Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not the Happiest Place, Today

Monday is my day off. Since all of the kids have the entire week off, and were home today, I thought it would be the perfect day to use our annual passes and take a trip to Disneyland. I packed all the kids in the car and we journeyed the 20 minutes that it takes to drive to the city of Anaheim, CA. Although I was hoping that today would not be a busy, my image of 5 minute lines was shattered the moment I exited the freeway.

People were all over the sidewalks, the drop off area was blocked, buses and shuttles jammed the street, and the parking line resembled Fourth of July morning at the "Happiest Place on Earth" (the busiest day of the year).

There were wall to wall people on every street and corner inside the park. Getting from one ride to the next took a great amount of time as we shuffled around strollers and families. The average line was 50 minutes and it took over two hours for us to ride two rides.

The worst moment came when we decided to stop for lunch. I had never seen the Hungry Bear Restaurant line extending as long as it did today. As the kids sat at the table waiting for their meals. I stood in line. I began muttering words under my breath in my frustration. The line we were standing in seemed to never move. From the time we entered the line to the time we sat down to eat was over an hour.

After lunch we left. I couldn't bear the crowd any longer, and the kids felt the same as I did. For once, we were happy to leave Disneyland and grateful to board the tram which took us to my parked car. We were also grateful that our admission was covered by an annual pass which is good for the entire year.

We stopped at Starbucks Coffee to sooth our nerves, and all was good by then.

Never again will I attempt to take my children to Disneyland the week of Thanksgiving. Lesson learned the hard way. Today, Disneyland was not the happiest place on earth.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bonding

There is nothing consistent about where we decide to sit for dinner. We have a beautiful counter top with four bar stools which rarely gets used and a dining room table which seats six and gets used periodically. I'm the mom who lets her kids eat atop T.V. trays in front of the television screen. Although this doesn't happen for all meals it almost always happens for breakfast. Our living room carpet is old, so a dropped syrupy waffle piece would add to the mosaic of stains and spots.

I like to make eating dinner at the dining room table a priority when everyone is home at the same time. We take turns sharing about the day's highs and lows. I know how important this exercise is for family bonding although some family members would disagree. Siblings interrupt each other or disregard the excuses given for what defines a "high" for the day. P.E. is never an acceptable "high" due to it's predictability and neither is the answer, "I cannot think of one."

The "lows" for the day come in a wide variety. They range from having a teacher lecture too long, to my forgetting to put a drink in their lunchbox, to being chased by screaming girls. I'm sure the fourteen year old would love the seven year old's problem of be chased by screaming girls.

Or youngest was complaining today because, "We always eat together at the table." [insert whiny voice and droopy shoulders]. He is obviously vehemently opposed to creating life long memories while bonding together.

Although eating together is often a struggle I realize that it is an important moment in our day. Carving out this time releases stress, draws us together as a family, and instills value in making time to build relationships. Although I know that it cannot happen every night I need to make eating together a priority, and, know that when I am sinking into the depths of laziness I will forgo the bonding and pull out the T.V. trays. I am a work in progress.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sitting

Every Saturday I sit. I wait for our 14 year old while he spends two hours in an acting class. The class is 25 miles from home so dropping him off and picking him up at the end of the class is not an option.

I am always the first to raise my hand and offer to drive him to class because I enjoy the sitting. I enjoy drinking coffee and hanging out with my computer. I enjoy the fact that no one is beckoning or demanding anything from me. I enjoy watching other people drinking coffee and plucking away at computer keys. I feel normal.

I miss time like this. Since returning to full-time work relaxing has become more difficult. I feel guilty for pulling out a magazine at home and sitting on the couch and my writing brain seems constantly stuck in the "off" position. If I am at home there is always something to do so I do it.

My time on Saturday is forced relaxation. I don't take my work computer but instead take my personal computer. I stick headphones in my ears so that I cannot hear my phone. I feel free. I feel guilt free.

Although my two hours goes quickly, I love Saturday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cross Training

I don't enjoy cross training. Running works for me so I stick with it. Although I enjoy rollerblading and riding a bicycle, I always feel like I won't contribute to the sweat factor, multiplied by muscle exertion, with either of the other cardio exercises unless I spend 2 hours doing them. Stupid, I know.

Cross training in life is different. I like cross training in life. I don't enjoy doing the same thing every day at work so I chose a job with flexibility and constant fluidity. Since I have four children, nothing is the same at home other than homework and packing lunches.

At the moment I am completely overwhelmed. Our weekly home schedule is packed but not out of control while my work load is out of control. The waterline is so high I am drowning, for now. I know that the waterline will not always be this high and that often life's waterline fluctuates just as it does during the rainy season and seasons of dry weather.

I miss writing. I miss relaxing with a magazine or in front of a sitcom on television. I work all day and finish things up at night. "You're still working?" my teenage boys questions as he walks into the kitchen. When I nod my head while tapping on the computer keys he asks me why. I tell him the story about my waterline at work but before I can finish he is grabbing a snack and leaving prior to the conclusion of my eloquent story. He obviously isn't interested.

I'm feeling the pull of wanting to be here when the kids get home from school to ask them about their day over salty snacks, but for now I arrive home after 5. When I arrive I am plagued with questions, whining, complaints, and comments. I try not to react and to listen instead. I try to be patient and spend time with each child devoting my moment with them to engaged, active, listening butmy mind is on dinner plans and the next appointment,

Right now the cross training is difficult.

The sameness would be a welcome addition to my day, however, that will have to wait until Christmas. I am asking Santa for big sack of sameness with a side of extra time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Black Beauty

The highlight of our kids' weekend was not the anticipation of candy collecting, not the costume hunting, not the delicious tacos, not the cousin party or the long afternoons jumping on the trampoline. The highlight was Black Beauty.
Since my husbands company needed a van this week for a site tour of southern California, he was in charge of renting the transportation. The long drives would mean that entertainment was necessary and amenities were a must since the big executives were in town.
In walks the Dodge Sprinter better known as Black Beauty. She comes complete with 6 leather bucket seats, a leather bench seat, an Xbox game system with wireless controllers and headphones, a DVD player with a flat screen and WiFi. Our four kids drooled all over themselves when Black Beauty pulled up in front of our house on Saturday. They immediately asked for a ride after grabbing an Xbox game and a laptop computer to test the promises that Black Beauty said she would deliver.
I drove around our city for 30 minutes while like a broken record the children insisted that this van was the coolest thing ever. We drove Black Beauty to church on Saturday night, toured the city again with the neighbor boys, and entertained teenagers on Halloween night with chauffeured drop offs to different neighborhoods while music blared from the surround sound speakers.
We teared up today as we all bid a farewell to Black Beauty. She had more important business to conduct. We look forward to her return in January, and perhaps then she can stay a bit longer.
I'm adding Black Beauty to my Christmas list and removing everything else. I love her.