Empty nest sneak peek

I just finished working and almost shut down the computer.  Then I remembered my commitment to blog here.  So, here goes.

By the way, I meant to mention that last month marked the tenth birthday of my blog.  I never could have imagined blogging for ten straight years, but lo and behold, somehow I did.  My blogging patterns have changed over the years as my kids have grown older and my daily life has shifted from non-stop childcare to a full-time job (in addition to everything else).  Some days now there is nothing to say and sometimes I have something to say but I’m afraid to say it.

When I started blogging, I had about ten readers.  Not even my husband knew about my blog at first.  Now, I’ve met people who have said to me upon shaking my hand for the first time, “Oh, I’ve read your blog.”  So I most definitely think before I click the “Publish” button.

Anyway, happy birthday to my blog!  Ten years old!  You’re almost a ‘tween!

I continued my time-consuming hobby of being the family chauffeur today, starting with a delivery to the soccer field at 8:30 AM.  I left my daughter at the field and returned home to pick up my son who had to work at 9:30 AM.  I dropped him off and returned to the soccer field where I watched our team decimate the other team.  (Final score:  10-0.)

When we got home, I took my first nap of the day.

Then it was time to drive my second son to work.

My daughter decided she’d have more fun at her friend’s house, so she arranged a pick-up for herself and left.

I returned home for my second nap of the day.  When I woke up, I thought it was time to take my third son to the movie theater.  However, I apparently cannot tell time and was ready an hour early, so I went to the grocery store so I could get a twenty dollar bill to hand over to my son for the movies.  Also, I got lettuce and other stuff.

Then I picked up my son, picked up his friend and took them to the movie theater.

I returned home to an empty house.




I’m still a decade away from an empty nest . . . and I’ve had kids in my house for twenty years, so this was a remarkable and longed for moment.  I hardly knew what to do with myself, so I decided today was the day I’d begin watching The Walking Dead on Netflix.  (I am super behind the times, I know.)

I finished up my day by picking up my first son from work.  My third son was driven home by his friend’s mom.  Then I drove to pick up my daughter and my second son.  We got home at 9:30 PM.

I worked a few hour and now I’m excited to sleep an extra hour.  This is my favorite weekend of the year, the Sunday I go to church a little less tired than usual.

And now you know how I spent my Saturday (contributing to global warming by driving my non-hybrid Toyota Corolla back and forth and back and forth and back again).

The end.


Friday, August 31:

Friday . . . one student in school, two students awaiting their start-date of September 17. One preschooler who alternately yearns to grow up and then tells me she is never going to school. Ever.

My husband has decided that every Friday night will be Date Night, and so every Friday afternoon has turned into Frantically Clean the House and Listen to the Preschooler Cry About the Babysitter Coming Over Afternoon. Which, believe me, is as fun as it sounds. Our 9-year old went to spend the night with his best friend and the neighbor came to spend the night here, just ensuring balance in the universe. (Four kids under the roof at all times. The universe demands it.)

We went to dinner at Applebee’s (we had a gift card!) and then we walked on a local 3.5 mile trail.

Saturday, September 1:

I took my daughter with me to run birthday-party related errands. First, the grocery store to buy the balloon she saw a week ago that I had previously refused to purchase. (A Sesame Street bus balloon, of all things, a show she has disdained for at least three years.) Then to the Dollar Store for more helium balloons and then onto Costco to pick up the cake and a hundred bucks’ worth of other stuff I didn’t know we needed until it jumped into the cart while I wasn’t looking. This is why they check the receipts at the door, you know, because the merchandise is always hitch-hiking in unsuspecting customers’ carts.

The birthday party started at 3 p.m. and although the weather forecast was iffy in previous days, on Saturday, the sun shone and the temperature hovered around 75 degrees. The pool was mostly deserted, so Grace and her four little friends swam to their hearts’ content.


The only glitch occurred when my husband lit the birthday candles (five candles!) and the wind blew them out before she had a chance. (Our rendition of Happy Birthday was slow, I guess.) My husband said, “You only brought two matches!” which was true. The big box of matches I keep in the kitchen was down to two measly matches, but I thought two matches for five candles was a pretty excellent ratio. I failed to consider the velocity of the wind. And so, she watched in horror as the wind blew out her candles.


Lucky for us, one of our guests came up with a lighter. Hooray.

Yes, that’s a stork on her cake. She picked it out, despite my best attempts to persuade her to choose a princess on her cake. She thought this was a duck and a duck was just what she wanted. She is five and she knows her mind.

Sunday, September 2:

We entered church and half a dozen people said with great enthusiasm: “Happy birthday, Grace!” And she looked puzzled because I had neglected to explain that we were celebrating her birthday a day early. So, during a quiet moment, I explained that her Real Birthday was on Sunday but that her party was on Saturday. She accepted this explanation. And then we took a bunch of pictures in the fellowship hall while my husband preached in the sanctuary.

100_1429.jpg That’s her new dolly, Emma, and her new kitty that purrs.

I cannot believe that five whole years have passed since I gave birth in my bedroom to this long-fingered and long-toed baby. I cannot believe that she’s so much like me and I’m not sure whether to be amused or alarmed. (My husband finds it hilarious to watch me dealing with my Mini-Me because his Mini-Me, our 9-year old, is such an easy, delightful, sweet child and my Mini-Me is sassy and talkative and did I mention SASSY? And the talking? The never-ending TALKING PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!? I am not that talkative, though I might admit to a wee bit of sassiness.)

Okay, where was I?

Oh yeah. I have a five-year old now. For the first time in fourteen years, all of our children are five or older.

A funny thing. On the way home from the pool (she and I went alone), she insisted that she wanted to walk home. WALK HOME! I said, “No, it’s too far!” which is true. She went on and on about walking home and tried to wheel and deal: “Okay, fine, next time, tomorrow, I’m walking home!” I laughed to myself because when I was about four years old, I spoke from the backseat of our car. “I want to walk!” I told my dad. He totally called my bluff and stopped the car along a city street in Tacoma and told me to get out and walk. So I did. I began to walk down the street, unconcerned about being alone, unaware of the danger of a darkened city and then he pulled the car up alongside of me and said, “GET BACK IN THE CAR!”

Monday, September 3:

Labor Day. Sleeping in . . . how much do I love having children who are old enough to let me sleep in? My husband took the kids to the pool for a couple of hours and I shopped the Value Village fifty-percent off sale. I saw a movie. Oh! And my son? The easy-as-pie 9-year old? He spent the whole weekend at Hood Canal with his best friend . . . his entire report to me was this: “Oh yeah, we had fun. We could bullheads with a net! About eight of them! And then we let them go!”

Oh wait! I remember one more thing! At about 8 p.m., I went outside to collect an errant water bottle and noticed how still the air was. I thought it was an ideal time to spray the weeds and grasses in the back yard with RoundUp. And that, my friends, is how I single-handedly brought about the largest rainfall on record for that day in history. Oh yes, and not just rain, but thunder and lightning. (You’re welcome, Pacific Northwest. I will try to use my power for good.)

Tuesday, September 4:

Back to school, except for the teenagers who sleep like hibernating bears. I appreciate the quiet mornings, perhaps because they argue so endlessly when they are awake. (Including just now, while I type this . . . I responded to their argument by unplugging the cable that connects their computer to the Internet. That was quite effective in getting their attention. Now one of them lingers behind me, clearly wanting to say something . . . wait. I’ll ask. “What do you want?” “Well, two things. One, I heard something. Two, I’d like to plug the Internet back in so I can get that thing unlocked and get you to put in the password because tomorrow you’ll be busy with all those kids . . . ” HA HA! I didn’t even say “yes” but he plugged it back in . . . and I let him because he wants the password to the local Christian radio station’s website.)

Oh kids. What fun.

I put in the password and overhead them saying, “Okay, I’ll forgive you but only a hundred and fifty-two times.”

“Actually, in the Bible, it’s seventy times seven.”

Even about this, they must argue. It’s in the Teenage Handbook of Behavior To Drive Your Mother Nuts.

Well, so, we’re caught up. I had imagined I’d opine about giving birth, about my dad’s birthday (he would have been sixty-five on Saturday if he hadn’t died of melanoma when he was forty-seven), about the end of summer and the passing of time, but . . . no. Time swept me along and I failed to narrate my way through the days and now they’re gone.

And so it goes.

My Grandma is One Hundred Years Old

The strangest thing about writing daily in a blog like this is that most people I know in real life have no idea that I do this. It’s odd because blogging is such a mainstay in my life, yet I don’t talk about it to relatives or local friends.

So, to the forty relatives I saw tonight at Grandma’s birthday dinner: “I write in a blog every day.” Ha.

My husband had to stay home (secretly he was happy to miss a family event) with our two sick kids. I took my twins and they had a great time playing with their distant cousins. The dinner was at a church facility which was set up for youth in one room–so there was an arcade basketball game, a pool table, video games, etc.

My grandma looked tiny and fragile in her hot pink jacket and permed white hair. But I sat close to her and we had a little private conversation. Her mind is completely intact and I suppose she feels twenty-two inside, just like I do. I was happy to be the one to fill her coffee cup.

So many cameras were flashing that I asked my grandma if she felt like a movie star and she answered quite seriously, “Well, I wouldn’t know.” I doubt she could even name one movie star. I doubt she’s ever seen a movie. She’s from a different era, a time when good Christian women wouldn’t dream of setting foot in a movie theater. She is aghast when my mother goes shopping on Sundays.

My grandmother raised six children in the ’30s and ’40s. The Great Depression affected them very little since they had so little anyway. My grandfather was a preacher and devoted to his calling and my grandmother supported him without complaint every day of their sixty-one years of marriage. (He died on their sixty-first anniversary.) My most enduring memory of them together happened when I stayed with them one week when I was about eight. I peeked out of my bedroom just in time to see them standing in the kitchen in a long embrace. I had never seen my own parents embrace.

For a child who grew up in a divorced household, this steadfast display of affection and love offered hope for my own future. My grandparents are the finest example of Christian living that I know. My grandmother, even at one hundred years of age, continues to pray for me by name every day of my life. She cannot see. She can barely walk. She lives alone in a tidy little house with a garden planted with primroses in a neighborhood sliding into disrepair. But she prays and listens to the Bible on CDs almost continuously.

I’ve always felt like her favorite granddaughter, though she has dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Shhhh, don’t tell my cousins. Grandma loves me best.

A Note Before Sleep

I knew she was feeling better when she appeared in the kitchen wearing her powder-blue pajama shirt with the pink flowers, the navy blue striped with red swimsuit bottom from The Gap, and a red homemade knit cap with matching scarf wrapped around her neck and tossed jauntily over her shoulders.

She woke up last night, though, at 11:45 p.m., needing to use the bathroom. Then she woke up at 6:00 a.m., again needing to use the bathroom. I put her back to bed again, and she slept another hour, then had a bath and watched a video for awhile before crawling into bed with me and her daddy. We were all sleeping at 8:30 a.m., when my son, The Birthday Boy, quietly opened the door and asked if he should get dressed.

Since my daughter seemed better, my husband thought I should go to the birthday party and so I hurried to get the boys and myself ready to leave by 9:40 a.m. We had to stop to buy film and a gift bag, but managed to arrive on time. The party was “the best party I ever had!” according to The Birthday Boy.

I napped with my daughter this afternoon while the boys played and my husband ran errands. Though the symptoms of the virus subsided, both of us were so tired that we slept an hour and a half. (She’s napped already earlier.) So far, no one else shows signs of the stomach virus. Time will tell. (One commenter suggested it sounds like the “Norwalk Virus.” It sure does!)

Tomorrow is my son’s actual birthday which means that eight years ago tonight, I was awake, timing contractions, having no idea that the smart thing would be to sleep because I still had twenty-four hours to go before delivery!

What were you doing eight years ago?

I’m Pretty Boring in My Old Age

In real life, I prefer not to call attention to myself, so I am mystified by my recent post proclaiming my own birthday. What’s wrong with me? Perhaps it’s old age breaking down my inhibitions.

Yesterday morning, I took my daughter to the grocery store to buy essentials: milk, bread, cookies and $107 worth of groceries when it was all said and done. My little girl sat in the cart, so she was positioned perfectly to transfer everything to the conveyor belt. Which she did, by herself, no help from Mommy required. She wore a sundress, tights and hot-pink Converse Chuck Taylors . She looked ridiculous and charming, so much that every menopausal woman in the story smiled and tried to chat with her. (Her Royal Majesty of the Pink High-Tops wouldn’t answer a single question nor make eye contact.)

I spent my birthday afternoon getting my hair cut. My poor stylist. I said, “Okay, see? I don’t want to look like a cocker spaniel. You know what I mean? See this? Ears? No. Too much length. But no layers. I hate layers. Layers make me look like Little Orphan Annie. You know what I mean? And my bangs. I think I need more bangs. What do you think? They are thinning a little and can you fix that? I want a sort of a bob, but not too short. And not like a mushroom. The curl is natural, yes. See, how it’s weighed down and flat on my head, but like a cocker spaniel down here?” I went on for five incoherent minutes while she squinted at me and finally pulled out a book full of hairstyles. We settled on a style and at one point, they were straightening my hair, two of them at once, tugging and burning the curl out of my locks. I went home with super-straight, silky hair, in contrast to my normal Ronald McDonald bouffant.

I was home only an hour or two, long enough to cook dinner and tidy up a little. My mother came over half an hour late to watch the children. As we drove, I telephoned the restaurant–they won’t take reservations for parties of less than six people–and asked to be put on the waiting list. Good thing I used the telephone girl’s name (“Stephanie”), when we arrived because they had no trace of us on their list and the waiting time was up to an hour and a half. When I said, “Well, I talked to Stephanie,” she whirled around and said, “That’s me!”

We waited only fifteen minutes, then sat in a corner table where we could see the sky darken from gray to black before our dinners arrived. We gazed at the lit-up ferry as it slid up to the dock nearby and I said, “We need to take the kids on a ferry this summer.” Two tables were full of high school kids in formal gowns and tuxedos. I only wish we’d been right next to them so I could have eavesdropped successfully.

Dinner was excellent and my husband was in fine form, making me laugh. We really ought to go out more often.

Last night, I watched “The Beach” on DVD. I’d recently read the book and wanted to see the movie in its entirety. (I’ve seen bits of it on the Oxygen network.) I was most fascinated by the special features, specifically the director’s commentary about deleted scenes. Of course, the book was better than the movie. Books are always better than the movies.

This morning, my daughter insisted on wearing a Barbie ballerina costume to church, which I allowed. I simply dressed her in a black turtleneck and black pants and her pink Chuck Taylors. She looked endearing in a crazy sort of way. Sadly, I didn’t get a photograph. She reminded me of that guy who dressed like the tooth fairy on some television commerical. Only smaller and more adorable and with blond curls.

We napped together, she and I, for two glorious hours, during which time I had an insane dream involving Mexican guys keying my car and two baby alligators in my garage and my daughter wandering the street due to my carelessness and my husband scolding me for driving in a dangerous residential area in Houston.

When we woke, she informed me we’d be going around the block and I knew better than to argue. I pointed out that she’d have to get dressed and that it was cold and rainy. We made it only halfway around, she on her tricycle, me walking, when she decided to turn back. She parked her trike, then we started off again, splashing through puddles and veritable streams on the side of the road. It’s rained thirty-eight out of the last forty days and half our driveway is a pond large enough to cover the tops of yellow rubber boots.

Can you believe this recitation of my weekend? I feel like I should be writing it on notebook paper and turning it in for a grade to my creative writing teacher who would then ask me to please rewrite and use more interesting details and embellishments. Have you learned nothing from James Frey? she’d say.

I watched the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards tonight. My favorite moment just might be Jamie Lee Curtis stumbling and then regaining her balance while she came down the stairs. And I was pleased that “Crash” won for Best Film Ensemble. And Reese Witherspoon won, which is perfect.

Then I sobbed during the end of Grey’s Anatomy, which can mean only one thing.

I’m not menopausal yet, despite being fortysomething.

(Thank you, everyone, for the birthday greetings. I appreciate it.)

It’s My Birthday!

The rain falls today on my 41st birthday, also known as The Day the Challenger Space Shuttle Exploded and National De-Lurk on Mel’s Blog Day.

Later, after I’ve had my hair styled and blown straight, only to become frizzy again before dinner’s over, and I’ve feasted on seafood while gazing at a gray Puget Sound view, I will be back. To contemplate my journey, my recollections, my oldness.

Meanwhile, won’t you please, please, please delurk and say hello? (Pick a post–it doesn’t even have to be this one–and share your thoughts.) I know you’re out there–my handy-dandy stat counter tells me so!

And if you prefer not to delurk and wish me happy birthday? Well, then send cash.

While you’re at it, go over to Dave’s blog and wish him happy birthday, too. He was born today, too, thirty-six years ago.

Have a great day (in my honor)!

Four Thousand Words’ Worth of Pictures

And now, photos.

Here is my 7-year old son posing with my 99-year old grandmother, taken on the day we visited a few weeks ago..

Here is the beach ball birthday cake . . .(notice the fingerprints in the “sand”) . . .

. . . and the blue-jello cups.

And finally, here is the Birthday Girl, who is now suffering from the headache-coughing virus my boys have so graciously passed along.

(And one more thing. The previous post was written using Microsoft Word with the new Blogger feature which allows you to compose with your word processor and then post directly to your blog. I like the Comic Sans font . . . what about you? Do you prefer this font?)

Written for an Audience of Helium Balloons

I sit at my desk with an array of six helium balloons looking over my shoulder. They look quite festive and I feel the pressure of their airy expectations, but I have nothing.

I mean, I thought about talking about my near-paralysis in picking out the next book I’ll read. Or about my determination to scrapbook my neglected pictures–which fades by the time the kids go to bed.

We’re going to a wedding tomorrow, which seemed like a lot of fun when I RSVP’d, but now . . . now I am worrying about what to wear and about how my daughter will fare under my mother’s care. My daughter is shy and a mama’s girl. She’ll do fine. But what will I wear? And will my feet hurt?

My daughter’s party was fun. She said, “I am so happy!” when we put her beach ball cake in front of her and lit the candles. She insisted that everyone wear party hats. And then today, she was ready to do it all over again. I’m just happy that we won’t do it all over again for a year. Today I spent most of the day attending to all the things I neglected yesterday while I was baking cakes and whipping up frosting.

Someone pointed out to me in the comments how amazing it is that my daughter was born almost exactly sixty years after my father was born. I never noticed that before, which is odd because I did notice that my mother was 37 when I was born and I was 37 when my daughter was born. I noticed that my mother was 59 was my daughter was born and my grandmother was 59 when I was born. Sometimes, I listen to my mother talk about her mother and about the heavy burden she bears caring for my grandmother who lives alone, still, at 99. And I think, will that be me in thirty years, complaining about taking care of my mother? Will my mother live until she’s 99? And then my thoughts begin to wander far into the future and I rein them back in. Live here. Live now. Let the future unfold without my constant fretting.

Well. See? I really have nothing worth saying tonight.

Party Hearty

My daughter’s birthday is Friday and so tomorrow, we’re going to party like it’s . . . well, 2005. She’ll be three.

She was born on Labor Day, which pleased me no end. How appropriate to labor on Labor Day! Plus, I thought, we can always celebrate her birthday on Labor Day weekend.

Except I forgot that people sometimes leave town for Labor Day weekend. To get around that fact, I decided to have the party tomorrow, a day early, at the pool. Because I have daycare kids, the party will start at 6:00 p.m. and end by 8:00 p.m., at which point all the children will have bluish lips and goosebumps and chattering teeth.

The high is supposed to be a balmy 75 degrees tomorrow.

Tomorrow I need to bake a cake (from scratch, of course) which will be half a sphere, decorated like a beach ball. I’d originally thought I’d bake cupcakes, too, but it occurred to me that I can make cupcakes on her actual birthday. I have a sudden obsession with cupcakes. But I know my limitations.

I’m serving make-your-own sub sandwiches, grapes and canteloupe chunks on skewers, mini-bags of chips, blue Jello with a bear cookie floating in a gummy lifesaver and juice. I don’t usually make Jello, nor do my kids eat it, but the little clear cups of pool-blue Jello look so cute! So, they are a decoration more than a food, I suppose. I bought ten beach balls at the dollar store and I’ll float those in the pool and pick up ten mylar balloons from the dollar store on the way to the party. Voila! Decorations!

My sunburn has gone from ouch-don’t-touch-me to I-can’t-stop-scratching-and-my-nose-is-peeling. Fun times.

So, if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, you can safely assume I’m eating frosting by the spoonful frosting a cake with homemade buttercream frosting and scratching my shoulders with with my chin and juggling the wants needs of seven children while worrying about my impending party.