Five things I have not been doing

I didn’t mean to ignore my blog but I’ve been spending all my spare time driving my kids around Southern California.

My husband was in Florida for a couple of days on business and so I had to do all the driving myself.  I tallied up all my time behind the wheel today and lost track after adding up five hours of drive time.  FIVE HOURS.

Driving kids around is a part-time job, the kind of part-time job that costs you money and makes you wonder why you had kids in the first place.  It’s like pizza delivery only without the smell of pizza and without any tips.  It’s driving for hours and finding yourself back where you started, only minus the gas in your tank.

At least the kids are old enough not to kick the back of my seat.  And I don’t have to carry a plastic potty chair in the trunk of the car just in case like I used to do when we lived in Michigan a million years ago.

Tonight while I was heading home, pink spread across the sky and I wished I were at the beach snapping photos.  The best I could do was a photo taken at a stoplight with my iPhone.

I’m not sure what else I’ve been doing lately, but I can tell you what I have not been doing.  This list is not exhaustive.  (I, however, am exhausted.)

1)  I have not been organizing my laundry room.  I’m not sure what has happened in there but Martha Stewart would disapprove of the situation involving dryer lint, empty detergent bottles, tangled hangers and stacks of fabric.

2)  I have not been reading.  I have so many books stacked up and I keep putting a book next to my pillow right before I fall asleep without reading it.

3)  I have not been cooking.  You’d think at a certain point I’d be fired for dereliction of duty but somehow I still have the job of cooking dinner even when I don’t cook dinner.  Why am I not fired?  (Someone fire me!)

4)   I have not been sorting through my office closet and organizing it.  When we moved in, I just sort of stacked things in there, intending to tend to it later.  Later has come and gone and that closet taunts me.

5)  I have not been watching the Olympics except for right now while I am watching the cross-country skiing event where they periodically stop and shoot a gun.  I don’t really understand the gun portion of this sport.  I usually love watching figure skating but this year I can’t get interested.  And all the speed skaters look the same . . . I have no emotional attachment.

What have you not been doing lately?

Weekend Update (Rush Hour Traffic Version)

I received this text message from my 15-year old son last week.  This may be all you really need to know about me.

Although, this photo does shed more light on my personality and character and general squeamishness. My husband alerted me to the fact that a lizard was lurking in our living room, so I did what any normal woman would do. I found a plastic container and trapped the lizard so I could assess the situation (scary!) and craft a solution (leave the lizard under its plastic dome until the next day).

I also scooted a piece of cardboard under half the plastic container which gave the lizard enough room to escape, so the next day, I had to trap the lizard again on the other side of the room after my daughter declined to pick it up with her bare hands. I slid a plastic place-mat under the lizard and then a cookie sheet under that and managed to carry the lizard to the back yard. I am ridiculous.

Grace’s soccer team played in the State Cup this weekend, so we had to drive to Lancaster, California and spend the night in a hotel. Otherwise, we would have had to get up at about 4:00 AM to arrive at the field by 8:00 AM. Since we have passes for Disneyland, I suggested we stop by, park in the free Downtown Disney parking lot and spend a couple of hours at the Happiest Place on Earth. My plan worked great.

Except that we ended up driving through heavy Los Angeles Friday night traffic which was decidedly not great.

Saturday morning, the other team scored at the very last minute–literally–of the game. The final score was 1-0 and our girls were knocked out of the State Cup. It was sad, except it was awesome because it meant we didn’t have to spend another night in Lancaster.

I found the neutral landscape quite enchanting with its unfamiliar trees and shrubs the looked like they came right out of a Dr. Seuss book. (Except not this one . . . but I didn’t get any pictures of the wacky trees because I was driving and my daughter was not a fan of me pulling over to take pictures in the middle of nowhere.)

And then, traffic happened.

I’d decided to avoid going back down Interstate 5 so we wouldn’t have to negotiate the freeways winding through Los Angeles again. Instead, we headed down the less populous route (down Interstate 215).

We were literally stopped on the freeway or creeping along at two miles an hour for a solid hour. I’d seen a sign that said there was an accident ahead with the two right lanes blocked, so I moved over to the far left lane. This did not help at all. All seven lanes of traffic had to merge into one lane–MY LANE–as we approached the accident which blocked off everything except MY LANE.

Our return trip home took four hours. It should have taken no more than three, closer to two and a half hours, really. The worst part of being stopped on the freeway for an hour was the fact that I needed a bathroom quite desperately.

* * *
In other news, the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl today. They won by such a wide margin, in fact, that I spent the entire second half deeply asleep.

Glorious

On Saturday, Grace had a soccer game in San Diego.  We woke up at 5:45 AM to arrive at the field by 7:15 AM.

After the game ended in a zero-zero tie, we headed back home.

Over the weekend, I’d heard there was a high surf advisory, so we decided to stop by the beach on the way home.

And what a glorious day it was.  We walked quite a ways down the beach, picking up shells and snapping pictures of waves and surfers and rocks and, as it turns out, a line of swooping pelicans.


I love high surf advisory days!

And I really love the clacking sound rocks make when the waves rush back to sea.

“Hungry. Need Help. Will work for food.”

My name is Lola and I’m waiting for my mom to get home.

My friend, Alisa, suggested that maybe I could write a book about this dog.  It would be called The Money Pit Dog because, oh my.  She’s limping and the veterinarian mentioned scary words to me today like “surgery” and “money” and “let me check the cost of that.”

(Did I tell you about that incident when Lola the Dog was a year old and ate a bottle of ibuprofen?  That stuff will kill a dog unless you hand over a bucket of gold to the Animal Hospital.)

So now Lola the Dog is limping and has been for quite a few weeks now.  Sometimes she seems better and then, inexplicably worse.  There is no rhyme or reason, only worry.

So we’re going to start her on anti-inflammatory medicine and then, if she’s not better, she’ll have x-rays and I refuse to think about what might happen after that except that if you see a middle-aged woman with a beautiful dog on the street corner holding a sign that says, “HELP!  MY DOG NEEDS SURGERY!” you’ll know it’s me.

That reminds me.  My kids and I once had a contest while we drove around in our mini-van.  We tried to come up with the best slogan to put on a cardboard sign for begging purposes.  (There are a lot of people on street corners around here who beg.  Is it just here?  Because our weather is so nice?  Or are these people everywhere now?)

Some suggested slogans for signs:

“Sick baby.  Homeless.  Help.”
“Need medicine for Grandma.  Help.”
“Need money to surf.  Help.”  (Okay, just kidding on that one.)

What’s your best slogan for a sign?  Best to be prepared just in case you need to beg someday.

 

What I did instead of going to the beach on this fine day

My daughter begged me to buy bunk beds at a garage sale quite a few years ago.  We crammed the white metal beds into the back of a van and dragged them upstairs to her room.  She’s had them ever since.

Last year, she thought it would be better to unstack the bunk beds so she’d have two separate beds.  I knew this was a terrible idea because of the lack of floor space but she insisted.  Ever since, her room has been an obstacle course, made worse by the fact that she has an emotional attachment or special memory assigned to everything she’s ever accumulated.  Also, she has a tiny hoarding problem.  (Stuffed animals!  Dollies!  Head bands!)

Recently, she decided she would like to get rid of one bed.  I suggested that maybe we should removed both bunk beds and then move a spare daybed from the boys’ room into her room.  So that was the plan for today.

I am a sequential and thorough rearranger, so I knew it would be an ordeal.  And since there was no school today, we tackled the chore.

Let’s just say that two hours into the seven hour task, she lost steam.  She petered out.  She would have flopped onto her bed while I dug through piles but her room had no beds in it.

But despite her lethargy and my eventual exhaustion, we did it.  We moved the bunk beds into the garage.  I took apart the daybed and then reassembled it in her room.  We sorted and purged (a little) and repacked and restacked.  It’s not perfect, not quite the thorough job I’d hoped to do, but it’s enough.

And now that I’m thoroughly exhausted, it’s time for a new week of school and soccer and lacrosse and work and driving kids around.

Yay!

 

A complete life

For once, she’s not posing . . .

I’ve spent the last two days with Chatty Cathy chattering in my ear.  At least that’s how it feels.  (Frankly, I’m exhausted.)

On Friday, I invited her to accompany me to the beach to see the sunset.  She quickly accepted my offer so off we went, racing the clock to arrive before the sun disappeared beyond the horizon.

Looks serene, right?  It was not.  (Fun, but not serene.)

This child only stops chattering when she is singing.

She makes up songs (“Mom is grumpy . . . Mom is lumpy . . . “) and occasionally she makes me laugh out loud at her quick wit.

That’s all she needs. The reinforcement keeps her going until sometimes I snap at her.  She immediately pouts and I feel exasperated and repentant.

And then she resumes her shenanigans.

Walking on the beach with this kid is not peaceful.  You cannot contemplate anything while she’s keeping up a running commentary.

When I attempt to take a pensive picture of her gazing at the horizon, she busts out the jazz hands.  She jumps and struts and runs from my camera (which is really just my iPhone).

That’s why this picture is a minor miracle.

*

Today had to buy a birthday gift for her friend, so we went to Michael’s.

It was when we were leaving Michael’s that she told me that she requires four things for her life to be complete.

She wants:

1)  To live in Michael’s since it’s her favorite store and has all her favorite stuff.  (Rainbow loom rubber-bands and decorative duct tape, for instance.)

2)  To become a famous singer.

3)  To have a money tree so she can grow her own money.

4)  To own a “teacup” pig, which apparently is a really small pig that can fit into a teacup.

A girl has got to dream, I guess.  And this girl is dreaming out loud.

 

Merry-go-round

This is the face of merry, is it not?

She’s always been a fan of the merry-go-round.

The photo of this joyful face was taken almost seven years ago.

Where does the time go?

Around and around and around and before you know it, your babies aren’t babies anymore.

Quickly, before I go

I wash dishes at breakneck speed, only rarely breaking them.  And I hardly ever cut myself on knives as I swish the sponge over the blade.

When I walk, it’s as if I’m competing for first place.  My kids trail behind me like ducklings.

I read fast.  I type fast.  I drive fast though I haven’t been ticketed for twenty years.

I make snap judgments.  I decide quickly–once I have all the facts.  I watch television after it’s been recorded so I can fast-forward through the commercials.

I’m not sure why I’ve always been in such a hurry, but even back when I was nine I was proud of the fact that I was the fastest girl runner in the fourth grade. I finished my tests first.  I learned my multiplication facts before everyone else in my third grade class.

Traffic lights turn green and my foot is already pressing the gas pedal.  Let’s go!  I’m a toe-tapping, finger-drumming, heavy sigher.  I just can’t quite understand why everyone else is moving so slowly.  Come on, I think.  Let’s GO!

And then yesterday, as I was rushing from somewhere to somewhere else, I had a fleeting thought.  (My thoughts, they flee sometimes, like they’re being chased.)

I thought how aggravating it must be for my kids to have a mom whose default speed is 80 MPH when they are happy to tootle along at 25 MPH.  And I thought that maybe it would be a relief to me to just acknowledge that some people are meant to move along at a less frantic pace.

Some people are meant to linger, to loiter, to meander.

Some people want to take the circuitous route for whatever nonsensical reason.  (I always figure out the fastest route, don’t you?)  It’s not a race.

So I’m going to try to stop judging the slowpokes among us.  I’m going to try to stop yelling at those cars that drive like there’s a Department of Motor Vehicles evaluator in the passenger seat.  I’m going to try to stop sighing at people who just get in my way with their unhurried, impossibly leisurely dawdling.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run upstairs to sleep really fast so I can get a million things done tomorrow.

Bloom where you’re a grown up

I don’t even know what this is but it’s blooming in my backyard!

I remember saying long ago that spring should arrive directly after Christmas.

And lo and behold, here in San Diego County, after Christmas comes spring!  My  Gerber daisy is in bloom as are the African daisies.  I have bulbs emerging in a pot.  Tomorrow it’s supposed to be close to eighty degrees.

Eighty degrees!

That’s not because of spring, actually, but because of Santa Ana winds which start in the desert and rush down the mountains toward the sea.  It’s very dry here–my hands haven’t felt this dry since we lived in frigid northern Michigan winters–and so the fire danger is high, they say.  Aside from that, how about those temperatures?

I’d really like to play hooky and sit at the beach and read a thick novel but, alas, that is not meant to be.

Why?  Because I am a grown up and grown ups have to work and take their kids to school and pick their kids up from school and drive their kids to soccer practice and wash dishes and cook dinner and make sure that everyone has clean socks.

Note to self:  Next time, read the fine print before agreeing to be a grown up.

Forty-niner

This is my birthday month.  I’m turning forty-nine.  Does that sound old to you?  It sounds old to me even though I will insist that “old” people are at least eighty or ninety or maybe a hundred.  But mathematically, forty-nine is practically fifty and fifty is twenty years old than thirty and didn’t thirty seem like a grown-up age when you were thirty?  I’m old enough to have children who are doctors and lawyers and who have children of their own.  (Not that my own children do because they aren’t old enough for such things but mathematically, you know, it’s possible.)

I’m at the age where plain old eyeglasses are no longer adequate.  The eye doctor has set me up with progressive contact lenses.  This last time, he gave me a lens for my left eye that will help me see up close and a lens for the right that sees distances.  The issue is that I see blurry when I’m driving, especially at night.  And I’m the kind of person who will put a hand over one eye and then the next to figure out which eye is not working right.  So if you see a woman driving with one hand over her left eye, then one hand over her right, you’ll know why.  I’m trying to figure out which eye is making things blurry.

I can see up close perfectly fine without any lenses or glasses, so I’d rather see perfectly at a distance.  I can always  use reading glasses to undo what the contact lenses have done.  At night I take out my contacts and wear glasses for distances.  I take them off while I’m reading. I just really want to see the signs when I’m driving.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  It is, however, awfully complicated.

Yeah, so this is what it’s like being oldish.  You start talking about your ailments and frailties and it’s super boring for you whippersnappers.  But why are you reading an old lady blog anyway?  That’s the question.

I thought it would be fun to use this month to recall moments from days gone by.  I thought maybe I’d start today with my earliest memories and move forward through the years but as fate would have it, I spent all my time and space talking about my eyesight, so an actual story will have to wait until tomorrow.

Try to contain your enthusiasm.  At least I didn’t mention what happens at my advanced age when you cough.  Ha.  (Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about.)

Now get to bed.  You need your beauty rest!  (Or if you’re reading this in the morning . . . Good morning, Merry Sunshine!  You look so dewy and well-rested this morning!)

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