Monday, September 19, 2016

Too old for weekend projects..........

This weekend we embarked on an ambitious project - turning my office into a guest room! The reasons for this were many. That particular room has morphed from playroom, to my personal office/junk room/convenient dumping zone, to a kid's bedroom, to another kid's bedroom, back to an office, to a room housing two teen friends who lived with us for a while, back to an office and finally, to a guest room. It will still double as "my" space since the closets are full of empty promises - scrapbooks I'll probably never make, photos that live in dark boxes, craft projects that may or may not come to fruition - but for the most part, it's slowly becoming a sanctuary for our family and friends who might be inclined to visit.

But, here's the thing. I think we're too old for ambitious weekend projects. Two days of painting, cleaning, organizing, purging, errand-running and sweating was not enough to complete the project fully, and my husband spent a good chunk of today "icing his back" which meant he was napping upstairs. The house is in all sorts of disarray. It will take the rest of the week to sort it all out. And I'm sort of "over it" already but now there's this big mess. Sigh.

I started the weekend off with a detailed list. It included ALL of the things needed to transition my office to a guest room, and also things like "finish book club book" and "clean bathroom". HAHA! I crack myself up. I didn't plan on things like buying a headboard and footboard that required a special bed frame that NO store in the world carries, but that can be ordered online. That, alone, put us behind schedule, because, you know, TWO days was all we allowed. My husband primed and painted while I sorted through years' worth of stuff. And you know how one things leads to another? Well, once we started on the room, we decided some things needed to be stored in the garage which led to a mini clean-up of the garage (haha - just a two-hour detour) and the next thing I knew, I was sorting through the kids' dress-up clothes. What the hell? My kids don't even play dress up anymore, but you never know when you might need a Halloween costume, right?

In the meantime, I was posting stuff to give away on my gifting group, and people were coming and taking crap off my porch all day long. I even somehow got the outdoors involved by deciding that the lava rock we have in the dog run needed to go, so some nice ladies came and scooped up wheelbarrows full of that nasty rock and carted it off for their own gardens. Because, used lava rock has everything to do with a new guest room. Right?

This morning I decided to make a rare trip to Walmart. I almost never go there because.....Walmart. But where else can you outfit a whole room for such a bargain price? So, armed with just three chocolate-chip cookies and a travel coffee mug full of milk, I headed into the unknown. Upon arriving I met the gaze of a disheveled young man lurking in the parking lot. He was pacing and looking around nervously and there was evil in his eyes. Or maybe just disinterest. I immediately asked myself why a young 20-something man was lurking in the parking lot of a Walmart at 9:45 a.m. and I could only come up with all manner of criminal scenarios. My next gaze met a slightly older man pacing in front of the store, smoking a cigarette. I surmised the two were connected somehow, the 20-something and the 30-something, and surely they plotted evil. I contemplated not entering the store. The 30-something extinguished his cigarette, put the butt in the garbage and headed inside. Ah, just an employee on his smoke break. Nothing to see here, folks. (I still kept an eye out for the shifty college kid, though). Also, I need to stop watching crime shows.

I acquired most of the bedding in short order, and began my quest to purchase a laptop for a family member who is in the hospital. I circled around to the laptops, became utterly confused, stood in the aisle for several minutes researching laptops on Amazon, then remembered I forgot to buy a mattress pad. So, I circled back around to the bedding again. Then, I thought, a blanket would be nice. And, oh yeah, I needed some new hand towels for the guest bathroom. And a birthday gift. And a stuffed hedgehog that makes a sound like a pig (for the puppy) and a big bottle of Tums because I was in Walmart. Back to the laptops. This time, I would ask the kind young man working the register to help me. I asked a few basic questions and he stood, slack-jawed with nary a spark of understanding in his eyes. "You know," he said, "I'm not very techy - I'm kinda behind on technology. What I DO know is gaming - do you have any gaming questions?"

I messaged my neighbor, who is my go-to for all things computer-related, and he was kind enough to muddle through the options with me over the phone. Slack-Jaw came around a couple of more times asking me if I needed any help. I told him I had "my guy" on the phone and I was good. I remembered a few more things I needed, grabbed a bedside lamp for the guest room because it was cute and matched the bedding, saw pumpkin spice oatmeal so of course I had to get that, and just because I happened down the aisle that sold Pioneer Woman kitchenware, decided I really did need two new saute pans from the "country kitchen" collection. And then I remembered the stupid bed frame and went to the furniture aisle only to find out that Walmart doesn't carry it, so I called several mattress and furniture stores from the rug aisle while I picked out some kitchen rugs, because the puppy chewed all of mine.  Oh yes, the laptop.

I decided on the one I wanted, acquired the actual laptop with the help of Slack-Jaw's co-worker who knew how to retrieve one from "the back" and then enjoyed a personal escort to the cash register, lest I decide to tuck the 16x12 laptop box under my arm and make a run for it, wearing my heeled sandals that I can barely walk in, much less run. Plus, I don't run.

On the way to the register, we passed through a beverage aisle. Three hours at Walmart had made me tired, slightly sweaty, thirsty, starving and near tears from all the DECISIONS I had to make. I spotted a bucket of margaritas and I paused, contemplating opening the spout and letting the contents pour into my open mouth. But then I remembered that you have to put the actual tequila in the bucket first and it's better frozen, and they frown upon acts of desperation in Aisle 10. So, I continued on my way and the employee/pretend security agent walking with me was kind enough to pause with me, let me have my fantasy, and move on without a word or judgement.

At checkout, a total rang up that rivaled my most expensive Costco shopping trip. I loaded up the car, by this time shaking from hunger, and called my husband to bitch about how long this shopping trip took me, and did he want anything from Taco Time? And why was he just now finished painting? Did he KNOW it was after noon?

After a delectable lunch of soft tacos that came back to haunt me hours later, we got back to work. Right around the time my brother-in-law texted me that he was on his way. TO STAY IN OUR GUEST ROOM! At that moment, the room was empty with painting tape still surrounding the windows and door. The house was beyond messy, piles of stuff everywhere, and I knew I needed to surrender to the fact that yet another ambitious project with an impossible deadline did not get completed.

We pressed on, dragging the bed and box spring into the room to rest on the floor, since the frame won't be available until tomorrow. I washed and dried all the new bedding, but the Egyptian cotton blanket I purchased on one of my circles around Walmart took THREE hours to dry so now I already HATE that blanket and it hasn't even experienced life outside of its plastic zippered pouch for more than half a day. I finally made the bed at 9:30 p.m. except for that stupid blanket so I hope our guest doesn't freeze tonight for lack of warm bedding.

I just really want to hire people to make my ideas come to life. This working hard thing is so overrated. But maybe in a few days, the room will actually look sort of put-together. And I'll take a picture and post it online and say "look at our new guest room - so cozy and peaceful - come and visit and rest here while all your cares float away under your Egyptian cotton blanket!" And I will enjoy the two seconds while that room is actually clean and peaceful, before someone dumps a random pile of crap on the bed because it's "the spare room". Tonight..........tonight it's the guest room in all it's soft, grey, bare walls glory with magazine-perfect bedding and NO Egyptian cotton blanket because that's still in the dryer. We tried!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The last first day........

Yesterday my 17-year-old son left for his last first day of school. He's a senior and his sisters have all graduated. That means my time as a mom with school-aged kids is creeping to a close and I don't know how to feel about it.

On the one hand, HALLELUJAH! I won't miss all the forms to sign, the major guilt trips to volunteer, difficult teachers, the morning rush, the fees that bleed my checkbook dry. There is a certain joy in having your children grow into independent adults - driving themselves to their own jobs and their college classes, picking up their own deodorant at the store, occasionally even asking what YOU might need at the store, or dropping by with an unexpected coffee treat they purchased on their own. It's wonderful to see them navigate adult situations with grace (or sobbing, depending), and there's nothing quite like having an unguarded conversation with a child who becomes more of a peer than a dependent.


I WILL miss watching my kids perform on stage in drama productions. I will miss volunteering for fun events, having a busy schedule filled with "kid stuff", being part of a school community, and hosting a gaggle of teenagers for a party. I will miss the predictability of a school year schedule, nine months of school and summers off, with planned vacation breaks. I will miss field trips, parties, bus stops and projects. I will miss choir concerts, band concerts, early-morning cheerleading, baseball games, softball games, dance classes and recitals, art lessons, and, yes, even the driving to and from places for hours each day. A lot of these memories have already gone; slipped away with the early years of school, and been replaced by trips across the country and a kids who have been driving for years.

But I will mostly miss this:

Our little, cheap, poster board "Back to School" sign that has graced each and every one of my boy's first days of school. And almost every one of his sisters' first days. It was an afterthought, really, something I saw online most likely, that made me search for something to make a sign with. All I had was a piece of yellow poster board, likely already written on, that I ended up cutting a small piece of. I decided to leave the year off so I could just add a sign year after year. Somehow, in 15 years, I managed to find a piece of yellow paper somewhere around the house to attach to the bottom of the sign with the proper year written on it. 

Other parents thought it was clever and borrowed it for their children. It was used at the bus stop every year until my youngest was out of elementary school. 
See those kids? They're all so old now!

My kids rarely complained about the obligatory photos. I even took it so far as to have them take it into the classroom on occasion to be photographed with their teacher.  

This picture made it into Family Fun, a national parenting magazine! 

In later years, this idea became more popular, with crafty parents employing elaborately-decorated chalkboards listing the child's stats - their current teacher, what they wanted to be when they grew up, their year in school - and I thought about upgrading, but as things happen, I ran out of time or energy or maybe I was just sort of attached to our silly yellow sign. And so it stayed. 

This First Day of School sign captured my kids at every stage and looking back on them is a treat - and perhaps a laugh or two! The clothing choices, the braces, the hair color - all reflect the individuals who weathered the storm of K-12 school and lived to tell about it. 

Clearly, Hayley was the least reluctant to have the first day of school photo done. Or, I just can't find them. Either way, here she is, through the years! 

 Hannah....she was in an independent study program half of junior and all of senior year, so I improvised. 

Arlie came into our family in 2005 and thus joined the sign-holding club! 

Harrison had the most photos, since he started preschool with the advent of the sign. 

I'm going to miss having kids in school. I'm going to miss having young ones. And I'm going to miss this stupid sign. It's the little things, really. They're the ones we hold dear.