationship with food and I'm not sure how to go about getting back to normal.

I've gotten so tangled in the web of trying to solve the puzzle of how to actually convince God to make Dave's business successful now rather than waiting any longer, that I no longer see the blessings that we have.

I've gotten so tangled in the web of trying to figure God out by reading the Bible that I no longer feel the Bible and I no longer internalize it. 

My life is tangled right now.  Not my whole life - my girls are good, my husband is good, my marriage is good, my family, my friends, my life is good.  But my brain is tangled.

I have many mixed thoughts about God and to be honest, I don't dare share them with but a few trusted people in my circle, because I don't want to be judged or have my soul prayed for because I don't believe the right thing.  To put it bluntly, I'm done with theology and religion.  I don't have much use for either one any more.  But I know many of my friends and family do - and thats okay with me, I just want it to be okay that I don't.  And I'm not sure that it is okay with other people that I don't care about theology, or sacraments, or doctrine.  

But my web extends beyond the non-necessity of those things (in my opinion).  Today, I read a passage in Matthew where Jesus tells the disciples that if they had enough faith & believing prayer that they could accomplish greater things than they could imagine (faith could move a mountain).  And I realized that I don't have that.  Because ultimately, when I boil it down, I don't fully, truly, 100% believe that God cares or is listening to my prayers - regardless of all of the verses that I've read and highlighted that say that he does hear everything, he does listen, he knows how many hairs are on my head.  In my tangledness I see that as a beautiful metaphor and I want to believe that - I do - but when I'm truly honest with myself, I don't believe it about him and me.

I don't know if I believe that God is actively working in this world.  I want to believe that he is and he will, but here's the thing: my blessing could possibly result in someone else's curse or vice versa.  And I have a hard time reconciling that in a reasonable way.  And in my pattern observing, puzzle solving way of viewing life I can't find a definable "if this, then that" pattern to God actively working in this world.  Rather, I see life happening as you would reasonably assume it would given general knowledge of the world & the way people work.

And this kind of destroys me.  I am not saying that I need all the answers to God and how he works.  Thats kind of the point - I don't need, nor do I necessarily want those answers - but because of how he created me, I'm constantly looking for them.

And I get tangled again.

As with food & exercise, I don't know how to stop doing it.  I don't know how to get untangled - and then stay that way.  I don't know how to stop observing or how to stop trying to solve.  And I get mad at myself.  And then I remember that God created me like this.  And I get tangled again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

important lessons may equal misery

The camel's back broke yesterday afternoon.  Admittedly, it wasn't the biggest of deals, but it has been an epidemic problem in our family of three small girls and when my dear spouse was bothered not less than 3 times while going to the bathroom, I had reached my limit of tolerance.

R: "Daddy!  Georgia won't give me any Lucky Charms!"
D: "I don't care.  I'm in the bathroom."
R: "But Daaadddy!"

That was it.

We embarked on an extreme reaction.  Not a bunch of screaming and yelling, just a firm disposition and changing of the way things work around here.  Apparently, a voice that three little girls understand to mean business.  Lucky Charms were counted out - one-by-one.  Two children had to change their clothes so all three of them would have the exact same outfits on.  Conversations between me & each child were timed so they each had an exactly equal amount of my time.  I actually had to cut one of them off because she was threatening to exceed her allotted amount of time.

None of this was met with joy by any of them.  Nora was clearly upset because she had not been involved in the Lucky Charms conversation, but was thrown into the mix nonetheless.  However, it is she - ye oldest daughter of mine - that has been the first and always the worst offender of making sure everyone has an equal amount of anything, or is treated the same.  It is an attitude and behavior that makes my skin crawl - I dealt with that as a kid with my sister and now with my daughter?  Not going to happen in my family - if it takes this kind of extreme parenting to get the message across, then so be it.

After about 30 minutes of this, we sat them down and had a family meeting where we explained about differences in personalities.  Pointed out that they each treat me differently than they treat their daddy, they treat one friend differently than another - it would be impossible for anyone to treat everyone exactly the same... everyone has different personalities and relationships and it is not any different for a parent with their children.  We also pointed out that is MINE - not theirs - MINE (the collective parental MINE) - and we are generous and gracious enough to share it with them... the chair they're sitting on - MINE - yet I haven't asked them to get off.  etc.  

And all of this included several reminders that I have drawn a line - a line that if it gets crossed, will result in them wearing the same exact clothes everyday, me counting out each individual piece of food so they all get exactly the same, me timing my conversations with them so they all get exactly the same amount of time, me keeping track of everything so they're all being treated equally.  I will throw away every shirt in their closets & go out and buy 1 red, 1 green, 1 black, 1 blue, & 1 yellow shirt for each of them and they will always match.  I reminded them that I never threaten to do something that I'm not committed to follow through on - I'm committed.  

It may be drastic, but I believe the lesson is worth it.  And it may be incredibly miserable for me if I have to follow through, but I believe the lesson is worth it.

They have shown an amazing ability to self-police themselves.  Reminding each other in several different instances that "mommy drew a line - remember?  I don't want to wear the same thing as you everyday!"  While it is indeed amusing, I'm also proud of them.  I am proud that they listened and are putting their learning into action.  I am proud that they are consciously making choices to change their behavior - as we grow up we learn that it isn't appropriate to act however we want to act - our natural reaction is not always the best or most appropriate.  Sometimes we have to choose to be quiet, to be positive, to be supportive, to be accepting, to be tolerant.  Obviously, 9, 6, & 5 is not too young to learn that lesson, because my girls have brilliantly shown me that they are capable of doing just that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quite recently I was thinking about how I have very little contact with people - and how that seems to make my life happier.  I love the people that I love, but I've been saying for a while (to Dave) that the more people you add to your life, the more drama that comes with it.  This has been one reason why I haven't wanted to pursue getting a job - ever again.

I think about the days before we had children and we were both working full time.  I remember the emotional roller coaster that I was constantly on because of my boss.  And the drama of what this person said and what that person said and how that affected me.  I also remember how I wasn't able to fully support my husband in his job and he wasn't able to fully support me in my job - because we both had our own stuff going on.

So I realized the other day that my life is relatively drama free.  I understand that this is going to change dramatically - soon - but for now and for the last year or so it has been relatively drama free.

And then there was today.  Actually, there wasn't much drama, but simply a reminder as to why I don't want to add more people to my life.

Because once again - as in, this isn't the first time in my 34 years - a person who is not much more than an acquaintance has decided that she has an issue with me and has been making veiled comments about me in front of me and others.  I have this job that I do online and I have to get into a chat room everyday to do it.  The comments have been made in the chat room - with the appropriate smiley emoticon attached to them.  So far I've convinced myself that I'm reading into things and she doesn't have an issue with me - I mean, why should she?  I've never spoken to her, I've never met her, I've never had a conversation with her.  Yet, the comments happened again this morning... and I happened to be chatting with my boss on AIM at the time and said something to him about it (it is his sister) and he confirmed that yes, she has an issue with me and he doesn't know why... the implication being clear that she has been saying much more than what was in the chat room.

And so.

I've been near tears all day.  I've wanted to curl up in a corner and cry.

And I want to quit my job - but I enjoy it and the money has really helped a lot.

And I want to insulate myself and become a hermit.  Only allowing the people that I already love to be a part of my life and no one else.  And I want to let my insecure, quiet, unapproachable, bitchy looking imposter loose in every situation I am in.  I want to curl up inside of myself and not let anyone in.

I feel horrible.  I really, truly have done nothing to this girl except for join the team a year ago.

I'm going to fight this inside of myself, but its going to take a lot to do it.  And right now, I just feel it.

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