Monday, August 29, 2016

A Movie and A New Laptop

When there's a new movie out and it requires going with girlfriends, you spend a few weeks trying to plan an outing to see it and you have a hard time finding the time and the friends with the time.

Then, at the first football game of the season, you make a plan during the third quarter, text some friends and finalize a date and time. 2 p.m. Sunday. Simple, right? From Friday p.m. to Sunday afternoon, many things can change and oh, details that include school is back and week two starts the day after the planned movie. Uh oh. Packing lunches, pulling out clothes for the week and getting the homework done (that now comes home over the weekend and there is a full week to complete it!) all needs to happen before leaving for the movie.

And, the grocery list which fits in with the weekly meal plan has to be finished. What about the cleaning of the house because I had the idea to save some money and put the housekeeper on hold? Oh, that needs to be done, too. Then, there's the laundry.

All to make sure I can make it to a movie. G being at home on a Sunday is an easy bet to make because, well, he's not at home on Saturdays during season -- so the girls are covered. No need for a sitter.

Then, the time comes.

Oh, wait, a new laptop owned by my son is having a difficult time connecting to the wireless printer and oh, wait, he's needing to order books for the fall semester (which started the prior week) at the very moment I'm readying to walk out the door. Oh, and wait, the e-rental requires a credit card and the payment error that keeps presenting is some wacko thing that is because we aren't on Google Chrome. (Really!?!)

So when the laptop doesn't connect immediately and then when it finally does (a few short moments later) we discover there is no printer paper, all shuts down. I make a comment that we can fix it later. Then, he points out he can print at school. Problem solving 101 -- yeah.

While the laptop connecting to the printer without paper issue goes on, I'm on hold with the e-rental book site and in a few short moments, it is not resolved. I finally say, while my friend is waiting for me to drive to the movies, we can resolve this later. He looks at me with concern but then a shrug because yeah, it will be resolved later.

Off to the movies. At last.

Hilarious. Funny. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Rounds out with a dinner at a new place where the family comes, along with my girlfriends' husbands. Good food. Good conversation. Lots of laughs.

I'm thinking all the while that the readying for school the next day is under control.

Details that there is a bad headache waiting to happen and then it happens. And, it happens hard. We can't get home fast enough from the dinner and I cannot get into bed fast enough.

Thankfully, the prep work pays off and G finishes up the evening tasks. And, I sleep.

Fourth part happened at the movies and dinner. Headaches don't really have a part to fit into but the planning to get that fourth part at the movies prevented a total mess in the morning.

I believe planning is a part of life. It's just something that needs to be done. At times, I'm a bit pushy and a little cranky when I'm wanting to get things done according to my timeline. I could allow things to happen when they just happen but I don't work that way. I know Saturdays are the day we get the clothes for the following school week put out and organized. I know Sundays are meal planning days. I have a lot of events by weekend day and it makes sense.

With the planning, Monday mornings aren't rushed and putting together lunches or pulling out random items for dinner. There are no questions about clothes.

Adopting a fourth part approach involves daily planning but also has a weekend plan.

And, I thought I related to Bad Moms. (Well, yeah, I do . . .)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Wet Backpacks and Drug Tests

The first day of school is always a breeze. Never in a school year am I more organized and on point with outfits, lunches, backpacks, supplies, breakfast, dinner and errands than the first day. (I take a half day each year for first-day pick up -- until the middle school and high school days where there are athletics and after-school activities -- oh, and drivers! -- but until then, I do first-day pick up.)

Back packs lined up and ready with first day of school paperwork (Nope, still not in the military and nope, still not a migrant farmer and nope, still not interested in buying a brick to mark my family's life in this school district).

Lunches packed with sweet first day of school notes and clever 'mom-ables' (Not lunchables, gasp, never. Oh, and yeah, it's the first day of lunch so we use the clever containers and cut up the fruit and sandwiches. Tomorrow, it's back to cheese puffs and pre-packaged fruit bars.)

Outfits set out with monkey bar shorts, socks and shoes lined up by the closet. (We'll do this for the first week and then we do it day by day, morning by morning. Or as Caroline asked today, 'when can I pick out my clothes for school.')

I mean, this first day, I'm together. I'm so on top of things I could even be on PTA. (Ha, just kidding. Not taking that away from any of the moms who are really on top of things and can make copies and laminate and cut and staple and organize packets and decorate gyms for events and handle ticket sales at carnivals. I saw a mom walking in this morning with copy paper for the front office. Oh. My. She earned the badge today.)

First day of school, I win at fourth part. Yes, so organized yesterday, on a Sunday, I sat and watched DVR'ed episodes of Housewives. Yeah, I'm caught up on my shows.

Then, there's the first day of school evening and prep for day number two. Dinner made, outfits planned, lunches prepped (But it's cheese puffs and Nutella sandwiches for tomorrow. Nothing too clever. Got that out of the system today. OK, maybe I'll work in a mom-able or two over the next year.)

But, what happens if one of your daughters tells you her backpack is wet. Wet? Not from the rain because we made it into school before the storms came this morning. Not from a water bottle because we aren't doing that this year -- I mean, there's a water fountain, right? Not from the juice box because it was wet after lunch. How in the world is a backpack soaking wet, yeah, almost dripping? She blames a boy in her class. Really?! In an attempt to get a fourth part this evening, I whip out the hair dryer and play the trade-off game (from an earlier post) and dry that baby. I risked melting the plastic interior of the backpack, but I got that baby steaming hot dry.

Popped take-home folders back in with another piece of paperwork (yes, publish my girls' names and pictures everywhere!).

And, then, as I worked on putting together the lunches, starting on dinner . . . the other child is flustered. I mean flustered. Using phrases such as 'why is everything so difficult. Why can't things just be easy.'

Pause, mom, pause.

He needs to get a drug test done today for his new job which has orientation on Friday. He went by, he's called and he can't figure it out. I think of the millions of articles about not helping your kid and letting them get it on their own. But then, I sit in this moment. He's home for the fall semester. He's said good-bye to friends as they head back to school. He's not playing sports this fall for the first time since he was four years old. He's living at home with me, the fun sponges.  He's starting at a new campus. He's already thinking about the school he will attend in the spring. He's starting a new job.

It's time for some help.

We jump in the car -- all four of us because I let the sitter have the afternoon since I'm home -- and head to the lab for the drug test. It's just minutes away and it closes at 5 p.m. Joke is on us -- sign on the door reads 'no drug tests after 4 p.m.' It's 4:13 p.m. I demonstrate how to ask for mercy and an exception. The lab tech responds with mercy and takes him back for the test.



It's 6:18 p.m. and backpacks are ready for tomorrow. Lunches are started. Dinner is heating up. (I even made some blueberry muffins for tomorrow's breakfast.) Outfits for the two second graders are picked out. The college sophomore is taking a quiz for his art appreciation class and is setting up his online classes.

I've a fourth part of the day. I chose to clean up this pile of stuff in my bedroom. And, I went through old art work and pictures as a part of that effort. A bit of memory lane was journeyed down and I thought, yeah, I'm a mom. I help. I'm no PTA superstar but I can dry a back pack and beg for mercy amongst the best of them.

The girls' devotion this morning focused on Psalm 4:7 where we learn we are filled with joy from God. That's what keeps us ticking, right? In the devotion, the story was about a little girl who told her sad friend a knock knock joke. Easy peezy problem solving appropriate for seven-year-olds but kind of a reminder to us that sharing our joy might knock someone out of a sad spot.

Because guess what, it's joy He provides that pushes us forward. I would curl up in a corner (along with the stack of first grade artwork and t-shirts for a one-day quilt) and never get up if not for His joy that fills me.

Tomorrow morning, day two of this school year, will require mustering up some joy from within as we will be a bit more tired and not as shiny and new as we were today. But, we'll have that joy.

I ask for that mercy everyday along with praising that gift of joy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Olympics and Babysitters

I am tired. I am on TV-watching overload.

First, the Republican National Convention. Second, the Democratic National Convention. And, now, the Olympics.

Oh, by the way, each of the evenings I watch what is listed above means I'm going to bed around 11 p.m. Each and every night. 11 p.m. My morning wake-up call is still around 6 a.m. so that hasn't changed. It's the going to sleep part that has changed.

I am tired.

My TV watching can be considered a fourth part and most days a healthy fourth part involves Bravo or something from the DVR. Or Netflix. Or Amazon Prime Video. Yeah, TV. I love it. It's a worthwhile fourth part.

But these last few weeks of TV watching have worn me out. I've been off because I've not really had a fourth part. Now, I've been planning and figuring out how to get the TV viewing in but really, every single night?

Knowing I start off my first part a bit sluggish means breakfast is a minimum and lunch packing is nothing to write home about. The second part is easy because it is work and well, you know, work. The third part these last few weeks has been scrambling around picking up back to school clothes, paying bills, running to the library and making dinner. All the usual third part -- but it has been at a frenzied pace because the Olympics officially start on NBC at 7 p.m. and the conventions started as soon as I turned on the TV in the evenings. (And, boy, those politicians talked and talked and talked).

So, I guess, I did have a fourth part because I watched TV. It just doesn't feel like I had a fourth part. Yes, I chose to watch those shows, but it wasn't a re-fueling fourth part. Let's be clear a fourth part fuels you, it re-energizes you, it rejuvenates.

And, the conventions and Olympics wear me out. I'm cheering and clapping and talking back to the TV. I consider my television interaction a sport. Let me be clear, I would medal in interacting with a TV show. G reminds me people on TV cannot hear me. It's soooo gratifying to talk back and contribute to the conversation taking place on screen.

In the midst of these evenings fueled by TV that goes late into the night, I've been readying for back to school. The calendar is being filled in with football dates and school activities. Schedules are feeling a bit tighter and busier.

With my girls, son and G headed back to school, that means our babysitter heads off to college. She has a last day with us -- it's been on the calendar since May. Now, it's here. We said our good-byes and I even managed to get a gift. Planning people, planning. We are going to miss her as this was her second summer with us (after being our after-school sitter the girls' kinder year). The girls love being with her and she has such imagination and energy. The crafts! The popsicles! The activities!

Off she goes to college. Enter a new babysitter. A sweet girl who we connected with over our July 4 beach vacation. (God provides, right?)

Typically, when a new sitter starts, I've lined out a calendar, have an 'intro to the Adams' guide and walk through the household electronics and rules for the girls.

Today, I opened the door, handed her a key, pointed her to the stack of coupons for after-school snacks and provided a quick tutorial on turning on the television. (Get the drift, television is important in the Adams' house.)

I let her know Nutella sandwiches are a favorite and cutting up some kind of fruit is a necessity at lunch. I asked her to continue to help the girls 'learn' how to make their beds and handed off the booster seats.

Babysitting the Adams' girls 101.

Tomorrow, I'll share many more things about caring for my precious daughters. I'll provide a calendar to outline the days and our comings and goings . I'll suggest she and the girls make one dinner each week for the family -- training up these littlest.

But for now, I've got the Olympics to watch. Until 11 p.m.

6 a.m. comes early and so does the babysitter. At least until next week, when she picks up the girls from school and is at our house for three hours a day.

Monday, August 8, 2016

TSI Holds and Tumbling Camp

Summer months are marked by planning that revolves around camps, vacations and pool time. Running errands, cooking meals and doing laundry are also summer to dos but not as structured as during school months.

(See how I did that? Separated summer from school? It could have been football season, basketball season and summer. But I went with school and summer. That's how our days are divided.)

Off topic.

Back to point at hand.

Fourth parts magically appear because there isn't much to the other parts. Yes, we wake up -- first part. Yes, we get going -- second part. Yes, we end up at home in the evenings readying for the pool or the ice cream man visit -- third part. And, then there is the fourth part where we get to do our own thing. (For example, my girls are trying to roller skate in the house at this moment while I watch TV and write.)

Rarely, is there true planning for the next day. I don't have to worry about 'what are we wearing tomorrow' or 'are backpacks packed' or 'are forms completed' or 'are there any checks to write for something that we bought or ordered'. 

But, when there is camp to be had, there is planning. Especially when the camp begins at 8:30 a.m. And, camp requires a nourished camper (breakfast at home) dressed in clean gymnastic leotards and shorts -- oh, and a lunch. Yeah, a packed lunch for a week during the summer. Wait, why?!

When we signed up for camp, that last week in July seemed ages away and well, camp sounded so fun. The early start time each morning didn't register when we signed up during the school year because yeah, school mornings get going a bit earlier.

Then, camp arrived. So each evening, as part of the third part, there was a load of laundry run (we only have three true leotards) and a lunch packed. There was also an early for summer bedtime. No fun. And, first parts involved getting myself ready, finishing the packed lunch and getting the camper up and ready and fed and in the car out the door.

Tired before the second part starts -- in the summer. When we sleep in. When we don't have to worry about juice boxes and bread for sandwiches. When we can wear PJs all day. When the only person leaving the house early in the morning is me.

So, camp was a hit. My camper flipped and tumbled and walked-over and cartwheeled all week and loved it. She was such a hit at the camp that she was asked to take a free two-hour acro class -- consider it pre-Cirque de Soleil stuff.

While I watched the acro class, I knew I had to take care of something else during this particular third part. Not only finish packing for camp, but go to my son's new college campus and help him finish the application process. It was a finishing kind of night.

I left acro with paper work in hand (the cost! $850 for the coach! $500 for uniforms! $500 for competition fees!)  and transitioned to another kind of paper work -- official transcripts and shot records.

My camper had flawless back walk overs and all sorts of bends. The enrollment application registration process at this community college not so flawless. Rather, I would use the word flawed.

Again, this is the third part. I'm still in work clothes. I'm lugging my big ol' work purse and my phone battery is at about 3 percent. That flawed process included discovering my son had a TSI hold. What is this TSI and why is there a hold? Something about his math equivalent from his previous college didn't qualify him -- so he would either have to take a test or take a class for zero credit and some dollars. Como se what?! As I repeated over and over again we didn't need to take a math -- notice I transitioned from my son and his requirements to 'we' -- we already had the college credit for that, and I repeated over and over again we didn't need to have to take a test because we have already been in college and somehow miraculously got accepted into that college so all we have to do is take 14 or 15 hours of credits that will transfer to another school in the spring because we were only going to this school for a semester so technically he was a transient student even though it wasn't in the summer and yes, I can have access to his records because here is the FERPA so enter that in even though we have this TSI hold and we can get this taken care of tonight because we leave for vacation tomorrow and we can get registered for the advising session where we can register for class even though there is this TSI hold that only the woman in assessments upstairs can release so we can head up there and hopefully we can get everything done by 7 p.m. because this spot closes and we need a drink!

Oh, I can do a dramatic re-enactment of my interaction with the staff at this school including this pulling of the long bangs over the eyes by the TSI hold informant.

Relief did come and the hold was released when we went and found the mystery assessment woman upstairs. Get this, we had to log into my son's ACT and SAT scores from one year ago to confirm his math scores were qualified to have him qualify to attend a school that, hold your breath, is open enrollment.

I still don't know what TSI stands for and I don't really understand the hold. I do know that the evening of the acro class and TSI hold releasing presented as the biggest third part one could encounter during the summer months.

The fourth part on the eve of the last tumbling camp class and the eve of the day we left for vacation and the eve where I almost needed someone to hold me back from jumping over a counter and grab some scissors to cut off long bangs was something we call around here as well deserved.

I guess that's the beauty of fourth parts. They are what is needed each and every single day. No matter the events of the day, no matter the complexities and intricacies of the first through third parts, no matter the amount of time allocated to a fourth part -- they are needed.

God promises and grants rest. He provides the grace we need for each and every day. He asks we focus on Him realizing the days for now are leading up to something bigger and better and eternally good.

All without having to flip and cartwheel are way through it and all without a TSI hold. No test required. No class to take without credit. No dollars to spend on a coach or uniforms. Just the statement we need Him. Just the recognition we need Him.