Sunday, June 3, 2018

Clear Bags and Broken Zippers

I 'went out' two nights in a row this weekend. Yeah, me. Now don't get too excited. I didn't buy a new sparkly dress, get my nails done or get a blow out, but I did have two evening events. Fun ones.

Neither event was planned way in advance. One came from a series of texts a few days in advance. The second usually happens this time of year, but there was no real notice. (OK, there was notice, but I plain ol' forgot until G Adams said we were leaving in 20 minutes. I was supposed to bring something. Oops. Coaches are forgiving.) 

My kind of gatherings. Easy, show up and laugh with some cocktails in hand.

After one year on the job with Frost, I moved downtown to work in Retail Administration. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but I knew I needed a bus pass because I couldn't afford the gas and parking working downtown required. I didn't know a soul who worked downtown. It was the middle school cafeteria all over again -- where would I go for lunch, who would I sit with, who would I talk to? And, I didn't have any idea what banking was about and why there was a need for an administration of retail. I did know I chose a Monday to Friday job over a role that required working on Saturdays. I had my limits.

After a few weeks on the job, I found my people. Y'all. I mean. Funny. Fun. Hilarious. Sincere. Genuine. Really great people. We all worked in the giant lobby of our downtown location -- just in different corners. And, we did work. We had our jobs, but always found time to chat. I think there were times we stood in the middle of the hallway by the elevator bays to catch up and laugh. 

Friday night, we had one of our too-rare gatherings. We started at 6 p.m. and went until about 10 p.m. Laughed the entire time. My cheeks hurt. I was reminded of the countless nicknames bestowed on so many co-workers by one of my friends. (George Washington, Curly Fries and Ficus are among the best of them.) I heard the re-telling of familiar stories by another. We talked about transition lenses, how to handle insurance claims and our next gathering requiring Tarka. And, we laughed.  

While we didn't discuss a name for our group, I think we need one. Maybe The Lobbyists? We all have much different jobs now -- two of my friends are practically running the bank now and three others have moved to other companies -- but we all have those stories that bring us back to the lobby. I mean, I can never, ever forget the polka dot dress.

Yes, we really dressed up back then. The dress code was strict. Skirt suits with jackets and hose. We shopped at Solo Serve across the street from the bank. We shopped at Stein Mart and Marshalls from the clearance rack. I remember when we got fancy and started shopping at Ann Taylor and bought our Nine West shoes. Before our Friday night gathering, I ran into Nordstrom Rack -- still looking for a deal, but a bit of a different kind of store than Solo Serve. I was looking for raw-edge hem jeans and denim shorts. I should be going to a thrift store to cut off jeans, but I thought I could find some at the store. For $60? Yeah, denim shorts for $60. Uh, no. I mean I'll pay $60 for lots of things that some would consider ridiculous, but not denim shorts. They fit really well, but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't find jeans and I'm really needing a couple of pairs. 

We can wear jeans to work now if we go to our new campus. It's still work so the jeans need to be on the nicer side. I'm needing jeans because one of my go-to pair of jeans has a broken zipper. I wish it happened while I was laughing while listening to a story from one of my Lobbyist friends, but I think it was just worn out. I have it sitting out to take to the tailor, but I'm thinking he may charge me too much. So I'll find a new pair of jeans that cost more than the repair. Go with me on this math. Remember, I don't really do banking, I coach people. I don't do numbers. The friend with the polka dot dress from back in the day would say my math is just right. Our husbands don't really get it, but we do. Sunk costs is another topic we frequently visit.

I'm also on the hunt for a clear tote bag. Next year, our school district is requiring clear bags at stadiums and sporting events. I really like the Jon Hart clear stadium bag, but I cannot pay over $100 for a piece of plastic. Remember, I have my limits. It's so cute though.

Two of the coaches wives and I are in a group text that has covered topics from the very sad to very funny. We laugh when we are together, but we have also most recently cried. Our texts are randomly sent, but always on topic. We are trying to figure out our clear bag situation now. One has a brand new baby so 12x12 won't really cut it, but she's trying. I'm most distraught about not bringing in snacks and water. I mean, who is paying $3 for a bottle of water at a high school football game. Not me. Yeah, I'll pay $100 for jeans, but not $3 for water. Limits.

So one of my friends found a gingham edged tote that is cute. It's red and white -- our team colors -- and can get a monogram on it. I might get it, but then I also need a green one because Baylor will probably move to clear bags, too. Oh, that Jon Hart would be perfect for Baylor games. I just can't. Maybe with a pair of $60 denim cut-off shorts?

The clear tote bag didn't come up at my Saturday event. It should have. It was the end-of-year coaches party. I hadn't planned dinner and was not wanting to go out to eat -- saving money (maybe for the shorts!?!). Fortunately, G Adams gave the 20-minute warning and we were out the door. We enjoyed ribs and I really enjoyed this black bean salad dip thing. Sat right by it most of the night and used those clever Tostito cup-shaped chips to scoop it up all night.

It was also a chance to catch up with wives and coaches I don't see as much as I would want. Stories told and retold and lots of laughs. My two coaches wives from the group text didn't come. I missed them and would have really wanted to cover some clear tote bag ground, but the reasons were necessary and completely understandable. One with a new baby and toddler (busy) and the other with some sadness that wasn't ready for a party.

One of the coaches brought his new baby. She was precious. I don't know if she understood any of our stories, but she smiled and laughed as if she did. There are a few other families who are expecting children (or recently had babies) in this group of coaches. I remember when I was that wife with the new babies. I shared my thoughts on the girls' sleep (or lack of) pattern and my concerns of keeping up with Chris and his schedule. I remember packing my Lands' End totes full of baby supplies that I had vetted with online reviews and friend perspectives. Those totes were big and heavy. They weren't clear.

When I started in that downtown lobby 20 something years ago, I had thoughts, but was so new I didn't need to share them. When I was a new coaches wife, I had no clue the schedule and life of which I was a part. When I had the girls, I was this new mom again and was introduced to so many new products and gizmos that my thoughts seemed archaic.

I'm an old banker now. I can re-tell tales of the old days. I'm a mom of a college senior and soon to be finished with third grade and on to fourth grade girls. I can go places and sit and not chase after toddlers or bottle feed babies. I can find babysitters easily because caring for 9-year-olds is a breeze as compared to littles. 

I can also always find and re-find my people. I can find good laughs and a great dip at a table. I can find time for that.

I just can't find a clear tote bag and a tailor that won't overcharge me for a broken zipper.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Floor Music and Harps

The planning of a birthday party is fun. The first discussion on a theme leads to the first list of friends to invite and ideas for food. Searches in Pinterest result in pins to a board titled with the year or the theme of the party. Amazon baskets fill up and Etsy conversations begin.

The planning of a birthday party is fun.

It's fun.

Remember, it's fun.

It's supposed to be fun.

Why doesn't Michael's have unicorn sticker-only packages? And, why is The Greatest Showman the greatest movie going right now and there are no The Greatest Showman party supplies? I mean, red and white striped anything should not be hard to find. Really, where is the gold glitter -- all unicorns need gold glitter. We are going to make unicorn and ringmaster headbands. We will blend these two themes into one magical greatest show.

It's supposed to be fun.

Remember, it's fun.

It's fun.

The planning of a birthday party is fun.

We've designed the invitation and sent it off to a professional designer I found on Etsy. Turn-around time within the week and then I'll print and mail. The party isn't until the end of the month so I have nothing but time.

The food stuff will come together easily -- because while I'm starting with unicorn party mix, Greatest Showman party mix, marshmallow 'barbells', cotton candy, fairy bread rolls, unicorn dip, unicorn parfaits, unicorn cupcakes and circus animal cookie cupcakes -- we will end up with well, not all that. Maybe we will. Right now, I'm thinking this is tres facile and all I have to do is bake and frost cupcakes, lay out the makings of unicorn parfaits, dip marshmallows in chocolate and place them on the end of red and white striped straws (which where in the world can you find them?!?), mix up the party mix (have to buy circus peanuts, baby pretzels, pastel colored mini-marshmallows, pastel colored mini-M&Ms and bugles), and roll up the bread rolls that will have rainbow sprinkled cream cheese or frosting (who will really eat those?!?!).

It's supposed to be fun.

Remember, it's fun.

It's fun.

The planning of a birthday party is fun.

I really do enjoy planning and pulling off a good birthday party. I've even partnered with my dear friend, Tammy, to have her daughter be the slime maker and provider the day of the party.

Will we make the unicorn stained-glass hanging pieces of art? Will we play a hula hoop toss with pastel colored hula hoops and a spray painted traffic cone? Will we make the headbands?

Not sure, but it will be a fun party with a house full of squealing 8, 9 and 10-year-old girls (the invite list is sitting at 26 -- two classrooms, gymnastics teammates and other friends) making slime and hopefully, eating unicorn bacon (rainbow striped candy -- from the Pinterest board).

So, when you have a weekend that isn't full of activities, you can drive around to begin the shopping for the party. And, you can get your pedicure with the gift card you won (paid way too much for) at the school festival silent auction. And, you can run into Trader Joe's to buy the fun groceries.

You can also fit in a visit to the library where it's Symphony Day. The San Antonio Symphony sends musicians out to the libraries to introduce the patrons to different instruments. This occurs about once a quarter at our library. This weekend was the first time we were able to make it over. The principal harpist played about seven pieces for the audience. She shared with us how she came to play the instrument -- started as a pianist -- and how much a harp weighs and costs (70 to 80 pounds and about $20,000).

I had left my phone at home, accidentally. Don't think I was doing some non-electronic, no technology weekend. I truly forgot it at home and had some heart palpitations for minute, but then, relaxed to sit and listen to the harp.

It was nice. I wasn't distracted by looking up unicorn headband-making supplies or creating a shopping list. I wasn't creating the party timeline and food prep schedule. I listened. I even heard an Irish song that might work as Camille's floor music.

Yes, we are having to select a piece for Camille's floor routine for next season. When you enter into Optionals (and please, no one have me explain what that really means because I only can say, more money) you don't compete on the floor with the same routine and same music as everyone else. I still have the level 3 Compulsory (see there's a difference) floor music burned into my memory.

It's exciting to choose a piece, right? Except we, the Adams, have no idea what to select. I was told by some of the very informed gymnastics parents to go to youtube and search for floor music. The requirements are simple -- instrumental, no song so recognizable that someone could sing along with it and have a build-up component (think they run and do all the flips down one diagonal of the floor).

When we did our search at home, we found loads of hip hop instrumentals -- Snoop Dog, Run DMC and even Eminem. We loved it all. Our coach, not so much.

She ended up recommending four pieces to Camille. She picked one. It's violins, I think. No harp. We don't know the words. I don't think there are words.

Oh, well, we can use words at The Greatest Showman Unicorn birthday party. We will have karaoke and by karaoke, I mean, we will be playing the soundtrack from the movie and the girls will be signing along to it. We won't go invest in some fancy machine or even quite figure out how to hook up a mic to the outdoor television.

We will have fun. It's a birthday party for two soon to be 9-year-old girls who still love to play with Barbies and American Girl dolls. They think anything we come up with for the party is fun. They will wear t-shirts custom made for them -- one with lyrics to This is Me, the other with a unicorn. They will have fun with their friends playing and with their favorite high school friend making slime. It may be the last home birthday party we have. It may be the last time we have a theme.

For that, there are no words.

But, it will be fun.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Yellow-Stained Shirts and Root-Stained Hair

At times, work takes over life and my fourth parts disappear. I find myself logging into my work laptop and doing work things in the evening. My purse and work bag become heavy with papers and notepads related to upcoming projects, and with my crushed fourth part dreams.

Fourth parts are for television watching and writing and reading (I have a stack from the library right now that I've not even opened). Fourth parts are not for typing up documents. I am not a document-typer-upper on a regular basis so when I'm doing it at home, I know something is really wrong and way off.

So while my fourth parts tend to fall to the wayside when I'm busy at work, you know what doesn't disappear? My family. My home. My friends. 

I have a tell when it comes to being busy at work and trying to keep it at work. At home, the littlest, tiniest bits of things become super-magnified requiring my passionate attention. I'll catch a news story or hear a podcast that riles me up and suddenly, I'm very interested and find the need to discuss and discuss the topic. G is not a fan and knows it's my tell. (That's almost 22 years of marriage, friends.) He knows to avoid the discussion because he knows I want it to turn into a heated debate. He doesn't participate and walks away. Then, I talk to myself and to the television to work through the issue.

I become obsessed with cleaning, de-cluttering and organizing stacks of paper. I have a desire to create outlandish dinners and make baked goods as if I'm participating on the Great British Baking Show. (You should see my Sweets for the Sweet Pinterest board. I have recipes with multiple steps that require refrigeration of dough and three days worth of preparation. One day.)

The behavior is wrapped up in procrastination and avoidance, but in my mind during these times, it is practical salvation.

I pride myself on the ability to separate work from home. I fully believe that once at home, you are at home. I occasionally check work email at home, but log in and type up notes, nah.

I know it's bad when I'm running errands after the girls are in bed or when I'm working on something needed for the next day into the late hours of the night. During this time of too much work finding it's way into my fourth part hours, Valentine's Day arrived. I was at Target late looking for a final gift for Camille while letting her Valentine's shirt soak in vinegar and baking soda at home. The shirt she waited all year to wear, when I pulled it out from the closet, had yellow stains on one of the arms. Tried to wash it out one evening in anticipation of the 14th. I applied various stain removers over the next couple of evenings. In the end, I went old school hoping the Martha Stewart-recommended concoction would work. It did not.

That's hard. I know there are bigger issues that I need to worry about with my child, but telling her she couldn't wear the magic sequin heart shirt she'd waiting to wear since last year was no fun. I wondered had I been more focused on what was most important versus logging in to finish a document, would that shirt have been ready? If I spent more time researching how to remove a stain or finding a place that could clean it, could she have worn a favorite shirt?

At work we've been taking lots of Franklin Covey classes, including Five Choices. It's all about lining up your priorities, identifying your big rocks and focusing on the important, not urgent. We are to be in Q2. Again, most days, most weeks, most months, I'm sitting and eating bon bons in Q2. The last few weeks, I'm in the quadrant where you are putting out fires -- important and urgent. It's not a good place to be. There is no sitting and there sure isn't any eating of bon bons. It's rushed and frenetic.

In preparation for upcoming work events, I needed to take care of my hair, nails and face. I ran out of time for nails, but found time for hair. It wasn't the ideal hair taking care situation. My hairdresser is out on maternity leave so I had to find a sub. The recommended replacement comes highly recommended. But, there wasn't time for a full color. And, friends, I need color. I punted and agreed to a cut and blow dry figuring my root spray could cover my sparkles for a day or two.

Enter a root stain. It's a quick painting on of your hair color to all your roots. It sits for about 10 to 15 minutes and you have covered the grays -- temporarily. Nice. Easy. (Wait, isn't there a product with those two words?)

Except, you need to schedule a real hair color session and not just think the root stain will last for more than about two weeks.

I had been so good for a few years pre-scheduling hair and wax appointments. Now, I remember only when I have a mustache and an inch or two of gray creeping down my hair from my part. (Tomorrow, I need to schedule a hair color, but I do have a wax scheduled in the next week or so.)

It's not only my hair that needs taking care of during this time of work creeping into life. Camille's bangs are getting way too long and Caroline's curls are looking a bit ragged on the ends. I can do some bang cutting (don't look too closely) and can cut off tangles on the curl ends, but these girls need hair cuts. Thankfully, Spring Break is around the corner so appointments can be made.

Spring Break will not be a trip for us. Camille has gymnastics. We are hoping we can go for a day trip somewhere or take a staycation at a fancy hotel here in town. Even without a trip, our break is filling up with hair cuts, doctor's appointments and projects to finish up around the house. I plan on taking a day off from work and I won't be typing on a document on my work laptop. I really want to break that cycle I've been in where work bleeds into home life.

My girls, Chris and G aren't the only people in need of a Spring Break around here. I'm hoping for one, too. The days of walking the beach in Port Aransas may be over, but I can find a cocktail, a pool and some Outfield on Spotify to give me a break to remember.

A break without work brought home. A break from work that focuses on the important.



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.