Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Things That Wait…

When I have a free evening, I feel a lot of pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I also feel, well, free — but getting a couple consecutive hours with which I can do whatever I want starts to feel like a puzzle where I analyze all of the many things on my “want to do but don’t have time” list along with those on the “need to do but don’t have time” list and try to see which things fit into the space available. And then the feeling sets in that if I do all of that and choose a “thing” to do with my free time then it is no longer free. And so I don’t decide. And I usually choose to watch TV (on the Internet since the Major talked me out of subscribing to cable…) or episodes of something I care nothing about on Netflix. (There is a notable exception here – I recently watched seasons 1-4 of Mad Men on Netflix, and I really enjoyed the entire thing. But now that is over and since I don’t have cable, my Don Draper fantasies will have to be put on a back burner for at least two more years I guess, until Netflix gets season 5. By which time I won’t care. But that’s kind of a digression, huh?)

I want to write. Something real. I often think about how this wouldn’t be so hard. I have lots of ideas, and I know how to type. I’m not cocky enough to think that I would be successful if I ever chose to actually try to, like, really write something real… but I’m smart enough to know that I’ll never be successful at writing if I don’t, uh, write. (See, really SUPER smart, huh?)

I want to learn how to quilt. I know. I’m like ninety.

I want to finish the appliqued felt stocking I’m making for Lunchbox before Christmas, since I finished Turbo’s (in just under 1 year, thank you very much. Hoping for a bit quicker completion on this next one.)

I want to finish making curtains for my kitchen. (You had no idea I was so darned crafty, did you?)

I want to edit the book that I’ve been asked to edit. Since I will actually get paid for this, it seems like I’d be more motivated.

I want to finish unpacking the boxes that are STILL HERE…

But I don’t do these things. Or any of the many many other things I really do genuinely want to do.

Because when I have a couple hours unscheduled and uninterrupted, what I want most is to do nothing at all. Or at least to not HAVE to do anything at all. And so I accomplish little. I wonder if this will change when my kids are a little bigger and I’m able to accomplish more stuff during their waking hours, freeing me up to do more stuff when they’re asleep?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flat Tires And Other Fun

Yesterday totally sucked. And the weird thing was how surprised I was to have a day completely suck. I’ve been in such a good mood (which is a new phenomenon because really, I think I’ve been in a bad mood for, like, 30 years or so). But I’ve been in such a good mood that I almost didn’t realize that the day was sucking as one little thing after another didn’t go quite right, and finally the universe (which must have been pissed to realize that I hadn’t noticed that my day was totally blowing monkey balls) finally had to do something really crappy to be sure that it had my attention.

First, I ripped a contact lens while I was rubbing it clean. I took this as a good thing, actually… see, I’m not supposed to be wearing contacts at all right now because I’m having my eyes evaluated for laser surgery in a couple weeks and they must return to their native “no contact” shape. I normally wear rigid gas permeable lenses (hard), and if that’s the case you have to have them out for 3 weeks prior to evaluation. But I have a pair of soft lenses which I don’t usually wear because the vision isn’t as good, and if you wear soft lenses, they only make you go without for 2 weeks prior. So I kind of just “stepped down” from hard to soft for that first week because I hate wearing my glasses in public. Anyway, Monday of the second week should’ve been the first day that I just sucked it up and wore NO contacts as suggested. I was breaking a rule by planning to put in that soft lens, you see, so it was probably good that it got ripped before I could put it in.

Some other random things went wrong in the morning — I suppose all put together, I should have seen a trend… but I still wasn’t getting it. So the Universe decided to get my attention. By blowing out my tire. Luckily, I didn’t even notice. :) I was sitting at my desk, sipping my coffee, when “the owner of a blue..” was paged to the front. I quickly started feeling guilty about something that I must’ve done without realizing it. “Did I hit someone’s car and not even notice? Did I park diagonally and just walk away? Did I leave my door open (this has happened before)?” I really don’t see all that well with my glasses in, and am not super confident driving with them since I wear them so infrequently… but it turns out I was paged because someone heard air hissing from my rear tire. I called AAA to put on my spare, and the tread had totally detaced from the sidewalls. I was lucky it didn’t completely detach while driving with my tiny people in the car. That would have been scary. Luckily we have a car with this Frankenstein-style motley assortment of features, including speed rated tires that only Dale Earnhardt Jr. would really appreciate while driving two kids to the grocery store on a daily basis. Replacing them with anything normal is next to impossible. So I’m driving on my tiny spare for a couple more days until we get it figured out.

I also got some fantastic news at the dentist yesterday… I’ve always had crappy teeth. They look okay, but they’re like an optical illusion. They’re all crowned and now it seems that I’m just one misbitten apple away from having one of my front teeth fracture and crumble, as a result of my stress-induced grinding on my misaligned bite. Braces, the dentist tells me, are a necessity.

Eye surgery… braces… ? What the hell is wrong with me?? I am supposed to be having to worry about this stuff with my kids! Now it looks like I will be choosing between fixing my eyes and fixing my teeth, if we can afford to do either. I’m not even going to go into the jaw popping issue that the dentist brought up, where my jaw locks open if I open my mouth too wide… He thinks that will cause long term problems too and that it will somehow need to be ‘treated.’ Maybe we can treat it with hypnosis. Or by simply ignoring it as I’ve done for thirty-some years now…

Here’s to a better Tuesday!

No Apologies

I won’t begin by apologizing for not posting for a while. It is what it is. I’ve been busy, like everyone else at this time of year. There was the crazy weeklong Thanksgiving travel hullabaloo and lots of work stuff going on in the meantime. And those are the big rocks on the bottom of the cup. The little pebbles and the sand that have filled in every spare air pocket of time have been composed of things like Christmas shopping, considering various work scenarios, trying to write a novel and trying to figure out who that strange man is who lives at my house. Oh, wait, that’s my husband? Cool. He’s kinda cute.

Now that we’ve dispensed with that, I’ll get on to something that made me feel like posting. The gluttony of the holiday season.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. My house is decorated top to bottom as soon after Thanksgiving as I can manage. And I would keep it all up until Valentine’s Day if I didn’t worry that the neighbors would think it was tacky. I’m loving all the nooks and crannies that the new house offers that are just begging to hold some of my holiday treasures — less loving having to tell Lunchbox continually that pretty much every one of these treasures is “NOT FOR YOU! NOT A TOY! NO NO NO!” He thinks this is a new Christmas Carol that Mommy especially likes.

I love that people become more generous this time of year and go out of their way to help each other. (Let’s just forget that nasty incident that we all read about at Walmart on Black friday. Doesn’t everyone Christmas shop online now, anyway?) My favorite blog, Rants from Mommyland, did a wonderful mommy-helping-mommy thing this year that I got to take part in, and my office also had lots of donation and collection opportunities to help those less fortunate.

With all this giving going on, it is hard for me to watch my tiny gluttons completely miss the spirit of the season. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got spirit… particularly Turbo. He informs me at least six times a day of a new thing that he wants that he believes Santa should give him. Today in the car on the way to school I told him how we had sent a gift card for Target to another family that couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for their kids so that they would be able to have some toys under the tree. I explained how some children were happy to have even one gift, and how maybe we didn’t need to worry about how MANY things Santa would bring, and instead that we could just feel happy that we could count on Santa at all. I told him about how some children went to bed each night not knowing if they would have food to eat; that some kids just like him didn’t even have their own bed to sleep in or their own houses to live in. I made myself cry, so I know I was really hitting some poignant issues. I was sure that something I said would get through and was just waiting for the recognition to color the next very meaningful thing that he said. So here’s how he responded:

Turbo: “Yeah, Mom, okay, but what about when I turn five?”

Me: “What does that have to do with what I was just telling you?”

Turbo: “Will I still get lots of stuff when I turn five?”

Me: “WHA? Were you even listening? You completely missed the point.”

Lunchbox: “Saaan Claaassss ga ga bada, MY LUNCHBOX!!” (it may be somewhat ironic that one of the only words that Lunchbox can say clearly is now “lunchbox.” I believe it’s safe to say that he also missed the point of my diatribe on how to appreciate the fortunes we enjoy and staying aware that there are those less fortunate than us.)

I’m trying not to feel judgmental of my four year old. I know that for kids, the spirit of Christmas is the sheer wonder that they get to open so many presents all on one day… they love the lights and the glitter and the songs and the magic, and it’s kind of hard to get anything through the thick layer of chocolatey goodness that seems to coat all kid-related Christmas topics. And maybe I shouldn’t try at this age. I just don’t want to raise unappreciative kids. I want them to KNOW that they are not just lucky, but ridiculously spoiled (thanks, grandmas…) I want them to appreciate that there are others who are not so lucky and that they can help. Maybe they aren’t ready for that at 2 and 4.

Any suggestions on finding ways to illustrate the concept of GIVING to others would be very welcome!

Happy holidays to all…

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Turbo Gets His Kicks

Turbo started soccer Tuesday night. It happens all the time, for lots of families — kids start new sports. But this was a big f’ing deal. I have never been so proud of him.

I should let you know that we’ve tried Turbo in an organized sports class once before. We tried Tai Kwon Do when we lived in the desert. And it didn’t go well. He had the physical agility and coordination necessary, but the concept of listening to a teacher and doing what the other kids were doing was not something he was interested in six months ago.

This was different. I was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to follow directions, listen to the coach, or keep himself from beating the crap out of any other kid who happened to touch his fancy new red soccer ball. I was worried that I’d be taking home a sobbing mess who screamed “I don’t want to play soccer, I don’t want to play soccer,” over and over all the way home.

I was wrong… I have never been more proud of Turbo. He listened. He followed directions. He KICKED ASS. And I shot photos the whole time, and the kid had a huge grin on his face in most of them. I saw talent, coordination, willingness to learn and most importantly, FUN! He was so excited about it all night, and he kept that enthusiasm throughout the next day. I couldn’t stop telling him how proud he made me, and not because he is actually GOOD at soccer. Because he had fun. Because he participated.

I have a kid who is a lot like me. WAY too introspective, WAY too controlling, WAY too anal. And it makes for a hard life. So I’ve made it my personal crusade to keep this kid of mine from focusing on the negative all the time, to find the silver lining that I always struggled to see. Every day on the way to school we talk about why today is going to be a great day. And every day on the way home he tells me one thing that was awesome about his day. Sometimes he has to really think hard to find something, but he does it. And soccer has made all of that effort to lift him totally unnecessary for the past 24 hours (and maybe tomorrow too!). He was proud of himself. He was happy. He was confident.

It. Was. Awesome.

I vowed to never post my kids’ real names or their photos here in order to maintain some anonymity in a scary world… and I’m struggling with that because the only way to show you how amazing he was is to post a photo. So I am breaking a rule tonight. Here is Turbo. Being awesome.