Jacob just came in second at a judo tournament down in Southern Maryland (click to see video of his winning match.  That's not me talking in the video.  I am terrible because I don't root him on with words. I just stand there and clench my teeth and hope he wins and hope he doesn't break a body part.  I do clap at the end).  He made the choice (and we support him) to leave the judo dojo he's been in for a year and pick up at another one he's been trying out over in New Jersey. An hour away.  Two or three times a week. 
I used to have a friend whose mom would load her up in the car three times a week and drive 80 miles so she could ride show horses down near Pittsburgh.  I thought it was stupid. 
The new judo place is only twenty or so miles away but it takes at least an hour to get there because East Coast Traffic is funny that way. But if you'd see how much he has improved (physically and attitudinally) since going there you'd probably understand the move.  Plus even with bridge tolls and gas, it's cheaper.  And gives us Car Time with Jake.  Car Time is very very important between parents and children.  It's how you get them to talk because you're together but not looking at each other.
 He doesn't have much of an interest in any other sport and he's doing well in school and homework isn't a zillion hour event so there you have it.  Jake gets to dominate a good amount of the week with judo.

Nicholas just dominates no matter where we are or where we go.  He's talking up a storm, in mostly understandable sentences.  He's obsessed with crocodiles and bunnies.  Dinosaurs and cheese.  His birthday is in less than a month and I plan to make him a cake and buy him a copy of the movie Cars and let him watch it endlessly.  For Christmas I'm going to wrap up all of Jacob's old McQueens and stuff and give it to Nick.  I'm pretty genius at making Christmases nearly free for the first few years of a kid's life. 
Nick is peeing in the little potty at home, but diapers are still a very real thing that aren't going away any time soon. 
No one loves books more than Nicholas.  He's got a pretty good favorites rotation.  He still doesn't play with actual toys all that much.  He carts around his bunny.  He sings "Shake it Off" and "All About That Bass" with surprising accuracy.  One of the boys bit him at daycare and he's very proud of the scar.  Ask him about it and he'll show you, though you'll have to look really hard because it's faded to a dull pink.

I'm still doing shows.  Dave is still playing baseball.  We are drowning in work.  We started and are running a neighborhood association with some friends.  I order my groceries on the internet and they bring them to my house.  I haven't been to a department store in a long time.  All our clothes are ordered online and when they don't fit or aren't soft enough, they go back in the mail.  Eventually. Sometimes I go to CVS.  

One of my most favorite people in the world died over the summer.  An uncle.  From an aneurism.  I had big plans with him and he fell just days before those plans were to happen and the anger that his natural order of things couldn't have waited a week to unfold just won't go away.  I'm not angry at him.  More like the world.  Or maybe the silvery thread that tethered him to it.
Another favorite uncle is lying in hospice care, completely unresponsive and brain damaged.  For several days now.  He just won't go and it is breaking our hearts and has us checking our watches and dayplanners.  He wants to go, he made that clear the last day he was still truly alive.  Not sure what it is that is keeping him here.  Maybe that silvery thread isn't paying attention to what's going on at this end of things.
 Four years ago this week (ish) my fourth and final grandparent passed away.  I remember sitting in the funeral parlor thinking that the next wave of deaths will likely be my parents and aunts and uncles and I thought I had at least twenty years to worry about that.  But no.  At least the deaths are still coming in order.  No cousins.  No siblings.  No nieces and nephews.  No friends.  Just a parent and a couple uncles.

There is more good than bad, more happy than sad in my life.  So that means everything is going to be okay.  That everything is okay. 



Things have definitely been happening, time flying by at warp speed.  Work so busy that there isn't much downtime to write, home so busy that I crash as soon as the boys do.

I don't have much privacy at work and I don't want to be all "I'm just going to work on my blog over here".  I don't have much privacy at home and I don't want to be all "I'm just going to work on my blog over here".  There's so much to be done at both places that typing words falls to the wayside.

I'm back at the theater doing a show that my comedy group started.  It's different because the cast is (mostly) different but it's also sort of the same. We go onstage the fourth Saturday of every month and have two practices in the week following up.  So it makes for a busy week but is nowhere near the time commitment of the old team.

I fulfilled my new years resolution of getting up in front of a crowd all by myself and telling a five minute story.  I was nervous but I want to do it again.  Maybe ten minutes next time.  I think I did about seven minutes the first time out.  There's a video.  I'm okay with it.  I can see my nerves at work, but whatever.  Next time I'll wear makeup.  And comb my hair.  Those are things that don't really happen every day.  And that's okay.
We got paid for the performance in coffee, and I got like a quad shot espresso on ice and I won't do that again.  Lots of jitters and I had to pee so. awfully. bad. the whole time I was up there.  I totally forgot to mention why Dave was at court.  It was for work.  Not for what the neighbor lady assumed.  That's an important part of Dave's story.  He'd probably be upset if everyone thought he was facing Jail Time.

Jacob started the third grade and he loves his teacher.  He's big and gangly and does some weird things so sometimes I look through his baby pictures to remind myself that he's that same little boy he always was.  He's super into judo now and training at two different places. Studios.  Dojos.  Judo places.  He's got his yellow belt still and is looking forward to getting the next one.  Whenever and whatever that may be.  I think it's a combination yellow and orange belt.  Two long stripes of two different colors.  He's pretty much done with toys except for his Legos, and I'm happy about that.  Toys are the bane of my existence.  They take up so much space.  I'm not sure if I liked toys when I was growing up.  I had Barbies and Ponies and a few other things, but I preferred books.  Jacob prefers screen time.  I prefer him not to have all that much screen time but sometimes it's easier to just let that happen.

Nicholas will be two in two months.  He's more of a challenge than Jake ever was.  His good is very very good but his bad is horrid.  Maybe Jacob was like this at almost two, I don't remember.  There are tantrums and hitting and biting.  He doesn't want food, he only wants milk.  He doesn't take a bottle anymore, but he loves sippy cups.
Nick doesn't really play with toys either.  Books, books, books.  And music.  He recently learned there are videos and songs on telephones and computers and tablets.  He went a year and a half without so much as looking at a screen and now he points to them and asks for "Happy" (the song) or "Mickey" (the mouse) or "Elmo" (the Elmo).  He is still up two or three times a night and if you go get him he'll just stay up through the morning and my heart hurts when he calls my name in the middle of the night so I give in lots of times.  Jacob would come into my bed and fall back asleep.  Nick wants nothing to do with that.  He will lay on the couch with you, provided there is milk and a show or book involved and you can go to sleep.
I think I'll like him a whole lot as he gets older, but the same traits that make a grown up awesome make a baby an a-hole.
He's not a true a-hole.  He's hilarious and adorable and getting easier and easier every day and his vocabulary is pretty big for a baby and as long as he's happy the whole world is happy.
He could have you read Curious George 100 times a day and when you were done he'd like to hear Go Dog Go and Wacky Wednesday.

Today is pajama day at daycare, which always stresses me out.  If I really were to send Nick in what he wears to bed, there'd be a few raised eyebrows.  In order to get him to sleep last night, he wore the filthy shirt he wore yesterday, a denim jacket, regular pajama pants with a swimmy diaper on the outside, and McQueen stickers all over his face and hair.  I'd fight him on it but if you know Nick, you know that's pointless.  Especially when it comes to making him happy enough to fall asleep.  

Work is work but I still really love it.  I feel like this must be how people who search high and low for a life partner must feel after they find that person.  I told my boss that.  She wasn't creeped out.  She told me she feels the same way.

The car is still running after a year of owning it. Despite quite a few bumps and bruises.  Someone put a giant bandaid sticker on the huge dent in the back.  We just left it there.  City living is hard on cars.

You can't sweat the scratches.


salt pepper catch up

You'll never guess how much I am loving the new job.  You'll never guess how much I have to work at the new job.

The learning curve was intense.  Is intense. 

There is no downtime for blogging.  Or relaxing.  Or three hour lunches with friends.  Or Sudoku. Or reading.  Walking around town.  Errand running.  It's a solid day, and there isn't much alone time either.  Maybe a half hour or so in the morning if I get there before the rest of the team. 

It's a job in hepatitis C.  At a major university.  Tied to a major hospital/primary care system.  And to two community outreach organizations, one of which I just left after nearly a decade and a half of employment.  I have to go there tomorrow for a training.  The company, er, corporation recently moved to a super high tech building after like 40 years at the old place.  I had to go to the old place about two weeks after quitting to do some work with the new job.  It was weird.  I didn't cry.  Or even get choked up really.

I never realized how dysfunctional that job/place was until I left.  I am so much happier now.  I didn't even know I wasn't happy before.  I thought that because I knew my job and field inside and out and barely had to work to get all my work done and I had so many perks and years and so many contacts and so much history there that I belonged there.
I didn't. 
I belong right where I'm at.
I'm sure of it.

I'll tell you about it privately, if  you ask.  Where I am and exactly what it is that I'm doing. 

Generic update is that I'm a Hepatitis C Research Coordinator, and I am telling you with great authority that if you were born between 1945 and 1965 you need to ask your doctor for a Hepatitis C screening next time you get some bloodwork done.  Or step into a community testing center and have them test you.  Because OMG, the face of hepatitis C is not the one I thought it was.  Over the years in social service I worked with hundreds of hepatitis positive people, but most of them got it through IV drug use or living a really high risk lifestyle.  There is a huge number of baby boomers that were infected back before they even knew what Hepatitis was, before universal precautions, before blood screening. Through transfusions mostly, but blood exchange nearly always.  It's not so much an STD, and the rates in the US are something like five times higher than the rate of HIV.  Which is crazy because we are ALL HIV ALL THE TIME.  People have it and there's no symptoms so by the time they feel crappy it's pretty late in the game an then you die.  Unless you get treated, and there are new amazing treatments out there.


I just took the kids to the doctor and they are just fine.  Big for their ages, but that's the only remarkable thing. I didn't get them tested for Hepatitis but I'm quite sure they are free of blood borne illnesses.

Nick is all over the place and starting to talk and Jake is finishing up second grade with flying colors.

I have all sorts of new theories on the universe and space-time continuum and my daily mental math requirements are all getting fulfilled at work with algorithms and stats and fiscal management.  The brain is always busy and thanks to being forced into learning new things it's on overdrive lately.  Maybe I'll get them all down here, for posterity's sake soon.

I'm making my big return to the stage this weekend.  Because I don't have enough going on.
Actually I have so much going on that I really need the outlet.  It's just a few days a month and the theater is right on the bus line that runs outside my front door so there's no excuses.

Dave has a new job.  And taking clients.  I think he's taking clients from anywhere in PA, so if you truly get hurt at work (not slip and fall ambulance chaser stuff!) let me know and I'll let him know.  And he'll get money for you.  And for us.  So we can eat.

I'm pretty sure that I've been through more changes in the past two years than ever before in my life and I'm doing really well with it all. 
I always say I hate change, but that's not true at all. 
I say that now. 

If we stayed where we were at any point in time life would be really effing awful.  Or boring at least. 

My last two years haven't been boring, that's for sure.  And they haven't been easy.  But they've been good.

Oh, holy crap.  In the past couple months I've gotten almost an entire foot cut off my hair. Twelve inches not like a foot foot.  And it's still long.  Ish.  I wish I would have done that Locks of Love thing where you chop your ponytail right off and send it to a bald cancer kid.  But I didn't and I'll probably go to hell now. 
I grew and grew and grew it and it was glorious but it's so much to take care of so I got it cut to my shoulders and now I'm happier and next time I'm probably going to go even shorter.  Not super short because I feel like if I do that I'm locking myself in to my "forever hair".  You know the forever hair.  It's that style that you have from the time you are 40/45/50/beyond until the day the esthetician at the funeral parlor tries to recreate it for your viewing.  I am not ready for my forever hair.
Not that I'll ever be in a casket.  Burn the body an throw a party.  No one needs to see me dead.  That's so gross.



Years and years ago I sat in this office.  Not this exact space but this exact building. I sat in this office and started a blog.  And I blogged and I blogged and I blogged and I did it mostly all on company time because when I started this blog I was pregnant and between pregnancy and child rearing there wasn't much time at home to sit on a computer and get much of anything done. 

Not for me at least.  I've never been able to manage multi-tasking technology with parenting.  If I'm doing one I'm doing very poorly with the other.  I've been guilty of doing poorly with both.  I think most of us have.  Parenting during this tech age is interesting.

Just like Southerners use the "God Bless" when they really mean the eff word I use interesting when I can't think of anything nice to say.

I used to write more.  Now things are so busy I can't sort out what to write and what to just let settle into nothingness.  Things seem so boring and hectic.  Life is pretty boring and hectic for most of us I think.

I started working for this company in October of 2001.  It wasn't what I wanted to do.  I took the job for the benefits.  I had slit my hand open a month before and that set me back financially.  I was waitressing and lost time from work.

I definitely didn't take it for the pay.  My first bi-weekly paycheck was less than I made in a typical weekend at the bar.  I cried all the way to the bank.  That's not a colloquialism, that's the God's honest truth.

The people I worked with were so bizarre.  They still are.
The people you work with are probably bizarre too.
Why can't everyone just be normal like us?

My first job here laid me off in less than a year but I never missed a day of work between jobs.  I went from being a case manager in a program serving people who were just getting out of homeless shelters to being an Intake Coordinator for a Welfare to Work program.  Both were field jobs, and I worked in people's homes.  The big difference was that the homeless people were living in houses and apartments that were up to a code specified for subsidized housing.  Welfare to Work folks just lived.  In houses more beautiful than mine and houses you'd never imagine held addresses outside of a third world country. A few years of doing the intake work and I was promoted to Supervisor.  An office job.  I held it for a couple years I guess.  Mostly because I got pregnant with Jacob and I didn't want to be out in the neighborhoods for all that.  I'll never supervise social workers again.  I'd rather have a caseload of clients than a caseload of high-needs workers plus their caseload of 25 or so clients.  And sitting at a desk is no good for me.  I'm not an office worker. I started this blog while I was an office worker. I needed something to do with all of my energy.  A week after returning from maternity leave with Jacob I was laid off from that program, but the very next day I reported for duty for the job I have now.  Today.  But not tomorrow.  I've been a Program Analyst for a City funded parenting program for nearly eight years.  It's my job to keep up on current research and Best Practices and be sure they are implemented in the field. It was a field job but I didn't have to work in houses.  I worked at social service agencies and schools and hospitals and health centers and libraries and shelters and rehabs and and and.  I have sat through thousands of hours of parenting classes and probably thousands more of continuing education courses.  I'm a Parenting Professional for another four and a half hours.  Then I'm not.  Just like that.  I'll just be a regular mom with a regular job.

Tomorrow I start a new job.  One that has nothing to do with anything I've ever done before.  One that has everything to do with what I wanted to do when I was fresh out of school.  Community and clinically based research.  I earned my graduate degree in 2001.  Everything I learned is probably obsolete.  But that's okay.  I'll learn again.

I might go back to school in a few years.  My new employer will pay for it all, that's part of the benefits package.  As long as I don't want to go to law school, medical school, or earn my MBA.  I don't want to do any of that.  I might not want to do anything at all.  And that will be okay.
I was raised to believe that University education is everything.  So I went and I went and I went and then when I was done I still felt like I wasn't good enough.  Thirteen years after being out of it I don't feel like University is everything, and sometimes it's nothing at all.
But the boys will go.
Because I believe that they will be better off with a degree.
And I'll be better off if they go where I work because it will all be free.
Unless they want to be medical doctors, lawyers, or earn their MBA.

I've learned more at work than I ever did at school.  We all do.
There is bound to be some major crossover into the new position even though it's something different.  I was hired for my work experience.  My specific work experience.
Not my education.
That made me feel good enough.



You guys, I did it.  I got a new job.  A new job at a new place in a new field.

It's right downtown and across the street from the school where Jacob will attend grades 5-12 which is just two and a half short years away.  And near the subway.  And in a place where I already have a few friends working.

It's at a Major Philadelphia University.  With tuition reimbursement for me and my family and other benefits.
It involves real medical science.  With medical doctors. 
And flexibility. 
And room to grow.
And science.

I really need some hard science in my life after 15 years in soft science.  In a place where I'm done growing and in a place that's cutting back on the flexibility. A place that's changing and leaving people like me a little uneasy with the changes.

My new supervisor is a doctor and a mom and a genius and a really nice person and she's seen me on stage but at first she thought she recognized me because I look so much like Amy Adams.
I get that a lot.  People think I'm Amy Adams at least once or twice a week, especially if they are drunk.  If I wear makeup or comb my hair the people think I look like Isla Fisher.  It's really hard to tell those two apart.  If I ever get famous and need a movie made about me, I hope Isla plays me because she's the prettier twin.

She liked me on stage.  She thought I was smart and funny.  She thought my whole team was smart and funny.  I miss my whole team. I miss getting on stage. Soon that will change.  April at the latest.  But doing something completely different than I was doing before.  I've taken a Storytelling workshop and I have another one coming up in a little under two weeks and then I'm just going to do it.  Just going to get up there and do it because all the classes in the world won't get me ready as well as putting five or ten minutes of stagetime will do.  Just me up there on stage.  All by myself.

I'm coming out of my comfort zones. 

I'm not going to be the expert of anything at my new job.  No one will think I'm the best around.  No one will defer to me for the right answers.  I liked being a point person, for a time.  I'm over it.  I want to blend in a little bit more. I want to learn something instead of teach something.  Be monitored rather than monitor. 
But it's scary.  Good scary.

The boys are just fine.  Nicholas is walking all over the place and starting to talk.  Milk, book, horse, clock, dog, cookie, cheese, hi, bye, mama, dada, Jacob, light, eat. Not that you'd be able to recognize many of those words but I can.  He does cute animal imitations like flapping his arms and saying "twee twee" when you ask him what a bird does and making his arm like a trunk and spitting all over the place when you say elephant.
Jacob earned his yellow belt in judo recently and will start competing soon.  School is as good as second grade can be when you just aren't in love with your teacher and some of the kids are real jerks.

The good thing about teachers is that you only have them for one year.  Unless you are me.  I had the same man for four years of elementary school.  Sometimes he was just my math or science teacher but he was always in my life.  He was the angriest person I have ever met, and I have seen anger many many many times.  I see him on Facebook and he's a Christian now, which I guess is supposed to make everything all better.  He was scary and cruel except when he wasn't.  Then he was wonderful. 
I'm not comfortable with people like that no matter how wonderful they are when they are wonderful.  No matter how much Jesus is in their hearts thirty years later.
The bad thing about teachers is that you only have them for a year.  I'm sure I had some good teachers but no one that stands out anymore. Some that I liked more than others, sure.  But no one that totally blew me out of the water.

Holy crap I can't believe I have a new job lined up.  A research job at a University.  This is like my big girl job.  I can't wait. 


new year

Every day my guts say "write!" but my schedule and my motivation say "just kidding!".

Work is steady, but who knows for how long. Through June for sure.  Through December maybe.  Through June 2015 hopefully.  This isn't a new thing for me, I wish we would just know how long this grant will last.  I have so many irons in the fire right now and I know I need to sit down and pull some out.  My biggest fears remain the same.
1) Financial ruin
2) No healthcare

Money come, money go. Sometime fast, sometime slow. I'm not a proud person and I don't mind waiting tables.  In fact, I prefer waiting tables to anything else I've ever done.
I always said that when the Affordable Health Care Act is up and running I'm going to run right along with it and start doing what I love.  Unfortunately for me I need to find something that I love which pays about what I'm making doing what I do now.  I enjoy my work but I've been due for a change for years now.  Pregnancy and its resulting baby put a monkey in that wrench these past two years but we've hit that sweet spot where Jacob is willing and able to do a whole lot for himself and he loves school and Nicholas is little enough to not know he's not getting picked up earlyish and big enough to keep himself entertained until I get there.

There are so many things that I worry about that are clearly vestiges of the person I was thirty years ago.  The child I was. No one is going to be forced to move from house to house to house. There will always be food in the kitchen. No one is going to be punished for eating too much of the food. No one will have to worry about clean clothes that fit well. No one is going to forget to pick up my children. 

I won't have to move from house to house to house.
I will always make sure there will be food in the kitchen.
I won't be punished for eating too much food.
I won't have dirty clothes or clothes that don't fit well.
I won't forget to pick up my children.
They won't be a nuisance to the caregiver that was supposed to go home a half hour ago.
They will be fed and clothed and loved and sheltered and gathered because I am the one responsible for those things.

If only I can summon bravery, I'll be all set.

Dave and I have a few ideas.  A plan that may be set into motion.  It will take time and guts and money and energy and blood and tears and sweat.  And a good amount of blind faith.  We'll see. 


Ugh, how about that Affordable Health Care Act, right guys?  Right?

On my end of things I've only seen people benefit from it.  Anyone who "lost their benefits" will actually be benefiting from the new benefits. And that's quite beneficial for them.  If I turn on the news I will hear that this isn't the case everywhere.  If I turn the channel, I will hear that this is the case everywhere. I don't turn on the television very often due to this phenomenon.

Of course in my field we are all very pro-AHC but I work closely with several people/agencies of faith and some of them are totally hung up on this birth control thing. 

My argument is two-fold.
1) So you're saying that you can't trust your co-workers, employees, and their dependents to uphold the virtues and values that you hold true, or you're saying that you can't accept people making decisions that you wouldn't make for yourself?  Because I'm a little hung up on that one. You do you boo. Don't worry about everyone else. 
2) You don't think that God is stronger than birth control? Because I know what happens when you put Vaseline on a condom and I'm assuming that God is at least stronger than Vaseline.  So what's the difference?

I do understand that people don't want to pay for anything that goes against their value system.  I speak with my wallet.
I don't shop at Wal*Mart.  But that doesn't mean that I think that Wal*Mart shouldn't exist because I know that Wal*Mart fills a need in our society.  What is that need?  I don't know.  But sometimes I duck in there because I really need some sunscreen whilst in Florida and if you've ever been to Florida you know that there aren't many options outside of the local Wal*Mart.  There is seriously like one Wal*Mart for every seven Floridians.  I hear it's like that in other parts of the country too. 

Some of my tax dollars go to programs that I don't agree with.  But I still pay my taxes because those programs employ people (yay employment!) and there is bound to be someone whose life is made just a little bit better by that program.  Even if I think it's stupid or enabling or ineffective or goes against Best Practices or whatever.  Because I stand by the belief that we all need to make a few compromises to serve the greater good. 

I don't compromise my morals and values, but sometimes I compromise my dollars.


I've been doing well.  The kids are doing well.  Jacob got straight As again this quarter and is reading a grade and a half above grade level and will soon be testing for a yellow belt in judo.  That's good news.  Nicholas is finally being moved from the infant room to the toddler room at daycare.  He's 14 months old and walking but not talking.  Or sleeping much.  Sometimes he hits other people.  With his hands.

I haven't been onstage in three months but that will change soon.  Our now-defunct improv troupe won Best Improv Group in the Philadelphia comedy awards again this year.  I wasn't there to accept the award because I never thought in a million years that lightening would strike there twice and I had something else to do that night.  Shame on me. 
I'm done with improv and moving on to Storytelling.  I'll do a workshop in a couple weeks and another one in March and I hope to hit up a couple shows in the meantime and by April I want to be on the bill of some show, some where.  I think that's do-able. 

I'm excited and nervous. 
I feel those feelings behind my shoulder blades and in the nape of my neck.