Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grandpa's house...or peaceful oasis......

Jeff and I are in San Diego at Grandpa Vern's house. Jeff comes every 2-3 months to help out around the house, visit Grandpa, and soak up some San Diego sunshine (albeit often on the rooftop while sweeping away raccoon poop). Every once in a while, we find a screamin' deal on plane tickets and I join him.

I like Grandpa's house, for a variety of reasons:
1. It's REALLY clean and neat. Everything in its place.
2. It's like a museum - around every corner there is something interesting and/or antique to look at.
3. It's quiet. SO quiet. Ahhhhh........
4. "Our" bedroom is huge - as is the bathroom - and it's like staying in a hotel, even though the surroundings are more 1980's than The Ritz.
5. The routine - grandpa gets up early, has cereal, tea and toast, goes to read his paper or watch the news, sits outside to feed "Old Blue" and the other jays, watches TV, has lunch at noon, naps or reads or watches some more TV, has dinner at 5:30, watches some more TV, and goes to bed. It's calm and predictable and it's nice to jump off the crazy bandwagon once in a while and enjoy a quiet routine with simple pleasures (Sara Lee snack cakes, anyone?), even though I tend to rise later since I'm "on vacation" and grandpa questions me about it every time. Bless his heart.
6. The stories. Grandpa has a story every minute and his mind and memory for details is still pretty sharp. He's had some amazing experiences, as anyone who has enjoyed 93 years on this Earth is bound to have, and his stories never cease to amaze me.
7. The generation gap. He is roughly twice my age and the differences in generational beliefs are apparent. He has mentioned how our girls might become "legal secretaries" and how in order to get ahead in life, girls need to go to college, while boys have it easier and can just go to work. LOL, grandpa. You're funny!
8. The dedication of my husband. It never ceases to amaze me how dedicated Jeff is to helping his grandpa, how his strong emotional ties to this house and property motivate him because of the memories he holds dear, and how he spends hours in the hot sun laboring away (or swinging from tree branches, depending on the day) and never complains or gets tired. He loves being here, he loves his grandpa, and he loves working around a home that holds his fondest childhood memories.
9. Grandpa has WiFi now. Praise Jesus!
10. The surroundings. Mt. Helix is in the distance, the beach is not far away, the sun almost always shines, and even though the landscape is depressingly brown for my Washington heart, the casual comfort of California is enough to cheer anyone up. It's nice here.
11. Grandpa likes his sweets as much as I do, so there's never a lack of treats around here.

So, while I only get to experience it once in a while (it's been a year and a half since I last visited), I am appreciating the quiet, no-stress vacation. We've already done the major tourist attractions, so there's rarely a need to feel rushed or like we need to fit something in. We'll drive up to Oceanside to visit Jeff's grandma and aunt, make a trip to the beach so he can surf on his longboard he acquired on his last trip here, and just enjoy some long, lazy days. The perfect prescription for relaxation before we head back to start up a new school year with a new job (me), a house full of teenagers, and all the busy-ness and chaos our life brings. So, for now..........ahhhhhh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to school..........

All the moms are, like "Yay! Back to school!" and I'm over here, like "NO! Summer is OVER!" because when the kids go back to school, so do I.

Working for the school district has it's perks. And they are called S-U-M-M-E-R. Because it's a lovely thing to be an adult and on a "school" schedule that allows you to enjoy a whole ten-ish weeks or so of....not working. I was going to say "freedom" but let's be serious - there's no freedom when you have kids at home. Oh, sure, mine are teenagers, but that just means the work is DIFFERENT - not harder, not easier - instead of hauling them to outdoor concerts where adults dressed like cowboys sing songs about brushing your teeth, I'm hauling them, two kayaks, a paddle board, a cooler full of food (teenagers), several large beach towels that require their own huge tote bag, a bag full of frisbees, trackball and footballs, and some large beach blankets to the beach or lake for an afternoon or evening of paddling and FUN! It's all about the FUN!

So, we've had a pretty amazing summer. We kicked it off with a wonderful trip to Montana, followed by a stop on the way home, in Coeur d' Alene to see family. We were home a few days and then we headed to Boise for some more family fun (and a chalk-art festival where our entry, if not spectacular, was the result of a lot of hard work in 100 degree weather!) I got offered my new job (at another elementary school - it's a dynamic business, people, they need warm bodies everywhere), met friends for coffee, enjoyed free Slurpee day, hit up several local parks and beaches, went to a festival, and got to cuddle a newborn baby. I went to a blogging convention with my daughter, which was a blast, enjoyed a relatively peaceful week when most of the kids worked at camp, saw Styx live in concert (33 years after I first saw them!), saw the Blue Angels perform, went to Madison Park for the first time and discovered it was a wonderland for hot, gay men, saw Us the Duo in concert at The Vera Project with my daughter, saw Book of Mormon at the Paramount, spent four lovely days in San Francisco with my husband, watched my son perform in an outdoor concert with his band, AND in the musical "Legally Blonde" which was amazing, enjoyed a nice visit with my parents, and just generally wrung the hell out of summer. Which was my goal. Mission accomplished. I also still have a trip to San Diego coming up in a couple days before I dive head-first into the new school year with a new job, new colleagues, new kids, new experiences.

Oh, and we also moved two more teenagers into our home. Friends we've known for ages who were homeless. We scrambled and in a weekend managed to pull together a bedroom with two beds for them, and somehow managed to cram all of their belongings into my tiny (former, sniff!) office. So, instead of three teens at home, we now have five. And a huge grocery bill!

And yet.......I'm kind of bummed I have to go back. There are still a lot of things on my summer "to-do" list I haven't done. I barely had any time to myself, almost no time to write, and not much peace and quiet. What I wouldn't give for some quiet days of just me, alone in the house, writing, dog at my feet, sipping hot tea from an ironic mug. Wait, that's retirement. Ok, back to reality - I'd still love to have some quiet time to write and explore my true passion. There's always something to do, someone who needs something, and urgency around every corner. I know one day (soon) the house will fall quiet as the kids go off to their own corners of the world to live their own lives. And I'll huddle up in a ball on the couch and cry and sip tea out of an ironic mug that I won't find funny.

For now, chaos reigns. As it has year after year in our jumbled household. I guess I wouldn't have it any other way. But going back to work just adds one really long chore to my day. I'm excited about my new position and hope it's fulfilling, but honestly? It's always just been a job to me. I work for money, to help us get by, to buy cereal and granola bars. My days will fill up so quickly, my quiet writing time will be almost non-existent. What I wouldn't give to stay home and make a living writing. But, alas, not yet.

So, it's back to schedules and chore lists and making the kids pack their own lunches, and taking their electronics away every night. They hate that, but it encourages sleep. And they have to catch the bus at 6:37 a.m. Which is horrendous. But we'll all adapt and get used to it. Things will fall into place. It will all be o.k.

I'll just keep telling myself that.............