Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring 2011

Life’s a beach for me and my girls…

P1000572 P1000574

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Can I Be Famous?

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Yahoo about their new Contributor program.  This allows you to sign up to write selected articles for them about various news events.  I think I was sent the notice because I am a fan of their Royal Wedding updates on Facebook.

Anyway, I clicked on over and signed up and listed the Royal Wedding as an interest of mine and a week or so ago, I was sent an alert that they were looking for “unique” articles about some aspect of the wedding.  I chose to write about the Welsh island where William and Kate are going to live after the wedding.

Well, guess what!?  Today I was told THEY BOUGHT IT!  And PUBLISHED IT!!  I am officially a published author.  Check me out HERE!!!!!  YAHOO!  Literally :)  And I don’t know who all is sharing it, but 25 people have shared it on Facebook at last count, and 2 have shared it on Twitter.  That’s awesome.  I get performance pay as more people click on it, in addition to the base rate I was paid for the story.

So today I was offered another crack at it, and I signed up again to do another piece on the wedding.  Whereas before I was really struggling to come up with what to write about that hadn’t been covered before, this time I had 3 or 4 ideas and had to really sit and consider them.  It ultimately came down to what I could most easily find on the internet.  It’s taken me a couple of hours, but I just submitted my second piece and I hope it’s also accepted.  We’ll see!

So yeah, you can tell everyone you know the great Kate Kosior, journalist and writer :-D

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Worst Thing About Lent…

The worst thing about giving up Facebook for Lent is that I feel cut off from all my dear friends and my wonderful support system.  I’ve been depressed about it, really, over the last couple of days. It’s been a rough week, for a variety of reasons, and a lot has been on my mind.  Ordinarily, I’d just pop up a quick status update and get a million responses.  Now, I either need to sit down and write out an email, which by the time I get done writing and reading it makes me a little sick of my own neediness and I don’t send them, or else just kinda hang around and ponder what the heck my friends and I ever did before Facebook!

I remember emails.  Long emails, the kind that read like letters or books.  Responding after each paragraph, avidly reading through the original letters and the responses and adding more and more onto each email.  I remember tossing up a blog post and getting 3 or 4 responses immediately, going to other people’s blogs and posting.  Now it’s more of a personal pursuit that I’m doing to clear my own thoughts.

I am really sad this weekend about the fact that Leah will most likely be sibling-less.  My wonderful neighbor down the street gave birth to her second son this past week, and it made me realize that Leah will be alone when we are gone.  Despite many arguments and disputes with my own sister, there really is nothing like a sibling to share your life with.  I think ahead to when Mike and I are old and Leah will have no one to shoulder the burden with.  When we are gone, she will be alone. It depresses the hell out of me.  But selfishly, I suppose, I also do not especially want to have another baby come into our lives.  So I guess I’m just one big paradox!!!

Today, I slept until almost 1:00, despite having someplace to go at 8:30 this morning.  This past week has just been awful, getting up every morning between 4:00 and 4:45 (my internal clock started screaming “you have to leave soon!” at 4:00 towards the end of the week), not getting back to sleep till 7, not hearing Leah if she was yelling to get up, waking up at 9 or 9:30 and then running around because we were chronically late… 

Last night was busy.  Leah got a bit of a late nap in, as we went to the park after Toddlin’ Time, and then by the time she fell asleep, Penny got home and I asked her to pack so we could leave by 3:30 to meet Mike up in Alexandria.  We were getting our taxes done, a task which I know is tedious but necessary.  Penny and Leah were climbing the walls in H&R Block, and finally went for a walk at the pet shop next door.  We had a nice dinner at the Olive Garden and then dropped Penny off at Melissa’s for the night so she could get a ride into Fairfax today for her TOEFL.  She has spent the remainder of the day with Judy and family and I am leaving sometime soon to go pick her up.

After sleeping half the day away, we went to lunch, where I was able to solicit another donation on the choir’s behalf (hooray, me!) and then got Leah home for a nap.  I spent that quiet time working on an article for Yahoo Contributors, for which I signed up in the hopes of getting some writing experience, and also some solicitation letters for the choir.  We are looking for some corporate sponsors, and I figured I’d take a shot at some local companies where we have spent some serious cash.  Will it bear fruit?  I don’t know!  But I had to try.

Once Leah woke up, we decided to go play outside and eventually decided she’d have more fun at the park, so we had a small family picnic at Duff Green park.  I just got Leah to bed, put away the second load of dishes, am now here, bitching to the universe.  The silence in the house without Penny here is absolutely deafening.  There’s a definite sense of something missing, even when she’s up in her room studying at least we know she’s there.  So I feel pretty confident that things will seem seriously out of whack when she leaves for good.

Tomorrow, Penny will be going out with her liaison from AFS to the Melting Pot.  I hope she enjoys the experience there as much as I do when I go.  We have an extended choir rehearsal tomorrow night and then next week will be a short week as on Friday we have our annual physicals and then leave for Savannah.  I need to arrange for someone to come feed the rabbit while we are gone.  Savannah should be a fun, although quick, trip.  Penny wants to climb the Tybee Island lighthouse, which I’m actually pretty excited about, and I’m excited about my first trip to Tybee Island period.  What else we will do, I’m not sure, but I know the Wellses will treat us to a good time.  When we get back, it’ll be CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME! and I’ll definitely be taking a day to go to DC.  And then, shockingly, it’ll be April, and my baby will be turning 2…  The first quarter of the year gone.  How is it possible?

So c’mon April 24!!!!  I want to see some Facebook!!!!  I miss everyone :-D  For anyone who might be reading and want some Leah love, here’s the best I can do.  She’s been too busy to pose for pictures lately, so here’s a profile of her, showing her great love of Greek yogurt.


Monday, March 14, 2011

One of Them Thar Days…or Weekends!

It’s Monday and I’m exhausted.  This time change thing SUCKS.  Over the weekend, Penny was consumed by the events in Japan, quite possibly the first time she’s been engaged in the news.  We had to keep her busy, or she’d have spent her every waking minute in front of CNN, which is not a good or healthy thing.  So instead of sitting around, making her study for the TOEFL, which is next week and which I predict she will not do well on, we kept her pretty busy.  She did finish a research paper she had due, and we made a cake, went to Chuck E. Cheese, did yardwork, watched movies, went to lunch, and had choir practice. 

The time change has thrown all of us off.  I really am missing that hour.  This week, Mike’s carpool driver is in Florida.  His back up carpool person called last night to say her dad is in ICU and she won’t be going to work this week.  So I had to get up at 4:45 this morning to drive to the train station.  When I got back, it was time for Penny to get up, and she is LOUD in the mornings.  I didn’t get back to sleep till nearly 7:00.  I awoke from a haze at 9:30—no idea if Leah was doing anything at all this morning while I was sleeping!—and realized I was supposed to drop Leah at Wiggle Worms so I could teach my friend Sherry to do video editing on Windows Movie Maker.  I hurriedly got up and got my sunshine girl moving, then checked the caller ID.  My neighbor had called.  My heart temporarily stopped.

My neighbor, Lisa, is heavily pregnant and ready to pop.  I am her night time back up person, so that if she goes into labor overnight, she can call us and leave her older son here until her mom can get here.  So last night, I didn’t take the phone to bed with me, and of course, there was a call from her on the caller ID.

Mercifully, or so for a moment I thought, she called this morning.  And then I remembered it was because I was supposed to babysit Daniel this morning while she went to her final doctor’s appointment!

I had already told Sherry I might not be here at 10:30 on the dot like we’d planned, so I had to quickly get in touch with her and say that not only would there not be no toddlers running around, there’d be two toddlers running around.  So she and I decided to reschedule.  Lisa arrived with Daniel right on time, while I was on the phone with my dad, of course, so I got them in and got Daniel and Leah settled while Lisa took off.  My goal for the morning was to keep Leah and Daniel as physically active and busy as possible, so we went out in the backyard and played “Let’s add sticks to the stick pile!” and “Let’s kick balls into the ever moving soccer goal!” and “Let’s run up and down the driveway with the toy car!” and “Let’s run up and down the alphabet singing loudly!”  It worked.  Leah is out cold, and I suspect Daniel was going to have a nice nap, since he looked pretty out of it when his mom picked him up.

So this afternoon I need to prepare some food for my book club girls, the number of which is rapidly dwindling, and then make dinner for my family, pick up Mike, and go to my book club meeting. 

What else have we been up to?  Let’s see.  My choir is having it’s annual gala fundraiser.  We’ve all been tasked with gathering items for the silent auction.  I am not the fundraising type, and I hate asking for donations, so I decided to devise a little email that I thought I would send out to the people I know here in town.  It turns out that I know quite a lot of people who own or manage quite a few businesses in town.  So I sent out about 20 emails and I got 15 responses.  Then I started asking people about donating their hobbies, and I got several responses for that (computer repairs, metal detecting, etc).  Now I’m up to emailing random businesses with whom I have zero affiliation and asking them for donations.  It’s turned out that I’m quite good at this stuff.  I’ve gotten close to 25 donations thus far.  If you’re out there and reading this and would like to donate something to the SRCS silent auction, please leave me a comment or drop me an email and I’ll get in touch!  All donations are tax deductible!!!  And if you want to buy a ticket and come hear me sing, then please do so!  Your ticket is $85 and tax deductible except for the cost of your dinner!

This weekend I did a lot of yardwork, finishing up trimming and pruning the trees in the backyard.  They were in pretty rough shape, totally overgrown, and some seemed to be on the verge of death.  I started 2 weeks ago with hand trimmers, which did a good job, but Saturday I bought a chainsaw (which of course didn’t come with any bar and chain oil and the goons at Home Depot didn’t tell me I needed any, so I got home and immediately had to go back out to another hardware store and get the oil) and set to work.  Unfortunately, due to my injury last summer, I don’t have the arm strength I had in my left arm, so it was a bit of a challenge. 

So I chainsaw massacre the living daylights out of the first 7 bushes, which I could reach and then Mike and I devise a plan to snake the (of course too shot) extension cord through the windows into his office so it’ll be long enough, and it’s sort of long enough, but not really, but I decided to take my chances.  So I get to one really good sized log I’m ready to take out and the saw gets halfway through it and the chain comes flying off the cutting bar.  So I go inside and ask Mike to send a message to our neighbor, Aaron, who comes over to fix the chainsaw, only he didn’t tighten it enough and I get through 2 more branches and the chain flies off again.  So I’m thinking, “@#)($*_!” and go back inside and tell Mike I’m done! 

So Mike texts Aaron again and tells him that I am in the backyard taking a break, so I leave the comfort of my sofa and head outside only to see our other neighbor, Jett, who tells me how great everything looks and he can’t believe I’ve been chainsawing the things myself!  While he and I are chatting, Aaron comes back.  Now, I immediately sense trouble.  Men + power tools + perceived “helpless female” + trees = woodchips a flying!  And sure enough, they perceive that despite the fact that I managed to mow through 8 trees without them that because the chain has now come off twice, I am clearly incapable of sawing down my own trees.  So I now point to what I want gone, and Aaron does the cutting.  I come to find out that he has been invited to a dinner party at his wife’s boss’s house, and he does not want to go.  When Jett catches wind of this, he decides that I have clearly missed branches that MUST come down on the other 8 trees, and the two of them plunge back and forth along the row of hedges cutting the heck out of my shrubs and talking like little old men about the quality of the chainsaw I bought, what’s going on with whom in the neighborhood, etc.  They swear they are coming back with a trailer to haul all the debris.  I’m hopeful!

I’ve managed to read 3 books in the past week since giving up Facebook for Lent on Wednesday, which is a true testament to what a timesuck Facebook really is.  I loved Sarah’s Key and The Hunger Games, and also read Princess Sultana’s Circle, which was merely ok.  I’m hoping that since at least half of us have now read Sarah’s Key, my Fredericksburg book club will get to meet again soon.  I find myself unexpectedly looking forward to it.  So that’s a good sign, right?

One of the other host moms has also turned me on to 2 new websites: and  Postcrossing allows you to ask for someone’s address and you send them a postcard.  Once you have sent and received a postcard, your name enters the system and you start to receive postcards as well.  I’ve sent out 7 so far, 3 of which are confirmed to have arrived.  Hopefully I’ll get one one of these days.  InterPals lets you search people’s profiles to find yourself penpals.  I used to be an avid penpal person, had dozens from all over the world (My parents probably pulled their hair out with my postage costs!).  I have thought on and off about doing it again over the years, but I didn’t really think anyone did letters any more.  So I was excited to hear about this site and signed on.  I’ve found 7 or 8 new penpals and we’ll see how it goes.  I’ve got one email pal and the rest are letter writing pals.  I searched primarily in the UK and Australia, getting one in Australia and most of the rest from England, although I’m excited to say that I’ve also gotten one from Germany, which I always had very good luck with in the past as a teenager.  My German penpals were devoted writers.  So we’ll see how that goes!

This week will be busy.  As I said, today is book club.  We’ll be at Toddlin’ Time tomorrow, and going to visit Lisa in the hospital towards the end of the week.  Sherry and I are attempting to reschedule our tutoring session.  I’ve got to get around to several places to pick up gift certificates.  God willing the weather stays nice and Leah and I can get to the park this week.  We’re getting our taxes done on Friday, and I am dropping Penny off with Melissa so she can take her to her TOEFL exam on Saturday while I am at the Fredericksburg Women’s Forum.  Then it’s on back to choir practice on Sunday and the week starts all over again. 

But first, I think a nap is in order!  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

So Much Nothing

I haven’t blogged about anything in several weeks, despite my firm declarations that  I would blog more this year.  So much has happened and yet nothing really has happened at all.  I have been trying hard to keep up with our AFS blog, since a lot of other host parent bloggers fell off that wagon pretty hard, and our blog is all over the AFS website. 

The other night I was mentally composing a blog post in my head and it was BRILLIANT, I tell you.  BRILLIANT.  I was listening to Sarah Bareilles’s King of Anything on the radio and singing along.  That song has become a personal anthem of sorts.  There are so many great parts in it, but here are some that really resonate with me:

You’re so busy making masks with my name on them in all caps, you’ve got the talking down, just not the listening…

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent, swear you know best.  But you expect me to jump up on board with you and ride off into your delusional sunset…

Now I have forgotten much of my brilliant post, but I’ll try to formulate below…

February was a month when a lot of people disappeared from my life.  I have done a lot of soul searching in the past 18 months or so, and I’ve discovered that if I had one complaint about myself, it’s that I allow people to treat me as a disposable commodity, a convenience to pick up and put down at will. 

There is a part of me that has always felt “second best” and been eager to accept any mere crumbs that have fallen my way.  Everybody’s pal, but nobody’s best friend (don’t get nervous, Lesley! :-D).  In one of my favorite movies, The Holiday, Arthur tells Iris she’s never the leading lady, only the best friend, and Iris realizes she should be the leading lady in her own life.  That part has always felt to me like the true soul of that film.

Until a year and a half ago, that was enough for me, or at least, I was willing to put up with it, feeling I deserved no better.  I thought that if I disagreed with my family or with my friends, it made me a bad friend, a bad daughter, a bad sister, a bad wife, a bad mother.  I would go so far as not to express an opinion about anything—books, movies, music—until I had a gauge of everyone else’s opinion first and if I disagreed, I would just nod rather non-committally and refrain from expressing an opposing view.  I think during the first 5 years my book club was in existence, I may have opened my mouth just a few times to express anything.  I was (and to an extent, still am) terrified of saying “the wrong thing”.

So many things I’d say if only I were able, but I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by…

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy while I’d just hurt and hide, waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide.

Through a lot of help and especially recently talking with a good friend of mine who had similar patterns of behavior and thinking, I’ve come to realize that the worst thing that can happen is that you lose people who can’t accept that you are changing.  That you are demanding just a little bit of respect.  (Remember Dianne Wiesst in Parenthood?  “Not a lot, just a little!”  I’m full of pop cultural references today!)  That you expect honesty in your relationships.  One thing I can really and truly say is that I am sick to death of being lied to.  And I do believe that dishonesty is a major cause of many relationship problems that most of us have.

Regardless, I am not entirely innocent either and I definitely am willing to own up to my mistakes, and I have made more than a few.  So to those of you who have been offended by something I said or did, I am truly sorry.

One interesting aspect of having Penny here is that I do feel it is more incumbent on me to be a role model.  I make no show of hiding how I feel about many of Penny’s friends, who are obnoxious and rude little shits. :-D  Since the day she has arrived here, they’ve sent her nasty messages via Facebook and the things that she’s told me about what they say to her and how they treat her when she is in their presence is literally shocking.  And I suggested to her, “You are so desperate not to be lonely that you will tolerate any abuse at all just to have someone to talk to.”  And she agreed with me, which is sad.  But I have also talked with her about my own relationship issues as they’ve come up while she’s here and let her take the lead in deciding what should be done about them.  Some decisions she’s made wouldn’t have been done the way I think I would have done them, and she’s found it very interesting and I think a learning experience to see what happens in relationships and that you can survive if people you are related to or people you think are your friends bow out. I have tried to explain to her that you can say good bye without feeling resentful.

One thing we’ve talked extensively about is how each of us has our own perspective on things.  One of the things we’ve talked about with regards to friends is how whether or not I think something is true, my friend views it as true and I have to at the very least attempt to respond to their reality.  For instance, someone recently remarked that she wants to be friends with Penny but that Penny never talks to anyone.  Penny disagreed totally with that statement.  I explained to her that whether she agreed or disagreed, that was how other people saw her was as a person who didn’t want to talk to anyone.  So she renewed her efforts and now has been making good progress in the past week or two at talking with people and seeing them respond to her as a result.  (Of course, she is pissed it is now March and she is seeing results, but it’s taken till March till she’s made this type of effort!)

So, yadda yadda yadda, just some things that we’ve been talking about, things I’ve been thinking about and discussing with friends.  In light of this, I recently cleared out my friends’ list on Facebook.  I cleared off nearly 100 people. There are more that I certainly could clear off, and I may.  Every couple of days I go back through the list and chuck off a couple more that I never hear from, that I was just being nosy about, people who weren’t especially nice to me “then” and who I really don’t care about hearing from now.  In preparation for Lent, I’ve been thinking about last year’s experiment in giving up Facebook, and I’m going to do it again. During that time, I’ll make a list of the people whose updates I miss most and delete pretty much everyone else…

In other news…

Leah’s 2nd birthday is planned.  I was going to have it at Toddlin’ Time since that is her favorite place on earth.  Then when I went to reserve it, I came to find out they already had a party booked on that date, so I had to look elsewhere.  I really didn’t want to clean the house and go to the expense, and frankly after looking at it, the price to have a party elsewhere is cheaper than the expense and trouble I go to having a party at home.  So I booked her party at Wiggle Worms and then found out that the party at Toddlin’ Time is for one of her friends at TT, and we are invited to that party.  That mom had her invitations professionally printed and the whole 9 yards, and since I hadn’t, I volunteered to move Leah’s party, which I was able to do.  My dad is going to make it down since I’ve moved it, which is even more exciting!  He is also going to come down on April 20th and give us a night off for our wedding anniversary.  Woo hoo!

Choir rehearsals have started up again.  I am enjoying it.  Our theme for this year’s gala is “Going on a Sea Cruise” and we are doing all songs about the sea, so it’s right up my alley.  I have been busy helping with the silent auction by soliciting donations and I’m happy to say I’ve gotten some pretty awesome ones, so that’s cool.  I have made a lot of connections in the past 2 years of being here in the community full time, so it’s paying off for the choral society anyway!  If anyone has eighty five dollars they don’t know what to do with, feel free to come on out on April 17th at UMW and listen to us.  Tonight we started learning choreography and stuff, so it’s going to be a lot of fun!

Well, I guess I should go to bed. I’m tired and I’m babysitting my neighbor’s son tomorrow.  There’s more stuff going on, like my great yard clean up this year, but that’ll have to wait for another post!

Good night, everyone!