One of “Those” Days …

This morning it was one of “those” days.  You know the ones —  where everything seems to be going wrong, falling, slipping, clock not going off, jelly stain on your shirt button, and it’s not even 9 a.m.?

But this time it wasn’t me or Superman or one of the teens experiencing it.

It was our little guy, Nate.

“It’s going to be a terrible day,” he was saying to me, sighing deeply.

He’d forgotten his math worksheet and was nervous about not bringing it in completed today, then he forgot his present for his gift exchange and didn’t remember until he’d walked halfway to school already. Then his shoe laces were giving him trouble, so he kept stopping to retie them, and ended up snapping one at the quick — and he had P.E.

He finally called me, exasperated, on his cell phone:

“Mom? I forgot my present on the couch, and my shoe is broken, and I have P.E., and I’m walking home right now. I hope you’re there to give me ride, but if you’re not … [deep little-boy sigh] … I just don’t know what I’ll do …” Continue reading

Thriving On Chaos … Or, Um, Not

I’m not one of those women who thrives on chaos.

I see those women, you know, at the grocery store – they’re usually on their cell phones while pushing shopping carts, usually barking some kind of orders into the phone (trying to get someone else to help them with the long list of things they have to do). They usually have their hair immaculately done, colored and highlighted and swept into an impossible ‘do. They have expensive-looking designer bags in the front of their carts, which they are pushing through the store like they’re on some kind of timer. They always have great high-heeled shoes. …

This is not me.

I’m the one behind them, usually trying to get around them with my own shopping cart. My hair is usually coming undone in some way, or I’m tucking it behind my ear. I don’t even have my cell phone charged, let alone have it on and to my ear in a place like the grocery store. I have no one to bark orders to, so I’m usually just listening to the Muzak, sometimes humming along. I’m often lollygagging around the cheese aisle, or staring at the beautiful pottery on the top shelf by the produce, touching each piece, thinking about how roasted asparagus might fit on that long plate and how that color would look so pretty in my dining room. Continue reading

Oh, [Pathetic] Christmas Tree …

Every year, when we first get our Christmas tree out of the box, it’s quite the pathetic mess.


Spindly branches, broken pieces, entire gaps missing from the trunk. …

We did a real tree for years and years, but when the kids got older, and life got busier, we resorted to a fake one, which quickly left a lot to be desired. Plus it wasn’t just ANY fake one — it was a really skinny, scrawny fake one. I don’t even remember where we found it. I think it was just something we could afford at the time, and it fit in the tiny space we have, so we went for it.

Over the years, I’ve repeated my usual mantra: this is the year we’ll get a new tree (or at least a real one with some umph to it).

But every single year I feel bad for spending money on a new tree. And every single year I have my annual stare-down with this old one in the garage. And maybe it’s spite, or stubbornness, or maybe I just see it as a challenge, but I ask Superman to drag the scrawny, skinny one down from the rafters. And I walk around it, and frown at its pathetic Charlie Brown branches, but then I get to work. …

And after some lights, and some wine, and some ribbons, and some magic pixie dust, and some swearing at the lights, and another glass of wine, and some more ornaments, our pathetic Charlie Brown tree gets suddenly transformed into this:


Nathan hangs the ornaments on the bottom. Rene handles the middle. I hang all the lovely Lennox ornaments (that my mom gives me every year — such a joy) at the top. We fill it with all our ornaments of every vacation we’ve ever taken, every child’s first Christmas, every major anniversary Superman and I have had, all our “first Christmas” ornaments (we have a lot of those because we were married at the start of the Christmas season), all the kids’ homemade ones, all the kids’ hobbies and interests, all the ones from friends, and suddenly … the tree is transformed.

Just like life.

You add all the details — the memories, the friends, the kids, your interests, the vacations, your parents, your hobbies, your inside jokes — and you can turn a rather plain life (or a plain set of branches) into one of beauty and magic and love.

Needless to say, every year I end up loving that pathetic Charlie Brown tree.

The End of a Season …

Well, we didn’t win the big game, but we had quite a cool experience being in Angel Stadium.

We don’t have any pro football in these here parts, so our baseball stadium is the nearest thing we can have to a “big league” venue for football. And we are HUGE Angel fans. So being in the stadium and seeing our boy down on that field was really thrilling, all around.

Here’s Ricky’s fan club heading in to the game:


We also met Superman’s oldest brother there, along with his nephew and bro’s brother-in-law, so we had a fun group.

The field was set up very well. Here’s how it looked, converted from the baseball diamond to a football stadium:


Both teams’ cheerleaders stood on the same side (closest to the seats), and all the fans sat on the same side  of the field but were separated left to right. Only the Mustang players were on the other side of the field.

Here’s us ready to watch the game:



But here’s how we looked by halftime:


It rained the entire game! But it was fun. The boys had fun playing football in the rain, and we had fun sitting in it to watch it in a pro stadium. (Like I said, we don’t get to do pro football around here, so all around it was a unique experience!)

The Mustangs lost, but I was happy that Ricky got the entire experience of going all the way in CIF. That’ll be one great season that those kids probably won’t forget … Win or lose, it was a great, exciting season.


Teenagers and Angel Trees

So while I was craning my neck to gawk at celebrities the other night, my kids and hubby were doing good deeds. Putting me to shame. (Not the first time, I imagine.)

In my absence, they went out to a fast-food fish-taco dinner and then traipsed through town to purchase gifts for needy families.

A few days ago, my husband, oldest son, and middle daughter all independently chose to participate in “angel trees” this year — where you take a piece of paper off a tree (often cut out in the shape of an angel) with a request on it from a specific child about what he’d like for Christmas if he felt he could ask. Usually the requests are from children who are staying in a homeless shelter in the area.

Hubby Superman came home with an “angel request” off a tree in the lobby of the courthouse where he works; Rene took a paper from an angel tree at her junior-high-school library; and Ricky took a nudge from his girlfriend, who is coordinating the angel tree for the Spanish club at their high school. Strangely, they all did this the same day. Then that night at dinner, we poured over all the lists that came out of pockets and backpacks.

So off to shopping they went. …

(Nate, of course, wanted to participate, too – he helped by offering his expert opinion on what kids like for Christmas. Thumbs up, thumbs down. He’s a master elf.) Continue reading

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