Monday, October 27, 2008

No Mo' Mojo

This is going to be a photo entry. I don't have the brain cells to write creatively this time. But the month is almost over... Here's what has eaten up all my mojo:
Football and Cheerleading:

Occupying Ben during games:

My dining room since October 14, when we started in on Abby's costume:

My kids no longer think it's cool to eat standing up in the kitchen, and frankly I'm tired of it too, but the dogs thought it was awesome.

The church fall party:
The costumes (a mermaid, Darth Vader and Annekin Skywalker):
And the Fire Fighter's Association Annual Halloween Party at the station. We went from working fire station to party central and back again in 8 hours. We had a full house this year, and I was so grateful for all the help. I ran around like a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, and the fire fighters (my husband included) and other association helpers were great to just do what I asked and not argue, and even better, they just did stuff that needed to be done. I'd go in to make coffee and find it already brewing, I'd go to bury"treasure" in the hay wagon only to find a fire fighter directing my children to do it. It went very well but I'm really glad it's over!

Now all that's left to do this month is 19 loads of laundry, a week's worth of dishes and fast food trash (that's mostly in the van, though), and compile and submit the scout's popcorn orders. Oh, and clean out the fridge, clean off the dining room table, clean the bird cage, vacuum, bathe the dogs (spring pond water is one thing, fall pond water is too disgusting for words, but they swim in it anyway...), plan a game and a craft for the class Halloween parties this Friday, and get over the cold I got for some strange reason...
At church Sunday someone asked how many days there were 'til Christmas.
I nearly punched him.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nursing the Baby Stage

Ben started preschool right after Labor Day. He goes Tuesday and Thursday mornings for two and a half hours. His teachers are Miss Jenny and Miss Ruthie, and they greet him with big smiles and hugs. He gets a snack and does all kinds of cool stuff - they've hunted for hidden things in sand, painted a picture with actual grape jelly, and sat under an umbrella to hear a story. He's charmed all the girls in his class (surprise...) and plays Star Wars and Indiana Jones outside with the boys. When I get there to pick him up, he runs to me and says he had "SO MUCH FUN! THAT WAS AWESOME!"
So why does he work the tears from the minute I get him up until Ruthie or Jenny steer him away from my side and into an activity?
It's not like he's bawling from bedroom to classroom, it's more like this uber-big-kid thing: his eyes get red and teary, but he scrunches up his mouth and looks anywhere but at me, and clears his throat a lot. He's five, for goodness sake, and I feel like I'm watching Matt Damon gear up for a funeral scene. And even though this does have an effect on me, I help him get dressed and find his shoes and buckle him up, drive him there and walk him in the door. If I say, "I wonder what letter (of the alphabet) you'll get to learn about today?" he answers, "maybe M for Mom." If I wonder if any of the little girls he's introduced me to will be there, he sniffs and says, "yeah but I'd rather stay and play with you."
It's a 10 minute drive, and by the time we've crossed the state line and entered town, he's asking for details on our afternoon: "Are you going to come and get me? Are we going to spend the rest of the day together? Are you going to be busy or will you read to me? How many minutes do I have to stay here? Can you bring my lunchbox with a surprise in it when you come back?"
Tuesday and Thursday are not very productive afternoons - Ben "helps" with everything, so things that may have taken me 30 seconds are now taking 30 minutes.
But we are having fun, this last year of being full time mom and kid, just the two of us. I missed out on some of this with Elliott and Abby because I had them all so close together, and it's only Ben's late birthday that has kept him from being in Kindergarten now, granting us this one last year. In a lot of ways this is nice. He's potty trained, verbal, and of all the kids he actually does what I ask him to (I have to re-do it sometimes depending on the chore, but he tries). We spend more time reading and playing games than on housework or any of the other things I need to get done, but that's okay. I have the days when he gets to sleep in to get to that stuff. And now I try to get as much done as I can before I go pick him up; then I don't feel so bad sitting for an hour reading every book he brings me.
But boy, those first few days after I dropped him off? Well, okay the first day I stayed in town, close to my cell phone just in case. There were actual tears that morning. But the second day and that next week? Oh, bliss...
I came home and went to the bathroom and NO ONE KNOCKED ON THE DOOR OR SCREAMED FOR ME! It was awesome! I fixed and ate a bagel with cream cheese, and NO ONE INTERRUPTED ME! I GOT TO EAT THE WHOLE THING IN ONE SITTING! I made coffee, watched the weather channel and actually got to see the important part, and then...
Well, by then it was too quiet in the house and I wondered where everyone was. For the next 90 minutes, I felt like I was missing something, like I'd forgotten something somewhere. I talked to the dogs, the cats, held the guinea pig, played with the bird, picked up toys from the kid's floor and grumbled to myself about being the maid. I found stuff to do that was great - I read a magazine, organized some craft things, drank coffee - but I still felt a little lost.
I realized that when the kids are around, I have a schedule set by them. I have to feed them, dress them, clean them, untangle them from each other occasionally, and make sure they get where they need to be. When they are all gone... wow. I can do my own thing. But what is it that I want to do? Of course there's stuff that has to be done, and since that first week of aimless wandering, I've gotten much more organized. But I still have some flexibility and can do those things that I want to do. I've worked in the garden, researched some things for church and scouts online, sorted through kid clothes and gotten lots of toys ready for a garage sale (shhhh). I have also started turning all the televisions on in the house while I'm here alone.
It's just too darned quiet without all the kids. Remind me of that next summer, will you?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Faith on Two Wheels

Don bought himself a birthday present this year. On the one hand, that made my life easier - he's not exactly the easiest guy to shop for; and the size and coolness factor of this gift made everything else look like a really ugly tie in comparison so I didn't even bother to shop.
On the other hand... it's an item that makes me nervous and gives me gray hairs every time it gets used.
It's a Harley. A 2003 Softail Deuce.

He's wanted one for a long time, and finally found the perfect bike, already built and in great condition for the right price at the right time in our financial lives, so I guess this was the time to do it. He's also very conscious of the fact that he has a wife and three kids who love him and need him around (after all, who else would clean the cat box, change my oil, and let the kids watch Family Guy?). He's an extraordinarily observant and careful rider, I know. What makes me nervous is all the other drivers out there who are texting, putting on makeup, eating, and just generally being idiots. I don't text and I don't wear makeup, but I have eaten while driving before - how else would I get sustenance some days? I know how it takes your attention from the road and other vehicles.
So while I'm really glad he's got his Harley after all these years of waiting and wanting, I have to admit some trepidation about him actually getting on it and riding around. Not only am I concerned about other drivers, loose gravel, and strong wind gusts while he's out on it alone, but I can't fathom going with him. Instead of being able to buy a helmet and enjoy this with him, I'm a big chicken, paranoid about tossing away our ability to walk or even our lives if a car or truck driver isn't paying attention. I think about our children going to a relative I haven't even spoken with about taking them just in case, being raised in another state away from friends and our church family. I think about the wind tangling my hair into a matted nest of "oh just cut it off already" and the very real potential for bugs splattering painfully against my face, and the idea of a motorcycle ride just loses a lot of it's appeal for me.
And then I wonder where my faith is.
When you're on a motorcycle, you experience going places in a way you just can't in a car. You can feel things, see things, smell things you miss when you're cruising along shut up in your airtight cocoon of conditioned air. Easy Rider is a cult classic, and Harley owners have their own world-wide fraternity for some very good reasons. Being part of that group opens the doors to amazing things in this world, and what's wrong with experiencing some of them? Don wants to, I know, and I love him, so I should at least support his adventure even if I can't wholeheartedly take part in all of it.
And I do have faith that God would take care of me and my children the way He takes care of Don each time he's been out for rides since the day he brought it home. Perhaps having the bike in our garage now is God's way of suggesting that I stop being so over-protective and let Him do His job. And enjoy some of His world and His people in the process.
Maybe I'll go look at helmets this weekend. And maybe I could get a cool leather jacket and some new sunglasses, too.
Don does look very, very good on the bike. He rode into the driveway this afternoon as I was picking up walnuts with the kids and I just stood there and stared at him until I had to wipe the drool off my chin. Trouble is, he knows exactly how good he looks.