Jun 27, 2008

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

Okay, so my house is super quiet right now. We just dropped my oldest son off at summer camp this morning (I only cried a bit!) and my three little ones are at grandma's. In three hours, my hubby and I leave for a rafting trip (yipee!) but for now, I'm all alone in a very quiet, too quiet house! Those of you with little ones know what a precious rarity this is. We are often alone with our kids in the house, but not without them! I must say, the first few moments were absolutely glorious! I laid in bed and resisted the tempation to find old soaps and reruns on TV. That could get addicting. Instead, I enjoyed a few minutes of precious sleep, then slowly got up and had a bowl of cereal. No one screamed at me that I did not pour the milk high enough or that so and so ate the lasts of the Cocoa Krispies. Ahh. I then folded a load of laundry, then stopped promptly before finishing. Why waste precious time on chores? Those can be done any day, or better yet, assigned to my precious angels! Instead, I went downstairs and played the piano for a bit. Nothing fancy, just some tinkering. Still, it was nice. No one banging on the keys, hammering out their rendition of Chopsticks next to me. I admit I missed it a bit. No audience is no fun. So I went back upstairs, checked my e mail, and pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. This is the part where the kids come barreling in my room, half dressed, demanding to know where their belt, shoe, sock, doll, squirt gun, or toothbrush is. (To which I always sweetly reply "I am not the keeper of your things!") No one came in though, and I must admit, I missed it a teeny weeny bit. I glanced at the clock anxiously. My precious time was ticking away. Should I go to the gym? Grab a cup of coffee and sit lazily at Starbucks with a newspaper the way I've seen those foreign no kids/briefcase wielding people do? Run down to Mervyns to check out the latest clearance stuff I really don't need but just can't resist? Maybe it's not a good thing to be alone. I could easily run up the credit card on frivolous purchases! Of course, those purchases would not be influenced by a little one screaming for a Bat Man shirt, or made because of a bribe meant to keep my sanity for the remainder of the shopping trip. Okay, I miss them. This is what we all dream about, right? The day the last kid goes off to college, and the house goes back to normal, the day our kitchen counters stay clean and the laundry is reduced to one load instead of ten. But as I look around my messy house at the Transformer underwear on the ground, my daughter's painting from Girl Scouts last week, my son's leftover Lego creation, I have a strong hunch I'm gonna miss these days. Quiet and clean will come someday. Today I will cherish.

Jun 24, 2008

Ten Reasons to Love Summer

1. Homemade Popsicles. Remember how Mom used to freeze juice in those cute little plastic thingies and we'd sit outside and eat them till our clothes were drenched, then get hosed off in the backyard? My kids still find them much more exciting than the storebought ones.

2. The ice cream man! He finally made his rounds on our block yesterday. I still remember waiting with my two quarters by the front door all afternoon, anticipating the familiar jingle as he barreled down the road. Course, two quarters doesn't get you much anymore, but it's still pretty thrilling to chase him down for a Fudgsicle, or better yet, an Astropop.

3. Flip flops and shorts. Course, in CA, we pretty much wear these year round.

4. No bad hair days. Since we spend most of our summer between the pools and the beach, no one expects us to perfect our hairdo. A sopping wet ponytail does the trick for me, and saves 30 minutes in the bathroom every morning laboring over the flat iron!

5. Good books. Something about summer makes me want to pop open a good book. Anyone read a good one lately? I read by recommendation. With limited time on my hands, I've become somewhat of a book snob. If I'm gonna forgo the household chores to lay around reading, it better be a juicy one!

6. No early mornings. Ahhh, the sweetest part of summer, not having to run the carpool and race around like a mad woman slapping PB n Js together for lunches! Though the days of sleeping in till ten have been left behind in the crazy college days, I'm still thrilled if I get to sleep in till 8.

7. Trips. This year, due to insane gas prices, the only trip we'll be taking is up north to see my mom. Nonetheless, it should be a good time. We plan to camp in Tahoe for the first time with all four kids (wish me luck!!) Getting away is wonderful...a step out of reality and the day to day bustle is always a blessing. Just sitting on someone else's couch eating someone else's food and watching someone else's TV is a treat for me!

8. Summer movies. It seems summer time brings a plethera of good family movies to the big screen. I'm itching to see Get Smart, among others. Anyone seen it yet? I was a big fan back when it was on TV. And Steve Carrell..well, you dont get any funnier than that.

9. Bonfires at the beach. I admit, we're spoiled rotten here in southern CA. Nothing like the smell of campfire smoke mixed with the salty ocean breeze.

10. No agenda! I used to pack my summers chock full of events, never leaving a dull moment for my children to possibly become bored and inflict fights among each other. Now, I'm perfectly happy waking up and answering "Nothing!" when they ask me what the plan is for the day. Sometimes nothing is the best something you can do!!

What about you? Why do you love summer? Or are you already counting the days till your kids go back to school? :) What are your favorite summer memories?

Happy Summer!

Jun 21, 2008


So, it's been four months since we moved, and I'm finally getting out there, trying to meet people after being a so called hermit for so long. Being a hermit, I discovered, has its advantages. No messy relationships, no grouchy, catty mommies to avoid on the playgrounds, you get my gist. But of course, this is not how life was made to be lived. And, because I am a social introvert (yes, that's what I've labeled myself after a couple personality tests and a full analysis by my oh so wise husband) I know I need to make friends. Thing is, when you're a kid, this is a lot easier to do. For instance, my precious six year old daughter has no trouble at all making friends wherever she goes. At the beach a few weeks ago, she found instant companionship with a little girl her age splashing nearby, and by the end of the afternoon the two were running hand and hand into the water. Too cute. The following week, she joined a "girls only club" at a local park after knowing a little girl for only half an hour! Geez, I wish I could be that bold! I watch her scamper up to people, introduce herself confidently, and start chattering away as though they'd been friends all their lives. She doesn't stop to think "Is my hair just right?" or "What if she doesn't like me?" Nope, not a thought (that I know of!) She simply dives right in without assumption, and 99 percent of the time, her boldness works out in her favor. I still remember a girl in my neighborhood as a child riding up on her bike while I played outside. We had just moved into our house, as had she. She hopped up her bike, adjusted her ponytail and said cheerfully "Wanna be my friend?" I hesitantly said yes, and within minutes we were biking off into the sunset. Another one of my best friends, whom I'm still close with, approached me on the playground in third grade and struck up a conversation about my brother. This led to a lifetime friendship. Who would have known? For some reason, all of this seems a bit more difficult as an adult. For one, we all have busy lives. Between the carpool, cleaning, errands, work, and trying to squeeze a date night in here and there, how does one make time to make friends? I'm still waiting for someone to introduce themselves in the line at Starbucks and invite me out to coffee. "I see you drink mocha lattes too! How cool! Wanna hang?" We just don't do it. Why? Too busy, too afraid to make a commitment to a perfect stranger, too afraid this might actually lead to a real conversation that we really don't have time for, because we have to run the carpool in ten minutes and pick up dry cleaning on the way. I've pondered the mommy pick up line many a time at the park. You see a possible target as you pull up. Hmm...reading a paper, fiddling with her cell phone, looks nice enough. Then, her kids move in, invite your kids to play. Perfect opportunity. You both run for the slide at the same time, and use the classic "How old is your child?" line. Never fails, right? But alas, just when you're ready to make your move, her cell phone trills, and she's lost in a conversation, or worse yet, her BFF walks up and all is history. So much for that possible friendship. It's not that I'm a pessimist, really. I think I'm a friendly enough person. I smile, make eye contact, brush my teeth, do all the right things. And I think I have plenty of friends, or at least I always have. But friendship takes effort, takes work on both ends. Most of my mommy friends came from MOPS over the years. Since I no longer belong, I feel sort of, well, lost. But since I've unofficially graduated from MOPS, where to now? I don't work outside the home, so scratch that. Church, yes. But Sunday mornings only allow for a limited amount of conversation. Again, gotta use those pick up lines, only alter them a bit for the church scene. "Great music this morning, huh?" "I love your dress!" " He really knows how to preach it!" And somehow, not seem cheesy and remain genuine. Really, I'm probably overthinking all this. I know in times these friendships will come. I've joined a Bunco group, and found a nice group of ladies to scrapbook with. If I'm really down it the dumps, I call my close friend up in Oregon, who always gives out her listening ear to me with sympathy. How many friends does one need, really? I'd rather have four close ones than a hundred acquaintances. One other thing I've learned is that sometimes friendships pop up in the least likely of places, or in the form of the least likely person. One of my closest friends years ago turned out to be a forty something year old African American woman, who bent over backwards to babysit for me, teach me to cook, and walk me through the Bible. I am forever blessed by her influence, but if you'd picked her out of the crowd for me, I would have had my doubts. Thankfully, I've learned to open my eyes, reach out, and give people chances over the years. And most of the time, this works out just fine. So, please don't feel sorry for me reading this. If you are, most likley you are my friend, and the fact that you took the time to read my post is enough to make my day. So thank you, for being my friend, near or far! And don't worry about me. When all else fails, a carton of Dreyers vanilla in bed with a tabloid mag wipes any pity party right out! :)

Jun 12, 2008

Cinderella's Carriage Got Stuck in a Rut

If you were like me as a young girl, you watched all princess movies, dressed up in plastic high heels, and dreamed about a prince who would one day sweep you off your feet and ride off into the sunset with you on his horse. The blockbuster hit "Enchanted" made us all believe for a few moments that perhaps this fairy tale life really does exist in these modern times. But one look at our crazy, cluttered lives and we get a blaring reality check. Life ain't the pretty fairy tale we dreamed as a little girl. When I scribbled in my diary and hummed along to princess tunes, I never dreamed I'd end up a single mom at 19. Not in the plan. Prince charming turned out to be a dud who installed car stereos for a living and nearly blew my newborn's eardrums out cruising around in his "souped up" Volvo with the speakers blasting. My castle was a 12x10 bedroom in my parents house, where I watched Days of our Lives and wondered how I'd ever get out of my rut. And then along came a real prince charming, via the internet! It was too good to be true! Cute, successful, and living down by the beach, where I'd always dreamed of residing. Surely, life would be peachy keen now! Fast forward one year and I'm huddled over the porcelain throne puking my guts out, six weeks pregnant after our whirlwind wedding and honeymoon. I knew not a soul in southern CA, and spent my days in an oversized bathrobe, not exactly the sexy garb I'd pictured myself in as a newlywed. Fast forward eight years (this week!) later. Four kids, countless moves, job changes, sicknesses, stretch marks, and here we are. Not exactly the fairy tale I carved out in my little third grade mind. Prince Charming often leaves his dirty undies and socks strewn around the bedroom floor, and the servants have yet to show up at my castle to do their spring cleaning. The darling children leave trails of Cheerio crumbs around the house, plaster their sticky jelly fingers on the mirrors, and fight over who got the better bendy straw for their chocolate milk. (Please tell me I'm not alone in this!!) So, you could say Cinderella got a bit off track. Or rather, she never quite made it to the ball in her pretty dress, but rather stayed put in her rags (aka sweat pants or whatever is clean, fits, and hides milk stains) I venture to say I'm not the only girl who didn't get her fairy tale ending. I could tell you countless stories of friends who figured out life ain't all the movies make it out to be. No good husbands, health nightmares, bratty children, nosy in laws, disappointing jobs, and the list goes on. Yes, life can be rough, disappointing, frustrating, exhausting. As my one friend explained, "I had such good intentions going into motherhood. I would prop my darling baby in a cute little stroller, slather sunscreen on her rosy litte cheeks, slip on my designer running shoes, grab my nonfat Starbucks latte, and go for a brisk jog in my beautiful neighborhood each day. In reality, those rosy cheeks turned out to be eczema, and I hid inside my dark apartment for three months, crying and trying to figure out how to squeeze in a shower between breast pumping sessions." Her honesty amused me, but I oh so related. Those dreams, those fantasies of the perfect life, flushed down the drain in the whirlwind of life. Is it really so bad, though, I wonder? After all, Cinderella truly was just a fairy tale. We never saw her struggle through puberty, slather on zit cream before the big dance, or complain about PMS bloat. Surely life wasn't all grand for her either, right? Personally, I'm glad for the bumps along the road, because they've made me stronger, appreciative, honest, and real. I may not be living the fairy tale life, but I'm living a good life, the very life God intended for me. I'll take my sticky floor any day, because it means there four little people have left their footprints on it today. And that alone is worth it.