Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Funny Things I've Heard Lately

I think by the time my kids leave the "nest," I'll have enough funny stories to go on the road as a comedian. Of course, by then, I'll also be ready for the nursing home so maybe I should hit road a little sooner!
Miss A has a new nickname around these parts: "Miss Literal." She takes everything literally. Everything. One of the other classrooms brings out the "playground box" at lunch. It's their job to haul out the balls, jump ropes, and sundry items for the kids to play with outside during recess. Miss A was convinced they only brought it out for their class and not to share. She's yet to use one item out of the box, because it belongs to Mrs. N's class. No convincing on my part or that of her siblings that the toys were for all Kindergarten kids would do. We had to tattle to the teacher, who finally convinced Miss A that it was for everyone!

Sunday in the car, she took Literal to a new level however. After we dropped Miss M off at her softball game, Miss A and I were driving around looking for a parking place. Having just talked the day before about old fashioned Sunday Night Drives when I was child, Miss A quickly pointed out to me that "this does not count as a Sunday Drive, there is no ice cream involved." Here I just thought I was killing time waiting for a spot to clear up in the softball lot.

We've started the High School Search for Mr. C. Don't even get me started on this process and all that I find wrong with how our school system picks who goes to what school, etc. Let's just say that while I "love" our elementary and middle school options, I'm looking around for the best HS for Mr. C. Last Friday was a day off of school so he "shadowed" a student at a local college prep all boys school. He had to get up at normal school time, put on dress pants and dress shirt, and go to school! Oh, the inhumanity of it all.

Suffice to say; he really liked the school, thought the boys were nice and the atmosphere was very excellent for learning. There were no slackers he said. His favorite part, The FOOD, was Excellent. All you could eat, so he helped himself to three milks! Yes that's right we'd be doling out tons of money for a great education and the best part would be the food in Mr. C's mind.

When I said maybe he should think about Boarding at the school (an option, but we are going the Day Student option if it's our choice) he said, "Well I'd miss you all, but the food was good!!"

Miss M is feeling right at home in the Improv Fest group. Last week, they not only practiced for the upcoming performance, they had a special presentation on the 7th and 8th grade Drama Club trip to NYC to see Broadway Shows. Miss M told us to start saving our money, she's going. Not only do they see three shows, they get a tour of NYC sights, stay in a fabulous hotel with 24 hour security right outside their doors, and be a part of all that is New York.

Now, according to her, all she has to do is get over her fear of Elevators. Guess she's not too excited about the stairs at the Empire State Building. She's got at least two years to work on this little phobia or it is the Midwest forever for her.

Fall is officially here and with our entire family is sneezing, coughing, hacking up a lung and suffering from seasonal allergies. It's almost like a symphony around these parts with all the noises coming from various body parts.

Mr. C has been hit the hardest lately and I'll loved his comment on how unfair it is to suffer allergies: "it's no fair that I'm not sick enough to stay home, but I'm sick enough to be miserable. What kind of sickness is that!" Well my son, it is the best kind.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Dreams of Being Amish Have Died

It's funny how accustomed you become to the modern conveniences of life, that when they are "broken" or out of order it throws your whole life into a quandary. Today, a nice man came to fix my dryer. I was oh so grateful to him, I told him I'd be throwing a Laundry Party tonight.
He did not seem impressed.
It's funny how much I missed this little appliance that I really don't like. Twice this week, I've had to go the laundry mat just to keep up with the piles. Twice this week, we had wet Bathroom towels laying in heaps on the bathroom that I was sure were going to be moldy by midnight. Two of my children decided to get rather wet helping me put flags in the lawn where the sprinklers were and, of course, with no dryer the clothes stayed wet for hours.
I did let the children change. Not because I wanted too, but I was afraid of the parenting police yelling at me that they would catch pneumonia.
It's funny that in the midst of all this upheaval of my "perfect laundry system" (yeah right Jill), I'm reading a book by Beverly Lewis "The Missing" about an Amish Family. I love these type of books and they transport me (in horse and buggy of course) to a different place and time. I can see myself in the big kitchen, making homemade bread, big pots of stew, and stoking the fire to keep the main floor warm for the children.
When we were first married, we had family living in Harrisburg PA and P and I went on a day trip to Amish Country. I bought books about Amish Life, sampled their home cooking, and left with big dreams that we were going to shed our suburban lifestyle and become Amish. My husband thought I was nuts. Either that or cute.
Fifteen years later, I guess you can say my dreams of living a "simple life" have died. I can't live 4 days without an Electric Dryer. Really. By this morning, I was chomping at the bit for the repairman to come and fix it already. When he told me I needed a new part and he didn't have it on his truck, he must have seen the look of fear on my face as he very calmly told me not to worry, they had it at the shop and he'd be back in an hour. He even left the dryer in parts to prove his commitment to return.
My Amish dreams have died, but at least I have clean clothes!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wherein I Admit I'm a Snob and I Begin to See The Light

In my imagination, I am a comfortable in any situation, with any group of people, and can live through anything.

In reality, I am nervous in front of a crowd, shy around strangers, and uncomfortable in confrontational or scary situations. I like my creature comforts and don't really like going to far out of my "comfort zone" either politically, worship style, lifestyle, or culturally.

Guess you could say I'm far from Christ and his ability to be all things to all people and fit in with the beggars and lepers as easily as the scholarly and wealthy.

Honestly, you could probably call me a snob. Or a snot. Spoiled. Suburban. WASP. Lots of names come to mind. I like where I live, the people in our sphere who are a lot like me, and I find comfort in the known.

Yesterday, I was out of my element. I ventured into a Laundromat for the first time in probably a decade or more. Our dryer is not spinning and thus the clothes I put in yesterday morning stayed wet! That also meant the the sopping wet clothes in the washer were going to stay that way.

After Pilate's, I took my two huge laundry baskets of wet clothes (and, of course, a basket of still dirty clothes) to the Laundromat to finish the process. That's it. No laundry soap, no hangers, no quarters; just my basket, a book and a dream of walking out in half an hour.

Reality says that I was ill prepared for my visit to Wash World. I did not have all the right supplies, I did not know the lay of the land, or the right machines to use. The crowd on a Tuesday morning was different than any other group I hang with on a normal basis. There was the Army Dude with biceps bulging and tattoos everywhere visible. The young mother with a crying toddler who looked stressed and depressed. The elderly man who looked lonely. The smart alec young man who looked hung over and was trying desperately to listen to his Ipod over the loud television.

Where did I fit in this group? I was the suburban mom with wet clothes who had no clue.

Mr. Army gave me some Tide for my one load of wash, told me not to waste my money on the "vending box of soap" it's bad he said, decades old. The young mother looked longingly at the book I was reading and we talked a little about the Library and ordering books online and how easy it is to read on the go. Her little girl giggled, smiled, and finally fell off to dream land.

The elderly man needed help getting the dryer to work, and since I had just figured my machine out, I offered my "expertise."

I wished I'd try to reach out to the young man in the corner, but I was nervous. Reality says I was probably too snobby to try. He was "rough" and I had little in common with him.

The Laundromat is not a place I plan to "hang" on a regular basis, but it taught me some things about myself and others that I'm not I could have learned anywhere else. Yes, I like my comfort zone and am most happy in my own little world, but sometimes it's nice to "see" a glimpse of the rest of life and realize that there are lessons there too!

Now I'm just praying the Dryer is an easy repair and that my next "visit" out of my comfort zone doesn't involve quarters and hangers and big industrial machines. Maybe I could hang out at the hip coffee shop in the "liberal/granola" part of town and learn a few things there.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rule Followers,Drama Queens and Teenagers

It's been a crazy week. I told my husband I feel like the stay at home mom who is never home. Sadly my house shows it this week and, until this afternoon, that included my fridge and cupboards that were rather bare.

Two Open Houses, the PTA Fundraiser Counting, BSF starting again, Soccer Game, First Girl Scout Meeting of the Year, and of course meals, laundry, mowing, showering, chauffeuring children and sweating each morning at my exercise class. No wonder I'm tired.

School Open House is such a lesson in childhood behavior. First, we had the junior high open house in which the 5th grader was dying to show me all her classes. She even wanted to do them in order so I'd get the picture of her day. Then we had the 8th grader who told me it was stupid to go to Open House. No one went. Because his school has team and block scheduling, he has the same exact teachers as last year. All the same except for his Spanish Teacher. Why would I need to see any of them, they were old news. Mr. C was bored to tears. His only joy that night was keeping a tally of how many of his teachers told me what a "wonderful young man" he is. I guess it's going to his head a little bit!

M was thrilled to walk around and introduce us to the teachers, point out her locker, and give us the "details" of life in the hallways. She's in her element. To brag a little about Miss M, she tried out this week for the school's drama club Improv Fest. 120 tried out for 50 slots from 5th to 8th graders. M made the cast!! She's tickled and we are so proud.

Last night was Open House at the Elementary School. Miss A was so anxious all week to show us her classroom, some of her work and introduce us to "all" of her teachers. That's right, we had to go see the Art Teacher, Music Teacher, Gym Teacher, Librarian, and the School Counselor. I'm not sure some of those teachers get much action on Open House night. (Recall that we've been at this school for 9 years already- we kinda know our way around. But we let Miss A have her moment of glory)

They were all so thrilled to say what a joy she is to have in class. How polite and smart. She was beaming the whole time. Because Miss A had a soccer game on the same night, we had to stop at a gas station to change our of our uniform into "real clothes" because that would be so much more appropriate.

Let's just say she's a rule follower. Twice this week, she's put me in my place about "rules" at school. First, she told me that she could not take two dimes and nickle for milk money at lunch. "They only allow you to give one coin; I have to take a quarter Mom." I tried to explain it was exactly the same thing, but she wasn't buying.

Today, she told me she can't wear "hoodies" to school. I questioned her. She wasn't budging. I explained the M and C wore hoodies all the time when it got colder. They loved to have them for recess or in the classroom. "Nope, not anymore" she said. "I'd be in big trouble." Finally, I pulled out of her the real answer. You can't wear "hoodies" with the hood up in class. Miss Rule Follower has promised me she might be willing to wear a few hoodies to school as long as I understand they might get her in trouble.

I think she'll be fine.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Very Pink Day!

Saturday was a Pink Day around these parts. Miss A had her parents to herself for the entire day and, with the exception of an early morning soccer game and tickets to a Musical, it was her choice as to what we did.

Let's just say it was fabulous. Better yet, it was Pinkalious!

After lunch at one of Miss A's favorite burger joints (where of course a burger has never crossed her lips; but their chicken fingers have), we headed off to the children's museum for one last hurrah before our membership expires. It was fabulous, but we are definitely ready for bigger and better things.

Then, it was off to the Children's Theater downtown for a Pinkalious the Musical. To say that there was more cotton candy, pepto bismol and hot pink in the place than at the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure would not be an understatement. Everyone under five feet had on one version of pink or another. Thanks to Dad, our daughter even had a curly pink tiara with matching train that she wore for the performance and church the next day too.

Pinkalious was giggly girl fun. Miss A commented that she felt sorry for the boys in the audience and figured their mother's had "made" them go to the show. Miss A giggled and cheered along with the play and the grin on her face was mile wide the entire show. She was sad when the curtain fell and asked "is it really over?" I think she was hoping for intermission.

To top off our perfectly pink day with our favorite Kindergartner, we headed to a local cupcake shop for a treat. Miss A picked a flavor and design that was perfect; Wild Thing. An adorable tie die cupcake with green and blue frosting.

Spending one on one time with Miss A was such a blessing, a moment in time we will not soon forget. I think we all had a fabulous, pinkalious day!
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Morning Ladies

I've just returned from a wonderful morning spent with some women who desire to know God more, are crazy in love with their families, and desire to be visible women of faith in our little part of the world. None of us are perfect. No one has all the answers to life questions or understands completely what it means to be a "proverbs 31 women" in today's culture. However, the desire to be constantly striving for that goal is evident in faces of those women sitting next to me at Paradise Cafe and Bakery this morning.

It is a fitting place to meet for our "Mom's Bible Study Group" don't ya think! This is a group of women that in one form or another has been meeting for almost 8 years. What started as a small group of women with children at our public school neighborhood elementary has grown to a group of moms with kids from Preschool to College at private and public schools across our city.

We've done Bible study on topics ranging from Friendship, Prayer, and Women of the Bible to Topical Studies on individual books of the Bible. Our discussions range from deep and meaningful to totally off topic tangents. We are doing life together. Sometimes that means we are talking about parenting or marriage issues, school choices and life choices and all the gunk in between.

We pray together and for each other. We lift up our schools, our teachers, and our kids. We do a "service project" every Christmas for families in our school that gives us as much joy and pleasure as the recipient, and maybe more. We stand up with our kids on See You at the Pole Day and pray. We celebrate Christmas each year with a Happy Birthday Jesus Party that's wild and crazy.

What I love the most about these women is that, while we don't always agree on issues of politics, parenting, or life, we do all agree about Jesus. Really isn't that all that matters. We accept each other, care for each other and, in essence, live as One Body of Believers. Our hearts are safe in this group. We don't all go to the same church or worship in the same way, but we all worship the same God. We leave our denominational differences at the door. We act like the "Church" is suppose to act.

I know that "church ladies" are not always this way. Churches and women's Bible studies too often have a culture of personalities where cliques form or it's all about the "act" and looking and acting the part of the perfect Christian lady. I know women who use to be great friends who no longer speak because of what has happened at church. Church can be a place of great belonging, but it can also be a place of quiet loneliness if you are on the outside. While I love my church, I know that it's not perfect because it's filled with imperfect people who just need Jesus.

That's why I love my Friday Ladies. That's why this morning with a horrendous headache and list of chores I wanted to do before the weekend, I dragged my little sweet body to Bible Study to be with these women and get started on another great year together.

To see the "church" like this. No wonder we meet at Paradise!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lessons from the Early Weeks at Home Alone

This is my third week of being an at home mother with children who are no longer "at home" all day. I'm starting to settle into a routine, but I still find I'm stumbling along this unknown path.

I thought I would accomplish most of "to do list" in the first month. Seriously. I thought that every closet would be clean, the kitchen and family room would be painted and I would have started back scrapbooking. In my mind, I'd have like 6 hours a day to do it "all" and still have time for me.

Reality, however, says my "to do" list is still long. My goals and ambitions while admirable are not realistic. Here are a few of the lessons I've learned thus far:
  1. Getting up every day at 5:30 so I'll have a forty five minutes "alone" before the big kids get up means that I'm ready for a nap every day at 3:00 which is right when the big kids are getting home.
  2. The problem with a clean house (let me tell you it's been a decade since it's been this clean) is that I expect it to look this way all the time. That's pressure for me and the kids.
  3. There have been days when the only person I talk to is myself. If I'm spending the whole day at home doing projects and the phone doesn't ring it's just me for six hours. No silly laughter, no requests for mom, no idle chatter about life. It can be very quiet.
  4. I didn't realize how much fun I was having until it was over. I never realized how fun it was to sit at the lunch counter with a little person and get their perspective on life. Miss A over these last few years has been a wonderful companion. I have not laughed as much these last few weeks without her smiling face around here as much.
  5. The hours I used to think of as the "Bewitching Hours" from 3:00 to dinnertime when I was tired and the kids were tired and cranky have become precious. We instituted a new rule; no electronics until after dinner unless it's for homework. The big kids are really struggling with this one, but it's been a huge blessing to have their undivided attention. We've done crafts, sat in the same room and read books, had a snacktime that did not involve fights over the TV remote.
  6. Carving out "me time" everyday is important. I've started going to an exercise class in the mornings and while my muscles ache, it feels good. Reading a book sitting on the couch is so much better than reading while waiting in the carpool line. I've read almost 7 books in the past three weeks! (I'll give you my summer reading list later)
  7. Having lunch out does not always involve BK or chicken nuggets. My mom and I had lunch last week and went shopping; just us. I bet it's been 13 years since we've sat in a real restaurant and not had to ask for a children's menu. I had lunch with a friend and I didn't have to think about what Miss A would eat.
I'm learning more each day about how I want to structure this "time" in my life. It's a process and I'm not gonna rush into anything big or make any huge changes in how I've been doing life for the past decade.

For now, I've got a closet to clean and some wallpaper to remove before I take a short rest at 2:30 and crack open my book and drink some ice tea waiting for the bus to pull up around 3:00.