Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seven minutes

Ten days ago we had a 40th birthday party for my husband. There were no kids and lots of drinks and food. So, here on my counter are the final remnants - twenty or so beers just waiting patiently to be put away in the cabinet. And, I walk past this collection I don't know how many times a day yet they remain untouched. I'm not blaming my husband because men aren't wired to notice these sort of things. If he does see the beer, then I think he might think that I have plans for the beers and doesn't want to mess with my intentions. The beers simply sit there because putting them away means standing on a step stool and cleaning out the high cabinet that contains our overflowing unorganized supply of sodas, juice, beer, etc., and standing on this step stool and doing that sort of work just has no appeal whatsoever. Fortunately, after I took this picture, I got inspired and took the huge step of tackling the cabinet and the beers. And it took a whole seven minutes. This was hardly worth the ten days of being annoyed with myself. Yep, seven minutes.

Tell me why I start packing up the Christmas decorations the morning after Christmas, yet some things, okay many things that desperately need attention collect dust day after day. Maybe it's something about the post-holiday itch to de-clutter, organize, clean, and take care of the current year before we enter into a new one that's got me thinking. I know I'm not alone in this because, without fail, the stores put the well-stocked plastic bins and organizer items on full front display the day after Christmas, much like the new swim suits in January. Clever!

I've noticed for the most part, this is mainly a female urge and we are usually the only ones bothered by the dreaded piles and various out-of-place objects. My friend goes out of her mind over her husband's complete lack of tidiness, especially when he routinely leaves used paper towels randomly scattered around the house. She even tested him once by leaving his used coffee cup on a living room end table and it sat there so long it started to get moldy. Did he think she was doing a science experiment or did he even notice it was there? I'm voting for the latter.

But, if it's our own neurosis, is it fair to get so irritated about it all? Well, ya, I think so. I pity the frustrated wife who cringes at the Christmas lights still up on the house in May. What if the paper towels never went in the trash and six months go by of daily dirty paper towel accumulation and their house would be floor to ceiling unsanitary fire hazard trash! If I never put away the beer, then eventually Jason would drink it all - no harm, right? Well, then we all might as well keep all of our non-perishable food on the counter, laundry unfolded on the couch, dishes in the drainer, toys scattered everywhere, and lights up all year. Simple and convenient? Yes! Unsightly, embarrassing, and sloppy? Yes, too!

So, as I smile at my newly beer-free counter, I relish the moment, and then quickly make a list of all the other things needing my attention: the crayons all over the kitchen table, the pile of left-over holiday chocolate and sweets, and the now full Christmas decoration boxes needing to be moved into the garage. Perhaps I should grab the chocolate and sit down at the table and eat it while drawing some pictures with my kids. Besides, the boxes are way too heavy for me to carry all the way out to the garage. I'll remind my man about it...next year...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best laid plans...ho ho sniffle ho...

I had visions of my sweet sister-in-law, McKenzie, as a house guest for three weeks - tons of time out with the girlfriends, manicures, read a few books, and that doesn't even include the loads of fun the kids will enjoy like crafts, cookies, and the likes. Dun dun dun. Not! There was gift shopping, birthday party preparing and recovering, cold rain, and being sick practically the whole month. Don't get me wrong, I'm getting a taste of the "nanny" good life, having someone here so I can run a quick errand and to read to the kids while I prepare dinner. But, it's not exactly what I envisioned. Life is busy and chaotic in December!

I also know it could be much much worse. My friend has her mother-in-law staying with her and she's literally nuts, following her into the bathroom incessantly talking, being mean and critical, and suffering from what we think is dementia although she thinks she's totally fine (even though she forgets to shower or wash her clothes). Yes, could be worse.

But, it's hard when your expectations fall short, way short. Perhaps plans to visit all of our favorite spots that we greatly miss now that the kids are in school can be scaled back to include one of them instead? And that's okay, I guess. Maybe I was simply being unrealistic. But, it's still hard to ignore the Super Mom guilt - must provide a constant rich and diverse childhood and having the kids watch tv all day is not what I consider worthy of the super cape.

I think it would be a good idea to change my thinking to save my sanity. Instead of regretting all the fabulous things that we are not doing, it would be better served being happy with what we are doing. The kids are getting in some much needed creative imagination time (it's limited with school and all), spending down time with the very cuddly Auntie McKenzie, watching for the first time some classic stop-motion (slightly weird) holiday movies from my childhood, and having an impromptu "snow" party indoors. In fact, I'm not hearing any complaints, except for the conflicts in my head. Or is that the 100.0 fever?

Hopefully next week we will hit the town with all of our pent up energy ready to have some fun. Can you say two little volcanoes ready to explode? Maybe everyone will be done with being sick and the warm sun will shine brightly to melt away our December blahs. Hey, I feel a little less snuffly and a bit warmer just thinking about that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Girl talk

Like I said, I'm missing the comfort of my girlfriends with all the craziness of December, and although I'm thrilled about a scheduled on the calendar set-in-stone breakfast date at 9:25 a.m. sharp tomorrow with two fabulous friends rain or shine, I'm also reminded of the stimulating conversations just waiting to happen with the other main female in the house, my very Leo daughter. Ya, not quite like the soul rejuvenating estrogen filled and honest convos with the ladies, but I also appreciate the five year old girl mind in all it's splendor. Oh, and ever since Quinn announced he has a loose tooth, she has one again, too. Of course, sooo typical of my girl...can't be out done...must always be the leader or else! After a horrible commute in the omg! monsoon rain and a crazy busy frustrating day at work with no lunch break, here is what greeted me at home:

Me: "How was school today?"
Talia: "I quit the club."
Me: "You quite the Hey Girls Club?"
Talia: "Ya."
Me: "Why?"
Talia: "I was sooo not happy with Zoe being the leader and telling me what to do all the time! I hate that! It's sooooo annoyyyying!"
Me: "What did you say when you quit?"
Talia: "I said 'I quit'".
Me: "Well, maybe next time or even tomorrow you can try to work out a better way, like having a democracy or multiple leaders? Compromise is really good. It's a shame to just quit like that."
Talia: "No, it wasn't working for me. I don't like being told what to do."
Me: "Yes, I know that. And, I'm glad you spoke your mind. That's really good."
Talia: "Oh, remember how our whole school voted for Obama except for me and Zoe 'cause we voted for the other guy and Obama won because of our school?"
Me: "Uh huh."
Talia: "Yep, our school is soooo awesome."

Enduring? Yes.

Will I throw in a bunch of curse words and talk of dildos tomorrow over coffee tomorrow? You betcha, with extra whipped cream and a cherry on top. I'm so like totally overdue.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

R2 meets the snow

"Aaah, what a view from my hotel room. I wonder what adventure awaits..."
From his vantage point it was nothing but snow, trees, and quiet...too quiet for his comfort.
"I wanted to experience snow but no one told me it would freeze my circuits!"
After a busy day in the snow, R2 is more than ready for some hot food and lively beverage.

Wait, the room is spinning....should...have...stopped...at...one martini....

aaaand down for the count. Who ordered all those Patron shots??

After a long day...and wild night that R2 mostly remembers, it's time to hit the road and go home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

December aka the Busy Month

It's inevitable. December gets crazy. It feels like I barely keep my head above water trying to keep track of the "to do" list(s), events, parties, traffic, shopping, holiday cards, prepping, writing lists, baking, etc. I am not one of those remarkable people that finish their shopping in September (do those people actually exist or is it legend?), but more like one who picks up a few inspired gifts here and there, but usually shops the most a week or so before. Yes, I'm that stressed out person buying wine in my party attire on the way to the party.

It's also hard when my husband and mom both have birthdays in late December, so I have to figure out two gifts each for two of my favorite people. My husband is mostly a mystery when it comes to what to buy him and I often buy something that I think is especially cool only to have it never used, like an entire set of harmonicas with an amp or an espresso maker. He always manages to know the perfect thoughtful gift to get me and that's thoroughly annoying and I’m, well, okay, jealous. Have I bought anything for him this year? Nope, not yet, mainly because I have absolutely no idea what to buy and I am totally stressing about that and feel like a horrible wife. Oh ya, December is also the month for feeling blue…and way too much sugar, which doesn’t help one bit.

Besides the stress of being nowhere remotely finished with shopping (this year the list suddenly got much bigger by the way), I've barely seen any of my close friends all month and that's yet another thing to feel awful about. I actually had a dream last night that I moved to a new city and had zero friends and was really depressed and getting desperate (or was that déjà vu?). I know we are all dealing with sick kids or we are sick ourselves, busy schedules, houseguests, etc., but I'm still not feeling good about it. I miss the little things like our weekly breakfasts, playdates, and pasta/wine dinners. My routine becomes so un-routine that I lose track of the things that keep me mentally stable and happy, like the gym, eating right, getting enough rest, and especially my friends (aka support system). I get so busy that I start to shut down and just want to hibernate and I know from past experience that’s not a good thing. Oh, and my kids pick up on that fact because they are big on routine, too, and sensitive to my moods, and start acting weird like me, then I act weird in reaction to that, and then we all get on each other’s nerves. Fun stuff.

While I have no one to blame but myself for my lack of effort, I still think I can write off most of current angst to the crazy month of December. After I recover from my usual I’ve-been-too-busy-and-stressed-to-take-care-of-myself usual sickness on Christmas day, I vow to make January the month of getting back to the really good stuff like yoga class and bagels on Tuesday. For now, I must get back to hunting down addresses for sending out those final holiday cards and deciding between either massage slippers or that whatchamacallit tool thingy for my husband. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Solo in the snow

At the last minute, my friend and usual traveling companion for my much anticipated fun weekend getaway to the far away snow tearfully cancelled due to an upper respiratory infection. Damn. I was upset. Not at her because it wasn't her fault, but at the change of plans...and being forced to go alone. Damn. But, you know, turns out it wasn't such a bad thing after all. Kind of, cosmic meant to be actually. Do you know how many times I've fantasized about driving away, all by myself, checking into a cheap hotel, and leaving all my worries and responsibilities (kids) behind for a few days? Countless times. I was determined to find out if I had what it takes - would I be miserable and lonely and leave that crazy dream behind once and for all or would I love it like I always imagined?

Along with the usual items like deodorant and underwear, I packed my best bottle of red, one wine glass, my favorite chocolate lacey cookies, and my iPod with a freshly downloaded audiobook of the perfectly chosen The Nanny Diaries. The five hour drive wasn't too horrible - it was mostly dark which I didn't like, lots of cops, but the book was engaging and funny....and...it was just me. Aaah.

The newly built hotel in Mammoth was perfect, the room was huge, the bed was heavenly, the view from my balcony was of pine trees and mountains, and Lifetime had a whole slate of cheesy holiday girl-has-man-girl-loses-man-girl-gets-new-cuter-man movies continuously playing all...weekend...long. Yes!
Instead of skiing like many of my work friends that were there, I savor a slow breakfast of a latte and a yummy goat cheese spinach egg scramble, quiet drives through the mountains oohing and aaahing over the scenery and snow, and a victorious quest for a Santa to add to my collection, the discovery of a feared lost R2D2 behind my son's car seat (what luck! pictures to follow...), and a luxurious afternoon nap (I was sleepy therefore I slept). That night I do Patron shots and dance. Yes, me, dance. I haven't danced in decades and it was fun and long overdue.

The next and final day, I enjoy another excellent breakfast at the hotel, pack it up, and slowly head home so I can see my kids before bedtime. I think about the peacefulness and solitude I experienced. I relish it and smile. Even if I'm home and the kids are in school, I still hear cars, airplanes, and the voices in my head telling me I should be doing something productive like laundry, conquering the piles of paper, or work. But, all I hear when I'm walking through the snow covered mountain, alone, is the birds and the quiet. It makes me think a lot, but not in a crazy stressed out way. Instead I think about and appreciate the good things in my life - my wonderful husband who encourages me to be me, my healthy kids, and the too numerous to count blessings. Funny how being away makes you feel closer to what you left behind. You get a lot of perspective from detaching. It should be mandatory for us all at least once a month, don't you think?

So, I'm on the freeway off ramp near my home, and my iPod starts making static, so I turn off the audiobook, and push the preset button for my favorite radio station. U2's Bad (live version) blasts through my speakers. This is one of my favorite songs of all time...ever. I get chocked up, then the tears start flowing. I pull over and let the tears pour down my face as I'm smiling. I made it! I was okay! I was brave and drove all that way all by myself and had a great time and experienced many peaceful almost spiritual moments. I feel like I'm in a movie and the soundtrack is blaring the perfect song for the pivotal scene. What an amazing end to my solo adventure.
"This desperation
In temptation
Let it go
And so fade away
To let it go
And so fade away
I'm wide awake
Wide awake and not sleeping..." (Bad, U2)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grilled cheese and Kyle

Today I had a friend lunch date that was a no-show due to total miscommunication (damn email!), a newly very assertive son who is pushing all of my patience buttons (it's a good thing, but damn it wears on my nerves), a husband stuck at a serious hazardous materials spill until who knows when, the reality that my weekend getaway traveling partner is probably too sick to travel tomorrow, and to top it off I've had a frustrating blogger block for over a week. What an off day for sure. Once the kids are soundly asleep in bed, I make a comfort meal for myself and surrender. I put together a dinner of a grilled Colby jack cheese sandwich on yummy french bread, fancy sweet potato chips, and a glass of a $7 bottle Cabernet. I curl up on the couch and start watching a two week old Tivo'd episode of Friday Night Lights, and mentally attempt let it all go while I eat the delicious crunchy gooey goodness of my comfort meal, sip down my wine savoring the aaaaaah moment, smile at the sight of my man Kyle Chandler on the tv, put down my plate to give my coughing kid some Motrin so he will go back to sleep, then back to the couch to finish my much deserved albeit slightly colder meal.

Could it have been any more perfect? Yes, of course. Sourdough makes the best grilled cheese ever, maybe with a variety of three or four tasty gourmet cheeses with some fresh cut beefsteak tomatoes from my summer garden, seasoned thick fries, and a $100 bottle of wine. But, you know, it was perfect for the moment, and here I am writing, finally, and feeling not so blah after all. I don't expect my sick friend to miraculously recover or my husband to suddenly come home and give me a foot rub while cleaning the dirty house. It does feel good to be a woman who knows what it takes for me to make my tired soul feel a little bit better all by myself. And, knowing that I have a stash of excess advent calendar chocolate candy that I'm going to raid really helps, too. I'll deal with tomorrow...tomorrow.