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.

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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.)

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.

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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.


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.



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.



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.

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