The view from here.

view
I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Clearly, I have been doing something other than writing here, right?

I started this blog on January 17, 2005. Ten years ago.

Ten.

My kitchen was green and white – country-style – as it was when we moved into it sight-unseen late summer 1999.

My business was growing, but I was unsure which direction it was going.

My sons were 9, 7, and 6.

I read bedtime stories every night. And loved it.

I was a little freaked out about being over 40.

I baked challah every week.

Andrew and I had time together every night after 7:30 pm. Except poker night. On poker night, I went out, bluffed, and laughed with my friends.

I blogged nearly every day.

This place. This blog. It’s been a wonderful escape and a way to express myself. Back then, it was a way to connect with the world outside my world before we all were so very, very connected. I’m grateful for so many things and so many people – and among them, my earliest ‘fake’ friends, Lori, Jenne, Leah. They, and so many others, made my world bigger. And better.

I think we all knew where this online thing was going… and that we’d be here – where we are now – at some point. Maybe we didn’t know exactly what was coming. But maybe we did.

So, I know what you’re thinking. “You’re quitting, right?”

No. Not right.

I’m just introspective. Ten years have passed and my life is unrecognizable.

My sons are 19, 17, and 16. The oldest is in his second year of college, the middle one starts this fall and the youngest will go fall 2016.

If I read at night, it’s to myself.

I’m sometimes a little freaked out about being over 50. Right now, I’m a little freaked out that my baby sister is turning 50 in a couple days.

I bake challah and pies and French bread and you-name-it all the time.

My kitchen – and my home – suit me. Perfectly. It’s a peaceful, happy place.

My business is growing and I’m learning and challenged every day.

Andrew and I get a little quality time each day, but as the boys get more and more independent, we have freedom we barely remember ever having before the kids were born.

And contrary to my expectations, I’m not sad that they’re independent and busy. I’m excited for them and love who they are and who they are growing to be.

My life has changed. That is true.

But it’s going swimmingly.

I’m not quitting my blog. I’m recharged.

Advertisements

College Applications. See? I made you sweat.

image credit freeimages/iprole
image credit freeimages/iprole

I remember all those years of back-to-school shopping buying those hard cover composition notebooks. And then, my oldest son graduated to the spirals. Wide rule.

The wide rules were harder to find; it seemed as if those college-ruled spiral notebooks were everywhere. I smiled to myself knowing it would be years and years before he was ready for these grown-up books. Heck, he still had fat pencils.

Time sped by faster than I could have ever imagined and even faster than the strangers at the grocery store told me it would.

Andrew and I strongly believe that college is a wonderful opportunity to grow up and find your passions. We always hoped our three sons would go and we started saving with a 529 state savings plan when they were very small. We’ve been consistent in letting them know that we hoped that’d be college-bound some day.

Some day crept up quickly and before we knew it, Davis took the PSAT exam at school. It was 10th grade and we were petrified to start thinking about what was coming next. He was a self-starter and assured us that he was doing the SAT Question of the Day – every day. He let us know that he intended to take the ACT exam, also.

We encouraged him early to find his passion and in 10th grade, he began taking studio art in addition to his challenging AP and GT coursework. He loved expressing himself visually. Encouraged by his teacher, he found a summer program at Maryland Institute College of Art. It was hard work. But it sealed the deal. By his junior year, on the AP Art track, it became clear to us all that he wanted to pursue an art degree. But what we learned was that the resources to navigate that path were a lot less available than a traditional academic path. And we had no idea where to begin.

Somehow – probably through our school’s attentive guidance department – we found out that there was an informational session in our county for students interested in pursing visual and performing art. We learned so much and talked to representatives from art colleges and liberal arts colleges with art programs. I think that was our biggest challenge – which to choose? Art school or a school with art? How to decide? What we learned – together – was that there are pros and cons and lots of good choices. We also learned to open our minds.

And then, the real work started. Davis started a list of schools to consider and began creating a cohesive (and fabulous) portfolio. At the same time, he took the SAT and, soon after, he took the ACT. He worked with an incredible coach to hone in on his school choices and on his essays.

Oh, the essays. I was so intimidated by the essays! Article after article (and maybe I should have stopped reading so much) told of the perils of a not-so-great essay and went on to describe what a good one actually was. His coach was amazing though and, after a couple re-starts, his essay brought me to tears and also made me smile.

My husband took him to visit schools to the north. I took him to one to the south of us and to Chicago. Divide and conquer. Of the 8 schools he’d decided to apply to, we visited 5. We just couldn’t swing the time or money to see the others.

Here’s the thing. I was overwhelmed by the process. I was freaked out that my baby was going to leave and that all these details needed to be managed and that there was so much to do. But, HE managed it. He studied. He wrote and re-wrote his essays. He worked his butt off to get his portfolio ready and he set up Skype and in-person portfolio reviews with his first choice schools for input. He filled in the applications and got teacher recommendations. HE applied for college.

I was over-the-moon proud knowing that he was ready for the responsibility of GOING to college. And I was proud of him for getting into the 8 schools he chose to apply to. I can’t resist telling you that a couple of them were extremely competitive.

His decision process once he had the acceptances was easy – well, easy to get to 2 schools. I asked him just the other day (he’s a sophomore now) if he thinks he made the right choice and he thinks that he did. I think that he did, too.

Our middle son is wrapping up his essays and will be applying to 6 schools within the next couple weeks. It was a lot less daunting the second time around, but it was completely different. Our third will be applying next year. I feel confident that that will be different, too.

All a long way around to say that the college application sounds really scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Letting your teens lead the conversation is a great start. Getting great advice from a coach, the school counselor, and other terrific resources is helpful.

Don’t Freak Out! Trust me, it does NOT make it easier.

You can do this.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Kaplan Test Prep. I received compensation to write this post, and any opinions expressed are my own, and reflect my actual experience.

Creating Quality Time With My Son and a Power Sander

table

Originally published July 15, 2014 at the fabulous TueNight.

I love junk. I like old stuff. Interesting shapes. Putting together odd combinations and using items for something other than what they were intended to be used for.

I was also an obsessive flea marketer and garage saler before it was considered stylish. (Is it considered stylish?) I was an upcycler before upcycle was a word.

My husband, Andrew, is an enabler like no other. He humors me on early weekend drives while we follow signs to the next sale or as I pull out my phone to scope them out using iGarageSale and Garage Sale Rover. My teenage sons? They tolerate it. Sometimes.

My oldest son just finished his freshman year of college. He’s an art major. He’s quiet and he likes his solitude. But I really wanted to figure out a way to spend time with him — something that involved a shared goal.

And then it came to me! This kid has the best taste. He’s always decorating his future home in his head, and I am often the delighted recipient of links to gorgeous furniture he’s found online, as well as unusually beautiful ensembles and fabulous homes. Plus, my son knows his way around tools. The natural conclusion was that we make a sofa table together. I’d been looking for one for some time and could not seem to find what I wanted. And much to my joy, when I asked if he would help, he was all in.

So one Saturday not long after, when my fabulous sister-in-law Liz asked me if I wanted to go barn sale-ing, I jumped at the chance. And I brought my son along, too. We took measurements for the table and started the hunt.

We found an old door at our first stop, which was a cute vintage marketplace called Sweet Clover. The piece was leaning unobtrusively against the wall with a $50 price tag. It had lots of personality, in addition to lots and lots of splinters. But hey, we have a power sander.

Fifty bucks seemed a little steep, especially in light of the fact that we were simply planning to take it apart and use a third of it, but before we even had a chance to haggle, the vendor told us she was pulling all her merchandise out that day and “how does $30 sound?”

It sounded great. Sold.

The door fit easily in the minivan and the three of us talked about what kind of legs it might pair well with as we drove home. We decided to order midcentury iron pin-style legs from eBay that night. And the next day, my son and I started disassembling. We pulled nails. We struggled to get the rusty hardware off. It wasn’t easy, especially since we wanted it to stay intact so we could put it back together once the wood was finished.

We sweat. We cursed. We cut wood. Together.

My son and I thought about finishes and tested different ones. We strategized and struggled. We cursed more. But we sure did laugh. And it’s amazing where the conversation can go when you’re not trying to make a conversation.

And did I say we sanded? Oh yes. We sanded and sanded and sanded. Then came the polyurethane and even more sanding. And more poly.

Then we put it all together.

The result was the best five days of my summer. We didn’t just make a table; we made a memory.

How My Husband Won My Heart and My Kids’ Stomachs

davis-cooking
Andrew and our oldest, Davis (now 19) in 1999.

Originally published June 10, 2014 over at the fabulous TueNight.

On our third date, Andrew cooked me an incredible dinner: leg of lamb, roasted asparagus and crispy potatoes. It was truly impressive.

Years later, he told me that he learned to cook because it was a good dating move. I might have felt played, but I like eating well just a tad too much. So, I not only let him cook for me regularly, I married him.

Fast forward to when our first son was 3 ½ years old. He went to a preschool friend’s house for a play date and stayed for dinner. (If you’re thinking woo hoo, what a break for Wendy, think again. We had a 1 ½ year old and an infant at home.)

I picked Davis, my oldest son, up at about 7:00 pm and, as always, he was full of stories! What a great reporter he was. So, chat, chat, chat… and then, “Mom. Guess what? It was so weird at Daniel’s house.”

“Really, what was weird?” (You can only imagine where my thoughts were headed.)

“When we had dinner, it was weird. The mom cooked.”

It’s a true gift that my three sons have a father who has taught them some really important life lessons:

  • There’s no substitute for a good knife
  • It is loving to make good food with care
  • Fresh ingredients make better food
  • Do what you do, and do it well
  • Presentation counts
  • Doing it right takes time – don’t take short cuts on the stuff that matters (example: a good ragu!)

Andrew cooks almost every night. It’s true that I get the honor about twice a quarter (and gripe about it on Facebook), and I humbly submit that I’m improving. But I don’t enjoy cooking. And he does. I call that a good partnership. Don’t you?

But more than that, I’m grateful that our three sons have a dad who expresses pride and love through food.

Our sons are 15, 17 and 19 now. Last week, they cooked dinner for Andrew’s birthday. They read cookbooks. They searched online for hours and hours. They agonized over the ingredients. They shopped for the ingredients. They prepped and planned and strategized.

The menu? Hold onto your hat:

Andalusian green salad
Chorizo and shrimp paella
Citrus-olive oil cake with sorbet
It’s exciting to see the delicious life skills they’ll take into adulthood, thanks to Andrew. Bon appétit!

Magnutties & Happy Fathers’ Day

Back in February 2012, I wrote about working for my family magnet business from the tender young age of 10. I wrote about how I stamped the coin envelopes (not particularly well) for magnutties. And what were magnutties? They were rubber magnetic strip scored so that you could break them into 100 pieces and they were fun to stack and play with. I wasn’t sure if it was 100 pieces at the time I wrote, but I am now.

Why is that? Why am I sure now?

I’m sure because I got an email just the other day that confirmed it.

The author of said email, sent me this photo:

magnutties

and I can’t tell you how much it made me smile. We’ve written back and forth a bit and here’s what I learned. He found this pack of magnutties stuck to the bottom of an old metal fishing tray of an old tackle box (they are magnetic after all) and he googled it. And the only thing of substance he found was my blog post.

And he reached out.

I explained that B&G was the company my dad started when I was little and that its name changed a long time ago. And that magnutties haven’t been around for quite some time.

And I told him that my dad would think this was really neat. I thought that I’d create this great Fathers’ Day post about this. And then I realized that my dad doesn’t use a computer.

So I’m posting it a little early for Fathers’ Day because I can show him at breakfast today. (I’m taking my mom to the train & will hang around in Baltimore for a bite to eat.)

(Thank you, kind stranger!)

Bedtime stories.

Books

If you were to ask me what I miss most about my boys’ younger years, I’d be quick to tell you I miss bedtime.

No, not because the days were long and I was exhausted. (Though the days were long and I was exhausted.)

No, I miss bedtime because there is something magical about reading those stories again and again with a child. I loved the giggles and the drowsy eyes and the questions. I loved the cuddles and the long hugs. I loved the “one more thing” as I was leaving the room and turning off the light.

I loved transitioning from picture books to chapter books. I loved moving to young adult books. And then, they didn’t want us to read to them anymore. It was gradual. I don’t remember exactly when it ended.

But, I miss it so much.

I’ll tell you this, though. All my guys know the surprise ending of Dinsmore and none of them would ever stand on a swivel chair and they all know how to make Mrs. Peters’ birthday cake.

Pony up.

photo credit: berenika
photo credit: berenika

Please enjoy this email convo that I had with my mom last night. (Posted with permission. Thanks, Mom.)

On Apr 26, 2014, at 10:05 PM, Wendy Scherer wrote:

You know that photo of Jeff on a pony? Was that in our neighborhood? I kind of think that the pony traveled around for pix. Is that true? Did I get a picture on one too?

Just wondering. Nothing important!!

love,
Wendy

On Apr 26, 2014, at 10:25 PM, Nadine Goldman wrote:

I don’t remember a picture of Jeff on a pony. Do you have a copy of it?

Sent from my iPad

On Apr 26, 2014, at 10:27 PM, Wendy Scherer wrote:

I don’t know if I do!
He was wearing a flat-cowboy hat. The pony had big spots. I think he had a vest on?
It was black & white. You don’t remember? Maybe I have it somewhere? I don’t think so though.

I’m pretty sure it was in our front yard!

On Apr 26, 2014, at 10:35 PM, Nadine Goldman wrote:

Well, we definitely didn’t own a pony. My guess is that you’re probably right. It was likely a traveling pony. How old was Jeff? If he was 3 or 4 you probably were too young to sit on it.
Hmmm my memory is definitely not good.
But don’t worry yet. I still remember who you are. Love you!
M

Sent from my iPad

On Apr 26, 2014, at 10:39 PM, Wendy Scherer wrote:

LOL Can I publish this conversation in a blog post? It’s VERY funny!

Sure 🙂

Sent from my iPad

1963 vs 2013

photo credit sxc.hu miguelima
photo credit sxc.hu miguelima

It’s 2013 and I’m the mother of three teenage boys. You probably know that. If you don’t, I’ll tell you – my guys are 14, 16, and 18.

They are incredible. They’re absolutely perfect and can do no wrong and I love them exactly how they are. And I am not saying this because they sometimes read my blog.

At any rate, if you’re a mother or if you’re not, you must know that life has its challenges. Personally, I was stunned by the depth and breadth of physical challenges when the kids were younger and now that they’re older, the emotions and worry and to-the-core wholeness of the experience are mind-boggling sometimes. Well, often, actually.

As I was mind-numbingly surfing Facebook the other day, I saw my friends and my friends of friends and my acquaintances and my acquaintances of acquaintances sharing their minor and not so minor – and even really major experiences, fears and challenges. Some were hysterically funny. Some, frightening and frankly overwhelming,

I read the statuses and looked at the photos. I made some comments and clicked a lot of like buttons. A lot of like buttons. (I do think though that like isn’t always the right word, but that’s a conversation for another time, I suppose.)

I understood some of what these women shared. But some, I could never understand. I could be a friend, I could care, but I couldn’t really understand. Not all of it. But I could be a friend.

And these women? They’re always there with a like or a comment for me when I need it. You know?

But how was it for moms back in the day?

Sure, they talked on the phone more than we do. I imagine that my mom and her contemporaries had people to talk to and a great circle of confidants. But what about that 10:00 pm frustration? Who was there then? Or what if she had no one in her local circle with similar experiences? Who could relate?

We’re so immersed online, it’s easy take it for granted. But you know what? We’re lucky as can be. We can find our tribes – people with similar experiences – and people who are there for us any time night or day. The only cost for entry is caring back.

The Wheel.


(just listen in the background, there’s nothing to see here folks…but a beautiful version circa 1977)

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down,
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on,
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still,
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.

The wheel is turning. Oh my, the wheels are turning.

Andrew is making dinner. Soft shell crab and shrimp Po’ Boys, if you’re curious. I know, right? Don’t even tell me how lucky I am. I know.

So Andrew is making dinner. We were chatting. Our son took the car and left for the high school senior awards night.

I’m trying to let that sink in.

He took the car.

He’s graduating from high school. Next week.

I could post a picture of him when he was little here, but I’ll save that for a nice juxtaposition with his graduation photo. Hehe.

So the wheel is turning. So fast. So fast. I’m happy. I’m a wreck. I’m happy and a wreck. Reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:

Guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Help me! I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee.” And the shrink says, “Relax. You’re two tents.”

I know you already knew that one but I couldn’t resist.

I can’t really explain what it feels like to watch your child drive away. Those of you with older kids? I bet you know. It’s just the first domino. I’m so full of emotion. So full of emotion.

Is the kid ready for this? Ready to be so independent? Ready to move away? To be self-reliant? You bet he his. I’m bursting with pride. But that doesn’t make the tears stop.

source: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/mbylow source: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/mbylow%5B/caption%5D