Monday, March 31, 2008

Crowd Control

I spent most of my Sunday, 10:40-5:00, attending the "final four" basketball games of my biggest boy. I love watching him play basketball. The games only last an hour, they are fast moving, and always changing.

Most of his talent stems from the fact that I was voted MVP of my 8th grade junior varsity team. I was queen of the right handed lay up. Evidently the varsity coach didn't agree. I was happy though to play on JV as opposed to sitting on the bench on varsity.

My son often asks why I never played basketball in high school. I had to tell him that they didn't have any teams lower than freshman girls basketball, and I wasn't good enough to even make that.

My son's last game was played against a team from Las Vegas, the Fury...ooh. The mothers and fathers were adorned in white hooded sweatshirts which had a gigantic photo of their child screen printed on to the front with his number. Very proud parents.

The teams were equally matched and we were both playing for a chance at 3rd place. One man from their team was asked to shut his pie hole or he would get thrown out of the gym. Our teams parents are generally more quiet, shouting out a "Go Knights!" every now and then, and clapping when a basket is made. That is the extent of our cheering. Nothing too boisterous or attention grabbing.

The Fury's parents were ridiculous. There was one grandma who was shouting the entire time in a voice needed if you are a firefighter yelling for people to get away from a burning building. We stared at her enough to make her move her seat next to the other shouter on the team.

The other shouter yelled so loud that the boys from another team who were sitting below her, waiting to participate in the next game, kept turning around to stare at her. Even her fellow parent folk were amazed.

By the last quarter their team was up by 10 and it didn't look too good for our team. This gave the screamers even more fuel. At this point they began stomping their feet against the wooden bleachers, clapping, and shouting more loudly. Absurd. We just shook our heads.

Their team won. No thanks to the shouters. Our boys couldn't buy a basket.

If you ever see me at one of my child's sporting events, shouting more loudly than any other parents who's child is on the team, please tap me on the shoulder and tell me to shut it. I'm sure that my husband and child would be grateful, as well as the other parents sitting around me.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Falling Star of the Week

The shining light among the darkness sitting on the other side of today, and the fact that all people under the age of 40 are returning to school, is the fact that my six year old is the "Star of the Week." Since his name begins with the letter "T" he happens to be the last child to soak in the honor of being the kindergarten class "Star of the Week."

As parents, we didn't think about the whole alphabetical thing when naming our children. Our poor, poor, eleven year old has a letter "Z" first name and a letter "V" last name. He will forever be bitter, and last in line.

As we assembled the "Star of the Week" poster which needs to be presented tomorrow, my kindergartner carefully selected photos which showed his very best moments. He was reluctant to use any baby photos and was embarrassed by those revealing his irresistible rolls and chubbiness. He chose one family photo, but the rest of the pictures were just of him in his baseball gear, jumping into a pool, his school photo, and one of him wearing motorcycle gear.

He stuck stickers every where, those relating to race cars, jets, electric guitars (?), and quads, and after completion, gave his poster the "thumbs up," obviously anxious to unveil it in the morning.

At the very end of assembly, I received a photo from my friend Sarah which was deemed "a must" for the poster. It was taken at our infamous beach day on Friday and it was a great shot of our three boys. As my six year old looked at the photo, and I cut it out to glue on to the poster, he asked if I could cut our youngest out of the picture. I glared at him, disturbed with his request, and he sullenly replied, "No, right?"

He is not right. His star has just fallen.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

No One Died

God is so good. My beach trip with nine children went smoother than I could have ever imagined. (See previous post) How do people go through life without God and prayer?

The weather was SPECTACULAR...71, the sun was bright, the water creatures were crawling, the parking was easy, the pizza was delicious, no one argued, the pool was heated, my girlfriend had chocolate waiting for me, no one got sunburned, no one cried, except on the way home when my 4 year old niece wet her pants a little and we had to detour to a bathroom. Even that was okay because I took her to a Starbucks and grabbed a coffee for myself and my mother. The traffic was miserable, but I was amazingly calm, AND we got home at 5:00 where parents were waiting.

The whole day only cost me $34.00, but it cost my mother some money too. My friend Sarah and her big girl climbed around the tide pools with us and the adult conversation was wonderful. We then adventured to my girlfriends pool while Sarah stayed at the tide pools and beach where a shirtless, college age, guy stood on a cliff lifting weights, rock weights. People are interesting.

All the kids were already showered with soap and clean from the pool showers, AND, my dear husband greeted my at the door with a pink box. I love pink boxes. Really it was brown, but when I say pink, you can already guess that it came from a bakery, the Great Dane Baking Company. He is so smart.

We rented "I am Legend" (good) and ate dessert (I had the tiramisu) while the kids slept. Not bad, not bad at all, however, I will not be signing up for that expedition again anytime soon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sympathy Vote?

My plans for today have snowballed. At the beginning of the week I had planned on taking my four children to the tide pools down at the beach to look for, and poke around at, unsuspecting sea creatures. The plan was then to get lunch and perhaps meet up with a friend of mine to swim in her heated pool since the beach weather was not going to be promising. (55 degree water temp. and 61 degree air temp)

Place your seats in the upright position and make sure that your seat belt is securely fastened. As of right now, my mother and I are taking NINE children on our family jaunt. I think that my mom regrets telling my, "Hey, I'd like to go with you" on Monday night when the plans were taking shape. Now there is no way that she is backing out of assisting in "Linda's not-so-famous Beach Excursion Child Care."

My sister-in-laws both needed child care help today so that added three kids. My daughter attended a sleepover last night and thought it would be fun to invite the two girls she is sleepovering with, to the beach. That added two more. Throw my four into the mix and we now have nine children and two adults.

My friend Sarah is coming too. I am not telling her about the extra bodies. I do not want to scare her away. I need her adult conversation.

So, here I sit, in the calm before the pandemonium, asking for the biggest sympathy vote you can find. Although, if I win your vote, I may sleep through the awards dinner, and I'll certainly need a vacation immediately following.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How Not to Save Money

While other families are at the river, enjoying 90 degree weather and boating to hearts contest, others are skiing in Mammoth, swimming in Palm Springs, or scurrying around San Diego, our family is sitting in the house playing Webkinz until 11:00, watching Sponge Bob, and trying to figure out a different activity for each day of this, our Easter break, without have to sell our house in order to cover the cost. Where does every one get their money?

On day three of "time off from school" we scheduled a visit to the movie to see "College Road Trip." (cute...I have a 14 year old daughter...I cried) Knowing that the movie would cost over $50.00 I refused to buy fast food for lunch.
(I didn't want to spend the money, and thought that my kids' bodies would buckle at one more serving of fried food) I offered a trip to the grocery store and let them choose a frozen meal or canned delicacy. As if the nutritional value was so much better than a Big Mac and fries. Maybe the anesthesia from my stitches has gone to my brain. Hopefully.

$43.00 dollars later, everyone, my four kids, a friend, and my niece, had chosen their meals. What was I thinking? Now, I had to return home and cook six meals. What was I thinking? Two chose Mac n' Cheese (this was a college staple in my apartment and still tasty) Two, Claim Jumper fried chicken meals, two, cans of "Chef Whatever" shells and meatballs, and soda for all. I wasn't stopping at shelf stable life of seventeen years. Soda was a great addition to the preservatives and orange #8 food coloring.

No one died from the amount of calories, fat, and additives they ingested, and popcorn for the movies was a definite "no." On the way home I had to stop at the store again, to purchase mozzarella cheese for lasagna. (That's how I work. I have to go to the store every day, or twice a day because I never know what I am going to cook for dinner) My mother ran into the store while I stayed in the car with the kids. In addition to the cheese, she bought a package of Double Stuff Oreos. My daughter quickly grabbed the package, peeled open the top, and passed them around the car. After our two mile drive home, half of the cookies were gone.

I hope that my kids have steel lined stomachs.

Today they are going to get bowls of broccoli, after their Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nice Catch

I did some time in urgent care last night. Don't fret. In my attempts to catch a falling, large bladed, freshly sharpened, knife, I cut the side of my hand. Natural instinct can fail sometimes.

It was nothing too major, but enough bleeding to warrant a visit to urgent care. This suggestion was made by my firefighter neighbor, and, I do everything he suggests which is medically related.

This makes my seventh cut over the past ten years, with three cuts requiring stitches. I cook too many meals at home.

Upon entering the urgent care facility at 7:40, I cringed. There were 10 people waiting to be treated, however, I was armed with three magazines and a pad of paper. I stopped an exiting patient to survey the wait time - two hours.

Ten minutes later I was weighed, blood pressured, and sent to wait in the procedure room, ahead of the other waiters. I felt a little guilty, but not too much.

One hour and six stitches later I was released. I'm glad that in comparison to all of the flu, strep, and sinus infections they had been dealing with since 5:00, my procedure was, and I quote doctor Nicolls, "fun." I was happy to entertain.

I have strict instructions: no soaking in dish water, surfing, swimming, or bathing kids. I'm going to have to rearrange my to-do list. I was planning on surfing and washing dishes and all day today.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Eggsplaining Easter Eggs

Last time I purchased eggs it happened to be Easter morning. Since I was too lazy to change into grocery store attire I slipped on a jacket and drove to a local dairy complete with a drive-thru. This is the closest thing we have to a drive through grocery store which by the way, I pay possibly double for the convenience of wearing my pajamas and slippers to purchase eggs. Bring it!

My husband was craving homemade, chocolate chip pancakes, and since we were one day post his birthday I figured I would volunteer for the trip. All of the other eggs were hard boiled and dyed.

When I arrived at the dairy a middle eastern man sauntered to my car door and asked, "What can I get you?" I felt stupid requesting a dozen eggs on Easter morning as if I was the only person in my city unprepared for egg dying? However, I knew full well that the eggs were for pancakes and I was prepared with an explanation.

"Today is Easter?" he asked.
"Yes" I replied, "But the eggs are really for pancakes."
"What do you do with the eggs?"
I assumed he meant in regards to Easter and not pancakes.
"Oh, we boil them until they are hard, and put them in the grass for the kids to find."

I think that this concept was harder for him to believe than our Messiah dying on a cross and resurrecting on the third day.

"But you paint them."
"Yes, we dye the eggs first, after they are boiled, and then we hide them in the grass for the children to find."

I believe he thought I was drunk, either that or on high doses of specially formulated, blue colored, Kool Aid.

He handed me my change, and I drove away, concerned with the impression I left with a middle-eastern man living in America. I'm just another one of those crazy Christians who, in addition to carrying out a wacky tradition of hiding hard-boiled eggs in the grass for small children to locate and collect, believes in a God who walked the Earth in human form, sacrificed His life for my sins, rose from the dead, and is coming again some day to carry me off to Heaven. Crazy Christian I am. A life eternal I posses, and truly, the eggs were for the pancakes.

Cold Cash

My sister-in-law and I always exchange money for birthdays. It seems funny though, that I send her money on March 23rd and two weeks later she sends me the same amount. It would probably be easier if we both just sent a card and called it a wash however, we each have a particular way of dealing with our birthday money.

My husband takes any money that he receives for his birthday and deposits it into the checking account. This results in his birthday money being spent on bills, paper towels, or underpants for the little ones. In essence, his money has now become community property. He is unaffected - much less selfish than I am.

My sister-in-law and I treat the money that is obviously ours, quite differently than my husband. We cash the checks at the bank and combine it with the other cash we have received. Don’t think for a moment though that we have numerous friends and family donating money to our birthday fund. We safely tuck the money away in a special location in our purse, not wallet to be used for our needs only. No one is allowed to touch the money. This is possibly the only time that our accounting records are nearly perfect.

I suppose I could learn a thing or two from my husband and his charity. In that case, my children would have new shorts for the spring and I would have nothing. I think last year’s shorts are in perfect condition. Short, 1970’s style shorts for boys are making a comeback, at least in our house.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Eve Service

"He is not here; he has risen!..." Luke 24:6

I cannot remember the last time that our family attended an Easter service on Sunday morning. I cannot remember the last time our family attended a church service on Sunday morning. Ever since Saddleback Church has offered a Saturday night service, we have attended.

At first this non-traditional approach to church attendance was odd and strange, but we have come to enjoy our family time on Saturday nights as well as our lounging time on Sunday morning, though it took some getting used to.

Today is Easter. The "baskets" sit waiting for all of the members of the family to wake. The youngest child is impatient and asks every three minutes if he can wake up the other members of the family so that he can dive into his Easter goods. I tell him no, yet his persistence breaks me. I went so far as to show him the inside of his basket so that he could see the array of candy and treats, but my motives failed. The wrapped gift beckons his removal.

Sitting among the baskets is a card marked, "Babe-O." That's me. A card from my husband, with some sort of gift card included. I know this because I bent it, and felt something hard.

I have nothing for my husband in the form of Easter greetings. His birthday was yesterday and in the midst of the festivities I failed to purchase an Easter treat for him. I hope that he understands. I am very thrown off this year with his birthday falling so close to Easter. I hope that excuse works. I may have some making up to do - I'm just saying.

And so to all a Happy Easter, and, eat some Peeps. They are the perfect Easter treat.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Birthday Celebration Traditions

Today is the first day of the birthday "start your engines." Since my daughter's birthday is in December, we have a small break before the rest of the family celebrates their birthday. I won't even talk about December birthdays. That is a whole other post. We have three in the family.

My husband starts the ball rolling with his birthday, today. My birthday is in two weeks, my one son has a birthday at the end of April, the other son celebrates at the end of May, and our biggest boy has to wait until July. Whew!

We have one tradition which started when my husband and I married, which takes place on every birthday celebrated in our home. The night before, we hang a "Happy Birthday" sign across the blank wall in our dining room. Balloons are placed on every blade of the ceiling fan over the dining room table, and more balloons are stuck with tape to the walls, and blown up and scattered on the floor.

When the birthday boy or girl awakes, and enters the balloon filled room, they see all of their presents on the table. We wrap everything from their favorite box of cereal to a new pair of flip flops, just so it looks like they have a lot of presents. Tricky, and disappointing if you are the present receiver.

Our CD player is loaded with the Beatles "Happy Birthday" song and all of us sing while the presents are being opened. The rest of the day, unless the birthday person is at school or work, is treated to their choice of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It is a small tradition, but a tradition none the less. My husband just woke up...I have to load the CD player and start the birthday engine.

What are your birthday traditions?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Big - Noise - Good

On the last Friday of the month we all listen intently for the sound of the brooms and vacuums rustling down our street. The street sweeper arrives in the morning and the three boys rush to the front window, the biggest window in the house, to catch of glimpse of the monstrous machine swirling leaves and sticks under it's gigantic wheels.

Today was that day. As we all sat, still in our pajamas without any clock beckoning our get-up-and-go-to-school, my husband announced, "Street sweeper!!" As they do every time, the boys rushed to the window looking up and down the street anticipating the roar. My daughter joined in, but was completely unenthusiastic.

The boys jumped up and down as it came into view, sweeping its way along the curb, and returned to their cold bowls of Coco Puffs cereal while my daughter shook her head and said, "I'll never understand."

I smiled as I made the bed thinking to myself, "I am so glad that she and I have each other." It is true, we will never understand the draw of a loud vehicle parading down the street, why making large amounts of noise for no apparent reason is "fun," and what is so special about shiny wheels on a huge fire truck. However, we will understand the thrill of finding a good deal on a great pair of shoes. We both get that.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Aree eue kidin mee?

WOW! A gigantic apology for failing to spell check my previous post. Honestly, I did spell check and whoopsie, things didn't change like they should have. Blaming it on the computer and the folks at Blogger this time. Next time I realize that I am on my own.

I was in a great hurry this morning and failed to read over my post upon exiting from my blog. To some of you I must have appeared like a 2nd grade drop out, or worse, lazy looser when it comes to spelling words correctly.

I once sent home a spelling list for my fourth graders that had a word misspelled. A parent had to notify me. Opps. Humbling.

All is fixed. All is checked. But I'm not saying that it will never happen again. Imperfection doesn't make appointments. Shucks!

P.S. I just fixed it, posted it, viewed it, and it was STILL messed up. It WAS a Blogger issue!!! I had to put it into a WORD document in order to post it without misspellings.

Thou Shalt Flush

I live with men. Men who lift toilet seats. Little men who forget that the seat goes down when they are finished and the handle must be moved to the flush position. My biggest man, the real man by definition, is fantastic at following the rules of toilet etiquette. He was raised my a man who loves all things clean and was especially concerned with modeling seat down and flush procedures.

Normally, this is not the case. Most men, especially in a public restroom audience, let their laziness fly and perhaps even go beyond leaving seats up and toilets unflushed when left on their own.

I found myself in a situation which required my using a restroom that was gender neutral. Sauntering to the door, a gentleman exited and my shoulders drooped. I assumed the worst. I imagined having to kick the toilet seat down with my shoe to avoid any and all contact with the white plastic, water splashes covering the sink area, the used seat requiring a wipe down from a crisp seat cover, and my nose and mouth having to be switched from the "breathe normally" position, the the "breathe heavily through the mouth to block all smells from entering the nostrils" position. I knew, without a doubt, that a lot of work was waiting for me on the other side of the bathroom door.

To my surprise, the seat was down and the cover was even shut. The "freshen up" bottle was recently misted throughout, and the sink was shiny, and free from water drops. I smiled, mystified, and thrilled that this man had his toilet etiquette in proper priority. I hope that he is married. Women love proper toilet etiquette. I need to send his mother and father a thank you note.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Airborn Zzzzz

How is it that a one hour plane flight can result in seven people falling asleep? I witnessed this phenomenon recently and my assumption is that in order for these people to fall into a deep sleep they must have:

A: A best friend named "High Doses of Vicodin"
B: Missed the previous nights sleep
C: An acute case of narcolepsy
D: Been too drunk to even know that they were traveling on an airplane

I cannot fall asleep on an airplane. I'm afraid that I will miss an "out your window and to the right" highlight pointed out by the pilot from the overhead speaker, miss out on my free beverage, or worse, have to pass up the free snack being offered.

I love all things free this side of junk mail and those annoying reply card that shower my lap upon opening a new magazine.

If ever I find myself flying to Australia at 3a.m. after a turkey dinner, and a double dose of Benedryl, I may fall asleep. In that case I'll be sure to leave a stickie note on my tray table with the instructions: "Please place my free snack and beverage here."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's that you Say?

Slogan shirts, hat, and sweatshirts are very popular. People have a need for others to know how they stand on issues, what appeals to them, and in some cases, the food that they prefer. I am not that concerned with making sure that every human being that I come in contact with, knows that "I [heart] NY," or want to shout to those around me, "Careful or you'll end up in my book." (That is actually true, but not public knowledge). More appropriately would be, "Watch it our I'll bolg about you." Consider yourself warned.

Although I have only purchased one slogan shirt in my mid-life, as a teenager, my drawers would be stuffed. My only slogan shirt has a picture of a rock and a ruler. The rock is saying, "you rule" and the ruler is saying, "you rock." I like to encourage others.

One of my son's favorite shirts states, "Save the Humans" with a big picture of a blue whale. He also loves his, "Future Rock Star" shirt, although, after trying the clarinet for exactly one school year has deemed playing an instrument "not his spiritual gift."

My daughter had so many shirts that I really cannot even remember one. Okay, maybe one. She is partial to her "Crazy like a fox" slogan shirt which is exactly opposite of her personality. She would never be considered for the "Craziest People" photo in her junior high yearbook. Crazy to her is painting her fingernails black - watch out.

While I enjoy reading people's t-shirts, and have chuckled now and again at certain slogans, I have only one rule: You are never allowed to wear a slogan t-shirt with a slogan hat, there is simple too much to read. I'm impatient like that. Plus, having to read that much information on a person's body would teeter on staring like a staker, and a stalker, I am not.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What's that you Say?

Slogan shirts, hat, and sweatshirts are very popular. People have a need for others to know how they stand on issues, what appeals to them, and in some cases, the food that they prefer. I am not that concerned with making sure that every human being that I come in contact with, knows that "I [heart] NY," or want to shout to those around me, "Careful or you'll end up in my book." (That is actually true, but not public knowledge). More appropriately would be, "Watch it our I'll bolg about you." Consider yourself warned.

Although I have only purchased one slogan shirt in my mid-life, as a teenager, my drawers would be stuffed. My only slogan shirt has a picture of a rock and a ruler. The rock is saying, "you rule" and the ruler is saying, "you rock." I like to encourage others.

One of my son's favorite shirts states, "Save the Humans" with a big picture of a blue whale. He also loves his, "Future Rock Star" shirt, although, after trying the clarinet for exactly one school year has deemed playing an instrument "not his spiritual gift."

My daughter had so many shirts that I really cannot even remember one. Okay, maybe one. She is partial to her "Crazy like a fox" slogan shirt which is exactly opposite of her personality. She would never be considered for the "Craziest People" photo in her junior high yearbook. Crazy to her is painting her fingernails black - watch out.

While I enjoy reading people's t-shirts, and have chuckled now and again at certain slogans, I have only one rule: You are never allowed to wear a slogan t-shirt with a slogan hat, there is simply too much to read. I'm impatient like that. Plus, having to read that much information on a person's body would teeter on staring like a staker, and a stalker, I am not.

Blog Blocked

As with most bloggers I have days when I have nothing to blog. While my adversaries will say that every time I post I have nothing to say, I am referring to the literal state of being without words.

As my friends Annie, Mel, and Sarah will tell you, the best way to overcome "blog block" is to attend a gathering.

A gathering consists of any number of people, ranging in age, from all walks of life. This gathering could be the library story hour or the waiting area at the car wash. In my case the gathering is a Christians writer's conference in Mt. Hermon - offering a plethora of blog worthy tails.

People are funny, odd, and eccentric. People create situations which are blog worthy thus opening a door with which your posting block or in my case, my posting block, can be busted open.

Today I come bearing advise, which requires no money down. Next time you have blog writers block, blog block, what Annie calls blogstipation, or postipation go forth and gather. It is there where you will find Weird Guy, Long Prayer, Tights Man, and Hat Lady, who will provide all the fodder needed for your next post.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Do You Hobo?

Every kid in America knows what a hobo is. Why? My little ones have pretended to be a hobo even though, for the record, we live near no known hobos. Also, for the record, our home is not decorated with velvet canvased framed pictures, with neon colors, of a sad clown dressed as a hobo. My husband is afraid of clowns and probably hobos, but I can't be certain.

I don't know why my little ones are familiar with hobos. Hobos are train jumpers who make a living eating off the land, and possibly other people's trash. They wear denim painter's overalls and carry their clothes wrapped in a bandanna, tied to a stick. I am a wealth of information and I am sure that you are terribly interested.

I have decided that modern day hobos would have a difficult time fitting their lap tops inside their bandannas, assuming they have lap tops.

I haven't seen any hobos lately, but next time my little ones decide to play dress up, I'll make sure that I have at least two sticks, and two red bandannas.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sit Down

When I have to find my seat in a larger room setting, typically I am a middle area, on the aisle, sitter. I usually do not sit in the back of the room because I am afraid that I am going to miss something. However, If I am in a situation where I do not want to be in the room where I am listening to someone speak, and I would rather be a hundred other places, then I will choose to sit in the back - in protest of my having to attend.

Today I sat in the front row. I was particularly interested in what the speakers were saying and like the perfect people pleaser, wanted to make a good impression on the speakers. As if they gave a hoot whether I sat in the front, middle, side, or just outside the front door with my ear pressed against the glass. Okay, maybe that would be a little creepy.

There were 20 seat in the front row of this seminar I was attending. There were 5 on the left side, 10 in the middle, and 5 on the right side. I chose a seat at the edge - front and center, such a kiss up.

I set my things down assuring everyone in attendance that I was sitting there and then went to greet an acquaintance. When I returned to my seat, a man had placed his body and things right next to me. There were six seats that were unoccupied next to mine, and still, he chose the seat right next to me. He was bordering on penetrating my personal space bubble, and I wanted to tell him to scoot over a seat, but I chickened out. I scooted my chair a bit to the left hoping to drop a hint but he had no intentions of grabbing a hint, no matter how direct and obvious.

I bared through his close existence, all the while holding back my bitterness. Remarkably I was able to concentrate.

Tomorrow, I will drape my jacket over two chairs, cross my fingers and toes, and hope that Mr. Space Invader plops down elsewhere, otherwise, I may have to drink a large coffee in the morning and mouth breathe all over him throughout the seminar.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Guilt

I hate guilt. Sarah said that I can only feel guilty if I do something wrong. I have done nothing wrong. I need to then get over my guilt. Right?

I am away for 5 days at a Christian writer's conference, soaking up information, and spending time in my own room, with no little people waking me in the wee hours, with no one who needs their needs met. I am refreshing, engaging with adults, and learning. I feel wonderful.

I eat when I want to, use my own restroom where the toilet paper is always stocked, go to bed when I feel like it even though that may be in the middle of the day, drink a cup of coffee at 2:00 because it is hot and ready, and have an ice cream cone at ten o'clock at night, because the cute little cafe' is open.

I will enjoy myself for the next five days, and tell all my guilt to "take a hike" There are plenty of trails nearby.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Darkness

I am not a big fan of waking up on a normal day in complete darkness. This time change has thrown everyone into a schedule kilter. We are eating dinner at 7, going to bed at 9, and waking up at 7:15 in a panicked frenzy.

My boy who always, no matter what the circumstance, wakes up at 6:15 a.m. is having to be jostled from his bed after 7:00. My biggest boy has to now set his alarm, because his mom is having trouble adjusting to the darkness and keeps staying bed because she thinks that it is too early to get out of bed.

We end up having Goldfish crackers and orange juice for breakfast in the car since the two items travel well, and are arriving to school with only four minutes to spare before the bell sounds.

My husband continues to insist that we will all get used to the time change in just a few short days, however, I am having difficulty believing him, based on my experience.

Easter break is around the corner. My guess is that everyone will get their body clocks adjusted just in time for vacation, when sleeping in is allowed. Chances are, it will then, that they will begin their early morning regime. Ugg.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Navy Blue Shorts and Black Jeans

I am the parent of a clothing creature of habit. My youngest wears the same black jeans every day of his life. If it is too hot to wear the black jeans, he wears a pair of navy blue cargo shorts. That is it. The black jeans from Old Navy have just received their first hole in the knee and it has now torn into a huge hole. My son is very sad. He explained to me that he needs another pair of black jeans. Goodie. Too bad he cannot fathom wearing the four other pair of jeans in his drawer. Evidently they are not dark enough.

I ventured to Old Navy in hopes of purchasing another pair of black jeans. They had nothing. He cried. He now wants me to drive to every Old Navy within a 20 mile radius and search for another pair of jeans. I refused. He cried more.

I am retiring the black jeans, when he is asleep, and unaware of my ploy. I will not send my child to school with ripped jeans that have been worn for the past three days in a row, so they need to exit our home at dusk. Trash day is tomorrow, so my plan is perfect. Black jeans=MIA.

We still have the navy blue shorts as a back up. I just hope that it doesn't suddenly snow in Orange County, otherwise, he may be the first child to attend preschool in his underwear.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wordless

I had to visit a friend who is unfortunately in the ICU in critical care. She went from flu, to pneumonia, to secondary infection, to critical care. This all happened between Monday and Saturday. The deterioration of her body occurred instantly.

I am not particularly fond of making hospital visits. It has nothing to do with the hospital or seeing people who are sick, I have a desperate problem with words. I never know how to act or what to say without sounding cliche and worthless. I often avoid the confrontation because of my weakness, but this time, since other friends were going to be there at the same time, forced myself to tend to the suffering of a dear friend and her family.

Her daughter happens to be close friends with my 11 year old son. We had previously shared a large amount of tears upon discovering that my friend may not come out of her illness. He hurt for his friend, while I hurt for not only his friend, but her sister, and dad.

As I grabbed my purse to leave for the hospital, he asked, "Do you think Katie will be there?" "I'm positive that Katie will be there." I replied. He then sat up straight in his chair and said, "Tell her...[long pause - searching for words].." He had no words. "Maybe you should make her a card." He nodded, and I left. It was refreshing to discover that I was not the only one who was wordless.

I asked a girlfriend to accomany me to her room as I could not face this alone. We cried as we washed our hands and she prepped me for the abnormal visual I was about to face. I had no words.

My girlfriend is stable. She has a long road of recovery ahead, several weeks in the hospital, and several weeks recovering at home. One day this will be a faint memory. I'm glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and swallowed my selfish intentions to stay away, and I went, even though I was wordless.

Monday, March 10, 2008

No Plans

Other than getting the kids to school on time and making sure that I was able to go for a jog in our beautiful weather, I had no plans. I love days like this, especially when the weekend consisted of three basketball games and two baseball games. "The weekend goes by so fast" was the complaint of my 11 year old. He's right.

Tomorrow is packed, but isn't that how it usually goes? From here on out, it is a whirlwind of baseball, school, my leaving for a writer's conference, visiting student teachers, homework, and everything else in between.

I will enjoy the rest of today, with no plans, and a house that is quiet - for the moment.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Who are You?

The older I get the more difficulty I have remembering how I know people that I run into when I am out and about. I can immediately recognize a familiar face, but it is not until halfway through the conversation that I finally realize how I know them.

Typically I go through the litany of, "Are they from the kid's school, an old work place, the ball field, the kiddie gym class that I teach, high school, college, or are they a friend of a friend?"

I have gotten pretty tricky in conversation so as to pinpoint the location from where they came. Here are the questions which can usually start the memory ball rolling:

"How are the kids?" When they answer this question I can generally get an idea of how I know them especially when they name their children and talk about school.

"Have you seen anyone lately?" This question is meant to broaden the name horizon and put the name association with a place, another memory jogger.

"What have you been up to lately?" Asking this question perpetuates a more specific conversation with the use of family members names or career specifics, another helpful hint.

If they call me "Miss Linda" it is a dead give away that they are from my mommy and me class.

If they address me as "Mrs. Vujnov" I had them as a student at some point in my teaching career.

If they ask about my husband right off the bat, they are closer friends with him than me, so I don't worry about the fact that the specifics are vague.

If they call me "Linda" and keep the conversation on the surface, I may never know why I know them, what their name is, and how we became acquaintances. At this point I generally keep the conversation short, then remain perplexed for the next 24 hours trying to figure out how I know them.

If I forget a name, I pretend to be rude, and my husband will introduce himself. I haven't trained the kids to do this yet, but I am working on it.

If I happen to see you in the grocery store or Target, and cannot remember your name, or how I know you, please do not be offended. At least you'll know my secret.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cowboys and a Pretty Dog

My youngest boy was looking through a Target catalog that we received in the mail. With a black permanent marker, he was circling all the toys that he wants for his birthday, which happens to be in two months. He likes to plan ahead evidently.

He happened upon a picture of a bedroom scene that was show casing bedding and pillows with pictures hanging on the wall and fancy furniture. A perfectly groomed Collie was lying at the foot of the bed. The Collie had a cute yellow bandanna around his neck. "I want that room" he mentioned, making a huge circle around the entire scene. I was surprised with his choice in bedroom furnishings since the theme was cowboy and typically he wants nothing to do with cowboys except for the guns. He is very partial to everything fire fighter.

The bedding was decorated with horse shoes, cactus, cowboy hats, and cowboys riding horses. While I was still confused with his choice I questioned, "What do you like about that room?" After his reply, it all made perfect sense. "It comes with a dog." A pretty, well-behaved, dog no less, with an exorbitant price tag.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Waste

I hate waste. According to some philosopher, the deffinition of wealth, is waste. Ouch.

I eat my kid's leftovers since I do not like throwing away food. Water bottles that are half full and sitting with no owner makes me sad. Spending money on toys that get thrown away in two weeks makes me want to gather every toy, return them, and keep the money.

My son is in a choir competition. He is not happy about this. He had to take choir as an elective since he plays no instrument. He is missing sports tonight to - sing. He is supposed to wear navy blue pants. He has no navy blue pants. He doesn't wear pants unless it is absolutely necessary. It would have to raining, really hard. Nevertheless, I must go and purchase a pair of navy blue slacks, for one night, that he will never wear again.

I wish that I had time to shop the thrift stores for a decent pair of slacks with a $2.00 price tag, but I don't. So, I must shop around, and waste more money, on a pair of navy blue pants that will go unused. He is also supposed to wear dress shoes. I think that his black high-top basketball shoes conform to "dressy" standards, don't you? I draw the line at a purchase of "dressy shoes" that he will most assuredly never wear again, but he will have a sleek pair of black socks to go with his "dressy" basketball shoes.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Making Chains


There are many things that I cannot do. Even with a degree in art, I am unable to French braid hair. It looks so simple but I get so confused with grabbing a new strand of hair etc. Thankfully my daughter has never requested her hair to be braided. I would have to, at that point, admit my short coming.

I am horrible at Suduko, crossword puzzles, and have difficulty flying a kite. Origami is too tedious, and I can't finish a novel if my life depended on it, okay, maybe if my life depended on it I could finish.

I lose at most card games, cannot put songs onto an ipod, and my husband does most of the home decoration. I could never cleverly throw together a meal using only a can of soup, a pound of beef, and a bag of noodles, and have trouble with any make-up techniques beyond the use of mascara and blush.

The other day my son asked me if I knew how to make a gum wrapper chain. I was thrilled to tell him that, "Yes, yes I can make a gum wrapper chain." He then asked me if I would show him how to make one. I stammered, trying to dive into the recall section of my brain that went back to the sixth grade, and there it was! Just like an old friend waiting to be picked up from the waiting room. When recall works properly it is a wonderful thing. I folded the long piece of gum wrapper in half, folded it in half again, folded the edges in and was happily on my way to demonstrating the creation of a gum wrapper chain. Together we inter-weaved the second wrapper and the chain was taking shape.

My son was tired and bored after the third "link" so we set it aside for a rainy day activity. I think that he was impressed with the fact that I was able to make such a lovely creation on the spot. If needed, I could also help him make a paper airplane, I can play catch with a baseball, and guarantee him an "A" if any art project comes across his desk. However, if he happens to need a great French braider, he'll have to ask my neighbor Sandy. She is very good at French braids.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Too Much

I have never loved to whole putting gas in my car routine, but I can no assure you that I now hate it. Putting gas in my car is not the part that I have trouble with. I am usually breaking up fights among the masses or arguing with my kids as to why they cannot unbuckle and go into the mini-mart to buy gum.

The part that I loathe with a passion is the purchase. The debit from my account. The price I pay to shuttle children here and there. The filling up a 40 gallon tank of a car that averages 9 mile to the gallon. The $3.55 I spend per gallon. The fact that it costs me over $100.00 dollars to put a full tank of gas in my car which I will have to refill in a week and a half.

No one has cars in Manhattan. The subway is cheep. Perhaps we will all move to Manhattan, but then again, I would have to pay $10,000 a month in rent. I guess we will just stay put, and complain about the price of gas. It's much easier.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Swimming with Gloves and a Scarf

Bathing suits are everywhere! You would think that we are in the middle of July, but we all know that by the middle of July, there won't be any bathing suits left on any hangers in any stores. I am searching for a pair of gloves for my husband, to no avil. It is nearly impossible to find any apparal resembling anything that has to do with winter, even in the depths of the discount bins.

If I am correct, we still have just short of a month of winter left on the calendar. This is not exactly bathing suit season, even in Southern California. As much as I love sping and summer, I am not ready to shop for bermuda shorts and bathing suits. Just as much as I loathe bathing suits in March, I have trouble with sweaters, and back-to-school supplies in July. Will they ever get it right?

Happily Surprised

My daughter is leaving, with my husband, on an 8 day excursion to Washington DC, and elsewhere, with her 8th grade classmates. It is all that she and her friends can talk about at the moment. Nothing else matters, except or course, what they will be wearing.

My daughter is under the assumption that she needs gobs of spending money for her trip, after we have already spent gobs of money on the trip itself. When I asked her how much she thought that she needed, she informed me that "at least $100.00" was sufficient. I was shocked, especially since she has no money of her own aside from the six bags of recyclables in the back yard.

I had a gaggle of her classmates in my car the other day. I asked the girls in my car how much they were bringing on the trip and they all said between $200.00 and $300.00."What?" I exclaimed. They all went into great detail on how they earned the money themselves throughout the school year. I was greatly impressed, and thrilled that the parents expected their girls to earn the money as opposed to just handing them the cash.

Grandma gave her $50.00, and she returned something to the store that broke and got the cash. She is up to $95.00. With the recyclables she should have another $30.00, and we owe her $20.00 in chore money. This brings her spending money account to a grand total of $145.00. I think that is plenty!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Crying Wolf

We have had the last two Monday's off in a row. My daughter has somehow contracted an illness which causes her to need to miss the Tuesday's also. She had two four day weekends, without homework, and no specific or treatable ailment. This week she was miraculously better, while the rest of the family was ill.

I chose to ignore the congestion she was experiencing, writing it off as a common cold to be treated with over the counter drugs and huge doses of TLC. She never complained, until Thursday at 3:00 a.m.

She woke me, complaining that her jaw hurt. I don't know how to help with hurt jaws, and in a curt manner, offered Advil and a cold compress. She couldn't understand why I was so curt. This marked the forth time I had gotten up. At the time I felt as though I were swallowing razor blades and nothing took away the pain, but now I am good. I am not so curt.

Although she woke up to go to school, she was tired, (a given...so was I) and needed more pain medication. The sores on her mouth and nose were increasing in redness and goo was billowing. I dismissed the goo entirely, again, citing a common cold as the culprit. By 3:00 p.m. I sensed her discomfort and thought I should call the doctor at that point, instead of making an urgent care visit on the weekend.

Bad Mom Award=me! The sores on her face were a strep infection, she has bronchitious, and an infected gland. Ooops. She is on a stronger antibiotic than the rest of us, and may need to be seen again on Monday if the swelling in her gland does not subside.

She cried "wolf" one too many times. When complaints are slathered in drama, the real pain is often hard to uncover. I have learned my lesson: When she complains and cries, the pain is minimal. When she barely complains, she is in need of a hospital visit. This only took 14 years to discover her illness language. Can you say S-L-O-W? Next time I may get it right.