Spring Break, Part One

Tomorrow, my 16-year old’s Spring Break begins.  This is a glorious time of year in which I don’t have to make a school lunch before I crawl into bed.  I don’t have to spend 45 minutes each afternoon retrieving him from school.  I don’t have to make sure his favorite shirts are ready to wear each morning.

However.

Tomorrow, my 11-year old is still in school, her charter school which requires her to do her coursework at home.   So I will be doing my best to push her along, to prod her to do her best.  I will insist that she does every subject even though she’ll try to bargain and convince me to let her do two histories tomorrow instead of one today and one tomorrow.  I will try to be the Voice of Reason and the one who doesn’t let her off the hook even though I’d like to just play hooky pretty much all the time.  (Don’t tell.)

In another week, my son will be back at school and my daughter’s Spring Break will begin.  And I personally will be counting down the days to summer, that fantastic time of year where our schedule is less structured and we can breathe without considering how to solve a quadractic equation and there will be absolutely no sentence diagramming.

 

Miscellany

I borrowed this idea from Carmen at Mom to the Screaming Masses.

What is the last thing you watched on TV?   Revolution on NBC.  I’m barely following the plot but it keeps me company while I’m working.  (It’s on right now: gun shots and fire and conspiracies and betrayal, etc.)

When did you last step outside? What were you doing?  I dropped off my son at lacrosse practice, then stopped by Albertson’s to buy a few things which turned into $111.00 worth of things.  I carried in about a dozen bags of groceries and a small case of water bottles in two trips.  I am Woman, hear me roar.

What is on the walls of the room you are in?  A poster that says “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON” and a couple of photographs I took at Long Beach, Washington.  One shows a woman riding a bike while walking a horse on the beach at sunset.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?  Houses for all the people I love.  Cars for all the people I love.  A vacation home in Tahiti.  A fancy new 15-speed bicycle.

Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.  I became a amateur radio operator (aka “ham radio operator”) when I was thirteen years old.  I rode my bicycle from Marysville, Washington, to San Francisco, California, on a 12-speed bicycle when I was fourteen.  Mt. St. Helen’s erupted when I was fifteen.

Who made the last incoming call on your phone? My husband, calling to ask me if everything was okay because our daughter had called him (while he was at a meeting) to ask him where I was (Albertson’s!).  She had called me right after she called him.

What was the last book you read?  I just finished Insurgent by Veronica Roth.  Now I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Some Assembly Required.

If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do?  I’d make the laundry room a LOT bigger.

What was the last thing you bought?  Groceries at Albertson’s.

If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?  Someone creative and funny . . . not sure.

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?   Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Is the glass half empty or half full?   Half empty.  Or spilled entirely.

Name something that took you by surprise.  My entire life.

Name one TV show you will watch every time it’s on – Judge Judy.  I just became obsessed by her.

Name a movie you will watch no matter how many times you’ve seen it.   When Harry Met Sally.

What’s the farthest-away place you’ve been?   Tahiti.

What’s under your bed?  Nothing but Roy the Paranoid Cat (not pictured above).

What is your favorite time of the day?  Dusk, that magical hour before dark.

What Inspires You?   Books.  Creative people.  Great movies.  Solitude.

Now it’s your turn.  Pick a question and answer . . . here or on your blog.  Or don’t.  Whatever.  I’m not bossy.  (Ha.  I am bossy.)

If you have nothing to say, should you say it?

(This photo was from a few weeks ago when we spent a few hours at Disneyland and California Adventure.  Pretty snazzy outfit, huh?)

You’ll be relieved to know that the camouflage baby-wearing guy hasn’t appeared again.  So, no need to worry about me.

Every night when I finish working, I briefly consider blogging but usually shut down my computer instead in hopes of getting enough sleep.  But it doesn’t happen.  I don’t get enough sleep.  Even on Saturdays I have to get up relatively early to drive my son to work since my husband has other obligations.

But here I am tonight.

Well, my body is here.  My mind has wandered away already, eager to crawl into bed.

I have considered the following topics just now and erased every word:

  • Weather
  • My kid’s activities
  • Driving everyone around
  • The dog and her clean fur

Clearly, none of this would be interested to read–or write about–so I am going to just give up.

Tomorrow’s another day, although technically tomorrow has already arrived and tomorrow is today.

 

 

Who’s that knocking at my door?

I hadn’t taken a shower and I was dressed like a toddler in mismatched hot pink pajama pants and old ratty Seattle Mariners t-shirt.

Lola the Dog started barking at the front door.  I assumed a package had been delivered but I didn’t see one through the narrow window by the front door.

I peered through the window and to my shock, saw a man dressed in camouflage facing my front door.  A baby was strapped onto his chest in a Baby Bjorn.  I could not even process this.  A shaggy, camouflaged man?  With a baby on his chest?

I know better than to open my front door to a stranger, but this was a baby-wearing stranger, so I grabbed onto my barking dog and opened the door a little.

The man yelled, “I want my wagon back!”  He could not have said anything weirder.

I don’t know if I just blinked or said, “what?”  But in spurts, he shouted the story to me.

Here is the summary of the story he told.

1)  He left his red wagon on the sidewalk down the street right outside the trail.

2)  While he was on the trail, a man and woman in a red car drove by.  They seemed to be arguing.  The woman got out and grabbed the red wagon and put it in their red car.

3)  Someone saw this happen, so they went up through the neighborhood to track the red car.  They determined that the red car was parked in my driveway and therefore, that I was guilty of theft.

4)  When the camouflaged, baby-wearing guy emerged from the trail, the eyewitnesses described the crime and told him my house number and so he marched up the street to demand that I return his stolen red wagon.

The problem, of course, is that I didn’t have his wagon.  I was asleep when the theft occurred.  My husband had been at work for hours.  I wondered why I opened my front door to this complete stranger who was furious with me.  (It’s enough to have people I know in real life to be annoyed with me, but to have a complete stranger angry with me?  No, thanks.)

I ticked off the reasons I could not be the culprit.  Finally, I told him that I’d be happy to let him look around my garage and back yard if he wanted to call the police and have them come by.  “I’m really sorry,” I said, “But I can’t let you in because I don’t know you.”

The miracle of all is that this scary, yelling guy eventually believed me and walked backwards from my door, reluctantly accepting my insistence that I didn’t have his wagon.

After he left, I locked my front door.  Honestly, I was a little scared he’d come back with a crowbar or blow-torch or a baseball bat with which he’d break my kneecaps.  I have never been so grateful to have a very loud, big dog.

I hope that guy finds his wagon.

And I hope those eyewitnesses get some new glasses.

Happy birthday, Grandma

Today would have been my grandmother’s 108th birthday.

She’s been in heaven almost six years.

We miss her.

Slip sliding away

Spring in days pastI just wrote half a post about the weather.

Someone needs to save me from myself.  (I saved you from me.)

Here’s the summary:  We people in San Diego are weather wimps.  When it’s cloudy for four days in a row–maybe five–we get a little twitchy.  “Where is the sun?” we cry as we scan the sky.  When it’s down to fifty-five degrees, women don puffy coats and gloves and knit hats and boots and scarves.

(Not me.  But them.  Some of them.)  I know this is nuts because I know what type of weather so many of you around the country have been enduring.

I’m starting the countdown to summer, mostly because I am so completely over supervising school at home.  Ten years, people.  TEN YEARS.  A decade.  A tenth of a century.  I just want to sit in a beach chair and read under a beach umbrella.

I don’t want to hear about the War of 1812 or the probability of picking a purple sock out of the dryer if there are ten socks and seven are purple and two are yellow and one is green.  I don’t want to discuss Don Quixote or explain why it takes more than one draft to get a Final Draft right.  I don’t want to give a spelling test or ponder past participles.

Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to Sea World.  (No, I haven’t seen “Blackfish” and I don’t think I want to . . . but I am familiar with the controversy and I’m conflicted but on the other hand, when we go on field trips, we get the day “off” from schoolwork so you can bet your bottom dollar we are going to Sea World.)  We are scheming–my 11-year old and me–about ditching Sea World and driving up the freeway to Disneyland (we have annual passes).   My daughter makes a fairly good argument for doing so.

We’ll see.

The thing is, I am acutely aware of how fast she is growing up . . . how fast these years are passing.  You know when you’re driving down the freeway and you don’t think you’re going all that fast until you look down at the speedometer and see that you’re somehow driving 85 mph?  If you look out the  side window, the scenery flashes by so fast you can’t even really focus, but looking straight ahead, you’d swear you are driving under the speed limit?

(Maybe that’s just me.)

I just know that we are going much, much faster through this life than we realize.  And why not drive to Disneyland for the afternoon if you can while your 11-year old still thinks it’s fun to hang out with you?

 

 

7 Reasons I Hate Twitter

When I heard about Twitter some years back, I thought it sounded perfect.  I am, after all, a voyeur at heart and love to know what other people are doing.

Eavesdropping is an awesome past-time, if you ask me.

What’s not to love, then about Twitter, that space on the Internet where everyone tells you what they are doing or thinking in 140 characters or less?

Here are seven reasons not to love Twitter.  In other words, Twitter, let me count the ways I hate you:

1)  I hate the way people promote their projects or sites by putting in links to other sites.  I’m sick of clicking.  I’m sick of your ads and self-promotion.

2)  I hate dumb abbreviations.  “U” is not “you”.  I dnt care wut u say.  (See?  I hate that.)

3)  I hate seeing half of a conversation between people who don’t seem to realize that their personal conversations are boring.  So, when  someone says, “thanks, so-and-so, I do, too!” I hate it.  Use a text message.  Send each other an email or a smoke signal but don’t “tweet” at each other.  I don’t care about you and your private conversation.

4)  I hate “retweets.”  If I’m following someone, I don’t want to see a string of twenty “retweets” showing me a bunch of stuff from people I don’t care about.  This is especially true for celebrities who are “retweeting” people who beg to be “retweeted.”  SO.  BORING.

5)  I hate a dozen tweets in a row from the same person.  Stop it.

6)  I hate advertising, especially “promoted posts.”

7)  Donald Trump.  Why am I following him?

*

So why do I still have Twitter?  Because occasionally I want to see what everyone else is doing, like tonight when Ellen DeGeneres Tweeted this from the Oscars:

If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars pic.twitter.com/C9U5NOtGap

Embedded image permalink

7:06 PM – 2 Mar 2014

The birthday boy turns 16

Sixteen years ago tonight, I was living in northern Michigan and I was over nine months pregnant.  Our twins were almost five years old.  My baby had been due on February 17th and there it was, February 25th.  I’d woken up in labor before dawn and spent the whole day breathing through contractions and trying to rest.  (I was really too excited to rest, though.)

The next day, February 26, my house would be full of midwives, their children and babies and helpful church ladies who were taking care of my children (who were almost five years old).

When my labor would stall, midwives would take me for a ride in a full-sized van that belonged to the midwife who was not Amish.  I’d wear my flannel purple nightgown covered by a coat and slippers.  The midwives had no pitocin, of course.  Instead, they’d plan to drive down bumpy country roads to kick-start my labor.

I think getting pulled over by the sheriff is what did the trick.  I was panicked, thinking I’d be ticketing for laboring in a van without a seatbelt.  It turned out the midwife driving the van knew the sheriff and he’d pulled her over because she was driving too slow on the county highway.  He didn’t seem to think it was weird that the midwife was transporting a panting woman in labor and a tiny Amish woman in a huge white van. (But what do I know, really?  I was focused on breathing in  2- 3- 4-5-6-7-8-9-10 and out 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.)

It’s always strange to know exactly what you were doing at a precise moment years earlier.  It’s mind-blowing to imagine the you that you were then seeing the you that you are now, sitting in a house in southern California, musing over how fast time goes and wondering–with a little fear and trepidation–about where you might be in sixteen years.  When I do the calculations and add up the years, I can’t even picture my baby boy as a 32-year old man.

It’s hard enough to believe he’ll be sixteen tomorrow.  He’ll always be my baby boy.

Happy birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday holidays

Update: When I woke up this morning, I regretted posting this last night at 2 AM because I sound like such a whiner.  I’m leaving it here anyway, though I have just assumed you are all judging me because I would judge me if I read this.  This post is not approved by Oprah and others who keep a daily gratitude journal.

* * *

My husband’s day off is Monday.  I also have Mondays off, unless you count the hour on Monday mornings when I log on to answer work email and then the three hour shift I work every Monday night.  I work seven nights a week, but have the daytime hours off on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Mostly.

And today was President’s Day, a holiday, right?

But we have kids so we never have time off.  Now that our older kids are working part-time and going to school part-time (just one of them, just one class) and our middle kid attends school twenty minutes away and our youngest child is in sports and a choir and church activities . . . well, things have gone from bad to worse.  (I know it’s temporary because the older kids will be driving at some point and all that.  Still.  Right now it’s ridiculous.)

In the old days, we could just hire a babysitter and be on our way.  (Theoretically, of course, because in reality, our youngest two kids hated to be left and we rarely had a babysitter.)  Because everyone was just home, it was easier for me to leave home, to get a mental health break, away from the chatter and noise and cooking.

It’s the cooking that’s killing me.  The constant and relentless requirement to think up something to serve to the people who live in my house and need food.  I’ve been doing this for twenty-six years, being the sole provider of nourishment and I’m sick of it.  I used to not mind so much . . . back before I realized the futility and despair that would come from trying to adjust to feedback received at various times over the years:

  • No red meat because it’s hard on some (unnamed) tummies.
  • Avoid pork because it causes some unpleasant side effects in some (unnamed) people.
  • No dairy please, because of lactose intolerance.
  • Vegetables are yucky.  Except for the ones we like.   (“Wait, is rice a vegetable?  I like rice.”)
  • Salads are not a meal.
  • Nothing too spicy.
  • Nothing weird or different or with substituted ingredients.
  • No chicken cooked in the CrockPot.
  • No cornbread or biscuits or muffins.
  • No rice or pasta.
  • Mashed potatoes only, please.

And the worst?  When I cook something and then the other people in this house choose to eat a bowl of cereal or a sandwich or whatever.  It’s depressing.  I wish I were Jane Jetson and I could just order nutrition pills from my magic robot.   Who wants to waste time cooking when there are books to read?

But I wasn’t talking about cooking.  I was talking about how we don’t have a day off . . . from kids.

And today, a holiday?  Not so much.

I did get to sleep in since my husband woke up and took our son to work at 9 AM.  I did my hour of work online, then spent a rather frustrating stretch of time working with my daughter to get her school work reviewed and organized since I need to turn in samples tomorrow.  (I am also sick to death of supervising kids doing school-at-home . . . I’ve been doing this now for ten years, ever since my 6th grade twins started a virtual school.  They graduated but now my daughter is enrolled in a charter school and doing school-at-home . . . it’s trying to kill me.)

We finally finished–after my final lecture and rant about her effort in Composition–and then it was time to shop for a lacrosse stick and accessories so she can start lacrosse practice on Friday.  We returned home just in time to pick up my son to take him to work.

And when I got home, it was time to cook dinner.  I had put corned beef and cabbage in the CrockPot (a weird favorite that my family likes, though I could live without it), but I still had to clean up the kitchen and peel potatoes and roast cauliflower and slice strawberries and mash the potatoes.  By the time we had dinner, it was after 6:30 PM.

It wasn’t much of a day off.  That’s all I’m trying to say.

I wonder what we’re having for dinner tomorrow.

What are you having for dinner?

Sunset (minus the sun)

I pulled over on my street and took this photo this morning. Later this afternoon, we spied this message left in the sky.

Finally, we headed to the beach–my son, his girlfriend and my daughter.

Alas, a thick bank of fog hovered along the edge of the beach, obliterating the sun.


One of these days, I’ll be at the beach at sunset again and with any luck, the clouds will not be there, although they did add a certain mystery tonight.

Maybe next time. (She’s just mad that she put on sunscreen for no reason.)

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