July. Again.

Good morning everyone. I’m doing a daring thing right now: blogging without an editor. Not even second-guessing. July is crazy. That’s my excuse. July rivals December in the ability to bring me this close to the edge, so here we go.

Things you can depend upon in July:

Ants. Have we said enough about them yet? I’ve soaked them with poison for the entire month and they are multiplying. There are ants in Blythe, right now, hearing about a promised land that is my house, and they are packing up their wagon to move west.

Heat. Your mom’s yearly manic speech about moving to Oregon where life is lush and green and wet and breezy, not dry and barren and bleak and soul-sucking. It was 119* on her patio but she was pretty sure that a fan and a spritz bottle would handle it.

Kids. Look, I don’t want to hear your speech about how mine are older now and how hard can it be, with only one left in high school. The diaper days were filled with educationally stimulating interactive projects that included creating booger art on the bathroom walls, but seeing these same man-children acting like vegetables in front of the internet makes me question every reason I had about having them in the first place.

School. They need to go back. I will shop the Target sales, just to speed up the process. I will – for the LAST TIME – fill out these massive documents in triplicate so that they will be forced off of the man-cave bean bag chairs and back into common sense booger art.

Guests. Hello vacay! At my house! Y’all come! My day job held this one at bay for a couple of years, and now I wonder whether I’ve still “got it”. There are kiwis sleeping one room over as we speak, and the beds were freshly made but I didn’t have time to prepare anything fabulous for breakfast, and here I am sitting at my desk writing instead, so there’s been a priority shift obviously and I only hope they like cold cereal.

Bible School. The last full week of July. Always. And of course, you have volunteered to do a thing. No matter what job you raised your hand for, it always looks like a yard sale in the living room for two full weeks ahead of time, because you need to make sure you remember everything because you are not driving all the way back home on a Tuesday night to fetch a lesson plan. The kids suddenly don’t have any pants that fit or enough underwear to last for seven days and you visit Target every day of July until management gives you a raise and a new red shirt.

Writing. I’ve been working on websites and newsletters, and making custom MadLibs which are probably funnier than my blog, so I should include a couple for you.    ( A Tour of Camp )    I also worked on a short story series that is super-hero themed and feels a little comic book-ish, so it may not land in the blog. This is because my sons decided my education needed an update and forced me to watch both “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies and I just have to believe…if raccoons and trees and complete poppycock can make it onto the big screen…there is hope for us little people.

Oh, and Italy. Our research includes watching movies made in or about Italy while stuffing Boom Chicka Pop into our mouth and trying to not fall asleep on the couch. The language is basically exaggerated Spanglish. So long as I am very passionate about the subject, I think Italy will understand me.

But for now, July has taken it all. The ants, the kids, the guests, and the Hubby can have the hot house covered in suitcases, boxes, and cereal bowls. I almost shanked an innocent Aussie with a hole punch for attempting to hug me yesterday. I’m not proud of this. I offered a free piercing for whatever he had handy. On the house.

If you need me, I’ll be in Target, sorting the ice cream case.

The 2017 Christmas Newsletter

Hello Friends and Family,

2017 has been an exciting year for our family! Let me catch you up!

Darling child number five is currently in the midst of basketball season, which you will always know by the fumes creeping out from under the laundry room door. He lives off of frozen pizza and tortilla chips, the building blocks of every athlete. Sometimes I nag him via text, and he will eat a fruit snack to step it up. Kid five is crushing Junior year and doing so without a girlfriend. Good job, kid five. Here’s a bacon bit.

Suave child four, owner of a quality high school education, master of sports and holder down of real live job, was denied access to his college of choice and retaliated by vowing to live at home and attend community college, laughing in the face of debt. He also laughs in the face of dirty dishes, overflowing trashcans and mountains of laundry in the hall, which isn’t funny, but is attentive and hardworking at his girlfriend’s family home where he does dishes and takes out trash which now that I think about it isn’t funny either, but what can you do? 

Exhausted kid three is, this very moment, writing the very last paper for the very last class that will finally allow her to very much graduate college. The one that let her in. And then never let her out. Because college is a racket and I refuse to give it the rant it deserves, just know that some things touted since preschool, much like Santa Claus, don’t deliver once you start adulting. Kid three is out of money, out of patience, out of ideas and definitely out of floor space.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Where was I?

Kid two. Go-gettin’ kid two lives across town with her Grammy and works with animals, tourists, and children. I’m not sure which of them gives her more grief on any given day, but she has the adulting thing down pretty well and went out and got herself a little Christmas tree and everything. Just because she travels the world at will does not mean that I am in any way jealous. I, too, have ridden a camel. Just not in Africa.

We have arrived at invisible kid one. Kid one moved to Los Angeles about three years ago to pursue his dream of not becoming a banker. He is busy exhausting every possible avenue that leads to earning an income with art. At the moment, he is becoming a tattoo master and costume designer. If I squint my eyes a little, I can see bankers with tats and some classy bit of leather swag mixed into their three-piece ensemble.

If I squint harder, I can even see kid one occasionally calling his mother.

As for the Hubby and I, we spent this busy year blinking hard as kids dashed to and fro in the earth and occasionally dashed ourselves, hoping to be mistaken for young free spirits. We juggled a lot of dirty dishes while juggling our day jobs. In December, we were blessed with new grand baby, Schubert.

He’s registered at Kahoots Pet Store in the tortoise department.

May your Holidays be Merry and Bright and may your New Year be filled with the delicious sparkle of fresh laundry on hangers.

Taking a Breath

Once a year I hop in the car and drive away for a weekend with my girlfriends in Palm Springs.

It’s becoming a tradition that I could really get behind. It satisfies those pesky feelings that come around once in a while that whisper, “RUN. Run now. They won’t catch you. Someone else can do the dishes.”

It’s nice to turn to them and answer, “Yes, of course. It’s just that I’m so busy right now. I’ll tell you what…next May we’ll run away to a place where we will never do dishes, clean, cook, or run laundry. Ever. OK?” And then I get on with my day.

I get mixed reactions to my weekend away from the family. Hubby supports it, inasmuch as he is thinking to himself, “Self,” he thinks, “this is the weekend where I won’t do dishes, clean, cook, or run laundry! Awesome.”

The daughters are thinking, “Mom is so lucky! Why can’t I go too? I’m a girl! Please, please, please don’t leave us with three males of the species!”

The sons are thinking, “Dad’s gonna be in charge. That means hotdogs and pizza for dinner and random adventures that we will always be running late for. Awesome!”

All I am thinking on the day before I leave is, “The laundry is completely caught up, the kitchen is clean and a pre-made dinner is in the freezer. I’ve signed all the school papers and left reminders on the calendar for the weekend for everybody. I’m packed, there’s gas in the car, directions on the GPS, and every cell phone here has my number in it.”

Not that they need it.

Mine is the only one that all of them have memorized.

Never would I have attempted this in the younger years. You don’t leave diapers to chance. The kids are all old enough to forage for food in the kitchen if abandoned to their fate. No one will accidentally leave a stove burner on. At least not for long. The strange smell in the house should alert people.

Right?

This is the part where I force myself to take a mental detour into a happy place and sit there on time out for a reality check: the house will not burn down, a child will not lose a body part, no one is getting sick; everyone will be safe, fed, and happy until Mom comes home.

It’s only two days.

Palm Springs is lovely in May. Warm poolside weather, funny movies on the telly, books and magazines, maid service and restaurant meals. Sleeping in as long as you want is a treat so rare, only a mom could fully appreciate it. It’s what we do after a night of sitting in the spa, drinking margaritas, star gazing and talking the night away.

A decadent game we play once in a while is “doing nothing”: you settle down in a comfy chair with a wonderful view, and…do absolutely nothing. Except smile.

It makes us uneasy after five minutes or so, but it’s fun practice.

Our drive home includes side trips to massive shopping malls. Hunting down a good bargain gets our head back in the game, so to speak.

As soon as I pulled up to my house, the instincts kicked into full alert.

One does not simply “ease” back into reality from a vacation, however brief.

The garage door was open but no one was around.

Hm.

I walked into the house, rolling my red carry-on behind me.

I came full stop in the middle of what used to be my living room.

Couches and tables were pushed along the walls, cushions piled up in drifts. Heaps of clothing here and there suggested closets had been sick at some point. There were Legos in the potted plants. Empty cups, half empty soda bottles, plates of crumbs and a trail of skittles led to a kitchen of greasy countertops and a truly exciting refrigerator full of leftovers. Empty pizza boxes stacked in a corner. Candy spilled out of opened bags like little lava flows.

The bodies of my family were draped over furniture, trapped in suspended animation. Only their eyes moved as they followed my speechless tour around the house.

I stopped in front of the Hubby. He smiled faintly.

“Why hello!” he said, clearing his throat, “I didn’t know you were coming home so early.”

My daughter called out softly from her place on the floor, “We had so many people over here!”

“We went swimming and shopping and watched movies all night!” bragged a son from behind a couch.

“Um,” was what I managed to say.

“We’ve already been cleaning for a couple of hours,” said Hubby, sensing the direction of my thoughts, “it looks pretty good now.”

After unpacking, I rolled up my sleeves and stepped back into the fast moving rhythm of making a house a home. I knew the steps by heart.

It’s always good to be back.

And Palm Springs will be waiting for me the next time I need a breath of fresh air.

Once in a while, moms need a breath of fresh air.