Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Procrastinators New Year

So, the end of the year is upon us once again. I really don't care about New Year's as a holiday. I'm fine celebrating at 10p.m. and going to bed. I'm fine going out for dinner and going to bed. It isn't like you are going to miss anything since it will be the new year for 366 days (leap year people). That's how we procrastinators roll. If there's time to acknowledge the holiday later, then that's when we will do it.

Happy New Year from the same picture I use for every New Years post!

But I love the resolution part! Oh yes, there is something about a fresh start that makes me want to jump right into that shit! I over resolve. Every. Single. Year. So you might think that would slow me down, maybe even get discouraging. Nope. I still see the brand new calendar and I get excited! I declare that THIS IS THE YEAR! I will complete all the resolutions. Did I mention that I over resolve? If I just had one resolution, that might work. But thats just another word for Monday. You can always resolve to start anything on a Monday. This is a whole new year....we must resolve to do ALL THE THINGS!

So, how did that work out last year? Let us review for a moment....

Exercise. I was going to exercise. Not just anything either. Hiking, the gym and yoga at the least. I was going to become Physically Fit. What does that mean? I have no idea, but I was certain I would know it when I got there.

Diet. I was going to diet. And lose weight. Be thin. But healthy! Eat only locally sourced, organic, humanely raised whatever! And juice kale! And make smoothies from berries and avocados! And eat quinoa! And I was going to love it! It was going to be delicious and my physically fit self was going to be awesomely healthy.

Clean. I was going to clean my house from top to bottom, then keep to a cleaning schedule, so I only had to spend 30 minutes a day maintaing it! Even the baseboards behind my couch would shine.

I was going to stop procrastinating so I could do all the other things too. Like work and photography and blogging and cooking and, and, and, and, ....

So, how did that work out for me, you ask?

I haven't lost one single pound. I probably gained a few, but I refuse to visit the scale and confirm that. The Hubs bought a gym membership in June. I have never stepped foot in the place. My floors look like someone ate off them and they clearly enjoyed something that involved a lot of sauce and other messy stuff. The dust bunnies are marshaling their forces for a winter offensive. Thing 1's room is a candy wrapper away from an episode of Hoarders. Thing 2's smells like a barn because Guinea Pigs live in it. I have still not eaten quinoa, mostly because I prefer french fries. I have blown off the work filing for the last NINE MONTHS. The Hubs is a little peeved over that one. I also resolved for everyone else, but I really can't remember what they were supposed to do. I'm sure it involved cleaning, responsibility for their own personal hygiene and good grades. They were total failures.

You might think this would give me a moments pause as this new year approaches. That this year I might modify my approach a bit. If that is the case, then you obviously don't understand how a professional, top-tier procrastinator works.

Yes, I did not complete any of my 2015 resolutions. I put them off until the last minute and then it was too late to get them done. BUT THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED! 

Not only that, but it's been extended for a whole year! As a procrastinator, there is nothing better than a long period of time in which to get things done, because it means we don't have to start right now....we can always start that later. Of course, later never comes, but whatever. Don't steal my joy.

Happy New Year from fireworks, because they're festive too, right?

And you know why this is not stressful and upsetting? Because we higher order procrastinators are very forward thinking people and we know that come this time next year, the deadline will be extended again! It's that little voice that constantly tells us "it's ok, there is still more time." Of course, one day the time will be up and I will be dead, but there is no way of knowing when that might be so there is no point in concerning myself. Besides, I'll be dead so it's not like I will care.

So, again this year I resolve to do All The Things. I have a picture in my head of how this will work out. Come next Christmas I will be fit and healthy and thin and fashionable and somehow, inexplicably, taller and younger looking. I will be standing in my super clean modern/rustic/vintage/minimialist/cozy house, that is perfectly decorated with all the things I made off of Pinterest out of pallets, cooking one of the million of organic recipes I have saved, while the spawn blissfully do their homework so they get straight A's. Everything I own will be wonderfully organized and all my work will be done. I will have read all my magazines, and books, watched all the crap I recorded on the DVR, seen all the best movies and will be great at photography. I will be caught up on the laundry always and the spawn will floss without being told. I will never run around like squirrel on crack because I will have My Shit Together.

I have a whole year. This is totally do-able.

Don't steal my joy.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Am The Grinch

True confession time - I have exactly zero Christmas spirit this year. I have given it a lot of thought and I have concluded that it was the vacation that threw me off. Usually we have Thanksgiving here at the house and sometime over that long weekend, Christmas "arrives." It comes in the form of trees, decorations inside and out, cards that are already addressed and go into the mail, and presents that have been pre-purchased get wrapped and go under the tree. Even if I don't really feel it that weekend, it is usually enough to kick-start the season for me. 

This year, however, we were in England for Thanksgiving. While we may celebrate the pilgrims coming to the new world and "making friends" (ahem) with the Indians and all that, they don't bother to celebrate our leaving and surviving, so I was missing my traditional starters whistle. I would have thought that all the decorations in London would have done it for me, but they didn't. I think I was so focused on making sure everything on the vacation went off without a hitch, I really didn't give two minutes thought to anything coming up after we were to arrive home.

So I have been trying like hell to "fake it until I make it" but it's not working. Not at all. I went so far as to schedule a fake Thanksgiving the weekend after we got home that required attendance from all the kids. Even bonus daughter had to come over and eat! I thought that would do it, but no such luck. 

I put up the tree...but only because Thing 2 started to question it. Then I waited 3 days to decorate it, which is a no-no. You put it up, you decorate. Period. It's an event! Even worse, I left the stockings in the box until the other day when my mother began to question it.

I mailed my Christmas cards on DECEMBER 17th!  Now, if you don't receive a card from me, you won't know this, but this is perhaps the biggest Holiday Cardinal Sin that can be committed in my book. I ALWAYS send my cards the day after Thanksgiving. Always, always, always. I am certain there are people on the east coast right now who have sunk into mourning assuming I am dead since they don't have a card yet. I didn't feel like writing a return address on them and since I'm concerned there are a few with the wrong address, I took the lazy way out and used beach/summer themed return labels with my mother's name on them.

My Christmas Card pic-in case you didn't get one

I hosted a cookie exchange in my house without a single decoration out. 

The Hubs put up our large outside wreath on the patio. So he didn't have to involve a ladder.  Then he looked at me and said "This is as far as I'm going this year. No more lights." To which I replied "Who cares. Looks fine." The thing has been plugged in and lit 24 hours a day ever since, because we are too fucking lazy indifferent to set the timer.

I keep pushing onward, but instead of getting more into the spirit, I'm getting more irritated.  I don't want to have to go to a bunch of stores and buy gifts, so I ordered them all off Amazon Prime. But now I'm peeved with Amazon for sending so many damn boxes that my trash can is filled up. I went out with Thing 2 the other day and she wanted to get a special gift for her sister, but she had no idea where to get it. I drew a complete blank and then said "Did you check Amazon? Because they can have it here in 2 days. I don't know where to get things anymore." Which was met with her saying "And I'm sure that's how they want it." So we went into Pier One and I was pissed at them for having Christmas crap everywhere. All I could think was "Why the hell would I buy someone a reindeer as a gift? As soon as I give it to them, it's USELESS for another year! I need the regular stuff!"

Then I had to go to the bank. Which happens to be just outside the mall. I cannot even begin to tell you how put out I was with the traffic around the mall. I took every back road I knew of and there were still hoards of people everywhere. All I thought was ...could these people PLEASE go home! 

My other Christmas card pic-since I'm sure you didn't get one

I don't want to buy any more presents because the stores are so crowded. I don't want to cook ham for Christmas dinner because I don't like ham. I don't want to wrap gifts. I don't want to deal with all the trash from everyone unwrapping gifts. I don't want to take down the tree and decorations I didn't want to out up in the first place.

I am the Grinch. My heart is two sizes too small this year. 

So what I need are some friggin' Whoos to start singing and straighten this all out.......right?

Maybe not. Maybe I'll just give myself permission to skip it this year. The only problem with that is that I know myself well enough to know that the spirit will eventually kick in. I also know myself well enough to know that day will be somewhere around January 8th, give or take a day. At which point I will be royally screwed.

Monday, November 30, 2015

36 Hours in Iceland

You know how sometimes you are about to do something and you have an inkling, a little voice in the back of your head, telling you that maybe this is stupid? Crazy even? And it probably won't work out the way you are thinking? So what do you do? I usually try to run the plans by other people, in order to gauge the level of craziness I am about to embark on. Sometimes you get the bulging eyes, the jerk of the head that let's you know you have gone too far. Or maybe they come right out with it and tell you that you're nuts. But sometimes, even though you run it by them several times, and it affects them directly, these people are not really paying attention to you, giving you the mistaken impression that they agree with you and this is do-able.

On that note, let me break down for you how this "stopover" in Iceland was supposed to work. We leave Phoenix at 9:30 am on Saturday. Due to the time change, we arrive in Iceland at 6:35 am on Sunday, which is the equivalent of 11:35 PM in Phoenix. Catch the PM part? That is important. Now, I knew this, but here's where the Not So Clever thinking comes in. I figured this.....we would get some sleep on the plane, not much and not good sleep, but enough to be Ok for a bit. Then we would catch our tour at 7:45 am and be on a bus where the kids could catch some more sleep as we traveled to the glacier and ice tunnels we were going in, then we would get back to the hotel at 6:30pm, be exhausted and crash, which would totally reset our clocks to European time, win-win and we are good to go!

Best laid plans and all that shit.

It all started going wrong before we even left the house. I checked our itineraries, that I had printed, and saw something weird on our return. Namely, we had a 35 minutes change over in Denver on the way back. A change over from Icelandic Air to American during which we need to disembark, go to baggage claim and get our luggage, take said luggage to American, check it in, then go back up through security and to our gate. IN DENVER. This will take no less than 116 minutes, on the best day ever. I cannot believe I scheduled this! Then I check my paperwork and it turns out I didn't. American moved my flight home up by 2.5 hours after they took over US Airways. They, of course, did not see fit to inform me of this fact. I guess they hoped I would notice eventually. So The Hubs drives to the airport while I am on the phone having a hissy and being Not Very Nice to someone whose only sin was answering my call. I get a new flight, but its at 7:30 THE NEXT MORNING. So now I need a hotel in Denver. 

Awesome. Assholes.

Everything from there to Iceland is rather uneventful, considering The Hubs took 3 Xanax for his motion sickness and they serve the very worst European airplane food know to man, so the last relatively decent thing we ate was at the Denver airport and I say "relatively" because Thing 2 made sure that was Taco Bell. We shoved down the ham and cheese baguettes, but it was a chore.

We get to Iceland, fly through passport control, the hotel is there to pick us up and we make it there before our tour bus does. They give us our room keys early to dump our stuff and we are waiting in the lobby when the tour bus arrives. It's all looking good. 

It's all an illusion.

We get on a bus that has seats smaller than an airline, which is hard to come by. There was a Japanese girl who was maybe 5 foot and 100 pounds and she barely fit. Then we start driving along. We are exhausted and the rocking motion isn't helping much. Also, it's pitch black as the sun won't rise for hours, so there is nothing to see. We all start falling asleep. In these tiny seats, with our heads bobbing up and down. We get into Reykjavik and change busses. We then commence a journey into the middle of nowhere. Because that's where glaciers are. In the dark. And we randomly fall asleep, snore, etc. It's also raining and freezing (literally zero degrees out) and we are wearing layer upon layer of clothing. Like the Michelin man in the dead of winter. The sun finally comes up, but it is hidden behind some clouds, so it really just goes from black to grey and you can't see almost anything out of the bus windows because the rain just makes them wet and smeared. They heat the busses, but not much, so you stay fully dressed too. 

At this point we have not eaten anything, since we barely made the bus. We make "comfort" stops, but those are just to pee, so we grab some gas station snacks. This will become a running theme for us. We have water bottles, soda and chips. We stop at a waterfall, wake up and go out and take photos of it. Then back in the bus as we drive further into nowhere. We finally arrive at a hotel for lunch and to take off on an old military bus for the trip up the glacier. We wake the kids. It's now noon and we have been traveling on the tiny bus for 3.5 hours. It's is becoming apparent that this was a bad idea, but we are managing. We pre-ordered lunch and went in to eat. Now, when I say hotel, you might get the idea that we were in a town or village, but you couldn't be more wrong. It was the ONLY thing there. It was nice looking place, but I have no idea who the hell the customers are. The kids (who are freaking TEENAGERS) ordered hamburgers that they then refused to eat because they tasted "weird" with strange toppings, etc., but came with what I believe were Ore-Ida curly fries, so that is what they ate. We had 25 minutes to scarf down this $120 meal. 

Then the glacier tour company gave us extra suits and overshoes to put on to keep us warm. That makes for 3 or 4 layers, depending on who you are. It is almost impossible to move. The seats on the military transport are not much better, but we all sleep through the ONE HOUR trek through the snow to the top of the glacier, so whatever. 

It is now getting harder and harder to wake up. The kids are totally over this, but not complaining too much, since that would require them to be awake. At one point Thing 2 wakes up and I tell her..."You know those movies where people end up eating each other? This is how they all start out. A bunch of ill prepared people who have no business being out in the wilderness."

We finally reach to the top of the glacier. It is super cool looking and well below freezing, so that wakes us up. We trek through the ice caves for an hour, and then return to the bus. The bus that will take us one hour to get back to the hotel and switch to the other bus that will take us God only know how many hours to get back to Reykjavik, which will switch us to the other bus for the 45 minute drive to our hotel, which I booked way out of town so we could see the northern lights and be really close to the Blue Lagoon for the next day.

Of course, it is as miserable as hell, so there will be no northern lights, just a ridiculously extra long drive.

We remove our suits, get back on the tiny bus and get ready to take off when I realize that in my exhaustion I left my cell phone in my suit. I rush back, they are luckily still there but leaving, and I get it. Then we start the return journey. It is not dark yet, but the sun is going down, so its around 4pm. We should be in Reykjavik by 6:30, after a stop at a geyser, and at our hotel by 7:15. This means we should be no more than 2 hours from Reykjavik. Keep that in mind. The hotel is having Sunday Roast for dinner, which is a large sunday dinner, and we will need a decent meal. But then the bus starts making weird noises. I am concerned and unable to sleep, which is a useful because I have to keep pushing The Hubs to stop his snoring. The spawn's heads are bobbing up and down and randomly hitting the windows, but they don't care. We are trucking along through some remote part of Iceland and the only frame of reference I have from the morning is a long tunnel we went through. It seemed like it took forever to get to the tunnel in the morning and we haven't reached it yet. The bus driver keeps talking about stopping to see the geyser too. In the dark. There are no words to describe how much I do not want to do this, but maybe we are taking a different route so that would explain the tunnel business. Then the noises get worse. He pulls the bus into a gas station for another "comfort stop." This place is so desolate and abandoned that if it were in Appalachia I would be certain we were all doomed. 

The driver is on his phone and even though it isn't in English and I don't know what he is saying, I'm not having good thoughts. He walks into this teeny, tiny gas station store and announces that the bus is broken down and we are stuck. But its "ok, ok, ok" (favorite Icelandic word) because he "knows an old man in a nearby willage that has a bus and will come get us." His exact words and I'm not even kidding. We have no wifi, so I have no idea what time it is, but soon enough we discover that this gas station is supposed to close at 6pm but they are staying open late for us, because apparently freezing a group of tourists to death would look bad. So we wait. This nearby "willage?" No idea where it was, but it took the "old man" an hour to get to us. So at this point, we drove for what, near as I can figure, was an hour and a half, and then waited for an hour. We should be sooooo close to Reykjavik, right? 30 minutes maybe? Nope.

On the upside, the Old Man has a very large, 50+ passenger, very comfortable bus. On the downside, he has clearly already taken his Ambien for the night because he was a terrible driver. Then, as if to add to the fun, these gale force winds start, so he is driving this massive thing down the middle of the highway, across the center line, as it sways back and forth and I wonder just what it takes to tip one of these suckers. Finally, after what seems like forever but was really about an hour and a half, we get to the tunnel. WTF? Where the hell were we? I will never know. 

Eventually, we arrive in the city. I notice that one by one they are dropping all the others off at their hotels. This takes at least 30-40 minutes longer, if not more, because navigating this gigantic bus through the tiny city streets is no mean feat. I cannot tell you how many other cars we nearly crashed into. I assume this it is because we are out of town and Old Man and my bus driver are going to have to take us to our hotel. Then, after wasting all that time, they just dump us at the bus station saying "it is the best we could do" and that someone else will take us to our hotel. The hotel we would have been at already if they had dropped us at the station FIRST rather than LAST.

We make it back to our hotel at 10pm or so. We are exhausted, more than that we are hungry, but too bad, dinner is over and there is no food available except a couple bags of chips from the bar area. Which is pretty much all we have eaten all day with the exception of lunch, which the kids skipped. Remember, we also ran in and out of the hotel in 15 minutes that morning, so while we have a room, we still need to get our luggage, etc., sorted. We get to bed at 11pm.

This is ok, I think, because we have nothing to do in the morning besides eat some breakfast until our appointment at the Blue Lagoon at 11am. 

Who knew all four of us would sleep for 12 hours straight? But we did. I awoke to The Hubs saying "Its 11:11 a.m." 

I, of course, freaked out because our appointment at the Blue Lagoon was at 11 a.m. and we still needed to repack our mess from the night before and get checked out and get a ride to the Lagoon. And, of course, it probably goes without saying, but we missed breakfast and there was no food to be had.

So, in a mad rush of phone calls to the lagoon, the front desk and lots of "hurry!' to the kids, we managed to get there at 11:45 and they let us skip the line because The Hubs had a massage scheduled for 12:00. We got in and the spawn and I headed straight for the cafeteria. The choices were typical Europe choices, which means some pastries, a load of pre-made sandwiches and some chips. *sigh*

We didn't realize until we headed for the locker rooms that The Hubs had taken off in a rush with all of our towels. Never the less, we forged ahead, changed and braved the ZERO degree weather in nothing but our swimsuits.

Shuffling across the frozen deck, trying not to slip, but speeding so we don't turn into popsicles, we landed in the Lagoon. 

It was then that I figured out the one thing I truly love about Iceland. The Blue Lagoon. If only I had spent all 36 of my hours there, it would have been perfect.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

We Are Taking Different Vacations

Ok, ok, before you all start thinking that we have lost our minds, or that our marriage is on the rocks, let me tell you that while we are taking different vacations, we are all going the same place.


It's like a little over week the Hubs, the Spawn and I are going on vacation. Together. The same place but a different trip.

I will have the kids with me.
He will have the kids with him.
He and I will actually be in all the same places, at the same time (except for maybe the Starbucks) and sleeping in the same bed.

So how is it a different trip? I will be taking a well organized, thought out, paid for in advance, itineraries included vacation. The Hubs on the other hand will be taking a magical excursion where things materialize in front of you, kind of like Disneyland, but without the kids, cartoon characters and rides.

How does this happen, you may wonder? Well, let me tell you...

Packing.  I am in charge of making sure that 3 people are fully outfitted for a trip from the desert where it is a balmy 78 degrees everyday to Iceland and London, in the winter. That means coats, shirts, flannels, socks, boots, gloves, pants and hats in addition to all the "regular" stuff like deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, medications, blah, blah, blah. As a rule, we do not own all of this stuff. Each of us owns some, but no one owns all, so this requires an advance inspection of what each person has available and trips to the mall.

The Hubs is bringing whatever he wants and buying whatever he forgets.

Iceland is cold

Travel. I am in charge of producing passports, complete with required pictures and accompanying documents, for all 4 of us. Additionally we will all have ID's for backup because you can't turn teenagers loose in a foreign country with their one and only passport and hope to ever get them home. They lose glasses, socks, shoes and jackets at alarming rate, they cannot be trusted with anything important. I have scheduled all 6 of the flights with enough time for changing airlines in Denver and will be bringing the paper copies of the tickets just in case. I have suitcases for everyone and am up to date on baggage rules.

The Hubs will show up at the airport when I tell him and *poof* be whisked away.

Accommodations.  I am in charge of choosing the Air BnB apartment we are staying at in London, finding the nearest tube stop to get there and figuring out what amenities it has. I have also chosen the hotel in Iceland based on location and ability to see the northern lights if they come out. I have picked and reserved the rental car in Iceland after deciding that is must be automatic since the Hubs gets airsick and might not be able to drive when we land and I don't do stick shift. It is big enough to fit all of us and our luggage. The hotel has a bed for everyone individually and will wake us up for the northern lights so no one has to be disturbed who doesn't want to be (read: Hubs). This involved 3 different websites, a couple hours of research, about 10 emails and 2 confirmations numbers.

The Hubs will sleep when he is tired.

Itineraries.  I am in charge of booking the date and time of the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik, London travel card passes so we can use the tube, finding out where to get the red tour buses from out apartment and choosing a tour company, a date and booking a trip to stonehenge, all paid for in advance. I am also in charge of figuring out where we are so we can get on the stonehenge tour bus at the right pick up place, where that pick up place is and how to get there from our apartment and what time we have to be there, or all money is forfeited. 

The Hubs will hop on a bus and enjoy!

Details.  I have obtained a converter to charge the electronics. I have downloaded apps so we can call each other and home. I have had all my credit cards replaced with cards with chips in them. I have notified the bank and credit card companies of our travel plans. I have cash and know where it can be exchanged upon arrival. I have google earthed our apartment and know where the nearest grocery stores and restaurants are because we will be arriving late and everyone will be hungry.

The Hubs is looking forward to eating fish and chips.

You see....same vacation, only different. And in all reality, this is probably my own fault anyway. I insisted we go on this trip because the Hubs really sees no point in traveling too much. I'm also a control freak and the idea of anyone else being in charge of all this would make my skin crawl because they would totally do it wrong!

But here is a fun fact.....the credit card companies only let you order a new card if your name is on it. So guess whose credit cards will work and whose won't?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

11 Hours

This weekend, America will engage in a yearly ritual that I cannot for the life of me understand. No, not Halloween. I get that. I mean, free candy and chocolate? What's not to get?

No, I'm talking about the day after, when we, as a nation, change the time on our clocks. In researching this phenomenon (I googled it) I discovered that Canada and large parts of Europe also observe Daylight Savings Time. I cannot tell you how stupid I think this is.

Arizona is the only state that does not change our clocks, either forwards or backwards, ever. Except Hawaii, but we all know that Hawaii isn't really an American state anyway, so whatever people of Hawaii. And we have message for all the other states, the Canadians and all those countries in Europe have been tricked into participating in these shenanigans.......

This does not work.

Sorry. But all that running around and adjusting your alarm clocks, microwave clock, stereo clocks, wall clocks, watches, etc, is a complete waste of time.

Oh I know the saves electricity! People like an extra hour of daylight after work! Something about farmers! Summer! Winter! I'm telling you, it does not matter. You are kidding yourselves.


Because.....the sun doesn't change it's clock. It goes up and down at the same time every day, no matter what you program you device to say. The sun will be up for approximately 11 hours tomorrow. Period. The sun does not give a shit what time your watch says when sunrise happens and it does not care what time your computer says it is when sunset occurs. It does not care. 11 hours is 11 hours. If I set my clock to say the sun comes up at noon and goes down at 11p.m., so what? Does it change the amount of daylight? Does the sun care? 

As for the "people" liking an extra hour of daylight after work...really? WTF? Seriously, that's what we have electricity for. It will provide light for you whenever you want, even HOURS after work is over. It doesn't save electricity either because the same people who aren't using their lights after work are using them in the morning before the leave for work! 

Why? Because 11 hours is 11 hours, no matter what you name it.

It's like this. The sun will rise here Saturday morning at 6:46 a.m. and set at 5:37 p.m. On Sunday it will happen at 6:47 a.m. and 5:36 p.m. California? Saturday in L.A. the sun will rise at 7:12 a.m. and set at 6:01 p.m. Sunday? It will rise at 6:12 a.m and set at 5:00 p.m.

See that? IT'S STILL 11 HOURS.  You have only fooled yourself. Sort of. I mean, if you go to all the trouble of changing every clock you have after being constantly reminded by every TV station and radio station around, there is only so much "fooling" going on here. Quite a big bunch of fools though.

Listen, just stop. We have not observed DST since 1966. We participated once, in 1966, and then opted out in 1967 because it was stupid. You too can opt out. No harm will befall you. The days will get increasingly shorter until the solstice and then they will get longer, minute by minute, day by day. It's fine. Quite nice actually. It makes everything easy, except for one thing....

Dealing with the rest of you. Starting Sunday I'm going to have to try to remember what the hell the time difference between here and PST and EST is, since its changed again. As for Central time? Who the hell knows. I have no idea what they do there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Growing Up vs. Giving Up

Growing up or giving up? You get to a point where is becomes hard to tell the difference. For the last 18 years I have controlled my kids whole world. And I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.

 I mean, it's not like I'm a control freak or anything. It's just that I'm a control freak. This was my job and I took it seriously.

I was in charge of all the food they ate, so of course we have had organic fruits and veggies, and farm-raised grass-fed minimally processed meat. We even joined a CSA and had fresh vegetables delivered from the farm to our door once a week. There is no soda in the house, and no chips or cookies. That is more about me than them, but whatever. However,  because I didn't want them to develop an un-natural fixation on foods, they were always allowed to order soda in a restaurant and eat whatever they wanted at friends houses and birthday parties. See how I perfectly threaded that needle?

Homegrown tomatos

I was in charge of the TV shows. My kids were not allowed to watch Spongebob Squarepants until they were 6 years old because it was too mature for them. Spongebob! And they were also not allowed to watch TV with commercials, or anything scary, or Calliou, because he is a whiny little shit.

I was so proud the day my son convinced me to go to McDonalds for a treat and my 4 year old daughter asked "Do I have to eat this? Can I just eat at home?"

And when that same son was shocked! Shocked I tell you! at 7 years old to discover that if you wanted a cookie, you could just buy one, you didn't have to bake them yourself!

Oh yeah. I was one of those Moms.

They always did all the homework as it was required, turned it in when it was due, and every project contained all the elements of the grading rubric!

Science Fair project

Everyone had baths on the appointed days and went to bed at the appointed hour. And they were happy about it.

We had all the requisite fun and loving elements of childhood too. Decorating for the holidays? Check. Trips to Disneyland? Check. Riding horses, quads, and camping? Check. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts? Check. Family reunions, trips to the beach, church on Sundays, bedtime stories, family dinner at the table every night? Check, check, check.

Christmas at Disneyland

It required some effort, but I managed. Right up until they became teens. I thought that all my foundation work, all the wonderful things I had instilled in them would carry them through the high school years and right into college.  I could just put that stuff behind me and focus on supervising social media and harping about drugs and alcohol while visiting colleges.

So you can imagine my surprise when that didn't work out.

We have had our fair share of supervising social media, to be sure. Drugs and booze haven't come into play yet, but I have decided thats probably more luck than anything. Visiting colleges? We are doing our first this weekend but Thing 1 has decided he MUST have a "gap year." I have been repeatedly informing him he isn't British royalty, but he won't listen.

And while we are having all these Very Important Conversations, I have noticed some things. Things that make me feel like I have failed miserably, not only now, but back then too.

I am arguing the merits of college straight out of high school with someone who is drinking a Monster energy drink and eating a hot pocket. While his sister sits in the living room watching American Horror Story. Both have a C's in at least one subject due to assignments that were not turned in and family dinner is becoming a thing of the past. The punk rock blasts from one bedroom and the foul mouthed rap comes from another. And bedtimes? The only reason Thing 2 goes down at anything resembling a reasonable hour is because she is bewitched by sleep. Thing 1? I have no idea when he finally goes to bed.

So, it leaves me wondering....are they growing up or am I giving up?

Yes. Both. 

Sometimes I am so irritated from checking the online grades and chasing Spanish assignments to care whether or not they are drinking a Monster drink. And some days Im just so over it from everything else that I can't be bothered if they walk in at 5:30 p.m. with Chik-Fil-A, a double whammy as it is fast-food and interferes with family dinner! They drive now and they have their own money, so this stuff is easy to come by. Every single day I am too tired to stay up long enough to figure out if Thing 1 ever went to sleep. 

But then there are days when I think to myself "No! I will not give up! Hot pockets are not even food!" So I make stuffed zucchini with veggies grown in our own garden. And in an occasional burst of conscience, I change the Netflix password and clear off the DVR, but it is honestly an uphill battle and I know it.

I try to calm myself with memories of my own childhood. We were only allowed to eat Cheerios as a cereal, so we went down the street to my dear friend Heidi's house and ate her sugar coated cereals all the time. We were only allowed to have McDonalds on our birthdays, so we clamored for it when we were at my cousins house. And all through my 20's the little kids across the street thought I was the coolest adult ever because I had Cocoa Puffs. I turned out OK, right?

Lucky Charms

Then I think that there are so many more problems we could be having, so many things that other parents are battling, parents who would willingly hand their kid a bag of chips and the DVD of Texas Chainsaw Massacre without a second thought, that I am an asshole for even worrying about this garbage. 

So yes, they have grow up and are asserting their little bits of independence. And yes, I have given up on a lot of things I once imagined were really important. We will all survive.

At the end of the day I take comfort in the fact that they were healthy for the first 14 or so years and hopefully that will be enough to ward off anything bad until they return to their senses. 

Except for that "gap year." That thing is the kiss of death, but I am realizing that its a battle that I may not win because in the end, it isn't my life to control.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

To My Son On His 18th Birthday

It  has been a month today since you turned 18 years old. We have discussed a lot in your short life (yes, it’s still short), but I’m afraid that I may have overlooked some important details. Of course, there are always things that should be emphasized even if we have had that “conversation” before also, so here it goes.

You are not an Adult. I know, I know, you and the federal government of the US of ‘Murica beg to differ. However, the Feds are not paying your car insurance. Or your college tuition next year. Or your health insurance, your food bills, your cell phone bill, your clothing allowance, extra school fees, or housing you and providing you with cable TV and Wi-Fi. Get it yet? Near as I can figure from watching several other people, including you older sister, travel this path, you have 7 more years, give or take. Adulting is hard and will require a lot of work on your part. You don’t just jump into it one day by virtue of when you were born. Enjoy it while you can, because one day I will cut you off.

Some things last forever. I’m not talking about true love either, because everyone knows that is bullshit. I mean tattoos, gauges and any other body “modification” you might be inclined to do to yourself. Remember, I washed, changed and nurtured that body for many, many years. I have earned a say. If you are going to get a tattoo, for pity’s sake at least get one that has some meaning to you personally. If you get a koi fish tattooed on your arm, be prepared to have me chop the damn thing off. They are glorified goldfish and there is no one on this earth who gives a shit about them. Gauges are verboten. VERBOTEN. Don’t know what it means? Look it up, you are  adulting now and that is what we do. Look shit up.

Sex may be fun but babies are not. Does this require further explanation? Sex is cleaner with a packaged wiener. While your undressing Venus, dress up your penis.
Safe sex or no sex. Don’t be silly, protect your willy. Babies are a huge, life-altering thing. I know because I have a couple. Trust no one but yourself and Trojan. I won’t even go into the dread diseases that abound. Just wrap it up buddy.

Stay in college or suffer in silence. I cannot emphasize enough how much you should really go to college, stay there, and enjoy it. The minute you quit, you are over. Get yourself a minimum wage job, or two for that matter, and suffer accordingly. Don’t call me when your car breaks down or bills overwhelm you. You made your “adult” choices, now live with them. They will suck big hairy balls though, so think hard. Especially since I’m paying for college in the first place. It is as good as your life will get. Don’t blow it.

 Use your manners. I didn’t spend all those years instilling them in you for fun. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Yes, this will require you look away from your phone. It will be worth it. Manners can take you further in this world than you ever imagined. Use them on women too. Your father raised you, so I have no doubt that you know how to treat a woman properly. Be sure to do it. All the time.

 Don’t go to jail.  Ever. There is nothing in this world worth going to jail for. I know because if there were no jail, there would be loads of people that no longer walk this planet. But jail stops me and you should let it stop you. You will never survive. First off, you are way to dramatic. They will not stand for that shit. Also, there are no Xboxes, Playstation4’s or assorted other gaming systems for you waste away your sentence playing. No smart phones or electronics of any kind.  You cannot be picky about your food or take 30-minute showers.  Hell would be a relief comparatively.

You are still my child. When I am 80, you will be 51. Yes, I plan to live that long and when I get there you will still be my son, my baby, always and forever.  I will hug and kiss you and while you don’t have to like it, you will have to tolerate it. You will give me unfettered access to my grandchildren and I will reward you by telling them every embarrassing story I can remember about you. I will tell you what you should do because I will be wiser and you will teach me about new technology because you will be smarter.

It doesn’t sound like that much fun? Take a hard look at your father and I. Are we having fun? STAY IN COLLEGE.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Random Thoughts on Disneyland

Disney vacations are one of the most blogged about things on the planet. You can find just about anything you want on the subject, from Disney with Toddlers to Disney on a Budget. Or even The Secrets of Disneyland or How to make Your Disney Vacation Special. Having just spent a couple of days in Disneyland, Im going to add my two cents worth, but just so you know, they won't be really helpful to you if you are planning a trip there. These are just my random observations after my mini-vacation. If you find any useful information in here....well, good for you.

1) Comfortable shoes are a must, but they only delay the inevitable. Eventually your feet will hurt. The older, fatter, and lazier you are the faster this will happen to you. Mine were screaming by the end of Day 1.

2) There is something about the whole endeavor that makes you feel like a hamster in a wheel. You will walk 10 miles a day, easy, but it's around and around and around in the same place. In between all this walking there will be a TON of standing. It will test your endurance.The older, fatter and lazier you are the harder this will be for you.

3) Don't kid yourself. I do not care what every blog in the universe tells you, there is no way to do Disney "cheaply" or even "cheaper." Be prepared to hemorrhage money, drain college funds and take out loans. A regular sized hamburger, medium fries and a medium drink ( no refills) is $15. Per person. And you will need to eat, more than once.

4) Everyone will wear the mickey ears. Even "gangster" types with their white undershirts as outer shirts, long black shorts, high white socks and neck tattoos. I know because I saw it. And he didn't even have any kids with him.

5) You know those women who won't leave the house without full make-up, done up hair and high heels? They go to Disneyland the same way. I can say that while I don't understand this, I admire their commitment to their look when its 95 in the shade and they are actually standing in a 30 minute line in stilettos.

6) You will see people on their phones everywhere. As they are walking so they are in your way, as they are in line so they are holding up your progress, as they are on the rides! 95% of these people are middle aged women ( with a few men thrown in for good measure). The teenagers, not so much.

7) You can take your 6 year old (maybe he was 7) to Disneyland, you can buy him a Goofy hat, you can wait in line for rides with him, you can get him a giant lollipop, and at some point in the midst of all this, he will still yell "You are the worst Mother EVER!" at you. To her credit, she did not even flinch, let alone scream anything back. Good job Mom.

8) The Indiana Jones ride breaks down C.O.N.S.T.A.N.T.L.Y. I'm not sure what the problem is, but expect it.

9) From the minute the park opens until the second it closes there will be a line of no less than 30 minutes, usually longer, for the Peter Pan ride. Yes, its a kiddie ride. Stop checking your app and stop "waiting for a better time." Its not going to happen.

10) It doesn't matter how old you are or what question you are asking, the park staff will never break character. You will be called a Princess and they will tell 47-year-old you, with a totally straight face, that Winnie the Pooh just left to get some honey and will be right back.

11) There is something that happens, or conversely does not happen, in Australia in September that causes all the Aussies to come to Disneyland. I'm pretty sure it was the second largest concentration of Australian people in the world, outside of Sydney. I have zero explanation as to why this is.

12) Planning to stay in the park from open to close only ever seems like a good idea when you are not there. Come about 2 in the afternoon it seems positively idiotic. By 6pm you will be feeling like you are trapped and looking for an escape. It is this reason that the Disneyland Railroad is still a ride. Who needs to look at dinosaur dioramas? No one, that is who. Yet there is always a line at the station in New Orleans Square. 

13) There will be assorted parades, shows and events all day long. Sit down and watch a few. Given that you paid something close to a gazillion dollars to be there, Disney spares no expense on these things and they are awesome.

14) It doesn't matter how old you are, there is still a magic to it all that never goes away. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

My ADHD Christianity

I was talking to a girlfriend the other night and I said to her "My walk has turned into something more like a wander in the desert." (for you non-Christians, "walk" is Christianese for what can best be described in a broader sense as my "spiritual journey")

I have ADHD Christianity. I think I'm probably not alone in this, although it sure feels like to some times.

It goes something like this.....

Imagine I am walking through the desert...

I'm following Jesus, I'm following Jesus, I'm following Jes-
I need to catch that chicken!
Come back chicken!
Wow, chickens are fast.
Who knew a chicken could run this far?
Hey...where is Jesus?
He was just here a second ago.
I'm sure he hasn't gone far. He never does.
I'm pretty sure I can catch up.
Ooohhh...that's a pretty creek.
Jesus would sure like this creek.
Where is he anyway?

So, after I have wandered far enough to feel the distance, I decide to go looking for Jesus. Usually, the first thing I do is look at church. PHEW---I can always find him here, for an hour and a half at least. The problem becomes that as soon as I leave church my mind does this...

That was a great sermon.
I really felt like Pastor was speaking to me.
I feel like I have some real direction.
By the way, what should we have for lunch?
Or dinner for that matter?
I probably need to go to the grocery store.
And do some laundry.

And this is all before I even get home. So then I go looking again. Maybe Ill check online. You would think that on the world wide web he would be easy to find, but he's not. It seems I only find Hateful Jesus there. Hateful Jesus is not the real Jesus. Hateful Jesus is an asshole. (Yes, I swear. A lot. Worry about your own sin and I'll worry about mine, thanks.) So I start to feel a little more lost. I check the Bible, but I already know 2000-year-old Jesus pretty well. Then, sometimes, sad or distressing things happen and I can reach out and feel him in the night, in the dark, but I can't stand it when that's the only place I can find him. Then I get distracted by work, and kids and home work and housework and all the things. After a while I will try again to figure out a good place to look for the light-filled, loving, 2015 Jesus.

So, to that end, this weekend I am heading to California to Women of Faith with some friends. I need to recenter myself. I need to reconnect and start paying attention again.

I need to remember that Jesus wants me to do as well as feel. That feeling horrible about little Syrian baby boys who have washed up on shore is fine, but feeling isn't enough. Doing is required. Maybe all I can do for someone half a world away is give money, but I still need to do that. And while I'm at it, how am I feeling and what am I doing about the immigrants in my own backyard? Those who have washed up here, fleeing in fear, looking for a better life for their children?

I need to remind myself that I am in need of so much grace, but that grace for me means grace for all. It's a package deal and I have to give as well as get. I'm not special and I don't get to decide who is worth it and who isn't. (Although, if He ever needs any help, I would be totally awesome at that job. Just saying'.)

I need to recognize that while life might be hard for me at times, its actually hard for everyone at times and being short or impatient is not really helpful. It doesn't teach people to speed up, or to stop doing whatever it is they are doing that I find annoying, it just teaches them that I'm a bitch and I'm pretty sure that's not the face of Christianity I'm supposed to be showing to the world.

I need to realize that all the burdens I insist on carrying on my back aren't mine and mine alone. That I can let go of the things that are out of my control and trust that they will work out however they are supposed to. Whether I like it or not.

I need, therefore, I will go and be refilled.

And I hope that whatever journey you are on, you also have somewhere to go and be refilled, where love and light shine on you in such abundance that you cannot help shining them onto, and into, the world.

I hope that the next time I have wandered off, chasing lizards and getting caught up in the world, you will shine some of your light on me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

10 Facts About Turning 47

I had a birthday. A wonderful, wish filled, joyful birthday, celebrated with friends near and by friends far away. It was great, except for one tiny little detail.

I turned 47 on this birthday.

Now, on its surface, 47 isn't anything special. Just another random number. But in truth, it's the one that puts you on the downhill slide to 50. And that's a biggie, because it declares to the world you are officially Over The Hill. Mostly because there is no chance I'm living to 100, so I'm definitely on the back side there.

So, I thought about how I could do some cute blog post about being 47, like "47 Things You Don't Know About Me." That might work if I was twelve, but fourty-seven? There is no one in their right mind that wants to read all that. Especially since writing forty-seven facts about me would require I scrape the bottom of the "interesting" barrel. Does anyone out there want to know that I refuse to sleep with a top sheet because I think they are silly and useless and just create more laundry? Didn't think so.

Sadly, last years Christmas card picture is the most recent one I have of myself

There are always the posts that go "40 is the new 30" or "50 is the new 40" and all that crap. No, it isn't. I know this because 37 year olds don't get heartburn for no apparent reason. They don't throw out their backs by turning off a light switch and they don't find themselves saying "What? I can't hear you" all the time.

Or how about the "Good Things About Being 47" or the "Bad Things About Being 47." If you already around this age, you know them, and if you are not, there is no point in my ruining your youth for you. Enjoy it while you can.

So, what you get are Things About The Second Half of Life That Are Not Good, Bad or Particularly Interesting But Just Are The Way They Are. Let's face it, I am well into the second half of my life at this point, since I don't see myself getting past 80 or 82 without some serious medical intervention, and 94 isn't likely to happen.

1) Shit doesn't work the way it used to. Hearing, knees, energy levels. You will wear reading glasses, which suck except for the part where you can give the librarian stink-eye look to anyone who interrupts you. This is ok though, you don't want to hear most of what people are saying anyway.

2) You will diet and exercise, but for completely different reasons than before. The idea of doing it so you look great in a bikini is out the window. That ship has sailed sister and it ain't coming back. Now you will do it to avoid getting diabetes and having to use the rascal scooter in the grocery store. Still noble goals.

3) You no longer need to worry about what the latest and greatest fashion trends are. No one wants to see old people in Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister. Those are not fashionable anymore you say? See, proves my point. It makes shopping so much easier when you know that not one person on this planet gives a damn what you are wearing because they aren't looking anyway.

4) It doesn't matter how hard to you try keep up with the latest technology so that you aren't "one of those" old people, it will pass you by. Probably when you aren't even looking. Pick and choose a few thing to try to learn and screw the rest. Most of it is drivel anyway. Twitter anyone?

5) You will become impatient. Your time here is limited and you can't be wasting it. Those of us who have always been impatient will get there first and be the worst offenders. Those of you who had reams of patience when you were younger will take longer, but eventually we will all scream "Get off my lawn!" at someone.

6) You will be able to tell who are your real friends and who are just people hanging around. Its a great thing really and everyone should learn it in their 20's. Except for the part where you are impatient. That causes you to be rude. On the upside, now that you are old, you won't really care.

7) You will discover what you really want out of life. However, it will most likely not be what you have spent all your time and money up until now obtaining. *sigh*

8) You will start losing people around you, if you haven't already. If you're like me and have managed to get this far with both parents and a large majority of Aunts, Uncles and cousins around, you know whats coming and it won't be pretty. It is still surprising when friends pass away, but it will become less so over time, sadly. 

9) You will start to see kindred spirits in all those old people that used to be invisible to you when you were in your 20's. All of a sudden they become more like looking through a time machine that is a little too close for comfort. This will spark the exercise and healthy eating kick that will suck the fun out of the rest of your days.

10) Things will seem like more trouble than they are worth. What things? All the things. This isn't bad, this is a level of zen-like clarity that Buddhist monks aspire to. Things are more trouble than they are worth most of the time.

You will try to impart the wisdom of age to those young people that run across your path, telling them all the thing you were once told. Enjoy your health, take care of your body, save money, find out what you really want and go after it, call your Mom, visit your loved ones, life is short, don't waste your money trying to impress people you don't really care about, slow down and relax........

They will ignore you. Let them. Trust me on this one, its more trouble than it's worth!