Thursday, February 27, 2014

And then he surprised me..........

This morning my husband and I were being lazy and ignoring the alarm clock despite the fact that we had stayed in bed WAY too long and were certainly going to be late for work. The talk turned to a fishing trip he's taking this weekend. Just this past month, he's been gone on a weekend conference and then four days in California to visit his grandpa. Now, he's going to be gone another weekend, and, even though I gave him my blessing to attend the fishing trip, I was having a little fun at his expense.

Me: You  leave me a lot. I stay home, but you always go.
Jeff: I do not!
Me: Yeah, you were gone for that conference and then to San Diego and now another whole weekend, you'll be gone doing something fun while I stay home and take care of everything. I keep the home fires burning. You go out and have your fun, and I'm always at home, taking care of everything. I even sometimes clean up really nice and have candles burning when you get home. And I make food!
Jeff (smiling): That's nice. I like that.
Me: Yep, I'm always here, rock-solid, holding down the fort while you go off on your next big adventure. I'm always staying behind. You're always going.
Jeff: Do you want an early Mother's day gift?
Me: What?
Jeff: Go in to the bathroom and grab that pile of papers on my counter.
Me: If it's a surprise, YOU go get it.
(Jeff gets out of bed to retrieve the papers, while I have a mild anxiety attack, knowing I'm getting something big and wondering what he's done.)
Jeff: Here. (Hands me tickets to the BlogHer'14 conference in San Jose.) It's for you and Hannah. Full conference tickets for both of you, and I booked you a room at the Marriott.
Me: (Speechless. And a little humbled. And a little squeal-y, too.)

And now, I'm going. I can't wait!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mountain Man........

My husband, apparently with some extra discretionary time on his hands, somehow became intrigued by the idea of being a mountain man. Not like the guys on that TV show where they live in the harsh backwoods of Alaska and survive the winter by killing a moose and stuffing him in the freezer.

No, this mountain man type appears to be a group of suburbanites who work at Microsoft by day and spend their weekends shooting muzzleloader guns and wearing coonskin caps. I will pause here to point out that in my attempt to explain what a muzzleloader is I typed into Google "What is a muzzle loader (because I didn't know it was one word)?" and I received this reply: a gun that is loaded by its muzzle. So, you see, I do not understand this at ALL.

Once a month they have a "shoot" which my husband attends. Once a year they have a "rondy" which is short for "rendezvous" and means: primitive-type camping excursion wherein everyone dresses in period gear and you might win a box. No, seriously, a box. There is a rifle box, which I guess is where you store a rifle or things you might need for a rifle. And there is a camp box, which is like a treasure chest, only probably for things like lard and muslin. And the best prize of all? A tomahawk pipe. Yes, you heard right. It's a working tomahawk that you can also smoke through. So, in case you're smoking and someone tries to kill you....Thwap! Tomahawk to the head. No one saw that coming.

This year's "rondy" also touts exactly ONE activity for women and that is the frying pan toss. The WHAT? For what earthly reason would anyone need to toss a frying pan? Is there a target? What kind of frying pan? A super-lightweight non-stick saute pan? Or a cast-iron skillet? I'm guessing the latter. Which is why, if you are participating in this year's frying pan toss, you might want to lift some weights in preparation. Because those suckers are heavy. I have more questions: can you toss overhand or underhand? Are there points for style and technique?

Last year, around this time, my husband convinced me to go the the mountain man show. Yes, they have their own show, held at the fairgrounds. Kind of like Comic-Con for Daniel Boone. I wrote about this show here. I thought I would humor him, browse the offerings like bear heads and wood handicrafts, and that his interest would fizzle out. But here we are, a year later, and he's still in touch with his inner Grizzly Adams.

For the past week or so, he's been working hard on a "hunting pouch" which is code for man purse. This small purse is intended to hold lead balls and "patches" which are small squares of material that are essential to firing a muzzleloader. My husband worked diligently, cutting the pattern and assembling the pieces. The leather and pattern were given to him by a fellow mountain man, called "Broken Arrow" or something. Side note: their real names might be ordinary like Dave or Jeff, but they go by names such as "Two Balls" and "Trapper." My husband thought it would be fun to assemble this man purse, and after all, it was free.

Except not. Because we had to make a trip to Michael's to buy all manner of wood carving tools, a sewing awl, leather straps and bits, and waxed thread. So, this man purse ended up costing quite a pretty penny, all told. And it became a big project that took up the better end of the dining room table where my husband had the audacity to use a DRILL on his project! On my table! In the end, he added a handsome leather strap (ordered on Amazon for $27.99) and hand-stitched his initials on the flap to personalize it.

And now he has a ball bag.

Not to hold his own balls, mind you, although I forgive you for misunderstanding the purpose considering the amount of sewing and handicrafts that were going on. The bag will hold the little lead balls that one shoots from the muzzleloader. The whole process of firing this gun is laughable - in the amount of time it takes to load it and fire it, the bear, or deer or whatever it is the mountain man might be shooting at has long since disappeared, sauntering away at a casual pace muttering "get a real gun!" under his breath.

You see, you first have to pour black powder from a powder horn into this little metal tube thing, which you use to disperse it into the barrel of the gun. Then, you put a little square of cloth (the patch) into your mouth for some reason, get it nice and spitty, and into the gun it goes. Then, you insert a lead ball. Then, you use the ramrod to push the whole mess deep into the gun. Then, you put a cap on a spot near the firing pin (I'm just paraphrasing my terminology here, can you guess?), but only if your gun is a cap lock gun. There are also flint lock guns, in which case you put a little more black powder into a tiny pan next to the firing pin. Either way, you cock the gun, the pin comes in contact with the cap (or in the case of a flint lock, the flint sparks the black powder) and KABOOM! The gun fires! So, you see why the bear or deer or elk has time to take a little vacation while waiting for you to fire your gun.

So, it's a good thing someone made better guns. Or civilization would have died with the muzzleloader. And I guess I understand the history part of it. People like history. Civil war reenactments abound. Dressing up in mountain man gear for a "rondy" is no different than dressing up like a Japanese anime character for a comic book convention. Perhaps my husband is motivated by his most memorable teacher who quoted "Those who forget history are doomed and destined to repeat it." Which, by the way, is a misquote of George Santayana's saying "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But you get the idea.

And so, I will accompany my husband to this year's mountain man show. Last year I was squeezed provocatively by a dirty old man. I was hoping there would be snacks, but the only thing offered was horehound candy and sarsaparilla. However, if you were in the market for a nice teepee or a bear head for your wall, this would be the place to go. My husband is on the search for a tin cup. Because he feels too suburban drinking his coffee from a Starbucks cup whilst at the mountain man shoots. Natch.

Sunday, February 23, 2014



Stretchy, sleepy, no-alarm
Dozing, slow-moving
Time for breakfast

I love you!

Frantic, rushing
Procrastinating consequences
I know I forgot something
Where did the weekend go?
Planning, packing

I hate you. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

So fat........

My daughter and I were talking about weight today. Mostly because I've reached the age/weight where my doctor wagged her finger in my face, reminding me of my high blood sugar and high cholesterol and gave me the "talk" that starts with "Well, things are ok for now..." and ends with "Stop eating crap!" Or something like that. I may be paraphrasing.

I know I need to lose weight. I'm the heaviest I've ever been and of course I don't love it. I mean, I still like myself - I don't loathe the person I see in the mirror. I'm much more than my body shape and/or size. But I don't want to be unhealthy. I don't want to be labeled with scary labels like "diabetes" and be put on scary drugs like statins. So, the lifestyle changes are happening.

But what should I weigh? The BMI charts say one thing. My doctor says another. My jeans say another thing entirely. I don't have a set number or size. I just want to be comfortable in what I wear. I want to buy things off the rack in the regular sizes and not have to think twice about it. I want to be the size that I could actually borrow a clothing item from someone without worrying if they have anything big enough.

And, regardless of what that number or size ends up being, I wonder if I will ever NOT feel fat? I've felt fat since I was in sixth grade and first became aware that fat and skinny were even important. I weighed 96 lbs in sixth grade. I was ten years old. I vividly remember two girls, both named Heidi, who were skinny and blonde. THEY each weighed 72 lbs and they let us know it. There was much discussion about "the Heidis" and how skinny they were. Everyone wanted to be a Heidi. Most of all, me. I weighed myself every day, striving for that magical 72 lbs. I started sixth grade wearing floral undershirts with tiny bows on the chest and ended it wearing my very first bra. I was developing, and it was normal, but I felt fat.

Between sixth and seventh grade, I went through puberty and all its horrors and weighed 125 lbs by year's end. I felt huge! I hated how skinny my friends were and if there were any girl fatter than I (there was) I didn't see her because she was invisible to me. Thus began the first of many diets and exercise programs that lasted a day or two before I got back to the business of being a kid. I had one sister who was skinner than me and one who was fatter than me, so I settled into the middle and didn't give my weight a lot of thought. Until I saw a picture of myself.

Fast forward to the end of high school and beginning of my college days. I weighed 119 lbs. For a LONG time. I didn't try too hard (although I was well-acquainted with my apartment's gym and some aerobics classes at the local YMCA). I ate whatever I wanted. And I felt fine. Until I put on a bathing suit.

A few years down the road, I got married. I weighed 140 lbs on my wedding day. I was aghast at the highest weight I'd ever seen on the scale, but my wedding dress fit like a glove and I felt beautiful. Three babies and one stint at Weight Watchers later, and I was down to 133 lbs, having seen the likes of 196, 155 and everything in between during those hectic years of pregnancy, nursing, and toddler-chasing. Still, that 133 felt pretty good. And it lasted a whole month. Until I stopped going to my Weight Watchers meetings.

I exercised. Off and on. I tried to eat well; being responsible for feeding young children made me vigilant about cutting up fruits and vegetables and insisting they eat them, but I did not always follow suit. I had a weakness for pastries and a new-found love for expensive coffee drinks. I lamented my figure, my size, my weight. And some days I was o.k. with it. Until I got divorced.

Then, I practiced emotional eating at its finest. I comforted myself with food, but my weight hovered around 155 with some creeping up into the 160s at times. I met the man who would become my second husband and I felt pretty. I was comfortable. And then I got a little too comfortable with his fabulous cooking and all the treats he would bring me and a few more pounds padded my contented self. Until my anxiety threatened to overtake me.

I started taking anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants (such a misnomer, I was never depressed). The pounds did not creep on slowly and insidiously. They took up residence with shocking swiftness and in a matter of months 40 lbs had taken up permanent residence. But I was calm and happy, and my anxiety didn't plague me day and and day out. I was able to do things and finally, finally feel "normal" for the first time in years. It felt like a fair trade-off. Until something changed.

And what that something is, I don't know but I have a few suspects in custody. Starbucks, Facebook, the stress of raising four teenagers with anxiety themselves. I was more active than I'd ever been, and then so inactive that I wouldn't exercise for months at a time. Some days I was just surviving. Too distraught over the latest chaos in the household to worry or care about health and fitness, I turned more and more to sweet treats and hours at the computer to escape. I wanted things to be different, I just didn't know how to do it.

Because everything starts somewhere and the only way to accomplish something huge is to chip away at it consistently until it's conquered. I know what to do. I know how to do it. I just need to do it. And I am, tiny baby steps at a time. Sometimes those steps are miniscule. But every decision, every motion counts. I don't want to police myself forever. Some days I want to eat with abandon and watch a movie marathon. But I can no longer eat what I want and be inactive and expect things to change. My age, my metabolism, my genetic makeup, my emotional constitution...any one of these could be to blame. But blame does nothing for progress.

And it's hard. It makes me feel sad, overwhelmed, hopeless, fearful and defeated. It feels like so much work to think about everything I eat, to plan every day for activity that I'm always "too busy" to do, to even have to make it a "thing"....this business of eating right and taking care of myself. It's hard to look down the road and imagine myself smaller, lighter, healthier and happier. The roadblocks in the way seem insurmountable.

But what if? What if I were smaller, lighter, healthier? WOULD I be happier? At what weight, exactly, will I be happy? At what size? I'm pretty darn happy right now. Will the journey make me victorious or miserable? More importantly, do I believe in myself enough to KNOW that I will and can make changes and evolve into someone completely different, at least on the outside?

I guess there's only one way to know. Only this time I can't fail. The only person who can make me healthy is me. And that's a terrifying responsibility.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What I think I can do vs. what I really can do.........

My husband has been in San Diego for the past five days. Every time he leaves, I set out to do something amazing. Like remodel the whole house. Or paint. Or.....ok, just put clean sheets on the bed before he gets back. Whatever my pie-in-the-sky plans are, I always come up short. I did accomplish a pretty big one this time - converting my oldest daughter's former room back into my office. Years ago, when I purchased my house, I had a special "just for me" office added to the floor plan. I loved it. It was a disaster. I called it my second garage. But it was MY space. And it was glorious.

This weekend's transformation took a bit of effort and some help from my strapping 15-year-old son who begrudgingly helped me move the bigger pieces of furniture. Then there was a fair amount of cleaning and purging, and the realization (not a happy one) that my daughter's "stuff" still inhabited 90% of the very generous closet space. But it's functional now, and although it still needs some pretty-ing up - pictures on the walls, perhaps some inspirational quotes? - my desk faces the park and open space behind my house and it's lovely.

My husband will be thrilled that the various plastic drawer-like devices containing stamp pads, stamps, various scrapbooking items, fabric and other miscellaneous stuff are no longer inhabiting the corners of our room. He will be delighted that the many photo storage boxes stacked on top of our dresser are now re-homed in the 10% of closet space my daughter generously left me. To him, these items are my "crap" - the completely unnecessary and ridiculous piles of things I need in order to create things. Kind of like his multitude of tool boxes and rusty tools he calls vital to his lifestyle. In all fairness, though, he doesn't keep his tools in the bedroom, so I guess I don't have to, either. (LOL on everyone who just though of a "tool in the bedroom" joke).

I wanted to clean my bathroom from top to bottom, but that didn't happen. I did make my daughter mop my bathroom floor but noticed that she stopped just short of the tiny closet-like room that houses the toilet. That was very helpful. Kind of like when I asked my other daughter to mop the kitchen floor the other day because the dog's injured foot was bleeding all over it and when I came home to the "yeah, I did it" I noticed a few spots of dried blood still on the floor. Gross AND lazy.

I wanted to have pictures hung in my new office. But first I had to inventory all the frames I had, then match those up to pictures I need to frame, and of course most of them don't match up, so that means I have to print pictures to be framed and when do I have time to weed through my millions of pictures to find just the right ones for the frames? Never, that's when.

I wanted to complete the scrapbook I've been promising my husband for the past two years. When I found all his childhood pictures were glued to the pages of the old-time NON-acid-free pages of those "magnetic" photo albums, I immediately disassembled them and promised him a new, better, shiny scrapbook with all of his childhood memories. This Christmas I actually purchased the book, page protectors, etc. A few months before that I (sort of) organized the photos. This weekend, I moved the whole lot of it into my new office, closer to where I'll actually have space to work on it. Progress, right? 

Yeah, I always have big plans. And I never accomplish them. But it's ok. I usually reach that point where I figure I'll never get it all done on time so why bother? Plus, my husband is a guy, and guys by nature barely notice things like the above-mentioned wish list. He won't care about the semi-mopped bathroom floor. But something about him going out of town makes me want to accomplish things. And boy, do I have lofty goals sometimes! Thankfully, my procrastination (blogging, Facebook) bring me right back down to earth where I can settle into mediocrity.

Nothing but the best.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

House Rules

We've had this list of House Rules posted on our pantry door for a few years. Tonight, I pulled it down, along with our "Can I Stay Home From School?" guidelines, and I thought I'd give it a review, now that the kids are older and the oldest one has moved out. How are we doing on following the rules? The answers may surprise you. Or not.

- No eating anywhere but the kitchen and dining room. LOL! Let's see, just today I found, in the family room, a box of crackers, three cups (one with warm grape juice in it), and a mysterious wrapper from an unknown food source. Every day I find crumbs, wrappers, and even dishes (shoved under the coffee table!) in the family room, and often, open bags of chips or boxes of crackers. Harrison, I'm looking at YOU. Conclusion: Needs work.
- Clear your own dishes! Rinse and put them on the left side of the sink. Hmmm......this happens NEVER. Every day I still see dirty dishes on BOTH sides of the sink, and really, how hard is it to just put them in the dishwasher? Really hard! Wanna know why? Because the dishwasher is full of clean dishes just waiting to be put away! Also, did you know you need a new cup EVERY time you need a sip of water? It's true. Conclusion: Needs a lot of work.
- Shoes off in the house and put on shoe rack. Bwahaha! As I write this, there is a basket of shoes sitting behind the rocking chair. Why? I don't know. The basket was set down for a minute and the next thing you know - new shoe landing spot! And that shoe rack I mentioned? Nearly empty and any shoes that make it NEAR the rack are actually on the floor below the rack. Conclusion: it was a good idea in theory, but it's never going to happen.
- No shanking! So far, so good.
- Coats and backpacks hung up or put away. Most of the coats are, in fact, hanging on hooks in the hallways to the garage. They're not in the coat closet because putting a coat on a hanger is WAY too hard. The solution, clearly, is to install more hooks. So, I did. Backpacks, on the other hand, are never in their designated shelf space. Probably because that shelf space has been taken over by cookbooks and a huge container of colored pencils. But since two of the kids have graduated, there are only two backpacks to contend with now. Hallelujah!
- Pick up one activity before moving on to another. Well, since they don't really "play" any more, we don't have Legos and Barbies littering the floor. It's pretty easy to move an iPad from place to place. But they still leave their calling cards - a pair of socks, a banana peel, headphones - behind to remind me they've been there. And they're likely coming back.
- Blankets in basket in family room after use. NOT on floor. This rule was born from the many movie nights we hosted when the older girls were in school. Times have changed and our weekends are no longer overrun with teenagers seeking entertainment and food. Lots of food. The younger two don't entertain large groups often, so any blanket use is restricted to just the kids who live here, plus a few others from time to time. I used to wash loads and loads of blankets after the movie nights. But the real problem was the kids leaving them on the floor so that a smelly dog would end up sleeping on them, or, worse, chewing up a bone on top of them and chewing holes in my nice blankets. Result: we have a lot of blankets with holes in them.
- Put game controllers away after using. This one is working out nicely since no one plays video games any more. PRAISE JESUS!
- No swashbuckling! 100% compliance.
- Put movies back in their cases after watching. Oh boy. I've nearly given up on this and spend a good deal of time a few times a year trying to match the DVDs to their cases. Jeff had his own ideas about how to handle this one. First, he took the movies and hid them. That didn't work because when you have thousands of movies, no one tends to notice the missing ones. Then, he thought we should throw away ALL the cases and just keep the movies in binders or another filing system. I could not bear the thought of throwing away the "art" on the covers. So, we didn't do anything and nothing changed. Walk in my house right now and you will find AT LEAST five movies missing their cases or vice versa.
- Stay OUT of parents' room unless you have permission!!! Clearly, by the three exclamation points after that rule, I was pretty fed up with kids going in my room. We did install a door lock and have employed it on occasion, even when we're out of town, and of course, when it's locked, it works. But when it's not locked.......well, lets just say nothing puts me in a homicidal rage quite like reaching for MY face scrub in MY shower and seeing a gaping hole where the face scrub should be (HANNAH! I'm talking to YOU!). To date, no homicides have occurred but plenty of screaming has ensued. I know I should just lock my door every day, but I'm in such a hurry in the morning I don't have time to check for cats under my bed before I leave. Don't even get me started on the cats.
- Finish your homework before 9 p.m. Can I just use this rule to point out how lax we get with subsequent children? I'm sure this rule was made because of a chronic procrastinator (not naming names, but you know who you are!). With just two in school now, I barely even know what their homework is, much less when it's due. If they can't do it on their own, I can't help them. Because look how hard I tried with the first two and they STILL procrastinate. I've employed the very scientific conclusion that since my method didn't work 50% of the time, there's no use expending energy on the other 50%. Conclusion: kids, do your homework, or accept the consequences.
- No mindless snacking! One healthy snack after school and then wait for dinner. This only worked when dinner was prepared every night by a certain time and we all sat down to eat it. These days, that doesn't happen as much, and also? The boy turned into a teenager. The girl became a gymnast. Both require massive amounts of calories which means they eat when they want/need to. But, oh, how I've tried to teach them about good choices, portion sizes and the importance of not "ruining" their dinner. Bottom line: I make food when the kitchen is clean and there are enough people here to make it worth my while.
- Don't put weekend homework off till the last minute. My son is currently at a movie with his dad, which will end sometime between 9 and 10 p.m. He's planning to do his homework after that. He spent nearly all day lying on his back holding his iPad in the air in front of his face. I'll let you figure out how well that's working.
- Don't bring friends over without asking first. This one they do follow, most of the time. Occasionally I arrive home to an unexpected guest, but it's rare. Which is nice because when I'm sporting an afro in the morning and I'm bra-less, ain't no one wants to see that.
- Give mom paperwork from school the day you bring it home. Normally I either hear about an event the day of, or I have a paper rudely pushed under my nose during dinner (at which time I employ the "if you don't give it to me WITH a pen so I can sign it right away don't even bother" rule). But usually I never see the paperwork so if I was supposed to sign something, please forgive me.
- Pick up after yourself! LOL! See above.
- No lollygagging. Fail. They always lollygag. Where did that expression even come from? Whatever the history, we're the masters.
- Do your own laundry. Wash, dry and fold or hang the same day! No leaving laundry in various states of "half done." I think my kids took this to mean," if I can't leave it 'half done' I'll just leave it UNdone." Case in point: I've spent a good part of this weekend nagging my son to do his laundry, which he clearly hasn't done since Christmas because his Christmas pajamas were still in the enormous pile. How does he have enough clothes, you say? Because twice (or more) a week he goes to his dad's house, where he is treated to laundry services so he always has SOMETHING clean to wear. Note: he is still not done with his laundry. I stopped doing the kids' laundry two years ago and they occasionally do their own laundry and other times? I guess they wear dirty clothes. Not my problem.
- Bathroom sharing: no leaving clothes or towels on the floor, pick up the stuff you use, clean up your own hair and toothpaste mess, wring out and hang to dry your own washcloth, then put it in the laundry hamper, towels in hamper, don't use stuff that's not yours without permission and hang up hand towels after use. I......I just can't even say anything about this except that this rule has failed time and time again and if I were to attach a picture of the room where my children perform their personal hygiene, you might call CPS because it's THAT bad. I have given up and I rarely even venture down the hallway that houses my heathens children and the caves bedrooms they sleep in and the pigsty bathroom they get ready in.
- Leave all weapons, including firearms, at the door. 100% compliance unless you count flailing arms, legs and the occasional rubber band, food item, cat, or pencil as a "weapon."
- Be nice. I mean....they're nice to each other. More so now that they are older. Not always, mind you. 

Whew. Rules exhaust me. Now that I've taken the list down, I'm just going to employ the following rules:
1. Every man/woman for him/herself.
2. Fight to the death.
3. Don't get on "Hoarders."

That should guarantee a lot more success, no?

Can I Stay Home From School?

I don't know if I've posted this before, but this has been posted on our pantry door for several years now, and it's been falling off recently so tonight I took it down and decided it needed to be posted in the blog for memories.

Can I Stay Home From School? 
- Do you have a fever? Yes = stay home. No = go to school!
- Are you vomiting? Yes - stay home. No = go to school!
- Have you recently broken a bone? Yes = stay home if the doctor says so. No = go to school!
- Are you bleeding profusely from more than one orifice? Yes = get a band aid then go to school! No = go to school!
- Do you have a headache? Yes = take some Tylenol, then go to school. No = go to school!
- Are you dizzy, tired, achy, semi-conscious? Yes = eat some breakfast, then go to school. No = go to school!
- Does your tummy hurt? Yes = eat something or take a Tums, then go to school. No = go to school!

Bottom line - it's your job to go to school every day, except in extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances are determined by the parents. If you do stay home, it means you are SICK and therefore will spend the day in bed, not watching TV, playing on the computer, or otherwise engaged in "screen time." 

But I feel sick all the time? How can I feel better? Eat healthy food, exercise every day and be involved in fun activities. Manage your time wisely; do your homework and chores and relax afterward. If you are not doing these things, you are not doing yourself any favors and you will not feel great every day! Don't you want to feel great every day? 

Over the years, this list has elicited many a laugh from people reading it while standing in our kitchen. Now that I look back at it, it is a grim reminder of the many days I spent wheeling and dealing with one kid or another over whether they were sick enough to stay home (they almost never were). The times they were truly sick it was obvious and apparent. But, oh, the dreaded mornings of waking to a kid standing silently by my bed, willing me to wake up with their mind. When I cracked open an eyelid, I'd be greeted with "I don't feel good" followed by a litany of symptoms. Thus, the list, borne out of my frustration over debating whether or not they "had" to go to school (answer: yes!). Luckily, once I got the first two graduated, the youngest two have either learned from their siblings' mistakes, or they like school more, or they are just smart enough not to piss me off in the morning, because I no longer have to keep this sign posted. My sophomore is in an independent study program so already gets to stay home most days, and my freshman is totally invested in school, even though he complains bitterly about anything and everything school-related. He still gets straight A's and is involved in many extracurricular activities. Most importantly, they're old enough to stay home alone when they're truly sick, and I almost never wake up to a disheveled child standing next to my bed, preparing their speech that will secure their freedom from school one more day. Plus, the older ones have had a taste of the real world and they now know (I hope) what a piece of cake going to school really was.

Can I stay home from school? NO!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Driving me crazy.........

Three of my four kids now have their driver's license. I have NO idea how this happened because just yesterday they were playing with Barbies and watching Elmo's World. Yet, somehow, one-by-one, they all obtained a license to drive. Don't you have to be at least 16 to get one of those? Oh yeah. They ARE 16. And 18. And 20. *Sniff!*

I'm a firm believer that a new driver does best when they are finally left to their own devices - no parent barking orders or shouting "brake, brake, BRAKE!" in ever-urgent tones. Once the new driver has some peace and quiet, they actually start to enjoy driving.

Still, that is NO excuse to do what I did tonight. I let my newly-licensed driver (like, by five HOURS!) take my newly-permitted son out in the DARK at NIGHT so they could watch a high-school improv show. They went to a school they had never been to before, and I think they might have had to take the freeway to get there.

I can't look.

Meanwhile, I was taking my husband to the airport so that by the time I texted "Text me when you get there!" I received a text back saying "We're here." So, there's that. They arrived safe and sound. But they still have to come home!

Lord, help me.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superbowl victory?

Today's the big day! The Seahawks are in the Superbowl and the whole state is celebrating. Will they defeat the Broncos? We'll know in a few hours, but I believe the Seahawks have already won. Even if they don't bring home the trophy.


Because of the 12th Man. The 12th Man is the legion of fans that support the Hawks. We're a fickle bunch here in the Seattle area - fair-weather sports fans who don't always stick around in the tough times. Once upon a time we had season tickets to the Seattle Supersonics (remember them?) and I would lament the "fans" who would rush out of the stadium before the game was over when we were losing. We stayed till the very end. Because that's what fans do. And also, we bought those expensive tickets.

Now, I'm not going to pretend I'm a super sports fan. I'm not. I didn't even much like watching my own kids' sports games when they played (sorry, kids!). I'm a firm believer that no kids' sporting event should last longer than an hour, and that heavy rain should be reason enough to call off practice. But I've sat through many a long, long baseball game in pouring rain because....well, I think it's in the job requirement of "mom" and so I did it.

But I've never really been one to follow our major sports teams. Heck, I probably can't even NAME all of our sports teams here in Seattle. I know the Sonics are gone (haha) and I know the Sounders are popular. The Mariner's have always been fun to watch now and then and then there's football. I've only been to one Seahawks game (and it was in the Kingdome - whoa am I ever aging myself with that admission!). I've watched a handful of games over the years.

But this year something has been different. People are excited. Pumped up! And the spirit of the 12th Man is contagious. I work at an elementary school, who's principal is a big sports fan, so our "Blue Fridays" have been popular. Everyone comes to school wearing Seahawks colors or jerseys, hats, hair colors, scarves, arm warmers (love those!). Our P.E. teacher told me she has SEVEN Seahawks jerseys. Everything celebratory seems better with kids, too. My kindergarteners don't even know what they're celebrating but they come with Seahawks spirit each Friday, excited and bubbling over. One of my sweet little guys told me a story on Friday: he was looking for something and his mom said to go look in his room. He went in and found a Seahawks t-shirt from his dad on his bed, waiting there as a surprise. This little boy was so thrilled to have his own Seahawks shirt; he had wanted one all season. He was SO proud of that shirt.

It's fun. And more than that, it brings people together in ways that are so creative, so kind, and so fun. The Seahawks players themselves have done so much giving back to the community. It's inspiring. Going out in public, no matter where - the grocery store, a gas station, a restaurant - this week has been a sea of blue and green and people greeting each other with "Go Hawks!" You can't drive down any street without passing a car flying the 12th Man flag.

It's the spirit of the 12th Man that has brought a city, no, a whole state, together for one cause. Of course we want a win. That would be history-making! And imagine the celebration! But I think, in a lot of ways, the Seahawks have already won. Because they sparked the spirit of the 12th Man. And it has taken off in ways no one could imagine. If anything, the absence of the 12th Man will be the biggest hurdle for the Seahawks to overcome today. But so many are there to cheer them on, and certainly they carry with them the spirit of the 12th Man from afar.

So, I say "Go Hawks!" Bring home a trophy. Give Seattle a Superbowl win and make history. But know that here at home, you've already won. And we salute you.