I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas

When I ask my kids what they miss about living in Washington State, the youngest two say “Snow.”

Snow.  Really?  Snow?

Snow rarely fell in Washington State (unless you were in the mountains), unlike it had in Michigan when we lived there for four years.  In Michigan, the snow began in October one year and we never saw the grass again until March.

That is one long winter, especially without the Internet and twin toddler boys in a house on ten acres.

But in Seattle, snow would fall maybe once a year, possibly twice.  It would stick around for a week, usually less.  Just enough for a snow day or two, dozens of car accidents, hysterical news stories on every local network, and a few muddy snowmen pockmarked with leaves.  Then it would turn to slush, the slush would melt, then refreeze into ice, and then it would rain again, much to relief of native Pacific Northwesterners everywhere.

But it clearly made an impression on the kids.

Rain fell today in San Diego.  The house was shadowy from the clouds, darker than normal.  I wanted to curl up with a quilt and a book (but instead, I worked all day).

When it rains here, I instinctively brace myself for weeks of wet feet and gloomy skies.

But tomorrow it will be sunny again.

This happy girl might be dreaming of a White Christmas, but she’ll have to be content with remembering wacky snowman she created from inches of fallen snow.


Good Night Moon

Tonight while driving home, I glimpsed a golden sphere in the distance and thought for a moment that I was looking at a water tower lit completely by Christmas lights.  When I realized I was seeing a giant golden moon, I wanted to find a place to pull over so I could (badly) capture the sight with my iPhone camera, but of course, I was trapped in a line of cars and the next thing I knew, clouds blotted out that moon.

I have become totally enamored by the sun and the moon.  I want to spend every sunset and moonrise on a beach or mountaintop so I can watch them slip up and then down the horizon.  I spent so much of my life in the Pacific Northwest where a ceiling of clouds hides the drama of the sun and moon.  I’m making up for lost time.

(Picture from 2011)

So, today I finally wrapped some gifts and made a list (and checked it twice). Only a couple more days of school and we can all take a giant sigh of relief. I can’t wait to have a break from driving kids here, there and everywhere.

I asked my 15-year old what his ideal Christmas Day would look like and his complete answer was this: Coconut Cream Pie.

So, I guess I’ll be making Christmas pie . . . and thus begins a brand new tradition. (I made Coconut Cream Pie for the first time ever for Thanksgiving.)

What does your ideal Christmas Day look like?

Pelicans and surfers

In another Christmas miracle, I had a chance to go to the Oceanside pier this afternoon for a brief visit.






In which I do not get 100% or a gold star

Every two weeks, my 11-year old and I meet with her supervisory teacher.  Grace attends a public charter school and does most of her coursework at home, like a homeschooler, except that she is accountable for her attendance and progress to the public school.  She’s been doing this for three years now.  And before that, her older brothers were enrolled in a similar school.

All told, I’ve had at least one kid doing “school at home” for ten years.

I can’t even begin to express how tired I am of supervising kids as they do school work.  But even worse–much, much, much worse–are the meetings with the teacher.

The teacher is nice enough and maybe under other circumstances we’d be friends, but how I dread those meetings with her!  First of all, we have to get all Grace’s work sorted and documented and hole-punched.  Inevitably, I realize that I hadn’t really checked up on her most recent literature lessons and she’s been working independently and I have no idea what she’s really done.  And then I find that she’s missing a lesson here or there, or maybe not a whole lesson, but just a worksheet.  This always comes as a complete shock to me and somewhat of a mystery to my daughter.

This all happens in the hours before we’re to go to the meeting, so I turn into a frantic robot, trying to hurry her along, trying to will her to work faster and more efficiently and without any mistakes.

I say extremely pointless things like, “Why didn’t you do that?” and “Where is that paper?” and “Did you write down those vocabulary words?” and “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Inevitably, my 11-year old pouts.  She can’t help it, really, because I’ve become a lunatic and question her imperfection.  No one is perfect.  I know this.  I demonstrate this as I try to gather the material for meeting day.

I just hate it.

I hate it all.

So today we focused on History because the last time we met with the teacher, she told us we needed to do better in History.  So today we ran through each lesson, filled out every worksheet completely, corrected errors, discussed Sam Adams and George Washington and Thomas Paine.  We were totally 100% ready.  For History.

The teacher, however, focused on Literature.

That’s how it always goes.  She finds our weaknesses, the subject we glossed over, the frayed spots in the fabric of our schooling experience.  Grace sits with a terrified look on her face, unable to describe the reason Rip Van Winkle was written.

The good thing is that we have one more week of school and then two glorious weeks off.

The bad thing is that we have another five months of school at home.

The good thing is that my daughter is learning a lot.

The bad thing is that I am LOSING MY MIND.

My husband says I will miss this, that I will lament the passing of this time but I think he’s wrong.  I haven’t really been alone in my own house for twenty years.  I have the opposite of empty nest syndrome and I think it will be the antidote to whatever comes next when all these kids have flown the coop.

But what do I know?  (Certainly not what the supervisory teacher is asking.)

Friday, Friday

I found myself free of responsibilities for three hours today so I went to a movie.  As you  may or may not know, I like to see the movies nominated for Academy Awards before that awards show.  And this is the time of year when many of those movies are released.

So today I saw Dallas Buyer’s Club because “they” are saying Matthew McConaughey will be nominated for a Best Actor award for his work in that movie.  (He was nominated for a Golden Globe.)  I had high hopes for the movie but found it unpleasant, mainly because I couldn’t warm to McConaughey’s character at all.  I found him very unlikeable.  The movie is getting great reviews, though.  I wouldn’t recommend it, but that’s just me.

The theater was mostly empty for the 11:05 AM show.  I had picked out a seat in the center and shortly before the movie started an older gentleman came in and sat just one seat away from me, violating all the personal space rules that have ever been created and observed by humankind since the beginning of time.  Weird.

After the movie, I had forty-five minutes before my son needed to be picked up from work so I very optimistically decided to stop by Costco.  Shockingly, I was able to park, shop, pay and load my purchases into my trunk in thirty minutes.  It was a Christmas miracle!  Some days I stand in line for just about that long.

I literally spent the rest of my afternoon driving around.  I picked up one son, delivered him home and then left to pick up my other son and his friend.  I drove the friend to pick up some clothes at her house, then had just enough time to pick up my third son for work.  I then drove back to school to drop off my son and his friend for a drama showcase.  I returned home just in time to work.  I realized at that point that I had been in the car for two hours.

At least it wasn’t raining!  Or snowing!  And this weekend we are supposed to be back in the seventies where we belong–and I’m not talking decades but temperatures.  (Thank God, because the seventies were not a good look for many of us.)


Wanted: Rest for the weary

My husband has flown to Seattle for the weekend.  He mainly went to perform the funeral service of a dear woman from our previous church, but he’s also planning to visit various friends and eat at his favorite restaurants.

The temperature right now in Seattle is only about five degrees cooler than it is here . . . but tomorrow, it will get twenty degrees warmer here than there.  And by Saturday, we expect to be back in the seventies here.  It will be about 45 degrees in Seattle.

You’d think I’d miss my old state, but the last year I lived there, it was dreary, wet and cold.  Maybe it seemed worse because I was under a tremendous amount of stress.  I’ve loved living here near the ocean with so much sunshine.  I don’t miss wet feet and crazy hair and dismal, dark skies.  (My hair was often crazy there because every time I went out, it would get wet.  This was especially distressing when I was a teenager and trying desperately to wear feathered bangs.)


For a few days I am working a later shift than usual.  I consoled myself by telling myself that I would get to sleep in each day but then I remembered that I have to get up at 7 AM to drive my son to school.  There truly seems to be no rest for the weary.

Well, unless you count Saturday.  I hope there is rest for the weary on Saturday.

I am looking forward to Christmas Break (no driving anyone to school or home from school!) but on the other hand, I am not even close to being ready for Christmas, so slow it down, Father Time!  I need to get it together, stat!

Starting by sleeping right now.


Today I accidentally worked three extra hours.

It’s a boring story involving my lack of attention and complete denial that it’s December.

So I won’t tell that story.

I am really, really tired because I accidentally failed to drink any caffeine today.

That’s another boring story involving my lack of grocery shopping and failure to cook anything in many days.

Today, I wore pajama pants all day.  I am exceedingly grateful that my drives from here to there throughout the day did not require me to get out of the car because I am very judgmental about people wearing pajamas in public and yet, here I am.  In pajama pants.  All day.

Tomorrow my husband is flying to Seattle.  I remain behind to drive my kids around, to work and to take care of all the mundane yet life-preserving details involved in taking care of a family.

So off I go to sleep . . . because in exactly six hours, I have to drive my baby boy to high school.

What costs a lot and makes me want to cry?

This afternoon at four, my two youngest kids and I had dental appointments.

On the short drive to the office, I asked my kids if there’s anything they like doing less than going to the dentist.

“No,” they said.

“What about running five miles?”

“I’d rather run five miles.”

“What about walking on broken glass?”

“I’d rather walk on broken glass.”

“What about listening to your brothers argue?”

Pause.  “I’d rather go to the dentist.”  My 15-year old son absolutely hates to be around arguing or fighting, especially when his brothers go at it.

Personally, I’d rather do almost anything than go to the dentist but I also want to have teeth until I die.  So, we went.

The exams and cleanings took longer than I’d hoped–we were there almost two hours, I think.  My daughter ended up getting two especially stubborn baby molars plucked out.  The adult teeth had come in and still those babies refused to leave.  My son passed with flying colors.

The dentist looked at my mouth, asked me if I’d been wearing my mouthguard but I don’t have and never have had a mouthguard so I said no.  He looked puzzled and studied my chart.  He advised me to get one (low price of $295 after insurance)  and told me I’d be glad I did in twenty or thirty years but I’m not convinced.  I also need three crowns (low, low price of $400 each after insurance) but I’m putting that off until money grows on trees.

Also, can someone explain how to carry on a conversation while someone’s fingers and sharp metal dental tools are all crowded in my mouth?  While I enjoy the staff at this dental office, it’s pretty difficult to chat while I have the x-ray things clenched between my teeth.

It sounded something like this:

Her:  “Oh, did you cut your hair?”

Me:  “Yaaaaa, uhg had nnnufffff soooo uh cuhhhh i.”

Her:  “Oh, is that your natural color and curl?”

Me:  “Ahhhhhhh, uh aaaaah.”


Him:  “So are you all ready for Christmas?”

Me:  “Uhhhhhh-hhhhhhh.”

* * *

The dentist:  More fun than walking on broken glass but a lot less fun than pretty much everything else in the world.


Worst and best

My alarm rang at 5:30 AM and I sprang out of bed, no snooze button involved.  I didn’t dare to “snooze” because after only four hours of sleep, I feared falling deeply asleep again.

We left the house at 6:22 AM and arrived at the soccer field an hour away on time–a Christmas miracle, for sure.  It was chilly–under fifty degrees, which I know is a heat wave compared to some areas of the country, but for us, here in sunny San Diego, it’s downright cold.  So I wore mittens.

The game was fierce but ended in a zero-zero tie.  We raced into our car and over the hills and up the highways and byways to our church where we arrived just in the nick of time for the annual Christmas brunch.  (We changed clothes in the car.  I only changed shirts but my daughter went from soccer uniform to Christmas dress complete with fancy shoes.)

The brunch was lovely and before we knew it, it was time to get back in the car and drive an hour through rain to the soccer field.  Driving in the rain reminded me of living in the Pacific Northwest.  Mainly, I remembered how much I hate to drive in rain.

At the soccer field, the rain pelted us and the wind blew.  By the time the game started, the girls were soaked through from “warming up.”  I sat in my beach chair wearing  sweater, scarf, coat, mittens and hood.  I had a blanket over my lap and an umbrella shielding me.  And then the rain stopped but the cold wind remained.

The worst part was that the other team scored a goal in the last minute of the game.  So, our team lost 1-0.

The worst part was the drive home, an hour through mostly rain.

The worst part was discovering my right shoe was broken and let water in as soon as I exited the car.

The worst part was getting my jeans soaked from the knees down.

The worst part was having wet feet and wet socks and wet shoes.

The best part is that this day is over.

Being a grown-up

After work–and after picking up my 15-year old from school–I took a 15 minute nap before driving my older son to work. It was 4:15 PM and while driving west toward his workplace, I could see tufts of clouds like cotton batting suspended in the sky.

My immediate inclination was to speed toward the ocean so I could watch the sun set.  I seriously considered it.  The sun sets at about 4:40 PM here.  I had approximately fifteen minutes to race to the beach, an entirely possible proposition.


I am a grown-up.

Grown-ups have to resist the impulse to run to the shore to snap photos of the sunset even if the clouds are delightful and perfect and the sky is already turning pink.

Grown-ups drive instead to the pet food store and spend a lot of money on a 44-pound bag of special dog food for the dog that sheds everywhere and digs holes in the back yard.

Grown-ups ignore the glowing sky and drive to the grocery store to buy chicken breasts and zucchini and mushrooms and brown rice so they can cook dinner.

Grown-ups cook dinner when they’d rather be getting sand in their shoes.

Grown-ups are responsible.

I am a grown-up who missed the sunset.  (I am not only a little bitter.)

(And tomorrow, I have to leave my house at 6:15 AM to get to the soccer field by 7:15 AM for an 8 AM game . . . being a grown-up is not for the faint of heart.)

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