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June 30, 2009

Keys, Please!

It's been three weeks now since Tyler got his drivers license.

June 10th-not even a full month has passed.

Ahh, the memories. It seems so long ago, those days of me toting him around.

I was so sad at seeing him drive off that first morning.

My first born child, taking the lives of his brothers in his hand as he drove them off to swim practice.

I stood on the front porch and watched, ready to throw my body down to stop him from leaving.

My, how a few short weeks can change everything.

Three weeks later, I still worry each time he drives off. There is still a little teeny pang in my heart and the prompt to drive safe and text me when he arrives.

My neighbor tried to tell me how happy I would be once Tyler could drive.

At the time we were drinking martinis. It made no sense to me.

All I could think about was someone running over my baby. And to be fair, I still do worry about that. I'm sure I always will.

But the rest of me is high-fiving myself, secretly woo-hooing, every single day!

In the past three weeks, he has driven himself to work, made more trips to pick up fast food for himself and his brother than I can count, dropped off dry cleaning, picked up dry cleaning, dropped one kid off at the orthodontist, picked another up at a friends house.

I even got really brave yesterday and allowed him to do our grocery shopping.

What did I do before I had my own personal errand runner?

Every parent needs one of these, it's the best thing since unlimited texting.

All those times I could barely get him out of his room, off the couch, or to speak in anything beyond a mumble are a thing of the past.

Car keys hold such enormous power, I had no idea!

If parents of younger kids knew this, we would instantly be writing our Congressmen asking to get the legal driving age lowered.

All I have to do now is request an errand and just like the magic trick that made his brothers disappear yesterday, asking a new driver to run an errand is just the opposite.

The jingle of car keys is like waving that magic wand.


They instantly reappear.

Happy. Cheerful. Speaking in full sentences. Right before your eyes, like a little lap dog, ready to perform whatever trick you need.

It's just amazing.

I'm trying to take full advantage of this before he catches on to me.

At some point me 'allowing' him to run up to Target is going to turn into me 'begging' him to run to Target. I know that day is coming.

So far he hasn't figured that out. I know my days are numbered.

For now, it's cool to drive mom's car, which has a great air conditioner and even better radio.

I know he likes my radio, I learned that the hard way.

Monday morning, I rushed out the door for work, hands full of a too many work items, 2 Diet cokes, cell phone, laptop, purse, never enough caffeine by that point, and can barely get to the car without dropping something.

Turn on the engine first, trying to get the air conditioner going, since it's 110 degrees by 8 am and my face is starting to melt.

Remember the old Bill Cosby routine about a parent getting in a car after a teen?

The man was famous for a reason.

The radio nearly blew out my ear drum and car speakers in the same second.

No more need for the Diet Cokes or caffeine, I was well awake at that moment.

How can a child listen to music THAT loud?

In fact how can a child listen to THAT music?

I managed to peel myself up off the driveway, crawl over to the radio and hit mute.

Whichever of my neighbors were lucky enough to still be in bed were thanking me, I am sure, for the 8 am wake up call they didn't request.

Oh well.

My speakers survived (although I did mention to Tyler that my radio maxes out at 30 on volume so 27 might be a wee bit loud? Very sheepish grin. Oops.)

If you have a up and coming teen driver, be prepared to worry. It has, easily, been the scariest thing I have done as a parent. Hands down.

But it's also been the most fun.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

But you might want to turn down the radio first.

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June 29, 2009

Manic Monday

Monday morning, I was very sluggishly trying to get ready for work.

In the process though, I learned a magic trick that would make David Copperfield jealous:

How to make teenage boys disappear in 3 easy steps:

1.) Ask them to take a shower. Especially during the summer.

2.) Ask them to help clean up. Anything. Any time.

3.) When the first two do not get done, take away beloved electronics.

POOF! They will vanish to a friends house right before your very eyes!

I was trying, really trying.

It was a Monday morning. I was doing good to remember to put the coffee pot on, but I managed.

I am still debating which patch of grass is greener, if there is such a thing:

Lawn #1: Trying to get ready for work during the summer, with teenagers, some of whom are not my own, sprawled around my house, when I walk out into the living room.

Some day, I am not going to forget to put the coffee pot on the machine, post-brewing.

No, instead I am going to forget there are other people's children sleeping in my living room and I am going to walk out into the living room, probably to get to the coffee pot, and I will be half dressed.

And right there will be a bunch of traumatized teenagers at my house, and CPS at my door.

Lawn #2: Trying to get ready for work when school is in. There are no strangers sleeping at my house during the school year.

That's always a good thing.

I can make a mad dash to the dryer and not worry about child abuse charges later that day.

But, during the school year, there are endless requests for lunch money, black socks, pants and shoes for band for a concert that same night that no one has informed me of, 'lost' report cards that must be signed, missing gym clothes and 'I'm outta underwear, do you know where it is?'

All before 7 am.

We were all tired from the swim meet yesterday.

They wanted to sleep in. It's summer.

I wanted them to brush their teeth and bathe. At least once before school starts.

Somehow my younger two children have seemed to confused swimming with bathing.

I wanted them to work less at becoming one with the couch cushions.

They, on the other hand, can eat, sleep, breathe, talk on the phone and do nearly everything else needed right from those same couch cushions.

Were it not for trips to the bathroom, which I don't want to know about, I don't think they would get up from that couch from June through August.

I don't think there is any green grass when it comes to getting ready for work with children around, it's all brownish.

Sort of like my lawn right now.

A little green here. A little brown there. Depends on where you stand.

Back to that magic trick: I haven't found the formula yet to make them re-appear.

Guess how hard I'm looking?

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June 28, 2009

Show me the money, mom

What is it with men and money?

They either want all the control of the money or nothing to do with it.

I have managed our family finances for most of the 17 years my husband and I have been married.

This is partly out of necessity-it doesn't make sense for him to manage the checkbook from a boat in the Gulf of Mexico where he works.

But, a certain non-verbal arrangement was made at some point.

He cleans the garage.

I pay the bills.

I interview the maid (or let her interview us.)

He makes sure we have enough video games to keep our house among the most popular in the 39 and under male age group.

I have, over the years, encouraged him to become more involved in our finances.

Sometimes I've encouraged, other times I've pleaded.

I said to my husband a few years ago:

"But what if something happens to me? How would you know who or where to send the payments to?"

(Remember this, it's important later.)

His response: "Eventually, they'll start calling and I'll find out."

Right about then, I stopped pleading for help.

This past week, money suddenly became a hot topic at our house.

Due to a technical bank error we are still trying to decipher, a car payment was skipped on my husbands car note.

The information is murky at best as to what caused this.

Apparently the stars aligned as they do once every 100 years, and my husband said, coincidentally, "I need to help out more with the money. I need to help pay the bills."

I was surprised at the timing.

I tried not to act defensive.

He said at least three times:

"What if something happens to you? How would I know who to pay?"

Really? Where did you come up with that idea?

I started to think maybe this was not about the car note and perhaps he had put a hit out on me and was using the car payment as a cover up.

I tried to believe he really wanted to help and that he was not silently accusing me of screwing up his car note.

Our ability to discuss this deteriorated quickly.

I felt accused.

He apparently felt like I was keeping the money management from him purposefully.

As we went to bed one night, I think he mumbled something about this being about 'power'.

But he was smart enough to do it when the lights were totally out so I could not see him entirely, and I had taken a Tylenol PM (or three) and felt like a slug on Valium.

Power. I'll show you the power, mister, I wanted to say, except my tongue felt like a 40 pound weight and I was too tired to argue further.

I will gladly serve you every bill we have on a silver platter, along with the checkbook, and go ahead and tell me how much power you feel when you spend 6 hours every Saturday morning trying to make it all jive.

I'll arrange for a transfer of power that would make George Bush's head spin. Done.

Over his four days at home, there no resolution, no transer of power.

No simple solution as to how to divide up money management among two working parents, especially when one of them is gone for days at a time. On a boat.

Thursday night as my husband got ready to head out to the Gulf, where he would be tucked safely far way from his raging wife (as if I could not track him down on the ocean if I really needed!), I decided to pay the bill for his new broadband card.

You know, just because I am so full of power and all and paying broadband bills while working full time and trying to make sure the endles stream of teenage boys at our house all summer don't eventually start to eat the walls or burn the house down is my idea of fun.

He kindly provided me the account information and, as I always do, I set up the account online, created a user name and password, and set the bill up for autopay.

As he sat next to me on our bed, surfing the web on his own laptop, I said, "here is the log in information in case you want to log in and see if the bill is paid or any account information."

What happened next left me speechless.

He turned around, and said to me just as serious as if he were saying "Have you seen my missing underwear" and said:
"Why would I need to see that?"

For his sake, it's a good thing that this conversation happened in our room with only pillows nearby, and not in the kitchen where I could have reached for our cast iron skillet.

For the second time in a week, I was speechless. Utterly speechless.

"I don't know, maybe you might need to log in, just in case anything ever happens to me and I get hit by a bus and you need to know the account information?"

The color quickly drained from his face.

"Oh yeah, yeah, you're right, I do need that."

Managing money as a married couple should never be about power or secrets.

It should be about both partners accepting responsibility for, at the very least, a basic understanding of the family financial situation. Even if one partner is updated monthly on the financial status.

Take my advice though: that conversation should take place in a bedroom with lots of soft things nearby.

Avoid discussing money in the kitchen.

Someone might get hurt.

(printed with my husbands approval. I love you honey. And I know where that boat is. :)
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June 27, 2009

Work Life Balance?

I'm in bed this morning, trying to recuperate from a long week.

I decided to forgo any
attempts to make coffee and instead went straight for Diet Coke.

No chance of me needing to suck it off the kitchen floor with a straw.

And because I am still in a daze from the week, thrilled it is Saturday and that there are no
swim meets or mouthy 11 year olds nearby, I am eating breakfast in bed.

Cheeze Its.

I'm just too tired to eat much else.

Yep, it's me, Cheeze Its, a diet coke and the TV for now.

I knew my TV choices would be limited to Michael Jackson or Michael Jackson, but as I was channel surfing, I heard someone mention 'work life balance.'

I'm sure it was one of those morning news anchors who all look like former Miss America contestants.

Regardless, it got me thinking:

Whoever came up with that term either didn't work, didn't have kids, or didn't have a life.

Or maybe they had none of the above and were looking for it.

I'm sure they are still looking.

I've decided there is really no such thing as true work life balance.

Work life balance is sort of like a giant see-saw on a playground.

On one side is work, on the other side is the rest of your life.

And getting on that see saw is like being in second grade again.

Some girl who you know really doesn't like you comes up, and in this oh so friendly voice says, "hey, want to get on the see saw with me?"

Your first instinct is to run (this is second grade after all or your first instinct as an adult would be to tell her where to go...)

You cannot figure out why she is asking YOU, when there are so many other people she could ask?

For a brief moment, it seems like a fun idea?

For reasons you cannot explain until many years later when you are in group therapy, you gladly agree to get on the see-saw with this person, and not so deep down, you know exactly what is about to happen.

She gets on one side.

You get on the other.


She hits the ground and promptly sits there like sack of potatoes.

You, of course, sit 10 feet in the air, feet dangling, too far to touch the ground and get off this ride you volunteered for, knowing exactly what would happen.

And there is no way in hell you are going to call for help.

If you asked for help, everyone would know that you were crazy (or dumb!) enough to get on the see-saw when there was no chance, no chance at all, that there would be any fun or balance to that stupid thing!

No, I don't think there is really such a thing as work life balance.

Ask 100 women if they feel like they have really attained true work life balance, and 99 of them will laugh at you and say no.

And the last one will be lying and was probably a mean second grader.

You can strive for balance, but in the end, one of the items is always going to be the mean kid sitting on the bottom, holding you down.

While your feet dangle, and most of us refuse to call for help, the guilt builds and builds that you were silly enough to think you really wanted to do this, could do this.

Eventually, something has to give.

You either call for help from the teacher who looks at you like, "you knew this would happen, didn't you?"

Or, you beg the girl to let you down, off that horrible ride.

If she's nice (which she most definitely is not, or she would not have put you in this place to being with), she will slowly ease you back down.

But, if she's the way we know all know she is, you know what happens next.


She gets right off and you come slamming back down to the ground flat on your butt. Hard.

As she walks away, she gives you an evil smirk like, 'I can't believe you fell for that.' (That's okay though, 20 year high school reunions usually provide some sort of revenge.)

Off she goes to find her next victim.

Welcome to the see-saw of work life balance.

I don't think there are many opportunities to be let down slowly, and there certainly is not much balance.

We search and search for some way to find the happy middle spot on that see-saw, that mysterious place where everything evens out and one side is not dangling loose, and one side is not slamming to the ground. Somehow, we fool ourselves into believing we can pull off keeping both an employer and children (and a husband usually) fully content.

All at the same time.

And do it well.

I'm not sure if we'll ever find that happy medium.

If, fifteen or twenty years from now, Robert and I can sit on the front porch (okay, or maybe Sam's Boat with oysters and beer,) look back and say that we didn't have to bail anyone out of jail or send anyone to rehab, I'll be happy.

If the worst thing that happens is that my kids super glue their injuries closed without calling me first, or they fail to scrape the Wolf chili from the sinkand it starts to look like a biology experiment gone bad in my kitchen, we will be okay.

Until then, on some days my feet will dangle loose for sure, and I will stubbornly refuse to ask for help.

On other days, we will hit the ground. Hard.

In between now and then, Cheeze Its and Diet coke on Saturday morning in order to recuperate will have to do.

The see-saw might not be perfectly balanced and it probably never will be.

But it's close enough.

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June 26, 2009

You know it's going to be a bad day when...

Your morning goes something like this:

Turn on coffee pot.

Take shower.

Go back for coffee and there is no pot.

But lots and lots of coffee on the floor.

You would think coffee pot makers would think of this.

Coffee is, afterall, usually meant for those of us who are NOT QUITE AWAKE WHICH IS WHY WE ARE MAKING COFFEE TO BEGIN WITH.

Do I sound like I need caffiene?

Yes! It's all over my kitchen and not in a cup, although I was tempted to try and use my hands or to scrape some off the counter into a cup. Or maybe suck it up with a straw.

Why aren't there huge alarm bells for this type of incident on coffee pots??

Something very loud and jolting like "HELLO MORON YOU FORGOT THE POT" at the sound level of a jumbo jet might have gotten my attention.

This was so not a Folgers moment.

Or is that supposed to be Kodak moment.

Or Folgers morning?

Whatever, you get the point!

Good thing I wasn't trying to do laundry.

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June 25, 2009

What's a Farrah Fawcett?

A month or so ago, I watched the documentary about Farrah Fawcett's battle with cancer.

Toward the end of the show, Tyler walked in at one point, saw that I was watching something medical (he hates medical shows) and asked what I was watching.

I said, "It's a documentary about Farrah Fawcett and her battle with cancer."

He looked at me like I had just spoken French.

"What's a Farrah Fawcett?"

It has never occurred to me that her name might sound a little strange to someone who didn't grow up with Charlie's Angels.

I looked at him, trying to think of how to answer that?

Long pause from me as I tried to absorb what he had just asked and how to respond?

"Mom, what's a Farrah Fawcett? Is that a person? Was she famous"

How do you explain Farrah Fawcett?

The only thing I could think of that would come close enough to give him any perspective, and really it was a stretch, was to say, "imagine many years from now (MANY YEARS!) one of your kids asking, 'what's a Beyonce?'"

How do you explain who Farrah was to a 16 year old boy today who, if he had been alive in 1979, would have probably known more about Farrah than I would have ever want to know.

Thank goodness there was no Internet in 1979.

I tried to explain who Farrah was: an actress, one of the original Charlie's Angels, a UT Student who became famous because she was beautiful.

And the poster.

That poster.

I wasn't sure really how to explain that poster.

Kids today don't even really have posters like we did, so just trying to say to him, "well, her poster was in more bedrooms than there probably were bed sheets," didn't really get me very far.

I tried to explain her to him the best I knew how, but in the end, Farrah was someone from my generation that he would never really understand.

Trying to explain to a 16 year old that a 62 year old was once worshipped by every male over the age of about 8 is pretty much impossible.

"Isn't Nana about 62?"

I gave up.

"Just Google her."

I hope and pray we remember Farrah for more than the poster.

She was a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter and a human being with her own issues and troubles that she tried to deal with in whatever way she knew how.

Okay, so the David Letterman thing a few years back was weird.

Sadly, not eight million posters, not fame, not even being the original Charlies Angel can stop cancer.

If I could rewind back to that TV show last month, I think I might change my answer to Tyler:

"Mom, what's a Farrah Fawcett?"

"A mom who was once famous and beautiful around the world and had more money than any of us could imagine, and would probably give all of that back in a heartbeat to have one more moment with her family."

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June 24, 2009

Rejected and Redeemed

Back in May, we let our housekeeper go. It was a weird set of circumstances that led us to that decision. But at the moment, it seemed so sensible.

Save money.

Let the kids help out more during the summer.

Save money.

Wrong on all accounts. Within 3 days I had turned into the demon mom from hell when I arrived home from work each day and quickly found things growing in my sink and commodes.

I put out the word among my mom friends:

Housekeeper needed.


Within a few days, a friend had scheduled me an appointment for her housekeeper to come over and look at our house to see if she could 'fit us into her schedule.'

Ahhh, little did I know how his works. I was so naive.

She showed up and I allowed her into our house, as is, things growing in the sink and all.

Within about 15 seconds, I realized something very interesting:

This was like a job interview. And we were quickly failing.

And I was not interviewing her-she was interviewing us!

In Spanish, no less, with her sister who had come along with her.

I am sure in her mind, she was thinking something to the effect of, "oh, hell no," because her face spoke volumes.

At the end of the reverse 'interview,' I asked her if she could start and she said to me in broken Spanish: "give me your number, I'll call you."

There ya go. She had basically just said to me, "don't call me, I'll call you."

I was stunned.


Stayed in a dark room for days. Well, not really, but it sure seemed like that.

The sink and toilets continued to grow at about the same rate as the horns sprouting from my head each day as the house got messier and messier.

I tried, I really tried.

The kids picked up fairly well. Well enough to keep me from giving them up for adoption.

But I knew we were in trouble. And I think they did, too.

I again put out the word that I needed help.

Only this time, I didn't say 911.

I said, if someone doesn't send me their housekeeper quick, you will all be visiting me at a location that has 'Oaks' or 'Valley' or in name, because I will be checking into rehab.

Elizabeth to the rescue. I love Elizabeth. She knows a crisis when she sees one and is closer to God than the Pope I think.

I am sure Elizabeth had her church group laying hands on a photo of my house on Wednesday night.

And it worked!

Sure enough, she found a wonderful, marvelous saint of a lady from her church who agreed to come over and see if she could 'fit us into her schedule.'

Ha. This time I was prepared. I knew the routine and knew we had to be prepared.

I had Chase cover the whole house in Fabuloso. (For those of you not familiar with Fabuloso, it's a house keeping product that makes your house smell, well, fabulous, and is used by many housekeepers in our area.)

I'm thinking...if she smells that Fabuloso, she'll think the house is cleaned periodically instead of quarterly.

I went on the warpath before she arrived. I had Chase and Jordan (Tyler was smart enough to bail out on this one...) picking up everything that was not nailed down and put it in a closet.

And then I prayed she didn't ask to see the closets.

And then we poured more Fabuloso.

She showed up for our interview.

Within seconds, I loved her.

We connected immediately.

She didn't ask to see the closets (Elizabeth, if you read this, please thank God for me next Wednesday for that one!)

Within 15 minutes, we had composed a supply list, created a schedule and agreed upon a price (little did she know, I would have offered up one of my Ninos she kept calling cute as she walked around, if that's what it would have taken to get her to come back!)

She even agreed to start the next day (which also happened to be the day of the horrible swim meet and Jordan defaming Donald Duck.)

We arrived home from the swim meet to a house that smelled like Fabuloso that someone else had poured, and was oh, so clean and sparkly.

The horns in my head have diminished almost entirely.

And I owe Elizabeth big time.

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June 23, 2009


I arrived in Austin last night, here for a quick work visit.

I haven't been to the Austin airport in years, probably at least twenty years. The minute you step into this terminal, instantly you know you are Austin. Even the air has an Austin feel to it.

I found the rental car terminal, gave them my name and asked for my car.

I had reserverd a standard car, nothing fancy, this was a work trip after all.

The lady behind the desk said, "well, you've reserved a standard, but we don't have any standard cars available."

I'm tired.

Not thinking clearly.

Wondering what 'reserved' means if you show up and nothing is 'reserved.'

Maybe she felt sorry for me.

Maybe somehow she knew from the look on my face that I had spent all day Saturday in weather that should only be reserved for goat herders in the Sahara.

Maybe she knew my son had blurted out things that probably made Walt Disney turn over in his grave.

Maybe she has a second job as Madame Marie on the weekend and has a crystal ball.

Who knows. Who cares.

Because the next thing she said was, "but we do have a 2010 Camaro available if you don't want to wait for the mini van?"


Now she has my attention.

Mini van.


Mini van.


"I'll take the Camaro please."

A few minutes later I am standing in front of a car that would make my 16 year old son fall down on his knees in adoration.

Seriously. A 2010 Camaro? Everything I've driven in the last 16 years has had some sort of "mini" in the title-usually mini van. Mini-Suv.

None of them were very 'mini,' either.

And none of them looked like this car.

I walked up to the lady working outside and pointed to that Camaro and said, "Is THAT my car?"

She looked at my paperwork and said, "Yes, maam."

I said, "And I just get to get in that car and drive out of here?"

"Yes maam." (By now, I'm sure she's thinking I had one too many beers in the airport.)

I get in the car, which by the way, if you're used to driving things with 'mini' in the title, driving a sports car makes you feel like Fred Flintstone at first, not Mario Andretti.

I thought for sure at any second my rear end was going to be scraping the pavement, or that my head would pop out of the roof. It took some getting used to.

About 30 seconds, and I was good.

I learned two very valuable lessons from driving that car for 24 hours:

1.)Every mom should drive a sports car for a day. Rent one, borrow one, find one, but do it. It will make you feel young a lot quicker than trying to flay down on a bed and fit into skinny jeans. Especially if you've been driving mini vans around for years. I now have an idea for a great birthday gift for my girlfriends-rent them an awesome car for a day.

2.)No mom should ever let her teenage son drive one of these cars until they're at least 25 (the kid, not the mom.)

Before I was out of the parking garage, I called Tyler to tell him what had happened.

Stone silence. "You're in what?"

He instantly recovers from the shock and says, "Mom, have you hit the gas, I mean really HIT THE GAS?"

I said, "I am in the parking garage. If I hit the gas I am going to go flying off the third floor and land on a parking bus."

"Mom, when you get on the highway, you have to PUNCH it."

In that second, he instantly erased every ounce of guilt I had about not purchasing him a new sports car, or even an old sports car, when he turned 16 a few weeks ago. The 1995 Honda Civic he inherited suddenly became the perfect car for my new, young, male driver.

Punch it? Ha. Go and ahead and punch it in that Honda and let me know what happens.

Actually, don't do that-you might blow the engine out and then the Honda will be history.

As I headed back to the airport tonight to return the car, a young guy pulled up next to me at at a stop light and revved his engine.

I looked over my sunglasses at him and revved mine right back. Should I do it?

The light turned green.

Just kidding. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

And I'll put away that $300 I had set aside for Botox.

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June 22, 2009

Jon minus Kate

Well, I started a blog tonight while waiting for my flight to Austin.

The original blog was about the tv programming choices that I had to choose from at 11:30 last night. I didn't finish that post, the flight arrived, maybe I'll get to it later.

As I spend the night at my dad's house in Austin, I am saddened by the news that Jon and Kate have decided to divorce. Not entirely surprised, but saddened.

I am a child of divorce, I know the pain divorce causes, on a very personal level.

I can still remember being 10 years old and my mom breaking the news to my brother and I at a restaurant not too far from where I am tonight actually.

Breaking the news to two kids was devastating, I am sure, although it's not something we've really ever discussed since then, how that conversation happened.

I really cannot comprehend breaking that news to eight children.

At the age of 10, I knew the news was coming. I believe the two older children on this tv show are about the age I was when my parents divorced.

At that age, you are old enough to know something has drastically gone wrong, but not old enough to comprehend what has happened or why.

Sort of like watching a car wreck happening in slow motion and being helpless to stop it.

I remember the knowing, the understanding, that what we had known as normal, would no longer be normal.

Even though my parents had not told me, I knew.

I remember the dread of waiting for the actual verbal announcement to arrive, and a little bit of relief at my mom confirming what my brain told me but my heart desperately wanted to change, to stop, to prove me wrong.

You cannot stop a wreck once it's in motion.

I've heard a lot of blame directed at Jon and Kate and who is at fault here.

The tabloids and gossip magazines have placed this couple on the front of their magazines and rotated the blame each week.

As much as Kate and Jon are grown ups and in full control of their own lives, TLC needs to step up to the plate here and own up to their part in this.

The Learning Channel? REALLY? What exactly are we learning from this situation? How to get divorced in 3 easy seasons?

TLC has dangled money, trips, gifts and more money in front of a family that was in dire need of help.

And I refuse to believe that the people behind the scenes on this show did not see this wreck unfolding.

They should be ashamed.

No, you cannot stop a wreck.

But you can certainly call for help.

Instead, TLC has done just the opposite. They have basked in the ratings of this catastrophe and as much as they've tried to seem concerned, the fact that they are allowing this show to go on, especially given the news today and how it will affect these children for the rest of their lives, is appalling.

If this was really The Learning Channel, the news today might have been, "Jon and Kate have decided to try and work on their marriage and out of concern for these 8 children, we are cancelling this series in an effort to give the kids some privacy."

Nope, not a chance are they going to pass this up.

I wonder, in 30 years, if these children will remember where they were when their mom or dad told them that their parents were truly divorcing?

I wonder if they've known already and have been waiting for someone to confirm it.

I wonder if they thought they could stop the wreck, instead of standing by, helpless to stop it.

And, I wonder what it must feel like to be 9 or 10 years old and helplessly watch a wreck happen in front of your very eyes, only the whole world watches the wreck happen with you and no one stops to call for help.

Someone needs to pull the plug here. The next story about this family should be no story at all, ever again.

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Remote Control

Sunday night I was up at 11:30, which seems to have become my new bedtime. I'm one of those weirdos who goes to sleep with the TV on.

The TV had been off all day but I turn it on to fall asleep.

That should say something about our programming options these days.

I'm flipping channels and I notice that the choice of TV shows these days has deteriorated into a strange selection of options that is eerily reminisent of the old time freak shows at a circus.

Pay a quarter, lift the curtain, see the tallest man alive.

Next booth, lift the curtain, see the conjoined twins.

Nothing has changed in 100 years except that we pay more to view, the participants get paid to put their lives on display, and we can watch it all from our bedroom at midnight-no need to pay the creepy dude at the door.

Unless you're late on your cable bill.

Which I know nothing about.

So, here's what I had to pick from:

Twins by Surprise: Okay, I've known a few women actually who've gotten pregnant and didn't know it. I can't quite understand how that happens though. If I so much as eat 3 extra french fries, my scale goes up 5 lbs.. An extra baby? Not a chance.

Twins by surprise though? Here are some clues you might be pregnant with twins and concurrently in a sad state of deinal:

  • If you suddenly find yourself only able to fit into clothes that have brand names like PEA IN A POD or MOMMY AND ME, something is wrong.
  • If your stomach starts to do some hellacious moves on it's own, and you've never taken a belly dancing class...and you're well, not belly dancing, that could be a clue.
  • If you start to look like you swallowed one of the Harlem Globetrotters basketballs, yep, there's a problem.

The Secret Life of the American Teengager: I thought this was very funny.

Teenagers today don't have secrets, plain and simple.

When I was a kid, secrets were do-able. A good diary with a sturdy lock, well hidden from your little brother, and all of your secrets were safe.

Not today. I can barely pass wind and my kids have posted it on MySpace.

Okay, to be fair, I do post frequently myself on Facebook.

But, I am an adult and I know the limits, for the most part, of what constitutes a secret and what does not.

Teens today bare their entire lives, and anyone who might be connected to them, for the whole world to see. And comment on.

I think this show should be re-named: The Secret Lives of Parents Who Don't Know Their Kids.

If you know your kids, you probably wouldn't end up as subject material for this type of show.

The next two choices were just awesome viewing material:

Half Ton Dad OR Why I Ran

Guess what the common theme was among these two shows?

No, there were no half ton men running anywhere.

Give up? Both shows took place in Houston. So we have half ton dads AND geniuses who try to out run the police, but instead are followed by the news helicopters, like there is a chance in hell that they are gonna get away with the whole city watching their every move. All for your viewing pleasure, filmed right here in H-Town.

Last choice? My favorite, but for a different reason: ICE ROAD TRUCKERS

I have lived most of life in Texas.

We use ice for 2 things-iced tea and ice chests (usually full of beer.) Oh, I almost forgot.

We also use ice for frozen Margaritas.

That's it.

We don't walk on ice, we don't stand on ice, we don't fish on ice and we certainly do not drive on ice.

In fact, when the rare ice storm hits south Texas, most of us cannot make it to our mailbox without slipping and falling on our butts at least half a dozen times.

No native Texas would, in their right mind, drive on ice. Not even in a Big Wheel. You would be more likely to find me pregnant with twins by surprise than you would to find me driving any vehicle on ice.

These men have evidently made a career out of something that is unthinkable to those of us from the south. I don't know what kind of mental state you have to be in to choose this as a job, but I sure hope they pay you well.

This would be sort of like those of us from the south telling someone from Minnesota to come visit in July and to bring a sweater because it gets 'cool' at night. If you're not from here, you wouldn't get it.

You'd be more likely to find someone from Texas on Jupiter than you would driving an 18 Wheeler across an Ice Lake.

Now, if you're from Houston, and you happen to move into this profession, you'll probably be great at cutting off, tailgating or making creative hand gestures at the other Ice Road Truckers once you're out on that ice lake.

Those were my choices. Pregnant teens. Half ton dads or people running from the police. Twins by Surprise (also known as "Women in denial that they have doubled in size over the course of nine months".)

What has happend to our society that everything available on TV is a peek into the lives of people with issues that, 10 years ago none of would have ever known about, and we would have been just fine keeping it that way.

And if this is what's on TV, I'll take the kids playing Wii or X-Box any day of the week over television.

So, what channel did I land on?

Forensic Files.

Nothing like a serial killer to help you fall asleep.

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June 20, 2009


Warning, this post is not for the faint of heart, grandparents, or parents who have small children and have not yet entered the world of teenagers.

Actually, if you have small children, you might want to read this to get an idea of the speeding train that is headed straight down the tracks, straight towards you.

Today at the swim meet (yes, I keep coming back to that and no, I never found the parent of the blue Igloo), I had my Blackberry with me.

What working mom worth her salt doesn't have a Blackberry in hand during a Saturday swim meet?

An email arrived from Itunes with an invoice.

I keep Itunes password protected against purchases but the password inevitably gets out because the kids want to buy a song and I end up being too busy (read: tired) at that moment to get up and type it in for them.

One way or the other, the password gets out, and I have to change it again. Funny thing is, they've gotten really good at guessing my passwords so now I've had to get really creative at creating passwords that they won't guess but I can still remember, which is not easy.

Back to the Itunes receipt-on that receipt was a song Chase had asked to purchase.

No big deal.

But, right below that song were two free 'Apps' listed that someone had downloaded without my knowledge.

App #1: Sexy Babes, v1.0

App #2: Hot Bikini Babes at Baberoo Babes Lite

Hmmm....last time I checked my own Ipod I was not looking at Bikini Baberoo Babes. Neither version 1.0 or 2.0.

I don't think my husband was looking at them...although he might now that he knows they're free on Itunes. We'll talk.

I immediately start scanning the sea of heads at the swim meet for my angels.

Tyler appeared first. I knew it wasn't Tyler. Tyler is smart enough to either not download this type of App, or smart enough to cover his tracks. Tyler could have the entire Playboy Mansion on his Ipod but he would be smart enough to make sure I wouldn't find out.

I told Tyler to find a sibling, any sibling, and bring him to me. We looked at each other and both knew which sibling was coming first.

Jordan appears seconds later. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: "Jordan, I just received a very strange Itunes invoice, I'm hoping you can explain something to me."

(red face, raised eye brows. panic. On him, not me.)

I hand him the Blackberry to see the email.

Me: "Care to explain that, does any of that look familiar? "

Jordan: "Okay...(long pause...at which point Tyler looks at me like, yep, we knew it, and walks away to avoid the scene I am sure he thinks is about to ensue)...it was me."

Just like that, he confesses.

No torture, no threats, no heat lamp in a dark room, he confesses just like that.

Me: "Why would you download this? (At this point, I'm really calm actually. I've got three boys, nothing shocks me anymore. That's all about to change.)"

Jordan: "Well, I didn't do it. Charlie did it."

That's when the blood started to flow.

Me: "Jordan, Charlie doesn't know the password to our Itunes account, so do not blame this on Charlie."

At this point, the conversation goes downhill quickly into Jordan trying to 'explain' to me how when Charlie spent the night at our house, he 'made' Jordan type in that password and download those Apps.

I have patience for a lot of things.

Not accepting responsibility for what you do is not one of them. It makes me crazy. He had been doing so good to confess but totally lost it when he blamed it on a friend. Nope. Not in my house.

We don't own weapons. Last time I checked, 13 year old Charlie didn't bring a gun over and force Jordan to download those apps on to his Ipod (which by the way, I am certain were still on there at that very moment.)

Me: "I am taking up your Ipod when we get home."

That gets his attention. Electronics are a prized possession of any 11 year old. He was horrified.

Jordan, who is now incredulous that I am taking up the Ipod and speaking loudly, acting totally insulted, says: (And I swear, I am not making this up)

"Why are you taking up my Ipod when Chase's Ipod has an App with Donald Duck having an orgasm?"


Somehow I missed that invoice.

So yes, my 11 year old son has just announced in the presence of a sea of parents, who I am praying were not listening to this due to the heat, that my other son has an Ipod application that involves Donald Duck and orgasms.

I'm not speechless often, like I said, I've heard it alot with three boys.

At that moment it's fair to say I was tongue tied.

I said a quick prayer to the parental Gods that no other parent heard that conversation, and in a low, so sweet of a mom voice, in case anyone was listening, I said: "I believe they've called your next event, good luck!"

Ipods collected.

But I'm still speechless.

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Summer Fun?

If you read my previous blog from last weekend, you know I am once again at a Saturday swim meet.

This is our last full meet of the year.

There are 1600 people here.

I got lucky. Or smart. Instead of timing in the blazing sun, I've moved to the dark side and joined the parents who don't act as timers, and I'm sitting in the shade.

Sort of...

Shade or no shade, I think it's near 100 degrees.

My partner in crime parent Debbie just found out she is signed up to work concessions from 1 to 4. We stare at each other.

4 pm? Have we ever been here that late? I think so. This last meet is like childbirth. It's so bad every year, you block it out once it's over. And then 12 months later you find yourself knocked up again and wonder, why did I do this?

So, I'm sitting here and two girls who are about 10 open a cooler in front of me and yank out Jello shots. Like college style, old fashioned Jello shots. Red, yellow, green. Jello shots, little plastic containers and all.

I think I'm having a Pavlovian response of some kind.

Clearly there is no alcohol in them.

But there is some parent here who's idea of 'Summer Fun' is more in line with what I would consider fun.

I'm off to find the owner of the blue Igloo so we can work out a deal for next year.

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June 18, 2009

Half Baked, Part II

Fortunately, I work in a job where I can pop in and out of the house during the summer on some days, depending on my client visits.

Today was one of those days. I was in the area and decided to pop in for lunch.

Now, since we have three teenagers and they are sometimes home alone, I have some rules.

Rule number 1: No one comes inside unless you talk to me first.

Actually, that is the only rule, other than brush your teeth by 10 am.

What usually happens is this:

Pick a kid, calling me on their cell: "Mom, can _________ come over?"

Me: "Yes, but only 1 person, no more."

Mystery kid: "Okay, no problem."

Nine times out of ten, I come around the corner in my car and the kid I've just been called about is already in the house. Clearly someone has already told them the whole "it's better to beg forgiveness" rule.

So today, we had two extra boys here, plus my three, so five boys here ranging in age from 11 to 18.

I walk in and the first thing I notice is the smell of something cooking. Not good, alarm bells start to go off in my head. Five boys here and something cooking cannot be a good thing unless it's a Red Baron pizza, which I knew this was not.

Keys still in hand, sunglasses on, door wide open, I said very loudly, "what's cooking?"

A chorus comes from kitchen: "BROWNIES."

I walk in the kitchen, and there they all are. Now, if I had not been trying to remain calm about the fact that they were cooking while I was gone, I would have thought to take a photo of this moment.

Picture this:

First, there is Chris, Tyler's friend who is about 6'7. I would offer to contract him out to clean the top of my fridge off monthly because he's so darn tall, except he's headed to Baylor soon.

Then, there is Charlie, who is Jordan's friend, and the spitting image of Dennis the Menace.

And in between are my three, ahem, angels, none of whom followed rule #2 about brushing teeth or hair by 10 am.

All five of them are hovered around the stove eating brownies with a fork, out of a glass dish, like they've just heard that in the next 30 seconds, every bit of food on the planet is going to evaporate.

As they started to part the Red Sea for me to get in and see what they were doing, I noticed those brownies looked, well, gross.

I said, "what are you eating again?"

"Brownies" someone said.

And then the explanation from someone:

"But Tyler didn't want to wait until they were done. So we are eating them half baked."

Sure enough, the top of the brownies were done, the part underneath looked like a gloopy mess of chocolate pudding.

Just about that moment, Chase saw the look on my face and grabbed for paper towels.

Chase is funny like that.

That boy is either on fire, and all pistons are firing.

Or, he does something so completely random (to put it nicely) that you start to wonder if he has performend a self lobotomy. I can provide examples if asked.

Luckily, he was on fire today.

He saw my face, and saw the floor, grabbed the paper towels and started to pick up all the pieces of the brownies on the floor that were NOT making it into one of the five faces.

What is it with boys? They can learn to throw a football or baseball at age 3, and thanks to video games have the fine motor skills of a surgeon.

But when it comes to food in the mouth, or pee in a toilet, they miss more than they get in the designated area? I don't get it. It's clearly both genetic and selective, that aim thing. Sort of like hearing what women say.

In any case, they ate that entire tray of half baked brownies. I opened the fridge and said, "we have two packages of unopened cookie dough as well, if anyone needs to chase down the brownies?"

June 18th. Any teachers out there?

(PS: And no, I wasnt worried about these teenaged boys scarfing up half baked brownies. I'm a step ahead. :)
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Half Baked, Part I

June 18th. Half Baked. That is where I am at tonight. Half baked, half done.

Actually, there is a dual reason I decided to use that title, keep reading, there is a part II.

My husband left for work this morning at 5:30 am, I think. Normally, when he leaves, he is lucky to see the back of my head. I am just aware enough to scooch over into his space and relish the fact that I don't have to share the bed (or remote) for the next four days, but other than that, I am usually wonderfully oblivious when he leaves.

Not today.

I could not go back to sleep, at 5:30 am. Which, for the record, is well before when my normal alarm clock buzzer goes off.

I just laid there.

All kinds of random things starting popping into my head that we need to somehow get done, but have been unable to get started, much less finished (I would be happy with half finished projects at this point. Yes, I said that. I am sure I will regret it later if he reads this.)

New siding for the house. Pay off credit card bills. CLEAN the house. Get the kids ready for their week at camp. Make dentist appointments for all three of them. Repair Tyler's car. Sports physicals. Enough already.

I picked up the phone and called him. I am sure he was thinking that the either house was burning down, or masked men had kicked in the front door and were tying us all up and I had managed to grab my cell phone in a split second before they stole all of of our video games and TV sets(because we have nothing else of value in this house if you ask anyone that lives here except me), in order for me to be calling him at 6 am.

Nope, just me. Stressed at 6 am. Not a good way to start the day. As I explained all the things running through my mind, he pointed out that we did get a few things accomplished over the last four days:

The exterminators came and sprayed. Check, done. Silence.

Okay the bug people came and sprayed. Which might not be necessary IF I HAD MY HOUSEKEEPER BACK!

Or if someone, anyone, would pick up!

What about the bills that need to be paid?

And the dentist?

And dinner? Let's talk about dinner. I heard Chase tell Tyler tonight, "like, dude, I cannot rememeber the last time I ate real food, other than Burger King."

I cannot decide what's worse: the fact a 13 year old boy pointed that out. Or the fact that he didn't even ask me what's for dinner!

The next thing he said was, "I'm going to the pool party tonight, they are serving spaghetti."

Forget the bills, I seriously worry that my children will grow up, find beautiful girls to marry, and the poor girl will start to plan the wedding, get to the menu, and my kids are going to request Big Macs or Quarter Pounders as the main course. Their dad will be thrilled; mission accomplished. I will deny any genetic relation to them at that point.

I'm trying, but I'm tired.

So far, no utility has been cut off.

Nothing has been repossessed (although if that kitchen sink does not get cleaned out tonight, they are going to learn a whole new meaning of the term 'repossessed.')

But, I'm fading for sure and it's only June 18th. When does school start again?

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June 17, 2009


I am at Texas Children's tonight as Jordan gets his MRI done. I don't know if I will finish this before he gets out, if I do, that's a good thing because it means he was very still and the test wasn't the full hour they have predicted.

I am reminded of many things as I sit in this waiting room in Texas Children's tonight. Here they are:

  • I am reminded how grateful I am that I have a job that allows me the flexibility to bring my son down here during the middle of the week for this test.

  • I am reminded that anytime I have a scheduled appointment that involves bringing my husband, other than maybe say an appointment to get my oil changed or some other manly appointment, I should give him a departure time a half hour earlier than what it is. I should know this after almost 20 years. My plan was to leave at 4:30 due to traffic (see further down). At 4:28 he started to shave. I was okay with that, really, I was. But, he cut himself shaving and started to bleed. Badly. As we drove down here to the hospital, with blood on his shirt and 2 huge pieces of toilet paper crammed up his nose to catch the bleeding, I thought, well, it's okay. Hospitals are used to people walking in with blood and Kleenex stuffed up their nostrils. It doesn't matter that we are going to a children's hospital, and my child looks fine but my husband will be hemorrhaging and need a crash cart, at least we will be at the hospital. Fortunately, there was so much traffic, we had more than enough time for the bleeding to stop and the tissue finally came out, I believe, right as the valet approached.

  • I am reminded that I should never, ever, ever try again to come to the Medical Center for any reason at this time of day. Here's the deal. Most people know that Southerners, especially Texans, are extremely friendly. But something happens to those of us who live in big southern cities when we start to drive. We morph from friendly "hi ya'll" type people, to raging, crazed maniacs. The closer it is to 5 pm or 8 am, the worse we become. We can shake your hand and pray with you on Sunday. But come rush hour, that hand shake becomes a hand gesture. Until we get to our destination and get out of the car. And then we will tell the parking attendant 'Howdy!' like we didn't just try to run over, drag down and curse out ten people on the way there. Driving in the medical center at this time of day requires the driving skills of Mario Andretti, the navigational skills of the crazy people who try to climb Mount Everest, the patience of Job (which none of us have) and the hand gestures of..well..pick your favorite. Never again. I will be here at 6 am before I try to be here at 6 pm again.

  • I am reminded that the staff at Texas Children's is remarkable. This is our second visit and I am no less impressed than the first visit. We got lost looking for the MRI lab and in less than 30 seconds, at least 5 people asked us if we were lost, and the last lady, who was clearly getting off work, and God bless her about to get into that traffic, actually walked us all the way down here. Maybe she doesn't turn into a beast in the traffic because she sure was nice. (But we are sneaky like that when it comes to being friendly versus being in traffic...you never know.)

  • I am reminded that I am incredibly grateful to have health insurance. Our portion for this MRI was $500 which was 20% of the cost. For many people, this test would have been out of reach. I can think of a million ways to spend $500 (i.e a Kate Spade purse, several pairs of cute shoes, a spa day...I could go on...)But none of them come close to the value of spending $500 on this child. I would spend $5 million if needed.

  • I am reminded that while we are down here tonight for a medical test on my 11 year old, all around me in this building are children who are extremely sick, many of whom I am quite sure have some sort of terminal or severe illness. Juvenile Arthritis, Spondyloarthritis (couldn't they come up with something easier to spell?) is nothing compared to what some of these children are facing. As I sit in the waiting room, the kids (who look to be about 6 to 11 in age range) look scared and nervous, regardless of Hannah Montana playing on the TV. The moms look like they are nervously holding it together at best. Their eyes say it all.

  • I am reminded about what the first words were that the pediatric rheumatologist said to me after examining Jordan: "Well, you don't have leukemia or lymphoma, and I was looking for that." Nope, we are not here for cancer or kidney disease or liver disease or a brain tumor. We are here for something that is livable and manageable and means many more days of football, swimming, and leaving my house a mess all summer. I'll take it.

  • I am reminded that as a parent, we must always, always be an advocate for our children's health care, because no one-not even your trusted pediatrician-will do it for you. Jordan was tested for the flu and mono at least 5 times. I knew that my son didn't have the flu or mono the same way I know that when I ask him if he's brushed his teeth the first time, the first answer is always a fib, the same way that I know that he needs help with math but loves to write, the same way I knew there wasn't an 800 lb gorilla in my living room. After the third round of flu and mono testing, I started my own research and the light went off that Robert has a family history of arthritis. As soon as I read the symptoms I knew what we were looking at. But as much as I insisted, the pediatrician resisted. Finally, she said to me, we will test him for arthritis "if it will make you feel better." I am not mad at her really-arthritis in children is rare, and his version is even more rare. But doctors need to understand that mother's know their children and to listen to them. And if the doctors won't listen, then the mom needs to find a doctor who will listen.

  • I am reminded that we all have a plan for our lives and a journey we must travel and this is Jordan's journey. It might not be fun or easy on some days. But it could be worse, much worse.

  • Lastly, I am reminded that, well, I have to go home soon hopefully. Through that traffic and the pseudo-friendly southern drivers and the hand gestures. But, my husband's nose is not bleeding any more, the toilet paper is out of his nose thank goodness. And I'm taking my son home with me instead of leaving him here as I know some parents are doing tonight.

We can deal with traffic, no problem, and we will deal with arthritis (I didn't even try to spell it that time.)

And I can make hand gestures just as good as the rest of them.

But the gesture I'll make tonight will be with my hands put together in thankfullness, and not what I know you were thinking.

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June 15, 2009

The First Family. Or Family First.

Last night, Sunday, all I could think about for was how little I had accomplished over the weekend.

Actually, let me back up a little. The reason for me feeling that way is the direct result of a decison I made sometime in the spring of 1999. We had just moved back to the area, after living 4 years away from the family. The boys were little. So small, they followed me around like I was a mama duck. They must have been 5, 2 and 1 that spring. At the front of my subdivison was a sign that said something like "Swim Team sign ups!!! Join now, summer fun!!!" It wasn't a big sign, but it caught my attention. The kids didn't know how to swim yet. I had a friend with kids on a swim team. And as a child, I spent a brief period swimming at the University of Texas on their youth team. Swim team sounded like a fun sport.

At the very least, the kids would learn to swim?

I was born and raised in Texas, I should have known better.

Did I ever ask about swim team schedule or how practices work?


Had no clue what a swim meet was so I didn't ask about that, either.

All I could think about was my cute babies, finally in a sport for the first time, learning to swim like Olympians, and wearing cute little Speedos at some point (I still have all of their original Speedos, by the way. They are about as big as my hand.)

After 6 weeks of practice (Tyler was the only one old enough the first season, Jordan wasn't even walking....poor Chase just had to sit and sweat....) the time came for our first meet. We had our parent meeting the Friday before the Saturday meet. Coach Mark, who eventually taught all of my kids to swim, said, "we'll meet here at 5 tomorrow to follow each other to the other team's pool." For a split second, I thought, wow, swim meets start late, 5pm? Then the light bulb went off.

He meant 5 am.

The competing pool was an hour away.

5 am he meant, not 5 pm.

Me, with 3 babies, 1 in diapers, at 5 am? To swim? Had he been drinking?

I thought surely I had lost my mind. Or else someone had lost theirs.

Talk about false advertising! I distinctly recall that sign up poster saying something about summer fun! It certainly did not say, "Join swim team, we meet every Saturday at 5 or 6 am, for about 6 weeks straight, and it's going to be 105 degrees by mid-June, and the swim meets will end by 1 pm if you are lucky."

(one of Chase's first swim meets, summer of 2000, lined up with Austin and Tyler.)

Nope, I don't recall seeing that anywhere on the banners plastered around our neighborhood. Summer Fun? REALLY? I wanted to track down who wrote the sign and ask them, what else do you consider fun?

Root canals?

Bamboo under the finger nails?

Have you ever had 3 small kids ANYWHERE at 5 am?

Flash forward, June 2009.

This is our 11th season I think now, I've lost count. As it turns out, the kids are pretty decent swimmers. This is the only sport we do (we've tried nearly every team sport, swimming won out because they could all do it and there are 3 kids, 1 mom, throw in Robert when he could be here...something had to give.) I can count on one hand the number of meets I've missed in 11 years.

There are no perfect attendance awards for swim team parents. Just lots of used sun screen and a nice tan through the end of June.

The last couple of years, the kids have been big enough to walk to our pool on Saturday mornings for home meets so I could sleep late, sort of. They love swimming enough that my 3 tween boys would get themselves up on Saturday morning by 6 am or so, as I BEG to sleep for just an hour later, feed themselves something (I don't ask what), and actually walk to the pool on their own. At 6:45 am. They love swimming enough to get up that early on the weekend, who am I to argue with that?

This Saturday, Tyler drove them across our town to the meet, in his car, alone. Two big intersections. No air conditioning, still.

I did not sleep late. I did not sleep at all, actually, once I heard the door slam shut.

I laid in bed once I heard the door close as they left, and waited for the obligatory text letting me know they made it. It seemed like a long time waiting for that text to come through, but it finally arrived:

"We made it in one piece."

Not exactly the best wording but they did make it in one piece, which is what counts.

The swim meet we had this weekend was brutal. I think it was over 100 degrees and the humidity was probably equal. The competing pool we were swimming had 4 lanes (we normally have at least 6), was very shallow, and the whole poor area was a muddy, sloppy mess. The heat was brutal.

Keep in mind: kids swim, parents do not.

We sweat.

And cheer.

And volunteer. And sweat some more.

But parents aren't in that water. We are standing there, next to the water, getting sun burned, some of us ready to collapse, and we watch while the kids swim. At one point, I considered offering a random child money to push me in that water by mistake.

I stood in the heat with the other parents as we tried to get through this meet. Many of these parents I have seen and volunteered with for many years now. Some of the kids on the other team have known Tyler since he was in 1st grade. And, a few of Tyler's teammates this year are graduating and this was their last meet. With all the mud and slop and heat, there was a reason to be there and I knew it.

We lost the meet, but it was a good battle.

To say we were tired when we got home would be an understatement.

I had all sorts of grand plans for getting 'something accomplished' when I got home. I didn't have a huge amount of work to do, but I wanted to feel 'caught up' for Monday. The meet took it's toll, I was too tired to work and instead chose to have dinner with a friend I have not seen in a long time. We had a really nice time catching up. I made it home at 11 pm or so. The word 'work' was not even in my vocabulary at that point. Only words like 'bed', 'sleep', and 'late' were on my mind.

Sunday rolled around, I did manage to sleep until 9 am or so but as I mentioned earlier, we are a committed swim team family.

Two of the kids had an invitational meet Sunday at 12:30.

Robert got home from work after being gone for four straight days, packed two of the the kids back in the car and drove to the next meet, which was fortunately indoors.

I met him later at the meet, laptop in tow, sure that I could 'get something accomplished' and get 'caught up' in between events.

Didn't happen. Instead I talked to other swim moms (who at some also apparently saw a sign about 'summer fun' at some point, and got sucked into swim life like us.)

I watched Chase do an awesome Butterfly stroke.

Tyler swam great. Okay. We heard he swam great. I was talking to the moms and missed Tyler. Twice. My brain was getting really tired by then.

The laptop stayed in the bag.

I left the swim meet at about 4 pm for one last weekend event-Sunday bbq with my mom and her husband and friends. By this point, the last thing I wanted to see was a pool or water or chicken.

I wanted cold air, indoors, lots of a/c...the mall would have sufficied if had not been so tired.

But, my brother and his family, whom we dont see often, were going to be there and I did not want to miss them.

So, I put Jordan in the car and we went over to my moms to GO SWIMMING.

Jordan was looking at me at this point like I had grown an extra eye.

'We are going to Nanas for WHAT?'

'Do I HAVE to go?'

Off we went to my moms, laptop in tow.

And we swam. I didn't even bring a suit, borrowed one of my moms suits(kinda weird, I know...but it fit?).

I played with the my nieces and nephew in the water. Watched 2 year old Catherine fall flat off the pool ladder and landed backwards to our horror on the wooden pool deck, cry for a split second, then get right back up. And, I watched her jump in the water to me off the same ladder 15 times saying "AGAIN" each time. I listened as 5 year old Caroline informed she is a "Power Puff girl, there to fight crime!"

The laptop never made it out of the bag.

Jordan and I stayed a good two hours, brought home a plate of chicken for Robert and got home about 7pm.

Sunday night and I didn't get anything accomplished. It was nearly time for bed and I was exhausted. In fact it's Monday and I still am exhausted from Saturday and Sunday.

But, as I thought about the weekend, I realized I did get something accomplished.

None of it was work related.

I let my son drive the farthest he's driven since he got his license last week. I watched my kids swim some awesome races, several of them in fact. I let Tyler drive to go pick up donuts Sunday morning. I caught my niece every time she jumped into that pool (it was Nana's fault she fell off that ladder, I swear!) and promised to fight crime with the other one as a Power Puff girl. I held baby Alexander as his mom tried to keep Catherine from going over the ladder again. I picked two banana peppers out of our first ever garden (although I am still waiting on tomatoes to appear.)

As a working mom, I need to be reminded often about what I consider an accomplishment. Getting work done over the weekend is sometimes necessary, it can be a fact of life.

But, the fact that I didn't 'work' over the weekend and instead spent the weekend taking children to swim meets and sitting in pool chairs with many requests for cash to use at the concession stand doesn't mean I didn't accomplish anything.

In fact, I think it means just the opposite. I accomplished everything important, which is all that counts.

Work will be here in 6 years.

Swim meets, Sunday donuts and requests for money to buy a Frito Pie will not.

I think I accomplished plenty.

(But, to be totally honest, I sure will be happy when mid-July rolls around and we can have our Saturdays back.)

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