Sunday afternoon puttering

I spent most of the afternoon puttering around my office, cleaning out drawers and sorting through junk mail and carrying baskets of my kids’ clothing to their rooms.  I’m so sick of my office being a family closet.  The laundry room is next to my office, so doing the laundry is super convenient.  I really don’t mind it at all.

But I draw the line at 1) bringing dirty laundry downstairs and 2) returning clean, folded laundry upstairs.  Weirdly, all of my kids don’t seem to find it even slightly inconvenient to come downstairs every morning to find a clean bath towel and an outfit for the day.  (A normal mother might insist that the children carry their laundry baskets of clean clothes to their rooms.  Why don’t I do that?  I don’t know.  Send a therapist.)

Anyway, it was out of hand.  My office looked like an unorganized Goodwill store minus the mismatched kitchenware and cash register.  If, in fact, a Goodwill store allowed shedding dogs inside.

Puttering takes a surprising amount of time and energy, so by early evening, I was reading in bed until I felt drowsy.  Then I took a nap, the kind of long nap visited by dreams.  This nap exceeded the length generally recommended by sleep experts.  For sure.

When I woke up, I coughed a bit which was weird because my lingering cough had all but disappeared.

Then, while working later tonight, I noticed that my throat seemed not-normal and that’s when I realized that maybe I’m getting sick again.

I hope I’m not getting sick again.

For one thing, I need to undecorate this week and other fun stuff.

Oh, but in other news, here’s a picture from the sunset the other night:

Carlsbad, California

We’d just gotten to the beach and I spied this seagull flying our direction and managed to snap an iPhone photo. It’s a minor miracle that the bird isn’t blurry since I took the photo so quickly.

After the festivities

Seems like I just spent a day putting up Christmas decorations and now it’s time to take them down.  I didn’t even have time to get sick of them.

Christmas Day was a rousing success.  Everyone received something they loved and there were no fistfights.  Actually, there are never any fistfights here but isn’t that a reason to rejoice?  No fistfights?

I’m back to work but the kids are on school break, of course, until January 6/7 (depending on which kid you are).  The older kids are back to work tomorrow.  Me, too.  My husband, too.  Too bad we can’t just all stay in our pajamas and eat cut-out cookies and nap and play games and read for another two or three weeks.  Or months.

But instead, the Christmas tree beckons and not to revel in its glory.  No.  It’s time to undecorate and return to a life devoid of twinkly lights.

Merry Christmas

We’ve developed a sort-of Christmas Eve tradition.

Our church service begins at 5:00 PM and at this time of year, the sun sets at about 4:40 PM, so we go to the beach to watch the sunset before heading to church (with sand in our shoes).  It’s kind of weird (no chestnuts or open fires, no sleigh bells or snowman or winter wonderlands) but wonderful.

Now, the sky is dark and the children are sleeping or feigning sleep.

Now it’s time to fill stockings and arrange a few more gifts under the tree.

Now it’s time to pause for a moment in recognition of the blessed life we have.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve wishes



It’s Christmas Eve.  Technically, anyway.  I have yet to get to bed, so when I wake up it will be Christmas Eve.

Anyway, when you read this, it will be Christmas Eve, so I want to wish you a Happy Christmas Eve.

I hope your cookies are baked, your presents are wrapped and your holiday preparations are complete.

As for me, my presents are mostly wrapped.  At least one has yet to arrive, so I’m hoping for a last-minute delivery tomorrow.

(Can I just give a shout-out to Costco wrapping paper?  I love it so much.  A roll lasts forever . . . unlike some of the rolls you get at other places.)

I baked some cookies tonight and have cut-out cookie dough in the fridge ready to roll out and bake.  Last night, I made homemade marshmallows–I got the idea from Carmen–and tonight I drank a cup of hot cocoa featuring a giant square marshmallow.

I feel surprisingly ready for Christmas.

I haven’t written a Christmas letter but I hope to write something this week.  It’ll be a New Year’s letter.  So, if you’re waiting for that mythical Christmas letter from me, don’t fret.

Merry Christmas Eve!  May visions of sugar-plums dance in your head.

Christmas on Balboa Island

Sunset on Balboa Island.

Tomorrow, I’ll add some words to these pictures.  What fun we had!

Disappearing time

I’m fairly technologically savvy.  I use an iPhone calendar to keep meetings straight and Cozi to send myself the occasional reminder.  But the truth is that without the paper calendar book that permanently sits on my desk, I would be lost.

With a busy husband, two working sons, a high schooler and a pre-teen daughter who never met an activity she didn’t want to join, scrawled notations fill every square of every week.  I rely on the calender to know when to drive the boys to work, when my daughter needs to be at soccer, when I have to work unusual hours and everything else.  And there is a lot of “everything else.”

With only ten days left in the year, I have discovered something troubling.

My calender only goes to December 22.  I can’t understand this.  Isn’t not like I even bought this calendar on sale or anything.

I have a new calendar that starts on January 1, 2014.  I’m inexplicably excited about having a brand new, clean and shiny calendar.

The only problem is getting from here to there.

Fortunately, Problem Solver is my name and, um, Solving Problems is my game.

If you’ll excuse me now, I need to print out a piece of paper showing December 23 to December 31 so I don’t get lost along the way.

I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas

When I ask my kids what they miss about living in Washington State, the youngest two say “Snow.”

Snow.  Really?  Snow?

Snow rarely fell in Washington State (unless you were in the mountains), unlike it had in Michigan when we lived there for four years.  In Michigan, the snow began in October one year and we never saw the grass again until March.

That is one long winter, especially without the Internet and twin toddler boys in a house on ten acres.

But in Seattle, snow would fall maybe once a year, possibly twice.  It would stick around for a week, usually less.  Just enough for a snow day or two, dozens of car accidents, hysterical news stories on every local network, and a few muddy snowmen pockmarked with leaves.  Then it would turn to slush, the slush would melt, then refreeze into ice, and then it would rain again, much to relief of native Pacific Northwesterners everywhere.

But it clearly made an impression on the kids.

Rain fell today in San Diego.  The house was shadowy from the clouds, darker than normal.  I wanted to curl up with a quilt and a book (but instead, I worked all day).

When it rains here, I instinctively brace myself for weeks of wet feet and gloomy skies.

But tomorrow it will be sunny again.

This happy girl might be dreaming of a White Christmas, but she’ll have to be content with remembering wacky snowman she created from inches of fallen snow.


Good Night Moon

Tonight while driving home, I glimpsed a golden sphere in the distance and thought for a moment that I was looking at a water tower lit completely by Christmas lights.  When I realized I was seeing a giant golden moon, I wanted to find a place to pull over so I could (badly) capture the sight with my iPhone camera, but of course, I was trapped in a line of cars and the next thing I knew, clouds blotted out that moon.

I have become totally enamored by the sun and the moon.  I want to spend every sunset and moonrise on a beach or mountaintop so I can watch them slip up and then down the horizon.  I spent so much of my life in the Pacific Northwest where a ceiling of clouds hides the drama of the sun and moon.  I’m making up for lost time.

(Picture from 2011)

So, today I finally wrapped some gifts and made a list (and checked it twice). Only a couple more days of school and we can all take a giant sigh of relief. I can’t wait to have a break from driving kids here, there and everywhere.

I asked my 15-year old what his ideal Christmas Day would look like and his complete answer was this: Coconut Cream Pie.

So, I guess I’ll be making Christmas pie . . . and thus begins a brand new tradition. (I made Coconut Cream Pie for the first time ever for Thanksgiving.)

What does your ideal Christmas Day look like?

Pelicans and surfers

In another Christmas miracle, I had a chance to go to the Oceanside pier this afternoon for a brief visit.






In which I do not get 100% or a gold star

Every two weeks, my 11-year old and I meet with her supervisory teacher.  Grace attends a public charter school and does most of her coursework at home, like a homeschooler, except that she is accountable for her attendance and progress to the public school.  She’s been doing this for three years now.  And before that, her older brothers were enrolled in a similar school.

All told, I’ve had at least one kid doing “school at home” for ten years.

I can’t even begin to express how tired I am of supervising kids as they do school work.  But even worse–much, much, much worse–are the meetings with the teacher.

The teacher is nice enough and maybe under other circumstances we’d be friends, but how I dread those meetings with her!  First of all, we have to get all Grace’s work sorted and documented and hole-punched.  Inevitably, I realize that I hadn’t really checked up on her most recent literature lessons and she’s been working independently and I have no idea what she’s really done.  And then I find that she’s missing a lesson here or there, or maybe not a whole lesson, but just a worksheet.  This always comes as a complete shock to me and somewhat of a mystery to my daughter.

This all happens in the hours before we’re to go to the meeting, so I turn into a frantic robot, trying to hurry her along, trying to will her to work faster and more efficiently and without any mistakes.

I say extremely pointless things like, “Why didn’t you do that?” and “Where is that paper?” and “Did you write down those vocabulary words?” and “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Inevitably, my 11-year old pouts.  She can’t help it, really, because I’ve become a lunatic and question her imperfection.  No one is perfect.  I know this.  I demonstrate this as I try to gather the material for meeting day.

I just hate it.

I hate it all.

So today we focused on History because the last time we met with the teacher, she told us we needed to do better in History.  So today we ran through each lesson, filled out every worksheet completely, corrected errors, discussed Sam Adams and George Washington and Thomas Paine.  We were totally 100% ready.  For History.

The teacher, however, focused on Literature.

That’s how it always goes.  She finds our weaknesses, the subject we glossed over, the frayed spots in the fabric of our schooling experience.  Grace sits with a terrified look on her face, unable to describe the reason Rip Van Winkle was written.

The good thing is that we have one more week of school and then two glorious weeks off.

The bad thing is that we have another five months of school at home.

The good thing is that my daughter is learning a lot.

The bad thing is that I am LOSING MY MIND.

My husband says I will miss this, that I will lament the passing of this time but I think he’s wrong.  I haven’t really been alone in my own house for twenty years.  I have the opposite of empty nest syndrome and I think it will be the antidote to whatever comes next when all these kids have flown the coop.

But what do I know?  (Certainly not what the supervisory teacher is asking.)

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