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.


Hey, who pumped up the dog?

Yesterday, Lola the Dog greeted me with an eerie calm.  When she didn’t open her shark mouth at me, I worried that something was wrong.  Late last night, I held her paw and it felt warm and I decided on the spot that she was ill.

Except that today, she was her normal feisty self and came at me with her wide-open slobbery mouth and the tail-wagging that sways her whole body in a happy hula dance.

So, all was well.

Except that tonight, when I returned home from Grace’s soccer practice with take-out food for the kids, I noticed that Lola looked puffy.

I called her to me and took a close look at her face which was swollen to an alarming balloon shape.  I did some Google-searches and (ALLERGIC REACTIONS!  SHOCK!  DEATH!) called my vet’s office, which was closed but had a referral number to an emergency vet.  Then I called the emergency vet, explained the situation, learned that an exam would cost $75 and got directions to the office.

I’m telling you, my dog looked like she was being inflated, face-first.

The diagnosis?  A probable bee sting followed by an allergic reaction.

The solution?  Seventy-five dollars worth of shots containing steroids and antihistamines.

And she has to have Benadryl for a couple of days.

The vet thinks yesterday’s strange symptoms were unrelated to today’s excitement.  I think the puppy should stop close encounters with bees.

Also, completely coincidental is the fact that earlier tonight I was looking for my copy of  The Secret Life of Bees.  Any time I get rid of a book, I regret it eventually.  Drat.

UPDATE:  I found my copy of The Secret Life of Bees.

The house that doesn’t know me

I’ve been thinking lately about travel and about how so many times it’s not really that we want to return to a specific place but that we wish we could return to a previous time.

As a college student in Springfield, Missouri, I volunteered to be matched with a “grandma” at the retirement complex that sat adjacent to my college campus.  For two academic years, I visited a spinster who wore dentures that clacked when she talked.

She served me ice cream and sliced apples with peanut butter and we drank tea.  We sat at her table in her cramped apartment and I told her all about my life and classes and friends.  She told me about being a school teacher and about her friends–especially the 98-year old artist who lived down the hill.

Every week for two years, I visited her.

Then I graduated and moved away.

A few years later, I returned and appeared on her doorstep to surprise her.

She had no idea who I was.


That’s the feeling I get when I return to the scene of my life from days gone by.  I have been known to drive slowly by the house in Marysville, the one where I lived from ages 12 to 18, feeling like I’m casing the joint, preparing to rob it.

That house doesn’t know me.  If I stood and knocked on that door, it would offer me only a blank look.

Past experience tells me this is true of the small rambler in Whispering Firs, the townhouse in Troutdale, the Cape Cod-style parsonage in Michigan, and every other place where I’ve slept and cooked and planted roots.  I don’t belong to those places anymore.  They don’t recognize me.

It’s impossible to go home again because time travel does not exist except in dreams.

So instead, we stroll past slowly, try to peer into the windows, wondering about the people who inhabit the spaces we used to know so well.  Time has changed the locks.

There’s nothing to see here.  Move along.  You don’t belong.


Even here in Southern California, the tan world has turned green, thanks to the recent rainfall.  My roses have burst into colorful song.  Purple flowers blanket hillsides.  Plants everywhere seem in a hurry to green up while they can.

But that’s not the kind of green I mean.  The green inside of me is the poisonous algae of jealousy, the slippery stuff that is hard to scrub off, the slimy green you avoid touching.  My green is envy.

I am vaguely jealous and passionately jealous and jealous for every reason and for no reason at all.

For years now, I’ve pinpointed jealousy as my besetting sin.  While I unwrap the gift of my life each day, my eyes wander.  I don’t want this thing in my hands–I want what she has!  Discontent simmers while I look around and cradle bitterness in my hands.

I want what I don’t have.

When I want what I don’t have, I reject what I do have.  How dare I?

I’m a hypocrite, too.  My 9-year old complains about her beautiful blond ringlets.  She wants straight hair.  “But God gave you curly hair!  It’s so pretty!” I tell her while secretly hating the hair God gave me.  I also hate the body He gave me, from my sparse eyelashes to my stubby fingernails to my short-waisted torso.  How will I convince my daughter to be grateful for what she has when I am so ungrateful for what I have? I treat my own body with contempt.

I’m feeling jealous of the trips other people take, of the cars they drive, of the accomplishments their kids achieve, of the places they live, the people they see, the things they do, the places they’ve been.  I’m unhappy that other people fly to conferences and take vacations and have lunch with friends.  I want, I want, I want.

It’s my besetting sin and I must set it aside.  I want to savor what I have, to want what I hold in my hands, to recognize the priceless gift of here and now.  That’s hard to do if I insist on keeping envy green and growing in my heart.

Product Review: Simply-Bags

The owner of Simply-Bags contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in evaluating and presenting a Summer Beach Bag to my blog readers.

I did not hesitate to say, “YES!”   (I may have a slight addiction to tote bags.)

Here’s the bag I received in the mail:

Isn’t it cute?  (And doesn’t my backyard look green?  It’s been rainy here in Southern California!)

Here’s where you can order one for yourself.  It cost $22.99.

This bag is made of jute . . . it’s sturdy and adorable and has a zipper pocket inside (for your keys or whatever).  It snaps closed.  I love it.  This is the bag I’ll be carrying to soccer practice.

You can see other bags here.  You can get them personalized and I have to say that the prices seem pretty reasonable to me.  Look at the wide variety.

I don’t mean to boss you around, but these would be a nice gift for Mother’s Day or a graduation or a teacher or . . . well, for yourself.   Right?

Anyway, that’s the end of this commercial interruption.


You should know that I did receive this bag free of charge in exchange for my review of it . . . but my views are my own.

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