What I take for granted

We went for a walk along the seawall.  The kids were particularly entertained by the ground squirrels on the steep slope between the seawall and the upper sidewalk.  We paused to watch the surfers bob in the ocean and occasionally catch a wave.

“Hey, do you see those swimmers?”

I squinted and spotted the four swimmers moving in tandem in the distance.

They swam far beyond the line of surfers in the deep ocean water.

I kept an eye on them and began to wonder.  Were they young hot-shots?  Some college swim team members, perhaps?  We neared our car in the parking lot and I noticed the quartet of swimmers seemed to be heading for shore.

“Oh, I really wanted to see those swimmers come out of the water.”   I lingered for a moment.

“Well, let’s wait and see,” my husband said.

So we did.

The swimmers emerged from the surf.  Two women supported a third woman as she hopped up the sand.

She hopped because she had only one leg.

The swimmers were three women and one man.  I watched as they high-fived one another.

I walked–on my two-taken-for-granted-legs–back to my car with more questions than answers.

Notes on this and that

People who live in Southern California refer to the various highways like Ivana Trump referred to Donald Trump: The Donald.  Interstate 5, commonly known in the Seattle area as “I-5″ is called “The Five” here.  Highway 78 is “The 78.”  Interstate 405 is “The 405.” And so on and so forth.

*

Today we ate lunch at a breezy Mexican restaurant just a few blocks from the beach in Carlsbad.  As we were finishing, a man stopped by our table to ask if we were from . . . Idaho?  My husband said, “No, Washington, but we live here now.”  And the man looked to his friend at the door of the restaurant and said, “Washington!”  And the other man said, “I was close!” and I wondered if they made a bet . . . and what might have given us away as Pacific Northwesterners.  (The rust between our toes?  Our pale faces?  Do we have accents?)

*

While it’s more fun to unpack than it is to pack, it’s still less fun to unpack than it is to go to the beach.

*

Speaking of unpacking, has anyone seen the toothpicks?  or the USB cord for my camera?  or that salt-shaker I got from my grandma?

*

The worst part about moving has to be finding a new person to deal with my unruly hair.  I’m trying to make a good first impression on people but it’s hard when my hair looks like I can’t find my hairbrush.  I am Roseanne Roseannadanna. And I’m so sorry.

*

Someone told me you know you’re home when someone recognizes you at the grocery store.  On Saturday, Grace and I were lollygagging in an aisle at Costco when we heard, “Hi Grace!’  We turned and a man and his daughter waved at  us.  Grace is highly recognizable with her blond curls and when I am with her, so am I, apparently.  That was weird.

*

The other night, we had a family over.  Husband, wife, daughter, son.  The wife had pretty blond hair woven into a pretty blond braid.  Sunday at church, the husband said hello to me and then, “You won’t recognize my wife.”  She turned into a woman with pretty brunette hair.  That, my friends, is a dirty trick.  It’s hard enough to recognize new people if they change their clothes. Dye your hair and I will have no idea who you are.

*

Our last house had carpeting in the bathrooms and kitchen until we finally got around to replacing it with vinyl flooring and Pergo.  Carpeting + kids + toilets + bathtubs = Very Very Bad.

So, imagine my chagrin when we moved into this house and discovered carpeting in all three bathrooms.  Who does that?

*

I haven’t figured out what all the light-switches control in this house.

*

The end.

Coming to you live from my new office in my new house in my new city in my new state wearing my old slippers

Every night by the time I’m done working at midnight, I just want to sleep.  So I do that instead of writing here.

But tonight I am sacrificing a bit of sleep so I can quickly update this blog so you don’t think I’m trapped in an avalanche of moving boxes.

A week and a half ago, the moving truck arrived.  The truck driver directed his three helpers and by 5 p.m., all of our belongings were loaded into the Mayflower truck.  That makes it sound so easy, doesn’t it?

Truth be told, my feet hurt from packing sixteen hours the day before. I was exhausted from sleeping only three hours that night.  And I was still packing up the master bedroom while the movers were emptying our house of boxes.

The sweet thing about that day was how my kids’ friends showed up just to hang out while the movers were moving our stuff out from under them.

At 5 p.m., we drove out of our circle.  I kept wondering what we might have forgotten, then remembered that the house was empty, so we couldn’t have forgotten anything.

The first night, we drove to Salem, Oregon.  I’m not sure how we ever managed car trips without a GPS and an iPhone.  It was after 7 p.m. before I started calling to find a hotel.  (And scored!  We stayed at a nice Best Western that gave us a free breakfast at Denny’s the next morning.)

On Saturday, we drove from 9 a.m. until . . . oh, I don’t remember, but it was ten hours or eleven.  The terrain through northern California is hilly and curvy and exhausting to drive.  We were at the hotel early enough for the kids to swim before the pool closed at 10 p.m.

On Sunday, we only had to drive about six hours before we arrived at our new home.  Of course, I had completely overlooked the need for bedding, so that night I slept on the couch (we purchased from the sellers of the house) using two bath towels for a blanket.  (I had two duffel bags of clean last-minute laundry packed into the car.  It was pretty random.)

On Monday, we walked along the beach, gawking at ground squirrels on one side of the path and pelicans overhead and surfers bobbing in the ocean.

Tuesday, the moving truck arrived.  By 2 p.m., they had unloaded all of our furniture and boxes and belongings.  I have unpacked most of the important things–the kitchen is completely unpacked, as are the living rooms and family rooms.  The master bedroom is in good shape, though my half of the closet is a jumble of shoes and clothes.  I’ve discovered boxes in the garage that seem to have been abandoned there by lazy movers–it was easier for them to put those boxes in the garage than to cart them upstairs where they belong.

The first week we were here, Grace went to VBS and Zach went along as a helper.  The teenagers keep waking up unbelievably early because the light is so bright in this whole house.  Sunlight!  Who knew that it could shine so regularly and intensely?

This week, Grace is going to soccer camp.

I’m back to work full-time after taking off two half-days to pack.

We barely acknowledged Independence Day since we had no real idea where to watch fireworks without being caught in bad traffic.  My husband bought a couple of back-yard games for the kids–and they played while I went to two different grocery stores and spent the afternoon doing food preparation.

Our new house is spacious and bright.  I’m still trying to figure out what the light switches control and what time the mailman comes.  I unpacked nineteen boxes of books, then discovered nine more boxes marked “OFFICE” in the garage.

I’m wondering if I’ll ever have any friends here and how long it will take to fit in.

Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting at Soccer Camp in the morning, reading in the sunshine.   Though, of course, as soon as we left Washington, the sun came out there.

Packing, packing, packing

My living room and dining room are now lined with stacks of boxes.  My storage room has more packed boxes.

The cats were shipped off to San Diego via Alaska Airlines cargo plane.

I guess we’re really moving.  One week from Friday!

Product Review: Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts

A couple months ago, I finally saw an orthopedic surgeon about my aching Achilles tendon.  He examined me and explained that my tendon injury was caused my muscle tightness in my calf.  Who knew, right?  So, he prescribed stretching exercises and recommended that I wear orthotic inserts in my shoes.  He gave me a full-length pair and told me to start wearing them.

So I did.

But they hurt!  They hurt my arch.

Then MomCentral gave me the opportunity to try the Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts.

I jumped at the chance–being very careful not to rupture my Achilles tendon, of course.

So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been wearing the Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts that Dr. Scholl’s recommended for me.

To get them, I went to my local Wal-Mart, where I stood on the FootMapping kiosk.  It was very simple and before I knew it, my analysis was complete and I had my recommendation. (It was kind of cool, really, to use the kiosk.)

Now, I have to say that compared to the original inserts my doctor gave me, the Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts were super comfortable.  Although they are 3/4 length, I didn’ t experience any slippage.  And because they are only 3/4 length, you can wear them with a large variety of shoes.  (Though I stuck with my Chuck Taylors, pretty much.)

After wearing them for these past weeks, my feet do feel supported.  Sometimes, though, it does seem like the arch is too high–but my doctor told me that it takes some time for the foot to get used to wearing Orthotic Inserts. (I saw him for my follow-up appointment last week and confessed that I was cheating on him with Dr. Scholl.)

So, if you’re looking for an orthotic insert, I can recommend the Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts.  I thought they were kind of pricey, but I hear actual custom-made ones can run hundreds of dollars, so fifty bucks isn’t bad.  (Plus you can get a rebate here.)

* * *

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Dr. Scholl’s and received a Custom Fit Orthotics from Dr. Scholl’s to facilitate my review.

To think I chose this life

Unfortunately, I scheduled a dental appointment for my 13-year old this morning at 8:30.  Normally, I’m not quite conscious at that hour, so it was sad for both of us.  He missed a frog dissection in science class and had to go to school with a numb face and I was tired.

And when we got to the dentist office, I noticed the trash can on the side of the road and realized it was Thursday, aka Trash Day, and so I texted my teenagers who were still sleeping and they didn’t text me back and so after I dropped my daughter off at school I stopped by the house to drag the trash cans to the curb (well, if we had a curb–it was really just the side of the road) before returning to the dentist to pick up my numb-faced boy.

I returned home from dropping off my son at school just in time to shove our three mutant cats into crates so we could take them to the vet for rabies shots and health certificates.  As you can imagine, they did not enjoy this. While waiting for the vet to enter the room, my 8-year old called from school to ask me to bring her forgotten glasses.  (She’s nearsighted and gets headaches without them.)  I told her I couldn’t right then but I would if I could.

I brought one of my 18-year old sons to help me carry the crates and halfway home, my other 18-year old called me to let me know that I’d left the veterinary’s office without paying.

So I dropped off the cats and son.
I grabbed the glasses and a package to mail.
Dropped off the glasses at Grace’s school.
Mailed two boxes.
Drove back to the vet’s office to pay.
Came home and took a 30 minutes nap.
Worked from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Gathered lacrosse equipment to turn in.
Turned in lacrosse equipment.
Picked up take-n-bake pizza.
Baked pizza, ate pizza.
Took a nap.
Worked from 9 p.m. until midnight.

As I was writing this, I remembered seeing my 13-year old wearing sweatpants to school because he had no clean jeans, so I went to the laundry room to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer and what do you think I found in the washing machine?

That’s right.  The 13-year old’s cell phone.

Two days ago, I washed his iPod shuffle.  I put it in a container of dry rice and amazingly, it now works again.

I put the cell phone in rice.  I’m kind of feeling like my luck is running out, though.

Tomorrow I scheduled an eye appointment for my 18-year old at 10 a.m.

And so it goes.

“Ack!” And also “Help!”

So, I’m moving two weeks from Friday.

My calendar this week is dotted with appointments:  sports physical and haircut for one kid, dentist for another, a trip to see my sister, an eye appointment for another kid, a birthday party invitation . . . I have to take my (stupid) three cats to the veterinarian to get rabies shots and health certificates so they can fly to California next week.  I have to wash and turn in the lacrosse equipment.

And, of course, I have to pack.

I’ve done quite a bit of packing already but now I need to get busy and start packing all the stuff it seemed too early to pack before.  Hello, Board Games, I’m talking to you.  I’m also admitting that I’m not going to get my photographs any more organized than they are . . . so I may as well pack them.  I did have to slice open a couple of boxes to find some beach towels for yesterday’s final visit to Wild Waves.

I’m spinning in the Let’s Procrastinate stage of packing.  That’s why my recipe box is organized for the first time in at least fifteen years.  (Who even has a recipe box these days?)  I intend to graduate to the Let’s Panic stage of packing in mere moments.

Meanwhile, piles of papers have mysteriously appeared on my desk much like crop circles in wheat fields.

This can’t be good.

Since I was last here

My life is one long “to-do” list which I am trying to cram into the spaces between my job and sleep.

Here are a few things I’ve done since I last wrote about the peaceful lives of monks:

1)  Moved entire contents of storage unit back into my living room.  Assisted by my three teenagers, plus three other teenage boys.

2)  Left at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning for a lacrosse game.

3)  Had two different moving companies assess the weight of my household goods and give me an estimate for moving us.

4)  Had refrigerator repaired.  Is it weird that I already owned the two replacement gaskets the repairman needed?

5)  Drove two hours for the final lacrosse game in Port Angeles.

6)  After the game, took my two youngest kids on the Port Angeles ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, and spent almost 24 hours there visiting my (ex)stepmom.

NOTE:  Crossing the border is tricky!  I have an enhanced license to allow me to cross the border both ways.  However, according to one very stern official, I should have had a signed document from my husband giving me permission to take the children to Canada.  Who knew?

ALSO:  We happened to ride the ferry along with hundreds of middle school and high school band students who were traveling to Victoria to march in the Victoria Day parade.  Great, except for the incredible noise level.  Furthermore, every student appeared to drop his or her backpack in a seat and then abandoned said backpack to wander the ship, leaving people like me with NO SEAT.  It’s a ninety minute crossing, so this was rather unpleasant.  I did finally find a seat, but only one and hello?  I had two kids with me.

7)  In Victoria the kids swam until 10 p.m. in the condo pool.  We went on a horse-drawn carriage tour.  We sped through the Royal BC Museum, which was awesome, except for the fact that we had to speed through it.  Victoria is a really beautiful city.

8)  Rode ferry back to Port Angeles, then drove over two hours home.  Arrived forty-five minutes before my work shift.

9) Went to dentist for cleaning.

10)  Had hair highlighted and cut.

11)  Took daughter to dentist at 8 a.m.  Took son to dentist at 11:30 a.m.

12)  Got estimate from house-cleaner.

And tomorrow?  I’m getting a routine mammogram.

We move four weeks from Friday.

Motherhood versus Monkhood

On Easter Sunday, I watched a CBS special about the monasteries at Mt. Athos.  (Transcript is here.)  I was riveted by the lives these men lead, the quiet lives of unceasing prayer and discipline and simplicity.

Women aren’t allowed at those monasteries.  Not even to visit and certainly never to live.  Why?

The irony is that while the Mother of God is revered there, no other woman is permitted to even set foot on Mount Athos, a ban that’s been in effect for a thousand years.

The reason for the ban, according to Orthodox doctrine, is that Christ gave the peninsula to his mother and all other women are excluded so as to fully honor the Virgin Mary. It’s also said that in the days before the ban, when women did come there, the monks became distracted and couldn’t devote themselves entirely to prayer. They say it became a lot easier after the last lady left . . .

. . . Mount Athos may be the last all-male bastion in the world.

And Father Arsenios says it has to stay that way. “Here we’re concerned solely with purity and our elevation to eternity. If women are permitted they would bring their families and children – this place would become a tourist attraction and (no) longer a place (of) silence.”

Bold font added by me . . . to point out that women and children are distracting and noisy.

Boy, you’re telling me.

I am in a constant state of distraction and chaos.  I blame the children.

Is it more pleasing to God to live in a state of unceasing prayer in the seclusion of a monastery?  Are the monks closer to Jesus?  Or is the bigger challenge to live in the midst of cacophony without losing your faith entirely and faltering as you attempt to string together a few words of prayer before you fall asleep again only to wake up too early to start all over again?

I imagine climbing a ladder to prune a tree while repeating the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.”) as a life of ease compared to the daily onslaught of motherhood.

Then again, the grass is always greener on the other side of the planet.

Still.  Even the monks admit that living with kids in their midst would prohibit them from concentrating on prayer.  The bedlam that children bring would disrupt their ability to draw closer to God.

Interesting to ponder . . . if I had time to ponder.

My fantasy life

In my fantasy, we eat steamed vegetables every day.  A bountiful green salad with radishes and shredded carrots and purple cabbage appears at every meal . . . and we eat together in the dining room as a family.  At a beautifully set table topped by a tablecloth and the good dishes.  We have interesting conversations and no one leans forward with their elbows on the table and eats like a caveman.

In my fantasy, the floors are free of dust and popcorn kernels and regurgitated hairballs.  The laundry has been folded and put into drawers and closets and every sock has a match.  Sunlight streams through unsmudged windows.

In my fantasy, I walk five miles a day and fit into the clothes that are stored in a gigantic bin on my closet floor right now.  My hair is neither too short or too long or too frizzy or crazy and for once, doesn’t make me scream when I look in the mirror.  In fact, the mirror is my friend and I like what I see instead of wondering when I became old and puffy.

In my fantasy, my children are enthralled by novels, not video games.  They never leave cups under their beds after drinking the last of the milk.  They don’t put empty milk cartons back in the fridge.  They all get straight A’s.  The children laugh and sing and frolic and never, ever, ever raise their voices or engage in the enraged arguments over nothing that cause parental embolisms.

In my fantasy, I manage to get to bed early, even though I work until midnight.  I wake up with the sun because who needs sleep?  Not me or Martha Stewart!  In my fantasy, I bake bread from scratch and grow my own zucchini and have a coupon for everything I buy at the grocery store.  I throw parties for my many friends and baby showers for new mothers and watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean every night.

In my fantasy, I have plenty of time to write, plenty of time to spend with my husband, plenty of time to volunteer in my church, plenty of time to spend with each of my children, plenty of time to read my Bible and pray, plenty of time to sew and plenty of time to serve the disenfranchised.  I read a novel every week.  I plan a trip to Haiti where I will solve the humanitarian crisis made worse by the earthquake and then skidaddle over to Alabama and help rebuild homes.

In my fantasy, when we move to California in seven weeks, I will be new and improved and everything that I am not now and never have been but have always wanted to be.

Or not.

The first step in overcoming a problem is realizing that you have one.  And I realize that I have an overactive fantasy life.  Send help.

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