Water, Water Everywhere (or It’s About Time)

I have not been an avid drinker of water. Ever. I have to admit. Given a choice, I’d choose either a diet coke or nothing before choosing water. This has been pretty much a lifelong trend, of which I’m not particularly proud. But, there it is.

So, last week I saw a link on facebook to an article about a woman who drank three liters of water a day for 28 days. There were before-and-after photos, and descriptions of all the systems in our bodies that benefit from ample hydration. I can’t recall any details, because my brain just doesn’t retain such things anymore. Suffice it to say, I was impressed enough to actually consider trying this amazing new health trend. I know *I* never saw that coming!

I’m here to tell you that, beginning the first of June, I’ve been drinking three liters each day — that’s 3,000 milliliters, folks! —  and am determined to carry on throughout the month.

Also, I’m here to tell you that, should you, too, decide to embark on such a journey, it’s best to finish the majority of your water consumption before mid-afternoon. Otherwise, though the rest of your systems will no doubt be in top-notch working order, your sleep cycle will suffer.

Other than that, my friends, I’ve got nothing else to report. Six days in and I’m going strong. Perhaps I’ll let you know how it goes. (But I wouldn’t be counting on any photos — before or after — if I were you.)

Go Ahead And Blink, It Won’t Make Any Difference

We talk about how quickly our kids grow up. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. The hours/days drag, but the years fly, etc.  I don’t know how many times I hear these words. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been the one saying them.

I’m beginning to suspect, however, that for me it’s not really about the speed with which time passes. The real issue is that it does. Time passes whether or not I approve.  I think I wouldn’t be happy even if we had twice as many years to parent our kids. Just knowing things will change is what sticks in my craw. And that is the revelation that smacked me squarely in the head this morning.

I’m acutely aware that the time of being my nine-year old’s Favorite Person is not going to last forever. Now, perhaps, since I am a particularly amazing mom, it might go on for a bit longer  than it would for, say,  a run-of-the-mill mom … But I’m not gonna bet the farm on it.

Last night there was rather a loud thunder storm, and as often happens, it got loudest about an hour after the girls had settled  into their beds. Allyson doesn’t love storms, but she will sleep through most anything. Katey, on the other hand, really does not love storms. And being nine, you’d think she’d have learned by now to navigate her way through a summer squall, even at bedtime. But … No. Therefore, several times last evening she made her way out of the room and wanted to snuggle and be reassured. And each time I went and snuggled and reassured. And I didn’t mind. Y’know why? Because I know there will come a night when she doesn’t need me to help her do this thing. And, knowing me like I do, there’ll come a night when I miss it —  when I miss being needed to snuggle and to reassure.

I know, most of you less sentimental types out there are rolling your eyes. (I guarantee that my husband is.) And I know that parents of tiny ones are muttering, “If ONLY!” — because you feel like you’re needed 24/7 and you just want to have five minutes to use the bathroom. Alone! I remember those days, and I totally get it.

But I’m here to tell you, I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss most of this mothering business. And that day is coming — whether it’s coming fast or slow. That day when I get to do my own thing, when I get to do laundry for just two, when I get to not worry about picking up kids from school, when I get to walk through the garage and not have to make my way around bikes and scooters.

When I talk like that to my husband, he kinda gets this far-off, dreamy look on his face. And I’m sure it will be nice it many ways. Picking up and going to see a movie on the spur of the moment again will be refreshing. But … I’m going to miss these days.

So, perhaps, what I’m really taking all this time and space to say is: I’ll miss mothering kids one day. The End.

Thoughts On a Winter Night

(I thought about calling this post Thoughts On a Winter Evening — ’cause it sounded poetic, but decided that, although it’s really only 7:15 as I begin, it most definitely feels like night. It’s January. It’s pitch black. I’m going with Night.)

As I drove home tonight — it doesn’t matter from where — some thoughts kind of flitted haphazardly through my brain. Which, believe it or not, got me thinking about some things …

Have you ever thought about your train of thought? By this I mean, have you ever concentrated on rewinding what got your brain from where it began to where it ended up? Well, I have. (I bet you knew I was going to say that!) Every once in a while I like to do just that, because it helps me pay attention to how easily my thoughts fly from one thing to another. Someone, somewhere may think it really is totally random, how you get from point A to point G. But it’s really not. At least not in my case. I enjoy retracing my mental steps. There’s always something that triggers the jump to the next step. Whether it’s an external or internal force, it’s necessary. And I get a kick out of figuring it out. Every once in a while. I do.

In a related story …

Then I was thinking about the way my mind works, as opposed to the way my husband’s mind works. At least as far as I can tell. (His mind is more of a mystery to me than you might think.) As I get older I notice more occasions where I realize I must have been thinking of something important, like something I need to do, but haven’t done. At these times, I find that, though the dim memory of such a thought still lingers, I can’t put my finger on what it was. But the vague, uneasy feeling stays with me. That feeling that some little monster is waiting,  just out of sight, to attack. If only I could remember the thought that triggered it, I could face the little beast with my sword at least at the ready. Because there’s nothing worse than realizing too late that you’ve forgotten to … defrost the meat for dinner, take a child to the orthodontist, or pay the water bill.

ANYway! My point was going to be this: I’m almost certain that Jeff’s mind does not weave and spin like mine does. His is most likely working in an orderly, logical fashion. (No, he’s not Spock, but … yeah, for all intents and purposes, he’s Spock.) I’ve never asked him about this, but I’m quite sure he’s exempt from this kind of scattered thought process. Want to know how I know? I listen to his conversations. And I listen to mine. My little brother used to frequently call out, “Bunny trail alert!” when he and I were talking, so as to keep us from losing sight of the original purpose of the conversation. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone yell out, “Bunny trail alert!” when Jeff is talking. So. There you have it. There’s my empirical evidence.

There’s also this. I don’t know how many times throughout one day I find that, though my intent was to put some item away, and I probably actually began the task, I realize that something else popped up that kept me from completing my mission. Just sitting here now I can recall two times this happened yesterday. And that’s without even wracking my brain. Jeff, on the other hand … Well, he never puts anything away, so I guess that’s not a fair test. But I bet if he did, he’d do one job before tackling another. Probably. (Sadly, we may never know the answer to this.)

So, yep. That’s pretty much what kept my brain busy on the solitary drive home. There was no one to talk to in the car, so I thought I’d tell you!  You’re welcome.

Climbing Mountains … Avoiding Hills

I posted recently on facebook that my 8-year-old left a note hidden in my purse before she went to school. It told me she’d miss me, that she loved me, to have fun hanging out with Dad (’cause you know, that’s what we do all day when they’re at school — laze around together) … and to run 3 miles.

This, presumably, is because when I pick them up at school, of late, I typically ask how their day was and then I tell them about mine. It goes something like this, Me: “So, how was your day?” Them: “Good.” Me: “How was lunch/recess/gym/whatever?” Them: “Fine.” <pause> Me: “Well, you know what *I* did today?! I ran! My total distance was blah-blah-blah, and, of that, I only walked blah-blah, and ran blah-blah! And that’s 3 tenths of a mile more than I ran on Monday!”

They’re really good encouragers. Not that they I give them much choice, of course … but that’s beside the point. The point really is this. I’ve been “trying to run” for more than two years now. (If you’ve read my blog before you might remember that I chronicled the beginning days.) It’s been a sloooow and not-at-all-steady process. For the longest time, when I ran it was around our little neighborhood. The circumference is 1 mile, which was normally the extent of my run. Sometimes I would loop around a little and go a little farther, but that was it. A mile and a half, tops. I might mention that there are some hills that made it more of a challenge, which made me less likely to expand my horizons, as far as running went. (I hate running on hills.)

Well, then one day as I was driving, I happened to see one of my neighbors running about a mile from our neighborhood. She looked like she’d been going for a while, and was on her way back. This caused a series of thoughts to meander through my 46-year-old brain. Wow. I wonder where Mandie’s been on her run. I wonder how far she runs. Well, she’s a Real Runner, I couldn’t do that. … Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, to run someplace outside of the neighborhood? … Noooooo … I’m not a Real Runner. Only Real Runners do that. … But, I wonder how far I could run if I were to run somewhere ELSE. And wouldn’t it be more interesting to see something other than the same stuff, over and over again, when I run? (Pedantic, isn’t it? But that’s really what you’d have heard if you could’ve listened to the little voice inside my head that day.)

The seed was planted and gradually it grew. Until one day, a week or so after that fateful moment, I actually did it. I ran (and walked) about a mile and a half. It was not the most thrilling route, but the important thing was that I was out of my comfort zone because it was outside of my neighborhood. And that was huge! Since then, I’ve been finding more appealing places to run. Honestly, when I looked at the areas surrounding our house, I found roads and neighborhoods I’d rarely seen. And they’re beautiful. This has made a distinct difference in how I look at running. I still avoid hilly runs as much as I can, and long, straightaways that feel endless. Those kill me. But I’m increasing my stamina almost daily and that feels good.

And this is why Katey is cheering me on. Because she knows it makes my day to go further than I’ve gone before. Maybe they even like hearing me enthuse about the newest mountain I’ve climbed (figuratively speaking, of course). Maybe. Or perhaps they’re just being nice. Either way, it adds up to a win for me. I’m making progress and challenging myself to top that mountain, day by day. And I know my girls are watching and waiting for me to take just a few more steps each time. That’s all I’m looking for.

A Whole New Thing

Well, yesterday’s post chronicled our change from school-at-home to school-at-, well, school. Today, we’re going to talk a little about what my life looks like these days.

To begin … I had shoulder surgery four days before school began. It was only arthroscopic, so I found myself knocked for a loop by the anesthesia and the delightful prescription meds I got to take in the early days. I can truly and thankfully say that the biggest impact on me was just the medications, and trying to get the anesthesia out of my system! The pain was negligible, really. But the beginning of the school year is something of a blur, truth be told. When you think about it, that’s another good thing about the girls being back in school. I’d have been next to useless in the teaching department in those early days of the school year.

And then there’s the physical therapy, which, for the sake of time and ease, I’ll refer to as PT. I had the surgery on Thursday and had my first PT session on Friday. And from that time on, it’s been three days a week, almost an hour and a half at a shot. Over time I had developed one extremely frozen shoulder. No, that’s actually what it’s called. Meaning that in my case, I’ve had very limited use of my right shoulder and arm for more than two years. There had never been an injury. When my doctor went in he found that there was a protrusion of one of the bones in the joint that was pinching the rotator cuff, causing discomfort, and therefore causing me to use the shoulder less and less. All that to say, it’s of utmost importance if I want to regain the use of my arm that I work it and stretch it multiple times a day.

And so, that’s one of the things that I’m spending time doing for now, PT and recovering. I told some friends that I was going to write a blog post and call it Naps, Narcotics and Netflix — all about my first several weeks of school! But really, there doesn’t seem to be much point. The narcotics induced many lovely naps, during which I slept through several series of coveted British mysteries. (One day, I’m really going to go back and actually watch them again when my brain isn’t sedated and diffused.) Suffice it to say, it was a lovely haze of three weeks or so, which helped immensely in getting me used to having my young sidekicks elsewhere for the school days.

One thing I’ve intended to do now is begin again to run. I’m just not an early morning runner. I’m not much of an early morning anything-er, quite frankly. And by evening, my desire to exercise is not strong enough to get me out of the house. Or even into my running shoes. So, I realized this would be a great opportunity for me to start slowly again. It’s how I began in the first place, running while the girls were at school. And last week I did it. I put on those running shoes and got to it. So, that’s one thing to check off my list. I just have to keep it going. One step at a time.

And of course, the next thing I thought of when initially I wondered how I would spend my time, was that I could get back to writing my blog! That was also something I began when I had afternoons freed by kids in school. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to keep it going, even while knee-deep in home school, but that never really took off, on any kind of regular basis. So, I’m glad to be able to come back to this medium. I enjoy writing about my life and loves.

Aaaaand there’s still that school room/office to finish up. <Sigh>

So, there’s a glimpse into the new thing God is doing in my life. I’m excited about what he has laid in my path, albeit simple stuff. I’m happy to start small. My days still include plenty of mothering — it just looks different now.

Of School Rooms and Happy Times

Tonight I’m avoiding the completion a task I’ve been putting off for almost a month. Finally tonight I began it, but now I’m out of ideas and I’m tired. And I just want to quit. So … here I sit.

Let’s back up to about the second week of August, when I began suddenly to feel a panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach when I looked ahead to the beginning of our third year of schooling the girls via a cyber-charter school. That was the first inkling I had that God was trying to get my attention. There were a number of things weighing heavily on my mind regarding school. One of them was that I had been pretty much ignoring the art and music curriculum in an attempt to get the other, more important subjects finished, which we did, for the most part, with flying colors. I just could not, for the life of me, figure out how to finish our school day by 3 o’clock-ish and get it all done.

So, after one day of pondering this and praying about it, my 8-year-old came to wake me up and crawled into bed with me. One topic led to another, and before I knew it, she had steered the conversation to talk very specifically — and happily — about many of the art projects she had done when she was in kindergarten in our public school system. I tell you the truth, she had no way of knowing where my mind and prayers had led me, and how I’d been struggling over this very thing — what they’d been missing out on over the past two years at home with me. I took this to be a confirmation from the Lord that he was indeed trying to get my attention and he wanted me to listen.

So, over the next few days I prayed about it, and to be frank, cried about it an awful lot. I just couldn’t escape the feeling that God wanted me to put the girls back into school.

Now, this is not to say that I feel we were wrong to bring them home and teach them for those two years. I truly feel that the Lord led us to do that. I get teary thinking about the times we spent on each of the subjects. I wholeheartedly miss the one-on-two time with two of my favorite people in the world.

And here I come to the point in my story where I explain the job I’ve avoided — cleaning out, rearranging and re-purposing the school room. Now, I do get excited about reorganizing spaces in my house. But, this was going to be a toughie. I chose to tackle it this evening, when everyone was home and happily doing other things. I thought that would be easier than going through all of last years binders and school materials that would need to be boxed up and put into the basement when I had the house to myself. In a way it was. But it was still a rough job. With every book report, or history paper I piled up, I felt as if I was ripping the bandage from a wound that was not even close to being healed. And though my girls have been in school for a number of weeks already, it was as if this, tonight, truly brought the past two (in many ways) glorious years to an official end.

There were many things I loved about teaching my girls. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. Nor was it always fun. It was without a doubt the most challenging time I’ve spent since I had two toddlers in the house. But I do miss it.

What I don’t miss is the pressure that I felt, being the one responsible for the completion of each subject. Now I know that there’s an art teacher who’s the one dealing with that whole mess — not me! There’s a classroom teacher getting math, language arts and social studies in order! These are no longer on me. (Don’t talk to me about the science experiments. Just … nope.)

I have friends and family who artfully and dutifully teach their children, year after year, and do a beautiful job! I wonder sometimes why I couldn’t be like those moms, whom I so admire.

But then I’m reminded of the two years we did have! And I’m reminded of the peace I’ve experienced since we decided to put the girls back in school. Despite the times of weeping and regrets, God has been clearly reassuring me that he is directing this. They are, after all, his children even more than they are mine. And he has chosen our path, and I have chosen to follow. And I trust my girls to his care and pray for them and sit with them as they toil over their homework. I listen as they tell me about what went badly in their day and what went well. I pray with them as we drive to school. And I know that God is far more capable than I am of supplying their needs.

If only this erstwhile School Room would finish up on its own! But I suppose that’s what tomorrow is for.


The Eyes Have It (or Girl Time)

Here I sit. In a t-shirt, shorts, feet bare, hair in my face, having done nothing much to make myself more than casually dressed. Ahhh … but for my eyes.

An 8-year-old I know has been begging me to allow her to put my eye makeup on. On MY eyes. After some stalling, numerous excuses — as women everywhere can surely imagine — I finally ran out of anything resembling defendable reasons and let her at it. She started with a cautiousness that told me she was concerned about my reaction. And so I decided just to let her go. Have at it, kiddo! And so she did. After the initial hesitation, she became bolder and less inhibited. And I became way more made up.

And so, here I sit, pretty much disheveled, but for some breathtaking eyes. (If I do say so, myself.) And I reflect on the changes that motherhood has effected. I care more about my girls than about the incongruous look I now sport. This time spent with my daughter was really something. As my girls mature, our mommy/daughter times will continue, I’m sure, to mutate. Therefore, if, in days to come, you run across a woman who looks a little like me but has a something that looks like a bird’s nest in place of hair, or is wearing dangerously high heels and sweatpants … Well, I’m just giving you a heads up. Don’t say anything. If it is me, I’ll no doubt be in the presence of one or both of my daughters, you can be sure, and I wouldn’t want them to be embarrassed. It’s all in the interest of getting to know my girls in a new way, don’t you know.

It’s Not My Thing

The other day I was on facebook. I was having a conversation with a friend about where to get little girls’ nails done for not a lot of money. I told her where we occasionally go, and her next comment to me was, “Pam, is it cheap?” However, what I saw was, “Pam is cheap.” I wasn’t in the least offended. I laughed, and then re-read the comment. Ohhhhhhhh! That’s kind of a different meaning right there. Had I not read it again I would have chuckled and walked away. And my friend would have been left wondering how much it cost to taker her daughters to 90’s Nails.

A few days later, we were getting an oil change for our car and were in the waiting area. They have free fountain sodas, popcorn and coffee. (I know! Why do you think we go?)  I was a little perplexed when I looked at the coffee dispensers, however, because it said, right there in big letters, “Slime is free!” Huh? I was a little distracted because our daughters were asking for some popcorn and one was pushing to have some root beer. So, when we’d gotten them all sorted I re-examined that disturbing sign on the coffee pot. But now I saw that what it actually said was, “Smile, it’s free!” Ohhhhhhhh! That made way more sense.

Later that night, while mulling it all over in my tired brain, it occurred to me: this is why I am not a speed reader. When I was a kid I had seen commercials on TV, whilst watching Gilligan’s Island reruns or The Lone Ranger on a Saturday morning. And there were ads for speed reading courses. It showed a person flipping through War and Peace as I would flip through a book looking for my bookmark. I really don’t remember any of the specific claims, but what it promised seemed to be an impossibility. Especially to me, the slowest of the readers in my class. And probably in the surrounding counties.

My husband and his dad used to talk about how one is supposed to skim the pages and get the gist of what’s going on when one is speed reading. Honestly, I’ve tried that. And what I get is not the gist. Utterly confused, that’s what I get. As evidenced by me thinking my friend was calling me cheap and that my garage was giving away free slime.

So, I’ve come to a conclusion, and it is this: Speed reading is not my thing. Everybody’s got a Thing, right? Well, I know that speed reading is not mine. I’m still trying to find what my Thing is, exactly. But I know without a doubt what it isn’t.

He Gathers His Lambs

I’m watching Jeff and the girls play a game on our new (though pre-owned) xbox. And by watching, I really mean not watching, just sitting nearby, listening more than anything. I’m in a reflective mood tonight.

It’s the beginning of a whole new year. Sometimes I find myself a little scared by that thought, the idea of another year stretching out before me, with no indication of events that are about to unfold. When I wonder what this year will hold I get a little nervous.

I remember a week in May of 2003 when I felt like there was a shoe about to drop. Jeff and I had just celebrated our first wedding anniversary and he was on a week-long business trip to Chicago. I had an odd feeling of foreboding. As it turned out, just days later, though he returned home and all seemed well, we got a phone call at 5:30 in the morning from my older brother telling me that our mom had died of a heart attack in the night. I think of that from time to time, and I wonder what else could be just around the corner — perhaps some life changing disaster that will bring me to my knees and change my life forever. Again.

And that’s when I remember that whether or not I know what’s coming won’t change anything. Knowing, however, that God is in control and is walking with me through whatever comes — that changes everything.

Why, I wonder, do I forget so easily about his sustaining grace? Perhaps it’s to remind me of my weakness and my inability to cope with the sadnesses of life. Maybe, if I didn’t feel panic from time to time, I’d forget that I can rest in his unfailing strength.

Isaiah 40:11  “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

So, be encouraged. And look forward to what God is going to do in this new year, 2014!

You Say Noise, I Say Cacophony

This post is about noise. Let’s be clear about what I mean when I use that word in this context. There’s Sound. And then there’s Noise. The “noises” my babies made when they were happy, well, we’ll call them Sounds. For this post, Noise is synonymous with loudness and cacophony. Now that we have the ground rules established, let’s move on.

One of the things my husband and I enjoy doing together in the evenings is watching TV. But once we became parents, I wanted the volume turned waaaaay down. This was primarily to avoid waking up the babies. I did not want to share this part of my evening with my sweet little cherubs. Not even a little. As soon as bedtime rolled around, it was my sincere desire to be off duty. Granted, there was always going to be the chance that one or both of them would wake up and I would be back on the clock. But I didn’t want to be in any way responsible for increasing those odds. All this to say, I was happy with the volume turned waaaaay down. My husband, however, was not. He likes to feel as though he’s sitting in a movie theater. Now, I have no problem with that if we’re actually in a theater — with my sleeping offspring several towns away. But, when they’re just upstairs, I get a little uncomfortable with my husband trying to recreate the movie theater experience right there, one floor away from those little threats to my night off. I don’t care how darn cute they are!

That, I always felt, was reasonable. I had a perfectly good reason on those occasions for my Aversion to Noise. But then we come to the next step in this, my descent into frustration. At this point in time, our children are seven and eight years old. They’re not so fragile. They can get themselves back to sleep now all by themselves. (Most of the time.) What I find disruptive to my peace of mind these days is that when commercials come on they’re at least three times as loud as the show we’re watching. What’s with that? If we’re trying to talk about anything more meaningful than, say, “Pass the chips,” I have to ask him to mute the blasted thing. I’m not able to concentrate on what he’s saying. Normal? He says No. Resoundingly.

Today when we were getting lunch, the girls wanted to listen to some Britt Nicole songs. We were getting our sandwiches ready; I was doing simple tasks that I do all the time, but after the third song I had to turn it off. I don’t mind her music. It’s Christian pop, it’s catchy. It’s all good. But I couldn’t think! As soon as I turned it off there was a wonderful feeling of peace. It was … QUIET. And I smiled as I soaked it in. (And I’m pretty sure there were eyes rolling a little off to my right. Seven and eight year old eyes, to be specific. But that’s not important now.) We all know the saying, If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t noooobody happy! Therein lies my point.

Now, my husband can listen to any kind of music while he’s doing just about anything, it seems. He can carry on a conversation just fine even if he’s surrounded by what seems to me to be chaos and disorder. I, on the other hand, can’t. Sadly, it’s really that simple.

So, I have to wonder — have I always been this sensitive to noise? IS it normal for at least females of our species to feel this way? Or am I getting curmudgeonly in my old age? At 45 I start to wonder if I’ll soon be shushing young-uns who are causing such a dadburn ruckus! Holy smokes, I hope not. Maybe I’ll get used to it –all this discordance, and Noise. Perhaps.

But probably not. Sadly, you’ll likely see me in coming years, with a pained, pinched look to my face. Old and, yep, curmudgeonly; grumpy and shushing.