Whatever Lola wants

A new puppy is chaos and cuteness, sleeplessness and hilarity, doubt and wonder.  (As in, “I wonder what we were thinking when we got a puppy?”)

Lola was six weeks old in this photo, two weeks from joining our family.

My husband chose her because she was more feisty than her sister.

She played tug-of-war with our clothes when she first came to our house.  I’d have to pry her mouth open to save our clothes.  I have puppy-tooth holes in my jeans from those days.

She did not sleep well at first.  I did not sleep through the night for a month at least.

But she was so cute!  When we took her for walks, strangers would take her picture and go crazy petting her.  It was like going out with a celebrity.  (In my mind, that’s what it would be like to hang out with Kim Kardashian or Tom Cruise.)


From needle-sharp teeth to a shark-mouth of slobber in a matter of months.

She likes to eat paper towels and any sort of human food left too close to the edges of the countertops.  I would tell you she eats her own poop, but you might be grossed out.  But I must mention that the other day she came into my office with kitty-litter encrusting her lips.

She’ll feign sleep in the mornings until I seem awake.  Then she greets me with two front paws on the covers and her dog mouth in my face.  This morning I played dead and so she jumped onto the bed.  It’s getting pretty hard to wrestle a 50-pound dog off the bed when she does not want to go.

She goes nuts when we return home from anywhere.

She’s afraid of the cat, with good reason.  Every once in awhile, the cat will chase her with unfurled claws.  The cat’s a little crazy.

She does not fetch.  So don’t ask.

Our puppy is a rowdy teenager now.  I don’t mean to wish away any time, but I can’t wait until she’s a lazy adult like me.

When you’ve got nothing to say, be straightforward. And boring.

Another busy day here.  But I’m blogging!

Worked until 3 p.m.
Stopped by sporting goods store to buy replacement lacrosse gloves.
Delivered son to lacrosse practice.
Stayed for parent’s meeting.
Went to (free!) dinner at Rubio’s with Grace.
Fulfilled promise and went to Little Cakes cupcake shop with Grace.
Picked up son from lacrosse.
Home by 7 p.m.
Chatted with husband.
Read more Secret Life of Bees.
Worked from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

And that’s a wrap.


Snippets in five year increments

Today, my kids are the following ages:  19, 19, 14 and 9.

One year ago, I was frantically packing and preparing to move from Washington to California. I hope to never, ever move again.  It’s so much work.  The upside?  Getting rid of stuff you don’t really need but have somehow collected.

Five years ago, I had a 9-year old.  I wrote this about an unfortunate experience.  My kids were ages 14, 14, 9 and 4.

Ten years ago, I had two 9-year olds.  (Are you sensing a pattern?)  I was 37  years old and six months pregnant.

Fifteen years ago, I was 32 years old.  My twin boys were four years old.  We lived in northern Michigan.  During a summer trip to Washington state, I discovered I was pregnant.

Twenty years ago, I was 27 years old.  All I wanted in the world was to be a mother.  (Well, that, plus I wanted to fit into smaller pants.)  I had no idea while I was dreaming that motherhood dream how difficult the journey would be, how much it would cost me and how unexpected it would all turn out.  We were waiting to adopt.

Twenty-five years ago, I was preparing for my wedding.  I was quite likely stitching together taffeta this very day, wondering why I thought I could sew my own wedding dress.  I still tend to jump into projects while thinking, how hard could this be?   I worked at a daycare at a women’s health club.

Thirty years ago, I was finishing up my junior year of high school.  I worked at Taco Time and didn’t look forward to my senior years as much as I couldn’t wait for it to be over.  I went to Jamaica on a missions trip that summer and ended up somehow being a rebel and causing trouble for the leaders because I disagreed with their leadership.  (What?!)

Thirty-five years ago, I was twelve.  My parents had divorced and remarried and my brother, sisters and I moved into our new house by the cemetery in Marysville.  That was the summer Elvis died.

Forty years ago, my mother was pregnant with my youngest sister.  (She would be born in October.)  We lived in Whispering Firs where I rode my banana-seated bike everywhere and walked around the neighborhood greeting each dog along the way.  My second grade teacher was Mrs. Dyre and I still don’t think she liked me very much.

Forty-five years ago, I was two years old.  I have no memory of it.  However, I was a younger sister and an older sister.  My brother was 16 months older than me and my sister was 16 months younger.  I was a middle child already.

Five years from now, my kids will be 24, 24, 19 and 14.  And I will probably still be wishing I could fit into smaller pants.

Beyond that?  Who knows.




Following a trail of books

I own a lot of books.  Most of them are paper and bindings, but some of them are stashed on a plain old Kindle.  I love to read.

Only, for a year, maybe longer, I hardly read at all because my concentration failed me.  During the months while my husband was interviewing for a job and then after he accepted the job and moved, it was all I could do just to read a few blogs on my phone.  The magazines stacked up, unread.  I couldn’t make it through a novel.  I just couldn’t follow along.  Reading became impossible.

But now we’ve been in this house almost a year.  I’m starting to settle in.  I picked up a book not long ago, a book I’d heard about directly from the author, Stephanie Kallos.  I was lucky enough to hear her speak at a conference.  She passed around a photograph of a grand piano in a field.  A tornado had picked up that piano and deposited it in that unlikely place.

And that photograph inspired her to write Sing Them Home.  And so when I looked at my bookshelf, that’s the book I picked out to read.

When I finished it, I read the thank-yous she posted in the back.  She mentioned Sue Monk Kidd by name.  So, I followed that trail and located the book, Traveling with Pomegranates, on my shelf.  I bought it new because I love memoirs and I like Sue Monk Kidd’s “voice.”

So, that’s what I read.

Sue Monk Kidd described in that memoir how she came to write The Secret Life of Bees, which prompted me to find my copy and begin reading it when I finished the memoir.

Now I am halfway through The Secret Life of Bees.  I think when I’m done I will read her Mermaid book, unless I find some other trail to follow.

Do you do this?  Choose books as they point you to another book in some way?  I also like to read all the books a particular author has written, in chronological order, although sometimes that gets tricky.

What are you reading?  How do you choose what to read next?

Sick girl

Today was our last chance to go to Disneyland before our annual passes are blocked out for the summer.

Grace wasn’t feeling well Sunday, but perked up a little mid-day.  She was determined to go to Disneyland today, so we woke up very early and hit the road by 7:30, just the two of us.

We rode the Buzz Lightyear Astro-Blasters ride and the Alice in Wonderland ride.  We walked right onto Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion and the Winnie-the-Pooh ride. The temperatures were nice and cool (later, I heard on the radio that it was 67 degrees).

We walked across the plaza to California Adventure and she really started to droop.  We did see the Bug’s Life show and rode the Little Mermaid ride (for the first time!) and then we “flew” on Soarin’ before she decided she really wanted to go home so she could get in bed.

And I knew for absolute sure that she was definitely sick when she did not once ask to go into a gift shop.  She always, always, always wants to shop.  We left Disneyland at about 1 pm.

She has been dozing off and on ever since, looking glassy-eyed and pink-cheeked.  I think she’s getting another cold, which hardly seems fair since she had a cold less than a month ago.

I would now insert an adorable picture of her sleeping in the van on the way home, but I am too tired to download photos to the computer.

I am also too tired to wrap up this post up with a creative linguistic bow.

The end.

Taxi Driver

My 9-year old spent the night last night at her friend’s house.

At 7:22 this morning, my phone rang.  Poor Grace had been feverish in the night and instead of waking anyone up, she just stayed in bed and cried.  I hurried right over to pick her up and found her pink-cheeked and complaining of a headache.

At home, I gave her some ibuprofen and we both went back to bed.  And so we skipped church.

At 11:15 this morning, I had to deliver my son to the movie theater to watch a lacrosse-themed movie with his lacrosse team.  (I had wondered how I would manage to go to church and drive him around, so my daughter’s illness solved that problem for me.)  I told my dozing daughter that she could stay home in bed but she decided to ride along with me. She seemed pretty chipper, actually.

The dog needed food.  So, after dropping off Zach, we headed to the pet store, then to Target to get batteries and then to the post office to deliver our ballots.

We returned home, dropped off groceries and went to pick up Zach.

The twins wanted to go to the gym, so at 3:30 I drove them to the  YMCA.  This time Grace stayed home, resting.  The gym closed at 4, so I puttered around at the closest Goodwill until it was time to pick them up.

We were home by 5.

How in the world did a whole day dissolve like that?

Grace is sort of feeling better.  Tomorrow, we’d planned to go to Disneyland for the last time until September.  Our passes are not valid during the busy summertime.  I’m not sure she really is better, but she will pretend so we don’t miss our chance to search all the gift shops for a Thumper stuffed animal, not to mention gliding through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (her favorite ride!).

I have finished my five hour shift and now I’m heading to bed.

Where in the world did this weekend go?

Saturday night barely live

I thought today would be one of those lovely days where I would read and relax and ignore the laundry. My calendar was blank except for the end-of-the-year lacrosse pizza party at 6:30 pm.

And then Grace was called in as a substitute to play soccer.  (A girl broke her wrist and couldn’t play.)

After that, we had a nice leisurely lunch.  We returned home to our dog who was crazed with joy to see us, pick up two teenagers and went to Barnes & Noble for some novels because everyone knows that owning a book is ten times better than borrowing it free from the public library.  Duh.

Of course, books led to ice cream and by the time we returned home there was barely enough time to take the still-crazed dog for a 30-minute walk, take a ten minute nap and order pizza for the end-of-the-season lacrosse pizza party.

Which leads me to the most aggravating part of the day:   The end-of-the-year lacrosse pizza party extravaganza which lasted a full three and a half hours.

And during the coaches’ very lengthy comments about each player, the buzz of dozens of conversations filled the room.  I could barely hear.  I sat with my hand cupped around my ear.  Why can’t people just SHUT UP?  I rolled my eyes so much I’m surprised they didn’t get stuck staring at my eyebrows.

We returned home at 10 pm.  I had an hour of work and BOOM, here I am, at 11:42 pm, wondering what happened to my imagined relaxed Saturday.



Face it with a grin

My sister came from Seattle to visit for a week.

No one mentioned the whole “May Gray” thing that apparently happens here in May.  “May Gray” is another way of saying, “Your Sister Won’t Get a Tan While She Visits”.  As soon as she left, the sun began to shine as if in apology or mockery.  I’m not sure which.

The San Diego sunshine is obscured too often during May by the marine layer that blankets the coast and sometimes spreads to those of us without an ocean view.  And then, after San Diegans barely survive the treacherous cloudy skies in May,  along comes “June Gloom,” which means more of the same stubborn marine layer which may or may not burn off.

Oh.  I’m writing a post about weather.


You know what I’ve been thinking about?  I’ve been thinking that being a parent is hard.  (Understatement of the century.)

I used to think it was hard because it involved wiping runny noses and changing disgusting diapers and sleeping in increments and ear infections and scattered toys everywhere, but now I think it’s hard because being the parent of a teenager (or three) is so much like riding in a car, sitting in the backseat while someone without a GPS or steering wheel drives like a lunatic.

The lack of control is so much harder than dealing with two-year old tantrums ever was.  (That is no comfort to parents of two-year olds and for that, I apologize.)

Obviously, I can’t discuss identifying details or situations or anything that would make you widen your eyes and form judgments.  That would just be rude.  But I can say that I often feel like I am failing as a mother and that I never should have signed up for this job.  My feelings have little connection to reality or particulars.  They are more of a free-falling anxiety, plummeting toward earth much like that woman who slid out of her harness during a tandem jump from an airplane.  (Did you see that footage?)

I remind my kids a lot that they are only in charge of themselves.

I have to remind myself that I really only get to live my own life.  At some point–at this point–I have to step back on the curb and let them walk on without me.  They get to live their own lives, make their own choices.  I just worry.  Where will they go?  Will they make a wrong turn?  Have I prepared them?  Did they listen?  How many ways did I fail?  (Let me count the ways.)  Will they go?

I compare my private struggles with other people’s public successes and I wonder where I went wrong.  Jealousy flits around my head like a fruit fly I can’t catch.  (Thank you, Facebook, for that.)

So, I can just say that I thought I was a pretty good parent of toddlers and preschoolers and elementary school kids.  The job was demanding and exhausting and stressful but now the antics of the barely coherent and preliterate look adorable and precious and why, oh why, did I think it was hard back in the day where kids napped and went to bed at 8 a.m.?

No one else I know with teenagers says these things.  I feel pretty alone.  I wanted to be a perfect parent, to do things right.  But how can you measure that without essay questions and report cards and feedback other than a surly teenager criticizing your skills?  All I want is the highest grade in the class and when it’s a group project, the chances of that are slim to none.

At least the weather is lovely here.

See how I tied that all together?

You’re welcome.


Upcoming events

My husband went to Beijing, China for almost two weeks.  He came home forty-eight hours ago and will be leaving on a jet-plane again early in the morning.

This time, though, he’s just heading to Houston, Texas, for a family event.  (His 81-year old dad is getting married.)

I will be staying home with the kids.  Although I will not be making school lunches (no more pencils! no more books!  no more teacher’s dirty looks!)  but I will be:

  • driving one kid to piano lessons
  • taking another to the end-of-the-season lacrosse pizza extravaganza
  • figuring out how to get everyone to church without missing the Sunday lacrosse movie viewing with teammates
  • going to Disneyland Monday one last time before our annual passes are blocked out for the summer
  • taking daughter to soccer practice
  • attending a baby shower
  • working!

Then my husband will be home again and we will compare notes and try to figure out who is more tired.

I will win.

I vow to keep the cobwebs off this blog. Starting now.

My husband returned late last night from a trip to Beijing, China.  He was gone almost two weeks and while he was gone my sister came for a visit.  (I took her to Disneyland for her first-ever visit.)  And while my sister was visiting, my 14-year old son had a school banquet, final exams, his last lacrosse game and eighth grade promotion.  My daughter had a cold and then she finished up her school-year as well. I have never been so happy to see a school-year end.  No more late-night sandwich-making or early mornings or panicked hurried Science and History lessons.

Now we are belly-flopping right into summer, ready or not.  I am determined to use my vacation time this year.  I tend not to use it all, which is silly.  So this will be the summer of half-days in which I take off half the day and only work my night shift.  You can fit a lot of summer into the twelve hours between 9 am and 9 pm, especially when you live close to the beach and have Legoland passes.  We’re heading to Disneyland for a last hurrah Monday before the summer blockout dates render our passes useless until summer’s end.  I already have a farmer’s tan.

And Friday my husband leaves for a quick trip to see his family in Texas.

It’s weird to think that a year ago I was packing up boxes and preparing for our big move 1,200 miles down I-5 (or as they say here “The 5″).  Here’s directions from our old house to our new house:

Turn left on I-5.
Drive 1,200 miles.
Exit “The 5″ at “The 78.”
Exit, turn right, turn left, turn right.

My garage is still a mess.  I never found my stapler which I really needed all year.  But I am not going to buy a new stapler because I feel sure that one day I’ll walk into the garage and spy my stapler sitting prettily on a shelf, just waiting to catch my eye.

Until then, I have a box full of paperclips.


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