Freak Out Friday

I called in sick from work today. It’s not that I don’t have anything going on at work. I have stacks of files to review, affidavits to draft. I just needed a day off from the usual. I hope my boss, who sometimes reads my blog, will understand. (Hi Jane!)  I had every intention of going into the office and plowing through my work. I rose at my usual 6:00 a.m, rallied the troops, packed lunches, and while I took my shower I started going through my mental checklist of Things to Do Today and Things to Do This Weekend. That is when I became aware that the one thing that I needed on my list was missing.

1. Take Care of Yourself

My eyes began to water and it occurred to me that it wasn’t shampoo in my eyes. I was wrung out. For the last few months I have been running. Summer whizzed by without me breaking my pace. I tried to carve out some time now and then, but often I would feel panicked when I slowed down, thinking of everything else I should be doing.  Today, when faced with another round of endless tasks, I lost it. That is when I realized I needed to stop. The kids are in school. Juan is at the office. The dirty breakfast dishes are in the sink and the clean laundry is in the dryer. Unfolded. Wrinkling as I write.

I decided right then–mid-shower– that I needed a mental health day. I checked in with my office. Dropped Diego at school and headed out. I know that if I go home there will be no relaxing for me. Too many unmade beds and scattered toys to ignore. So here I am. I am at a cafe lingering over breakfast and a pot of tea.  I left the house with my laptop, my gym clothes and a spa gift certificate I received on Mother’s Day. (Yes, Mothers Day.) I don’t know if I will actually make it to the gym, or if I will be able to get to the spa since I don’t have an appointment, but it doesn’t matter. I have the whole day to do what I want. Shop. Go out to lunch. Blog. Whatever. The most important thing is that I doing the number one thing on my list of Things to Do Today.

1. Take Care of Yourself.

Check. Got that.

A breakfast time-out for me and my blog.

Are you taking time out to take care of yourself? How do you manage to balance your life?

Friday Funnies: A Play in One Act

This morning I still don’t have a 50/50 Friday post to update my list of 50 Things I Want to Do Before my 50th Birthday because, frankly, I’ve done nothing new. Life is moving too quickly right now for me to make much progress on my list. Instead, I thought I would post something quick today, something that made my morning, and which I will be sure to forget if I don’t write about it on my blog.  So, I give you a one-act play entitled Friday Funnies….

ACT ONE: SCENE ONE

Scene: The kitchen in the morning. Unwashed breakfast dishes sit in the sink. A mother frantically finishes packing a lunch box as her 7 year-old son is playing on the breakfast bar with a toy. Mother grabs her keys and begins to walk out of the kitchen.

Mother: Let’s go. We are going to be late for school.

Diego: (looks nervous) Wait. I think I have to go potty.

Mother: (exasperated) Now? You have been sitting there all morning. (pause) Okay, go then. Number 1 or Number 2?

Diego: Number 2. Or a fart.   Pause. A noise comes from the boy’s direction.

Diego:  Oh. It was a fart. Let’s go.

(Exit stage left).  FADE OUT

ACT ONE: SCENE TWO

Scene: Exterior in front of house. Beautiful Spring morning. Mother and son emerge from front door out of house. Mother carrying a coffee mug and big purse, nearly trips over a scooter that has been left directly on the porch outside the front door. Son trails behind and sheepishly looks on as his mother swears beneath her breath. Both proceed to get into a car parked in the driveway. The car is dirty, and school papers, and baseball equipment crowd the back seat as the son straps himself into a booster seat. Mother puts coffee mug in cup holder, climbs into the front seat and starts to drive away. Mother looks at son in rear-view mirror.

Mother: Wow. You look nice. Daddy did a good job combing your hair. I am glad we remembered it was picture day at school. Remember to button the shirt button before you take your picture. I’m glad you changed your shirt.

Son:  Yes, but I wish I could have changed my pants. These pants are getting short on me. I think I am growing.

Mother: You really are growing. You do need some new pants. I will try to buy you some this weekend. 

Son: These pants are a little tight too. When I grow taller, does my butt get bigger?

Mother: (Chokes on laugh. Spits out her coffee and it sprays on windshield)

CURTAIN

REPRISE

Scene: it is noontime. Mother about to leave the office to enjoy a long awaited lunch with her husband. Cell phone rings. The caller id indicates it’s son’s school. The voice on the line is one mother doesn’t recognize.

Mother: Hello?

Caller:  Hello, this is Jeff from Diego’s school. Diego is here in the office with me. He has had an accident.

Mother: (beginning to panic thinking of all the playground accidents which could have occurred, or, even worse, perhaps Diego’s  fart wasn’t a fart after all?)  What kind of accident?

Caller: It’s his pants…

(Mother looks worried, her fears confirmed. Oh no, the fart?….)

Caller: …He’s ripped them.

Mother: (He’s ripped a fart in his pants?) OH NO!

Caller: Yes, he ripped his pants. In the seat.

Mother: (Relieved. Then, it begins to dawn on her what this means. Trying not to laugh, she is thankful she is not drinking coffee.) I will bring him a change of clothes as soon as I can.

Diego's pants after bending over in a game of kick ball.

What about you? Do your mornings look like comedies or tragedies?

Short and Sweet

Monday. The day after a great weekend that was way too short. The day that starts the week leading into the Thanksgiving holiday. I am going to have to step it up since in exactly three more days I will be hosting dinner for 25 people. I suddenly realized how much I still had to do, when I took the 22 pound bird out of the freezer to thaw this morning. After I finished working today, I went immediately to Costco to start my Thanksgiving shopping.  While I was in the checkout line I looked at my Thanksgiving To Do list and thought I could squeeze in one more errand before it got too late. Then, I remembered I still had a blog post to write. In that moment I almost gave up NaBloPoMo, but then I recalled something that happened last week that I meant to blog about, but didn’t get to. It’s short, and probably not as meaningful to you as it is to me, but, hey, it is my blog. Here it is:

I was feeling about as tired as I did today. We had just finished dinner and one of my kids, as usual, mistakenly thought I was a walking wallet. I responded that I was not a walking wallet and in fact, I had no money to give them. Diego pulled out his ziplock baggie of change and gave it to me. He said, “Here Mommy, it’s a present for you. Nico and I counted it, and there’s $8.43. Take it.” I asked him why he would give me his money and he told me, “Because you work hard, and you deserve it.” Of course, I told him that I couldn’t accept his money but he kept insisting. Diego then started pulling out all his treasures, telling me that they were presents for me.

Diego's presents to me: a bag of money, crystals, an arrowhead and a plaster paw print

Diego gave me his arrowhead he bought at the museum gift store. He gave me his crystals he was growing from his science class, and he gave me a plaster paw print he made from a zoo field trip.  I suddenly no longer felt depleted from my day. His kindness and generosity energized me. Then, Diego said I was beautiful. I asked him why he said I was beautiful and he looked at me plainly and said, “Because you actually are beautiful.” (Yes, he used the word, “actually.”

See, I thought I didn’t have a blog post today. I thought I didn’t even have the energy to write. But just thinking about that evening last week, energizes me. Just thinking about my little guy, inspires me. Now, back to my Thanksgiving preparations.

Summer Strategizing Wrap-up

Now that summer is unofficially over, I thought I’d write about the results of my Summer Strategizing.  At the beginning of the summer, I wrote this post about how I was planning on filling up my kids’ summer days with summer school, chores and summer activities.  You know that saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry?” I think my summer was a bit like that.

I did have some success in engineering the kids’ summer school programs. Olivia completed the SAT prep course and Drivers Education. Nico and Erica both completed their High School entrance exam course, and Eric even did an Algebra review course and a painting class. Diego, well, he had the most fun, taking a science and geography class. All in all, I think it’s safe to say we spent about a small fortune keeping our kids in school this summer. Did they learn anything? I hope so. I do know that the girls learned how to navigate public transportation pretty well, so if Olivia can’t pass her driving test, at least she’ll know how to ride the bus.

One of the other plans I had for my kids this summer was to work on some chores. I intended for them to start dinner while I was at work. Yeah. That didn’t go so well. I still found myself rushing home from work, faced with four hungry kids who apparently didn’t know how to cook anything but a Lean Pocket in the microwave.  There was one day, when Olivia had an urge to bake and when I got home from work I saw this:

Lemon bars and an apple pie. Both were delicious, and since she had even washed all the dishes, I guess I can  overlook the fact that no one really cooked dinner while I was at work. Oh well.

Another task I set up for the kids was to complete their summer homework.  Each of the kids had summer reading to do and Nico and Erica both had to write essays  on their books.  Watching Nico sit at the computer to compose a paragraph is like watching paint dry. On the other hand, getting Erica to read her assigned books is like pulling teeth. I don’t know if she finished reading Pride and Predjudice and the Watsons Go to Watsonville, but she is so crafty, that one, she should be able to write her essay even if she didn’t finish the books.

Now that Labor Day has come and gone and summer is unofficially over, I can say that while I certainly did manage to fill my kids days with activities, I did not really enjoy the season. There were some fun days, but with my grandmother’s passing, and the hectic pace at work and home, I feel like I just got through it.  Barely.  I think part of it had to do with the fact that this summer we did not not really getaway.  Not that we really go anywhere glamorous, but at minimum our family goes camping. Sad to say, we didn’t even do that. I think it makes a difference to get away and break up the routine.  I hope we can manage some type of getaway next summer.

A vacation would be great in the Fall but unfortunately, my life has become all about studying. In August, I received news that my job was offering promotions in Spring 2012. Unfortunately, in order for me to be eligible for a promotion at my government agency job, I have to take a test and rank high enough to be placed on a promotability list. The test will be given in October and will cover materials in these notebooks:

I have to say that studying law and policies as a 48 year-old with a family of four kids, while working full-time, is a lot more challenging then studying law and policies and having a social life as a 28 year-old law student.  So, I hope you will hang in there with me if I am not able to post regularly for the next six weeks. After October, I hope to back to my regularly scheduled life.  Until then, I better check on dinner. No,  the kids aren’t cooking (still), and after dinner I have to hit the books.

Happy end of Summer. Welcome Fall.

Sunday Offerings – Three Simple Joys

It’s a Sunday in Summer and, I confess, I didn’t make it to church today.  But, I did spend some time thinking about the following simple things that bring me joy and make me grateful.

!. Dodge Ball

Yesterday, Nico came home from a week at Boy Scout camp. He was covered in grime, and filled with stories of his camp adventures. He told me what he did each day, but when he told me about his last day at camp, his ever-deepening voice was filled with pride.

He told me that on the last day of camp, the camp staff challenged the scouts to an epic game of dodge ball. The game started out with about 30 boys playing against an equal number of staffers. Little by little, as the camper or staffer was hit by the ball, or failed to catch the ball, the player was eliminated. The game got down to Nico, the lone camper, against 3 of the kitchen staff. Nico threw the ball at one of the staffers. The ball hit the staffer’s legs and bounced off, hitting the second staffer, and both in one throw. With the game down to Nico and the last staffer, Nico threw the ball at the staffer. The staffer bent down to catch the ball, caught it, and then dropped it! The other campers who had been eliminated but were still watching the game let out a loud cheer for Nico.

The scouts won! Nico proudly told me how he was carried back to camp on the shoulders of his fellow scouts. What a great moment for him. Nico, the last man standing, triumphs in dodge ball!

2. Magical Cups

I have been helping my mom go through some of my grandmother’s things since my grandmother’s passing. It has been difficult and discouraging because she had so much stuff. We can’t just toss it out because some of it has value, even if it is just sentimental value. I took a few plant cuttings from my grandmother’s garden in the hope that maybe, in her death, my grandmother’s green thumb will have magically passed onto me. Yeah, we’ll see how that goes…

I also took these:

These are metal cups. They are the two remaining from a set which is long gone. When I was a child my grandmother would serve me milk in these cups. The milk always tasted so good when I drank it from these cups. Even though my stomach can no longer tolerate milk I wanted the cups, so my mom let me have them. Yesterday Diego, who rarely drinks milk, asked for a glass to go with his PB and J. Juan served him milk in the cup. Later, Diego asked for more milk from the cup. He said he had never tasted milk like that before. He told me the cup was “magical.”

I may not have my grandmother’s green thumb, but I have her magical cups.

3. Greener Pastures

About two weeks ago, Juan declared war on the grass. He looked at the patchy, yellow, poor-excuse-for-a-lawn we had in the backyard and said, “You and me lawn. I am going to win.” He went out and bought grass seed, lawn topper and set our sprinklers to automatic. Friday, we came home from a couple of nights out of town and we saw this:

Juan Wins!

Grass. Growing. And it is green!

Yeah. Maybe my grandmother’s green thumb went to Juan instead of me?

What about you? What simple things bring you joy? What simple things make you grateful?