Saturday, March 3, 2018

Juice Boxes and Printer Ink

Gwyneth Paltrow has a magazine. You can pick up a copy of Goop for $14.99.

Rest in that for a minute.

She's a talented, award winning actress. She cleverly recommends restaurants and places to shop in cities around the world. She's a fan of cupping. She has written a lifestyle book that includes recipes which require some shopping that is not for the faint of hear.

And, now she has a magazine.

I'm not jealous. I'm in awe.

Today, I have not put on makeup. Instead, I slapped on some banana honey mask G placed in my stocking and watched the Baylor men's basketball team lose to Kansas State.

(This season has about wrecked me. The talent we have. The coach who I like. The timeouts we never seem to keep for the entirety of the game. Oh, I'm so hopeful for a bid to the Big Dance. And, then, I'll have Baylor go all the way in my bracket, anxiously awaiting for them to arrive at the Final Four here in San Antonio.)

(Probably won't happen.)

I saw the Gwyneth magazine while running an after-work errand at Target. My family was dispersed to different activities. G was at school manning the weight room. Camille/Simone was at gymnastics. Caroline was at Wednesday night supper and Awanas.

I arrived home from work with two items remaining in my third part. Vote in the primary, and pick up printer ink and juice boxes.

With voter card in hand and actively participating in a group text with like-minded co-workers, I arrived at my early voting polling location. No line. No surprise. I walked out after a few quick screen taps with a sticker that reads 'I voted.' I don't have to wear that sticker because, duh, I voted.

My parents raised my sisters and I to vote. I remember receiving ballots at school in the mail with my dad's instructions on how to vote. Impressionable then and influenced by my parent's political beliefs, I typically adhered to his instructions. Now, he doesn't even try to suggest candidates for my selection. We differ slightly in how we vote. That's a big slightly difference.

Guess what I did this year? I ordered Chris a mail-in ballot. It is being sent up to him at school. I won't send along instructions, but I will encourage, nudge, pester him to fill it out and mail back.

Y'all, voting takes no time. It's important. People went to jail for me to have the right to vote. There were some people who thought my husband, son and soon, my daughters couldn't be informed voters because of the color of their skin. Go vote. Really. Vote.

Seriously, vote. Make sure your voice is heard. I mean, Gwyneth is using her voice to share thoughts on some bee-venom treatments so please, use your voice to decide who represents you and your family.

After voting, I headed over to Target to pick up a carton of juice boxes and black printer ink. Knowing the printer ink was a significant investment, I tried to limit my 'because I'm at Target so why not stroll every aisle and find unnecessary in reality, but so necessary in fantasy' items. I ended up getting some Easter basket goodies (a full month away) and some other groceries along with the required purchases.

As I walked up to check out, I noticed Goop the magazine. In the middle of the group text, which is extremely entertaining because it is our outlet to share thoughts, gifs and memes we wouldn't put out on social media, I added the line about the expense of a Goop magazine. It came after a sentence on debunking a story a current candidate is promoting. I still voted for said candidate but his belief on an issue that is not really related to the position for which he is running made me take pause.

There are so many thoughts, ideas, opinions, stories, websites, blog posts and the like on more topics we could care to know about. From why curling is the up and coming sport of choice to how Baylor men's basketball can make the NCAA tournament, there are many, many words.

I find that in my fourth parts I can get lost in the words. If I'm not careful, I can find myself deep on a trail that leads to frustration, profanity and tears. I mean it is hard not to get wrapped up in thoughts that have very little meaning or importance to me, my life, my family, my religion, my beliefs, my everything. Yet, there I go sometimes. Clicking here, there and everywhere.

Take juice boxes. I mean, my girls need a beverage at lunch. While I would prefer they thermos up some organic, untreated by hormone milk, the reality is they prefer a sleeve of the most artificially-flavored juice. It's a sip or two of dyes and sugar with water. My girls show more care on the type of container the juice comes in than the healthiness of it. (We do not like the kind that you stab the straw between the top fold of the the package. I cannot even get it in there. I end up poking a couple of holes and juice starts leaking. For the record, we are straight up Capri Sun people.)

If I searched for juice boxes in Google, I'd find places to purchase and the top 10 or the most flavorful or the best for 8-year-old girls. If I searched for juice boxes in Pinterest, I would find how to create my own with labeling and recipes. (Lord.) If I searched for juice boxes on Twitter, I'm sure I could see lots of thought on the good and the bad. If I searched for juice boxes on Instagram, I would see some pretty amazing staged, filtered pictures of sweet children wearing white drinking and not spilling while sitting in a field of daisies not in the middle of a loud cafeteria.

Let's be clear, I'm not searching for juice boxes anywhere but Target or the grocery store.

Just like I'm not searching for information from Gwyneth and her $14.99 magazine.

But I will share information with my co-workers in our group text on politics. I will also share thoughts on how it is critical we vote.

I'd like to think the reason we were out of black printer ink is because I had printed off letters to my senators and representatives sharing my thoughts. I've got lots of information to share with them. Rather, I think the printer ink ran out because of school projects.

It didn't run out because I was printing up my own magazine.

I wish the ink ran out because I was printing off chapters of the book I know I have in me. I want to add to the words, thoughts and opinions out there. I want to share mine.

I haven't slept well the last few nights and for the past couple of weeks I've been hearing a voice, feeling a nudge and having a feeling. It's kind of an un-rest kind of thing. It's a stirring of emotion around my words.

I enjoy writing. I like the feeling of my fingers quickly tapping on the keyboard trying to keep up with the thoughts in my head. I enjoy the challenge of sticking to one tense in a sentence (it's a challenge for me, people) and using active voice. I strive to be funnier and more clever in my words.

So, when I see Gwyneth on the cover of a $14.99 magazine and I tap out a text to my co-workers, I put words out there.

Get ready for my words. They're coming. I'm going to share. I'm going to be brave. I'm going to use my voice.

My fourth parts will never be more fulfilling and fruitful then they will be in these next months.

Maybe I'll submit an article to Goop.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Fancy Milkshakes and Alterations

Last year, our family word and resolution was Fix.

After 365 days, we fixed a few things. Guess what, things continue to need fixing.

I have a blouse with a button missing and the thread hook which closes the back of my blouse is very loose. I have a black work skirt that needs the serged hem repaired. I have a pair of beloved jeans that need a patch.

I've tried to fix all three with my sewing skills. Don't have a matching button. Don't really like doing those thread loops. I don't have a serger and the iron-on patches just don't stay ironed on.

I need help. Where do you find someone who can just do simple repairs? Not alterations. Not tailoring. Just a few fixes.

Those spots are typically only open during the day. The ones I've found that are either close to my home, work or somewhere in between require cash. You know who doesn't have cash? Me, the person who works at a bank.

I want to wear that blouse, that skirt, those jeans. I like those three clothing items. Yet, I can't find the time in any of my four parts on any given day to get them repaired.

I've been wearing jeans quite a bit to work because I've been at our campus where jeans are allowed. I love wearing jeans in the fall and winter. I get to wear my boots. I get to wear my blankets (scarves and wraps) and I get to wear jackets. It's so easy getting dressed in the morning when I get to put on jeans.

Except when you keep trying to put on the pair that needs patching.

Today, while Camille had a birthday party to go to for a gymnastics teammate, Caroline and I went to the farmer's market. My friend Sue joined us in the adventure. Yes, we wanted to get carrots and other in-season vegetables, but we also had a mission.

Fancy milkshakes.

Honeysuckle Tea Time had a pop-up at a floral shop and accepted pre-orders for lavender shortbread milkshakes. I ordered my $10 milkshake -- yes, $10 -- during a fourth part from the week.

After dropping off Camille, picking up Sue and finding a parking place, we walked over to the farmer's market and checked in for our milkshake.

With a Girl Scout trefoil cookie, mini cupcake, teeny tiny meringue, piece of pink chocolate and a candy bracelet on top, we had a shake. It had fresh whipped cream, edible glitter and a lavender flavor and it was delicious. Lactose intolerance aside, I enjoyed the shake.

So did Caroline.

So did Sue.

The woman making and selling the shakes also makes the most beautiful cakes. A basic base with toppings ranging from edible confetti to succulents (not edible). Her work is art. I follow her on Instagram and oh and ah when I see the creations.

What talent.

What a gift.

Sometimes I wonder what my talent is, what is my creative gift. I do know how to sew, but rarely do. I put together photo books quite well, but always seem to be a few books behind (still have not finished Chris' senior year of high school -- he's a junior in college now). I love to cook and bake, but rarely carve out the time to really cook and bake. I mean, I get dinner knocked out and throw together appetizers for parties, but I would love to spend the time making a showstopper dessert a la The Great British Baking Show.

I write on this blog, but wish I wrote more. (Oh, there's a book in me, I know it.)

Pinterest can be a motivation killer as much as it can be a motivator. Who can reach those standards? Who has the time? Who has the supplies?

I rarely compare myself to others, but after watching that woman design those cakes and make the shakes I wonder why I can't just do that.

Stop talking, start doing was a family resolution a few years ago. I did start working out more that year, changed my eating habits and started writing again. But, I still have things that I talk about and don't do.

With all the planning I do to achieve fourth parts, I wonder why I don't plan for these big things I want to achieve. I know I'm in a stage of life that requires attention to learning multiplication and making extreme weather shoeboxes --- as well as making sure tuition and apartment rent are paid on time -- but sometimes I want to write and write and write. Or, thrift shop to find goods for our house. Or, paint rooms in our house. Or, re-do the bathrooms and kitchen.

Instead, I keep it real for now. I write when I can. I thrift when I can.

I have other things to do -- like get these clothes to a fixer, spend time with a dear friend and drink a fancy milkshake.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Bad Broccoli and Compassion

I plan meals. On the weekend, I check the calendar for the upcoming week and see what activities impact my available time in the kitchen. If G has games, I might 'cook' grilled cheese sandwiches for the girls. If I travel for work one day, I might do a slow cooker meal the night before. I am pretty proud of my mealbr planning skills.

Until the broccoli goes bad. Or an empty carton is left in the pantry.

So when bowties and broccoli is the meal for Thursday and pulling out the broccoli from the crisper reveals some goopy brown gel stuff on top of the broccoli . . . well, bowties now need another veggie.

Oh, no.

Bell peppers and spinach found in the other crisper. Grape tomatoes on the counter. Whew. A quick few chops with a saute result in a bowties and melange of vegetables on the table.

Call me Giada or Ina or Nigella or dare, I write, Martha?

Cut up some apples and we've got a meal.

Not my greatest performance, but it got done. Fourth part planning can sometimes not work in your favor, but part of that planning requires a little dancing and adjusting, right? We can all recall the adage 'best laid plans' and reflect on God's message to us of His plans no matter how much we try and plan.

I have my days down to a minute-by-minute schedule. I carry a massive spiral-bound planner that has a calendar by month and by day. Our family calendar hangs inside the pantry door. I have a work calendar on my phone. And, we have a schedule for our mornings that isn't on a calendar but is burned onto our brains.

I'm up around 6 a.m.-ish (OK, more like 6:20 a.m.). I finish up the girls' lunches (usually make a sandwich) and start breakfast. I open up blinds and turn off outdoor lights. Then, I begin the wake-up routine.

'Good morning.'

'Time to wake up.'

I take out the pre-selected outfits and place them on their beds. I gather shoes and jackets to put out by the backpacks. I put the lunchboxes in the backpacks. I check on breakfast.

Round two of wake-up calls.

'Girls, get up.'

'Let's go.'

I help the girls do their hair. The girls sit and eat breakfast. We do our devotion. They finish eating while I do my first required morning activity -- work out.

I say good-bye to the girls and G and help them get out the door.

I then clean up the kitchen and pick up after the people who've just left -- make sure lights are turned off and all things put away.

Off to the second required activity of each and every morning -- my devotion. I've done Jesus Calling, read Jen Hatmaker, followed read the Bible in a year plans and emailed blog posts. Currently, I am reading Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way and it is hard. I can only read a chapter a morning and some days, I've only been able to read a partial chapter. It's not because I run out of time, but because I run out of breaths and tears. Her writing is powerful. It's deep. It requires re-reads. I have to pause and think. Really think. Even when she references a single Bible verse, I need to read the surrounding verses to fully grasp the content.

It seems each morning as I read through 17 chapters (18 total with an epilogue, too), I found a statement or thought I needed to share with someone I knew. A friend going through cancer treatment, a dear college friend (who also happened to go with me one evening to see Ann speak) or a colleague who has a different political perspective and viewpoint than I.

(More and more I believe Oprah when she told me many years ago that if you think of someone reach out to them. Call, email, text, send an article clipping or, in my case, refer to something Ann wrote.)

We've so much trouble going on in our country today. We could blame it on the current administration and current policies, but that blame feels short-sighted -- even though everyone who knows me how I fee about our current administration and attempts at new policies. We tell each other we are praying for our country as if that marks us as something special -- a badge of honor, if you will. I know that there are many, many people who do indeed pray for our country so please don't believe I doubt individual prayers. There are many of us who write letters and emails, plus make calls to our elected officials. Some of us make donations to causes we believe in who lobby on our behalf. We do a lot of activities to counteract the trouble we perceive and believe to be a real, clear and present danger. We do a lot of talking to offset others thoughts on what trouble means to them.

It's a lot like finding bad broccoli in your vegetable crisper. Where are the fresh vegetables? Where is the celebration of finding something that will work in a meal? Why do we focus on the goopy bad?

How about we agree on what I read and re-read and read again in chapter 17 of The Broken Way. How about we talk about and do activities around what Jesus did -- show compassion? Wait, not just show, do. He was compassion.

When you take a deep dive on compassion and ignore the clock as to what time you should leave for work, your first part of the day takes over any other part of your day.

Dictionary definition --  a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Synonyms -- grace, mercy, tenderness

'Com' meaning together, 'pati' meaning to suffer.

Matthew 9:36, which Ann references in chapter 17, reads 'When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.' At this point in His ministry, Jesus had just called up Matthew into service, healed quite a few people and even addressed fasting. He had been busy. He had been traveling and preaching. After verse 36, he told his disciples the need for more workers to help in the harvest.

And, then He gave His disciples the authority to drive out evil and heal. Jesus saw the need for helpers if His message of healing and the need for His healing was to get out and about.

He showed His disciples how to have compassion. He showed the people grace, mercy and tenderness. He could alleviate the immediate suffering and as we all know, the lifelong suffering.

Ann asks her readers how can we learn compassion. She goes on to write that compassion requires co-suffering. It requires us to be communed in the presence of God. Compassion hurts. It requires we 'crawling in under the skin of someone else and connecting to their hearts like it's yours.'

Compassion is the solution. 'Compassion isn't merely a vague sense -- but a feeling so strong that it causes you to bend. It shapes your body, your life, into a response.'

How can we come to a place of compassion and not criticizing opinions and beliefs? How can we demonstrate compassion with others who don't share our viewpoint? How can we be compassionate? I bet it doesn't involve yelling, name calling and tweeting lots of pointed comments.

(Guilty.)

(I'm a sinner. I'm saved.)

(I've received His mercy and grace.)

(Ever grateful for compassion.)

As Ann writes, 'Compassion can feel like the right thing when it involves a donation. But when there's been a violation of your rights. Compassion can feel like degradation.'

Like bad broccoli that was just waiting to be used as a fresh vegetable to save a weeknight meal.

Jesus' compassion is just waiting to save.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Le Voeu and 5-Second Holds

Looking back at January 2018, I'm going to exhale as Whitney once asked me to do.

Basketball practice and games.

Casting a left ankle, adjusted gymnastics days and removal of cast.

Holidays, ice days, sick days, missed pick up days, after work meeting days and work travel days.

Plus, the activities we took on in the evenings seemed just a bit different than our usual p.m. goings ons. I tried (and am only three cards shy) to mail out holiday cards by the end of the month. That required making a list of card recipients, buying stamps (twice), addressing (and then finding addresses) and walking to the mailbox. It's too much, too much. I mean, the walking along -- that block coming back to the house is uphill.

Friends have had surgery, babies and there are birthday parties this month. And, I've delivered nary a meal or taken over a baby gift. Yeah, I'm quite a good friend.

And, for my college junior in good standing, the start of a semester is full of activity -- both expected -- receiving emails about books being ordered online and receiving emails about lease decisions needing to be made -- as well as unexpected -- paying speeding tickets online and registering for sibling weekend online.

(I know Gervais is pleased that one of my resolutions was to thrift shop -- of course, that probably didn't mean go overboard at Poshmark. The prices are discounted. I do need a new dress, jeans, shoes and shirt all in the month of January.)

(I cannot love Poshmark enough right now. I'm finding old favorites of clothes, items I have on my 'What I'll be Wearing' Pinterest board and deals on things unbeknownst to me that I need.)

(Poshmark has been my gift this month of unusual.)

This last Saturday of the month that has been jam-packed with out-of-the-ordinary activities was to be a relaxing, nothing on the schedule day.

With an after-work meeting Thursday and an early morning work flight Friday, Gervais was solo in pick-up driving, lunch creating, homework finalizing and ponytail creating . . . and throw up cleaning.

After an eventful Thursday evening where it took him a bit longer than usual to get home (for those of you in San Antonio -- the 410/North Star Mall officer involved shooting happened three cars in front of Gervais who was just trying to get a gymnast and her sister home), Gervais readied the girls to get out the door for school. He was in a great mood because Friday p.m. was going to be a 2 1/2 hour drive down south to fish. Yes, the first fish of the year.

Happy, happy, happy.

'Caroline is throwing up this morn so I'm going to have to stay here.'

Text arrival time 7:09 a.m. Plane take off time 7 a.m.

Happy? Happy? Happy?

I got back home mid-afternoon so I could take over at home and Gervais could get an earlier start down to the coast.

Happy! Happy! Happy!

Remember, Saturday was going to be an easy, breezy day.

After figuring out how to get Camille picked up (thanks Dad) and Caroline to keep whatever was in her stomach down (no such luck until late in the evening), I sat. Ah, fourth part. Scandal. Watch What Happens Live. Finished Lady Bird.

Le voeu (the wish) came true. Relax. No need for a cocktail. Just time solo watching whatever I wanted on television.

And, then the night came. Lots of activity. The girls sleeping in different rooms -- Camille didn't want to catch the bug. Caroline deciding sleeping in her bed wasn't working and coming in my room. Caroline waking up throughout the night to 'try' to throw up. Lots of sounds with little result.

I slept in the middle of our bed without a pillow.

Le voeu of sleeping in didn't happen. So, I'm up an at 'em with coffee done, breakfast served, bills paid and HEB groceries ordered.

But, now, with the day ahead without anything on the schedule, what do you do? It's a bit gray and gloomy out. I've got a recovering stomach bug on my hands. I've no desire to shop -- even though Poshmark is calling my name -- because speeding ticket. I don't have to cook a grand lunch or even dinner since Gervais is fishing. Laundry is almost done.

While Valentine's boxes are calling from the homework tic-tac-toe, I know there are other activities to be done.

Rehab exercises. Camille is my rule follower so when the doctor says do the two pages of exercises every day for a week and then add on three other pages of exercises, we are doing the exercises. At the breakfast table, we point down for 5 seconds, release, point up for 5 seconds -- 20 times. And, then we move the left foot to one side and hold for 5 seconds, release, and then move it to the other side for 5 seconds -- 20 times.

Then, crumble paper with our left toes 20 times. And, to wrap up rehab for the day, grab items (thank goodness for Shopkins) with the left toes and drop. 20 times.

I don't know if Caroline threw up 20 times last night, but she was certainly up 20 times.

Holding my breath for 5-seconds.

Exhale.

5-seconds.

Exhale.

En silence, elle a fait un voeu pour la paix dans les prochains jours,

5-seconds.

Exhale.

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?