Sunday, June 11, 2017

The good, the scary, & the downright ridiculous

Oh my words, but it's been a doozy of a last month.  A DOOZY.  We just returned from a weekend of camping with the Boy's family and it was the worst example of how to successfully camp that I've ever heard of.  We've all forgotten matches or foil or even toothbrushes and have had to improvise for a moment when camping.  But, have you ever forgotten
1.  the handy little backpack to carry water and such for hiking,
2. the campstove,
3. all towels & washcloths,
4.  a hatchet/mallet,
5.  all of the bread for all of the sandwiches for all of the family members' lunches that you've signed up to bring, and
6.  all of your cups/plates/bowls/silverware?

All on the same trip.  As I basically drove the long way around the big city to get to the camping grounds (why did I go the long way? why did the Boy not stop me?), we basically kept thinking of more things that we completely whiffed on remembering to bring.  To be clear, it wasn't just me not remembering this stuff; it was the boths of us.  It was me looking around the shed where we keep our camping gear and telling the boy "I got the tent out...I think I got it all" and both of us either foregoing our usual pre-camping checklists or electing to only write down the foodstuffs that we needed (and that obviously still didn't work as I forgot all of the bread for all of the sandwiches and the Boy's side really likes their sandwiches). 

We DID, however, bring along 2 lanterns which need new batteries (i.e. don't work right now) even though I told the boy "Hey, here are our lanterns, but they both need new batteries."  We still brought them.  So that helped us out.

But it turned out to be a completely lovely weekend of camping, despite all of the head smacking going on.  And this was my inaugural effort at sleeping with our new mats (instead of the air-mattresses-that-are-always-flat-come-morning).  Two melatonins and six hours later, my hips feel a bit bruised but otherwise all went well with that.

With the next camping trip on the horizon, we're basically just throwing all of the necessaries in a pile in the garage whereupon we will not have to think too many pre-camping thoughts next time but will instead just fit it all back into the car. 

But we come by our absent mindedness honestly, folks.  We have been doing & completing & compiling piles of paperwork of late because, in part, we are selling the house.  (We've also been cleaning & discussing & cleaning & showing & deep cleaning some more.)  Eight years later, the stars have aligned.  It turns out, the market is pretty good right now for selling this little box, and four days after throwing the old "for sale" sign out in the yard, we were offered full asking price minus a bit of closing dollars; we looked at each a few times, stopped talking about it for the night, rehashed the "Are you really sure...I think we really should..." options and then signed to agree. 

This house was supposed to be a three-year commitment as we were young and didn't need much space, as I went through graduate school, before we were going to move on the proverbial bigger and better things.  But those biggers and betters didn't really materialize because in hindsight, we needed all the years of our 20s to really get those end goals figured out.

There's a good dose of comfort in staying where its familiar and relatively cheap, where we have the  walls painted our preferred colors and where a delightful pair of cardinals know that I'm going to feed them.  But this bit of land was really never supposed to be our final landing spot, and the upside of staying true to the potential we anticipate is worth something.  So when we figured out that we maximize the equity on this place, we gotta do it, even though there are going to be some really painful moments ahead for us as a family.  The girls, as one might imagine, are confused and scared and anxious about a lot of it but alternately excited about choosing the paint colors for their new rooms and finding out that they might have access to pools and new playgrounds. 

The flip side of the coin is that while we're in a great position selling our house right now, we're in a frustrating, difficult position buying a house right now because the seller's market here is similarly a seller's market there and houses are f-e-w and far between.  Things will somehow work themselves out, but right now, we have no house come 30 days after closing on this place.  

The impetus for putting the current house on the chopping block came about when I had a full-time teaching opportunity rather fall into my lap fairly easily and quickly.  It's not a "we have to move" situation but rather a "we get to move to where we've long talked about wanting to live someday - we now have the reason that we need."  The stars, good people, the stars...they are in some crazy alignment right now. 

So the future seems to be coming fast and furious for this little family, not exactly like we imagined it would be, which is kind of fun and lots of worrisome.  The whole lesson learned here is that when your world is full of the end of one school year, swim lessons, gymnastics, orientation days for a new job, selling your house, frantically searching for a new one, cleaning and paperwork galore, a little kitty boy who isn't eating much anymore, commitments to conferences, and teaching two summer classes, you just might forget to bring dishes and towels when camping because your mind is too full of all those other bits and pieces. 

When every part of you is feeling weary, it helps to have a bit of a camping boondoggle with beautiful weather and plenty of nature to reset and renew.  Plus, a good old fashioned campfire really does wonders for the soul.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The last of the last days of preschool

Interweb-type folks:

Tomorrow is the Younger's last days of preschool.  For realsies.  I have been driving one child there every week for five years and now that bandaid is going to be ripped off.  What was that...sounds of sobbing coming from my general direction?

No ma'am.  No sir. 

I'm not a weeper when my kids reach their little mini milestones.  I sure do love 'em, but I also love watching them develop and grow more than I do love reminiscing about the days of yesteryear. 

Por ejemplo.  When I think about how many fewer tears we resolve on a daily basis, I rejoice.  When I realize that I haven't torn my hair out over the smears of pasta sauce that missed the bib (i.e. LESS STAINING), I sing the praises of any and all.  And, when I hear my children telling each other how annoying they're being (and why...!) rather than hitting or screaming because they have words now, the hallelujahs bubble forth. 

Of course we have work to do.  Of course they're still in progress.  But, ohmyword, I love that they're growing up. 

I also love that I wrote the last check for preschool.  And that I don't have to drive across town back and forth and back and forth.  And that I don't have to make so much polite conversation with other moms who assume I'm all bleary teary eyed like they are.  (I'm pretty lousy at polite conversation and will inevitably say something that makes me sound like a blundering dolt.) 

I'll say it again: No ma'am...no sir. 

However.  I don't really like Kindergarten.  I don't like that all-day K is the only option anymore and that we have to remember when "red day" is.  I don't have much in common with other Kindergarten parents, it seems, and I'm practically grinchy about Kindergarten graduation.  For the love...

The Younger is pretty stoked about joining the Elder at school next year, and what is probably one of her worst kept secrets, the Elder echoes that sentiment.  I'm already starting on packing all of those lunches.  (No, I'm not.  Maybe I should?!?  No, I shouldn't.  But I wish I could.)   

There's a reason we only have two kids: I can't handle the thought of packing more lunches every day.  Oy vey.  (True story: There have been multiple times when the boy and I say "Hey, we should take the girls to do ___ for the day," but then I immediately think "Nah...that means someone (usually me) has to pack lunches for everyone.  Pass.")  Everyone has their struggles. 

But there's someone who's not having the struggles, and that is the Younger.  She's fantastically excited about tomorrow because TALENT SHOW and END OF SCHOOL PROGRAM.  But after that razmatazz, she's just stuck at home with me.  She better enjoy her last day.  We all will.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Well, things happen. I guess.

Well.  We bought a dryer.  We basically designated our old one for assignment (We bought it and its washing machine soul mate with my first full-time teaching paycheck; in hindsight knowing how much I used to get paid, I'm amazed that we pulled that heist off.  I feel good about the 11 1/2 years we spent together.  But when I spent 6 hours, routinely, trying to get a load of sheets dry, we decided to let it test the free agent market and sign with whomever it wanted.  Fortunately, that transaction worked well.), and the new model sings a little song to me whenever its done with a load. 

I wish I knew that it in the store.

I want to take a baseball bat to it already.

Just shut up already and stop gloating that you did what I told you to do, i.e. dry the clothes.

In hindsight, I seem to recall hearing whisperings of others with musical dryers as well, though this "upgrade" boggles my mind.  What function does this serve?  Are we trying to calm the masses who may be otherwise upset with their laundry chores by tricking them into thinking that the ice cream truck is coming instead?  DOES IT HAVE TO CHIME A LITTLE TOODLEY-TOOT AT ME FOR 10 SOLID SECONDS?!? 

You know what would be a valuable upgrade?  Drying my sheets better.  Let's stick with our intended task, here, Bertha. 

It turns out that no easy task is ever easy in this house.  Dryers are purty easy to install...in other words, an easy in-and-out task.  But when the dryer is wedged into a tight spot behind the washer, things gotta move.  Maybe the washing machine was feeling like her time is coming (calm down, Betty Lou...we're keeping you since you do your job).  Maybe the installers (both of whom I am monetarily invested in...i.e. the boy and my dad) did us a service in finding a weak spot that could very well have burst at an inopportune time.  Whatever the case may be, we have a new set of hoses all ready to be installed on Betty Lou.  But she's been rooted to her spot for a decade, and her old hoses not only broke but badliy, and a plumber has been called in the hopes of mitigating the potential damage.

Yes, that's exactly it, you smart person.  We need a plumber because we bought a dryer.

Fortunately, we have some highly acommodating

  

in-laws across town who are more than willing to provide a washing machine for us to use for the coupe of loads that I was saving for the new dryer.  So as to stem the spread of grodiness among dirty clothing and towels, we've taken a couple of loads across town.  The second load involved a tight schedule and a hail storm.

Again, you hit the nail on the head, wonderful reader of mine.  I was caught in a monsoon with half of an umbrella (truly, I tell you...my umbrella situation is pitiful) and a load of wet towels (two of which I promptly dropped back down on the dirty, dirty ground while trying to shove the aforementioned load of wet towels back into my trunk while holding the half of an umbrella in between my chin/cheek and shoulder while the torrents challenged my fortitude and thankfulness) all because we bought a dryer. 

At this rate, I may drop a freshly baked pan of gooey chocolate chip cookies in a mud puddle because we bought a dryer.  I might have to take out a second mortgage because we bought a dryer.  I might accidentally get arrested BECAUSE WE BOUGHT A DRYER

In the dictionary of my life, should you choose to look up the definition for "adult," it will simply relate this story.  Adulting is some weird stuff, people.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Brownie duds

A year ago, we replaced our kitchen range when our old one incinerated itself while I was baking some chocolate chip cookies for the boy. 

(Let's take a moment to remember that sheet pan full of cookie dough.  Gone too soon.  Unable to reach their full potential.

Let's also rejoice that I didn't have a pricey and time consuming pan of something roasting away in there.  I would have been more along the lines of livid.)

Now, our house is what I affectionately refer to as "always for sale," which means that we're loathe to throw down some serious coin for an appliance that we're not going to take with us when we con someone strike a bargain of a deal to take over the mortgage for this joint.  (Poor sap.  You're out there somewhere.  I'm just waiting on you to introduce yourself to us.)  So, we invested in a "functional" brand new range.  It has no bells, but it does have a whistle that I still can't figure out and therefore never use the timer on the oven.  On the plus side, all four of my burners are reliable unlike the previous 10 years of my life with Ol' Bessie.  On the negative side, I CAN'T BAKE A DECENT BATCH OF BROWNIES TO SAVE MY COCOA-DEPENDENT LIFE. 

Folks.  It's turning into a catastrophe around here.  I've been hankering for days upon weeks for a gooey/fudgy batch of dark, dark brownies (preferably "studded with nuts," which is always my choice).  My range is unable to apparently regulate heat.  This results in dark, dark brownies that are too, too dry. 

We ALL know that an excellent brownie requires two things: chocolately-ness and the right texture.  I can like with all of you "cakey brownie" people, but I'd prefer that you wipe your feet before you enter my house and also not talk to me.  Just keep your (wrong) opinions to yourself.  You fudgy brownie people - you're my favorite people in the whole widey world.  Let's debate pecans v. walnuts someday. 

My range is quite obviously in the how-can-ruin-the-texture-of-every-baked-product category.  I've learned to adapt for cookies.  Other goodies are more malleable.  But brownies just require a certain knack for toothsomeness that I just can't reconcile with Omar the Angry Oven. 

I know (I know...) about an oven thermometer, which I used to have with Ol' Bessie and found to be not that helpful.  I haven't gone this route again with Omar since I've been able to basically make things work with variable cooking times.  But right now, if we have to suffer through another pan of mediocrely textured dry-ies, I'm gonna get weepy. 

Lesson learned, Omar.  Sometimes cheap is as cheap does.  Now to just find that poor sap to offload you...

(In other news, I signed a contract a few days ago to have our house re-roofed.  And we bought a whole new furnace/AC system 6 months ago.  There's broke.  And then there's b-r-o-k-e.  I'm over this shanty.)


Saturday, April 8, 2017

SBII

Folks.  For kicky giggles, I've been weighing myself at the end of the weeks, often, just to see if this "running thing" is actually all that and (enough calories to afford eating) a bag of chips.  I've slid back into the previous decade on the scale, so I guess I'll keep on keepin' on.  That's not actually why I've been running, or at least it's about at the pinky on my hand 'cause I'm a believer in things are what they are, amen.  But at the same time, if the numbers go down a snitch, how 'bout that?!  Who knew that logging the miles meant the cinnamon rolls still taste delicious and don't sit so heavy on the hips?    Pretty much everyone.

We're squeezing out all of the goodness that is Spring Break part II (SBII), which has had some glorious moments.  Allow me to gush. 
1.  The boy took over half of the dropping off & picking up of children duties.  He missed a turn the second morning & apparently heard about it from the Younger 'cause "that's not the right way to school." 
2.  I had a coffee date on Wednesday, whereupon the boy across from me spent time looking up information on a house for sale that he drove by.  He overlooked the fact that I drive by these houses every day.  I already know the knows about these things.
3.  My mom called in the middle of our date, and when I called her back, I coyly intimated that "I was on a date with my boyfriend."  Now I'm covered.  No one will question me in the future should I ever want to take another boy out on the town.
4.  Baseball started this week!  It's been a lousy week in the records column, but for the first week of the season, it's still pretty great!!!
5.  Not only have I skitched my driving duties, but I've largely ignored the Younger on at least 2 occasions when I pretty much forgot that I had children at all.  This introvert needs some chunks of time like that once upon a season.
6.  The boy had minimal track stuff this week.  It's been a nice week of farewell before we'll see him again at the end of May.  Maybe June, depending.

In the meanwhile, I've been making a more concerted effort to read, starting with The Word Detective by John Simpson.  If you're into WORDS and all things OED (Oxford English Dictionary) - because who isn't? - then this is an enjoyable read.  And the dude is all together willing to make fun of himself in an entirely British sort of way.  And I like that. 

But, gentle readers.  The last time I went to the library intending to get 1 or maybe 2 books, I accidentally checked out 8.  I'm still just in #1 (though #8 is a cookbook all about cupcakes so I've tasted that a bit, too).  It's oy vey difficult to find time to chew up some reading and still see my boys. 

Life is a constant push and pull scenario.  Woe, woe, woe is me.

Coming up next includes a memoir by a woman who grew up with a thief for a dad (but she didn't know it), some fluffy fiction because I figure it's been a year and maybe it's time that I remember what a good story is, and a couple of looks at some historical moments/people of whom and about whom I know absolutely nothing.

And on that note, allow us to pause for a moment in honor of a couple of spunky gals - Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I read Sotomayor's memoir a few weeks back, and trust you me when I say that it's not political at all.  She makes a point to stop right where most just begin to know who she is.  Her life, like so many, is nothing short of extraordinary and que interesante - an excellent read for anyone who needs a sample of a woman in charge of her own destiny.  I just finished The Notorious RBG last week (prompting my ill-fated trip to the library), and it's. just. delightful.  There's no gloss, no veneer, no political tom foolery.  It's just about what makes RBG so notorious - another thoughtful work about a woman we should all wish to know. 

So that's what's been going down and what's coming up in real time these next few days.  Also, my cat has wretched breath and is about to get booted off my lap.  The nightly struggle...

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Perfect piggy pedi palooza!

When you walk into your 10 AM pedi appointment (first time slot of the day, folks! no wait!) with BRIGHT my-7-year-old-actually-chose-these-for-me-and-I-love-them running gear and coffee in hand, think twice before offering the pedicurist your scummy feet while blithely announcing "I just ran 3 miles this morning, and I've been looking forward to this!" and no other information.  For example, a lovely (and necessary) follow-up might sound something like "Don't worry.  I definitely took a shower first."

I completely forgot that part because bliss, thy name be A Good Pedicure.

After some searching, I've found my pedicure home.  Granted, the first song that came on the radio when I started soaking my piggies was "Hit Me Baby, One More Time."  Ah, that took me back to ye good olde days of music.  Even some Britney can't ruin my mood because this was a well earned hour of warm, bubbly water and foot rubs with some plum paisley thrown in for good measure.

(I do gravitate to the dark, dark colors for the toes.  It's my (toe) jam.  One time, probably out of a nervous habit of wanting to fill the silence - slash - make awkward chitchat, I asked the pedicurist's opinion about colors and she essentially said "These are colors for summer, not what you're looking at."  I mistakenly listened to her so as not to keep on careening toward Awkwards-ville, and did. not. like. that. color. at. all.  I never went back there.)

Someone tell me why a dark shade of purple, a solid color, is called plum paisley seeing as how it's not paisley at all.  I liked the name though, and this is also a decided factor in how I choose paint colors: Sugar cookie?  Check.  Peacock fancy?  Yes, please.  Purple-icious?  No m'aam. 

All of this is by way of saying, a decided highlight of SpRiNg BrEaK '17 (part I) was my hour spent with my new BFF (whose name I don't know but who still gets paid pretty well to be my friend once every 4 months).  I love the whole experience from the delightful smells of something like heaven when I walk in to the smooth, slippery way my feet feel when I leave, from the first moment scooching my feet down into the copper tub to the way she doesn't make me talk for the entire 60 minutes, from the way it takes me an hour to read about 12 pages because I'm so distracted by foot joy to the way my coffee tastes decadent. 

I'm just a girl in need of a foot rub now and again with a little bit of polish thrown in for good measure. 

I've done the manicure thing before, and it was OKAY.  I've done the massage thing before, and it was NICE.  But the feet have it.  It took me about 10+ years of my adult life to realize this is just a part of my yearly budget.  I'll eschew all manner of things that would otherwise sap my pedicure funds in favor of this one-perfect-hour treat.  When I make my first million, yes there will be weekly pedicures in my life. I am pedi sure about that. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hear ye, hear ye!

In another round of I'm-late-to-the-party-but-better-late-than-never, I have a few links to share tonight.  Good links.  Sometimes funny links.  Scratch your head or sigh in comradeship links. 

Here's the deal.  I find myself with some extra time on my ears that isn't fully taken with a form of media, and as I was typing that sentence, I realized just how many different outlets of communication I have on a daily basis in my life now.
1.  Sirius XM radio (at least for a couple of more months...thanks hubs, for the Christmas present 'cause I heart Michael Smerconish!)
2.  6 large TV screens on various channels in front of me while treadmilling (On another note where I talk about running yet again, I'd like to point out that I thought today was going to absolutely bite the biggest of the big ones cause it's been a few days since I've run.  And it didn't.  3 cheers to that.)
3.  2 different devices with a constant email update/news update/entertainment update, all day long
4.  a favorite TV show for about an hour in the afternoon and another hour at night if I'm lucky
5.  3 podcasts that I follow every week
6.  another couple of podcasts that I've dabbled with
7.  a new podcast that I tried this week
8.  MLB TV soon and very soon (like a breath of springshine, the new season is a'startin')

But let's gab about #7 for a bit.  I occasionally reach into the TED Talks vaults for a class source with a couple of the classes that I teach.  And they're always fantastic.  Always smartly delivered.  Always fascinating.  Who knew that TED Talks are available for podcasts and videocasts?  Indeedy, they are.  They're that nugget of insight, wisdom and learning for the sake of learning that's been missing from my life.  They're (generally) kid-safe (which means that I can have them on in public spaces while putzing in the kitchen), and they're delivered in snappy little 5-20 minute packages, which is perfect-o for those times when you have a few minutes but not long enough for an entire episode of whatever it is that you're involved with. 

Just while juicing a few lemons, prepping for pizza and unloading a dishwasher, I listened to a discussion on asteroids (she seems like someone that I want to drink coffee with) and some thoughts about why we should raise brave girls (YES, YES, oh my YES & color me convicted of not practicing my own bravery skills).  When I was then making the pi pizza pie (it's 3-14 & my young people are always down for a mid-week, kitschy celebration), I sighed deep sighs on the truth of women's voices (my sighs were shockingly British sounding, too).  While I folded towels tonight, I considered a different perception of indoctrination (and will promptly be integrating this into my lesson plans for next week - get read, ENGW-132!).  And, while throwing on some clothes post-shower/pre-school pick-up, I delighted in learning from obituaries (fascinating stuff & proof positive that I don't only listen to female TED Talks speakers). 

Good people.  Embrace a new possibility.  A new potential.  A new bit of knowing.  If nothing else, I find that listening to brilliant and motivated people make me cheer for humanity and strive to be more of everything in a good way, a possible way.  There's a whole bunch of hope in knowing that a whole bunch of others know a whole bunch of things that I don't and so that I don't have to. 

And if you have a bit more time in your world or want to delve into a longer conversation of happenstance and hard work combined, I encourage you to give How I Built This a go.  I've only listened to a couple so far, but they haven't failed to make me shake my head a bit and appreciate the Common Joe aspect of all the innovators and entrepreneurs among us.

With all of those listens I'm sending your way, here's a clip for you parents out there.  I envy her spunk when faced with a car trip with kids.  There's just about nothing I dread more.  I want to be at so many places, but the boy doesn't want to foot the bill for airplane tickets (begrudgingly, I'm in agreement with right now), which means that we make calculated risks using Mapquest to guide our X-hour parameters.  We're firmly in the pack-up-the-kids-and-a-puke-bucket-mode around here.  My child...she is what she is.  But I'd like to see where the adrenaline-from-another-round-of-carsickness Mommy-tude falls into the hourly breakdown.  HINT:  For us, it happens pretty fast.  (I had the girls 45 minutes away from home this past Saturday for a girl's day adventure.  We made it 15 minutes before we had windows down and the familiar look was on her face.)