Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Raining Chips!

Our kids' school district, since not long after we started with them, has been making "healthy eating" a big deal.  I put that in quotation marks, because if you look closely, there are conflicting messages.  Like they had early on banned "dark soda and juices" but clear soda was ok at parties.  That's a cleaning issue and has nothing to do with health at ALL. They don't allow chips brought in from home for snack time, but they sell baked chips in the lunch line, along with fries and other junk in the junior high. I was totally with them, until I discovered this. Up to that point, I, who always made sure my kids had fruit and healthy options anyway, was very rigid about not even the occasional bag of chips.  Now, I'm letting them take chips sometimes.

In light of this, and the fact I had to do a speed grocery dash the other day, in a moment of less than stellar judgment, I purchased one of those large bags with the smaller bags of chips in them.  It was on sale, and like I said SPEED shopping day, what can I say? Obviously, the kids were nearly hailing my virtues in the streets. They do know once this is gone, that's it for a while.

To avoid all conflict in the a.m., I've imposed the put your hand in, what you take out is yours rule. It's worked thus far, but this morning, the big bag was on top of our tall cabinet, where my 6'2" husband (I'm 5'4") likes to put things.  Normally, if they aren't everyday items, that's cool, I just have him come and get the item as needed.  But with his recent injury and EPIC baby complaining status, that could not be done. So I wheedled the edge of the bag I could reach until chips almost fell down.  That's when I came up with the whatever falls is yours rule. 

Brett was actually saying "come ON, cheese curls!" I think I'm in trouble.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Want Someone to Do the Math

I'm the klutz in the family. If there's a stray shoe on the floor or something out of place, I WILL trip over or run into it. Scott has been vying for my title this month in a BIG way. 

Two days after Scott started his new job, he walked on something Megan left in the hallway, slipped, and essentially did the splits. An out of shape, 46 year old man should NOT do the splits. Great pain ensued, but what choice did he have but to pop a lot of Ibuprofen, ice it, then rub some arthritic cream on it? It was getting better, but while at work he slipped a bit and tweaked it. So at a touch over three weeks, he was about 70%. I feel I showed great restraint in only mentioning twice that two weeks after a c-section I was painting the basement walls, but I digress. 

As an aside, I went on full on strike last week. I had tired of no one picking up the most basic things after themselves. I was certain all would see the error of their ways and reform within a day or two. No. In fact, they professed a relief at an end to my nagging. I regrouped, recommitted to nagging, steeled myself to complaints and cleaned the living room with assistance. Crumpled papers, books, binders, outer coats, too-small clothes, dolls, art supplies, they all found homes or were discarded. Windows were cleaned, furniture polished, rug vacuumed. It was immaculate, nothing on the floor. 

It was not long after this Scott wandered into the living room for something, and a loud BANG was heard. We all went running in, and there lay my husband, writhing in pain, having injured his leg AGAIN! He'd fallen AGAIN! All I could do was ask ON WHAT?! We're all still unclear. 

To be specific, he had, for the previous week, navigated a living room with crap everywhere, sometimes at night, with no light on. But a completely cleaned floor in the middle of a sunny day, with the curtains opened proved to be a tripping hazard. I don't get it. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Diva in the House!

Today is Megan's 10th birthday! She is my diva.  While I love her, she makes me glad I have a boy and a girl, because two of her in the house might actually make the walls fall down.  She is full of life and love and tragedy and comedy--all within the space of an hour.  People think I exaggerate that she was a diva from the moment she was born.  I'm not, not at all.

Since I'd had an emergency C-section with Brett, it was always an option with Megan, but my doctor was very supportive, telling me I didn't necessarily need another C-section, but the ultimate decision was based on a number of factors to be assessed very close to my due date.  All was on track for a regular old birth, when my diva shifted, and oh I felt it.  It was in the middle of the night, when I was not quite three weeks from my due date. She shifted completely so she was SIDEWAYS! Butt on my left side, head on my right. They tried lots of turning, nothing.  Went to a chiropractor who said she had good luck with turning babies, nothing. C-section it was. Did I mention DIVA?

Because it was a planned C-section, I have to admit, I was far more energetic afterwards.  Not going through 20 hours of labor first will do that to you.  I was back home within two days, and the fun really began.  I nursed both my kids over a year, so I was pretty prepared (I thought) for the intensity of the next couple weeks. Where Brett had given me longer stretches to sleep, shower, think, Megan was a snack for 10 minutes, then I'll let you know in 20 or 30 minutes when I want to eat again. This went on for weeks. 

Add to the fun, I had a three year old who got up every morning at 5, and a husband who could only take one week off of work to help. Oh, and did I mention she wouldn't sleep in the bassinet? Or in between us in our bed? No, Megan would only sleep on Scott's side of the bed, without him in it.  He started to complain once that I was relegating him to the guest room, when, in my best demon from hell voice, I reminded him it was the ONLY. way. she. slept. and I'd been up for 28 hours straight trying to change her mind. He moved to the then guest room without a backward glance. I was up to three hours of sleep a night! Woo-hoo! I also taught Brett how to turn on the TV in the basement, told him there was a sippy cup of milk and a piece of cheese in the fridge, let mom sleep a little more.  Another hour and a half added!

To sum up, she's been making up follow her lead since she was only a few days old, and it hasn't really stopped. Anytime we go anywhere, she's got them eating out of her hands. I can't count the number of times we've say, gone to the eye doctor, and I'm in with Brett, come out and she's helping the gal check in glasses and put away things. Or the time we were at the VFW for a Girl Scout flag ceremony, I ran to my car for something, and I come back to one of the officers letting her sell the 50/50 raffle tickets. She blows my mind with how she gets people to do things that she wants to do. I'm telling you, we will all be working for her one day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Confession

Here's my confession. . . when I look at pictures posted on Facebook, I don't just look at the gap-toothed grins, great dinners that look awesome, or the newest beer find. I'm looking at the backgrounds of pictures, and I'm either happy or sad. 

I find joy in the piles of paper, school assignments that can't be parted with, random cups, bowls, even cleaning products on counters and tables. Squeaky clean countertops as smooth, clear, and expansive enough to land a small plane make me sad. 

I'm a crap house keeper. No, that's not true. I've given up in the presence of those who don't care. I just can't keep up. So when I see others who have even a momentary lapse of cleanliness, my heart soars, and I consider those individuals my people (insert solidarity fist fist bump here). I can't tell you how many pictures I haven't posted or frame because lurking in the background were finished loads of laundry on the table, a crockpot I hadn't gotten around to putting away, or the latest art projects pasted on the walls. Sorry for all you cleanies, but until the kids move out or I finally beat order into them, I'm going to have to consider your ways abnormal and unnatural. It's al about survival, yo, and that starts in the brain.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Life's Lessons

Today's idea came from a Facebook posting a half a world away.  A friend from high school, who was a basketball star (he's going to hate that "was" I put in there, lol) and is now a professional basketball coach in Austrailia posted a message that struck a chord in me today.  He's seen and lot of young men in various states of maturity, including himself, as a high school player, then a college athlete, and now as a coach.  He posted today that coaching is "teaching life lessons through basketball blessings."

As a university teacher, I too see a lot of young people at various stages of maturity.  As a teacher in an urban neighborhood where often life is hard scrabble, getting to the next goal, the next paycheck, the end of the semester, even the next meal or the next bus ride, are more than little mental victories. They are the portrait of survival. Sincere relief is felt in paying the bills and having money left over to buy books, being able to reschedule a job interview so class isn't missed.  Where's the joy, though? It's often found on the basketball courts, where release of problems is absolute, pure, and golden.  Defend your position against an opponent, pass the ball, move down the court, catch the ball, drive for the basket. The activity is removed from the daily struggles, and it helps to leak the toxins of the world out of your pores. It's focused, it's energetic, it's a place where victory has hope each day.

I've had a lot of young men come through my classes, many who needed a push or a kick in the pants, just like I know my friend does on the court.  Even more, though, need to be taught focus, follow through, being the leader instead of the follower, and how to make their skills work for them, not against them.  My friend does that on the court, too.  He's handing out those life lessons where they want to be. I hope they appreciate him, along with those lessons.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Like Old People

I know there are many who are uncomfortable with old people, even though we're all inching closer and closer to that age. They say they're unfocused, can be grumpy, want to do what they want to do when they want to do it, are apt to fall asleep at any moment, and they smell funny.  I could be describing myself, so maybe that's why I like them, just kidding, a little bit.

Maybe it's because I'm an only child who was dragged along to everything.  It's easy to drag one kid along, and it works.  That's the real reason only children are precocious.  They've seen it all, but they're at the same time kind of invisible.  Adults ease up around them, don't even see them after a brief introduction, start drinking their drinks, using bad words, gossiping about the neighbors.  I had a blast playing with my Barbies close by to the card games my mom and her friends had, half listening, then falling asleep on the couch.  Maybe it was the close relationship I had with my grandma that makes me like old people. The fuzzy Velamints in the bottom of her purse, the running upstairs to grab her "good" lipstick to go out, the scent of Channel #5 only used for grown up events, feeling someone lean over and whisper softly "I know her husband's name, but what is hers again" and whispering the answer back, having a hand in the crook of my arm while crossing the street, I'm comfortable with it. I get old people, and I love their stories.

Brett's got a school assignment where he's got to interview someone who lived during the Great Depression (they may want to rethink this assignment, as those individuals are fewer and farther between). Luckily, we've got at church a former educator who loves kids, runs our community spelling bee, and is 86 years old.  Brett asked to interview him, and he will next week.  The great thing is, it got us to talking about things in the past. I knew the stories my grandma told me about the Depression, and he talked about being 17 and having to use ration coupons at the grocery store. That got us to talking about how making meals, making things stretch, was a lost art. He talked about the can of bacon grease that still sits on his stove. It's weird, but things like that, memories of my grandparents' home, make me tear up.

I had the best 20 minutes just talking with him the other day, and I can't wait until Brett actually interviews him for the project.  Yeah, they may be grumpy sometimes, but I'm grumpy too.  I say go listen to an old person. They're better than just about anything.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That One Took Me a While

I'm not one to believe in coincidence.  I think the Universe or God or ghosts or whatever way you want to think about it, sees us and drops us little things in our paths to make us feel closer and more in tune to the symphony that is the world and those we've lost.

Megan has, since she was less than two, named every single doll, bear, stuffy with a variation of the name "Rose." We've got them all, Rose, Rosie, Rosalinda, Rosamund, Rosalie, many twice and three times over.  It gets confusing. While we've talked her into a few different names, just for our sanity in knowing which precious she's referring to, she keeps coming back to Rose. Even now that she writes stories, at least one character is named Rose.

We've long pondered where it came from. Does she have a new friend named this? Is there a new character on the show of choice who's named this? We never could figure it out. But I think I did today, and it made me cry. I was putting lotion on, and without any real frame of reference, Megan said she liked my tattoo.  I have a tattoo of a rose with a very specific color on my calf for my grandma. I worried the guy to death, because I said it HAD to match the photograph of a rose on my wall exactly.

My grandma grew things. She grew orchids and geraniums and vegetables, but she loved roses.  Tropicana, Hope, Queen Elizabeth, Lucerne, were only some of the varieties that graced her yard.  Her absolute favorite, though, was the Doctor rose.  My grandfather was a doctor, and she had her neighbor, a photographer by trade, come and take a picture of it in full bloom. It was blown up, and it's hung in every place I've lived since she passed away. Megan's middle name is Frances, for my grandma. It makes perfect sense that she would whisper in Megan's ear, influence her, and always try to be with her, just as she's with me every day.

So even though knowing where our Rose avalanche comes from made me cry, it also warmed me to think Megan always has my grandma with her.