Shhteppa Time

shhteppa time
shhteppa time

Wednesday.

Whatever.

No, not whatever. If there ever was a day that was to be ridiculously ordinary, today would have been that day. But since I am me, nothing ever is completely ordinary. It looks that way from the outside. Get ready, get kids ready, get preschooler ready for school and out the door, hang out with toddler at home and play whatever seems to be of interest to her at the moment (trying always to turn it into some sort of lesson). We placed foam stickers on a sheet of paper and then named all the objects: kkkat, doooog, bo-ee (boy), shtar (star), hart (heart), girl, ball, candee (candle) and so on and so forth. We stacked little circle cut outs of playdoh onto a miniature cup to make a pretend ice cream cone that she actually tried to eat – seriously who among you has a child who will not eat the playdoh!? We read her favorite counting book (five times) and then we got all excited when it was time to grab her little Hello Kitty shoes from her room upstairs and go pick up Brother from school.

Ordinary. Right.

Since my knee surgery, I haven’t been able to carry her up the stairs. It makes me sad. It makes her very sad. Sad enough to have a fit every time we need ascend or descend (which comes to a minimum of four times a day). Except today. Just as I see her little face turn to me and scrunch up all frustrated, I said “Mommy can’t carry you yet, Mommy has an owie on her knee. We just have to take it one step at a time.” That seemed to work and she proceeded up the stairs just ahead of me turning back every other step to look at me and say “shhteppa time, shhteppa time, shhteppa time.” I guess it was one of those days when the smallest little something hits you right in the gut and ends up meaning a whole lotta something.

As we took one “shhteppa time” to the top of the stairs, I couldn’t help but think how much wisdom my little twenty month old was speaking to me. All my life I have gone up and down flight after flight of stairs without thinking much about it. American stairs, Japanese stairs, Swiss stairs, French and Italian stairs, Chinese stairs, Thai stairs, Hungarian stairs, StairMaster stairs – what? Those count! Climbing stairs hasn’t changed in the past EVER, it has always been one step at a time.

But the past three weeks it has been one.step.at.a.time.

There is nothing fast about what I am doing. There aren’t any shortcuts.

It.is.one.step.at.a.time.

For someone who wants to just jump every other stair and get to the good part, these past three weeks have been slow going. Today, on my ordinary Wednesday, I was reminded – yet again – to take everything one “shhteppa time.” I need to remember this. Every.Single.Day because I am blessed to get a season where I can slow down, enjoy the view and take every.step.in.

MOMMY Happens

cherishing my moments
cherishing my moments

Whether you like it or not, when you become a mother…mommy happens. Some days you feel prepared and if you are lucky you get sunny days just like those they sing about on Sesame Street. Most days, however, you get what you get and as time goes on you figure a few things out.

Like what to do when your kid wakes up sick in the middle of the night. It’s not always immediately clear and you may initially stand, wide-eyed into your problem like a deer in the headlights thinking:

“That’s a car, it’s going very fast, it’s headed my way, I should run…or something. Wait. THAT’S A CAR! RUN!!!”

It’s fun to watch.

Just ask my husband when either of my kids throw up in the middle of the night. I just stand there and say “OK, OK” while I try to figure out my next move – get kid in shower, grab buckets, remove bed linens, keep self from barfing, etc.

Time stands still for a minute and then my brain catches up.

Here’s the thing, motherhood does not care how prepared you think are. It doesn’t care how many books you have read (if only), how much sleep you think you need, how well you can or cannot cook or clean, if you have a weak stomach or not and it doesn’t care whether or not you are entirely ready – clearly.

Every day that I get with my children is a blessing. I know this. I feel this and yet it doesn’t keep me from getting short with them or frustrated with them, and it surely doesn’t keep me from barfing when they barf (if only). Even though I am painfully aware of this blessing, I am also painfully aware that there are no guarantees in this lifetime.

Because when I became a mother, MOMMY happened to me. I didn’t get a lot of choices about how it was going to go down and I didn’t realize how much I would have to carry in my arms and in my heart until I started to see myself in the world in which I would raise them.

The adjustment takes a time.


I went to visit a friend in the hospital on bed rest and saw two of the most precious newborn twins all snuggled up with each other in the same little bassinet.

“What a lucky mommy!! Look at those sweet little babies!” I thought.

Moments later, I found out from a labor and delivery nurse (who was unable to have children of her own) that those twins had been born drug-addicted and dependent and their mom had no idea she was even pregnant when she wandered up to the hospital. While I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing at those sweet little bundles, they were headed to the nursery and their mother was downstairs smoking a cigarette arranging to leave the hospital.

I wanted so badly to take those babies home, but they were required by the state to go home with their “mother.”

MOMMY happens.


And I must watch the news with only one eye open, because if I start full force into that talking box for too long, my hope can begin to flicker. Enough to stay informed but not too much as to be consumed.

Sandy Hook is the most recent example. One act of evil that took the lives of so many innocent children. The act of violence and hate and evil that shook so many mommies, a community and a nation to the core.  Shook them in ways that they could never have been prepared. Mommies from every corner of the earth are mourning those children even if they never saw the news or the horrific images from that day.

The kid who performed the unimaginable? Of course, he has a mother too. My brain never knows what to do with that information. Truth is, I never really fully grieve the reality of this kind of tragedy or stop thinking of all the mommies who have mourned and grieved in unimaginable ways, never letting go but moving on nonetheless.

MOMMY happens.

But, there’s this one mommy who sent her perfect child to the cross to bear all of our sins so we could have a place in heaven. So we could have hope despite all the evil and suffering in this world. So we could learn to live like her son and love all people.

Mary, did you know? Were you ready for what you saw?

Faithful, yes.

Prepared, no way.

Yet, even, for the mother of Jesus, MOMMY happened.

A Fistful of Quarters

Yesterday we engaged in our community garage purge sale. It actually felt like a purge and at one point I thought that it actually looked like my house vomited into the garage (so gross!). But it was also cathartic. We found so many artifacts from our lives it wasn’t even funny. The fluorescent yellow and purple Aspen Extreme ski jacket had me cracking up and had my husband in ski goggles for most of the night. We sold that sucker with matching neon ski pants for fifteen bucks. Holla! The old laptop and dining room table got snatched up before 6:00 a.m., the two side tables and turquoise lamps (why, oh, why were they ever in my house?) found a new home for thirty bucks, toys, clothes and a mountain bike all lived to see another day with another owner. Everything else got donated or tossed.

Once we tallied our total, we set aside the ten percent for the church. We also told our son that we would like him to give ten percent of his earnings which came out to about a dollar twenty-five. Five quarters. He declined and said he was not interested in doing that. I continued on with the lesson saying that God wants us to be cheerful givers and that when we give cheerfully, he blesses us. “The blessing doesn’t only come in the form of money or a toy,” I continued, “but God will always returns the blessing in some way.” Our family is no stranger to God’s blessings. They have not always been what we may have expected or even wanted, but they have always blessed our family in ways that cannot be measured. My son declined again. It was clear that he was not interested in parting with his newly earned cash. I told him that was okay, I would rather he give cheerfully than begrudgingly and left it at that.

About a year and a half ago, our Pastor shared with us some very touching news. He had been diagnosed with a terminal disease and had a three to nine-year prognosis. Their family has inspired us so much over the past five years that we have been at our church. We have been supported, prayed for, brought meals for and blessed so much by our church family. We love giving, serving and praying for our church and we do so every night with our children and oftentimes during the day. We pray often for Pastor Greg, his wife Lori and their four kids. To our son, we usually say that Pastor Greg is sick and try to help him understand how God is a healer and can work miracles so we must pray always. He doesn’t understand all the medical terms, but he understands what sick means and he has experience with doctors and even the hospital. So he knows that being sick is not fun and certainly not ideal.

Most of the time, I feel like I speak into the abyss of nothingness and that all my bits and nuggets of motherly wisdom are cast into the air like a dandelion on the wind. Sometimes I get moments where I can breathe in and be thankful that maybe, just maybe, they are learning something. About forty-five minutes after my “ten percent” discussion with our four-year old where he declined investing into any kingdom that was not his own, my little boy comes to me with a fistful of quarters. “Mommy, is Pastor Greg still sick?” he says. “Yeah, baby, he is…(lump forming in throat)” I say. “Oh, well I want to give these quarters to the church so that maybe God will heal him and do a miracle.” I tried not to fall into a puddle on the ground and sob in front of my kid (I did that when I retold the story to my Pastor). But through that lump in my throat and my eyes which were full of tears I squeaked out the words “Babe, God will see your heart and he will return a blessing to you.”

I pretty much have been on the verge of tears ever since. You see, kids hear everything. They hear it all. Even when you don’t think what you are saying or what you are teaching is being heard or being absorbed, IT IS. I go through most of my days wondering what the wiping down of the counters is doing to impact anyone’s life, what folding laundry and putting it away is adding to anyone’s day, what do my words mean and why does it feel so futile sometimes? Don’t get me wrong, I am completely capable of saying ridiculous stuff to my kids that make me frustrated at myself. Today, in fact, I actually said this to my son after he put a small hole in the wall from opening to door too quickly “Son! You are writing checks your body can’t cash!” Yes, it’s from Top Gun…talk about subconscious, actually, let’s not.

But, seriously, when my kid brought me well over five quarters to give to God, it made me think that what I have to say just might bear fruit someday. It made me realize that even when he isn’t speaking (or even looking at me), my son is listening and so is his baby sister. It makes me realize that he cares about people and he believes that a fistful of quarters can heal Pastor Greg. I WANT FAITH LIKE THAT! I want to believe like a child believes and I want to feel like losing a part to a toy is the toughest thing in the world. I want to protect that in my kids for as long as I can and I want to speak words into their life that draw them to the only source that perfects their faith. I want to be sure that what I say is impacting them in a powerful way and that they will be kind, caring and loving individuals who give back and serve God. I want to say the stuff that means something to them, because they.are.listening.loud.and.clear.

What Ever Happened to The Barn Jacket?

Not THE barn jacket, but you get the idea

There is this contest in Real Simple Magazine that I have been trying to find time to enter for about five years. As ridiculous as it sounds, I haven’t been able to find the time to write out 1500 words (that I actually like) maximum to meet the requirements and the deadline. Really, I have a lot to say and obviously can find time to write something because I write on this thing all the livelong day, right? So what’s the catch. Well, let me tell you. The topics are always so…so…obviously worthy of being published because I see them year after year (twice a year actually) being published by people who didn’t obsess over the topic and just wrote something for goodness sake! But here’s an example: This year the topic is “If you could change one decision that you made in the past, what would it be?” And I had a great story – one I will tell when I stop waxing narcissistic – about why I regretted wearing a barn jacket to an NBA basketball game. But you know what? I don’t regret wearing my barn jacket. I tried to tell a story about how I regretted that decision, but I loved that barn jacket. I was comfortable and so what if I looked like Pat from Saturday Night Live! If I could go back, I’d wear that barn jacket again thank you very much! Now here’s the story:

So, a long time ago I went to a college in the deep south. I don’t need to tell you which one, but if you knew that it is the best (maybe not the most fashionable) University on the planet, you would know exactly which one in Athens, GA I am talking about. Anyway, it was the early 90’s and there was either the “Nirvana tie a plaid shirt around your waist” look or there was the “frat band party tee with khaki shorts and pearls” look. I had a hybrid of sometimes preppy, sometimes sporty Gap slash J.Crew look although I probably was in workout clothes more often than not. I also remember wearing mens jeans because no one made women’s denim in long or extra long back then. When it got cold on campus, in the early to mid-90’s you could not go to your closest Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters. You could, however dial up your J. Crew catalog operator and order yourself a nice warm barn jacket.

A little history first. Back in my college days, I had the opportunity to travel and play volleyball overseas with some really great people. Some of the best memories of my life are playing volleyball for our National team with other superb athletes from colleges around the United States. Some of those colleges are located in Southern California and some of those players are still my friends. Okay, history done.

Fast forward one year after graduation. I now live in Southern California. I have a closet full of clothes that resemble Monica or Rachel’s wardrobe from “Friends” and I still have that barn jacket for when it gets cold. I have no idea what a Roxy or a Quicksilver is, nor do I have a clue how much effort people put into their appearance out in California land. One evening while I was undoubtedly watching “Friends,” I get a call from a girlfriend saying that a basketball friend of ours (now a New Jersey Net, I think?) from one of our trips is playing the Clippers and would I like to go?

Of course I want to go! Let me get dressed. If you are easily embarrassed, you can stop reading now because you may just want to shut off the TV and this is not a television show, it actually happened.

It took me all of ten minutes to get dressed. After all, it’s a stinkin’ basketball game (NBA albeit). I know how to dress for a basketball game. Hello? Jeans and it’s cold, so my barn jacket. I could not figure out why my friends took over an hour to come get me even after they said they were “leaving now.” Finally, they come to pick me up. My friend comes bouncing up the stairs in some kick butt black skirtdressleatherjacket ensemble.  But really, she could have been wearing a trash bag and looked better than I did in my barn jacket. Her friend was wearing (oh, I remember it so clearly) a super short black skirt, some kind of strappy sandal heels, a matching top, killer tan, blonde-amazing hair with attitude and personality to match and…a leopard print fur-ish jacket. What? Why don’t you have a barn jacket? Please tell me you have a barn jacket! Oh, I see, you are just wearing that in the car and your barn jacket is in the trunk so that we can match when we walk in together!?

This girl did not know what a barn jacket was. This girl had never seen a barn, nor needed a jacket named after one. These girls looked like models or actresses and I looked like their twelve-year-old brother with the “Rachel” haircut and Timberland boots. And guess what? We were late to the game, didn’t even see more than a quarter.

After the game all the players (and the one we knew) came out after their showers and what not. And among the sea of groupies (and my super cute friends who were NOT groupies at all), guess who went up to our friend to say hello? The chick in the barn jacket. That’s right, baby. I might not have looked hot, but I was warm and toasty in my barn jacket.

Somehow I didn’t get invited to the after party though…apparently, there is a strict “NO BARN JACKET” rule at all VIP rooms. Who knew?

Joy and Lots of “Chuck and Friends” Stickers

Little sticky fingers

This summer I have had a lot of time with my kids…in the house…just the house…for long periods of time. Let me tell you, it has opened my eyes to a new level of tired and a new level of closeness.

Last Friday, I was in a completely grumpy mood. I woke up to the news (late, because I don’t actually watch the news I have to catch it on my yahoo! feed whenever I happen to login) of a person who took selfish liberty to rain down evil on innocent people in a very inhumane way. I will not linger here because that is not my point. My point is that I was super grumpy because someone took away my feeling of security. That made me angry. Since anger is a secondary emotion, I realized that it was actually fear that I felt and therefore, grumpiness. Don’t hurt yourself trying to follow that.

I knew that I needed to get a grip on my grumpiness soon, because otherwise it might spread and I certainly did not want that to happen. We already have cabin fever around here in the heat without adding grumpiness in the mix. So, I decided to just hunker down and let my little monkeys set the pace for the day. What I discovered was that when I let go a bit, there is a quiet joy just waiting to be enjoyed. I know things eventually need to get done and that life isn’t just one big romper room, but next time I need a boost of joy I need to remember these things:

1. Surrender – There is much to be said about letting go of control just a bit. This is not to be confused with “losing control.” I am pretty sure that losing control never results in anything positive, but letting go just a bit can be really freeing. I know that “we don’t live in a barn” or “those dishes won’t wash themselves,” but I think the dishes might be just fine sitting in sink for a few hours and maybe those clothes might have a bit of wrinkle in them when you go to hang them up, but so what. On my grumpy day, I decided to let some stuff go until after the kids were down and just see what happened when I let go a bit. Trust me, I kept wanting to do them, to clean up, but then that would take me away from what my kids were up to and that was a lot more fun. We ended up playing “trick or treat” in their little Step 2 house for longer than I can even remember. It was so fun and wow, my four-year old is so creative!

2. Stop Planning – We were supposed to go get haircuts. That never happened. Instead, my kids were in their pj’s pretty much all day. Trying to get the ship moving in another direction was going to take an act of Congress and since I failed Political Science in college (yes, I took it over and passed it…barely) I don’t even know how much work that would take. What I do know is that it was way more work than I was willing to put in and so I just stopped trying to fit a plan into my day and let the cards fall where they may. I don’t think having a couple of scruffy kids for a few more days was really going to make that big of a difference.

3. Be a kid – I may be an old soul, but I know how to play with my kids. We always have the most fun when I get down on the floor on their level and join whatever game my four-year old comes up with. Me and the little one follow suit and everyone wins. Kids don’t want you to be big when they are playing something like “race cars” or “pirates” they want you to join their adventure and that means putting on the pirate hat, carrying around a pouch full of doubloons and capturing those scallywags for goodness sake! Whenever my kids start getting restless or we need to change something up, I get on the floor and devote my attention to them and things go sunny in a matter of minutes. It’s more work than sitting in a chair and pretending to be involved, but it’s the stuff they remember at the end of the day. And I can still Facebook in between cannon launches.

4. Receive – All day long, my kids are speaking to me and giving me their love. They may not always use words to communicate it, but they are speaking. Something as simple as putting stickers all over mommy’s shirt can communicate that they feel safe with me. My little one likes to grab a book and climb in my lap to flip the pages. I know she feels safe there. I can feel her sink back against me and get all cozy as she turns the pages and squeals in delight when she comes to the page with the puppy. My son likes to invite me into his adventures and likes me to sit with him if he is watching a show. I know he enjoys my company and that quality time is important to him. I receive these things by being still in those moments and not letting anything else take my attention away during that time. And, yes, it is hard not to want to get up and put a few dishes in the dishwasher or grab my phone, but I know there is a little nugget of joy waiting for me to savor. The joy that is always there. The joy that I have to be still to find.

The rest of my Friday was less grumpy. I wasn’t jumping up and down happy – I just felt so heavy for those families and still do – but my grumpiness did fade. At the end of the night when I went to get into my pj’s, I looked at the shirt I wore that day with little stickers all over it and thought of the little hands that put them there and I felt joy.

Captain’s Log, Star Date: Day Nine

Riding the “TI-fighters” in the cul de sac

Back in the day, my brother and I used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. I know, right? But, we weren’t total nerds (those are called geeks), we were more like mild nerds (I think that’s just considered dorky). We definitely dabbled into nerd territory with Star Wars fare and a bit of Star Trek and so what if I played cops and robbers with my little brother until I was like fourteen. It’s not like I’ve ever been to ComiCon or anything like that.

But that’s not the point. The point is that on these Star Trek shows there was always someone (Jean Luc Picard, I believe for the Next Generation folk) narrating his galactic journal (Captain’s Log) and registering the “star date” for that particular voyage. So, in honor of my mild nerdiness (I am down-playing, but really I am a complete nerd- who else would write a “space” journal about her vacation?), here is a narration of day nine of my family vacation.

Day Nine: The natives are restless. We have allowed ourselves to slip so far off schedule that I can barely keep track of the hour. Coffee seems to brew at all hours of the day which means that I no longer can discern daytime from nighttime. The fog is thick. Yesterday, I coerced the small crew members on our daily field trip through the “drive thru Starbucks.” Sure, have a cake pop. On a related note, I have consumed so much sugar and starch, I might actually be a piece of bread by now. Last night I ate several bites of rice (in addition to a plate full of teryiaki steak and black beans – the locals call this dish a “Maui Bowl”). Bloating followed with a vengence.

The youngest crew member has discovered a shrill, high pitched tracking device on our journey. It appears that after trying various methods to stop the sound (milk, cheddar bunnies, small bites of turkey meat, Nick Jr., or picture books) there is in fact no “off” button. The “just a little bit bigger” crew member finds this sound amusing and counters it with an equally bone-chilling sound of his own. I call this sound “T-Rex on a sugar high.” Note, order more coffee. Maybe earplugs. Scratch that, gas up the car. Set course for home.

Although we have been weary on this journey, we always keep in mind why we venture forth out of our comfort zone. To boldy go where no family pretty much every other family has gone at some time or another. We venture forth for the good of mankind. It is imperative to be stretched beyond comfort at times and it is important to visit family we don’t get to see often. We venture forth for memories and stories we can tell later on in life. Like the time “we swam in Grammy’s pool with the dog (Cody)” or “the time we stayed in the “heltel” (hotel) with the cousins” or the time “we climbed up the treehouse and threw water balloons” or “the time we played TI-fighters in the cul de sac.”

And the time we got to see our little kids being snuggled by their Grammy and Papa. The time we got to see our not so little boy anymore take some bigger risks becuase his big cousins were there. The time I got to see my husband with his big brothers all lined up on the hotel couch just sitting around like they probably did a million times growing up and them not saying one word, but knowing that they were together was more than words could express.

Voyages are important. Voyages are a part of life. Voyages create character. And every time we take a trip we grow closer and stronger as a family and I believe that is worth every sleepless moment. Good thing I have this trusty space journal to remind me.

Now please, for the love would someone get me a cup of coffee!!!

The Best DANG Mommy Show Period!

Writing out the ticket for the sale of goods

There are just some days that I wish my day could be edited down into a three minute highlight reel. Like all those awesome plays and super cool catches, dunks, touchdowns, tackles, goals, hits, swings, homeruns with bases loaded, mascot brawls…Yeah, I wish my day could look something like that.

There are so many really great moments in my day (seconds, really) that I would love to just savor and watch over and over in slow motion saying things like “ahhh!” or “woah! did you see that?” or “no way!” Moments I would love to capture and bask in before I have to move on to the part where the commentator says “you DO NOT want to be that mom right now.” I swear that most of the time I feel like a really good mom. I play “store” with my four year old even when I am so tired I want to fall over. I carry my fifteen month old even after I have just put her down and just picked her up and then just put her down and then picked her up again all the while trying to load the dishwasher or carry a laundry basket up the stairs (which I am convinced were created by the devil himself, I think you actually have to climb stairs into Hell – don’t quote my theology, it is for sure wrong). I flail wildly during dance *hour* (okay, fifteen minutes) each night so that we can get the last few remaining wiggles out before we head up for bed. I tell really great bedtime stories. I arts and I craft and I instill manners, ethics and morals at every turn. Believe me I am not tooting my own horn because Lord knows I am crabby and tired 99% of my day, but I do feel like there are some really great moments that get glossed over in an instant because there are other things that need to be tended to (i.e. stinky diapers, boogers, wiped bottoms, and for the love could I please at least brush my teeth without you taping your sister!).

My point is that I feel like a good mom, but somehow I cannot see that I am a good mom. There just isn’t any stinkin’ proof! No footage, no highlights reel, no stats. The other night after he got home from work, I showed my husband a video of my son and I playing that afternoon. We had been playing “store” while his Sissy napped. The living room was a disaster (so NOT the business for my OCD, yet I prevailed) and there were items for sale everywhere. There were also raffle tickets (almost 1,000 of those scattered), coins and wristbands he had gotten from “daddy’s work office.”

But, I filled my shopping cart with wares and various assorted sundry from the toy bins as well as lots of plastic fruits and vegetables. I went to the area that was his “cash register” and proceeded to “check out.” With each and every beep, he scanned the basket full of crap my items, then wrote up a “ticket” (receipt), took my cash (cards with pictures of pirates) and even gave me change (actual cash – not correct in the slightest, but A for effort). THEN, he loaded my stuff into a bag and packed it into his sisters little Minnie Mouse car and I was on my way. Twenty minutes later we were repeating the same process over again.

After my husband watched the one minute clip, he said “Wow, you are doing such a great job with these two kiddos.” And for some reason I felt shocked that he would notice in such a short video. But, you know what? He’s right. I am doing a great job! I just kinda wish that I had some proof to confirm that I am on the right track, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sshr8e3iQwc&feature=related. I’m probably never gonna get the satisfaction and confirmation that I’m looking for, so until then I’ll just keep playing “The Best DANG Mommy Show Period!” highlight reels at the end of my day in the form of pictures and videos I’ve taken of the kids. And then I’ll go to sleep and do it all over again the next day, hoping that something sticks.

And if I could just bottle up those last few moments of each day that I have with them watching their heavy little eyes blink slower and slower before they close and drift off into dreamland I would know that I know that I know that I am a really great mother and that I am 100% the only Mommy they need.

p.s. I stinkin’ love Deion Sanders, always my favorite!

Camp Grandpa

The campers are ready to begin their day!

Settled into the rolling hills of central Texas and nestled deep into suburbia is a little known camp home to four very excited little campers. Their matching lime green camp shirts and decorated visors let passers by know that they are part of the best summer camp in town “Camp Grandpa.” Grandma helps behind the scenes packing lunches preparing camper activities and making sure that everyone has a car seat or booster seat, sippy cups, favorite blankets and of course secret stashes of candy. Grandpa is the face of the camp. He is the guide to their many mini expeditions to places like the city dump where campers learn about where “all the trash goes,” how long it takes to breakdown, and why it is important to recycle.

Campers visit the local firehouse and speak with local heroes about their jobs and more importantly what all those tools are for on the big red ladder truck. Graduates of past camps have visited college campuses and have gotten to see classrooms where their Grandpa studied (or didn’t) when he was there. They also learn basic kitchen skills like how to mix and make “Swamp Lemonade” or “Green Eggs and Ham.” When their days come to an end, they get to visit the Money Tree that Grandpa has planted in the backyard (all the grandkids believe that this tree actually produces money) and with just one shake of that tree, their eyes open wide as frisbees as coins and dollar bills suddenly appear in the branches (gotta get me one of those trees). With their earnings, Grandma takes them to the dollar store where they can pick out one or two toys. Toys in hand and smiles on their faces they head for ice cream – the perfect ending to a couple of days at camp.

My dad has been running this camp since my nieces (now 14 and 12) were toddlers and now the next wave of grandkids is getting to spend a few days during the summer at this very exclusive camp. Sure it gives the parents a break, but I also think that the camp counselors enjoy spending time with their grandkids in a very different way than just the usual babysitting gig. My kids will be enrolled in the August session, which reminds me I better get my paperwork in!

Or The Time When I…

Tried out for a Disneyland parade.

To this day, I am trying to wrap my head around how this happened at all. All I can think of is that the plan was to go with another person or a group of people and they all stiffed me?? Who knows, but it did happen and I think it went a little something like this:

I was unemployed. I lived in California. I was single. I probably figured “hey, maybe I’ll get a job running a churro cart if the audition goes awry.” Which, if you can only imagine…it did. I leave my house at the crack of dawn. Who even knows what I am wearing. Probably sweats and a t-shirt. I get there and everyone is wearing like dance clothes? Um…first clue that I do not belong here (cue music from Sesame Street “one of these kids is not like the others” and by others I mean about 5,000 people in a line that wraps around and around and around the Disneyland side lot).

Compelled by some inertia that I cannot explain…I STAY IN LINE. I figure “what the heck?” and start chatting people up (or eavesdropping, really). I discover that most of these kids (I am the only person here that cannot be classified as a kid) are in high school, belong to professional dance companies or acting schools, have agents and are pretty much trying to become the next big Disney star. To say this would be the second clue that I am in the wrong place would be an understatement.

The line keeps on winding around each and every roped off pillar and I am now starting to believe that it is my divine destiny to be the next big Disney star at the ripe old age of twenty-six because I cannot otherwise explain why I AM STILL IN LINE an hour and a half later.

Finally! A Disney employee appears telling us that it’s almost time and to have our paperwork or headshots ready? Um, seriously clues three, four, five, seventy million!! No, I do not have any paperwork or a headshot (unless my driver license works and it actually is a really good picture). I won’t detail the happenings once I was inside…mostly because I cannot remember and also because it begins to blur with the memory of me painfully performing a mime-stuck-in-a-bubble *performance* I had to give in a high school theatre class (it was an elective!).

All I can remember is that there were dance moves (one called “the wizard” that I can actually do, thank you very much), count offs “5,6,7,8…,” hand motions, over-exaggerated facial expressions, spins, turns, shuffles, ball changes, pirouettes…and then there was this: “okay, would everyone except the tall girl in the back who moves like Gumby please follow me to the next room for Princess wigs and costume fittings. Yes, even the elderly woman sitting down in the next room minding her own business and eating a sandwich, even her. Just not the tall one in the back.”

They didn’t even give me a parting good bye or high five (that I would have totally been good at). Not even a churro.

To this day, I cannot believe I did that or what in the world compelled me to stay in line. I remember that it took serious guts for me to stick the thing through, it was so out of my comfort zone. And even though I danced like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipsgYiyTpNc, I am glad I stayed in line and just gave it a whirl. I did get a call back two months later to be a driver for one of the light up bugs in the Electrical Parade, but I had already secured employment at a place where my paycheck was guaranteed to pay my rent and feed me something other than churros and turkey legs.

They are all just SO good!

The view from here

So I have been on a break from blogging for a while.  Not just a week (which is like forever in social media), but like a break where I basically nurtured and coddled my very linear one-track mind for what appears to be over a year.  To my credit, I was pregnant the last time I posted and now I have a thirteen month old, so maybe that counts. Quite honestly, I don’t know how I became the ‘so not able to do more than one thing at a time’ kind of girl.  I could probably make about a hundred excuses like nap schedules for the little ones, preschool drop off/pick up (the time seems to just slip away like a pocket full of change in Vegas), grocery shopping, dishes, watching The Chew, The View and Pingu, resting, laundry…and this is when the mom with five children “x’s” out of my page rolling her eyes and muttering at her computer slash smart phone screen ”whatever.”

I haven’t been completely removed from lurking spending my time perusing and reading researching other blogs.  In fact, I have found the blogs of some pretty remarkable women.  One night last week I decided to forego my usual Netflix roulette watching time and ended up reading mommy blogs until the wee hours of the night (that would be 10:30 p.m. in my world) – it was kind of my “get fired up” time like virtual chest bumping or bouncing wildly in a pre-game internet huddle time. What I found was that these blogs were just all SO good! These women have way more children than me, have adopted children, they work, they write, they blog, they teach, they have public speaking engagements, they are enduring painful and tedious medical treatmets and nary a one of them seems to be stymied by an inability to do more than one thing at a time. In fact, their genius (at least to me) is that they do all this stuff…get ready to be amazed…AT THE SAME TIME. I actually fell out of my chair after I typed that.

I know what the problem is. In fact, I have diagnosed it with acute precision. I can do this to myself and others because I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a Masters in Clinical Psychology and spent nearly three years as a trainee and intern and even though I don’t have a license nor do I practice now, I pretty much know everything.  Although, my therapist might think otherwise.  Anyway, back to the problem.  The problem is that I used to be able to do a lot more before I had children AND I wasn’t tired. This perceived ability to mulit-task combined with the power of eight or (gasp!) sometimes nine hours of uninterupted sleep (which by the way if being well rested was a superhero power, I would totally take that one over flying or invisibility any day of the week and twice on Sunday)…where was I? Right, perceived sense of multi-tasking and being well rested…okay, these things gave me a false confidence that I would be able to continue at said high level functioning once I had children and potentially without even one drop of coffee! Note to self: put padded cushion next to chair while blogging to avoid needless pain after falling out of said chair due to astonishing and impressive revelation.

So now, I read these super great blogs about moms doing all this super stuff and I know they are tired, I know they’ve been pooped or barfed on (probably this week) and I completely appreciate their time and effort in sharing the day in, day out lives of working or stay at home moms. I am also inspired to get in gear and start blathering away to no one in particular about the minutae (and sometimes very chunky emotional stuff) that is my life.  Because at the end of the day we are all in this together. So there’s that, now I need to rest.