Smoke but no mirrors

Is there anything worse than a telephone conference call?  Why yes, there is.

What’s worse than a telephone conference call?   Being in charge of that conference call.   That’s how my day started: with the dreaded morning conference call.  I’m not sure why I dread the call so much–during the call, it’s fine.  After the call, I realize it wasn’t so bad. But before?  I dread.

After the call, I worked for a few more hours, then quit working a couple of hours early.  (I worked overtime last week.)  I’d dreamed briefly of a pedicure or a movie or lying on my bed, reading all afternoon.  But the extra two hours instead turned into de-cluttering and straightening up and cleaning off my desk, all while watching the constant local news coverage of the brush fire that had popped up about ten miles away.

Then I had to go pick up my son from his high school which was dismissing early because of poor air quality.  As I drove over to pick him up I could see columns of smoke from three separate fires billowing into the sky.  Waiting in the line to sign him out, I witnessed a dad losing his mind over the requirement that he sign out his kid–he was yelling and gesturing and finally pushed his way past the waiting parents standing in line to get his son.  The lady behind me mentioned that he was upset because their neighborhood was being evacuated.

So, free pass to that dad.  You are allowed to lose your mind when you’re worrying about picking up your kid before you evacuate your burning neighborhood.

If you look at a map, it seems like we’re surrounded by burning hillsides and canyons.  Eight separate fires have raged and ravaged today near us, but we are not in any immediate danger.  The air smells of smoke, though, and school is canceled.  I’m hoping that when we wake up the fires have subsided and that the winds will be calmer.  It was about a hundred degrees here today with gusts of hot wind.

In non-related news, here’s a recent conversation I had with the order-taker at the drive-thru at McDonald’s:

Him:  Can I take your order?

Me:  Yes.  Can you tell me–what is a Horchata frappe?

Him:  Huh?

Me:  The Horchata frappe? What is that flavor?

Him:  Um, just a minute.  [Insert two minutes of complete silence.]

Him:  Uh, the Horchata frappe is a frappe made with Horchata.

Me:  . . . .

(Fortunately, my iPhone knew the answer.)

Almost Mother’s Day

Don’t tell my kids, but I could really live without Mother’s Day.  I can’t really even remember any specific past Mother’s Days besides the year my husband was out of town and some of my kids were so rude and hateful to me that I ended up crying.  And the photo frame that my husband had purchased and given to them to give to me didn’t really help.

(Let’s note that I love being a mom and that before I was a mom, all I ever wanted in the world was to be a mom.  It’s just the day called “Mother’s Day” that I’m talking about.)

(Thankfully, most of the details of that awful Sunday are lost to the waves of time, washed out to settle on the bottom of the ocean or maybe to float in that giant plastic island of trash I’m told bobs somewhere in the middle of the Pacific.  Either way.  I can’t really remember most of it.)

Mainly, I just don’t need a holiday where my offspring are required to give me stuff and sign cards and bow down to my awe-inspiring wonderfulness.  I’m not big on celebrating myself.  Honestly?  I’d rather be set free to spend the day on my own, going to movies and thrift stores and the beach at sunset.  Not very mother-like, right?

This year, a baby was born somewhere in the Midwest and because of that, one of my co-workers has taken some well-deserved vacation time to be with her daughter and new grandbaby.   That co-worker normally works on Sundays.  (So do I, but not until 9 PM.)  My job involves scheduling, so I sent an email a week ago to ask another employee to work.

I thought I had her four hour shift covered and then tonight, I found out that I don’t.  So, instead, I will be working the afternoon myself.  On Mother’s Day.  This, my friends, is even worse than a normal Mother’s Day!  This is a Mother’s Day in which I have to work eight hours.

It’s not exactly anyone’s fault and I blame myself for not following up earlier.  Assuming is generally a mistake and all that.  And we’re pretty short-staffed so anytime someone takes vacation time, it’s a challenge to find someone to cover the hole in the schedule.

In other news, only nine days remain of school for my youngest kid.  Then the true celebration will begin for it will be the end of my decade-long reign as the most reluctant homeschooling/school-at-home parent ever.  Now there’s a reason to party!

p.s.  I love my kids.  They are awesome and hilarious and always give me cards that I treasure–and other stuff, too.  I’m just a curmudgeon.  I know!  Don’t judge me!


At about lunch time yesterday, we abandoned our responsibilities–Grace and me–and headed north to Disneyland.  We arrived by 2 PM and rode the monorail into the park.

That explains why I am exhausted today.  But we sure did have fun.  (I have a funny little series of photos to post soon.)  We didn’t get home until 9:30 PM.  I immediately started working, finally getting to bed at about 12:30 AM.  (I am quite possibly too old for these shenanigans.)

The school year is winding up (hooray!) and lacrosse is winding up (yay!) and AWANA will soon be over (HOORAY!).  I am super excited about free-time, about reading books, sitting under a beach umbrella, and reading more books while sitting under a beach umbrella.

And next year, Grace will be attending school full-time (instead of doing her schoolwork at home in conjunction with a public charter school).  For the first time in about ten years, I will not be directly responsible for the education of any of my children and I am beyond thrilled.  If you amplify thrilled by ten thousand, that would almost approach my level of thrill.

In other news, I spent last Saturday cleaning my laundry room, washing dishes and filling kitchen trash bags with clothes my kids have outgrown or deigned too uncool to wear.  Did you know that wearing denim shorts is “so nineties”?  Not only did I not know that, I spent my weekend cleaning my laundry room.  That’s not cool, either, but I found it rather delightful.

Before you know it, these will be the good old days.  Buckle up.



I’m an INTJ

I remember the first time I read a book that described different personality types.  I was a teenager and thought no one in the world was quite like me and then I found myself described in the pages of that book.  Weird and such a relief, actually.

I love to sort and organize and classify and analyze, so personality tests and descripti0ns fascinate me.  In recent days, I’ve seen several bloggers describe themselves as an INTJ which is said to be a rare personality type, especially for women with less than 1% of all women fitting the category.   Yet, that’s what I am.   What are you?    Here’s a quick test you can take (free).  (Or check out the link below, though the results don’t really seem to be free . . . they’ll try to sell you a “full report”.)


INTJ Personality TypeTake the free personality test (after you take this, they’ll offer the results for $ – the link above is better.)

INTJ in a Nutshell

INTJs are analytical problem-solvers, eager to improve systems and processes with their innovative ideas. They have a talent for seeing possibilities for improvement, whether at work, at home, or in themselves.

Often intellectual, INTJs enjoy logical reasoning and complex problem-solving. They approach life by analyzing the theory behind what they see, and are typically focused inward, on their own thoughtful study of the world around them. INTJs are drawn to logical systems and are much less comfortable with the unpredictable nature of other people and their emotions. They are typically independent and selective about their relationships, preferring to associate with people who they find intellectually stimulating.

Other things you should know about an INTJ:

  • We have a high need to feel competent and appear competent to others.  We will avoid doing something if we fear we will not be competent.
  • We need privacy.  We value privacy.  We crave privacy.
  • To feel sane, we need a lot of time alone.
  • We dislike social chit-chat (and we’re not always very good at it) so it can be hard to get to know us but we like deep conversations.
  • We are independent, logical, critical, focused and quick.
  • We are accused of being unemotional and can seem insensitive.
  • We’re original and creative thinkers.
  • We love to learn.  We’re often voracious readers.
  • We resist taking blame.
  • We’re analytical.  We like to think.
  • We are perfectionists and might seem arrogant.
  • We value truth, knowledge, competence and autonomy.
  • We are hesitant but effective leaders.  (We prefer being in the background but we’ll step up if necessary.)
  • We’re good problem-solvers and we’re really into efficiency.
  • You might find our humor dry and sarcastic.
  • Our core traits are logic, stoicism, and scientific thinking.

So, what about you?  What’s your personality type?


Sometimes, you just have to go to the beach to see the sunset.

And watching waves is just a fantastic extra.  (Click photos to enlarge themBut only if you want.  I’m not the boss of you.)

Can you spot the bird?

I’d like to thank this surfer for having such a vibrant surfboard.

329 Days Later

Three-hundred and twenty-nine days later, I found the Box of Keys.  I wasn’t looking for them, of course.  Instead, I was trying to find cold medicine or maybe something else.  I can’t remember.  It doesn’t matter.

What matters is the fact that I found the Box of Keys.  Back in the day, I very helpfully marked the clear plastic box with a Sharpie marker–“KEYS WITHOUT HOMES”–as if it weren’t obvious that a bunch of random keys had no permanent homes.

When I spotted the Box of Keys at the very top corner of the upper cabinet shelf behind two bottles of Advil (one expired, one A-okay) I said, “There they are!”  I stood on tippy-toes and pulled that box down with great glee.

I couldn’t remember why I’d ever wanted them, though.  Is this my new life?  I spend frantic minutes searching for things I can’t find and then I find things but I can’t remember why I cared in the first place?

I actually did a search of my blog to figure out why the keys had seemed urgent.  I found my blog from June 5, 2013 and then I remembered the padlock situation.  (My son started a job and needed a padlock and I found the padlocks but couldn’t find a key.)

I am actively resisting the urge to find the padlocks.  I suspect I would not immediately be able to find them and that would lead to another semi-panicked, frustrating game of It Was Right There Why Can’t I Find It.

My husband would never have a box of keys without homes.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  his ideal living situation is a dorm room with beige walls and an extra-large bookshelf.  He does not save things “just in case.”  I like to think that I balance his tendency to throw away perfectly good stuff, but the truth is that I probably drive him a little crazy with my drawers of doodads and boxes of doohickeys and all those shoes I don’t really wear. (Let’s not discuss my laundry room.)

I have boxes of cords that belong to electronics that we may or may not own.

I have a queen-sized air mattress that was purchased 17 years ago and used once.

I have a hamster cage I bought at a garage sale–it was such a deal–but we’ve never owned a hamster.

And so on and so forth.

But listen, if we ever get a hamster, we don’t have to buy a cage!  And if we ever live in houses we once lived in before, we won’t have to get spare keys!  And if you come to my house, I can offer you an air mattress upon which to sleep.

I have an air compressor somewhere so we can pump it up.  Just give me a little time so I can figure out where I left it.  (It’s lost.  Probably in a box in the garage.)

Ready or not

I’m never really ready for Easter.

I know that getting all the kids out the door on time will be a challenge.  My mind is already pulling together the details of the dinner that I’ll need to provide immediately after church.  And, of course, it’s always tricky to cook when I’m not actually home.  We’ll be at church and I’ll feel pressured to look better than usual and I’ll wish my boys would look like catalog models, but of course, I’ll just be glad to have them all sitting next to me in the balcony.  At least my daughter will dress fancy.

I’m already tired, this year because I had to drive to Palm Desert this morning for a lacrosse game this afternoon.  The worst part about the drive was backtracking.  Forty-five minutes after we left, my daughter called to let me know that her lacrosse equipment was in the car.  This was problematic because she was going to her lacrosse game with her dad and I was driving our son to his game.

Anyway, I had to turn back, adding an hour onto our two hour drive.  So, we left home at 9:45 AM and arrived in Palm Desert at 1:20 PM, twenty minutes late.

We got home at 7 PM and then I had to go to the store to buy last minute groceries and some Easter baskets and candy to put in them.

It’s been a long week for me and my husband.  For him, it was long because his oldest brother died unexpectedly from a suspected heart attack last Sunday morning.  On Monday morning, he flew to Texas to be with his family.  He returned this morning, in time to drive our daughter to lacrosse and a son to work.

While he was gone, I assumed all the driving-of-the-kids.  One day I made ten separate drop-offs and pick-ups.  (This is in addition to my regular old full-time job and housekeeping and napping.)   The driving itself is mindless and makes me feel impatient, but the very worst part was getting my 16-year old son to high school by 7:45 AM, requiring us to leave home at 7:15 AM.  For a lot of you, that might not be early but I work until at least midnight every night.  I close my eyes at about 1 AM or even later.

I was sleep-deprived all week.

Right now, I need to retrieve baskets and candy from the car trunk so I can assemble Easter baskets for the youngest kids.  (My oldest kids turned 21 this week.  I can’t tell you how bizarre that seems to me.)

I’m not ready for Easter.  (The cooking . . . the clean-up . . . the egg dye . . . the baskets . . . the everything that a mom has to do to make it all happen.)

But I’m ready for the Resurrection.  I’m ready for life triumphing over death, for joy after sorrow, for sunrise after the dark nights.  I’m ready to celebrate–in my heart, at least.  (Start with the heart and the rest will follow.)

Happy Easter, everyone!

Why books are better than sports

Fortunately, I found a beach towel in the trunk of my car.  I wrapped it around myself and sat on the top row of the bleachers, thankful for the seat cushion I splurged on at the Puyallup Fair a few years ago.

My boy’s team had a lacrosse game against their rivals, a team they’d lost to awhile back.  Time for revenge.

The first quarter, the other team scored a lot.

My boy didn’t play at all.

The second quarter, our team scored some, but we were still behind.

My boy played one play.

The third quarter, the score got closer.

My boy didn’t play.

The fourth quarter came and went and our team lost.  I think the score was 11-9, but they turned off the scoreboard so fast I didn’t get a chance to double-check.

But I do know this.  My boy didn’t play during the fourth quarter, either.  He was put into the game for maybe a total of two minutes.

I texted my husband and kept him apprised of the scored.  I also mentioned that I thought it was rotten that my boy didn’t get to play much at all.

My husband explained about upperclassmen and sophomores and fairness and said our boy would learn from this and that he’d understand.  But I didn’t understand myself.  Not really.

As we walked toward the car in the dark parking lot, my boy didn’t seem very understanding.  In fact, he did a rather unflattering (but amusing) imitation of one of the coaches.

It just seems to me that if you go to every practice and work hard and sacrifice four nights during the week and one day every weekend that you should get to play in the actual game.  (My boy actually scored two goals in each of the last two games, too, so it’s not unreasonable, in my mind.)   I kept these thoughts mostly to myself, of course.  But still.

I guess I’m not much of a team player.  I don’t really care that much about the team.  I care about my boy and watching him stand on the sideline clutching his lacrosse stick, dressed in his cleats and helmet and pads and not playing–along with thirteen other boys–frustrated and pained me.   It probably bugged me more than my boy but it looked to me like exclusion and rejection and injustice.  (And maybe I’m over-thinking and over-feeling and over-analyzing this.)

But you have to admit, my friends, that this is a perfect illustration of why books are better than sports.

(Well, that might be a faulty conclusion, but has a book ever overlooked a kid?  I think not.)




Spring Break, Part Two

On Monday, we woke up early and tried to get to Disneyland before everyone else.  It’s Spring Break, after all.

We spent twelve hours traipsing back and forth across the park, standing in some lines, outsmarting other lines by using FastPasses.  We wondered why our favorite rides were closed and skipped the parades entirely and ate and shopped and paddled a canoe around the River.

And we found the Springtime Round-up where a variety of Disney rabbits were posing for pictures.  Grace normally hates having her picture taken with costumed characters–a funny and stubborn quirk she’s had since she was two years old–but for some reason, she jumped at the chance to have her picture taken with Rabbit (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame).

The other highlight of the trip was a ride on Splash Mountain.  She’s ridden it only once before and found it too scary to ride again, but for whatever reason, she decided it was time to ride it again.

Now, we have a few more days of Spring Break.  Then I begin the countdown until the end of the school year.

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.


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.


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