Thursday, April 30, 2009

hold on tight

I am due to return to work full-time on May 1.


A quick check of my calendar reveals that May 1 is tomorrow.

Tomorrow.


As in, the next time the sun rises in the eastern sky.

How are we going to manage this, do you ask?

Well. Um. Let's see.

Charlie is going to significantly reduce his work schedule from 32 hours a week to around 24 hours a week. (Although that doesn't seem very significant does it?)

He was planning to reduce his work schedule from 32 hours a week to 8 hours a week but his boss said that if he did that, they'd have to shut down his office. And seeing as he'd like to still to have an office - particularly since he has someone that works full-time for him - that arrangement would be no good at all. Especially for the guy that works for Charlie.

So, the current plan is that Charlie will work two half days per week and one full day per week in the office. Then, he'll work a few additional hours at home, at night. Within the next few weeks, he hopes to hire an additional person to help ease his work load. As for me, I will work two half days per week, two full days per week and I'll be doing work at night, too.

Thankfully, we have very flexible jobs.

But seeing as I currently manage around 30 projects in San Diego County and will be picking up approximately 30 (or 40 or 50) more projects in Riverside County, I know that I'll be busy in between playing with children and training for a marathon and knitting baby blankets and sleeping and blogging.

(Of course I'll keep blogging. I may as well give up oxygen.)

Although there once was a time when Charlie could have taken over my job ... and there was once a time when I could have continued working part-time indefinitely ... neither of those options are currently available due to some changes with my company's management.

When my boss asked me last week how we are going to manage this, I told him that we are going to do the best we can alternating schedules during the week. Much like we do, now. When he further asked if we were going to bring in a nanny or put the kids in preschool, I said "No!"

Because... I think that it would be too much for any one person to come and stay in our house for eight or more hours a day without taking the children out to a park or play dates.

Because ... I think it would be too much for our children to stay in the house for eight or more hours a day without going out to a park or play dates.

Because ... I don't feel comfortable with some one other than Charlie or I taking all four of our children out of the house to a park or play dates. Or anywhere for that matter that involves travel in a car.

Because ... I don't like the idea of putting all four of our children in daycare - or preschool - for eight plus hours a day. Or six plus hours a day. Or ... at all.

Because ... even though we could afford the $3,000.00+ tuition that would be required for all four of our children to be in daycare if we were both working full-time, our children would be gone from home for the entire day.

Because ... we've already done the whole "kids are gone from home for the whole day" thing before and it was terribly difficult on all of us.

Fortunately, we both don't need to work in order to make ends meet. And if this schedule proves to be too difficult for us to manage effectively, we will make adjustments as necessary.

But we both determined long ago that the best arrangement for our family - psychologically and financially - is if both Charlie and I have the outlet of working a few days a week. And although there certainly are times when I've considered giving up my career completely, my company has made that very difficult for me to do.

For the past four and a half years, my company has granted me an amazing amount of flexibility to work part-time. Minus those two years that I took off on maternity leave. But now my time is up and I must return to work full-time.

At least until we have another baby.

Because life just isn't exciting enough around here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

henry is in the house

I have been very negligent in writing about what Henry has been up to these days.

I really need to just sequester myself to the computer and jot down some thoughts on our resident toddler because he is changing at such warp speed that if I don't capture what he has been up to, I'll soon forget.

You know, my mind definitely isn't what it once was. Which really wasn't much. But as I'm sitting here, I can't even remember the point of this post.

Wait a minute.

It'll come to me any second now.

Sir Richard Francis Burton!


No! No! That wasn't it.

Had to do with .... the bane of his brother's existence?

Oh yes!

Hurricane Henry.

Or, Hell Raiser Henry.

Both descriptions are equally appropriate to characterize the 21-month old toddler that has taken control of our house.

This is a series of pictures I snapped off when the children were playing in their fort one day last week. William had acquired a box that Charlie had brought home from work and in addition to stuffing it with all of his worldly possessions (along with one of my belts and my archaic Palm Pilot that he has acquired), he has been toting this box everywhere so that he could use it as a seat. He toted it to the top of his fort and when he decided to take a seat at the helm, along comes his little brother who decides that he wants to sit down, too.

Although William wasn't very willing to share his seat.

Go get your own box, Henry!


But what if I give you a nice smile. Will you move over then?


No? Well then, I'll just start screaming and hollering and swinging my arms and I'll knock you out of the way.


There we go. This is some nice sharing.


You good over there, Big Brother?

I'm just following your lead. Now should we act grumpy?

Why are you turning your back on the Little Brother?

I'm having a GREAT time. How about you?


What's this? Where are we going?


Oh No!

Not the slide!!
Ooof!

Little Brother ain't feeling no love.

But you just wait. When you are least expecting it.

I'll be back.

In cotton underwear.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

home sweet home

Relative to the other homes in our neighborhood, we live in a very small house.

Although we use it as a three bedroom, it really only has two bedrooms.

The third bedroom was converted to a den, so it lacks a closet and a door.

Lately, we've noticed that there are a lot of things that need to be replaced in our home. A tub in the master bath. Windows. Cabinets in the kitchen. Cracked front steps. We've been weighing making these repairs and sinking more money in to our house, or just moving in to a newer and larger space. But at least for now, we have decided to stay where we are, because we can comfortably afford our mortgage - in the event we ever needed to live off of one income.

This past weekend, we spent Saturday night with our friends the gardeners. They live in an 1,100 square foot house that is situated on two-acres of land. The house is a double-wide modular home that was built in 1960. The family that had been living there, abandoned the house 20 years ago. No one had lived on the property until my friend and his newly pregnant wife bought it in 2004.

I think it's important to add that my friend is a real estate guru.

For the past several years, he has been buying and selling houses all over the country. He would buy a house, fix it up, rent it for a few years, and then when he sensed the market was as high as it was going to get - he would sell it for a profit. Over the course of ten years, he has made a lot of money flipping residential properties.

When he saw this property with two-acres of land and a run-down double-wide, he was initially attracted to the location because it was on the corner of an intersection, across the street from a large development. It was his thought that very soon, developers would be knocking on his door to buy his plot of land so that they could continue with their development.

He suspected that he would be able to double his investment.

If not triple or quadruple it.

So he bought the land.

In cash.


In the development - directly across the street - he owned two brand new homes that he had also bought in cash. But, he convinced his newly pregnant wife to move in to the double-wide because he could rent the new houses out. And there was no way he was going to be able to rent out the 50-year old double-wide modular home that hadn't been lived in - except by rats and spiders - for the past 20 years.

So his adoring wife said yes. Because she loves him and she can see the dream that he has to make more money than Midas.

We visited them when they first moved in to the house in early 2004. I remember walking in and not believing my senses. To say that this place was rundown doesn't quite conjure the magnitude of the image I need to convey.

The walls of the shower were black with mold. The floor was rotted and pitted in spots. There was a three foot open gap separating the roof from the fiberglass ceiling tiles. Electric lines had been chewed through by rodents. There were ants and spiders crawling freely. There were dirty dishes piled at least two feet high coming out of the sink. Meanwhile, my friend and his pregnant wife were as happy as I'd ever seen them.

When Charlie and I visited them this past weekend, the house was no better than when we'd seen it last. If you didn't know our friend - you might think that he was dirt poor and couldn't afford anything more. But the reality is - our friend doesn't spend a penny more than he absolutely must.

We happen to know that our 40-year old friend owns his property free and clear. He owns four cars and a tractor. He doesn't have a lick of debt and has a substantial savings account.

The only bills that they pay every month are telephone, electric and a very limited grocery bill - since they grow most of their food.

Although he has three college degrees, he works part time as a college professor two days a week just so that he can have some interaction with the outside world. He's not lazy. In reality, he's one of the hardest working people I've ever met.

On his two-acre parcel of land, he planted a large vegetable garden that he hand waters, every day. He built his wife a two-story temple where she can pray. He built his three small boys a playhouse with a ladder leading up to a loft. And he built a poultry house where he keeps his chicken, ducks and geese. Soon, he'll be adding a goat to the mix.

Within the past five years, he has been approached by developers to purchase his land for a lot more than what he bought it for. But he has decided that he doesn't want to leave. He and his family love it there. With the black moldy shower and the half-a-century old hardwood linoleum.

Hanging above the front door to the house was a sign that read, "No Discouraging Words."

When I asked my friend if that sign had come with the house, he said that he had bought it because it seemed everyone who came to visit had something negative to say about his lifestyle. He said that his mother would never stay with him and she shudders every time she steps foot in the front door.

Why, even my four-year-olds - who cause destruction wherever they go - were shocked at the state of the house. Elizabeth spent much of the morning yesterday walking around with her little finger outstretched pointing at various things. "There are ants IN the house!" Then she'd wander in to a room and gasp, "Mommy. This place is a mess!"

But before long, she looked at me with a big smile and said, "I love it here. Can we stay for six days?" Which for my kids - six days may as well be forever.


My brother, Wally, and his wife, Donna, have been renting a lakefront house that isn't more than 700 square feet for the past ... 20? ... years. In addition to my brother and his wife living in this 700 square foot house, they have three-year-old twin boys and a one-year-old toddler.

And, they have two 100+ pound black labs that live in the house.

The focus for Wally and Donna is life on the lake.

In the winter, they snowmobile. In the summer they boat. Yet, not a single person in my family can understand why Wally and Donna haven't moved. They both work. They both make good money. They could certainly afford to buy a nicer place. But they continue to stay in their tiny space. On the lake. With my three little nephews who are infused with happiness.

The focus for my friends is their garden and livestock and complete financial freedom.

They love having this plot of land to grow their own food and to have the space for their children to explore. They love having absolutely no debt to anybody. When we were there this past weekend, our children had the time of their lives digging in dirt piles, picking vegetables, and collecting newly laid eggs from chickens. Alongside our friend's three little boys who are also infused with happiness.

Yesterday, while we drove the two hours home from our friend's house - while our children napped - Charlie and I discussed nonstop how we could never live in that house under those conditions. How in the world do they do it?

What we determined is that to our friends (and my brother), where they live is just a house. The house is important only because it provides shelter. It's four walls and a roof to keep out the rain. Clearly, both families would rather save their money than spend it. But then again, fancy furnishings and a clean house aren't what make a happy home.

The most important things in a home are things that money cannot buy.

After this weekend, Charlie and I have both decided that all of those upgrades that we thought were necessary in order to make our home more enjoyable, really aren't necessary at all. Perhaps it makes the most sense to keep our money in the bank and rest easy knowing it's there in case we need it.

We've also decided that we spend way too much time cleaning when we should be out having fun and enjoying life. Because the biggest eye opener for me ... is the knowledge that if I don't clean our showers for several years months, no one is going to drop dead because of it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

when plans go very bad

We were supposed to go camping last weekend with some friends.


But it was too hot. And seeing as the friends we were supposed to go camping with have a substantial fruit and vegetable garden that they hand water, they didn't want to leave the garden for a full day.

So, we made plans to go camping this weekend. With our friends the gardeners, and some other friends, the bike riders that were competing in a mountain bike endurance event.

Our friends the gardeners, live about two hours from us.

Our friends the bike riders, live across the street.

The camping location was approximately three hours from our house and approximately one hour from our friends the gardeners.

Got all that?

Our friends the bike riders were planning to leave for the campsite on Friday night. Charlie and I - and our friends the gardeners - would meet with them on Saturday.

Because Charlie and I once camped prolifically, we have an abundance of camping gear. Our friends the bike riders enjoy camping, but don't have very much. So instead of them purchasing a lot of gear that they might never use again, I suggested that they borrow some of our equipment. Which they did.

Specifically, they borrowed our small backpacking tent and all of our cooking gear.

Friday night, Charlie called to confirm details with the Park Ranger for our camping trip. Why we didn't do this sooner is a mystery and extremely unlike us. Because typically, we are meticulous planners.

Especially when it comes to camping.


During Charlie's call to the Park Ranger, we discovered that in addition to paying $4.00 per person to enter the Park (for all persons over the age of three), we would be required to pay $150.00 to the bicycle organization that was coordinating the event our friend would be participating in. So for a whopping $170.00, our family would be able to spend one night - in the great outdoors - sleeping on the ground.

Um. No.

Our friends the biker riders called us - with a very choppy connection from their desolate camping location - on Saturday morning. We told them that we didn't think that we would be coming up, afterall. The connection cut in and out. They were trying to tell us that they didn't think we'd really have to pay $150.00 extra, but they weren't entirely sure. Ultimately, they understood that we weren't coming and why. But we could tell that they were disappointed.

We hate it when we disappoint our friends.


Then we called our friends the gardeners and told them that we weren't going. They were equally disappointed. Perhaps even more so, because they have three children that are the same age as our four children. We are very good friends with these people and we haven't seen them since the last time we went camping.

We hung up the phone and proceeded to feel very, very badly.

Ultimately, we decided to just go for it.

Even though in our heart of hearts, we had already convinced ourselves NOT to go. If it turns out that we have to pay $150.00 a night, our backup plan would be to drive to our friends the gardeners and pop a tent in their yard.

We called our friends the gardeners to tell them that we reconsidered and would be leaving soon. They rejoiced and told us to call them once we arrived at the campsite to confirm that all systems were go. Since they were only an hour away, they would have their car packed and could just shoot up to meet us.

So while I packed clothes and made a shopping list, Charlie packed the car and ran to the store. A few hours later, we loaded everyone in to the car and drove for three hours to get to the campsite. The whole way up, we tried to call our friends the bikers to let them know that we were coming. The whole way up, we received their voicemail because cell phones don't have reception in the wild.

The whole way up, our children were chanting, "I love camping! I want to sleep in a TENT!"

When we arrived at the campsite, we paid our $20.00 to enter the park. But, we told the Park Rangers our decision to stay would depend upon whether or not we could find our friends the bikers and, whether or not we were required to pay the additional $150.00 fee.

OK they said.

We drove through the camp and found our friends the bikers car. We drove to an adjacent lot and parked our car. As we were climbing out of the car to let our kids stretch their legs, we noticed that the temperature was 40 degrees.

Eight degrees above freezing.


And it wasn't yet dark.

(Note: It was 85 degrees when we left our house.)

The warmest clothes that I had for the kids were their fleece jackets and vests. And hats. I didn't bring their down jackets and mittens because I'm a dumbass I neglected to check the weather at the campsite before we left. Why I didn't do this is a mystery and extremely unlike me. Because typically, I am a meticulous planner.

Especially when it comes to camping.

While the kids stretched their legs, Charlie went for a walk to find our friends the bikers. Although he saw their car - again - he couldn't find them. He rejoined me and we loaded the kids in to the car. While they cried and thrashed about, "I don't want to leave! I WANT TO CAMP!! I WANT TO SLEEP IN A TENTTT!"

We agreed that leaving a note on our friend's car would be a good idea, so that they at least knew that we were there. And we could meet up. Because maybe we could stay. And if we put the kids to bed soon, they'd be toasty warm in their cozy sleeping bags. Hopefully, I would warm up, too. Since my entire left hand had turned white and I couldn't feel my fingers.

But of course we couldn't stay if we didn't find our friends.

Seeing as they had our cooking gear.

While Charlie drove us over to our friends the bikers car, the cell phone God smiled upon me, and I had one bar of cell phone service. I tried to call our friends the gardeners and tell them that so far, it didn't appear that we would be required to pay an additional $150.00 fee. And, it appeared that there was plenty of space available to camp. Just as I was about to tell our friend that the temperatures were very cold and we still needed to find our friends before deciding whether or not we would stay - the cell phone God stopped smiling and I lost the call.

So all my friends the gardeners heard was, "Doesn't look like a $150.00 fee. Plenty of space..."

At that very moment, we arrived at the location where our friends the bikers car had been and it was gone. Less than five minutes earlier it had been there. Now, it was gone.

We drove back to the Park Ranger and said we needed to drive down the road until we could get reception and make a phone call. Because we needed to see if we could get in touch with our friends the bikers. Or our friends the gardeners. Or, a psychic medium who could communicate with either set of friends, telepathically.

OK they said.

We drove down the hill to the little town. We called our friends the gardeners - who were just about to leave their house - because they assumed all systems were go.

No we said. Stay where you are!

We called our friends the bikers who had turned off their phone. But as far as they were concerned, we were still in San Diego. So we decided that enough time had been wasted and we needed to cut our losses and ditch the idea of camping. We drove back to the Park and Charlie asked the Park Rangers for our $20.00 back.

No they said.

Seriously? My husband asked.

Yes they said. You have been here more than an hour and if you knew your friends weren't here, you should have left within five minutes.

Me, being the gentle flower that I am, leaned across the driver seat and bellowed at the Park Rangers. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! You saw us drive in. You knew that we were looking for someone. You saw us drive out to use our phone. You realize that we just drove BACK specifically to reclaim our $20.00 and now you won't reimburse us, even though you said you WOULD?!?!

Yeah. That's what I'm saying.

I said a few things more.

He gave us $10.00 back.

Charlie thought it was a bargain and quickly got in the car and got us out of there, before I climbed through the Park Ranger kiosk window, reclaimed all of our money, punched the theives in their fat noses and kicked them in their shins for good measure.

Because I would have.

Because it had been that kind of day.

Ultimately, we decided to drive to our friends the gardeners house and stay with them for the night. While we drove, our children ate a dinner of bananas, french bread and marshmallows that I launched at them over the seat.

We arrived at our friends the gardeners house at 9:00 PM.

After driving 300 miles in six hours.


Which, if we had just driven straight to their house, and not gone on some wild goose chase all the way to Idyllwild, we would have arrived FOUR HOURS earlier.

We've known our friends the gardeners for twelve years. They were once our neighbors, but they moved when they bought a two-acre parcel of land as a real estate investment. They had no plans to stay there long term seeing as the house on the land had been abandoned more than 20 years ago. The house being a double-wide modular home that was built in 1960.

But due to our friends sudden overwhelming desire to grow a garden, they have decided to remain living in this exact location for the past five years. We stayed with them and their three children, last night. All of us got less than four hours of sleep.

Because they had a fire pit and the children wanted to ignite roast marshmallows.

And then we had seven children pumped up on sugar.


Who wanted to read by flashlight.

And their house which hasn't had any improvements in 50 years and had actually been abandoned 20 years ago, got a wee bit chilly.

I'll write more about this, tomorrow. Because it's late and I'm tired. And I'm really hoping that this entire experience has been a dream. And when I wake up, it will be Saturday morning and I'll still have a nice full weekend ahead of me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

it's all good

We took the kids to Legoland this week.


The kids loved it.


A lot.

The only complication was that since many of the rides required a 1:1 adult to child ratio, either Charlie or I would hang back with three children, while the other one took turns rotating through one particular ride with each of the kids.

Some of the rides the kids could do by themselves.

And some were very interactive.

Some of the rides would allow one adult to accompany multiple children. But that didn't mean we'd only ride it once. I lost track of how many times we went on this bounce thing. I think it was close to 20.

Notice Elizabeth with her arms up high?

When Charlie took the girls on a rollercoaster, Carolyn held on tightly. Yet Elizabeth, at one point, had her arms high in the air screaming "FASTAH!! FASTAH!!" When I went on that same rollercoaster with her brother, he buried his head in my chest and murmured, "Mommy, please tell me when it's over."

That Elizabeth. I'd expect nothing less from my baby C.

Spending a full day at this Mecca of childhood was not some desperate attempt to earn the everlasting love and adoration of our children.

But it certainly helped.

What surprised me is that we had just as much fun - if not more - than the children did. Infact, we had such a great time, that we opted to upgrade all of our one day tickets for an annual pass.

Now, we could go to Legoland every single day for the next year.

For what an annual pass cost, don't think for a minute we won't try.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

what's in you wednesday thursday

I went running twice this week. And while I was out running on those two occasions, I remembered that running was kind of fun. And the reason that I had lost almost all of my momentum in training for a marathon, is because I am training for a MARATHON and ohmygoshwhattheheckwasithinking?!

I'm a three-mile runner.

Nothing more.

(Sometimes, two miles less.)

Of course I'm still planning to get out there and do the marathon. But I'll be perfectly honest that I am in no way - shape - or form - planning to kill myself in the process. Instead, I'm thinking that I'll run when I feel like running, walk when I feel like walking and wear a pair of Heelys to make up time on the downhill.

I am a little disappointed that I haven't trained more aggressively than I have, especially since Margaret is now running 12 miles at a pop. But I've got a few legitimate reasons that my training has been so lax. Those reasons go by the name of William, Carolyn, Elizabeth and Henry.

And then there's the whole 'enjoyment of sleeping past 6:00 AM whenever possible' thing.

This morning my Aunt Grace (Margaret's mother) called to tell me that she was excited to be coming out to California with my Uncle Bill (Margaret's father), next month. She told me that unfortunately, Margaret hurt her hip training and she hasn't been able to run at all for the past few days. I tried to voice concern but all that came out was, "Gee! Really?! She's hurt and she can't run?! Oh. Wow. That's ... um ... awful. Tee Hee!"

So there you have it.

My cousin who can run more than me gets hurt and I'm giddy.

I'm rotten.

This conclusion is further supported by the day I had, today, with my children.

It happens very infrequently that I will make a concerted effort to spend a day putting away every last thing that litters our counters, sifting through clothes and toys for items to donate, and scrubbing the house 'til it shines.

I am not a perfectionist - not by a long shot.

I know that it is unrealistic to expect that I can live in an immaculately clean house with four children under the age of five.

But.

Today, I wanted to have a little bit of order.

Today, I wanted to enjoy the house clean, even if for 10 minutes.

Today, instead of going to the zoo - or the park - or the beach - or the museum - or the aquarium, which is something I almost always do with our children ... today, I determined that I really needed to stick around the house and get it somewhat organized. Since I'm due to start work full time in less than two weeks, I really want to have a certain "order" in place before my weekly work schedule increases by 30%.

Now, in my four and a half years as a mother, I have learned a fair number of truths. One of those truths is that it is damn near impossible to straighten up a house with children underfoot. Especially when three of those four children are triplets that are like a wrecking crew moving from one thing to the next.

When my sister called to tell me that my brother and his wife seem to be handling things just GREAT with their (almost) four-year-old twin boys and twenty-two-month old singleton, my response was that twins are not as difficult as triplets. There are no two ways about it. You add that third wheel child in to the mix and all hell breaks loose.

Today, I would take one step forward and the kids would set me back by two.

I'd go through their drawers and remove clothes for Goodwill, they'd take off the clothes that they were wearing and throw them in the pile and then pull clothes out of the pile and put those on. And then they'd go roll in the dirt.

Whatever it was that I was trying to do, they would derail my efforts. Or, they would meddle with something I had just completed such that I'd have to do it over again. While I was trying to go through their closet, the kids were playing on the opposite end of the closet and knocked the door off the runners.

For those anonymous commenters of the world that are laying in wait to pounce on this post with their advice, save your energy. I know that my children's behavior today was preventable. I know that I should have distracted the children with positive activities. I know that I should have done this work when Charlie was home and could entertain the kids. I know that I could have called in reinforcements. I know that they are only young once and a clean house isn't all that important. I know it. But sometimes, just because you know something, doesn't stop you from doing something stupid.

I put everyone outside to play and while I set about tackling cabinets in the kitchen, a mere 10 feet away, in less than three minutes, they flipped over all of their toys and completely disassembled the seven piece toddler slide.

What caught my attention is when they grabbed my broom and were smacking it against the wind chimes on the side of the house so hard that they were slamming into the window of the nursery. Where ... you guessed it ... there had been a blissfully napping baby.

The long and short of it is that I went nuts.

I told the children that I was going to send them someplace else to live.

They needed to go PACK THEIR BAGS because I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't take them not listening and destroying everything in their path and fighting and whining and I WANT I WANT I WANT and HE, SHE, IT IS LOOKING AT ME and the SASSY ATTITUDE that has hit our house, times three, full force.

That's it.

They're leaving.

And then for added measure, I picked up the phone and called my mother and since she wasn't home, I left a message that I needed the bus to come pick up the naughty children. While I was leaving this message, the girls were crying hysterically. William however, didn't say anything. He ran off in to his room and returned a few minutes later carrying a bag. He had packed him pajamas, a few toys and his toothbrush.

He was ready to go.

"Bye, bye Mommy! Thanks for incubating me in your womb. I'm leaving now!"


He then convinced his sisters that they needed to leave with him.

A few minutes later, my three four-year-olds were packed and ready to leave.

Here's a picture of them sitting by the front window waiting for the bus to take them away.

And here's a small segment of the 20-minute video clip I filmed three hours later when William still wanted to go to my mother's house (Noni), despite my apologies and begging that he please stay.

Apparently, I give him a headache.
Now, that's novel.



I'm hard pressed to understand why a child that I threatened to drop in another country and then, told that a bus for the naughty children was coming to take away, would ever want to leave?

I think he senses my overwhelming weakness in certain situations and I think he's calling my bluff. Because I can't imagine it had anything to do with looking at a face like this all day.

No silly. Of course that's not me!

That's just some psycho I downloaded from the internet. Which I imagine might have resembled me ... a tiny little bit ... at some point today.

Ahem.

Nice teeth?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

just ... wow

I'm not sure what it is about this video clip that moves me the most.

I don't know if it's the way that everyone rolls their eyes and scoffs when she takes the stage. Or if it's the way that she forgets for a moment what a "village" is called. Maybe it's her appearance and her demeanor and the opinion that you form about her potential as a singer, before she even starts singing. Or perhaps it's watching the effect of her audition on the judges and the audience. Simon's face in his hands and deep sigh at 4.03 sums it up, perfectly.

But watching this performance gave me goosebumps on my arms and heart.

Click here to view one of the most awesome things I've ever seen.

Just make sure your volume is turned up.

And here are the lyrics to the piece she performed from Les Miserables. In my opinion, her song choice is what made this so powerful. The lyrics of the song and perhaps parallel to her own life, adds a whole 'nuther dimension to the impact of this performance.

Edited to Add: Susan Boyle has been singing since she was 12-years old. But for whatever reason, she hasn't achieved the recognition that she has so clearly deserved, until she was 47 years old and participated in a televised reality/talent show. Perhaps if Susan's life's circumstances had been slightly different, she would have had the opportunity for her talent to be recognized sooner. Although you can't judge a book by it's cover - this is a prime example of how society often times does. She undoubtedly has always had a dream of becoming a professional singer (which is why her song choice was so appropriate). I hope her dream is fully realized.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the eve of my 38th

First things first...

Charlie's Aunt Nancy turns 71 on 4/19. I turn 38 on 4/20. I think that it's interesting since Nancy was born in 1938 and I was born in 1971.

Happy Birthday Aunt Nancy!

(It took us two days to decipher that the inscription inside your Christmas card read that you enjoy reading my blog. It was either that or, you enjoy smoked frog?)


The winner of the PBK table and chair set as determined by the awesomeness that is Random Generator is Jill Jones!

Jill, please drop me an e-mail as soon as possible to TheAmazingTrips@gmail.com with the address you would like your new table and chairs shipped to, along with the color selection you would like. Espresso or white and green?

Thank you to EVERYONE who participated in this contest. I am so appreciative of your contributions to this cause.

A very special thanks is reserved for Stephanie in North Dakota who has donated at least $500.00 across the three of us since the inception of these contests. And thus far, all Stephanie has to show for her overwhelming generosity is one of my hand knit scarves. But rest assured, I have a special prize I'll be mailing to Stephanie, soon. And no, it's not a four-year-old that likes to poop on the patio.

(Although I do have more than one.)

In other news...

Tomorrow, I turn 38-years old.

(Actually, it's now today. How is it so late already?!)

I've written before how in my 10th grade year of high school, a guy that was in my geometry class turned around and out of the blue said, "I just had a premonition that you are going to die in a plane crash when you are 38."

HOLY CRAP. How do you respond to something like that?

"Huh. Really? So, how about those isosceles triangles? Are they crazy or WHAT?"


I was only 16-years old at the time and thirty eight seemed like a long way away. But man, it sure got here fast. Oddly enough, although I've forgotten most of what happened in highschool, I've never forgotten the words that a shaggy haired, REM-Beatles-Violent Femmes loving, Will Brown told me.

I think about it every time I book a flight. I think about it every time I get on a plane and wonder what it would feel like to fall from the sky. I think about it every time I look up in to the clouds and watch aircraft overhead. I think about it whenever I hear stories of a plane that crashed.

Whenever I see the news clips of the crash and victims, in my mind's eye, I can see them flashing up a picture of me and the family that I've hopefully, left behind. Hopefully, because it's too painful to even imagine that my family was on the doomed plane with me.

For a girl that use to fly all the time and had once dreamed of learning to fly one day herself, suddenly the thought of being in, on, or around a plane made me nauseous.

Maybe Will Brown really did have a vision that something bad was going to happen to me 22 years down the road. Or maybe Will Brown was just pulling a teenage prank. Regardless of the case - I don't hold any ill feelings against him.

Because this much is true.

Every year that passes, regardless of whether or not I perish in a plane, I genuinely think - how much time do I really have left?

Having this little reminder in my mind that one day I will die - and it might actually happen sooner than I'd expect and/or prefer - has been an interesting stimulus.

It has made me embrace my spirituality and ponder some very deep questions about God and my purpose for being here. It has made me think a lot about how I live my life and what kind of example I am setting for my children.




It has made me very thankful that I've taken the time to keep up a blog, so that when I do bite it, my children will always have a portion of their lives recorded and will hopefully, know a little of who I was, through my writing. It has made me finalize my Will. It has made me take a lot of pictures and is the catalyst for a 6,000-mile cross-country adventure we are planning to take, this summer.

It has made me mindful of living simply and intentionally.

(Or at least, trying my best.)

I hug my children often and I consciously savor the moment, by burning it in to my memory and heart. I tell my husband that I love him dearly and that he is one of the best things to have ever happened to me.

I try to live within my means, but donate to charity in an effort to remain mindful of the world around me. Another pair of shoes for me, isn't nearly as important as a pair of shoes for someone who doesn't have any at all. Overall, I try to live my life such that my overall existence is more positive than not.

This very well could be my last year. I truly hope not.

But either way, let's eat cake!!

**********

Now please, riddle me this.

How would you live your life if you knew that this year was your last?

Would you do anything differently? Would you do anything that you've been putting off?