I wanted to walk somewhere new (also somewhere without the hills that are in my neighborhood) so I volunteered to drive my son to work.  Then I continued on to the beach.

Unfortunately, low clouds obscured the sunset, but the gray sky and smooth ocean were beautiful anyway.  When I first arrived, I noticed dolphins cresting the surface of the water.

The tide was very low, so I crossed the sand to walk on the flat wet sand near the waves.

I took a few photos with my iPhone but they didn’t really capture the beauty of the scene.

I walked for an hour, returning to my car in the dark.  I stopped on the way home at Albertson’s to pick up some fresh French bread.

We ate homemade soup I’d cooked and put in the CrockPot before I left for my walk.

All day I’d planned for the soccer game in the morning but tonight when my daughter asked what color jersey she should wear, I looked up the information in an email from the coach and realized that the game is actually on Sunday morning, not tomorrow.  (I can’t tell you how often this sort of thing happens to me lately.)

And so, tomorrow I get to sleep in, unless you count the twenty minutes when I have to drive my son to work.  I plan to immediately return to bed after dropping him off because that’s how I roll.

Now, the question is . . . will I put away Christmas tomorrow and help my daughter rearrange her room (a complicated situation involving disassembling her twin beds and stashing them in the garage and then moving a daybed into her room–which will probably also have to be taken apart and then put back together) . . . or will I go to a movie?

Diligent Mel will have to convince Lazy Mel to do the right thing.  But Lazy Mel can be very convincing.


Nothing, followed by nothing

I really just want to go to bed but I feel obligated to write something here.

I thought about finding one of those fill-in-the-blank end of the year summary things.  Have you seen them?  But now I can’t even find one, let alone fill one out.

I thought about talking about my day but the most exciting thing I did was wash a million dishes and walk 10,000 steps.  (I have a broken dishwasher that an actual repairman told me it was pointless to have repaired since a new one will cost less than the repair would cost.  And I have a new Fitbit Flex, a pedometer that’s worn on the wrist like a watch.  It tracks my sleep and my steps and for all I know, my IQ points and how often I trade them in for something shiny.)

It pretty much comes down to talking about the weather but if you live anywhere but here, you probably don’t want to hear about 70 degrees and sunshine.  The only downside of being here now is that the sun sets so early that it’s tough to get to the beach at 4:45 PM to see it.  I know.  Who wants to hear about sandy beaches when your world is blanketed with snow?

Snow is pretty and there’s a part of me that remembers fondly the coziness of being inside while a storm ranged outside when we lived in northern Michigan.  But that part of me also got really sick of six months of snow-covered ground.

So, basically here’s how my day went:

1)  Wake up at 8 or 8:30 AM.  Doze until 9 AM.
2)  Shower and get to work (downstairs, while wearing slippers).
3)  Work until 3 PM, stopping only to pick up son from his job.
4)  Wash dishes while watching The People’s Court.
5)  Roast and eat cauliflower for dinner.  (My husband bought the boys teriyaki but my daughter and I ate cauliflower before soccer practice.)
6)  Take daughter to soccer practice and walk for an hour while she practiced.
7)  Return home.  Nap!
8)  Work.
9)  Wonder why I have nothing to blog about.
10)  The end.

Time to lure the dog upstairs with a bit of cheese and go to bed.

Please tell me I am not the most boring woman in America.

Five minutes

I never sit quietly.

If I’m sitting, I’m watching television or reading or fiddling with my phone (reading blogs or Facebook or crushing candy) or working.  If I’m not doing anything, I go to sleep.

I feel sorry for my poor brain.  She never gets a rest.  Even while my body is sleeping, my brain is concocting crazy dramas.

So this evening while I was just about finished making dinner but before the meatloaf was done baking, I decided to set my phone timer for five measly minutes.  I went outside and brushed the dog hair off the patio furniture and sat down to be still and quiet for five minutes.

About two minutes later, I remembered that I needed to get a dish out of the oven.

I went back into the kitchen, took the dish from the oven and then returned to the back yard.

Then I got a text.

I reset my phone for five more minutes.  I tried again to sit quietly.  I had to resist the urge to investigate the fountain.  It sounded clogged or like maybe it needed to have more water added.  I noticed that the lawn needs to be “pooper-scooped.”  I saw the flower pot on the table that needed to be trimmed.

I sat there.  Quiet.  Wondered if I should sit facing the other direction.

Three minutes later, I heard someone in the house calling my name.

I ignored it.

The timer rang.

I swiped my  hand across the clogged pump in the fountain, trimmed the plant in the pot and went to the kitchen to get some water for it.  Then I finished cooking dinner.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll see if I can sit quietly for six minutes.

How to Prepare for the New Year in Five Easy Steps

I thought about trying to summarize 2013, but not tonight.

And as I sit here trying to think of what to say, I got a text from my 11-year old.  She’s spending the night at someone’s house, celebrating New Year’s Eve.  I am surprised she is still awake.  She asked me, “Please feed Annabelle and go in and say hi to her, could you?”  It’s 12:55 AM but she is thinking Annabella the Guinea Pig would like conversation and a snack.

Okay.  I fed Annabelle and said hello to her.

Now I wait for my 15-year old to get home.  He went ice-skating with his girlfriend.  I refuse to even open the door to the knocking worrier at the door of my brain who suggests that children are only safe at home, here under my roof where I know there are no drunk drivers or lunatic serial killers or mean people to threaten my beloved babies.  Why can’t the kids just stay home forever where they are safe?

Oh, and he just walked in the door.  So the children are all accounted for and safe for another night.

Now, to bring in the New Year I have done several very important things.

In no particular order:

1)  I cleaned out my refrigerator, throwing old old broccoli and scary jam from another year and washing out the door shelves where a pickle jar seemed to be morphing into an oozing vinegar volcano.

2)  I cleaned off my desk, though you’d never really know it unless you saw it Before and After.

3)  I cleaned out my pantry and tossed all the cereal, even an unopened box of Cheerios that “expired” six months ago.  I argued that the Cheerios were still fresh because they were unopened but the two biggest skeptics in my house refused to acknowledge my point and since they would be the main consumers of the outdated Cheerios, I gave up and threw them away.  (The Cheerios, not the skeptics.) I don’t really eat cereal and the cereal eaters in my house seldom actually finish a box.  They just abandon it when they deem it too stale to eat because someone–not THEM–didn’t close it very well.

4)  I bought a new shower curtain and a shower curtain rod for the “kid’s bathroom.”  The existing shower curtain rod is rusty and the shower curtain rings never stay on and so the curtain sags and it’s been an altogether unpleasant situation.  Since I had $10 of “Kohl’s cash,” and the items were on sale, it didn’t cost much, either.

5)  I went to Costco and purchased food, including a lot of vegetables and some meat and these tortillas that are uncooked until you cook them up in a pan.  I also bought bacon because everyone knows that Costco has the best bacon and what is a new year without a large quantity of bacon?   I put all the unexpired food in the clean fridge and the cereal-free pantry and now we’re ready to welcome 2014. Except I may have forgotten to buy cereal.

So, in summary, here’s how I recommend you prepare for the New Year:

1)  Clean out your fridge.
2)  Clean off your desk.
3)  Clean up your pantry.  Throw out all your stale cereal all willy-nilly.
4)   Purchase new shower curtain and put up an unrusted, shiny new shower curtain rod.
5)  Go to Costco along with three thousand of your closest friends and buy bacon.

Happy New Year!

Sunday afternoon puttering

I spent most of the afternoon puttering around my office, cleaning out drawers and sorting through junk mail and carrying baskets of my kids’ clothing to their rooms.  I’m so sick of my office being a family closet.  The laundry room is next to my office, so doing the laundry is super convenient.  I really don’t mind it at all.

But I draw the line at 1) bringing dirty laundry downstairs and 2) returning clean, folded laundry upstairs.  Weirdly, all of my kids don’t seem to find it even slightly inconvenient to come downstairs every morning to find a clean bath towel and an outfit for the day.  (A normal mother might insist that the children carry their laundry baskets of clean clothes to their rooms.  Why don’t I do that?  I don’t know.  Send a therapist.)

Anyway, it was out of hand.  My office looked like an unorganized Goodwill store minus the mismatched kitchenware and cash register.  If, in fact, a Goodwill store allowed shedding dogs inside.

Puttering takes a surprising amount of time and energy, so by early evening, I was reading in bed until I felt drowsy.  Then I took a nap, the kind of long nap visited by dreams.  This nap exceeded the length generally recommended by sleep experts.  For sure.

When I woke up, I coughed a bit which was weird because my lingering cough had all but disappeared.

Then, while working later tonight, I noticed that my throat seemed not-normal and that’s when I realized that maybe I’m getting sick again.

I hope I’m not getting sick again.

For one thing, I need to undecorate this week and other fun stuff.

Oh, but in other news, here’s a picture from the sunset the other night:

Carlsbad, California

We’d just gotten to the beach and I spied this seagull flying our direction and managed to snap an iPhone photo. It’s a minor miracle that the bird isn’t blurry since I took the photo so quickly.

After the festivities

Seems like I just spent a day putting up Christmas decorations and now it’s time to take them down.  I didn’t even have time to get sick of them.

Christmas Day was a rousing success.  Everyone received something they loved and there were no fistfights.  Actually, there are never any fistfights here but isn’t that a reason to rejoice?  No fistfights?

I’m back to work but the kids are on school break, of course, until January 6/7 (depending on which kid you are).  The older kids are back to work tomorrow.  Me, too.  My husband, too.  Too bad we can’t just all stay in our pajamas and eat cut-out cookies and nap and play games and read for another two or three weeks.  Or months.

But instead, the Christmas tree beckons and not to revel in its glory.  No.  It’s time to undecorate and return to a life devoid of twinkly lights.

Merry Christmas

We’ve developed a sort-of Christmas Eve tradition.

Our church service begins at 5:00 PM and at this time of year, the sun sets at about 4:40 PM, so we go to the beach to watch the sunset before heading to church (with sand in our shoes).  It’s kind of weird (no chestnuts or open fires, no sleigh bells or snowman or winter wonderlands) but wonderful.

Now, the sky is dark and the children are sleeping or feigning sleep.

Now it’s time to fill stockings and arrange a few more gifts under the tree.

Now it’s time to pause for a moment in recognition of the blessed life we have.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve wishes



It’s Christmas Eve.  Technically, anyway.  I have yet to get to bed, so when I wake up it will be Christmas Eve.

Anyway, when you read this, it will be Christmas Eve, so I want to wish you a Happy Christmas Eve.

I hope your cookies are baked, your presents are wrapped and your holiday preparations are complete.

As for me, my presents are mostly wrapped.  At least one has yet to arrive, so I’m hoping for a last-minute delivery tomorrow.

(Can I just give a shout-out to Costco wrapping paper?  I love it so much.  A roll lasts forever . . . unlike some of the rolls you get at other places.)

I baked some cookies tonight and have cut-out cookie dough in the fridge ready to roll out and bake.  Last night, I made homemade marshmallows–I got the idea from Carmen–and tonight I drank a cup of hot cocoa featuring a giant square marshmallow.

I feel surprisingly ready for Christmas.

I haven’t written a Christmas letter but I hope to write something this week.  It’ll be a New Year’s letter.  So, if you’re waiting for that mythical Christmas letter from me, don’t fret.

Merry Christmas Eve!  May visions of sugar-plums dance in your head.

Christmas on Balboa Island

Sunset on Balboa Island.

Tomorrow, I’ll add some words to these pictures.  What fun we had!

Disappearing time

I’m fairly technologically savvy.  I use an iPhone calendar to keep meetings straight and Cozi to send myself the occasional reminder.  But the truth is that without the paper calendar book that permanently sits on my desk, I would be lost.

With a busy husband, two working sons, a high schooler and a pre-teen daughter who never met an activity she didn’t want to join, scrawled notations fill every square of every week.  I rely on the calender to know when to drive the boys to work, when my daughter needs to be at soccer, when I have to work unusual hours and everything else.  And there is a lot of “everything else.”

With only ten days left in the year, I have discovered something troubling.

My calender only goes to December 22.  I can’t understand this.  Isn’t not like I even bought this calendar on sale or anything.

I have a new calendar that starts on January 1, 2014.  I’m inexplicably excited about having a brand new, clean and shiny calendar.

The only problem is getting from here to there.

Fortunately, Problem Solver is my name and, um, Solving Problems is my game.

If you’ll excuse me now, I need to print out a piece of paper showing December 23 to December 31 so I don’t get lost along the way.

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