Untraditional Easter

My mom has lived in my town just about as long as I have.  And on Saturday, we helped her move sixty miles north of here.

She and I picked up a U-Haul truck Saturday morning at 9:30.  I had to drive it to her house.  The things you have to do when you are a grown-up and have no excuses.  I was scared to drive that 17-foot truck but I managed not to run over any small children or mailboxes.

With the help of our neighbors (who I am so deeply indebted to now), we loaded up her furniture and boxes.  (My 18-year old sons helped, as did our neighbor’s teenage son.)  When the truck was crammed full, we resorted to loading up the back of my van and my mom’s car.  The neighbor offered to let us pack his pickup truck as well and then volunteered to drive the U-Haul through Seattle.  (His son drove the pickup.)

The neighbor went so far above and beyond the call of duty, I can hardly believe it.  I had originally asked him just to help load furniture into the truck but he took charge and loaded the whole truck and then drove it to Seattle and helped unload the whole thing.

We finally arrived at my mom’s new apartment at 2:30 p.m.  It was 7:30 p.m. by the time I finally  left after helping sort things and unpack things and try make sense of things.  Moving is hard!  (Even with help.  My sister’s family and my brother were there to help unload and unpack.)

Sunday morning–Easter!–I took my kids to Qwest Field where our church, Mars Hill, held a gigantic church service with 17,500 people in attendance.  It started at 9:30 a.m.

I thought I gave myself enough time to get there . . . but I underestimated traffic, specifically the traffic clogging the perimeter of Safeco Field.  Just when I reached the designated parking garage, a police officer waved me past it . . . and I had to circle around again.

The second time, I decided to take the easy way out and pulled into a paid parking garage.  However, due to poor planning on my part, I had no cash in my purse and the garage only took cash or checks.  (I haven’t carried around a checkbook in years.)  The attendant (God bless her) told me she’d temporarily park my car and let me walk across the street to get cash from an ATM.  So that’s what I did.

By the time we parked and walked several blocks to the stadium and the many ramps up to the 300 Level, we were twenty minutes late, but just in time for the sermon.

It was amazing to see so many people in that stadium.  Most amazing to me was how many babies I saw around me.  Those moms are better people than me for I never would have attempted that entire ordeal with a little baby.  My kids were awesome and well-behaved.

When the service ended, we made our way to Safeco Field where we had a completely untraditional Easter lunch from the various food stands.  The boys all had cheesesteak sandwiches and garlic fries, Grace had a cheeseburger and I had Ivar’s fish.

Our seats were five rows from the top of Safeco Field but still had a beautiful view.  The kids seemed to have fun . . . Grace especially liked the souvenir shops.  Of course.  We left after the sixth inning.

Driving home through the rain, I was so exhausted.  I was thinking about when I’d be able to drive back through Seattle to my mom’s new place so I can help her finish unpacking and organizing.

And then I noticed a sign on the freeway.

“Did I miss my exit?”

And I did.  I have no recollection of a good ten miles of freeway . . . and I missed my exit completely.

When I arrived home at 4:30 p.m., I put on my pajamas and stayed in bed watching television and napping until I had to work at 9 p.m.

So . . . no Easter egg hunts, so egg-dye, no Easter baskets . . . and no ham.

But at least I managed to distribute a chocolate bunny to each of my kids.

Next year, we’ll be back to normal.  I hope.  (Does “normal” still exist?)

That about sums it up

“Today was the best day ever!” she announced when I picked her up after school.  She described how they learned to juggle during school and asked if I’d take her to the event at 6 p.m.

Wait.  What?  I may be a little distracted these days, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen any flier about an event.

She didn’t know what it was called but she knew that last year her dad took her and they brought back some toys (aka “fitness” equipment).  Oh yeah.  That.

I really did not want to go.  I’m so over after-school events.  That’s what happens when you space your children far apart.  If you did something at school ten years ago, the chances are you don’t want to do it again now.  Sorry, Youngest Child.

But I took her because of the guilt I am a good mom.

Fortunately, she overlooked the bedlam of the event and zeroed in on what she wanted.  And what she wanted was a set of juggling balls.

She picked out a purple ball, a blue ball and a green ball.  I paid and we went home.

I actually dropped her off at home in the care of her older brothers and went to my mom’s house to help her pack.  My phone rang while I was up to my elbows in kitchenware and packing paper.

My daughter was crying.

She’d lost a juggling ball in the ivy.

Oh, have I mentioned the ivy?  The English ivy was planted by the former and (one would assume) well-meaning owners of this house.  The ivy has threatened to overtake the house at times.  (Now we have an excellent yard crew who tames it.)

Anyway, my daughter and her  little buddy were throwing the juggling balls back and forth and the ball flew into the ivy and she couldn’t find it.

I promised to find the purple juggling ball as soon as I got home.

Now, I should know better than to make a promise like, but I was up to my elbows in packing paper and I really wanted to hang up the phone.

I returned home just as dusk was falling. I asked her to show me where she last saw the ball.

I began a hand search of the ivy, systematically separating the ivy in a grid search.

That’s when I found . . . the Fiskar shears:

They were new the last time I saw them.

They are rusty now.

A few more desperate minutes passed.  Then I found . . . the purple juggling ball.

It was a miracle.

Almost as amazing as the moment at Costco the other day when my receipt totaled $150 exactly.

I know.  I am a rock star.

When you can’t find your shorts, look behind the chair

Tonight I was sitting in the rocking recliner in the family room, a place I rarely sit anymore.  If I’m not working at my desk, I’m upstairs.  But I was sitting downstairs in the family room tonight while chatting on the phone with my friend MaryKay.

As we talked, something caught my eye.  Puzzled, I stood, crossed the room and pulled that corner chair from the wall to reveal a hidden pile of clothing.

A quick examination revealed the pile to be my 13-year old’s stash of dirty clothes.

Apparently, he’s been getting dressed in the mornings in the family room–he’s the only one awake at that early hour–and he’s been discarding the shorts and t-shirts he wears to bed behind the chair, out of sight to everyone except an eagle-eyed person sitting in the rocking recliner.

Now I understand why he’s had trouble finding shorts to wear even though I’ve been keeping up with the laundry.

Kids are so weird.

This, that and the other thing

Since my last entry, these things happened:

1)  My husband arrived home for a less-then-48-hour visit.

2)  My twin sons turned 18.  This involved a lot of snack-food, a houseful of teenage boys and three games of Monopoly.

3)  My 13-year old played lacrosse in Gig Harbor.  This involved me navigating incorrectly around a traffic circle which resulted in a big loop-de-loop.  Also deja vu because, wait a minute, haven’t I been here before? I am ever grateful for my iPhone and the miracle of its internal GPS function which allowed me to conquer the traffic circle and end up at the lacrosse field.

It’s just too bad the team lost.  On the other hand, my daughter met a nice dog and spent a long time petting him.

4)  Saturday afternoon, I took my daughter and her little buddy to see the movie, “Rio.”

5)  Sunday, I took my daughter and her little buddy to the Puyallup Spring Fair where we mingled with approximately eight million other people.  The lines were too long for rides.  That is what happens when the sun finally shines here in the Northwest.

On the way home, we were stuck in inexplicable traffic . . . made explicable once I realized that the always sluggish intersection at 72nd Street and I-5 was made impossible by the traffic generated by the Grand Opening of the Winco grocery store.  What should have taken twenty minutes took an hour.

6)  Our loan was funded for the new house in California.  Which means that tomorrow we will be finally and officially “closed” on the house.  Or something like that.  I can only tell you that the process of providing the necessary paperwork for this transaction has been grueling and also painstaking and nitpicking.

7)  I shopped at Costco today.  As I waited for my total, I thought to myself, Well, this is more than a hundred dollars . . . probably about a hundred and fifty.

And my total came to $150 exactly.  Whoa.  I am an unintentional math genius.

* * *

(That picture at the top shows the house where I lived from the time I was five until I was eleven.)

Radio silence

Do you ever want to pick up the phone and dial a number but you are too big of a chicken?  And then you think maybe you’ll send off an email but you remember that your last email went unanswered?  So you consider sending a Facebook message but are you really that needy?  So you don’t do anything but wonder.

You wonder if you did something but if you ask, “Did I do something?” you will sound like you’re fourteen years old and clueless and silly.

You review the past weeks and months and can’t pinpoint a specific event or moment that things shifted between you.

You think perhaps you’re imagining things but how do you imagine silence after years of regular contact?

Then you take things personally.  How else to explain the inexplicable?

But before you embrace the pain of taking it personally, you remember that you have a tendency to take things personally when they are not personal at all.

So you think maybe you’ll pick up the phone and call but you are a big chicken.

Instead, you pull up the corners of your heart and tuck them in a little closer.  You lock the front door to your life and from now on, even fewer people will be granted admission because it’s just too much to have people traipsing through or rather, it’s too much when no one even knocks at the door anymore.

I want to sleep but wrote this instead

I don’t know any of these people, but this photo is from 1963 and how about that car?

* * *

Oh dear.  I can’t tell you when I was here last but I can tell you that yesterday I knocked over a gigantic glass of water on my desk while I was busily scanning slides from the 1970s.  In a miracle of epic proportions, the water cascaded under my keyboard and flowed onto the floor, completely missing all the slides and other papers stacked on my desk.

Last week was Spring Break.  Also, I ran out of Diet Coke, so those two things collided in one massive headache which lasted until I got more caffeine and sleep.  But not in that order.

Then over the weekend, my 13-year old son flew to California to take some placement tests for his new school.  It was odd having only three children at home.  My daughter and I spent practically every moment of the weekend together.  On Saturday we had our now-weekly lunch at Red Robin, then went shopping the clearance racks at Old Navy.  We finished up our afternoon with some shopping at Costco.

The teenagers invited a friend to sleep over on Saturday.  So at 8 a.m. on Sunday, I was shocked to hear the shower start–the boys were up early?  Even after a sleep over?

Yeah.  No.  That was their guest taking a quick shower after staying up all night.  His mom came by to pick him up.  My son came to my room to apologize for failing to sleep and catch up on his school work during Spring Break and suggested that he and his brother really needed to stay home from church.  So he could work on school work.  (Right.)

Fine.  In a couple of months, church-skipping will not be an option for any of us.

So Grace and I drove the hour to church.  We found a parking spot directly in front of the church building.  Usually we have to walk four or five blocks.

After church, I asked her if she’d like to go to the Woodland Park Zoo, and so we did.

The last time we went, all the boys were with us and the two oldest kids are not fans of the zoo.  In fact, they have never been fans of the zoo because the zoo involves walking and the outdoors.  Oh, the horrors.

So, it was lovely to be at the zoo with only Grace.  She ran from exhibit to exhibit and we saw pretty much every animal in the zoo, including strolling peacocks and squirrels and random ducks.  Just as we finished shopping at the gift shop–because shopping is what Grace loves most–the rain began but until then, it had been an almost-warm, perfect spring day.

Yesterday, I scanned more old slides.  While I was helping my mom pack up her apartment–she’s moving to a new place–I came across these old slides.  I offered to scan them, which is a win-win for me because we get the slides into photograph form and I end up with some of the old photographs myself.

Now the week is under way.  My 13-year old is back home.  My teenagers are (supposedly) back to their school work.  Grace is back at school.   My husband’s coming home on Thursday for a quick visit to celebrate the teenager’s 18th birthday.

And so now you know why I haven’t written anything worthwhile here.

A mathematical equation

Spring Break + Full-time job at home + rain + four kids + extra kids + headache = GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Product Review: Biotrue Multi-Purpose Solution

I was twenty-two when I snatched the glasses from my dearly beloved’s face and tried them on.  To my utter shock, I saw that I could see individual leaves on the tree outside the window.

Thus began my journey with corrective eye-wear.  I wore hideous glasses for a few years (hey, it was the eighties!) and then got my first pair of contact lenses.  In those days, we wore the same pair of lenses for a year.  (Imagine!) I’ve been wearing contact lenses for over twenty years now.

Nowadays, I wear disposable lenses.  (Right now I’m wearing glasses, but that’s because it’s so late at night.)  I wear them almost every day but try to remove them after nine or ten hours so my eyeballs can rest.

Not long ago I went to a new eye doctor, one who specialized in fitting contact lenses.  She switched my lenses to a different type because I’d been experiencing some dryness and irritation.  She switched my solution to an hydrogen-peroxide type (the kind that you use little discs).  She said it works more thoroughly, but she also told me that the other kind of solution works fine as long as you follow the directions.

You are supposed to rub and rinse them for twenty seconds, then rinse each side for another five seconds.  (I had just been peeling them out of my eyes and plopping them into solution.)  I guess most people do not follow the rinsing and rubbing directions.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to test the new Biotrue solution.

(Oh, I was going to insert a picture of it but the file was too big.  But here, go to the Biotrue site and check out the beautiful packing.)  It’s pretty, right?

This solution has a lubricant naturally found in your eyes, matches the pH of healthy tears and keeps beneficial tear proteins active.

Admittedly, I’m not sure what that last part means, but I can tell you that this solution did not make my eyes sting at all.  My lenses felt as clean as could be.  (When I was using another brand of this type of solution, my eyes were pretty irritated most of the time.)

So, I liked this solution.  I liked how well it seemed to work, I liked how comfortable it left my lenses and I liked the packaging.  I’m not sure I would purchase this, however, because my eye care professional was so insistent about me using the other type of solution (the hydrogen peroxide based solution, used with the disc system).

Despite that, I liked this solution and would recommend it, especially if you are using another brand of this type of solution–and you find your eyes scratchy or irritated or dry.

* * *

“I wrote this review while participating in a Mom Central Consulting blog tour on behalf of Bausch + Lomb Biotrue. I received a Biotrue sample and a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

The downward spiral of worry, motherhood edition

I remember being vaguely terrified by the great unknown when I was a teenager.

My terror revolved around my irrational concern that I might get a B in Math Analysis which would result in my rejection from the college of my choice which would ruin my life.  As an end result, I’d never be employed or meet my future spouse.

Therefore, I would end up living in a cardboard box wearing ill-fitting shoes without socks for the rest of my life.  And I would have no blanket.

I specialized in the Downward Spiral of Thought.  Excellent, right?

But, of course, all the potential tragedies never happened–and other, unforeseen tragedies really did happen–but here I am anyway.  Gainfully employed, married for almost twenty-four years and raising four children.  I’m a home-owner and I have friendships that have lasted over twenty-five years.  I have been blessed and challenged in ways I never expected.

Now, I find myself peering into my children’s futures and I quake with terror because I worry they will not figure out what type of work to do.  I worry that they will not marry well.  I worry that they will never get their driver’s licenses or rent their own apartments or live happily ever after.

I’m sliding around and around the Downward Spiral but instead of worrying about my own life, I worry about their lives.

Some things never change.

Being a mother seemed impossible when the kids were babies with all the not-sleeping and the fevers and the tantrums, but now it is much worse because almost nothing is in my control.  I can’t manipulate their futures or their behavior or their achievements.

Yet, I know that the same God who had a plan for my life has a plan for my children’s lives.

I have to stop fretting.

What kind of wife are you? (Why do you ask?)

I’ve been thinking about how I’m a pastor’s wife again.

Why are pastor’s wives labeled that way?  You never hear someone introduced as a “salesman’s wife” or a “janitor’s wife” or a “truck-driver’s wife”, but if you are a pastor’s wife, you are a Pastor’s Wife first and yourself second–if anyone actually can get past the fact that you are a Pastor’s Wife.

My husband has always tried to shield me from the icky parts of his job, but it doesn’t matter to most people.  They can’t see me past the giant flashing letters that announce PASTOR’S WIFE. I’m not the person you hang out with or the one you make inappropriate jokes around or the one you want to get to know.

But you should.  Really.  If you really knew me, you’d know that I’m just a regular person, like you.  I happened to marry a man who is a pastor, but we do not sit around and discuss theology or spend hours on our knees in prayer.  (I’m ashamed to admit that, because I have expectations for a Pastor’s Wife, too, and I fail to meet them.)

He doesn’t tell me everything about his day–especially if it’s confidential.  Just so you know.  If you tell him something assuming that he’ll tell me, you are so wrong.

If you really knew me, you’d know things about me that I am afraid to type on this blog, things that might cause you to judge me because a Pastor’s Wife doesn’t watch that show or read that book or skip church for no good reason.  A Pastor’s Wife does not yell at her children or have children that balk at going to church.

I’ve done this pastor’s wife thing at four different churches.  Each time I’ve blamed myself for my failure to really connect with people.  I was too young, too busy, too shy, or I had a new baby . . . but I have felt excluded and judged and on display everywhere I’ve gone.  Maybe that’s my own perception–I do have a little problem with taking everything personally.   Okay, it’s a big problem, but awareness is the first step!

And now I’m a Pastor’s Wife again.  I hope I will be brave enough to let you see behind the curtain.  I want to drop the shield and just be a normal person and hope that people I meet will want to be my friend.

(I feel like I’m in fourth grade when I say that, so I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.  We all just want someone to play with at recess and to know that someone will save us a seat at the lunch table.)

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