Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter: Sacrifice and Candy

Easter is coming. As many of you know this means candy and eggs. In my classroom at school, plastic eggs are everywhere. The children are very excited about our party and egg hunt. In my own house the excitement for Easter is building. I knew I was in trouble when I heard. "So, mom.." This is my younger daughter speaking. I answer, "yes?" I am driving to karate or gymnastics or somewhere.

"Have you finished Easter shopping?" (My children are past an age where they think the Easter Bunny brings them goodies.) "Yes," I reply.

"Did you get jelly beans?" RATS! I think. I did not get jelly beans. "No," I reply, "did you want jelly beans?" You must understand, jelly beans to Jack and my children are like me and chocolate. They SAY they want them, but then there they sit, stale and disgusting. I myself do not care much for jelly beans. I am very willing to get rid of them when not ingested. (unlike chocolate) I reassure my daughter that I will get jelly beans.

There is a pause, "So mom."

"Yes" I reply. "Have you decided where you are going to HIDE the Easter baskets?" Ahhh,now we are at the important stuff.

"No." I reply. I usually have my sister for assistance in this issue. She is quite wily and enjoys making it challenging for the girls to find their baskets. As you can see, I know what is important to my children on Easter. Fun and candy.

I myself, have had more difficulty with Easter lately. As I have gotten older, I have struggled more with Easter. Mostly, I have discomfort over Jesus suffering. Perhaps I am to empathetic, perhaps I listen for to much detail, perhaps I am just silly. I can't be sure. I do know this. As my children have gotten older, I struggle with what and how to talk about the cruxifiction. There is nothing pleasant about it. I have trouble accepting that Jesus went willingly through this pain for me and others. What details do I dwell on?, which do I share with my kids? when exactly did I learn them? It is all cloudy to me.

I was relieved or I guess not surprised to listen to our sermon on Palm Sunday. The service struck a chord with me as similar to a Christmas Eve service. We read scripture and then sang hymns. In the sermon, our pastor discussed how some of the verses of certain hymns made him feel pain and suffering. He wanted to spare us that pain so he eliminated those versus when we sang. The words he struck out had to do with the suffering of Jesus. His sacrifice and our sins. I will admit the language did make me uncomfortable. I struggle with the anguish of Jesus and the more conservative feel to these words. I will also say, that at this moment in my life, I want to look at those words. I want to feel some of the suffering.

I know that right now, no matter what the challenges are in my life or the difficulty I may face. It is no match for being ridiculed and hung on a cross. I am here living with family and friends who love me. I am glad Easter will come, and I can put some of this discomfort away until next year. I am also extremely grateful that God created the Cadbury company.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

You Can't Take It With You

The saying goes, "You can't take it with you." I know it often relates to money and material things. In my case it comes to mind regarding my house. We are getting closer to actually SELECTING a new home. We are going to Tennessee and will hopefully return with a new home contract. Don't get me wrong, I am excited, and I LOVE looking at houses. I am scared though also.

The last time we went house hunting in Tennessee no house in particular, had that feeling. You know the feeling that you know when you walk in or see it, that says this is the one. When Jack and I bought our first house. It was the first house we looked at. We looked at many others but that one was it.

The house we are in now was not quite like that, but we really liked it. It had sooo many good things. It was hard back then to choose a new home also. I liked our old house in Newark. I wanted that same house except bigger. Take the layout and supersize the kitchen and bedrooms and I would be happy. (Ok, add a bedroom and a 2 car garage.) The new house in Wilmington gave me an extra bedroom, bigger kitchen, and a 1 car garage. (you gotta give on something right?) I could not take my old house with me. I could not lift it up and bring it along. That was difficult for me to accept.

Last night I stayed up late sifting through house options in Tennessee. They are nice houses but once again I find myself looking for THIS house in Tennessee. Particularly the kitchen. Those who know me, understand the kitchen is part of my heart. I enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen. Now with my little TV in my kitchen I can even cook, watch football, AND listen to NPR. I look at kitchens in Tennessee and think, will that layout work?, do they have an under mount sink? how big is the pantry?. Mostly I think, why isn't it MY kitchen. I guess, I want to take my kitchen with me.

In the end, I know "You can't take it with you." I also know the optimist in me will win out. Maybe I will find a kitchen that is even better, like a kitchen with an island! or 2 pantrys! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I heard it on NPR

I am an NPR listener. Before you ask, yes I am an NPR member. Today alone I learned that MOMA in NYC has acquired the symbol "@" for it's collection. I also heard about a language study on infants that used light waves to scan their brains to gather information. Carl Cassel, Scott Simon, Click and Clack, Linda Worthimer, Will Shortz, and Cokie Roberts feel like friends to me. My first recollections of hearing NPR are at my parents home in Ohio. They had a radio on a shelf in the kitchen. NPR was on quite often.

When I first lived with my parents after college, I would listen to NPR in the morning. My parents had some ministers who would stay with them occasionally when they had business at the UCC Headquarters. I enjoyed their company and have fond memories of standing at the counter drinking my coffee before leaving for work listening to "Morning Edition". I stood dressed ready to go teach, my minister pal stood in his bathrobe with maroon and blue stripes. We quietly sipped and faced each other. Sometimes we would talk about stories we heard.

It was during this time in my life that I started to listen to "Whad'ya Know?, with Michael Feldman" Even when I returned to Delaware I would have this show on in the background while lesson planning on Saturdays. Papers, ideas, books, spread all around Jack's apartment living room as I chuckled and got organized.

During my summers off I listened to NPR almost all day. In our first house, I would spend summers on projects painting and fixing things up. I even got email updates daily on topics for "Radio Times with Marty Moss -Coain". I must say, I was miffed when she did away with her open topic Fridays. I even called in once.

When Jack and I moved to our house here in Wilmington, a radio sat on the kitchen window for many years. Antenna slanted just the right way to get NPR. The power button eventually broke so when you were not listening you just turned the radio down. It just stayed tuned to the one station. Jack just smiled and put up with it because he knew this house was just like my family home.

You may wonder about my sanity talking about NPR right now. I will tell you this. As I drove across Pennsylvania this last time, I searched out the NPR stations. (always the low end of the dial) When I could not get them I listened to classical music or my ZUMBA. Mostly though, I found some NPR. I approached Cleveland in rush hour. I was scared for my mom facing surgery, for my dad if I did not get there before she started surgery, and myself not getting lost on the way to the hospital. I kept driving, focusing on my directions, listening to NPR, and then I heard it.

"From WHYY in Philadelphia, this is Terri Gross with Fresh Air" (then the intro music, which if I was more technologically savvy I would have a link to)I heard the most familiar of voice and music from my home NPR station and I teared up. Hearing that calmed me down, I felt sure that it would be alright. It was like putting on an old pair of slippers. Needless to say, I made it to the hospital on time, at the moment my mom is doing well and the only pain I actually had to suffer through was listening to Terri Gross interview Karl Rove about his new book.

When I move to Tennessee, Jack has already told me the local NPR is not as fully loaded with programming as our local WHYY. I have assured him that was fine, he just owes me a laptop so I can stream WHYY online. As far as I am concerned, once I do that, Tennessee can be one step closer to being home.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stress, Chocolate, and the Zen of Folding Clothes

I think it is fair to say that I am stressed right now. I know there are many ways of dealing with stress. A big way is eating. I have noticed that since Jack has gone I tend to eat my bowl of ice cream more nights. A habit I had worked hard to break. Another thing I have realized about myself is that when stressed I tend to be a chocolate hoarder. I buy sweets and chocolates by the dozens. I want them, bring them home, but don't really eat them. I feel guilty eating them so they sit. Or I eat some but not all, but still buy more.

Those of you who know me know where to find chocolate in my house. You also know there is ALWAYS plenty of it. At Christmas I had stacks of candy boxes not yet opened in my dining room. Now I have more.

Here in Ohio there is a chocolate shop called, "Malley's Chocolates". My mom single handedly keeps them in business buying candy for me and my siblings. I myself cannot resist a trip to Malley's when at home. Now I am STRESSED, my mom will be unable to get my children their usual Easter treats, AND I saw the sale flyer at my parents house. I walk in and start gathering boxes of candy. A friendly worker says,"Can I help you find anything?" I look at her say," I think I am going to need a cart." Naturally I spent more money than necessary and I am full to the brim with sweets. I even bought the fudge sauce.MMmmmmm.

One thing my mom also loves is chocolate. When her cholesterol went up she had to cut back. Now that she will be diabetic I am saddened buy her loss of chocolate. Although I am pretty sure Malley's has sugar free stuff. Mom loves sweets but she is also good at so many things. She has always kept the house running smoothly.

Right now I am trying to take care of the house for her. I am cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. My mom runs a pretty tight ship. One thing I cannot ever match though is her folding. She has a magical skill. Some master taught her when she was a Home Ec. major in college. It is like she can wave her hands in a special way and it is done. When she folds something, it is incredibly flat and smooth. My folded laundry would overflow the top of the basket, when mom does the the same amount of clothes it is two thirds full.

You would never have to iron it. (although she often does, my mom irons things I wouldn't think to, like jeans) In fact, I don't iron. I pull out shirts, gently shake them, frown, and think, well what the hell, it is only going to get wrinkled more wrinkled when I wear it. I am folding laundry as best as I can and know my father will not really mind. He is very easy going. I do wonder if when he puts something away it will make him miss my mom more because after 51 years of someone doing it a certain way change can be hard. I hope it doesn't stress him. Luckily for him, he doesn't like chocolate so much.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hospitals, Hierachy, and Hell

My mom is in the hospital as many of you know. Things here are better at the moment but still strained. I am in Cleveland. Which I know some people would say is Hell, but I don't agree with them. The only way it currently feels like hell is the torture I feel not being able to be all things to all people. I also want transporter technology, NOW.(Chris,start working on that please) Another aspect of my Hell is watching those I love in difficulty. Thankfully my moms hell is better today. I hope it stays that way. I get to watch my concerned father and wish I could stay endlessly to take care of his needs which is also a small taste if hell.

I will say that this Hell, like anything else, is temporary. I have faith that through patience, love, and hard work my mother will get well. It will take longer than any of us like but that cannot be helped. She will remain in the hospital.

The hospital is a version of Hell for my mother. It is scary, lonely, boring, and painful. I want her out but know it takes time. We are in a marathon not a sprint at the moment. It is a weird marathon with hurdles like a sprint: overcoming pain/nausea, potential infection, figuring out insulin, healing wounds, and physical therapy. The Strommen family and my mom will leap over these hurdles one at a time and get the gold medal of recovery at the end. I am sure of that.

The Hospital is a strange place to me. There is a certain order and power distribution. I never knew I would get benefit from watching Greys Anatomy but it helps a little. All I knew about a "Whipple" procedure started from Greys. This is the procedure my mom had done, and redone a second time with the extra "benefit" of pancreas removal. All I initially knew was that it was tricky and the cool interns wanted in on it. I now have seen with my own eyes the levels of doctors in training come around and talk to us. I saw one ICU doc get so dressed down by the attending doc that I am pretty sure the guy had polka dot underwear on. Thankfully everyone on all levels so far has been able to answer questions and help out. (fully clothed or not figuratively speaking)

It was also like a scene from Greys when while standing on an overlook (after calling a family member) the surgeons "team" descended upon me happy to answer my questions. They swooped in and I wanted to start calling them McDreamy, Grey, and George. I did not have my questions yet but looked at the attending, resident and intern, and said I would get them the questions is writing tomorrow. Of course I have my questions now and they are not around. No fear though. I will get them answered.

I have found that having an attorney for a sister can really come in handy in situations. Having a doctor for a sister in law can also REALLY help. Her knowledge and input on not only procedures for my mother but also on how a hospital works is invaluable in getting good care for mom. My sense from most people is that hospitals are not to be trusted but I choose to allow some trust, get lots of information, and get mom the HELL out as soon as she as able.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Days of Our Lives

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Lives. This is the opening to a classic, and what I am pretty sure the ONLY soap opera left on NBC.

I watch soap operas. Much to my husbands horror, I have followed almost every soap in one form or another during my life. I now have seen four of the ones I had watched go off the air. I don't have time to watch them now. I keep up with them by reading the magazines. "The Stories" as one my favorite co - workers used to call them, are certainly amusing to read.

The beauty of soap operas is they have some of the same events we have in our lives except of course WAY more excitement. When I was younger, I went to the period of attending weddings of friends. They were wonderful. (thankfully there was never a murder, kidnapping, or jilted groom) Then I went to baby showers. (thankfully none of these children were SORASed later in life.) SORAS is Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, children go away as 4 year olds then return a month later as teenagers. Now is the time my friends are dealing with sick and/or dying parents. There are never many actual funerals on soap operas. The coma in the hospital, car crashs, shootings get all the attention. The funerals, not so much.

I don't like this period of my life seeing my friends suffer and not being able to do much. I don't like thinking about the day my parents are not here. One thing I am fairly certain will ALWAYS be here, is the soaps. I watched them with my grandmother and perhaps my grandchildren will watch them with me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Sandwich Generation

I often hear the term The Sandwich Generation. The ones who are squished between caring for the young in their family and old in their family. I can honestly say that is not the most appropriate statement for how I feel right now. I realize that I have my children to care for, my husband is in another state, and my mother is recovering from surgery. I do not feel pressure from two sides pushing in on me. I instead feel pulled in many different directions.

A thought popped into my head of the toy, Stretch Armstrong. For those of you not close to me in age allow me to explain. Stretch Armstrong was a doll who was made of an elastic material that would literally stretch REALLY far (at least in commercials) but then return to it's sturdy, shorter shape. Currently, that is how I feel. One of my elastic arms is reaching out to Ohio to care for my mom, another arm wraps around my children. I have one foot extending toward Tennessee where I will soon have a home.(and perhaps this foot will give Jack a little involuntary kick when I am stressed once in awhile) The last foot stays at home so I have a place to come back to. This leg may bend in various directions but the foot stays firmly on the ground. I could say I am Gods toy and he is twirling me this way and that to see how far I will go. The good thing is that if I am like Stretch Armstrong eventually there will be a release and I will return to my own original shape no worse for ware.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A River Runs Through It

The water problem in my house is fixed. Well, at least the water is not coming in my house anymore. I also cannot say it was fun to see a trench in my crawl space with water and wetness in it. Maybe it wasn't a river, but it was a tiny creek.

The water proofer was a wonderful man. Not to big of a guy. He had an accent and was determined to fix the problem. He was always dressed comfortable with work clothes(and crocks)which I took to give him a little flair. When everything was done and I was inspecting the work. I got to see my new sump pump run. Naturally the other one is still going also. My water proofer friend was really hoping the first pump would run less after he put the second one in. I told him not to worry, they can now help each other out. He laughed and said with his accent, "yeah, they are buddies." I told him I would name them so they could be good friends.

I gave it some thought. I think I will name our first pump. Ernie (as in Ernie and Bert) He is shorter, lower on the ground, much noisier, and in the past has been known to cause trouble. The second pump is named Bert. I can tell it really wants to do the right thing. It has a particular place and a clear job to do. It is already working hard in a no nonsense way. It is deeper in depth (so taller than Ernie) and much quieter. He doesn't seem to want to cause a commotion. I hope Ernie and Bert have fun together and don't get tired working hard. Just like the original Ernie and Bert, I am sure they will be together a LONG time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Children are like Orgres and Onions, they have layers

This title is from the movie Shrek. My children are of an age that they LOVED Shrek. I watched it ALOT. I knew and still know lots of lines. Yesterday was a fairly typical day in my current life. It was actually kind of quiet. I got to walk the dog and there was only one event that the mom shuttle service needed to get to and from, karate. We return home from karate, and even in the van, storm clouds are brewing. My older daughter is starting an argument with my younger daughter. I step in to keep some order. The fight then moves to me.

The point of upset seemed to be that my older daughter takes issue with my younger daughter getting so many "rewards" at school. It is bribery, it is not fair. After awhile I explain that if the teacher's system upsets her so much she can take it up with Jenny's teacher. Then the first layer is exposed. She does not really care about rewards but is upset that Jenny ALWAYS has the nice teachers. She wants ME to go and get Jenny's teacher switched. I won't do that, so she wants assurances that she will get a nice teacher next year. I point out that next year she will have many teachers in middle school, that with probability alone, she should get someone nice. Still not good enough. I need to "fix" it for her. She gives examples of other moms she KNOWS changed things for their children. I tell her no. That I won't do that now or ever. I can't follow her around the rest of her life, demanding her bosses be responsible and nice. She does not have to like her teachers, she does not, (and in all likelihood, may not) like her boss when she grows up. That is life. There are different kinds of teachers, moms, and bosses. We all do things differently. The tears continue. Why is it like that?, she wails. I reply, it is the "Circle of Life" Not a perfect metaphor, but my breaking into the song gets some levity into the situation.

Finally things calm down. But there is yet another layer coming. My daughter explains how she was wronged in karate about her place in line. Where you stand in karate is a BIG thing. It is rank order by belt and then age. Melissa was pushed out of her spot by a couple of other girls who then covered for each other. I am not sure the exact story. I do know there are more tears from my child. Sometimes her exact place in line bothers her sometimes it doesn't.(I was also informed she usually did not mess with the boys about it because it is more of a pain) I tell her to stick up for herself if it bothers her. The other children in this tale are younger than her (although same rank) and are friends. I am not so sure if it was a battle over rank or them wanting to stand together and Melissa was in the way.

We finally have reached out end of upset. I get to make dinner and move forward to bedtime. Later, I know I will be hungry and want something sweet. I am thinking, a parfait. It has layers and everyone loves parfaits!

Monday, March 8, 2010

We Two Are One

The title of this blog comes from a Eurythmics song from long ago. I have been married almost 15 years. The time I have known my husband, is of course, longer. We met in college, at least I was still in college (he had graduated)
, we dated, and in a story to long for right now, we got married.

When I met Jack he lived in a house. He shared rent with other college types. The house itself had a title. "The Couch Museum and Heartbreak Hotel". The title eluded to the quota of a minimum of 5 couches in the home at any one time. The Heartbreak Hotel, well you know how guys are. The tales of this home are to numerous to mention and we are waiting for the book to be written by our friend Joe anyway.

The thing about couches is that you lay on them and fall asleep. Jack in particular was good at this. As our time together progressed and as we had children our thinking and similarities have grown. The children can ask a question and we will give the same answer, at the same time. I am not amazed by this, although it does annoy the children to no end. (mostly Melissa)

The reason for my current thoughts has to do with the fact that Jack is in Tennessee and I am here. Currently I am the "single parent" a good part of the time. Never fear though, the time I have known Jack has rubbed off on me. Recently on more than one occasion I have fallen asleep with the children at bedtime. (not unlike Jack and the couches)

I have also been lucky enough to surround myself with other friends who replicate Jack. While at a friends house for a sleepover, the children were playing a game using blankets. The dad in this situation explained the history of each blanket and why we should not be walking on them. As the last blanket was picked up, my children asked what was special about that blanket? (Because this blanket had not history or he could not remember I am guessing) He replied that a pattern had been established for picking up blankets and the history of this particular blanket did not really matter. My daughter replied to me when sharing this story, "He sounded just like daddy." In all honesty it was a very Jack response to the question.

These close friends of mine ( and others in my village) have been there to be the kind, rough housing person for my children through busy work phases of Jack's, grad school for Jack, and the current temporary move of my husband. Over time I have grown and blended with Jack in wonderful ways. I am blessed also to have these people to fill in any seams as Jack and forge along in life and it's changes.

Just Say No to Drugs

Good Old Nancy Reagan right? The slogan that just keeps on going. In our house we do make an attempt to use drugs as needed and for a specific purpose instead of a multi - symptom solution. My biggest isuse is my children won't take pills. They are now old enough to dislike liquid "Kids" medicine. But they still will not choke down a sudafed.

Thank goodness Big Pharma provides me with chewable, meltaways, and gummys! yum! Recently however, Melissa needed chewable Motrin. Orange, NOT Grape flavor, or you may as well come home empty handed. I went to 3 stores and found no Motrin. ANYWHERE! As I said, we don't use this stuff often so I begin to get that, maybe they stopped making feeling in my stomach. Trying one more store seemed easier than getting my child to actually swallow a pill so off I go.

It seems, Motrin has been recalled. That is the bad news. The really bad news is who knows when it will be back on the market? I have been making my children drink the Motrin. I give it to them in the mini plastic shot glass it comes with instead of syringe to make them feel more grown up.

The other drug story is about my mom. Mom had surgery and they gave her pain killers. Apparently as we all know, narcotic, pain killers can do strange things. Mom got dehydrated and hyped up on pain meds. She pulled out her IV and began to leave the hospital. (PULLED out the IV!, they were REALLY good pain meds, OUCH!)

She wandered into the hall where a kind nurse, asked, "Where do you think your going Mrs. Strommen?" My mom calmly replied she was done with her surgery and it was time to go home. She also did not take kindly to going back to bed. Thankfully my dad and sisters were able to keep tabs on her until she was hydrated and feeling better, although there was a lot of grumbling, and hrumphing from my mom apparently.

The reason this story is so amusing to me is the juxtaposition of my mom the go getter and feisty transformed into the more fiery and fierce. I am glad she is feeling better. My conversations have been pleasant and she did not bark at me once. I can only take that sort of thing from my pre - teen daughter, I don't need it from both sides!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

No Van is an Island

I am a woman, mother, teacher, and wife. As such, I am also a multi - tasker. I am often doing many things at the same time. One of my favorite gifts from my husband is my phone head set. I get to TALK on the phone (Chatty Cathy) AND dust, sweep, do dishes, cook dinner, or even pay bills. It is great!

One of the only places I do not like to multi - task is the car. I don't often talk on the phone in the car. I don't text. (I am not sure of those who do, HOW they do that?) I just need to drive and focus on driving. You need to remember, I do not have the greatest sense of direction and to this day I still need to think about where I am going and why. If I go on auto pilot, I am usually auto piloting to gymnastics when I NEED to be going to karate.

The blessing and curse of Delaware is that you can't really get lost, stay on any road long enough and you will come to another road you know. (in which case I would turn the the wrong direction) The curse is that so many roads connect there is often 7 different ways to get somewhere. So you can pick one way and take 15 extra minutes to get there as you morph your choice of path on the way.

My other problem in the car is that it is sometimes relaxing to focus on the driving. You may be surprised at what children talk about. When my daughter starts discussing who ate what at lunch, how gross it was, who trade who for what treat. I will admit I start to tune out. Inevitably comes a question and I am doomed. "Ummm," I say, "can you repeat that?" I can sometimes cop out with the, " I'm sorry honey, I was listening to that story on NPR." During this time on my own as temporary single parent I spend a lot of time in the car. I never knew how it would become a island of single task escape. I think I will continue to relish it as I can.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Proud Parenting Moment #23 - The Chair

Do you ever have those days when you know you are in trouble? A situation comes up, you make mistakes, lose your temper. do things not quite the way you would like? I call those "Proud Parenting Moments". Everyone has them and we all need to share them so we don't feel alone.

The other day my children decided to fight about a chair. Or rather who gets to sit in "The Chair". This chair is one of the oldest in our house. It was the recliner used in the nursery. It has more spit up and other waste on it that I am shocked anyone wants to sit on it.

My children decide during a stressful day, or rather week, of mine to fight about who gets to sit in this chair to do homework. There are tears and anger, over A CHAIR. (It is not like no other POSSIBLE seats exist in the house) I try to understand and explain that it is only a chair. There is still much upset. One won't give it up and the other is upset. The older girl argues the younger is just crying to get her way and it is not fair. I feel myself begin to lose it. I call Jack. My lovely husband can tell there is trouble by the tone in my voice. I say, "Are you busy? Can you talk?" He replies, " I am in a meeting but I can step out."

This of course makes me feel even worse. Now my husband is missing work because his children may not be alive when he comes home over a chair and I can't handle the situation calmly. I speak to him. He tells me not to worry and calms me down. I myself do not want to be upset over a chair and I begin to lose it. The girls, HATE IT when I lose it and begin to get more upset. I banish all children from the chair for today and the REST of the WEEK.

Thoughts race in my head about how I will put police tape on the chair to make sure they don't sit on it. I think about making a sign to hang on the chair, "Children in this house ARE NOT ALLOWED to sit in this chair due to fighting." I want to leave it there for house showings. The children continue to fuss. I pull out the big guns. This chair does not need to move to Tennessee, I say. Now the girls are really in tears.

We have 20 minutes of discussion about a chair and who gets to sit in it. I give up and do some cleaning. My older daughter comes to me upset. (adding 10 more minutes to the chair discussion and issue) Toward the end, my upset daughter apologizes for not giving up the chair. We discuss how it is just a chair. She says, "I know that, but sometimes, I just can't give up, I want to win."

What do you do with that? I am not happy with raising my voice and fussing at the kids for fighting over a chair. I am not perfect. My daughter admits she is not perfect and is upset. I just want to hug her and move on. How I acted did not make me so proud, but her admission, that made a proud parenting moment.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tick Tock

I am a person who likes to be organized. I like a plan. Plans can be revised or tweaked. But without a plan, you have nothing! I also like lists. There is satisfaction in crossing things off a list. Even if you don't get it done, you can write it on tomorrows list and keep at it. I think this is a part of my personality. I have done some sort of list system for years, in high school, college, teaching, and even at home.

I have a weekly schedule which breaks the tasks and errands which need to be completed into bite size chunks. Sure, things don't get done, but for the most part they get done or at least not forgotten. To that end, I also often segment my life by a timer. How long do I have before we leave for karate?, before I need to start dinner?, to clean the bathroom?, pick up the girls from school? The timer gets set and off we go.

I have a friend who used to come over and constantly notice my timers. He always felt a bomb was ready to go off or something big was going to happen. I was ALWAYS counting down to SOMETHING. I explained my system and how I had to keep organized in order to get everything done. He would remind me that he had a key to my house and would sneak in and clear my dry/erase calender in order to give me some free time. (He struck terror in my heart)

I am not sure when this all started with me. I do have clear memories of my mother setting a timer and sitting down to eat some saltines with butter as a break. She would quietly eat and read a magazine or newspaper. In that same way, I carve out time for me to exercise, eat sweets, walk the dog, or read. So although I am always counting down, dividing my time, accounting for it, I also make time for me. This is what keeps me sane. Right now "me" time maybe a little less, but it is also relished all the more. The reduction in guilt when I sit down with that ice cream and cake almost, ALMOST, makes it all worth it.