Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Internships and Crispy Bacon

It's 20-something degrees here. Outside. Inside, we have a fire going and the heater on blast. (I can barely breathe with all the heat.)

So, it's cold. I'm grateful we have heat and a fire.

Because of the 2017 Tree Fall (thanks Harvey), we have enough wood to maintain a fire for days. Wait, what we have is kindling. I was a Girl Scout but apparently have very little knowledge of building and keeping a fire. We were more indoorsy Girl Scouts. I think we went camping a few times but I do not remember building a fire or even gathering the wood for said fire. I think we roasted marshmallows so someone must have built a fire.

Thankfully, I have a husband who knows all about the fire. He even prepared (fourth part planner?) with the purchase of the fire starter logs.

With the family gathered 'round the cracklin' fire, we are watching the local news since the break of day. The reporters are now inside their cars reporting on the accidents and weather.

I'm not sure what the local meteorologists have coined this freeze but I'm sure it includes 'ice' or 'icy' or 'frozen' or 'cold blast.' Roads and overpasses are closed. Schools and businesses are closed.

Never fear, we have bread, milk and snacks. And, I have alcohol. (That I won't drink until 5 p.m.)

I'm on my work from home lunch break right now. Technology allows for calls, calendars and meetings to occur. Brilliant. I did shower, but there's no make up on this face and my hair only looks done because of fourth part planning that involved getting fresh color yesterday on our MLK holiday.

Up the road Chris travels to school (I haaate that six-hour drive), there is ice everywhere. We knew of the impending Icy Frozen Cold Blast 2018 this weekend so we began the conversation of  'you can't go back to school Tuesday so maybe Monday since school starts Thursday.' Nah, we (and I mean, Chris) decided Monday was too early so he was taking the Wednesday route.

School starts Thursday.

I'm guessing there are no books to buy, classrooms to find or other spring semester figuring out activities.

I do know he needs 12 hours of Spanish for his degree requirement. And, I know he has three semesters (maybe? hopeful?) of school left. I don't think 12 hours that are dependent on each preceding hour can happen in three semesters.

I also know he can knock out six of those hours in the summer study abroad program. He can also knock out a summer internship concurrently with those six hours of Spanish while abroad. By abroad, we mean Central or South America.

For a planner, watching this play out for a 20-year-old who basically lets life come to him each and every moment is D-I-F-F-I-C-U-L-T. With my fourth part planning skills, I could have this all calendered and organized -- including when to email professors and advisors, when to make application and when to ask for financial aid. But, I'm watching.

I'm about to start becoming a bit more active in my watching and start nudging. Not pushing because apparently, we as parents are to let our children figure this out. I need to meet these kids who have it all together and figure out everything on their own -- assuming they also pay rent, insurance, etc. Who are these people? Where did I go wrong? Or, am I right?

Really, who cares how it is accomplished. If I hand hold or helicopter or any of the other 'bad' labels applied to my parenting, have I really, truly handicapped him for the future. Hey, I turned out OK and my parents took care of my financial aid forms. My parents also talked to me about my future plans. They provided insight -- of course, journalist and newspaper reporter didn't resonate as a career -- around becoming an educator. (Guess I sort of am an educator now,)

I'm nudging for an email to go to his advisor today -- I mean, what else are we doing except watching the fire and the news -- about the study abroad. I've also nudged toward what time classes are Thursday. (We just had recognition that the roads might still be bad Wednesday. Lord, help me.)

I also nudged for passport photo and application throughout the Christmas break. Neither happened. Chris has an expired passport that requires an in-person visit to get a new one. Yeah, no. We'll wait.

Fourth part planning sometimes sends me to the corner rocking. Is there an appreciation? Of course, there is. Do all enjoy it? Absolutely not.

Along with getting my hair colored on the holiday, I also picked up our week's worth of groceries. (I still love and adore and could marry curbside pick up.) I did the meal planning and other than milk (which Gervais had to get last night because 2018 Frozen Tundra SA) we are set. The family drank hot chocolate this morning. We ate a hardy breakfast of cinnamon rolls (from a can people don't get too excited) and bacon.

Half extra crispy, half a bit limp.

When will we ever figure out how to cook bacon in the oven. We've tried different temps -- 400 degrees, 415 degrees, 425 degrees and even dropped to 375 degrees mid-cook. We've tried different times -- 15 minutes, 20 minutes and moved to 12 minutes and then babysat every three minutes.

Why do we make our bacon in the oven . . . because frying it up in the pan is messy and requires full attention. You know what frying in the pan also does -- gives you crispy bacon.

Now, we have a plate sitting beside the stove with three pieces of the limp and one super crisp (read: burned).

I'm thinking this bacon will be a part of my lunch tomorrow (if the roads clear). I'm already talking about tomorrow and the people in my house aren't having it. They like resting in the no-school zone. I do, too, but I'm a planner. I know we have to pack lunches tomorrow. We have to finish up the tic tac toe homework so we don't work on it tomorrow. We need to do laundry and pack for the journey back to school.

We need to email our advisor about the class schedule because I just heard my son exclaim, "I still don't understand how introduction to drama can be my second English.' Add to that, "I think my landscape architecture class will be interesting."

What's that for, I ask. The response was along the lines of not sure.

"I'm going to email my advisor in a few minutes when my laptop charges up."

(FYI: I'm typing on a laptop. I could email that advisor. I want to email that advisor. I want to call that advisor.)

School starts Thursday.

We have no school today.

We have limp bacon.

We have a fire going.

We have Netflix.

We have technology.

I have two work calls about to kick off my afternoon.

Lunch break is over.

Internship requests are just beginning.

Como puedo obtener credito espanol?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Christmas Tree Storage and Cast Care

It's January 6 and I ordered our holiday cards. Shutterfly had a discount so I went ahead and ordered. The card is clever. It indicates we are late with Christmas cheer, but right on time for new year's wishes. Well, right on time after we receive the delivery around January 20. And, then I address the cards and then find stamps and then mail. Happy Spring, all.

Last year we didn't get a card mailed. The gift of cooperation didn't make it into my stocking so the pictures had more grimace than glee. Initially, I struggled with not sending out a card. I think we have sent one every year since we've had children (maybe, I can't remember, I'm old now). Then, I filed it away as it was OK and moved on.

We took this year's picture Christmas Eve on our way to dinner. We adjusted our Christmas Eve schedule this season with a 9:30 a.m. church service, mid-day shopping and an early El Jarro dinner. I worked off the margaritas while wrapping gifts (and running out of tape -- thank goodness my sister lives a couple of houses down).

This holiday season felt a bit different than those in the past. The two trips took up time that might have been used for preparing and shopping. Chris worked a lot over the break. Camille had gymnastics practice regardless of holidays and I had work trips up until the end of the year. We still ate more than we should, introduced new and exciting cocktails, enjoyed time with friends and family, but it was different.

At least I planned for the holiday card picture. Fourth part planning at it's best. Oh, and we fit in a visit to Santa. And, yeah, we went to Colorado a few days before Christmas to visit our dear friends and surprise the girls' best friend on her birthday.

We had such a fun time. The girls played and we explored Colorado Springs. It is a beautiful place. Now, fourth part planning is being dedicated to figuring out a summer trip back. That will have to fit into gymnastics training because summer is when we start our season.

Which has been interrupted by a distal fibula Salter Harris 2 fracture. And, a cast.

The best part of seeing your best friend is playing with that friend. Pillow fights. Barbies. Laughing. Watching movies. Swimming (heated pool).

Jumping on the trampoline.

The last day of our visit, Camille rolled her left ankle while jumping on the trampoline. (Insert groans from all the coaches and doctors who don't like trampolines). It was a bit swollen and she walked a bit slower, but it seemed to be something temporary. When we woke up the next day back in San Antonio, it was swollen so we iced it, she stayed off it, we wrapped it.

Sunday, Christmas and the day after . . . swelling was gone. She was getting around no problem.

Gymnastics practice was back up and rolling December 27. We told the coaches. The ankle was wrapped. Practice was modified. Fine, fine, fine.

Another few days off because of New Year's, but back again Wednesday, January 3.

An hour before practice ended, I get a phone call from the gym.

'Camille landed in her floor routine and started crying.'

'You can pick her up now.'

'Take her for an x-ray.'

Well, there you go. No fourth part planning for this. I pick her up, we are off to the med clinic. The doctor saw nothing. The nurse wrapped the ankle. Ice and rest.

Thursday morning, the radiologist calls.

'I think I see something.'

'I think you should pick up the films.'

'I want you to call a pediatric orthopedist.'

Well, there you go. While at Thursday practice (modified) with a wrapped left ankle (notified she will only do beam and bar at the meet this weekend) -- I get an appointment for Friday, January 5.

I'm at a funeral. Gervais has doctor duty.

Friday morning, Gervais calls.

'She's getting a cast.'

'She has a fracture in her fibula.'

'She can't compete.'

I talk to the doctor.

'The bone is in the right place.'

'This is common.'

'We'll fix it now.'

It's a hot pink cast. Camille is in good spirits. Sad she won't compete this weekend. Sad she won't compete in Orlando in February. She likes people signing her cast.

I emailed the coach.

'She can't compete.'

'We will miss Friday practice.'

'We'll come to the meet Sunday to cheer on the team.'

There's no planning for a cast. There is planning for follow up visits, cancelling flight and hotel reservations in Orlando, modifying practice (still can do upper body work -- thank you Hillary for thinking I should ask for 1/2 price since we are only working 1/2 the body) and figuring out outfits that can work over a cast (no jeans).

The cast will slow Camille down. It will keep us at home which we all enjoy. It keeps me looking around at the Christmas that has been taken down but not put up in the attic.

Christmas has been down at our house since before New Year's. The wreath remains on the door, the art work the girls made at school hangs above the dining room window. Everything else, down. And, a few boxes are still in the house waiting to be taken to the garage.

It's basketball season so there are few evenings and weekends available during the holidays to pack it all away, but this weekend Chris doesn't work, there is no practice and we have no meet.

But, we don't have a Christmas tree storage bag for the main tree. It's splayed all over the living room floor -- kind of tucked into the corner, but nonetheless splayed and in the way. The box it came in is open and broken and torn. The tree is sitting in that dysfunctional box waiting for a new home.

Amazon Prime comes through at Christmas. (Gervais ordered my gifts December 23 and they arrived December 24 -- it's basketball season.) Amazon Prime comes through after Christmas spending gift cards. And, Amazon Prime comes through after, after Christmas when there is a need for Christmas tree storage.

Bag to be delivered by Monday, January 8. School will be back in session but there are no games that night, practice is not late and there won't be gymnastics because it is the day after a meet in which we won't compete (that rhymes, remember, I'm clever).

Here's hoping all Christmas but the main tree will make it back into the attic this weekend.

Here's hoping we'll figure out how to shower with a cast on the left leg.

Here's hoping we'll get through this next season with modified gymnastics and full-on basketball.

Here's hoping we'll chillax Ethan in this New Year.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Steps and Gifts

I should have kept track of the steps I walked and the stairs I climbed. I lost weight on my birthday trip to Paris. Yes, even with the crepes, the wine, the pain au chocolat, the croissants, the baguettes, the fromage (all multiplied by the eight days we were there and the many meals we ate each day), I lost weight. I rubbed my eyes a few times to make sure I was reading our home scale correctly. Yeah, I did.  And, yeah, I dropped lbs.

Goal number one for the year of 50, lose a few pounds . . .check.

Oh, there are so many more. Reverse the aging on my face will be the next undertaking. That involves quite a few more steps (and an increase in minutes spent on my skin care each morning and night) and quite a few more dollars (or Euros if I chose to go on the French approach to skin care -- a spritz of Evian, a rub of Caudalie serum, a swipe of soin des levres, a bit of nuxe huile moisturizer and I'd be tres chic.

Goal number two for the year of 50, change up the skin care routine and take off lines, spots and all the other bits that age me (yeah, not my birth year) . . . beginning to take place.

Interestingly enough, the steps in Paris and the skin care routine all take money, dollars, Euros.

Goal number three for the year of 50, find additional ways to supplement income . . . hmmmm. I've a few ideas.

One, yes, write more and publish aforementioned writings for a fee (not free).

Two, go back to Paris. Bring one or two outfits. Bring an empty bag for a carry-on to be filled for the way back home. Bring an empty suitcase to fill for the way back home. (Because I am not paying for a checked bag). Shop the flea market and find vintage linens, dishes, flatware and all sorts of other bits to re-sell back in the U.S.

Who's in? We could leave on a Wednesday, shop Thursday through Saturday and fly home Sunday. I know we can find a great deal on a flight. And, I've already the perfect apartment search company to help us find the perfect apartment. The name Paris Perfect. The name matches the service, the experience, the whole thing.

I'd also spend some euros at Monoprix. It is the CVS meets Target meets Walgreens meets Twin Liquors store of your dreams. If only I would have bought more soap, more lip balm, more lotion, more creams, more sponges (yeah, kitchen sponges are a thing).

Because I have buyer's remorse since my trip, I've done some online research. I looked at the map of the flea market and found the three booths I loved so much. All have websites and e-mail addresses. I've found the vintage store down the street from our apartment and will be emailing the owner to find out about some handbags, scarves, sunglasses and shoes. And, since I can be a dog on a bone when it comes to shopping, I researched shopping and shipping from Monoprix. That's a bit tricky. You have to sign up for a service that ships from an address in Paris, to which Monoprix will deliver. Then, you ship it to a U.S. address that then sends to you.

That's a lot of steps. None that will help me lose weight. But the products will help me lose lines and age spots.

Yeah, detail that it feels kind of scammy. The reviews seem legit. Gosh, I wish I had the Paris Perfect greeter's name and contact info. He was so helpful. So friendly. I know he would be so willing to shop and ship for me. No extra steps for him. He lives there.

Goal number four for the year of 50 . . . make a French friend willing to shop and ship. Anyone?

Goal number five for the year of 50 . . . maintain my existing stateside friendships. That's a bit more realistic. And, if they travel to Paris, they'd shop for me . .  no problem. Well, maybe if I would have bought them souvenirs they'd be more likely to shop for me.

But that's not reason to buy souvenirs. I know that, they know that. Surprisingly, I did not stock up on too many souvenirs. I found two special things for me and a few knick knack things. I bought the magnet, ornament and art work. The girls spent their money on snow globes and Eiffel Towers. I found their Easter dresses. We did visit a stationery and papier store where we found a few journals and note pads. A few soaps and pharmacie items rounded out our souvenirs.

I thought about buying Christmas gifts for friends and did not follow through. Ugh. That was a missed opportunity. A few more steps to a few more shops and I probably could have figured that out.

Now for the fourth parts, I'm looking online at the many, many gift guides posted by various bloggers and Instagrammers. Black Friday and Cyber Monday provided hours of ideas and rabbit trails to visit. Lots of steps.

Goal number six for the year of 50 . . . avoid rabbit trails. Steps outside in the beautiful weather should have been the activity. I might have even found a rabbit trail or two. (This would help continue my accomplishment of goal number one as the remaining Halloween candy is still ever so tempting and I'm really not walking miles a day now that I'm back home.)

With gifts at Christmas, my family draws names for the adults. I drew my dad. That's so simple. Not. At. All. Another fishing shirt? Bushels of beef jerky? Those gift guides for dads that list out whiskey stones or trendy kicks (can you imagine Tony with trendy kicks) just don't meet the needs of my gift for my dad.

My nephews list out their wants -- oftentimes, cash. The gifts for Chris and the girls are fairly easy . . .again, there are always lists and requests. For the friends I buy for, I can always find something for them. We all like things monogrammed, have colors and scents we love and treats we all go for again and again. I have found a couple of books this year that I want to share with friends. The Hillary Clinton devotional is a calming read. Five Word Prayers is another read that can help you put prayer into practice. Teachers and other special helpers in our lives are also pretty easy. 'Pashmina' scarves with monograms are always a hit. Starbucks gift cards, work, too.

Then, there's G. He's really tough to buy for because he is particular about clothes. His fishing is serious so I can't find anything for him there. Everything else he wants or would like is expensive and he wouldn't want me to spend that kind of money. (I went to Paris, so maybe I can spring for an expensive gift for him.)

So, here's my gift guide for the Tony's and G's. Difficult to shop for, but really don't need or want anything. Happy to shop for themselves and really just want time with family and friends. No special hobbies or collections. Not trendy. Simply a couple of coaches who like to fish, watch sports and fry fish. Oh, my dad likes to pickle things. But, I'm not about to buy any new fangled canning cookbook or kitchen gadget. He's got his tools that still work.

1. Time . . . yes, it could be a watch or it could be an experience. It could be a calendar or an alarm clock. Really, they just want time with their TV or their family. Carving that out and being present is the best present for time.

2. Story appreciation . . . sure, a journal with a special, limited edition pen would be the best way to archive stories. Or, a video camera to record the recanting of times past. Asking to hear a familiar tome, really enjoying it and committing to pass it along would be the best gift for the story tellers.

3. Working light fixtures, smoke detectors, fuses and appliances . . . hiring a handyman could help, but taking care of those items in between the times they 'break' or stop working would be a great present. G is always called into action when an outlet isn't working or a light bulb goes out. Maybe a box full of bulbs would help? Or better yet, someone else learning how to 'fix' those things so dad isn't always the go to.

4.Good fishing weather and water . . . kind of out of one's control, but that possibility of fishing and being on the water is a gift. And, when the weekend allows, it's a gift that is being used. No need for new fishing shirts or any other kind of gear (lures, hooks, poles, line, waders, what?!) just the weather and water.

5. Peace and quiet . . . well. When the desire is there to watch a show or game on television, there's a need for a bit of quiet. No phones ringing. No questions about things not so relevant to the show or game being watched (I seem to care more about uniforms and mascots while watching a game than G does.) My mom used to ask for peace and cooperation while we were growing up and I find myself craving that as well. I know peace and quiet are what would be a gift for G and my dad.

No real gifts to package, wrap and put under the tree, but gifts that would really be appreciated. Yes, I'll find something for my dad and for G, too. And, they'll love whatever they get.

There are a few steps in my future as I shop for gifts. Steps online and in shops. I wonder if they would want to join me on a trip to Paris?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Chargers and Locks

My countdown app reads 1 day, 21 hours, 21 minutes and 51 seconds. OK, now 44 seconds.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

The trip is almost here.

While I've started to overthink things (Qtips? Umbrellas? Scarves for the plane? Luggage tags for carry-ons?), I'm trying to take deep breaths, pause and sit in this moment.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

The preparation for this trip began in February when I purchased the airline tickets. A tremendous amount of fourth parts has been dedicated to organizing and figuring out this trip. Even while watching Housewives (Dallas has been so so good), I've been looking through Pinterest for Paris spots, reading travel blogs for great restaurants and figuring out the budget for the trip.

The preparation picked up around the summer when I started thinking about the itinerary. It came into full-blown, 'why do I have to go to work because I need to buy Eiffel Tower tickets and figure out the train schedule to Epernay and do I buy a Paris Visite pass for the Metro now or wait and when will weather.com provide a 10-day outlook?' planning about a month ago.

I made dinner reservations for some of our meals through La Fourchette within the last month. I bought the girls boots a couple of weeks ago. I have travel-size versions of shampoo, conditioner, lotion and plenty of little Wisp toothbrushes for the airplane. I bought Euros this week. I ordered WineSkins and a lock from Amazon in plenty of time to not have to rely on Prime.

The lock bridge doesn't exist anymore in Paris because over the years, the locks became too heavy for the railing. Instead, there are places around the Seine where you can place a lock and toss the key into the river. The girls and I bought a heart lock. We wrote our names and the date of my birthday on it and will lock it into place somewhere in Paris.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

Today, I was able to work from home. I had several calls and some reading to catch up on, plus I was able to get my hair colored, cut and styled. Caroline and I did our nails this evening (Camille is up tomorrow). I also got to wear my new sneakers one more day before the trip so I can really break them in for all the walking we will do.

I also did the dry run of packing. We are checking two suitcases -- one with our clothes, the other with coats, scarves, shoes and toiletries. The girls are taking three pairs of shoes each and I'm bringing four pair. Yeah, that's it. We have one carry-on that is loaded with snacks, chargers and probably some American Girls and Barbies. The girls will each carry on a backpack and I'll be toting my new Longchamp expanding bag (so, so happy with it!).

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

Packing cubes are a God send. I purchased a set and borrowed a set (thanks, Allison . . . I'm going to miss one of my original travel partners . . .) and all of the girls clothes and mine, rolled right up into those cubes. Amazing. Invest in these. I'm a fan. Some of you may get these as gifts. Without these cubes, we could not have fit all our clothes. Eight days of cold-weather clothing for three people takes up some room.

We have a washer and dryer at our apartment so we can do laundry if needed. I'm bringing a foldable, collapsible duffel bag which will hold either souvenirs or dirty clothes on the trip back. So, I may not do laundry. I might have to shop for clothes. Or socks. (Do I have the right socks? Stop overthinking!)

This past week, I looked back into one of my pocket-sized journals. I write Christmas gift lists, vacation days and websites I want to visit in it. I also list out things to accomplish during the year. There are Bible verses and quotes from books. I think these journals are telling of my life. I have more journals than I can count. I have varying sizes, some hardback, some paper bound. Over the years, I can see my journey from child to teen to college student to reporter to married to mother. It's a interesting story.

I'll be sad that G and Chris won't be with me on my birthday. I know I will miss them so much on this trip. We will be Facetiming and texting and I'll be sending photos. (Make sure to set up the international data roaming. And, call the credit card companies. Overthinking.)

We are bringing four portable chargers for our three phones and the single iPad. I've started the charging journey tonight. I have no idea the lifespan of these chargers nor do I really know when they are charged -- green light means charged? What about the blinking white light? Thinking red light or no light means zero charge. One of the reasons I began the charging was to figure out what cords went where and how they fit in the charger and then the device.

Figuring out chargers and carrying luggage are the things G usually takes care of when we go on a family trip. I make the restaurant reservations, create the itinerary and check in for flights. I know the details, but G takes care of the big picture items. Luggage, chargers, how to work the television and getting us all seated together on trains, subways, buses and at restaurants where we don't have a reservation.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

My husband and son won't be with me. My girls will be. And, my sisters and two dear lifelong friends. I imagine we will figure out the chargers. I can handle the luggage. We probably won't have time to watch much television. . . evenings at the apartment will be for recapping the day and drinking wine.

I'm going to miss G and Chris. I'll miss my travel buddies and other friends who just couldn't make it.

Maybe that lock will be for more than just the girls and I. I think putting that lock on a bridge in Paris and throwing the key in the river indicating lasting, forever love represents G and Chris, too. It stands for all my family and my friends. That heart lock is a tangible reflection of who I am today and will be on November 15, 2017.

I'm who I am because of my family, my friends, G, Chris, Camille and Caroline. I've lived an incredible 49 and 360-something days.

I didn't accomplish all the items on my Before 50 bucket list I found in one of my journals. I didn't go to Africa or Russia and Lithuania. I didn't run for political office. I haven't published a book.

I have been blessed with a husband who loves me and likes me, a son who is growing up to be a solid man, two daughters who completed my family and who are so precious to us. I have parents and sisters who are rock solid in their love for me and have stood by me through some shaky times. I have dear, dear friends, who I've known most of my life and some who have just come into the picture within the last few years, that make me laugh, cry, share my story, help me navigate life.

My phone will be fully charged, along with my heart. The lock will be placed on a bridge somewhere on the Seine in the heart of Paris -- a lasting, forever love for all of you.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday with all of you.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bracelets and Hulu

When I was a newspaper reporter on my beat (for my two friends), I ripped my left ear lobe. Maybe because I wore gold hoops a la Belinda Carlisle whenever I could or maybe because I was always on the phone getting a scoop (again, friends who know who they are). The moment the hole ripped through my left lobe was uneventful in that there was no blood or pain. It just tore down. I actually had not worn earrings in a few weeks because I knew the tear was forthcoming. So, it ripped. I had dinner that evening at the Elite Cafe with my friend Robin. He is a huge guy. Former Baylor defensive lineman. He screamed when I showed him. I received some satisfaction in making that massive football player squirm.

Then, I said, bring us more rolls. Remember those? How many could we eat and did eat? Bread, gluten, carbs, who cared? We needed those rolls. And, the butter on the rolls. Did Joanna and Chip get that recipe? Will those rolls appear at the new Elite Cafe which won't be named the Elite Cafe?

Since those days, I've cut down on pre-entree bread and butter and experimented with clip-on earrings. Oftentimes, too clunky and heavy. At other times, not cute. I've lost many because the clip loosens and well, they just fall off. 

I gave up on the earrings a year or so ago. I didn't want to mess with them anymore. One day in my future, I will fix my ear. Until that happens, I choose to stack on the bracelets. 

I buy bracelets as souvenirs from trips and vacations. I own green bracelets for Baylor games. (By the way I'm watching us lose our sixth game of the season. This is so hard. I hate losing. I hate not winning a game. I hate that we only scored one touchdown in this game. I hate this season. If only my bracelets were like Wonder Woman's magic cuffs to block passes and knock tacklers out of the way.) I have some bracelets that belonged to my grandmother and my great-grandmother. I also have a copper bracelet from my granddad.

Stacks of bracelets.

For Lee games, I wear a silver bangle that belonged to my great-grandmother, a red suede bracelet  with a sturdy sterling closure and some little trinket of a bracelet that is red rope with a silver cross. No earrings, but I've some cute bracelets.

My charm bracelet is another treasure. It's full of James Avery charms. Some came off dangle rings I had as a pre-teen. Others have been gifts through the years from G, Chris and friends.

I passed the love of bracelets and the need for a James Avery charm bracelet to my girls. Their charm bracelets are as distinct as they are and each charm represents something special about them. They also have a jewelry box full of bracelets -- some from vacations, some as gifts. We also have quite a few of those little rubber bracelets. I try to toss those out from time to time, but they seem to find them in the trash and put them back in their jewelry boxes.

This month is a busy travel month for work. The beginning of the fourth quarter marks a time where the people I coach are wrapping up the year and simultaneously, planning for the upcoming year. The conversations are long and intense. I hear frustration and hope wrapped up together in their comments. I sense a weariness along with the success achieved. They have a responsibility of helping their team members improve skills and achieve goals. They feel the accountability. When I sit across from them either at a conference table or a chair in front of their office desk, I see the stacks of reports and paper work. I notice the handwritten notes and completed forms.

Stacks of work.

When I get a bit tired of the travel and the quick Starbucks protein pack meal grabs between coaching sessions, I fiddle with a bracelet I wear for travel. It's a hook bracelet with two charms. G gave it to me when Chris was born. There is a little shoe charm that represents Chris. When the girls were born, G gave me a charm that is two little girls holding hands. 

I wear it on every work trip. I wear it a lot. The night before a work trip, I lay out my jewelry and clothes. That bracelet is always on the dresser ready to pop on before I head out the door to greet my Uber driver. 

There have been times when the bracelet has come unhooked and it is barely hanging on my wrist. I have left it in a bin at the airport and had to run back to TSA to get it before I boarded my flight. A few times, the charms have fallen off and I retrace my steps to find them. Most recently when that happened, the charms were found in a conference room and 'flown' back to me. Wearing the bracelet is a ritual. I believe I can't travel without it. It's almost a superstitious-type thing where I must have it in order to safely arrive at my destination and then make it back home.

I know that a bracelet doesn't guarantee my safety. It does provide a level of comfort and brings me a sense of peace. 

Planning an outfit around a bracelet or pairing bracelets with a selected outfit feels a bit absurd, when with perspective, the clothes and jewelry I wear do not matter. My intellect, my empathy, my listening and my interest in the people I coach are what matter. My care, my patience, my support and my love I show toward my family are what matter.

At this season of life, I seem to be thinking about my time with my family and friends more and more. I'm prioritizing them over after-work events and volunteer time. I'm trying to find ways to be with family and friends more often. Now, there are so many hours in the day and my fourth parts are typically reserved for my selfish time. But, I do find time in those fourth parts that revolve around family and friends.

I wish I had stacks of time for friends and family.

I wonder if my friends would like to come over for laundry, HEB pick up or clean the shower day? I wonder if they would like to ride with me to pick up Camille from gymnastics on the nights G has games? I wonder if they would like to help figure out the easiest, quickest tic tac toe homework square and then cajole my children to finish it up before the week starts (isn't that what the weekend is for -- getting the homework squares done so we don't have to do them during the week)?

I wonder if they would like to do a 20-minute Ole Henriksen peel, drink a glass of wine and watch The Mindy Project on Hulu. Yeah, I bet they would.

This is a not so much travel week, but it is preparation for a big event that someone doesn't want anyone knowing but the name rhymes with nervous and has to do with a birthday age that is divisible by 5 and 10.

So, if my fourth part planning works out according to my wants and desires, I'll have an evening event with a girlfriend while we finalize my girls' Halloween costumes and talk about how not to have a Sunday event for someone who doesn't really want it even though I will invite people over and we may have strawberry cake.

Stacks of wishes for the one who is never nervous.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Re-Fi and Flu Shots

In about 33 days, 20 hours and 40-something minutes, I'll be on a 'happy birthday to me' vacation with my girls, my sisters and some life-long friends.

I've a long list of to-dos and am pretty proud of myself for divvying out the items over evenings, lunch breaks and weekend errand runs. Most of the time I would not consider errands and online shopping fourth part of the day activities -- it's the new fall season of television and NJ Housewives are back -- but because I'm planning my tres bien trip, I'm loving my after third part goings ons.

I recently ordered packing cubes and found that Allison will loan me her adapter (we need electronics up and running at all times). The girls have their airplane wraps and we have identified what dolls and stuffed animals are making the trip. I have ordered a few things for me and put them aside -- can't wait to use my Longchamp le pliage bag. I found four charger cord leather fold-over organizers.

I continue to wonder if I should order a pair of black short booties, return the overpriced Superga sneakers I bought at a local shoe boutique (I mean, Nordstrom and Poshmark have them for much cheaper but I don't know if this spot takes returns -- I don't want a store credit so I might send G. He's good at the return) and hunt for the perfect white t-shirt. (See earlier post on that search.)

I've planned three days of the trip and have outlined some other things to do when everyone arrives the day of my birthday. I found an app that takes Paris restaurant reservations -- La Fourchette. And, I've mapped out visits to the museums the girls and I will visit.

This week, I need to call to make a reservation at the restaurant that will be the site of the big birthday dinner -- brush up on my French. OK, I'll write what I want to say and, then, translate in an app. I want to finalize our airplane seats this week. And, I'm wanting to purchase some clear, zippered envelope-sized bags for the girls for their electronics, cords and other need to have items to put in their carry-on backpacks. I think I also need to find make-off remover and face cleanser wipes -- much easier than face wash.

I will schedule my next few nail and wax appointments in preparation for take off. I've already set the hair cut and color schedule. (Oh, that reminds me, I'll need to schedule hair cuts and braids for the girls!)

Eventually, I will get a few Euros to take and make my official packing lists. (Do I bring my tall boots? They are super comfortable but they are so heavy and I really don't want to wear them on the plane.)

Wait. I've other things to do. Life does not stop when you are planning a trip.

I've got Baylor football -- Homecoming hotel reservations, yes. Finding a friend to have lunch with before tailgating, still searching.

I've got Lee football -- red shirts, a few. Snacks to pack, weekly decision. Cash for the concession stand, on-the-way-to-the-game stop.

We've got school and homework and gymnastics. One meet to go this fall in Houston, which requires planning but we don't know the time of the meet, yet.

I've got the laundry, work outs, grocery shopping and basic housekeeping (Clorox wipes every few days counts, right?).

Then, we've the other fall things to do. Pumpkin patch visit, Halloween costume decisions and shopping and Gervais' birthday (he turns the big number, too and wants absolutely nothing for his birthday. Really, I'm going to Paris and he wants nothing. Ugh. Someone, help!)

A couple of other items on the get down in the fall checklist -- flu shots, FAFSA and re-financing. All include the letter f. Hmmm.

Flu shots, done. Got those scheduled on our October holiday. The girls did not cry so G is giving them $5 each. Let's see if they save that for a few Euros.

FAFSA, finished today. Remember when that thing was done in January or February? Now, it opens up in October. And, boy, you better rush to that site and get your numbers submitted so you can find out you get little money. Thankfully, I found the file with the passwords, user IDs and even the file with the Turbo Tax log-in info. It only took a few minutes to see that I can contribute massive amounts of money to Chris' education. Nah, I prefer spending that money on a birthday trip to a foreign country.

Re-financing our mortgage because interest rates are super low and we can get a shorter mortgage term which means in the end we save money, paper work completed today. Just a few pieces of paper to sign and then fax over.

Accomplished quite a bit on this holiday.

Yet, I can't really feel too proud of myself. You know what happens when you sit back and think, I'm good -- something happens that proves you are far from good. Ahhh, humility.

We're told in I Peter 5:5 to clothe ourselves in humility because 'God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.' The references to pride and humility are prominently scattered throughout the Bible. Hmm, maybe God knew we would struggle with that? How do you feel good about accomplishments without being sinfully proud? Well, you probably don't write a blog post about all you've done in a day. Or maybe you just step back and remain not-self centered in accomplishments and recognize how the work got done.

I don't get much done on my 'own.' You see, I'm super dependent on others and quite resourceful. I rely on strength that comes from some place other than myself. I pray to God to help with my comings and goings and ask that He direct my path.

(Sing the Amy Grant song with me 'thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.' Really, I could sing the entire song, right now. Oh, and I did record the Remember the Music special on TBN about Amy Grant and she sang 'Thy Word.' Which, I belted out back in the day at Mac Park Lutheran on Sunday mornings in front of the entire church. Side note, when I tried to harmonize, the woman playing the piano would stop and say 'what is that' as if she heard some strange un-harmonic sound. I would look around as if she wasn't speaking to me.)

When you read I Peter 5:5 and you move on to the seventh verse of that chapter, the following verse presents. 'Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.'

Anxiety. Yes, Xanax helps, but really casting it on God is the ultimate solution. When you are planning your days, weeks, weekends, fall and vacation, there are times when anxiety seeps into your being and suddenly, it begins to take over.

Go back to verse six because that is how God provides for the anxious thoughts. 'Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.'

Nice. He helps just at the right time. Perfect timing. No need for anxiety. No need for over planning. No need for trying to be proud of myself.

If you know Amy's Thy Word, you also know she has a few words in the verses around 'nothing will I fear, as long as you are near' and 'Jesus by my guide and hold me to your side.' So, see. I can be super pleased with the progress I've made on my trip and fall plans.

(Did I just write 'trip and fall' . . .uh oh, humility lining right up.)

But, I need to give credit where credit is due. And, it isn't because I've done much more than a lot of internet research. It's because I've got this God on my side who knows the plans for me (which means making it to 50 and a trip to Paris, please, please, please) and keeps me humble through my need for Him when I'm making plans.

Now, if I can just remember when I'm getting my flu shot. Next week? Before we go to Waco? After I've figured out the right jacket to take on my trip?

Casting, casting, casting it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Taco Meat and Leggings with Ruffles

Two quarts of taco meat.

Two trays of baked ziti.

Two loaf pans of chicken spaghetti.

One plate of brownies.

Hi, I'm Jill. I'm a Southern Baptist woman. I make and take food to show love.

Only a few more days until I get to deliver the food to someone I love . . . Chris. It's been six weeks since we've seen his face in person. That is the longest time I've not seen him. Yes, we have Facetime and yes, we text and share pictures. But, hugging him in person and watching him eat a home-cooked and transported meal is what I will be doing this weekend.

A six-hour drive with a loaded ice chest and bags full of favorite things -- chewy Chips Ahoy and fruit snacks to name a few -- plus some other goodies -- pictures of his sisters and some nifty Texas Tech coasters is what is on tap this weekend. It's parent's weekend. There are plenty of events, meals and t-shirts to be had up in Lubbock. There is even a game. I think we'll be just together. OK, I'll be going to Wal Mart, washing sheets and towels, cooking for a tailgate and watching the girls swim at their Bubba's resort. I don't think I'll be at a parent's weekend event with a name tag talking to strangers about my son's year so far and his plans for the summer. I don't think I'll pay $30 for the t-shirt and casino night combo. And, I am not certain we will be buying tickets to the game. (Why on earth would I cheer for another Big 12 school?)

I am 100 percent sure I will be happy just being with Chris. Watching him with his sisters and hearing his stories about school will keep me entertained as much as any football game.

Not really. I mean, did you watch my Bears almost beat Oklahoma Saturday. We were there. Details that we left after halftime, but I was the driver and the highway was going to be closed in Austin and I didn't want to be out on the roads super late.

How did I not stay!?!?? We were 0-3 going into that game. And, it wasn't like we had lost to Alabama, Notre Dame or Michigan. Nah, we had lost to schools that aren't known to be football powerhouses. We lost to Duke. In football.

Each season, I say, it's our year. Except this season, I knew it would be rough. I believed we would lose some games, but we would win the requisite six to  go to a bowl game. I knew it was a rebuilding year. Let's be clear -- this rebuilding was starting from the foundation. It has been hard watching my Bears not win.

Then, Saturday, we scored. We sacked the quarterback. We got a turnover. We threw the ball deep and struck quickly. We converted third downs.

So, we lost. And, we are 0-4. Because my hope springs eternal, I fully believe we will be in the Big 12 championship game because we will win out since the game plan is finally solid. Oh, Bears, why does this happen?

How did we get to Waco last weekend and are now headed to Lubbock this weekend? Fourth part planning with a car that gets some fantastic gas mileage.

Waking up early last Saturday was tough. Getting to Waco early in the day to spend time in one of my most favorite places was the bonus to the alarm clock sounding at a time that is before our school morning time. We went to the Silos -- with all of America. I mean, the people. And, the people. Buying so many things. In 45-minute wait lines for cupcakes. It wasn't busy because of game day. The clerk at the seed and garden shop, that was about the size of my covered back patio and full of more people than I've ever put on said patio, said every day is packed. Every day. Joanna and Chip are killing it.

After the Silos, we went to the Suspension Bridge and took in an impressive art installation. We then hit campus, visiting the bookstore, seeing Judge Joy the bear, walked around the Student Union building and found the locker room for the Acro and Tumbling team. Camille now, like Caroline, wants to go to Baylor. (Smiles)

Then, we went to the stadium which required a lot of walking on a very warm, day after the first day of fall day. We tailgated, ate hamburgers, drank many bottles of water and took advantage of every give away -- Whataburger frisbees and koozies, Baylor keychains and paper fans, pom poms and green and gold necklaces, Sic 'Em towels, free t-shirts. Lots of stuff that wasn't going to fit in my stadium-sized approved bag.

When you arrive to a game early, you also get to participate in the Bear Walk where two darling cheerleaders told my girls they could grow up and be cheerleaders one day, too. Caroline asked one of the girls if her hair was fake -- hair spray, sweet girl, lots and lots of hair spray. It's Texas. It's a humid day in fall. It's cheer hair.

Bear Walk isn't about the cheerleaders. It's about the players. They come off their bus and make their way down this path -- the Good Ol' Baylor Line, perhaps -- and high five every person along the way. The Adams' girls were in and kept asking if we knew any of these guys. When a coach came up and briefly spoke to them, they later asked if he knew their daddy. I said no, not every coach knows each other. (I secretly wished he did because maybe G could have a job at Baylor and all my hair spray dreams could come true and I would be in Waco again. I rubbed my eyes from the sweat dripping off my forehead and remembered, G would never, ever live in Waco.)

Gas in the car, cash in the wallet, comfortable shoes on our feet, extra ponytail holders in my purse and PJs in the travel bag happened because of planning. Even our timing from one venue to another was planning. I had mapped out the day. I had read the game-day central emails. I had spent my week prior fourth parts getting ready for game day.

This upcoming Lubbock trip with a Texas Tech game day has also required some planning. My fourth parts have been prepping meals. All are frozen. All are hearty. All are favs. All are labeled with cooking instructions. (I forgot to write on the plastic lids to remove the plastic lids, but surely my son will know that, right?)

I'm pulling the girls out of school Friday so we can get on the road. I've scheduled work calls so I will be working. I'll get cash. I'll make sure we are packed Thursday p.m. The ice chest will be packed Friday morning.

It seems so easy when you write it. But when you are trying to figure out what clothes to bring because it might rain, it might be in the high 50s or mid 70s and you may or may not go to the game . . .it's a challenge.

Even with all our prep and my organization, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to wear during the day Saturday. I have my game outfit (or tailgate outfit, if we don't go to the game), my PJs, my car outfit (will be worn both up and back) and my Friday night dinner outfit. Trying to figure out what we will do Saturday is a challenge. I think the Windmill Museum may be on the docket. Random, yes. Interest piqued, of course. Instagram worthy, absolutely.

Truth be told, I've been dying to wear a new pair of leggings I bought during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Black leggings with ruffles down the side. Not all the way down my leg, please, give me some credit. The ruffles are a few inches long from about mid-calf down. Super cute. Curses. I've no shirt to wear with them. I've been on the hunt for a long, loose, but not too loose, thick-ish, but not too thin, v-neck or even scoop neck, long-sleeve or even 3/4 sleeve length white t-shirt. I'm exhausted thinking about it. Shouldn't this search be easy. I've got the internet. I have a ton of boutiques in my various social media feeds. I have friends who have the shirt I'm looking for. Yet, I cannot find one.

Really, should a mom at parent's weekend be wearing leggings with ruffles while she visits her 20-year-old son. Absolutely not. So, why do I want to. Why do I want to find cute outfits to wear out and about in Lubbock. Who cares? I really don't. So, why?

I know why. I want to appear as if I have it all together. I want the casual, care-free, effortless, just threw it together look. I want other college parents to think I am able to raise twin girls, be married to a high school coach and pay my son's tuition on time (so far so good on that one). No, no, I don't. I really don't care what other people think of my parenting or my marriage.

I care.

I want to be pulled together. I want to show my children you can be effortless in life and come out on top. I want them to know while some things are hard, really hard, there are other things that just don't need to matter. My outfits. They don't really matter.

This massive amount of fourth-part planning I've undertaken the last couple of weeks has been laser focused on something I care about. I've been trying to pull quite a bit together to be ready to get to something that matters.


I mean, I have missed him. I don't cry like I did his first semester away. I don't get sad as often. Maybe I'm missing him because well, he's moving to a new phase. He has less than two years of school left. He's planning a summer internship. He's not coming home as much. He's grocery shopping and cooking.

This weekend, I'll be cooking. I'll be wearing boots with a jacket. The girls have a few choices of outfits -- all include leggings and jackets, too.

Once we get there, I won't be thinking about my outfits. I won't be worried that I don't have the perfect shirt to go with leggings that have ruffles. I'll be wondering how I can slow down the clock so that we won't have to leave on Sunday. I'll be wondering how Chris is settled into a new apartment. I'll be wondering why I'll cry on the way home.

Fourth part planning also means having some tissue in the car. It also means planning to stop at a Diary Queen on the way home for some ice cream to make us feel better.

And, it means knowing that he has some good food to eat for a few weeks.