Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Belong

I haven't written about what I am about to write about since it happened a few weeks ago.

On purpose.

Because I don't necessarily believe in signs. Except that maybe this was one, and I didn't want it to be.

I have been here in this life long enough to figure out that there are two forces at work in everything that happens to us. One being our individual effort and desire to make something be. The other being luck, fate, inevitability, whatever you want to call it.

As much as we may want to believe that we alone control our destinies, we don't really. We have a say in it to some degree, it's true. We can try to change the course of events, we can speed the process, we can dig in our heels and fight when we don't like the path our lives head down. We can.

But you've got to admit that life has a lot more to do with chance than will.

I'm just a natural skeptic I suppose and have had too many bad things happen in my life and in the lives of people I love. I know that sometimes being a good person with a goal and motivation means little. Sometimes life has other plans for you.

So, it is with this as my mindset that the event occurred a few weeks back.

The thing that no one noticed but me.

We were driving back from California, away from my family, away from where I feel like I should be when it happened. I hate that drive every time. The drive out never seems as long or as hard as the one back this way.

We'd been driving for hours and hours and hours at the time it happened. The older kids were watching some movie on the DVD player, AJ was asleep. Tom was playing with his phone. I didn't mind though, I'd rather everyone else be occupied than bothering me when I am driving.

If you've ever made the trek across Utah and Colorado, you will know that last curve headed East as you cross over the state line. The one where you can start to see the Grand Mesa of Colorado. Where the scenery gets interesting again after over an hour of blah.

I've written here before this summer about how I've been missing the rainbows that usually come after the storms. It's not that there have been fewer storms, just fewer rainbows. I read too much into things, I know.

Anyway, as I drove those last few miles of Utah, the sun was thinking about turning in for the day. There was a large storm building over the mountains ahead of me, the sky so dark it was purple. As I came around that last curve, taking Colorado into view for the first time, it was there.

A huge vivid rainbow filled the sky, just as I crossed the state line.

I'd say that it was welcoming me home, but that would mean that this is home now. And I'm still not convinced that I belong here. I'm not sure I wanted to see that rainbow. No one else in the car did.

What if it was there just for me?

What if it was a sign? My skeptical brain tells me they don't exist. What if it was, though? Do I go along for the ride or do I dig in my heels and fight the inevitable?

All I really know for sure was that it was magnificent.

If this is someone's idea of a sign, it's a pretty good one.

Suck

I'm good at a lot of things.

I have a virtually photographic memory. You don't even want to know some of the things stored up there in my head.

I can type fast and read faster. I can cook and bake my way into any one's good graces. I can multitask, for real.

I can talk my way out of speeding tickets. I can convince people to let me have my way in just about any setting.

I make people.

I have some gifts in this world, it is true.

Dealing with technology, though, is not one of them.

I embarked on this whole blog thing at the urging of a friend. One who I am pretty sure had no idea how much I would love it. I don't think I knew how much I would love it.

And I do. Except for the fact that I have to do it all on a computer, that is.

Technology and I, best friends we aren't. I mean, I do okay with it. I'm not completely incompetent. But there are a few times a month where I have no choice but to just hand the computer to my husband and say fix this.

Handing it over works most of the time. Unfortunately for me, he knows nothing about html or formatting or design or templates or backgrounds. And between blogger changing their templates, my background host changing, and now the addition of code for BlogHer, I feel like my head is about to explode.

I just spent what seemed like days rearranging the layout, and now I'm in the middle of it again. Sigh.

I am hoping for some kind of feedback from you all out there about the current layout. Do you like it? Hate it? Is it easy to read? Easy to find stuff?

I can take criticism...it's okay. I know I suck.

Did I mention that another one of my gifts is a tremendously self deprecating sense of humor?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Illusion

Life is an illusion. Nothing is really as it seems. The older I get, the more I realize that.

We are all messed up in our own way. All of us. It's just that some people are better at hiding it than others.

What seems calm and peaceful and settled and balanced hardly ever is, at least not for long.

Sure, some people have it easier than others. I've always been surrounded by people who truly feel at the end of their rope over things I wouldn't even give pause to. Who wouldn't know what to do if anything really big and scary ever happened. Who are so clearly overwhelmed by the little things.

I've also known people who have it rougher than I ever have. Life just always seems to be handing them more. There is no break, no freedom from worry, no down time. For the most part, they manage to weather the storm. It's not like they have a choice.

And, it seems like I don't have a choice.

I keep on keeping on. I master the illusion.

Everything is fine.

Wink, wink.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unknown

Most people who know me well know that I like to know what's going on around me. I ask questions. I look for answers. I usually find them. I want reasons. Those are often harder to come by.

I don't do well with the unknown. Never have.

As I've gotten older, though, I am learning (often the hard way), that sometimes it's just better not to know.

There are many times in our lives that things would just be better if we didn't know what was really going on. If we were content to just live in the moment without knowing what would happen the next day.

I don't see that I will ever completely shift my mindset to one of willed obliviousness, but it does seem appealing sometimes.

I know people that live their lives that way, and let me tell you...they just seem more at peace.

Maybe it's just that there is so much in my life right now that I'd rather not know about.

Sure would be easier.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wow

Wow.

That pretty much about completely sums it up.

There really aren't other words that can fully communicate what I felt last night as we walked out of a store here in town.

We went downtown for a street festival. Watched Ashley's best friend in the whole wide world dance in front of the crowd. Admired the daring spectacles of the street performers. Wondered a few times if that was what I really thought it was...oh, and it was.

As an aside, I really have no issues with cross dressing...but if you're gonna do it, you should at least be somewhat convincing. I mean, even the kids were like, "Mom, that is a man". If you're over 6 feet tall, you should be able to rock an outfit, not wear a frumpy housewife dress. Really.

Anyhow, we were walking around being entertained. The kids went in a bounce house and when they got out Aidan asked if we could go look around in the game store right next door. I told them to ask their father, figuring he'd say no and usher them along down the road.

I should have known better.

It was a game store, yes. But It wasn't a game store. It was a gamer store, which by the way, is completely different. I've never had occasion to be in one before. Wow.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am a dork. A nerd. A head case. Totally. I love science, random trivia, was in the advanced classes. I even had the glasses, hair, acne and clothes to go with it.

I like to think I am in recovery.

Let me tell you this, though. I am uber cool compared to what was in there. Not a single girl in the place, save the one who worked there with her tiny little dog, which was so clearly dressed up like a World Of Warcraft character.

There was the merchandise section of the store up front, the vast majority of which was dedicated to the "stuff" one needs to play online games. Then there was the obligatory adventure game section for the old school Dungeons and Dragons folk (like my husband once was, he's in recovery too, at least I hope he is).

Towards the back, it got weirder. Scepters and daggers and helmets. I had to stop looking because I knew I would start asking inappropriate questions.

Then I realized that the entire back half of the store was full of tables. And they were about half full of actual people playing the games.

I whispered to my husband that I needed to get out of there quickly before the dork rubbed off on me.

Then he said, and I am not kidding, "I didn't know you could play here?!?!"

Apparently he has more dork left in him than I thought.

Wow.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Suenos

Words. The root of human communications and interactions.

Language is, of course, an essential part of our lives. We need it to tell others what we want, what we need, what we feel. We rely on language to build our societies, to teach our children, to govern our countries.

Though many people in this country seem to think otherwise, there is no official language of the United States. Our forefathers built a nation of immigrants on the principles of freedom and equality. Not of rigidity and requirements.

Would it be simpler, easier, if everyone spoke the same language? Sure. Of course it would. I don't think anyone would argue that. But this country isn't exactly about simpler and easier. And who is to say that English should be that one language anyway? The majority?

Beware the tyranny of the majority. Just because most people think something should be, does not make it so. Our forefathers were certain to make sure of that.

Guess I've been spending a lot of time explaining our democracy to Aidan lately, huh?

We Americans are so very interesting. We think that everyone should bend to our needs, our wants, our imagined superiority. After all, we call ourselves Americans. I'm fairly certain there are two entire continents of people that can rightfully lay claim to that title.

In a great number of countries around the world, children are routinely educated in more than one language. They've figured out something that we haven't here. We live in a global economy, international travel is a given and no man (or country for that matter) is an island anymore. Yet, here, we don't teach kids another language routinely.

We expect everyone to learn English.

Don't get me wrong, the school that my kids attend has a Spanish teacher. But thus far, all my kids have learned are a few songs, numbers and simple phrases. That, a language does not make.

There are a handful of districts nationwide that have begun immersion programs, and not just for bilingual education anymore. Full, school wide instruction in multiple languages. Forcing all the students, English speakers and not, to learn together. Some start at Kindergarten. Which, truly if you think about it, makes all the sense in the world. The younger kids are, the more they resemble sponges. They absorb and learn so much faster and easier the younger they are.

Though I did not grow up speaking anything other than English, there was a short period of time in my life that I spoke another language fluently. I started taking Spanish in high school, continuing through in college. I struggled with the conjugation of verbs, always able to understand and read far better than I could speak or write. I learned the vocabulary, but I didn't really learn the language.

Then I started volunteering at the county hospital. I was forced into an environment where Spanish was far more common than English. People needed me to be able to communicate with them. They needed me to help them. Baptism by fire. I learned.

I became fluent quickly. They say that the hallmark of fluency is when you begin to dream in another language, and I did. My dreams became suenos.

It was empowering. And as quickly as it came, it was gone. Once I wasn't in that place anymore, forced to speak another language, I started to lose it. One day, it was gone.

I am back to a book taught Spanish language learner. I can understand most things, read well, but I can't speak or write hardly at all. And it's a shame.

I wish that I had more opportunities to speak Spanish again, that I thought I could master the language again. I'm older now, and it only gets harder as you age.

Someday I hope that my children will immerse themselves in another language. That they will learn to communicate with someone who doesn't speak English. That they will rest their heads at night with other words circling through their dreams.

Suenos dulces, mis hijos y hijas.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nag

So I live with a guy.

He's one of the good ones, I know.

He's tall and handsome and kind (most of the time, except for when I ask him to move furniture and stuff....then he either pretends he can't hear me or whines incessantly the entire time, says things like I told you so when something doesn't fit). I should mention I am a serial redecorationist.

Yes, that is a word. I just invented it.

He's got a goofy laugh, a super sarcastic sense of humor which he has already so clearly passed down to at least one of the kids, and can cook the best homemade pancakes you've ever had.

He coaches and leads the kids in their activities. He taught Aidan how to keep a scorecard in baseball, took Ally to her first car race. He takes Ashley to dances, even wears a tux and everything.

He's taught the kids how to ride bikes without training wheels and how to use a cardboard box to slide down the stairs. He's the fun parent, hands down. I don't even try to compete with that.

Though this is a new house (well, by now, it is new-ish...five years old), and we haven't had to do much to it, he's done almost everything. Tiled the floor in the dining room, put up chair rails, installed all the ceiling fans. That kind of stuff. Working on this house is nothing compared to working on our last house. Gutting kitchens, framing walls, laying flooring, plumbing bathrooms. He's handy.

He isn't without flaws though, this man of mine. The one that comes to mind right now is one that tends to bug me. When I want him to do something, when I need him to do something, and he just doesn't. Because he has something else more compelling to do, like drink beer across the street with the neighbor. Which is totally fine, don't get me wrong. But this thing I want him to do would literally take him like 2 minutes.

I need him to do it because I won't. There aren't many things I won't do, but this is one of them. I need him to cut a piece of wood for me. One piece. I could learn to use the saw, this is true. I could cut the wood myself. But I don't want to disrupt the balance of power in the house. You know, the one that dictates all power tools must be operated by men only. That one.

I've asked him for three days straight now. Still no cut. I am making a growth chart, but first I need the wood cut.

I guess I'll ask nicer this time. Maybe bribe him with some homemade cookies or something. Oh wait, I tried that already.

I hate asking him to do stuff over and over. I don't like the sound of my voice repeating itself, and I imagine he doesn't either. I don't want to be a nag.

Honey, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, after you get home from work but before you go stand in the driveway with the neighbors, can you please cut the wood? (Insert batting eyelashes here).

Love you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pages

Certain things in this world bring me calm and peace. Water. Sand. Books. If the three are combined, well....life just doesn't get much better than that. At least not for me.

I did something I haven't done in a very long time today. I walked into a bookstore. I haven't done it in a very long time for many reasons.

One, I haven't had a little boy who asked to go in a while. When Aidan was little, we'd go to the bookstore all the time to play with the train sets in the children's area. But since he'd long ago outgrown that, and the girls never cared, we stopped going.

Two, I respect that bookstores are for many other people what they are for me. Calm and peace. I have kids, and kids don't much do quiet.

Three, I have been borrowing books from the library for years rather than buying them in an effort to save money.

Today, though, I walked in. I figured AJ would give me a few minutes at least of the energy I needed from the pages. The toys in the children's area held his interest just long enough for me to find about a million things I wanted to grab from the shelves and read from cover to cover.

I would love nothing more than to have a day to myself to peruse the aisles. The stumble upon something new. To read the summaries. To immerse myself in the deepest thoughts of someone else.

I have always loved to read, but I think that since I have begun writing this, I've learned to love it in a whole new way. I have a far greater appreciation of the time and thought that goes into putting words together. I have a deeper understanding of what I can communicate. I know how hard it is to avoid writing about what I feel sometimes, as well as how hard it is sometimes to find anything to write about.

Having a blog is terribly selfish in some ways. I am a writer, at least in my eyes. But who do I write for? Mostly for myself, I suppose. As of today, I write for money. I write for those of you out there who read what I write. I write because I love it, though, more than anything else.

In our day and age, someone like me, an ordinary someone, can write and be read. The internet had allowed me to have this medium, this creative outlet, this forum, and yes, sometimes this soapbox.

I hope someday to be a truly published author. I've written for trade journals in school and been published, but that simply is not the same. I've written here, obviously, and self published. One day, my dream is to really be published. To be taken seriously.

As I stood in the bookstore this morning, breathing in the smell of fresh pages, unread and untouched, I was inspired. Then, suddenly, I was a little sad. For this medium I have now, as well as all digital formats for writing, are increasing with every second. And with that increase, inevitably, is a decrease in printing.

For every book sold on Kindle, one less is printed. For every online edition of the news, one less paper comes off the presses. Nothing can replace holding the pages in your hands.

And this, this right here, will never be better than that.

OMG

It's here! Yay!

Now, I'm needing to spend some time fiddling with my layout....please be patient with me.

Oh, that and click on it! :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ruled

There is an unrelenting, driving force in my universe. Something that pushes me out of bed in the morning, something that wakes me from my sleep at night. It dictates what I can do, when and for how long. It forces me to be still and quiet at times, crazy and energetic at others.

It keeps going and going and going, this driving force. It forces adaptation, mandates change to my home, my plans, my life. It makes me tired.

This driving force, it is an exhausting one. And I know all too well that it will only get more unrelenting as the months pass. It will need more, want more, and I will have no choice but to comply.

Eventually, I know, this force will subside. I will be able to exist in my thoughts without constantly wondering if there are plans being hatched in the room next to mine. I will be able to remove the restraints required on the place I call home.

At some point, this force will be reasoned with.

For now, though, I am ruled.

I am the mother of a two year old.

A two year old who so desperately believes he is older than he is, bigger than he is, stronger than he is, faster than he is.

With the constant challenges he presents me, there is another constant. Love.

He gives me the hugs and the kisses that only a two year old can give. He runs to me, he leaps into my arms, he cries for me. He is two, and all the work that he is, is worth everything else.

I'm content to be ruled. I know this time is fleeting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crickets

It's quiet in here. Crickets, that's all I hear. Literally and figuratively.

I'm all by myself in the house, for a little while at least.

My husband, you see, has decided that he needed to become an athlete in his mid 30's. He's never been one before and I'm not quite sure what the point is, especially given the fact that he really shouldn't be doing half the things he is doing.

I'm trying to be supportive, really I am.

He played tennis all summer, joined a league. His team made it to the state tournament. Though none of the kids had activities over the summer months (except Aidan's brief experience with baseball pre and post surgery), he did. I still found myself making dinner late, shuffling plans on the weekends, even delaying leaving for vacation. For tennis.

Then, all of a sudden, the season was over. I thought we'd catch a break, at least I hoped so. The kids will be starting church and scouts and soccer and everything else soon enough. Life will be scheduled and hectic again soon.

No break though. He's taken up a new sport. Running. Which is something that, again, he really shouldn't do. Don't get me wrong, I love that he's interested in his health and fitness. But you have to understand that there are valid reasons he isn't supposed to run, and he's well aware of them.

He went and signed up to run on a relay team for the Denver Marathon anyway.

So now, he is training. Which means he has to run on a regular basis, and the time spent running will inevitably increase as he gets closer.

I try to be supportive, really I do. I just worry about him, is all.

There is one thing I love about him running, though. He takes the kids with him. The older two ride bikes, the little ones sit in the jogging stroller.

And I get to stay home in peace and write and listen to crickets.

I guess it's not all bad.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Genes

Though I can explain how it all works in a scientific sense, genetics still fascinates me. I find strange things so terribly interesting sometimes.

I see in my children pieces of others.

Sometimes they can go from looking exactly like one person to someone else in the blink of an eye.

To some people, my girls could be twins. To me, they look nothing alike.

My boys hover on opposite ends of the growth charts, yet are somehow related.

I love that though neither of the girls look much like their Daddy, when they smile their eyes almost completely disappear just like his do.

I laugh when I mistakenly call Aidan the wrong name just because he is so much like my brother sometimes.

As Aidan and Ashley have gotten older, the blue in their eyes has gone from solid to having hazel in the center, just like mine.

I wonder who else in the family must have the freckles that have started popping up on Ashley's little nose.

We pass so many things to our children, the most obvious of which is what they look like. And mine look very much like they belong to my family.

Or Tom's family. Just depends on the day. ;)

Ready

I decided something today. As I was beginning the long and arduous process of changing over the wardrobes of the kids, I decided.

I'm ready for Fall.

I want to wear sweaters and boots.

I want to drag out the boxes of long sleeved shirts and jeans from the basement.

I want crisp breezes instead of hot, hot, hot.

I want to make casseroles and soup.

I want to bake.

I want my house to smell like nutmeg and cider.

I want to make hot cocoa when the kids come home from school.

I want to turn my clocks back.

I want to take walks along the river.

I want to drive down streets covered with gold and red, swirling as the cars pass.

I want to finally take those pictures of the kids I always mean to take when the leaves turn.

I want to buy candy for Halloween twice, since it always disappears the first time around.

I want to watch my children as they await the first snowflakes of the year.

I want to cut sandwiches in the shape of a pumpkin.

I want to go on leaf hunts.

Summer didn't so much happen in my life this year, and I'm ready for it to just be done. It's okay. There's always next year.

Come on Fall.

I'm ready.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bang

There are times that I really have a hard time grasping what someone was thinking. When I want to see their reasoning, but it just escapes me. I just want to bang my head on the wall. It happened this week, and I've had a few days now to recover somewhat from the stress of it all.

There is really only one word to describe what happened on Wednesday. Chaos.

Okay, so there is another word....but it starts with cluster and ends with something else.

This wasn't chaos that was unforeseeable. It's wasn't unavoidable. It was forced chaos...which I think is even worse than true chaos. Someone actually willfully decided what was going to happen. Someone created chaos.

Wednesday was the first day of school for the kids this year. First day to meet new classmates, to adjust to new routines, to find out how new teachers were going to manage their classrooms.

The first day of school is pretty universally an anxiety ridden one to begin with. Even for returning students, there is a degree of uncertainty the first time they walk through those doors. For new kids, it's multiplied. And for new kindergartners, especially those who have never been in a school environment before, it's all foreign.

Waking up early, clean faces, brushed hair, new clothes. And nerves. A lot of them.

This is the part that I just can't understand about what happened that morning. The kids are already anxious, why would anyone consciously make a decision that would inevitably make that worse?

The decision, in this case, was to make all the kids meet in the gym at the start of the day, rather than line up outside their classrooms outside as is customary. There are so many kids at the school these days that the gym can hardly contain them for assemblies. And that is without parents and grandparents and siblings and strollers.

Most parents eventually lose interest with school. They stop walking their kids to the classroom doors, they drive by in the pick up lane, put their kids on the bus. But everyone, pretty universally, shows up for the first day. And anyone who's ever been a teacher or a parent knows this. Or should.

Yet, we were herded into the gym. And no, I'm not really being facetious when I use the word herded. There were people outside to round up those lining up by the classrooms doors, and we were all forced into the main doors in the front. Well, not all of us. We wouldn't fit.

Talk about a fire hazard. Sweaty sardines, unsure of where to go, we were crammed in there. Many people never even made it into the gym at all. It was too full.

There was no direction about where each class was supposed to line up until it was too late. Kids were essentially forced away from their parents and taken down the crowded hallways to their classrooms. Without a chance to take that first day of school picture or video. Without getting a chance to have their parents help them settle into their rooms. Sometimes without a kiss goodbye.

This is a sore spot for me especially because I had a first time kindergartner. And you don't ever get that day back. Ever.

Ally and Aidan did okay with the chaos. Some kids in the gym started to worry aloud. A few panicked about not being able to find their teachers or parents. A few were crying. I've been told at least one became physically sick because of the stress of it all. And some, like Ashley, were rattled to the core by it.

She doesn't transition well at the beginning of the school year. She's always had a hard time. But the events of Wednesday morning made her completely lose it. She was up crying hysterically past midnight. Unable to sleep, anxious and worried.

Not a single person I have talked to thought this was a good idea.

Think about the ramifications of this one decision. Think of the apprehension some of the kids will have with school. Think of the impression it put in the minds of new parents about the administration of the school. Think about all the parents, like me, dealing with the aftermath.

All of this could have been made easier for the kids if only the procedures always used before were employed. Have the kids line up outside. There is plenty of room, parents can say their goodbyes in peace, and no one has to get shoved through a line like an animal in a herd.

If it ain't broke, please don't fix it.

Leaving well enough alone, apparently, would have made too much sense. Chaos, somehow, seemed to be the better option. At least it did in someone's mind.

Off to bang my head on the wall.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stock

I should have known better. I have been living and shopping for kids clothes in Colorado long enough that I should have known. Clothing in general, but especially children's clothing is very seasonal here. Wait too long to buy something, and you won't be able to find it until next year. Really.

I should have known better. I did know better. But I thought maybe I'd get away with it this time.

I failed miserably.

Before we left on our trip, I got all the school supplies the kids would need right away, knowing full well that I wouldn't have time to get them when we got back. In addition to the time issue, I also knew that the chances of finding a red folder (let alone 3 of them) anywhere in a 25 mile radius of home in a day was almost impossible. Every school around here requires them, and you'd think that by now the stores would have caught on, and stock up on them. But no. So I did all that shopping before we left.

While we were out getting boxes and boxes of crayons and pencils, the kids started asking if they could look at clothes. No, I reasoned. We can do that when we get back. That little voice in my head told me then that it probably was a bad idea to wait, but I didn't listen. We were trying to delay spending any money until after the trip unless we really needed to. No clothes, I said. We'll do that after you go back to school.

You have enough to get by.

Here's the problem. I was wrong. Really wrong. In two days of school, Ashley has tried on and been unable to wear what seems like half her wardrobe. The kid grew. A lot. And almost nothing fits her right now. I found her something to wear today, then promised to take her shopping this weekend.

I went out looking today to find that the clothes were already completely picked over in her size. Virtually nothing left. Again, you'd think that retailers would figure out that 7 years old is about the age when girls start to really care about what they wear and stock accordingly. But no. Again.

There isn't a single pair of denim capris in size 7 anywhere in town. I looked. Four stores today, two yesterday. Tons of 7 slims, tons of 7 pluses. No 7s. I got her a couple pairs of 8s with adjustable waists and will hope that they work.

For the sake of my sanity, I hope that they work. I won't make that mistake again.

Why do growth spurts always happen at the most inconvenient times? Maybe I should just stop feeding them. Nah, that won't work.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mysterious

I feel a bit like a chicken lately. More specifically, I feel like a chicken without a head. You know, the ones running around madly. That kind of chicken.

I have way too many things to do and not enough hours in the day.

And I have to do all of them with a tiny dictator fighting me every step of the way. At least my tiny dictator is cute, and he does nap occasionally. So, I'll forgive him. For now, anyway.

I was feeling just about completely overwhelmed this morning at drop off. First day of school. Chaos. More on that some other day. I just don't have the energy to be frustrated about it again right now. Yeah, it really was that bad.

Anyhow, I knew that as soon as I got the kids to their classrooms I had to go to the store with Napoleon (the tiny dictator, aka AJ). We got the shopping done with only a few fits and one escape....I let him out of the cart to try on shoes and he took off running, laughing. That little bugger is fast, even with one shoe on.

I felt the early twinge of a migraine coming on.

Fortunately, he fell asleep on the way home and I was able to unload the car in peace. He even did me the favor of staying asleep on the trip upstairs. I put everything away, then glanced over at the laundry room, still in full post-vacation swing. I flipped the switch for the light. Nothing. Figured the other switch must be stuck in the middle. Nope.

All four of the fluorescent lights in the laundry room were burnt out. One went right before we left on the trip, but the other three must have gone out this morning. The laundry room is in the middle of the house,and it's pretty dark in there. I couldn't see anything. I couldn't do any laundry. Darn.

So I did the unthinkable, at least in my world, I laid down for a little while. I closed my eyes trying to squeeze out the light that was making my head feel like it could explode at any second. And I slept.

When I woke up, to the mischievous giggles of a newly two year old boy, I felt a little better.

There is a saying that the lord works in mysterious ways. I'm not claiming he was at work in my house today or that he had anything to do with the coincidental timing of my headache and my sudden inability to wash and dry and fold. But maybe he was and maybe he did.

And maybe, just maybe, god's mysterious ways involve light bulbs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trip

Fun things I learned (or was reminded of) on this vacation:

* When you feel like you are missing something, you are. Already an hour away from home, I realized it. The tickets to Legoland. I knew I was forgetting something....

* Vegas is far less appealing during the day. But even at night, unless you're drunk, it's still nasty. To quote a frat boy....cute from far, but far from cute. Better from a distance.

* Another fun thing about Vegas...you are taking your life in your hands just by driving on the Strip. That bad. Oh, and don't go thinking that parked cars are any safer. Mine was hit in the parking structure. Sweet.

* Driving at night is better for lots of reasons, #1 being the avoidance of I have a tiny bladder, yet feel compelled to drink water constantly then whine that I have to go to the bathroom. There are two main offenders in my family, I'll leave it to you to decide who.

* When you are in the middle of Utah and see the tiniest bit of what looks like a car peeking out from an underpass, slow down. I did but the guy behind me didn't, at least not fast enough. Whew....I missed that ticket, but just barely. Good to know I still have the eyes. ;)

* You can drive aggressively in Southern California and people don't blink an eye at it. Don't do it anywhere else though, then you are just a jerk.

* There is always traffic in L.A. Always.

* I miss San Diego way more than I thought I did. There is nothing like coming around that corner on the Southbound 5 in San Clemente to see the wide open ocean. Good stuff.

* Very strange people donate blood. Let's hope they screen it thoroughly. Seriously.

* Leaving a stroller unattended warrants a lecture from security guards. Really?

* Once hair turns green from chlorine, it doesn't like to go back to blonde.

* Driving home always sucks more...but at least we didn't have to buy a new car on the trip home like a friend of mine did. Not kidding.

* There are things you won't see outside SoCal. Lots of things. Scary things.

And, last but not least...

* It's not really vacation until someone throws up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One

We are home. And we managed, like always, to cut it so close to the edge of possibility that I'm now sitting here shaking my head.

Asking myself why I always do this.

I gave myself one day.

I mean, I know why. It's not that I'm lacking in a reason. My reason is a good and valid one, wanting to spend as much time as humanly possible back home. But then I get back here and inevitably have something I need to do almost immediately since I waited to leave until I absolutely had to.

The kids start school tomorrow. 3 of them. Aidan will be in 4th, Ashley in 2nd and my little Ally is starting Kindergarten. As if the last few days haven't been filled with enough emotion.

And yes, Gretchen, I did make it to the freeway. ;) xoxo

I'm exhausted and tired and drained, emotionally, mentally and physically. But I don't have time for any of that right now. I've got three kids starting school in the morning, a mountain of laundry calling my name, and an empty refrigerator.

Clearly, I don't have time to be writing today. Promise I will come up with something far more entertaining for tomorrow.

Love to you all.

Most of all, love to the tooth fairy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Round

I will be home soon. And waiting for me will be something, someone, who most assuredly looks different than when I left.

My dog. Maddie, the beagle.

I have two dogs, but only one of them will seem different. That, I can guarantee. Jake will be the same. He always is.

She'll be laying on her bed in the garage and she'll see the garage door open and she'll know immediately that it means we are home. She'll be excited, but that isn't enough anymore for her to just jump up and come running. Then she will put every single ounce of the energy she has left into wagging her tail. Eventually, she'll make it to a standing position. It won't be easy, and it won't be fun, but she will do it.

She's an old dog and she's a fat dog. And she's going to be a whole lot rounder when we get back.

She has a problem with impulse control generally, always has. She can't stop herself from doing a lot of things. She howls. She is wholly incapable of walking on a leash because she is so scent driven. She rolls in the piles other dogs leave at the park. (This has got to be her grossest uncontrollable compulsion) If there is food around, she's going to eat it. And she just can't stop.

She is the dog that never outgrew the puppy phase of eating and eating and eating. I swear she would eat until she popped if she could. There is just no internal sensor that tells her to stop.

Jake, a much bigger dog, is not an eater. He is the dog who would love to have his bowl out all day, full to the brim with food. He'd snack a bit here and there. He doesn't like to eat. He's never had that oh my god, I have to eat it all right now before someone else does sense of urgency. He doesn't eat much when we are home, and he eats even less when we are gone.

More for Maddie. She loves her some leftovers.

Last time we were gone, it took almost four months for her to loose that weight. Wonder how long it will take this time? Sigh.

Soon we'll be home. Soon after that, she'll be up waddling towards us, tail wagging. Happy to see us, but knowing that the buffet is now closed and her vacation eating is over.

Her diet begins tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Away

Today is the day. The one that means I will pack up my things and put them in the car and I will drive away.

Away from here.

It doesn't matter how many times I do it. It doesn't matter how many times I leave. It doesn't matter whether it's by plane or car. It doesn't matter what is going on here or there.

It never ever gets easier to leave.

I wish that I could find a reason that seemed good enough to go anymore. Find a reason that could justify living so far away from here. I wish that all the things that drove me there initially still seemed like they mattered.

I wish there weren't other things to think about now.

I wish that I still believed I was doing the right thing. That I did the right thing. I wish that I still thought moving away was the best decision for my family.

I wish that all the pros still outweighed the cons.

I wish that things were different.

And I wish, oh how I wish, I didn't have to go away.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Unamused

We spent the day at Legoland recently. The whole entire day, as in from the time the gates opened until they closed. A long time.

Maybe I'm just getting old.

Maybe I'm getting cranky.

Maybe I'm just really demanding.

Maybe I was hoping for more, especially given how much it cost to get in.

I don't know.

Or maybe it's just that I inevitably compare all amusement parks to the big one. Disneyland. And, really, nothing compares to that.

I will confess my love of Disneyland. It just is the best in the world. And it really is one of the happiest places on Earth. There's just something about being there. It's hard to describe.

Anyway, this park, this non-Disneyland, it wasn't a very amusing place for me. Or AJ for that matter.

We went there because the kids wanted to go, more specifically because Aidan wanted to go. They had a great time. Legoland was built, after all, to entertain kids, mostly between the ages of 5 and 10. That it did.

Kids are far less critical about things than adults are. They might notice that the paint is peeling off the edges of the rides, or that the tops of the rides are covered with layers of bird poop, but it doesn't bother them. They may smell the distinct odor that runs throughout the park, but they don't wonder why it is there. They see that their little brother is bored beyond frustration, but they are having such a good time themselves that they don't seem to care. They get bored in slow moving lines, but don't wonder why they move so painfully slow.

As an adult, I want to know why the park isn't maintained and cleaned. I want to know why rides have fallen into disrepair. I want to know what that smell is and why they haven't done something about it. I wonder why they won't let little kids on rides that they so clearly could go on since they will be with an adult and every other park we have ever been to allows it. I want to know why they can't run the rides more efficiently and get people through the lines faster.

But then I guess that is part of the problem....me. This place wasn't built for my benefit. And it wasn't built with any intention of competing with Disneyland. Which is a good thing, because it doesn't compare at all.

I was talking to the kids about the day they had, and whether they had a good time. They did. But they can see now the difference between a place that is just "fun" and Disneyland. They just aren't the same.

At the end of the day, as we made our way to the car, the kids were tired and happy. Aidan had his day filled of all things LEGO. Ally went on her first real roller coaster. Ashley learned to embrace the thrill of being scared. AJ occasionally got out of the stroller, and he was grateful every time. For the most part, they had fun.

They had fun, but they also figured it out. They asked if we can go to Disneyland next time instead.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Here

I know that I've mentioned before how unexciting this summer has been. It really has been unimpressive. Usually it's filled with swim lessons and play dates and camp weeks and all kinds of fun. This year, not so much.

I've been told by a few people that the kids won't remember this summer. They won't remember how little we did, how few places we went, all the activities they missed out on. How for almost two months, we did almost nothing. I hope they won't remember that. I hope so.

I hope that they will remember the last few weeks though. I hope that they will tuck those memories away into the little vaults in their heads, never to be forgotten.

I hope that someday they will look back on their childhoods and remember today.

Today hasn't been exceptional by any stretch of the imagination. It's just been an ordinary day, but it's been an ordinary day here.

And that is what I want them to remember.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Late

It's late. It's always late in my world it seems.

The only time I ever really have to myself are the hours between bedtime for the kids and about 2am.

I just keep telling myself AJ will sleep through the night someday. Like, before he goes to college at least. Right?

It's okay with me though. I'm a night owl anyway. Always have been.

I can think a complete thought without running interference between the girls. I can type a sentence without wrangling AJ as he climbs up the pantry shelves. I can finish a post without answering questions from the boy of random questions...like why do male mammals have nipples?

Ponder that one, will ya?

Night time is my time. I get a lot more done then.

I'll sleep when they are older.

Maybe. I'm not delusional...I know worrying about dating and driving and peer pressure and all that is coming.

For tonight though, no deep thoughts. No marathon posts about things that get me all fired up. I'm tired.

Goodnight moon. Meet you around on the other side. I'll be up then too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Want

What do you want in life?

How many of us can really answer that question honestly?

What do you want for your children?

That one is even harder to answer, right?

Do you want successful careers, college degrees, marriage and kids of their own? Of course you do. We all want things for our children. We all want them to be the best they can be. To reach higher, to try harder. We want them to do it all better than we did. We want better for them.

But what does that all really mean? Is success measured only in money? Is better only something that can be objectively measured? I certainly don't think so.

Ultimately, I know that the only thing I really want for my kids is to be happy. I don't want them to choose a path in life because they think that I expect it from them. I don't want them to do things because I want them to, or because they think I want them to. I don't want to find myself steering them towards something. I want them to make their own choices, to find their own joy.

I have seen what happens when kids become adults who have been pushed towards something that perhaps they didn't want. One of two things happens.

Either they go along, never really finding out what it is that they wanted to be when they grew up. They trust that others know what is best for them. Then, someday, maybe decades from then, they realize they are stuck. Suppressed by the hopes and dreams of someone else.

Or they push back. They rebel. They break away from the family, create distance. Stop sharing their hopes and dreams as freely as they used to.

I'd hope that as a parent I never put my children in either one of those places.

It's not my hopes and dreams that matter anymore.

I just want to know they are happy. That's all that matters to me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Created

Alright, alright, alright.

I try to suppress it, but sometimes I just can't fight the overwhelming urge I have to say what I am really thinking. I try to be all politically correct and unoffensive to everyone, but there are many problems with that. First of all, it's just not me. And it's way boring to be so safe and middle of the road.

Every so often I climb up on my soapbox and let it fly.

Today's one of them days.

So I'll warn you all in advance in case I offend anyone with my opinions. Truth is, they're mine. And while I'm a lot of things, I'm not terribly apologetic about things like this.

I've spent a lot of time lately in a place that is perceived to be liberal. Leftist. Progressive.

Except it isn't.

At least on one issue.

Gay marriage.

I'm all in favor of it. 100% unabashedly in favor of it. I'm not one of those fence sitting moderate liberals who will say things like they can have a civil union, we just won't call it marriage. Let them have it all.

There are so many reasons why I am in favor of it. So, so many. Not the least of which is that fact that marriage isn't something that us straight people can have claimed perfection on. Really, the divorce rate is hovering around 50%....we so don't have it figured out.

I don't understand why people care so much about what other people do with their lives. A lot of people always go to the explanation that it will confuse children, teach them to be gay and so on. Um, not so much. There are families at school with gay parents. My kids just know that another kid has two moms or two dads. It's never been an issue. It isn't a big deal for the kids. It's a big deal for the parents.

Marriage isn't marriage without calling it marriage. Anything less is not the same. A civil union is not the same. A contract is not the same.

Then there is the whole all men are created equal thing. Which I happen to believe to be the quintessential line in our American history, the one that we should hold in highest esteem and should strive to reach. It should be the goal of our society to emulate that one phrase.

Throw in the fact that being straight or gay is what it is. You are either gay or straight. Period. You don't wake up one day and decide to be gay. You don't watch a movie and decide to be gay. You don't touch a gay person and become gay. So on and so forth. There may be a very limited number of circumstances which could shape adult sexuality, but they do not explain the vast majority of sexual orientations.

Some may suppress their true sexuality, live in denial of it, try to pretend. I knew a man who did that well into his 70's. He had a wife and five children and countless grandchildren before he finally stopped living a lie. He became who he really was.

I know that a lot of my feelings on this are a direct result of the experiences I have had in my life. The people I've known. The things I have seen.

I've had friends I knew were gay since we were kids. I promise you it isn't something that someone chooses as an adult.

I worked many years for an AIDS clinic. I saw countless men, disowned and discarded by their families, thrown aside. Most lost contact long before they were diagnosed, back when they came out to their families. I saw some of those men in their last days, since I helped so many of them write their wills and their medical directives. And I can't tell you how many of them wished and hoped for one last chance to see their father, their mother, their brother. Heartbreaking. The only word for it.

No human being should ever be made to feel that way. Ever.

The thing that disturbs me the most about the way those men were and probably still are treated, and the current shift in attitude in this country against gay marriage, is that the justification for the hatred is almost always seated in religion.

I'm an intelligent person. But I cannot find how judgment of another, disowning a child, discrimination and hatred, how any of that could ever be seen as something sanctioned by god. Jesus was a man of kindness and welcoming. Of love and understanding. I just don't see the logical connection.

It frustrates me to no end to see such judgment by people. No one is perfect. No one is without flaw. And none of us is fit to decide how others should live their lives.

All men are created equal.

Let's live up to that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Done

I've been thinking a lot about what happened yesterday. Well, okay, a lot of things happened yesterday and I have a tendency to over think things, so I'll be more specific.

I've been wondering if I really could be done.

As in, not wanting another baby again. Ever.

This is the first time in my adult life that I can identify this feeling, and it's strange.

I've come across a great number of women in my life who could say with absolute certainty that they were done. Some knew that they only wanted 2 or 3 kids. Some knew when they were pregnant the last time. I've even known a few who swear they felt that feeling the first time in the delivery room.

I always figured that there was some reason they felt so sure. And some reason I didn't.

To be completely honest, I really should be done. Four kids is a lot these days. We've stretched our budget to the point where I don't think it could be stretched more. We've pushed the envelope of capacity in passenger cars. My grocery bills and laundry piles would scare most people.

I should be done. By any conventional means, I should be done. I just never felt that way. Until yesterday.

I always warn people not to do anything permanent as far as birth control measures go until one of the following things happen: your youngest is either walking or turns a year old. That's about the time that my heart would tell me it was time for another one. Once I no longer had a baby anymore.

My baby will be two next week.

And, so it seems, I am okay with that.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Divide

There are many pros and cons about having as many kids as we do.

I'm sure that the vast majority of people would see all the cons and think that they could so easily outweigh the pros. And, to be honest, there are times that I might even agree with them a little.

Having four kids is a lot of work. And it has a lot of consequences.

The one that rings most true in my head at the moment is the fact that there are really too many of us to stay in one room when we travel.

We have to divide the kids up, often sleeping in different rooms.

We have to routinely lie to hotels. Apparently, 3 kids is okay, but 4 requires a suite or extra room rental.

Home might be far away from where I am and where I want to be, but home has something I have been missing. There are five rooms there.

And one of them is where I can actually sleep with my husband.

As an aside, I think I may have had a breakthrough today. One that I haven't yet shared with said husband, but which will make him giddy to no end.

I was in the presence of 4 infants today, and at no time did I have an overwhelming urge to hold them and cuddle them and smell their little baby heads.

I didn't find myself longing for another baby.

Is it possible, really possible, that I am done?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rider

We went to the fair a few days ago, not an uncommon occurrence this time of year.

We ate food that no one in their right mind would eat more often than once every twelve months.

We admired the arts and crafts entries, wondered aloud whether some of them were worthy of the ribbons they had earned.

We petted goats and sheep. We even got to watch as one unusually fast newly sheared sheep got away and ran down the aisles, keeper trailing behind. We got to see a mama pig and her brand new piglets.

Fair stuff.

But there was something else too. Two somethings.

As we walked down past the animal paddocks, there was a mechanical bull. Ashley wanted so badly to ride the bull. We told her maybe after we finished looking down that row. Rest assured, she got to ride her bull. So did Aidan.

I know, right? Aidan in particular was so loud with his wheees and yee-haws that he drew a crowd when it was his turn.

They had to wait until after the competition. Their little sister wanted to ride too, but she wanted to ride a real live animal in a real live competition.

Mutton busting.

For those unfamiliar with mutton busting, it's basically little kids riding little sheep. Whoever can stay on the longest wins.

As a mom, I was nervous of course. Particularly after all the releases I had to sign and the chest protector and helmet she had to wear. The sheep aren't huge animals, but put next to a 40 pound child, they are big enough to hurt them.

The sheep are trained to run from one end of the arena to the other, that's it. No saddle, nothing to hang on to other than the wool on the sheep, six seconds to the title.

I have to tell you, it was hilarious.

I wasn't sure she would actually do it, since she has a habit of over thinking things and wimping out right before. She got up on that sheep though and made it about halfway across the arena before she couldn't hang on anymore and landed face down. She got a mouthful of dirt, and a participation ribbon.

She didn't win, but she didn't care.

The grin on her dirty little face was as big as they come.

I think we just might have made her into a cowgirl.

Friday, August 6, 2010

If

I'm not the type of person to shy away from an argument. Never have been. Even as a kid, I'd point out the flaws in the logic of others. Precocious, that's what they called me.

As I've gotten older, particularly after moving to the place I call home now, I've learned that a lot of times it's better just not to argue.

That is, if you want to keep your friends.

I have many, many friends these days who stand on the other side of virtually every issue I used to love to argue about. The issues that still anger me. The inequalities, the injustices. The unfairness.

I know more people who think the opposite than agree with me anymore. I think part of it is a regional thing. I'm a little too close to middle America now.

I grew up in Southern California. Some of my best friends growing up were the children of immigrants, from countries all over the world. I wasn't ever hesitant about people who spoke other languages. I was intrigued by it. I wanted to learn more about their culture. To me they were just people like those in my family, only more interesting.

I have friends that I have known were gay since we were children. In my eyes it was never a choice or a question or a place to lay blame or anything anyone should ever be ashamed of. It just was. Again, I've never seen anything different about it. People are just people.

These two issues seem to be the current political hot button arguments at the moment. Immigration and gay marriage.

I won't bother going into telling you all where I stand on them. I would think that most of you could probably figure it out from what I've already written.

And I sure don't plan to argue about it with anyone.

I learned a long time ago that people don't change their opinions on these things often, and it's never because someone convinced them to.

It's because they figured out that they were wrong.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Time

I am lucky in this life. I truly am. I've lived in some amazing places. I've been fortunate that some truly special people have come into my world.

I've been thrust into a few strange and new situations, and in those times in my life, I've made some of my best friends.

Then those times in my life came to an end. We grew up, we moved away, we went on. Life went on.

Some of my friends are ones I haven't seen in decades. Others, it's been only months.

I've come to realize lately how much I miss them. All of them.

I miss my wicked cool best friend from elementary school and our insatiable need for sleepovers.

I miss my sweet and silly friend from junior high and all the note writing and song recording we did back then.

I miss my boy crazy mall rat friend from high school...even though we haven't spoken in years, I miss her.

I miss my college roommate and quirky friend, the girl who could out-eat anyone and make you laugh just by laughing herself.

I miss my most creative friend from the right coast who called pizzas pies and who grew up to be an amazing supermom business owner.

I miss the girl who is the closest thing I've ever had to a sister, the one who walked out of her room wearing the same thing as me more times than I'd care to count. Who was in my wedding, and me in hers. Who is still often the first person to know anything.

I miss the brilliant people I spent three years in hell with. Law school sucks. Just sayin.

I miss my mommy friend turned completely everything friend turned I've seen everything friend. You know who you are, and yes, this would make an awesome t-shirt. Challah!

I miss my friend, the one who declared that four is a lot, but five is just gross. We survived working together, and that alone is a testament to our friendship. We owe each other a cruise one of these days.

I miss my friends from high school who I found again on Facebook and am way closer to now than I ever was then.

I miss all the wonderful people in my life back home these days, the ones that have become my new friends. I haven't seen you all much as of late, and I need to work on that more.

I think, in part, I'm missing everyone so much because in the course of the past few days, my husband has been reunited with the men who once were his very best friends when they were children together.

One he hasn't seen in about five years, the other in over fifteen.

Too long. Way too long.

There is benefit in maintaining these relationships. In making the effort to see each other. Social networking sites have made the initial re-connection easier, but nothing can replace actual human contact. Nothing is as good as a hug from an old friend, as catching their eye when you remember a story from way back when, laughing at the crazy things you used to do.

We need contact. Real contact.

I need to make sure that another 15 years don't pass before he can hug his friend again.

And I need to find some of mine and hug them too.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Super

There is a new show coming on this fall about a unique family, one that suddenly develops superpowers. Tom is excited about it. Really excited.

There was a show a few summers ago entitled Who Wants to be a Superhero? It was a reality show that took normal people and threw them into spandex and peril, forcing them to compete against each other to see who was the most worthy of a comic book drawn in their honor. Oh, you know we watched it.

In some ways Tom is still just a kid in a comic book store wondering if superpowers really are possible.

As an aside, we have argued many times about whether Batman is a superhero. I say he isn't, Tom says he is. My argument, the best one, is that he doesn't possess any powers. He might be a rich guy with really cool toys and weapons, but he isn't super. Let's just say we have agreed to disagree....even though we often revisit this argument.

Even though Batman is powerless, I have superpowers. Oh yes, I do. Something about becoming a parent bestows upon the most unsuspecting people gifts they never could have envisioned.

I can identify every single sound in my house instantly.

I can heal the wounds of others, often with just a kiss and a bandaid.

I am calm in stressful, chaotic situations.

I can sense danger, can see it coming, and can usually stop it. Usually.

I have eyes in the back of my head. Really. Just ask the kids. He's constantly looking through my hair to find them. He just knows that they are there somewhere. How else do I always know everything they are doing? In reality, it's just a combination of strategically placed reflective objects and my keen sense of hearing....but I'm not about to let them on to my secrets.

There are times that I feel like Elastigirl in the movie The Incredibles, incidentally my husband's favorite. I feel like the harried mom, rushing around trying to manage everything, pleading with her husband to just engage.

It seems that I have passed my abilities to my children, or at least some of them. Last week, the kids were talking about what their powers would be if they were superheroes. I overheard Ashley as she told the others about hers...

She has the power to spread happiness. (As well as awesomeness, obviously.)

And she does. Really.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Camp

I've managed to avoid camping this year. Which is no small feat considering I live with a man who secretly wants to be a park ranger. Goofy hat and all, he'd love to live up in an isolated tree house. Really.

Here's the thing. I don't hate camping, but I almost hate it. Like as close as I could dislike something without full blown hating.

I'll tell you why.

It's not vacation. It's existing outside, is all.

I still have to cook, I still have to clean. Just everything is significantly more dirty and harder to clean.

I don't mind sleeping outside necessarily. I just don't so much enjoy waking up at 4am freezing, then laying there with chattering teeth willing the sun to rise faster.

There is nothing remotely relaxing about it for me. Especially now, having small kids.

Before we had kids, we used to go camping. It was fine then, but then there was an element of novelty in sleeping outside. It felt adventurous, exciting, a change from the ordinary. We tent camped, we went on night hikes. It wasn't something I loved, but it was okay. I could humor my tree hugging husband back then with only minimal complaining on my end.

Then we had kids. And suddenly, we had to bring ten times the amount of stuff with us to camp. People had to pee in the middle of the night. They wandered. They rolled in the dirt until it crusted on their little kid skin like a thick protective layer. They got cold at 4am. They whined.

What small amount of fun camping used to be for me is now vastly overshadowed by the increased amount of work and necessary patience.

I don't like camping. I really don't like camping.

Thankfully, AJ is crazy enough that there really isn't much question this year. He shouldn't camp, not yet. He doesn't listen, he runs everywhere he goes and the child knows no fear. Plus, he's a bit of a clean freak. Camping would just be a bad idea for him right now, and that's fine with me. I get to stay home.

For now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Size

I'm currently using my husband's laptop computer, and I have to tell you how nice it is.

They say size doesn't matter. They are wrong. I can tell you that it very much matters.

I'm not used to big and fancy. My normal computer is a teeny little thing, the keyboard sized for teeny little fingers. I have a net book.

It makes me feel like a giant. Except I am not even close. My hands are too small to properly play Guitar Hero. Giant, I am not.

When I first got the net book, it took some getting used to. I kept accidentally hitting three keys instead of the one I was aiming for. The space bar is so small that I kept hitting the wrong keys. The keyboard isn't laid out like a traditional one, it's more compact and some of the keys are in the wrong place.

The screen on it is so small that I can never really see my blog. I mean, I can see some of it, but it only shows me the middle section of the top of the page. I have to scroll up and down, side to side to see it all in pieces. I can shrink the screen down for full view, but then the text is so small I can't read anything.

I do have a full size desktop computer, but it hasn't even been turned on in a few months. I use the net book because it is portable and light, I can take it anywhere with me and write no matter what the kids are doing.

It works. I don't love it, but it works.

Someday I hope to get a real laptop....I look at them in the store. They wink at me in the aisles all seductively. They whisper you want me. Someday.

For now, though, I am spoiled. Borrowing this spectacular piece of technology. Stretching my hands out to their full size, even having to reach a little to hit some of the keys. I can see the entire page on the screen, not having to scroll up and down repeatedly to try and imagine what it would all look like if it was properly together.

I'd better not get used to this.

I could.

Bigger is better.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August

It's August, and you know what that means.

August brings school. Not just school for little kids, but school for the biggest of them all. College.

And that, my friends, brings college football.

I love me some football.

Go SC. Fight On!

My Trojans had a hard year. Don't get me wrong, I make no excuses for the things they have done. For the rules that have been broken. For the things that need to be addressed.

What I do struggle with is the fact that all the kids there to play ball now weren't involved in any of the wrongdoing. The old coach is gone. The players are gone. Even the athletic director is gone. I get that the institution needs to be punished, but I feel for these kids.

I know that partially, the punishments were as severe as they were to make an example out of the program. To serve as a warning to others. Just makes it a little more unfair in my eyes to the players there now.

And really, Reggie Bush was then, and is now, one hell of a football player. I have a hard time seeing how having the place where his parents live paid for made him a better player. And how that made the team better. Doesn't seem like a logical connection in my eyes.

It didn't make him faster. It didn't help him hold on to the ball. It didn't make him more able to avoid defenders. It didn't teach him to jump and roll over tacklers. And it sure didn't invent the Bush push.

The NCAA wants to go on pretending that college athletics aren't driven by money. Fine. They want to make an example of USC. Fine. I just wish they could explain the whole Bush debacle to me in a way that had anything at all to do with having an unfair advantage on a football field.

We'll have a tough go of it this year. That's for sure.

But we'll fight back. We'll be great again.

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