August 21, 2016

making time to blog, once I take care of everything else

At first glance the weekend didn't seem overly hectic.  I made a mental note that I would blog early Friday morning, if I was awake early enough.  We were hosting a few of Coach's siblings and their offspring for dinner Saturday afternoon.  I've been staying on top of the housework lately, so entertaining in our home seemed manageable.  I suppose I should clarify that by 'housework' I mean putting stuff away - in the right place instead of shoving it somewhere else so that I could deal with it at a later time.  Sorting thru paperwork on counter-tops, eliminating junk mail, tossing old grocery lists, and emptying my purse of useless receipts became a devoted past time of mine.  Before my freshly folded stacks of laundry could be kicked over on the family room floor or leaned on by a lounging body on the couch, I marched them upstairs to the appropriate bedroom.  In other words, the house wasn't actually clean, it was just less cluttered.

On Friday in order to make the most of one of the last days of summer, I created an enjoyable afternoon for my three youngest and their three close friends (who are also siblings of the same gender, same age as my three youngest) by driving them all downtown to the beach.  Our trip to the city would interfere with my workout class, so I opted to go for an early run outside in lieu of my class.  After my run, I needed to get my butt in gear and pack a lunch, towels, sand toys, and investigate online which beach we might attend.  I shifted my blog writing time to later that day at the beach.  I even packed my iPad safely in a large Ziploc in my beach bag.  My calculations of the limited housework I faced before our get together the next day allowed me to relax on the beach supervising these six goofballs for hours.  It was very windy and I put off my blog writing in order to flop on the blanket and read several chapters of the amazing book I am currently racing thru at lightning speed.  Thanks to the glare from the sun, way too much sand, and no beach chair, I caved on the blog writing on the beach.  I find it hard to utilize the iPad utilizing proper body mechanics minus a chair.  Can you tell I am married to a physical therapist?  

At last I assured the kids that we would need to head home as sleeping on the beach was not an option.  This leisurely departure well after rush hour meant that I struggled to get as much accomplished as I initially had hoped that night on the home-front.  Still I refused to feel the pressure of presenting a perfect abode to Coach's family members.  Knowing I had planned a menu of make-ahead dishes, I continued to remain cool. 

Ah, but the make-ahead dishes still required a devoted individual to prepare them.  I knew that.  Honestly.  With this thought in mind, I visited the grocery store to collect all the ingredients days in advance.  Yeah me.  My Friday beach excursion led to a late night of dessert prep, a major sweeping to de-sand the first floor, and little else.  With a bit of extra last minute effort, and a failed promise not to insist on offspring slave labor, the house and the food came together wonderfully.  Predictably I failed to type anything on my blog as I darted around the house getting things accomplished.  We laughed and joked all evening while the cousins ran around getting sweaty while entertaining one another.  When a pop exploded on the kitchen floor, I congratulated myself on not including a floor scrubbing BEFORE the party started.

Sunday's agenda included a trip to visit Laddie at college in the quad cities.  We weren't leaving until around lunch time, so with a clean house to admire I considered grabbing some keyboard time prior to climbing in the minivan.  Didn't happen.

Although I just dropped our oldest off ten days ago and homesickness wasn't an issue, we decided to bring the younger kids to see his room, meet his roommate, attend the welcome Mass at the Church on campus, and feast together at the school provided cookout.  Most students, including Laddie's roomie, arrived at school today.  We felt like it might be nice for Lad to have his family on hand while the other students settled in with the help of their family members.  I would never have considered this an important event, but at orientation back in June I overheard another set of parents ask if most of the athletes' folks return for the festivities on the actual move in day.

My husband, who earns his blog-moniker by regularly volunteering, agreed to coach Curly's soccer team this fall.  Curly's best friend's mom signed on to be his assistant.  I admit that I lost my focus after seeing the emailed schedule of soccer related events for the weekend in part due to our company Saturday night.  Once our guests had departed, I quickly moved my thought process down the weekend agenda to our drive to Iowa.  This morning I completely forgot to send Curly and Coach to the last minute player evaluations.  Assistant Coach, who had attended the evaluations and noted our absence, called to inform us that this somewhat disorganized league had chosen tonight as the assigned time for the draft.  Her call came in just as I was about to rally the troops into the car to head towards the cornfields of Iowa.  She offered to attend the draft since we wouldn't be back from our visit in time.  Her only request was that she read down the list of names to be sure she drafted kids that we agreed upon.  As far as Coach was concerned, he cares little about winning games so long as Curly enjoys playing with friends.  That said, none of us wanted a group of uncoachable, difficult kids on the roster.  I delayed our start time and reviewed the names with Ms. Assistant.  

At last we were en-route to Iowa.  Two minutes into the drive Mini sobbed that the book she is required to finish reading in time for the start of school this week wasn't in the bag she brought with her.  Words were said.  Tears flowed.  Voices were raised.  A quick exit was maneuvered followed by a brief stop back at home to grab the book.  A few minutes later, we were once again beginning our journey.  Coach had agreed to drive to campus, if I drove home.  I intended to type a post for my blog knowing I had ample time on the two and a half hour commute.  Before I began, I checked email on my phone and read a message from my college roommate who I haven't seen in ages.  I updated her thru a lengthy email and then nodded off.  I swear I did eventually type a bit, but we were practically pulling up to Lad's dorm when I had organized a few short paragraphs.

We accomplished our mission of seeing our son in record time, because Laddie had other ideas of how he wanted to spend his Sunday evening.  Checked out room, celebrated mass together, and shared a meal.  Lad announced his deep desire to squeeze a workout in before the dorm floor meeting scheduled by his resident advisor.  Reggie was a bit disappointed that Lad hadn't tossed the football around with him on the grassy section outside his dorm.  Mini wished she had accepted her cousin's invitation to attend the White Sox game and skipped the Iowa adventure entirely.  Curly thought we should just hang out somewhere without Laddie before heading home.  Needless to say we were back in the car in less than the time that it took to drive there.

In my mind I determined that it would be a perfect night to get comfortable in front of the computer until my blog entry was complete.  The closer the car got to home, the more important tasks I recalled.  I needed to address the laundry situation.  Damn . . . there was no lunch-meat or apples in the house.  Mini might actually make it home in time for her fiddle lesson, which would mean that I would drive her.  Knowing that I needed to babysit Monday morning, I reminded myself to set up the portable crib before I went to bed and install car seats in the van to make the morning run smoothly.  My blog visions began to fade once again.

The night I had scheduled for myself was a joke that I couldn't laugh about.  I got in touch with my sister in law who teaches Mini just as we were pulling in the driveway.  Yes, she could show up for a lesson in 25 minutes.  Hooray.  I changed my clothes and used the bathroom.  I dumped laundry into the dryer and started a load so that Eddie would have a clean set of golf clothes the next day for his after school match.  As I drove to the fiddle lesson I dictated a list of groceries I would pick up during the lesson even though my iPad was packed in my purse so that I could complete my blog post.

In my haste to slam the hatch on the minivan at the grocery store, I bopped myself in the head with the door.  I wasn't confident that I knew how long the lesson was meant to last, so I was rushing from the store.  Sometimes my mind moves so fast my body can't keep up.  Too bad I can't keep my blog up to tempo either.  Perhaps that will all fall into place if I just slow down, but first I have to . . . take care of everything else. 

August 12, 2016

just pop it

I admit, it was a knee jerk reaction.  For a moment afterwards I questioned whether or not I should have done it.  About 15 minutes later, I patted myself on the back and congratulated myself.  This needed to happen.  Let it be a message to them.  A simple reminder.  I'm in charge, and I have no patience for a sassy mouth.

Coach's schedule results in his absence from our home for long hours during the week.  He sees patients a few nights a week on Tuesday and Thursday, so he tends to be around a few mornings unless duty calls.  Add his quest to earn his fellowship to his already hectic job and we can count on him attending a few educational courses a month on consecutive weekends.  In his free time he manages to prepare for classes, courses, and case studies.  Although he is physically present for hours at a time, he is often stretched out on the family room floor focused on his computer screen or some pressing reading material.  On Wednesday evenings he is committed to an online course which requires him to be in front of his laptop utilizing WiFi in a quiet room from 6:30-8:30 pm.

The kids have come to expect their dad to be at work or on the computer most of their waking hours.  Although they understand that their father and I are a united front, they realize that if I make a request for back up - chances are no one would respond.  Translation:  from a parental perspective, I fly solo most of the time.  Our kids are mostly well behaved, good kids but they are smart enough to work the system.  They tune me out, talk back to me, and treat me like a peer instead of a parent.  When I say that there is trash talk in our home, I am not referring to selfless acts when kids offer to take out the garbage.  Feeding off of one another is one of my offspring's impressive talents.  It is true that Coach and I value a strong sense of humor, but this has led to our children anticipating our tolerance and even our praise for their wise ass remarks.  More often than not, I rely on desperate survival techniques as I battle for my sanity solo against the teenage and preteen masses that make up our family.

Over the last few years our house has shifted from an early bedtime zone where we catered to the young children in the family, to an 'anything  goes' atmosphere where teenagers insist on lounging in the family room in hopes that some form of television can be unlocked (we keep all TV channels on parental lock-down for obvious reasons) for their viewing pleasure.  This new mentality has confused the family members who would still qualify for the early bedtime ritual made popular during my formerly powerful reign as 'mother'.  Today in my role as an outnumbered, strategy-making warden, I gradually lose ground to the hilarious, sloppy night-owls who listen less and eat more each day.  I feel at times like a cruise director juggling the many activities the 'passengers' enjoy while failing to enlist their help in maintaining the ship.  Meanwhile the distracted captain slaves away to afford the fuel and provisions to keep us afloat, but additional crew members to support my efforts are not included in the budget.  We routinely encounter rough seas when kids like 10 year old Reggie, an early riser to a fault, fail to recoup sleep by snoozing late in the morning.   No amount of, 'Go back to bed.  You need more sleep,' can convince him to doze off.

Reggie's combination of too little sleep and too much exposure to the teenage back talk rampant in our home lead to a kid who struggles to speak properly to his warden, formerly known as mother.  On Monday, I waited for Reggie to clear away from his beloved basketball hoop before I launched the minivan full of groceries over the unforgiving curb and onto our driveway.  I rolled down my window and instructed lil Mr. B-ball to start unloading the bags from the trunk.  I hadn't even stepped out of the car onto enemy territory when I heard him utter, 'No, I HAVE to practice.'  I pivoted and reissued my orders.  Again, he refused.  Blasphemy.  With a raised eyebrow, I threatened to come out on the driveway and pop his basketball with a kitchen knife.  'I don't care.  I'll just get another ball,' he quipped.  The horror.  I practically tripped over Reggie's pajama clad sisters (at noon no less!) as I raced into the house.

I had been gone for hours.  Reg was awake, of course, when I left to attend a workout class followed by the arduous task of grocery shopping for the gang.  Never wanting to waste a spare moment, I chose to scrub the kitchen floor on my hands and knees before working out.  Still smelling of white vinegar as I bolted for the car earlier that morning, I asked Reggie to replace the kitchen chairs around the table once the floor was dry.  All-about-food Tetenka stood in front of the stove waiting for cinnamon rolls to beep as I made my exit.  'When the rolls beep the floor will be dry and you can drag the chairs back into the kitchen from the family room.'  Emptying the tray of silverware from the dishwasher each day is automatically part of Reggie's early morning routine.

Now an outraged me entered the kitchen and noted that lil Mr. Mouth had not returned any of the chairs to the kitchen.  The full tray of silverware sat on top of the counter where I had left it.  Straw.  Broke.  Camel.  Back.  I reached into the silverware tray and grabbed a steak knife.  Reggie froze when he saw me coming.  I didn't give him time to protest.  The knife slid into the thick skin of the pricey, brand new basketball easier than I had anticipated.  That was it.

There were tears.  Lots of tears.  Dumbfounded teenagers surfaced as news of my punishment spread like the pesky layer of used, smelly sweat socks dispersed in every room of our house.  When they questioned me, I reiterated that no one should speak to me the way that Reggie had.  Until the mouthy nonsense clears out, no basketball  - or other prized possession- is safe.  I was tempted to mount the deflated leather on a broom handle and carry it like a staff through my kingdom.  I'm the mother, damn it. 

August 5, 2016

'how much do you make?'

I've only been asked twice, but to me it's twice too many . . .

I began babysitting three days a week during the school year in August.  My choice to sit for other people's little ones while my kids are at school received mixed reviews from friends and acquaintances.

It doesn't matter to me whether or not other people think I'm crazy for opening my house and my arms to a few youngsters as a way to earn some extra cash.  This job has allowed me to stay home and see the kids off to school.  No more coming home from a part time job and finding the milk out and the garage door left open all day.

This situation has worked out great, and my kids are thrilled to play with and help care for the little guys before and after school.  While I'm not cut out to push papers, crunch numbers, or draw blood, I would never dream of asking people who perform these job related tasks what kind of income they earn.

For some reason, a few people believe that they can inquire what I make as a babysitter.

One mom, who doesn't know me well, groaned when I described my upcoming commitment.  She admitted that the thought of babysitting made her cringe.  Not me.  I appreciate that a large number of adults approach the tasks of changing diapers, wiping messy faces, and reading stacks of board books as loathsome.

When I am babysitting, I am in my element.  I fare well when I am in charge.  I may not be dictating when the company's next board meeting is going to be held, but it suits me that I get to decide whether or not we visit the zoo, play at the park, or simply stay home to build with blocks.

Let's not forget NAPTIME!

Between activities I race upstairs and start a load of laundry.  Preparing meals while my charges are napping frees up time during the busy after school hours.  I'm fortunate that the people I sit for don't mind when I bring their kids to the childcare room where I work out.  To me sitting is the ideal job for a busy mom with six school age kids. 

I can field comments about how crazy I may or may not be for babysitting, but the couple of people who ask me how much money I make leave me scratching my head.  The rude, 'How much do you make an hour?' question has only been posed twice this year.

Because I tend to operate as an open book, I struggle to respond appropriately to this line of question.  Perhaps if I was asked more frequently I would be more seasoned and better able to offer a vague response.  I am relieved, however, that most people have enough sense not to ask.

I wonder if the fact that my part time child care position fails to measure up as a valid career misleads people into thinking they can quiz me about the financial benefits of babysitting.

The first person who grilled me about my pay was a family member.  We aren't close.  Despite the fact that we are family, I felt like the question was totally out of line.  This particular relation is financially comfortable - to say the least.

I couldn't grasp how she felt this was her business.  Because I'm not wired to be rude, I stumbled around trying to choose words that would tip her off that my rate was none of her business.  I failed.

Her exact interrogation included, 'So do you get like $10 an hour?'  After I stuttered a bit, I finally shared, 'No, I make more than that.'  I hadn't bothered to calculate my hourly wage because I get paid by the day, but I felt like that was all the information she needed.

This nosy chick has corrected my kid's behavior with a harsh statement like:  'Your problem is that you don't respect people.'  She's commented on how farfetched it was that her brother (my husband) ever suffered from ADD.  She prefers to consider ADD as an ailment reserved for kids with serious issues - like maybe my offspring, but certainly not her flesh and blood.  Her self righteous, holier than though attitude causes me to bristle.

Why I didn't take advantage of this opportunity to inform her that my income was none of her business, irks me.  Can you imagine her response if I had asked her how much her spouse was pulling in these days?

A few days ago the next social misfit asked me how much I get paid for my sitting services.  I should have seen it coming from her.  She's the same woman who sat behind me at a sectional water polo game and called out, 'Now that's going to be costly,' when Laddie inadvertently turned the ball over.

She asked me after that same game what score Lad got on the ACT test.  Nuts!  Again, I struggled to play the 'oh, that's none of your business,' card, but I managed to withhold Lad's score.

Coach later suggested that I tell people my income is fair for the amount of work I do.  Now that I've fielded the question a few times, I feel better prepared.  I wish my initial responses were more canned and quick, but I never expected to be asked about my income.   

I suppose the fact that I am fast on my feet when I need to be, but slow on sharing beyond my comfort level, is all that matters.  For instance, I waste no time nipping bad 2 year old behavior in the bud, snatching something questionable away from a crawling baby, whipping up lunch in a jiffy to keep the all-important nap time on schedule, and  keeping meltdowns at bay by anticipating upsetting issues.

Perhaps I should point out to these Nosy-Nellies that as an added bonus my job affords me time to write about my quirky observations, humorous situations, and in this case - rude people.