Thursday, 27 September 2012

Back to Mom 101

Can this happen in the real world??
You'd think after three kids and countless mornings getting kids off to school, I would have it down to a science.  Lunches would be prepped and in the fridge, clothes laid out and backpacks loaded and waiting by the door. And I would sail through the morning, dressed and ready, calm and peaceful, planting kisses and offering sage advice on how to ace that vocab test.

Yeah right.

Take this morning for example.

My husband and I are both fighting a cold that won't let go, so the morning started with coughs and grabbing for tissues.  Then he headed out to walk the dog, and I hit the shower for my relaxing, revitalizing four minute shower.  (What would a long shower be like??  I've forgotten.)

After I hack up a lung as soon as the steam hits, I scrub down, decide I can go one more day without washing my hair, then throw on a pair of jeans and a top and head for the kitchen.  On the way, I hear the dryer running, so that means my daughter didn't get her laundry done last night and needs something for today.  I stop to check the dryer, and find that she's thrown a couple of wet things in with the already dry load.

I pull out the now super-dry stuff and find my husband's missing sunglasses bouncing around in there. Dry clothes folded, blazing hot sunglasses on top.  Dryer restarted with only the wet things.

Back to heading for the kitchen.

I hear my daughter moving around between her room and her bathroom, so I know I don't need to go wake her up, and I have visions of putting the water on to make myself a cup of peppermint tea.

My husband returns from the walk, and heads for his own four minute shower.

Hint...this is NOT me!
Then I look at the time, and remember that we didn't get around to cutting up the stuff for lunch last night, so instead of reaching for the tea, I reach for the cutting board and the veggies from the fridge. Lettuce, peppers, carrots, celery, cheese.  Check.  Apple. Check. Water bottle.  Oh heck!  Where is that water bottle?

I ask my husband to empty the dishwasher, so we dance around each other in the kitchen while I finish packing the lunch. 

Call out to my daughter in my scratchy voice.  No answer.  I hear the water running in the bathroom.  Surely she's done by now.  And I hear the printer going. How can both be running at the same time?  I'm afraid to ask.

My daughter runs through the kitchen, still in pajamas, heading for the laundry room. Water bottle found and washed. Daughter runs back through, complaining that my computer wasn't working right and messed up her printing.

Lunch done, veggies put away, cutting board emptied.  The trash smells funky, so I close it up and pull the bag out.  Throw in a load of wash.

Grab my computer because I need to catch up on some work while I'm at the genealogy library this morning. Grab my purse.  Look for keys.  Run back in the bedroom to grab my phone.

Ask my husband to grab the trash bag just in time to hear the door closing behind him. Chase daughter out the door, grab my purse, computer bag and trashbag and shut the door without the dog or the cat getting out.

Throw the trash away (hoping I haven't tossed anything else in the my phone), and open the car door. Get in and realize that I forgot to take my cold medicine and vitamins, and never got around to putting on makeup.

Our van is on the fritz right now, so we have to all go to drop our daughter at school (who's mad that I told her she had to take the bus home, and oh, by the way, she forgot to wash her tights for ballet), then head to my husband's work to drop him off. 

Finally get to the genealogy library only 5 minutes late. No makeup.  No peppermint tea.  No energy.   I pray for a "Closed" sign on the library.  No luck. 

But also, no patrons.  So I can do some work..  But first, I need to blog.  No really, I NEED to blog.

And so it is.  Three kids. And I am still at Mom 101 on a morning like this.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Magic in the wind

It's only been autumn for two days but already the air is different. No, not New England or Colorado different. It's still hot here in Texas, and aside from the sprinkling of dry leaves on my patio, there's no sign of autumn colors.

But the trees are blowing instead of standing motionless in the searing summer heat. And the air that's tossing my hair into tangles is cooler. The light is different too...more intense and richer than the blinding summer light.

It makes me dream of cool nights, soft quilts, warm sweaters, bowls of hot soup, and crackling fires on long evenings shared with friends and stories and laughter.

Odds are the heat will stick around awhile longer here. And the leaves might not ever turn orange or red. But if the Farmer's Almanac is right, the season of warm sweaters and hot soup isn't far away.
I'll wait. It is all's in the magic in the air.

Happy Autumn!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Texas high school mums, Part 2!

A few days ago, I posted about the mysteries of something high school students in Texas call "mums."  Well, now, thanks to some great Austin bloggers, a lot of web searches, and some very amused but thankfully patient people at Michael's, my daughter had her own mum in time for Homecoming Day. 
Decked out in orange and white, this mass of silk flowers, plastic hanging bits, tiny cow bells, hot glue, staples and more ribbon than I could have imagined took shape last night on our kitchen table. 

 I hung it in the Hoosier overnight, in part to keep the ribbons straight, and in part to prevent the cat (and/or the dog) from turning our hard work into the latest drag-out-into-the-yard  toy.

 One thing we didn't know until last night was that friends make mums for friends!  But when my daughter found out, she took the teddy bear that was supposed to live in the center of the mum, and made it into a beautiful mum-i-fied (giggle!) gift for her Austin BFF.

 The mum made it through the night unscathed and on to my daughter.

I may not understand these craft store concoctions (and as a scrapebooker, I usually love all crafts!) but I'm glad we found out in time to create our own masterpiece. Thank you to all who helped explain the mysteries of the Texas mum! 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fan-girling over a favorite author

Okay, so I didn't exactly go all fan-girl when one of my favorite authors spoke last night at Book People in Austin.  At least on the outside.

But inside that calm exterior, I was waving my hands in the air and shouting as William Gibson, author of some of my all-time fave books like Neuromancer  and Spook Country stepped to the podium. I resisted the impulse to shout "I've read your books for years! And I loved all of them (well, except Idoru). "

I have spent hours and hours tucked into a comfy corner of my couch or even my bed lost in this man's words!  That's worth more fan-girling than just liking a song or two from some band, right?  But no, I sat calmly and listened, snapping pictures as he spoke, along with about 200 other fans and geeks in the standing-room only second floor of the bookstore.

He talked mostly about his newest book, Distrust That Particular Flavor, but also spoke about the crossing of past and future in our conceptions (for instance, when we talk about future life, we usually use pictures and designs from 1940's -50's science fiction even though the future they were talking about is mostly now in our past!)

He had a bad cold, and warned fans that the warm handshake he usually preferred might be a health hazard this time, but that didn't stop most of the audience from lining up to get their books signed.  And risking sharing some germs in the process. that I think about it, I wonder if there was other people  internal fan-girling (and fan-boying) last night? So tell me...have you ever done the internal silent scream over a favorite writer?  Or is this my own particular brand of geekdom?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Why the simplest things seem so hard to find -- like free time

After cancelling yet another "just for me" event I had planned to attend the other day, I took a hard look at my life.  I am tired, constantly running from one project to another, and still feeling like nothing ever really gets done well.

I write, I publish, I research, I cook, I clean, I do laundry, I shop, I blog, I help clients, I write code, I run errands, I take care of my family and sometimes I collapse on the couch to watch TV. But I never seem to get to a point where I feel like I am done for the day and can claim some guilt-free me-time. There is always another article to write, another box to unpack or another errand to run.

Now to be fair, working from home has been my choice since moving to Austin last year. There were family obligations that needed to be addressed, and my DH very wonderfully has supported all of my efforts. But it seems that the more I do these days, the behinder I get.

I worked from home years ago when the kids were babies, and it worked then.  But I've realized there are some difference now.

There are no more  nap times or baby bedtimes now to give my day structure. I once worked when they slept.

Now there are no playgroups or park days to give me time with other moms. My daughter now goes to school each day, but the errands and to-do's just multiply while she's out as I rush around so I can spend time with her when she gets home, and my husband when he gets home.

And there are no nearby friends to call me up and drag me out for lunch or a scrapbook afternoon -- or for me to call for a last minute Starbucks gathering or trip to the farmer's market.

I know that I need to get out and do things with other women to make friends in this new town, but it's a circular issue. No friends means no motivation to get out with other women, and not getting out means not making friends.

So yesterday, I decided it was time to make a schedule for my weeks. Not an every-changing daily agenda, but a standard week's plan. I need to plan out that week-to-week structure so I can identify and claim time for the gym or scrapbooking or whatever and still get my work done and supper made and homework help offered.

I could make a schedule on paper, drawing lines and filling in colors like I used to do in school.  But I wanted to print, fill and stick it up on my bulletin board quickly. I wanted to set things in motion.

You'd think it would be easy to find, right? But no. I found calendars, both printable and electronic. I found class schedules for college students and class planners for teachers. I found world holiday calendars and page-a-day agendas. But I could not find a single template for planning out a standard week, with room for all the hours in the days on one single sheet. Dang!

So it turns out that what I thought would be so simple to find is just as elusive as blocks of free time. I guess it's time to get out those markers and rulers. It's time to take control.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The mysteries of high school in Texas

I've lived in a lot of places.  From Florida where I grew up, to years spent in the Rockies, Pennsylvania and even a brief stint in New England, I've experienced a lot of regional "quirks".  But with a daughter now in high school in Texas, the mysteries have deepened.

We thought that the weirdest thing so far was the fact that in Austin even people who don't have kids in the local high school buy season passes to the high school football games. And they really go!

But the "strangeness factor" jumped several degrees yesterday when we accidentally encountered something called "Mums" at the local Michael's. No, these are not the flowers, although a silk version of them is involved.

Texas mums are enormous creations made from silk flowers, too many yards of ribbon to count, stuffed bears, plastic cupcake decorations, Mardis Gras beads, bells, battery-powered Christmas lights and enough hot glue to securely put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  And that's just a "basic mum."

And best all, when these things are all assembled, girls wear them to school! And in some schools, to the Homecoming game as well. They're worn pinned to shirts or jackets (or in some cases to bra straps to keep them from tearing holes in clothes because of the weight of it all), or tied around necks.

Boys get off a bit easier. They wear a smaller version of the traditional mum, attached to a garter and worn on the arm (ideally over a letter jacket, I'm told.  This is, after all, Texas!)

And as if all this silliness wasn't enough, there's the matter of the cost of this autumn high school tradition. This enormous hot-glued bundle of fake flowers and ribbon and do-dads can easily cost hundreds of dollars.  Sometimes over a thousand.

A very basic mum base at Michael's starts at $30.  And from there, girls (or moms or in some cases, boyfriends) are expected to buy and add all the extras from stuffed pets to blinking lights. There are pages and pages online explaining how to make and customize a mum.  And even more sites selling them, all for upwards of $200.

Needless to say, we're going to make our own.  I'm handy with a glue gun.  I found a step-by-step Homecoming mum video.  We stocked up on ribbon using this week's Michael's coupons.  The Mardis Gras beads and tiny stuffed bear are coming from the dollar store.  Not sure about bells or lights.  But we're going to try and keep the cost below $20.

And once it's all done, we'll take a picture or two of our creation as my daughter heads out the door. And I promise not to giggle too least while she can hear me.

Mums, indeed.  Giggle, giggle!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Found on Pinterest...

Just one did whomever wrote this get into my head?  A perfect start-of-the-work-week giggle!
Posted by Picasa