Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Close of Another Year

This year, 2010, started out rocky and actually didn't turn a corner until just a few weeks ago.  I've been working so hard and so much the last quarter of this year;  maybe the hardest in the last three years and I've been fighting just to tread water.  I have yet to master the balancing act of wife/mother and work.  It's been no secret - hell it's one of the reasons I started blogging, that I do not want to be a working mom.  I've really struggled with the guilt and emotions of feeling like by working that I've failed my family in some way.  The big girl in me knows that I go to work because if I don't go, I would fail them by not being able to provide for them.

With work going crazy for me, we were in great need of quality family time.  Each year our kids save their money to go to Disneyland.  Since I haven't found a way to make them work for real wages this consists of what they get from family during birthdays, holidays, or the spare change they find when picking up around the house.  Sure, we probably should take the money and put it in a college fund, but where's the fun and lesson in that?  Some years they save enough and others, well, they have to wait until next year.  This year we told them they didn't have enough, but they did... and a few weeks ago we took a surprise trip to Disneyland. 

My kids who are now 7, 5 and 2 are still young enough to believe just about everything that we say to them.  When we moved them from their warm beds to the (not-so) awesome mini-van at 1:00am and they asked "Where are we going?" and I said "A special store only open in the night and they won't let you in unless you're sleeping when you get there" they bought it.  My Big Girl was a little bit of a tougher sale, but eventually I agreed to get her something from the $1 section (anyone else shop at Target too?) and down she went.

My husband and I went that whole day non-stop, from park open until close on only a few hours of sleep.  We were delirious at best, but the joy and fun from this trip was the best we'd EVER had.   It was so good to literally be reminded of why we all like about each other.  My favorite people in the world are in my very own family.  Not only did my husband and I love our kids more than ever, I think we also loved each other a little more too.
This Christmas we really scaled back on gifts, but no one noticed.  It started out very routine with the typical family shuffle and ended a beautiful disaster.  For the last few years now, my family has come over to my house for Christmas dinner.  The first few years were poorly planned and the meals consisted of whatever take-out was open and were mediocre at best.  This year I made a nice dinner and everyone came over to hang out and visit with the kids.  No fancy gifts, no forced conversation, no make-up; just easy. 

I think it was my husband who shot the first nerf bullet across the kitchen and tagged one of my sisters.  Within minutes my dad, my brother, my husband, my kids, my sisters and even my sister's fiance (who has the personality of a rock) were running, dodging, shooting, strategizing and laughing through my house...in the words of my father, "This was the most fun Christmas we've ever had."  My house paid the price, but it was so worth it...strategies for next year's "war" have already begun.

In the last few weeks, the constant ache I have very literally felt in my heart these last three years has eased a bit. It is still there and it is constant when I leave every morning in the dark, but the guilt is slowing starting to melt off.  Watching my kids play and interact effectively with each other and family made me recognize how much they've grown.  Here's the shocker:  everyone is happy, healthy and just where they need to be...  imagine that.  I do the best I can and so far, we're all okay.  I will keep doing this however long I have to and I've come to accept that there really may not be an end in sight for me, but oh how I hope there is.  If me working is the worst thing that ever happens to our family, we will be the luckiest people I know.

No question, this has been a tough year, but I think 2011 looks promising. Every year I go through all my resolutions for the new year, "Lose weight," "Exercise more," "Quit my job," "Be more patient"...  This year, I'm only trying for one thing.  I just want to find peace with myself...if it's possible.

Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year ahead! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Both Sides of the Fence

When you're a kid you think that once you grow up all the social hurdles, nerdy versus cool, smart versus stupid, pretty versus ugly work themselves out.  You believe that at some point we are all equal; that at some point the boxes we are placed in open up.  Unfortunately, "Mean Girls" don't always grow up into balanced human beings.  Sometimes they just stay mean and breed "Little Mean Girls."

I've been lucky to have been on both sides of the social fence in my life.  I've been the popular girl nominated for homecoming princess and the other girl who cut school to hangout at the beach and smoke cigarrettes.  I say lucky because at the time it felt terrible to be excluded from things because of something I liked or someone I may have been friends with.  In hindsight it is a priceless perspective I wouldn't have understood if I didn't see and feel it for myself.

When I was in high school there was a girl who was bullyied so severely she decided to graduate early.  She came from a nice family and was an older soul.  Her and I had know each other for the better part of our academic lives, but she was held back in grammar school and we didn't really have the same friends as the years went by, but we were always friendly. 

When she was a Junior and I a big Senior in high school the bullying began.  I don't even remember why, but I do remember thinking what they did to her was wrong and continued to be friendly with the underclassman.  I was pretty solid in high school and wasn't too afraid of much.  I thought I could take anything the mean crowd could dish at me...but as the mean comments and trash talking started getting thicker on me, I found it tougher to stand by this one person.  I eventually withdrew from this girl for no reason other than I just wanted the snarky comments to stop.  I folded and she knew it.

After this girl went off to college she began a new life.  She was happy.  During college she got sick with some virus which eventually spread through her body and she very unexpectedly died.  She was her mother's only daughter and the two of them were best friends.  I went to her service and her mom came up to me and said "Thank you for always being a friend to her...she said you were always kind to her."  Ugh...right in the heart...I knew I hadn't always been good to her.  I turned my back when I should've stayed strong and that is a choice I will always regret.

I know I was only 16 or 17 (I was a young Senior) when this all happened, but 18 years later I still think about her and I never forgot what her mom said to me.  Her birthday is on Christmas and every year I think about her and am reminded to be a better person.




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tough Times, Tough Lessons

It's the day before Thanksgiving and I've let all my entire staff go because frankly, why should we all be stuck here.  The phone finally has stopped ringing but the down pour of email has not stopped from one particular jerk who clearly missed the holiday spirit notice.  As I sit her waiting for the additional abuse via email, I've bought myself five minutes to catch up on my posts.

I am a bad blogger.  My brain has been mush.  Unfortunately (and very fortunately in many ways) I have this full time job that keeps getting in the way of my life :-).  Work has been so busy lately I've been getting in the car at the end of the day only to welcome the peace and quiet of a slow commute.  Usually, the long drive allows me to catch up on phone calls with my family or friends, but lately, I just haven't been able to dial anyone.  I am zapped and I have been stressed both professionally and personally.

We planned a family vacation to Disneyland months ago and have paid for it, but in hind sight this may not have been the most financially responsible move.  Work for my husband has been slow, but that has not stopped life and bills from moving forward as if it were not. The trip is booked and paid for and we're going, but Christmas will be light this year.  I keep trying to think back to previous years and historically I think this time of year has always been slow, but historically speaking, the economy hasn't consistently stayed this stagnant either. It feels like the "two steps forward, one step back" theory is in effect here.  It felt for a while there that we might almost be out of the woods; that we may almost be in the black.  But, I guess this is how life goes. 

I had only planned on working for 3 years and stupidly told my daughter 3 years ago to "just give me 3 years" to get me back home or at least close to home.  It's funny how little kids remember the most fleeting conversations and the smallest details - of everything.  My Big Kid got upset at me last week and yelled "You're a liar!  You said you'd only work for 3 years and now it's been 10!"  It clearly hasn't been ten, but I was shocked that she remembered the conversation we had such a long time ago.  I had said it at the time to buy a chunk of time almost equivalent to her then lifetime.  All I could do was apologize....what else was there to say besides "I'm sorry and I'm working on it."  Lesson learned.  No promises to my kids I may not be able to keep - no matter how little they are.

On a more positive note, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Go hug your loved ones and be thankful!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hold On...

Soccer season ended this past weekend which will hopefully allow for some much needed breathing room at our house.  No more shuffling game to game until January.  Work has been crazy as I try to effectively manage two different, but still complex projects simultaneously.  Corporate always wants to have someone accountable should the project fall apart and that someone, luckily, is me...awesome.

For the last few weeks I feel like I've been barely holding on - at home and at work.  Right now I'm walking the fine line between treading water and drowning.  The constant mantra in my head is "Just hold on" but I'm not sure how much longer I can.  Each personal triumph, no matter how great or small, seems to get eaten up by the unexpected consequences of everyday life. 

My Big Girl brought a new joke to the dinner table.  "Mom, do you like nuts?"  It was an out of the blue question, but so are most of her questions so I answered, "Yes, I like nuts."  "These nuts?" she said as she directed both of her pointer fingers to her crotch.  My husband almost chocked on his food as I sent him the "Don't you dare laugh" look across the table.  Over the next few minutes I explained the inappropriateness of the "joke" and asked her to never tell it again. 

The bad language, the different body part names, the "Mean Girls" and the other cliques - they've already started and  it's only second grade.  I knew these things would all present themselves at some point, but already?!?  I've already begun to see snapshots of character I have no doubt will become even more crystal clear as high school comes. 

Respect has been something, no matter how disfunctional our house was growing up, that was not an option for us to have.  I'm not saying we didn't test the waters, because we were kids and of course we did.  But - we also learned quickly that we had better respect adults, the law, our teachers and others or suffer the wrath of my mother. 

I've walked in both the stay-at-home mom and a working mom shoes.  There is no question that both of these roles come with their own challenges.  When you're a SAHM you NEVER have a free moment to yourself or a break in cleaning.  When you're a working mom, you are always exhausted and struggle to establish a real presence when you only really see your kids a couple hours a day AND can never make all of the school events (like the ones held in the middle of the day for 30 minutes!)  For me, as I struggle to stay involved in the building of my little people into good productive human beings there is no question which pair of shoes fit me best.  

I know the pyschic said I'm not winning the lottery and I'm in for a long hard road, but F it.  I need a little light at the end of the tunnel today.

Just hold on, just hold on, just hold on...


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Go Giants!

It has been an exciting week for our family.  The Giants won the World Series and the parade that followed was nothing short of spectacular.  The crowds alone were insane.  The City of San Francisco estimated that 1,000,000 people would be downtown to watch the festivities and end the "torture" as so many have referred to it.  Orange, black and white confetti dropped from windows and rooftops all along the parade trail.  My kids were lucky enough to shimmy themselves up right onto the barricade to get the best views possible.  My son's smile and my daughter's excitement to see their favorite players was priceless. 

I've been a bad blogger lately.  I think of things to write about all day, but then work and life get in the way and I never get my fingers on the keys (at least to type what I want to).  My job hunt has been slow moving.  My current employment hasn't been terrible lately, but I need a change of scenery.  I am done here and a new start might help my unexpectedly prolonged career.

I've thrown a half dozen resumes out there and I've got nothing so far.  A handful of those resumes have been for jobs I'm completely overqualified for, but I figured what the hell.  I mean why shouldn't I be considered for job I'm totally overqualified for, right?!  Wrong.  Truthfully, I'm only applying for these lighter jobs so that should they offer them to me I can turn them down.  I know.  It's sick.  I think the human resources departments know it too.  But hey, it's all about FEELING like I have options regardless of whether I do or not. 

I'm usually pretty skeptical and a firm believer in hard proof - which is one of my struggles with the whole religion/faith thing - but that's another story for another day.  So, when my mom told me she was going to see a psychic a week or so ago I threw in "Ask her if I'm winning the lottery!"  I was for the most part joking, so once I said it I simply put it out of mind and moved on.  No big deal. 

My mom went and saw the lady alright, but what she came back with is still on my mind.  I won't delve into what she said about my siblings (which besides the lesbian comment I think were pretty accurate about all of us).  The psychic told her I wasn't winning the lottery and that I had AT LEAST another 3 hard years of work.  I should have just laughed this off as "fun" and moved on, but I've been stuck on it.  My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I told him and said "Are you seriously going to cry about what some psychic said?"  "Yeah" I said.  "I think I might."  Another 3 freakin' years of this crap?!  And, it's the AT LEAST part that is really rough.  I just need a "hang on until" date; a light at the end of the tunnel date - which I think I just got from the random psychic.  At least another 1,095 days of this crap...awesome.   

To play out my consolation prize therapy, at least I have a job, right?  Ask me in 3 years! :-)


Monday, October 25, 2010

"Rain, Rain, Come and Stay, Give Us Back Our Saturday..."

The last few weeks have been jam-packed with different things.  Two weekends ago, I completed the Women's Nike Half-Marathon and become the proud recipient of a shiny little Tiffany necklace.  This year was about just finishing.  Next year will be about what the time.  I was so happy and proud...

Last week's work-week quickly took all that excitement from the half marathon accomplishment and sent it straight to hell.  We're in the middle of a huge project that is weather sensitive.  We were already pushing it, but just found out that equipment set to arrive this week has been delayed until the first week of December.  No one is happy about it.  But, in the freak-out of it all, I've been having it served up to me non-stop for days.  I have engineers who "don't understand how this could have happened" a boss who is "the only one who doesn't have tunnel vision and is going to be left to figure out this mess" (because that's really true) an even bigger boss who thinks "this is project is crazy."  I just sent off the update to the client.  I will cross my fingers that the tongue lashings are done for now.

Soccer.  It's great for the kids, taxing on us.  We have various practices and clinics 4 days a week and games on Saturday  We are maniacs on Saturday trying to get everyone packed up and where they are supposed to be. Of course it can't be easy, so we split up because the games have been overlapping one another on different fields on opposite sides of the city.  It's a miracle that my husband and I are still married after the crazy is said and done. 

This last Saturday it began to sprinkle and all I could think is "Please, Please, Please God, let it pour and close the soccer fields. Give me a Saturday off."  The clouds must have been too thick to hear the desperation in my voice because we played and it was wet and cold.  How wrong is it that the forecast shows rain next Saturday and all I can think is "I hope the game is cancelled."  Next weekend is a Halloween party AND the World Series...

I am exhausted.  For a brief while I thought I could do four kids. Yeah, maybe four inactive mutes but not four kids like the three busy, active, sporty ones I've got.  And truthfully, I honestly still think I could...if I didn't work and could hold the household together.  I don't have a good enough handle on the homefront when I'm working and things fall through the cracks.  I know some super moms manage to get it ALL done, but I've come to accept that I'm not that mom and probably never will be.

As I mopped my kitchen floor this morning at 5:30am, changed out a basket of laundry and managed to fully blow dry my hair - all before daylight or waking kids, I quietly accepted that my three kids are good.  They are not always perfect, but they are perfect for us. 

GO GIANTS!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Green...

I often talk about my "grass is greener" fantasy and how I've half convinced myself that this is actually true.  I think the fantasy provides an immediate, although momentary relief of the stress and pressure I feel to make it all work on my terms.  I still believe the grass COULD be greener on the other side of the fence (say maybe in the Pacific Northwest), but I'm also pretty sure that the grass I have right under my feet is maybe some of the greenest.

The last few weeks have been filled with personal triumphs and tragedy.  Cancer seems to be everywhere and does not discriminate. My uncle, who I was not close to, died of cancer about a week ago.  It's not his death that checked me, but the affect that it has had on his family.  They are understandably devastated by the loss and are struggling daily to move forward. Also on my mind are the two women in my neighborhood who recently lost their battle with the disease, the one man who is in remission and the two other women who are battling to survive breast and stage 4 colon cancer.  The latter and newest addition to the list is a mother who has an 8 year old son.  I have a 7 year old.  This could be me.

I am a pessimist by nature.  I can't help that aspect of who I am, so covering the worst case scenario is, for me, what ensures my existence.  What would happen if I got cancer?  Would I have done everything in my power to prepare my body to fight for me?  Did I buy organic enough?  Sure, who wouldn't want a bikini worthy body - ME, ME, ME, but frankly I'd rather my body be healthy and strong.  I don't EVER want my kids to experience what my cousins are going through.  

For the last few weeks I have payed close attention to what I'm putting into my body.  We even started a friendly and supportive competition amongst our offices to - if you will - participate in our own version of The Biggest Loser.  Right now, I am 5 lbs down.  It's not much, but it's something.  This weekend I will be running in the Nike Women's Half Marathon.  Cross your fingers for me.  The streets of SF are hilly and rough.

I know this is a shocker to my husband, but I'm not perfect.  All I can do is try.  I can't guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to me or my family, but I can do my best to keep us on the right path.  At the end of the day, all things considered, my grass is pretty green and I want to keep it that way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Little Man

My husband called me today with the following funny exchange between he and my son:

"Dad, I know why you married mom."
"Why?"
"Because she's a hottie."

First of all I'd like to thank a Scoobie Doo episode for teaching him the word "hottie" and secondly I'd like to give my little man a high five for using the noun correctly.  There's so much wrong with this, but something so cute at the same time - which is why I posted it.

We should probably start saving for the therapy he may need now :-)


Monday, October 11, 2010

Mini-Me

My husband and I often joke about how each kid has progressively gotten lighter in their features.  My oldest daughter has brown hair, brown eyes and always seems to be tan. She looks most like me.  My son has sandy blond hair, hazel eyes and is pretty fair.  He looks most like my husband.  My baby is a complete blondie with what appear to be dark green eyes and creamy fair skin.  We're not sure where this kid came from.

Our little doppelgangers resemble our personalities too which is sometimes a little startling.  It's really tough to be mad at yourself.  My big girl has been struggling with this the most lately.  She's getting older by the minute and even though I see her everyday it never ceases to amaze me how quickly it's all going by.  Saturday morning:

4:00am
"Mom?"
"What do you need?"
"Do you think you can sign me up for Girl Scouts?"
"Let's talk about it in the morning - when there's light out."
"Do you think you can do it before next week?"
"Honey, not right now."
"But WHY, mommy?"
"Because I'm tired and can't think yet.  Go back to bed."
(sigh) "Okay."

5:30am
"Mommy, I'm really sorry to wake you up again."
"What do you need?"
"It's just that the Girl Scouts are camping next week and I really want to go, but you have to sign me up."
"I told you we'd talk about it when there's light out."
"I really want to go..."
"Go back to bed."
(sigh) "Okay."

6:30am
"Mommy, I'm soooo sorry to bother you again, but I really need to know."
"The answer is NO."
"But WHYYYYYY?"
"Because you want an answer and you keep waking me up...I'm so tired.  Please let me sleep..."
"But--"
"You chose at the beginning of the year.  Sports or Girl Scouts.  Right now my "No" may not be forever, but if you don't go back to bed and right now, you will be without Girl Scouts for the rest of you LIFE."
"But--"
"--No.  Daylight."

To say she is persistent is an understatement.  I negotiate and deal all day at work and I'm not half bad at it.  She is my kid through and through.  Some might ask why I put up with it as long as I did all morning.  First, it was because she was polite.  I know this is not good enough for most people, but I appreciated the "kill 'em with kindness" approach. And second, it really is tough to see a mini-me in action.  

I have to believe these same qualities that are driving me crazy will be an attribute someday.  If who she is right now is any indication of who she will be as a grown up, then I feel like I've done my job raising a smart and sharp woman.  If I'm totally off on this, then please, let me live in my lie for just a little longer...

Happy Monday!





Monday, October 4, 2010

JINXED!

At the end of my last post, I felt lucky to be me.  I felt all warm and fuzzy about how great my kids have been to each other and I was sure that if there was a God he was playing a part in their new found respect for each other.  Well, JINX!   My kids were TERRIBLE to one another this past weekend! My Big Girl has become a Know-It-All and a sassy one at that.  My Little Man who is usually the calmer of the bunch was just an emotional mess of crying and tantrums.  And, my sweet Baby, has taken to shaking one finger at me and saying "No, No, No" then laughing.   At one point this weekend my Little Man was so upset and at a loss for words that he actually hit me...really hard! I know things are gonna go bad when he starts being sassy and mean with the baby - who he adores.   My poor girl who is as happy as can be and doesn't deserve a lick of meanness from either of the other two.

I had so much more work to do on my kids this weekend...and then I leave, entrust them to someone else and go back to work.  Yeah, I know this work thing takes care of my family and provides for them and that's a priority, but it doesn't mean I have to like it or that I am ungrateful for it.  It's just not what I want - IT'S NOT, IT'S NOT, IT'S NOT...sorry, I channeled my 5 year old from this weekend.  Okay then.  Moving on.

As I sat in traffic this morning and had already been honked at and fist pumped by a bitchy woman in her big Lexus,  I began the "grass is greener" fantasy which seems to showing up more and more frequently.  I day dream of a nice house we can afford in quiet little town with nice people, stellar school systems, manicured lawns, fields to run in and far away from the bustle of the city.  I've been applying for new jobs that will hopefully allow me the financial ability to pay off all of our debt sooner, so if we wanted to try for the greener grass we could.  I just hope that a new job with more pay does not solidify my place in the workforce forever...which it totally could.  My husband has never aspired to be a stay at home dad, but something tells me he wouldn't fight too hard to avoid it.  I guess we'll cross that bridge if we ever come to it...



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vival Stories

My 5 year old son has started a new pre-k program for kids who have birthdays that are on the cusp of either starting or waiting for kindergarten.  The preschool is a Christian program, which didn't play into the decision to have him attend, but it wasn't a problem either.  He loves his new school and he loves the new book they gave him.

My son kept asking "Mommy, have you seen my Survival?" at which I would reply "Huh?"  Finally after a few days he found his Survival and he brought it to me to show me just what he was talking about.  "Ahh....you mean your Bible,"  "Yeah, my Vival."  He tries so hard to get it phonetically correct, but falls short every time.  So, for now, we'll acclimate to him and call it a Survival or a Vival.

Like I've said in previous posts, we're not a very religious family.  We don't go to church regularly, but I do think it's important for my kids to know about religion.  The Bible my son has is a children's Bible and has done a nice job of simplifying the stories and creating good and kind messages about how we should treat one another.  I can't think of a more appropriate message than that at our crazy house. 

All of the kids love the stories and for the last few weeks, these have been what we read at night before bed.  Even I enjoy the quiet engagment of the stories.  It's a nice way to end the evening on a calm note and oddly enough the kids have seemed nicer to each other.  Even if that all happens to be coincidence, I'll take it anyway :-).

Monday, September 27, 2010

3 Years and Counting...

Last week (9/23) marked my 3 year anniversary of being back in the workforce and yesterday was my 34th birthday.  I kept starting and stopping a post to describe how the 3 year mark felt, but I couldn't really put my finger on it.  To be honest, I had been looking forward to it coming, but with a much different result (shocker!).  I thought I'd be loooooong gone by now and to not be able to an end in site was, well, disappointing.
 
It didn't bother me through the actual day, but it did that night.  The big question that kept my eyes open and my head spinning is "What do I do now?" and "How do I fix this?"  The easy answer is that there is no fix.  I just need to keep getting up and doing it over and over and over again with the hope that it eventually stops before my kids are grown.  It's never about the actual work I have to put in at my job; it's always about the part of my life I SO want to be a constant participate in. 

My birthday was a different story.  It was far from disappointing.  It was fantastic - but not for the reasons you might think.  It was a day of no obligation and no rushing.  It started with a tap on my arm in the dark at 3:45am.  "What's wrong, honey?" "Nothing.  Happy Birthday, Mommy."  "Thank you." "I'm cold, can you scoot over?" "Sure."  My Big Kid proceeded to snuggle into me and told me she loved me.  It doesn't get better than that...

At 7:00am I heard a loud "thud" that sounded like a kid falling out of bed.  My eyes shot open and my Big Kid was back.  "Is everyone okay?" "Yeah, I just wanted to get your attention, Happy Birthday again Mommy." "Thanks, honey." "You're breakfast in bed is ready."  I opened my eyes, now less foggy, and saw a plate with a water (the one she dropped to get my attention) and four Oreo cookies.  "You're the best daughter ever" I tell her.  "Thanks, mom."  Her priceless smile makes her face beam with pride at making such an impression this morning.  "Now don't come down until we call you." "Okay" I say.

Two Oreo cookies later and a gulp of water, I'm still sitting at the top of the stairs.  Finally I get to go down and open my presents.  I got a small box of drawn pictures and love notes from my Big Kid, running shoes and a sweatshirt from my sweet husband and my son gave me his heart since he said he wasn't a part of the gift decision.  Baby just went on hugging and kissing everyone like she normally does.  It was quite possibly the best morning of my life (besides that first night a baby sleeps through the night). The rest of the day was easy and fun.

 I dread Mondays.  I loathe that this one day ends my weekend.  Today was no different, but in light of the fun birthday, I was reminded of just how lucky I am to have my family.  I'm here at a desk, but my heart is with them all day :-) 



Friday, September 24, 2010

Soccer Talk

This is what happened at my son’s soccer practice last night (that I was not at, unfortunately)and amidst all the soccer moms:

Big Girl:  ”Nanny, can I have a dollar?”
Nanny:  “I don’t have a dollar.”
Big Girl:  “Yes you do.  My dad pays you $200 a day.”
Nanny:  “No….”
Big Girl “Uh huh.  You get paid like a $1,000.”
Nanny: “I don’t think so.”
Big Girl:  “I have an idea.”
Nanny:  “Yeah?”
Big Girl:  “Why don’t you give my mom your $1,000.  She only makes $25 a day.”

The soccer moms and the Nanny all started laughing.  Yep.  My daughter thinks I’m poor and needs the Nanny to kick down some money to support me.  Awesome...  Where do they get these ideas?  If any of that was true, I need to quit my job ASAP.  Needless to say, we had the talk last night about things that are not our kids’ or anyone else's business – like how much the Nanny makes J.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ugh...

How quickly things can change from one day to the next...

Yesterday started out great, then quickly went down hill with the news of a cluster of lice making its way through the elementary school.  I didn't think it possible to examine every strand of hair on a child's head, but let me easily confirm that it is.  At one point during my "check" I found a few specks of white which I freaked myself out with, in turn freaking my big girl out, who then freaked the baby out.  Talk about a domino affect!  By the end of the night, all of us were not only physically but emotionally exhausted. 

I would like to give the mom who called me prop's though.  No one ever wants to talk about lice and no one ever wants to admit that there kid has it.  Apparently there have a been a few families who have gotten it, but who haven't reported it to the school in fear of the backlash....not cool to say the least.

Today is going no better.  I am moments away from sending an employee home to contemplate his employment after he ridiculously went postal when I didn't do as he asked...hmmm...last I checked, I'm still the freakin' boss - wrong move pal.

This day can not end soon enough is all I can say...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Already?


Don't worry.  The picture above was taken while I was at a dead-stop in my mess of commute this morning.  It looks like we're crammed so much tighter from the dash view than it looks in the pic!  Clearly this must be a good sign that the economy is picking up, right?  Today was ONLY an hour and half drive...please, hold back your envy! 

We had SUCH a fun weekend, no commute could ruin this Monday!  My kids are so lucky to be them.  Not all of our extended family can always make their soccer games, but this weekend just about everyone did - which I appreciate since soccer isn't exactly the most easy watched sport sometimes. When both kids scored goals at their games, our sideline erupted with cheers - mostly from our family.  You would have seriously thought we just won the World Cup.  My daughter screamed in excitement and my son dawned a proud smile before covering his face in embarrassment from all the attention. In some respects, I think we kind of did win the World Cup.

Right after soccer, we went home and cleaned everyone up just in time to head out the door to the Jonas Brothers in concert.  Yes.  I said Jonas Brothers.  The rule in our house is no shows like Camp Rock, Hannah Montana, iCarly, Sonny with a Chance, Suite Life on Deck--you get the picture.  The subject content is still beyond them and I don't need my 7 year old thinking like a teenager.  But, we do let them listen to the music on the shows as long as we've previewed and approved it first. 

I'm not gonna lie, my husband and I had low expectations and were even a little embarrassed to be going to the concert...until we got there.  I have to say, I've never seen so many moms dressed in support of the Jo Bro's in my life.  I applaud their support for their kids' good time (if that's what it was), but also relished in the absurdity of the soccer mom wearing a puff painted t-shirt that read "Mother of the Biggest Jonas Brothers Fan."  But hey, we all have our own thresholds.  Mine did not include a band t-shirt.

Randomly in the 19,000 who attended, we ended up spotting another family we knew through sports and our kids totally bonded.   The dads boosted kids up on their shoulders and didn't complain once that their ear drums were most likely fatigued from the screams.  The girls linked themselves together via glow stick chain and sang and squealed with delight as Demi Lovato, then the Jo Bro's lit up the stage.  The girls were going strong, but the boys eventually tuckered out and went to sleep on the blanket on the lawn. 

In the midst of screaming adolescents and glow sticks galore (the new lighters of today), something great happened.  I actually fell in love with my kids and husband all over again. There was no reprimanding, no need to yell, fight or battle.  Everyone was the best of themselves, which doesn't happen very often.  It's so nice to remember why we not only love each other, but why we like each other. 

This was our kids' first concert and I can't imagine it being more fun than it was.  What began as a dreaded experience for us as parents ended up being unimaginably fantastic for all of us.  I don't know about you, but I remember the New Kids On the Block concert I went to like yesterday.  It was one of the first exciting experiences of my life.  One day, they will sit with their own kids at a lame teeny bopper concert and remember their experience at Jonas Brothers concert.  I hope they remember it as fondly as we do! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lucky

I feel lucky to be alive this week.  For the first time in a loooong time I had a really good week.  The kids weren't crazy, the house was not super messy and work was not overwhelming (for a change).  Another first in a long time is that I actually stuck to a no wheat, moderate dairy (creamer for my coffee) diet all week long.  It was tough, but it wasn't as tough as it normally feels.  Listening to the "Skinny Bitch" book on my ipod on my long drive home doesn't hurt as a food deterrent either.  I recommend the chapter on the practices of slaughter houses to push you over the edge.

There are only 4 weeks until the Nike Women's Half Marathon that me and a few pals will be braving.  For the last few months I have been nursing my foot that has been plagued with plantar fasciitis and FINALLY I ran a decent distance last night with NO pain.  It was tender and sore this morning, but I could actually run-- which is a huge deal for me. 

I was not born a natural lover of running.  It seemed to find me by default.  It didn't require a gym membership, equipment or any fancy coordination; it is simply putting one foot in front of the other, which I knew I was capable of.  And, the rest is history...

Overtime, running has allowed me a means to settle my mind and think without consequence.  Last night as I ran down my neighborhood streets, I thought a lot about three women who live on these streets who are battling cancer.  One woman lost her battle on Tuesday, one woman is preparing for the end of her battle and another is fighting like crazy to be here.  None of these woman were what I would consider "old" and they are all someone's daughter, someone's mother and someone's wife - just like me. 

I am not sure if it's just that I'm getting older or if the numbers of cancer seem to be exponentially increasing.  I have begun reading a lot about the causes and what we can do to help ourselves avoid this terrible disease.  My first thought is to safeguard my children the best that I can, my next is that I really want to live a long time to see my children blossom into their own lives.  I've begun removing the unhealthy processed food from our house and forcing my kids to eat things other than Dino Chicken Nuggets and Mac 'n Cheese.  The three bites (of something you don't like but is healthy) rule is back in enforcement. 

We are a bustling, busy house and any spare time is a luxury.  Of all the things I'm aware I will regret, I don't want what I feed my kids to be on that list.  We do our best to provide healthy choices full of color and nutrition.  Truth be told, we don't always have the time for the preparation of healthy home cooked meals, so we do our best today and better tomorrow.

Have a healthy and safe weekend; go home and hug your kids because you can!



Monday, September 13, 2010

Rise and Shine

What a busy weekend!  Saturday marked the beginning of the soccer season and the introduction of running between two different kids' games.  Saturday began at 5:45am to get everyone up, dressed and out the door to the soccer parade by 7:00am.  Then, we moved onto a quick stop at Target for a Sunday birthday party, then onto the first of two games.  The games had a slight overlap which required the difficult task of driving separately and finding parking for two cars at the various soccer fields we needed to be at.  The logistics of the whole thing were definitely an eye opener of what's to come for us. 

As much as I despise work, this is the first time I've actually been able to breath in the last few days. My vice is that I have trouble sleeping when I can't get my head to turn off. Last night was another one of those nights. I tried to "clean" it out of my system and washed dishes till midnight and did a little laundry. Then I finally laid in bed until I had no choice but to close my eyes. The last clock check was at 1:11am. This was followed by a baby having bad dreams at some point in the night, a cold big kid at 4:30am and a choking little guy at 5:30am and a late alarm at 5:45am. I am a zombie today.

My commute last week was HORRIFIC.  I can (barely) deal with one day of 2 hour commute time a week, but throw in an additional day on top of that and I nearly want to throw myself into the wall.  I guess a big rig on fire requiring the closure of most of the freeway lanes explains a lot, but tell that to my big kid whose pre-game practice I missed. 

Now that I'm trying to wrap my head around the "this might be forever" I know that I will not mentally survive the angst of sitting in the car while my kids grow up.  So what did I do?  I applied for new jobs in different cities.  What do I have to lose.  If the pay is right, I'm jumping ship.  If the pay is close, I still may jump ship.

This doesn't change that I want to be home with my kids.  There is NOTHING in this world I want more than to be with my babies.  If I'm honest with myself, I know I don't have a problem working, but I do while my kids are small like they are.  The clock flies way too fast right now and things change with them daily.  I wish that I could buy myself grammar school with them.  I say that, but who knows if that in the end would actually be enough...  But, if I have to work - which we ALL know I do with the amount of bitching I share here, then I mine as well conquer. 

There is no place for me to move up in my current company.  The way our corporate structure (conveniently) works, it does not allow for the advancement of women - which actually feels weird saying since it is 2010!  I know I've said it before, but for the first time in my career I had no urge to advance, which made staying in a company with no real advancement potential appealing.  That mentality is over.  I worked so hard in my twenties to get here.  Why shouldn't I keep pushing if in the end it means this whole work thing might end sooner?  More money = debt paid off faster = quitting my job sooner.  Nothing will ever take precedence over my family, but I need to do something different because the current path isn't working.

We'll see what happens; we'll see how my ego takes the hit if I don't get call backs on my applications.  I can't complain about anything if I don't try...my fingers are crossed!

Friday, September 10, 2010

WHAT THE HECK (and yes, I just said "heck" - trying to keep it clean)

I have been TRYING like crazy to figure out why this stupid Photobucket icon will not go away.  I've deleted, checked, edited, posted - then unposted and can't figure it out.  There is something to be said about taking and using your own pictures...but let's face it.  I work and try to keep my kids alive.  I don't have time to take my own pretty pictures.  I'll try and get rid of the icon this weekend.  If it's annoying me, it's gotta be annoying you :-)

Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

OMG - This May Be Forever...

As of last Thursday, I wrapped my toughest two weeks of the year up by submitting my Final Preliminary Budget - I know, "Final-Preliminary" doesn't make sense to me either. Now, I sit and wait until the FP comes back so I can revise to get a Final-Final Budget. The whole process is brain bending and ridiculously time consuming.

There is never a dull moment (unfortunately) in our camp. If it's not work, it's home that is upside down. Today, my son started his first day of his last year of preschool. I would have been more sad about it if he didn't look like he was having so much fun with his new teacher and classmates. I can't believe next year I'll have two in grammar school. Thank goodness I still have baby who seems to be growing so much faster than the other two.

September 23rd, just a few days shy of my 34th birthday, marks my third year back to work. This past weekend and for the first time in three years I think I came to grips with the fact that I may be a "working mom" forever. For the last three years, I've thought about each of those days being the last day I drive in the bumper to bumper commute I've come to loathe so much. I've had to admit to myself that while I make these "3 Year Plans" and periodically box my desk up like I'm not going back, the truth of it is I know I am going back. When you hold your breath, close your eyes and pray near tears before checking your lottery ticket, you have issues. And, right now that is the most viable option out there on the table.

There are a lot of things I can't control but, I do believe in working hard to get the most from what I can control. Everyday I look for different jobs for either myself or my husband. I have a teaching credential and have been certified by the State of California to teach high school English (a little scary). If I have to work, this is the best option since it would mirror the kids' schedules so closely. The problem is I can't afford the massive pay cut I would need to take in order for this to be enough. When I find a job opportunity for my husband, I go so far as to fill out all the paperwork, request the school transcripts and even copy and mail the stupid thing. On one of these occasions he said, "It's like YOU are applying for the job." Well, just so we're clear, it's because I AM applying for the job in some respects. If I ever want to get out of here, my he and I need to trade salaries.

People always say that it doesn't matter if you work or if you stay home, you're kids will be fine and they probably will be. For me, I notice a difference in my kids from when I'm the constant and when someone else is in raising them. They seem to listen differently and act out more when I am home - maybe to hold my attention? Nothing solidifies that more for me than when we have a long four day weekend. Here is my favorite line taken from my husband: "I don't know why they act like that with you. They never do that we me." Yeah, that one stings...I know why they do it and it's because when I'm there I throw off their routine by just being present. I don't know that every morning when they kids walk to school they take turns putting a the paper on a neighbor's porch. I also didn't know who did it the day before in order to make sure the right person gets their turn. This goes back to a point I've made over and over. It's the detail in everyday life I so clearly miss. By the time everyone is back on board with minding themselves and the time out bench is beginning to cool, I go back to work and the ugly cycle starts all over.

My first priority is and will continue to be taking care of my family. I have sacrificed a lot to live in a community nicer than I can afford so that my children are surrounded by good schools, nice families and are safe. As each year of their childhood passes, I console myself by revisiting these reasons I go to work in the first place. Yeah, I'll keep going to work and like I tell my kids, life isn't always fair.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010?


I'm miraculously submitted my first draft of the 2011 budget late yesterday - yea!!! The ball is now in someone else's court, even if it's just for a day or two.

Friday night I got a call from our corporate office to let me know the "big" bosses and the "big-big" bosses from Hong Kong were flying in and expected to tour our facility. When this happens, everyone company wide goes into absolute freak-out mode. We end up calling each other several times a day to see where the "tour" is at so that we can anticipate our own visit. We also try and get any quick feedback about what went well and what didn't so we can make any necessary and quick adjustments. This whole fiasco goes as far as making sure our refrigerators are stocked with the appropriate soda for the visit - one time I actually called the soda manufacturer to find out where we could find it in the city. The work-up to actually getting the tour to your location is so mentally taxing that once they leave your brain is complete mush. I am REALLY looking forward moving on...

OH - here was my favorite comment I was prepped with before the visit. "Make sure you dress appropriately." SERIOUSLY?! At first I blew it off, but then spent the weekend worried about it. What does "dress appropriately" mean?!? I don't do "business casual" I always go "business." In a thinner body state, I'd have worn a suit, but newsflash: they don't fit and I'm not buying more! If I buy more suits, this will officially be a career choice for me.

I was left to ponder dumb questions like:

Is there discussion that I'm NOT dressed appropriately every day? Do I lack in accessories? Are my standard black or gray slacks too boring? My shirts too loud? Not loud enough? My hair too sloppy? Should I pull my hair back?


It went way farther than the above, but why break your brain too. It is crazy how this is 2010 and yet I feel like I should be fetching coffee and stroking egos. It is official. I don't just feel like a glorified secretary, I am a glorified secretary.





Monday, August 23, 2010

One Wish...


My sister is getting married and Saturday we (both my sisters and the 3 kids) hit a bridal shop to try on dresses. At Matron of Honor, I can't miss these things. Thankfully, my kids were SO good. I needed this on the coat tails of a pretty spicy summer with them. Both of my sisters were so sweet to them and they were so happy to see them.


My sisters really made every effort to include them in the dress buying process. My big kid picked out a few dresses for my sister to try on and she did so without any complaining. My son was given the "vote" so each time my sister came out he either gave a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Baby slept most of the time thankfully, but once she awoke the other sister totally helped in laughing and playing with her. It was exhausting, but really good to be with all of them.


At the end of the day, my sister-getting-married came to me and told me about my Big Kid's wishes. She told me that has they were getting in and out of dresses in the room together, my Big Kid was quietly making wishes. She asked her what she was wishing for, but was told she couldn't tell because they wishes may not come true. "Oh come on, just give me one" my sister said. "Okay, but you can't tell or might not ever come true." "Okay, what is it" "I wish my mommy wouldn't go to work and that she'd stay with us forever - but don't tell!" My sister didn't know what to say. She said it was both the saddest and sweetest thing she'd ever seen. I believe her...


Sometimes I forget that my big kid is still just a little kid. This morning at 4:30am I felt a tug on my blankets. "Mommy, can you please scoot over? I'm cold." "Honey, I have to get up in a little bit, just me trade you places." "No, Mommy, stay. You don't have to leave us today. It's Sunday." For a quick second, I believe her and scoot. "Thanks, Mommy" "Anytime, baby" and I shut my eyes. Twenty five minutes after that my alarm went off bringing my Monday to a reality.


I love all of them. Like them, I wish I could be home too but right now I just can't. I hope they know I'm trying to get back home with them and simultaneously that if I don't if I love them the same. I'm trying...until I get there it's these small exchanges between us I hold onto the tightest.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Puppet Chirper

This week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. I got past the big fat green envy pill I swallowed earlier this week and am now in a weird place of "what-ever." And then life goes on...

I try to do all my Costco shopping on my lunch break to avoid dragging my kids into the pool of weekend shoppers. This way, I get in and I get out. If you're space cadet like me, you know that losing track of what day it is is a common occurrence in your life. I thought yesterday was the 19th - the first coupon day of the Costco mailer, so I zipped over to the warehouse to get my customary diaper, training pants, diaper wipe buying on. After my cart was loaded, I headed to the check with all my little clipped coupons and handed them to the cashier. "Awh...these actually aren't good until tomorrow" she said. "Really, but--" and then I stopped myself from begging. "Okay" I said, "I'm sorry...do you need me to put this all back?" "Nope, we'll have someone help with that." I left Costco with the few things I didn't have coupons for and went back to work knowing I'd waste my lunch tomorrow on the same shopping I just did.

Today was the first of the REAL "coupon" days, so the store was packed. I like to think of myself as a courteous shopper, but since I had been at work since the crack of dawn I was a little spacier than usual. As I chatted with my assistant (who was brave enough to accompany me) I tried to maneuver through the folks trying to get their free food samples. Just as I squeezed my cart through a food sampler stopped in front of me and I lightly (open to interpretation) hit him with my cart. "I'm so sorry" I say to him, initially feeling bad that I just buckled his legs from behind him, but then he made a puppet hand at me and said "Yak, yak, yak" - his hand gesturing at me like a chirping bird. Then proceeded to talk about me to his wife in a language I wasn't remotely familiar with. At first I didn't know what to say, but then I was pissed. I didn't need it from him today. Sure, I hit him, but I tried to apologize. If it me, I may not have been happy, but I wouldn't have been a dick about it.

I should have let it go, but after he started giving me the look and changing languages on me, I saw red. "I said I was sorry" I barked. "Yeah, I WAS talking and--" I had to stop myself short from turning into a screaming lunatic. My assistant was with me and was turning red with the laughter she tried so hard to keep in. I did hit him after all and he had every right to be annoyed, but when did people get so rude?! He could have ignored me, he could have even snapped at me, but puppet hand gestures? Seriously?

I made a bee-line for the shortest line I could find and got out of there as soon as possible. My first budget draft is due Monday morning and I suppose I'm wound a little tight. I'm cracked out on coffee I'm so tired. I can't stop yawning and I didn't even bother to put on makeup today. I'm counting down until this whole mess is over...

P.S. - I didn't win the lottery either, but I'll keep trying. You can't win if you don't play, right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Not Fair Monday

We spend a lot of time with our kids trying to teach them about humility and kindness, to focus on what we have and not what we don't, to be thankful about the life that we have and the food we eat every night. We hope we are helping to pave a life of fulfilment for them. So, why can't I follow my own advice?!

On paper, I feel like we are living the American dream: a faithful husband, 3 kids, a successful career, a nice house, 3 cars, a nanny--so what's my problem? The paper doesn't show how hard that "American Dream" is to hold onto. It doesn't show the constant monitoring of the banking account to make sure we can pay for this life. It doesn't show the unsurety of what this life we try so hard to hold onto is really bringing to us. On one hand I know I'm incredibly lucky and on the other I battle the "It's Not Fair!" demon that every once in a while gets the best of me. It got me good yesterday.

It started in morning and worked itself through my bitter day of compiling budget numbers and missing lunch. The constant questions and doubt I kept taxing myself. Why am I here? What did I do wrong to still be here? Why are my kids at the park with someone I PAY to look after them when I'd do it for free? Why am I not getting past the mommy angst I've been battling for the last 3 years!? Who the hell are the mom's who told my husband that I'd get past it at some point? Where do they live so I can go kick their asses for lying?! By the time the clock hit 5pm, I didn't care that I hadn't finished my work for the day. I just wanted my head to stop swirling.

After rushing from work (as much as one can rush in traffic) to Target so I could exchange a closet organizer at an attempt to keep my house in order, I turned and rushed to get to my daughter's soccer practice. Her practice is at a park between two neighborhoods I love. I remember looking at these homes when they were first models when my husband and I were just dating. It epitomized the very comfortable life we thought we'd have one day. The homes are big and spread out and everyones yard is well manicured. The cars are all nicely parked in their driveways and not on the curb. I think that birds actually break out in song as they hop from beautiful tree to beautiful tree in this neighborhood.

Instead of focusing on how pretty the drive in was, I drive down the smoothly paved streets and am reminded that I will most likely never be able to afford this neighborhood. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I found myself green with envy. As I sat with the other moms who actually do live in the neighborhood, I found myself wishing they were mean so I could have a viable reason to not like them. But they weren't. They were really nice and friendly--making my envy even worse.

Truthfully, I knew all the answers to my brain bending questions: I go to work because I really love my family and I'll keep doing it to be able to provide a life for them. At the end of the day, even in the throngs of my pity party, it's not fair that people in Africa are starving and a nice woman down the street has cancer. Brain teaser solved.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

We Made It!


Today marks my actual 10 Year Anniversary. I know my husband and I celebrated last weekend, so there's no more excitement to come, but 10 years seems like SUCH a long time to be with someone. In a lot of ways I feel like we've beat the odds - considering that the average marriage (last I checked) was about 7 years. Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that these last 10 years have been easy or the most perfect 10 years of my life, but it hasn't been. There have been great days and some pretty tough days along the way. If I had this life to do again, I'd still marry him.

My husband and my two big kids came out to the city today for lunch to celebrate our big day. They were so sweet and so happy for us. They had each painted these little ceramic "things" to give to us on our big day. As we sat at lunch and talked and laughed and really enjoyed each other, it reminded me of how lucky we are and how very different my kids' lives are from the one I had growing up.

By the time my mom was my age, she was a divorced mom of five working any job she could that would help bear the expenses. Since I was the oldest of us, I really saw the toll this took on her. Back then, I resented having the responsibility of overseeing my 4 siblings while my mom worked nights in an aluminum warehouse. It is a miracle that the house never burned down and each of us is alive. Now as an official grown-up, I'm thankful I had a chance to sharpen my diapering skills early on. I joke with my sisters that they were the "guinea pigs" who prepared me for my real kids. All joking aside, I still remember thinking to myself that I wasn't as strong as her (my mom) and that I could not do what she was doing. I know this still rings true.

Watching an ugly divorce when your a kid does 2 things to you: 1.) It makes the possibility of a divorce very real. You'll never catch yourself saying "that'll never happen to me" because you know first hand that it very well could and 2.) If you have children, you never want them to have to experience what you did. You will avoid putting them through what you went through at all costs. Unless there is abuse or adultery, you are committed to making your marriage work no matter what. My last recollections of my parents together involved crying kids, flying plates and shattered glass. We haven't hit this point at our house yet and I feel pretty good in saying we never will. I want different memories for my kids.

I think each generation gains a little more perspective from the last. I remember seeing how hard it was for my parents to keep us financially afloat and how much they lost of themselves in trying to do this over the course of their marriage. I don't want that kind of life and we're lucky we've never been forced to.

These last 10 years have been some of the hardest and best times of my life, but I'd do it all over again. Here's hoping for another 10 years!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Because the Clock Doesn't Stop


If anyone hasn't noticed, my postings recently have become almost come to a halt. Not because life and clocks haven't kept moving, but because there's been so much stuff going on I just haven't had the time or brain to know where to begin. I'm right in the middle of my busiest time at work with trying to nail down preliminary budgets for 2011. This hasn't left a lot of time for me to squeeze in much more.

School starts in two weeks and I'm not sure where the summer has gone...

My big girl turned 7, my little man turned 5 and my baby (who is barely a baby anymore) just turned 21 months and got her own toddler bed--that is still in the box. I'm not quite ready to let the crib go, but I know that's next on the list of things to purge. It's been really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that my child bearing days are over. I love my kids and would have a dozen more if all the "if's" (if I had more money, if I had a bigger house, if I didn't work, if my husband would actually agree) didn't get in the way.

Last month, our family went on it's very first camping trip to Pine Mountain Lake. We went with another family we really like and who are camping veterans. I told myself before going that I was just going to let things go and allow my kids to have fun and take one day at a time. I'm pretty sure I did not do a good job of this. I felt like I was constantly reprimanding and yelling at my kids. It's not clear to me if I just couldn't let go of order or if my kids were just losing their heads. But, when you have a group of kids and one gets crazy there is the possibility of the crazy infiltrating all the kids and before you know it you have a circus on your hands. I'm alright with my own kids ruining each other, but the thought of them causing someone else's kids go down the crazy path just kills me. I've been on the other side where I watch lightbulbs go off over my kids' heads when they watch other kids get away with all sorts of bad

All things considered, I think my kids really did have a good time and I'm glad we went. It was a lot of work for two nights out in the middle of nowhere on a weak campground, but at the end of it all my friend still talked to me after the trip - which I am thankful for.

My husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary last weekend with a surprise dinner at my favorite restaurant, La Fondue , followed by the movie, The Other Guys, and a night in the fabulous Hotel Valencia. For most people - especially those still sewing their single oats this sounds pretty boring, but for us it was just right. When we got out of the movie at midnight, the town and bars was just starting to heat up. I looked at him and he looked at me and we both knew we just didn't have in us to do the the bar crawl everyone on the street was lined up for. Quiet is not something either of us know much about anymore. It was nice to just watch free T.V. as long as I wanted in a bed occupied by just us and knowing that come morning no one had to make the bed.

Trust me when I say we really needed a night for just us to go out. For the last few weeks we had just been on each other's last nerves. We had heated arguments about stupid things, yelling matches about who was right and it got to a point that I'm not sure we even liked each other for a stretch of time. In the mix of kids and life, it's easy to forget what you actually like about each other. This night gave us the opportunity to actually remember what it's like to be a husband and a wife and not just a dad and a mom to someone.

I'm going to try and be better about posting. I've forgotten a lot in the last 10 years and I want to remember everything in the next 10 years. In 10 more years I'm going to have a Senior and a Freshman in high school and baby will be in middle school. I almost cry just thinking about how fast it will come... For now, I'll try and focus on today.


Monday, July 19, 2010

What?!?

Every morning before I leave for work, I do any left-over dishes and pick up the kitchen. This is my task. My husband does the family room. This is his task. If the kids wander up before I leave they usually watch a little Phineas & Ferb before breakfast - harmless, right?

There is never a morning I'm not rushing to sweep, wash and wipe before I head out the door, so more times than not I hear the buzz of the T.V. and the splash of water. But something my big kid said to me in the midst of my rush stopped me dead in my tracks...

E: "Hey Mom, look it's Chloe"
Me: "Chloe who? I don't know which one is Chloe"
E: "Mom, you know, Chloe"
Me: "No, I don't. I know Candice the sister? Is that Doofenschmirtz's daughter?"
E: "No, Mom, you know, Chloe - the one that's married to the basketball player"
(Tires screeching in my brain)
Me: "KHLOE KARDASHIAN!!!"
I dropped my sponge and ran to the family room.
E:"See mom, it says her name right next to her."

There in front of me on a kid station was a face product commercial with Khloe doing a testimonial of some sort - I didn't know which one because I turned the channel so fast, E's head spun. Next came the "how's, why's and huh's" of how my 7 YEAR OLD knows who Khloe Kardashian is. There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to begin. Needless to say, censorship is once again alive and well at my house.



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Faith

Anyone who knows me well knows that I've struggled with the logic of religion and faith over the years. I was always the kid in Sunday school who asked "Why?" I still remember the annoyed look on the face of my thin, pin-curled hair Sunday school teacher when the answer "Because He's always been there" wasn't a good enough one for me.

I spent a lot of my life trying to quantify how it all works; the big picture. Finally, while I was in college (and on my way to a Catholic college) I read the Good Book front to back. Some of it was lovely, but there were other parts that I so disappointed in. I didn't want to be disappointed and I was so tired of all the questions I had, so I just stopped them. I let the notion of God as many people perceive Him go...I do not necessarilybelieve in God, but man, I really hope that he exists. The moment the doubt and the questions stopped my brain found peace.

Here's the part that a lot of people don't understand: I'm raising my children christian. "Why" do you ask? Well, because I do think it's important for kids to feel like there is something bigger than all of us and that no matter what, they are NEVER alone. Just because I haven't been able to steady my faith does not mean that they shouldn't have it either.

All of that said, this brings me to why I even brought all of this up...

My friend "J" and his lovely wife have 4 beautiful children and earlier this year they were surprised by the coming of twin girls. They were nervous about adding two more to their brood, but they knew they'd make it work. They discovered the twins had twin to twin transfusion syndrome, or TTTS. They went ahead and did a surgery they thought would help, but earlier this week they made the decision to delivery early because one of the girls was getting sicker which could affect the other healthier girl. They lost one of their two girls the other night and my heart is just breaking for them. I didn't know what to do for them...

I don't pray often and while I struggle with the notion itself I still find that I do it on occasion because, frankly, I don't know what to do. This was one of those occasions. The pain and joy they must be feeling in celebrating one life and mourning the loss of another is more than my mommy head can wrap itself around. I have relieved in knowing this family has faith to lean on.

For lack of knowing what else to do, I pray for them and I wish them peace in their heads and in their hearts soon.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Funny Little People

I hope you all had a fun 4th of July! The time off was much needed. Kids in general say the funniest things. Their inability to filter themselves and just call it the way they see it is priceless. Here are a few from our weekend that I had to write down because I didn't want to forget....

My barely 7 year old:

On an argument about wearing fancy white shoes to the 4th of July parade:

"Mom, what's more important--you or the country?!" "uh, me" "No mom. It's the country."

I was so caught off guard by the exchange that when she threw her arms up in disgust and walked out I didn't know what to say. Then, I laughed--but not in front of her :-).

On how white her belly is compared to her scary tan legs:

"Mom, I look African-American!" (with a big smile)

She's been fighting me for a bikini, but I want as much of her body covered as possible because she gets so tan - even with the SPF 80 we use. When I was growing up people were either black or white with no negative connotations either way. I don't remember African-American coming into thought or vocabulary until much later when I became aware of the "correct" way to say things. Her matter of fact use of "African-American" caught me off guard; I didn't know she paid any attention to skin tone much less the PC way to address it.


My 4 year old:

On how to ride a sheep at a Mutton Bustin' event at the fair:

"Okay, so you're going to want to hold on..." "Yeah, I got that part."

He's such a clown normally, but he was all business about riding this sheep. His big sister out road him for about a 1/2 a second and stole the 3rd place ribbon he wanted so badly. He hid under the bleachers and sulked near the sheep pen; he hates it when she gets the best of him. Next year, little man...


My 20 month old:

"No more ice cream" "Mom-EEEEE...." "Sorry, baby" "Why?" "Because your teeth will rot" "Why?" "Because it's not good for you" "Why?" "Because I love you" "Why?" "Because I do" "Why?"

I don't know why I fell for the "Why" trap, but I've done it with every kid ;-)


I just love my kids...They were in a funk for about two weeks, then yesterday the sea parted and out of nowhere I had kids who listened, kids who were kind to one another and kids who enjoyed each other and themselves. I know I've said this before, but sometimes its just knowing they have the capacity to be good little people is enough. Whether or not they make good on it is another thing all together, but I am hopeful :-).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lucky Girl

Commuter traffic is mentally taxing. You can only think positively for so long before the annoyance of being stuck in a small box moving at a snail's pace pushes you over. I firmly believe that the 2+ hours a day I spend in the car getting to and from my job is better spent several hours of random infomercials.

Mondays are always the hardest day of the week for me. It is the furthest day from the end of the work week and Friday can never come quick enough. This past Monday was no different, except I was in the middle of my typical drive home during rush hour traffic when a car spun out of control near me causing the car in front of me to plow into the divider wall and me to plow into that mini van. I shut my eyes before the impact, told my self not to brace myself (then braced myself), then opened my eyes to dash lights, warning alarms, and windshield wipers going crazy. My small little VW Rabbit - or Bunny as our family refers to it plowed into the mini van like the bully on the block.

As I sat there in my car, shaking and stunned in the middle of the freeway I looked around at the mess. My first thought was "Thank goodness I'm alive and my kids were not with me," followed by "Life is too short to diet," followed by "I need to call my husband." I sat there for what felt like a really long time before the CHP officers showed up to take reports. By the time my family came to pick me up and get me home, it was dark and everyone was tired. The rest of that night is a blur...

I received the call from the insurance company late yesterday that my Bunny is being "totalled." My little car did its job and kept me alive and for this I am thankful. I confess that for the last few days I have driven home very anxious. As I pass the crash site everyday it is a reminder of what happened and how thankful I was to not be chit-chatting on the phone when the mess went down.

This experience has reaffirmed how important this one life we live is. I get one shot to get it right: to be a good wife, a good mother, a good person and to find happiness. I may not be able to quit work anytime soon, but I can try to make changes that ensure a happier, more fulfilled life. I do not want a life of regret and deprivation.


Have a fun and safe 4th of July everyone!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Breather...


Wow...more than a whole month of my life has gone by and I haven't posted a thing! I've tried two times to post, but for whatever reason something went awry and at least 1/2 of the post deleted (I'm sure it's a user error!). Make no mistake, there has been PLENTY to dish about this past month, but sometimes, I think you just need a breather to take a break from yourself and your drama.

Summer is supposed to be upon us, but from the cool and windy weather we've been having, you'd never know it. Isn't this California for crying out loud?!? It's no secret, I love summer. The warmth of the sun and hum of warm nights always makes me feel at ease and level. My kids were let loose from school about two weeks ago and I miss this time with them the most. I feel like summer is the season where some of our best memories are made...little ones sitting on the porch sharing a big bowl of fresh strawberries, kids balancing on the brick planters, popscicles and so many smiles.

Then, there are some things that just don't seem to change - like the fact I'm still here at work clock-watching as I type. I still dread my job and hate that I'm leaving my babies every day to go somewhere I don't want to be. But this is my life. I can either find a way to be okay or I can sulk--which truthfully, I'm pretty good at the latter if I let myself. That said, this does not negate the "2 more years and I'm outta here deal" I cemented late last year with myself. At this point, I have about a year and a half before I just lose it. Placing an end point on this madness has proved effective in allowing me to function (yes, I know I sound psycho).

The kids are growing so fast. Everyone tells you it will happen, but when it does you can never be prepared enough. My big girl turned 7 yesterday. She gets a little spicier everyday, but there's a part of me that loves that she is such a spirited kid. My friend's mother once said to me, "You'd rather have a child with spirit than a child with none." I like to think she right on this - and tell myself this over and over on the days the "spirit" gets a little to "spirited."

My baby girl is quickly turning into a toddler. She's now 19 months and thinks she's a 5 year old. I guess this is what happens when you are the youngest of three. It's hard for me sometimes to remember that my two big kids were once as small and sweet as she is. Like my big girl, this baby girl has spunk. Last night she pretended to be asleep, then actually fell asleep. Watching her crunch up her little face, then drift off to dream land made my exhausting night perfect.

Then there is my little boy who accomplished the unthinkable this week. He actually moved up a level in his swim class, leaving his big bossy sister in - as she described - "the baby class." She's taller than him, faster than him, more articulate and accomplished then him and she does not let him forget it. On the first day of swim class she poked fun at him for being in "the baby class" right before they called her name to join the same class, silencing her momentarily. Yesterday they he moved up and she stayed. As soon as I walked in the door from work I had a swim ribbon in my face. For once, he got to be the super star and I was so proud of him.

I always thought I just wanted little girls and then I had a little boy. I know he loves me just because he does, not because he had to. My big girl loves me, but on her own terms. Baby is just my baby and I'll take the baby love as loooong as I can get it.

My life is crazy and I don't get enough time with my husband or for myself, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!