Friday, December 7, 2012

The week (or two) and TGIF

I might pay big bucks for this contraption delivered with a stiff drink right about now.
(Ahem) No, I don't have time to write a blog today, but I don't have any other choice.  If I don't do it, I might explode from the amount of pressure building.  How do you like my new blog header, nice, right?  All cheerful and hopeful.  Inspiring me to blog again.  And sing, "one of these things are not like the others".  And remember that when I don't let perfect be the enemy of good, our family can take a pretty darn cute picture.  


This post was going to be titled, the unlucky Christmas tree.  But it didn't stop there.  There was too much before and after that I have to write more.  This is sure to be a long and boring post, if not slightly entertaining.  When it's not happening to you.  This just has not been my week.  Or my two weeks.

We got home from Joseph on Sunday night from a fabulous and extremely tiring visit for Thanksgiving.  We had a full week ahead.  Laundry and *most* of the unpacking was done by Tuesday.  The part that didn't get done is still piled, almost weeks later, on a table in the garage (now with ornament boxes piled on top of that - I wouldn't go into the garage if I were you).  Every time I can't find a CD, jacket, book, pair of gloves, or charger for something, that has been the magic spot to find it. A few months ago, we got rid of our way-too-big for-the-room-it-was-in entertainment center to make room for our new flat screen.  That left the guest bed piled high with picture frames, wedding albums, nick naks, gifts from all over the world from our parents, and seashells the kids have gathered, mixed with a few creations from Ceramic Cafe.  The bed was three feet high in "stuff".  While we are thrilled to have that huge piece of furniture sold, we totally underestimated the amount of work it would be to redistribute all the goods it housed.

Does it feel like I'm getting off track?  Maybe.  It's all part of the mounting pressure that I need to dump before my head pops off.

There was a lot to do that full week after Thanksgiving.  I had my first Jury duty on Wednesday and we had tickets to go see Bruce Springsteen that night - a friend was watching our kids to be relieved by Lawrence's parents were slated to arrive for 10 days while we were out listening to the Boss.  Thursday we were supposed to have Lawr's company party and Saturday a friends 5th annual holiday dinner party.  So, I had two days to undo Joseph, get the guest room ready, and arrange our lives to have THREE nights out in one week (we are normally lucky if we have one every two months!)  At work, I had auditors arriving on the following Monday, so I also had to have everything ready for that, just in case I was chosen for a trial and would be out of the office more than the one day I already couldn't afford to be out.  Pres-sure cook-ker.  The voice in my head said Jenny, if you didn't procrastinate, if you didn't take time for yourself, if you didn't plan so much, if you didn't say yes to things, if you were more organized, a better mom, a better wife, a better employee things would not be such a mess.  That voice is so mean.

Lawr's party was rescheduled and boy did we need that rest.  I didn't get selected to be on a Jury, so that was a nice day of book reading at the courthouse, and I had the next two days to dot my i's and cross my t's in time for the auditors arrival.

It all seemed to be falling into place, tired place, but place.

Saturday was tree getting day.  Taking my Jewish in-laws to get their first Christmas tree.  

Every year, we get our Tree at Sleighbells.  Every year we have a great experience.  We cut our own tree, the santa is great there.  They tie it to your car, shake the extra needles.  Free hot chocolate.  What's not to love?  All for around $50.  Getting the tree has always been a 100% pleasant experience.

This year, we decided to get a at Hagg's tree farm because they were advertised for $10, how Dave Ramsey of us.  Lawrence had a race there this summer and it was a gorgeous location, only 15 miles out of town, but seemingly out in the mountains.  What's not to love?  $10 + in the mountains. Except everything went wrong.

All seven of us packed into the truck and we headed out to Hagg's.  The truck normally takes 23 gallons of gas, and when we got to the tree farm, Lawrence discovered that the meter said we'd already used 24 gallons.  After passive aggressive hints were dropped around the truck regarding whose fault it was that the lack of gas went unnoticed until now for a while, and finding that all gas cans on the farm were full diesel rather than gasoline, we decided to go get gas now, and come back to get the tree.  You know, so the experience could be enjoyable, rather than stressful.  Ha.  If you've never brought your kids to a tree lot, and then left immediately without a tree, you should try it, especially if you enjoy a lot of whining and worrying and questions while you are trying desperately to find a gas station and you've already used way more gas than your car takes!

Our first (?) mistake was not just going back down the mountain the way we came up, instead using iPhone GPS on the top of a mountain full of unknown named roads to find the nearest station.  After an hour of breath-holding, mother-in-law-arm-squeezing, and pissed-husband-driving-way-too-fast on scary mountain roads, and a lot of praying on my part.  I do mean a lot.  My prayers were answered and we made it to Newberg to get some gas.  We considered cutting our losses and just going to Sleighbells like has been our tradition and given it was on the way home, and we would knew where it was.

But no.

Back to Hagg's and more getting lost and almost dying on mountain roads it was.  Jenny, you are so stubborn and frugal, you are ruining this whole experience for your family, the voice said.

When we finally got back to Hagg's, Bryson was asleep and Lily was mad.  I took the kids to see Santa while we figured out which tree option to do.  It started to rain hard.

Santa was a bust, and I'm pretty sure Lily figured out something funny is going on.  He wasn't a great Santa and she was very suspicious.  Especially when he seemed surprised at how old she is.  How could he know if she is naughty or nice when he doesn't even know an 8-year-old kid when he sees one.  I told Lawrence not to say anything to her until she said something, and that I wanted to talk to her alone.  Two minutes later I heard him talking to both girls about helpers and him giving their list to the real Santa or getting the list back.  Damn.  She hasn't brought it up since but she's been acting more emotional than usual this past week.  I can only think of about 50 things I could blame that on, and this is one of them.  Jenny, what did I say about being a better mother?

So we went to get the tree.  Lawr's parents sat in the car.  The $10 ones were self serve, already laying on the ground.  They don't tie them on, or shake them or bind them or all that good stuff.  We chose what is by far the ugliest tree we've ever gotten.  At this point we were damned well gonna get that $10 tree after all we'd gone through.  Lawr and I were a wet, muddy, pitchy mess by the time we loaded back in the car for home.  I wasn't 100% sure the tree would stay on for the drive home, but it did.  We had to tie it on the back vs the top of the truck because of the box still on the top from Joseph.  So it got even more muddy as we drove along in our white truck that looked like it had been in a 4x4 competition of sorts.  

We got home and got it in the stand and put it on the porch to dry before bringing it in the house.

We didn't decorate it that night because we had a party to go to and it was still pretty wet.  Lily was not happy about this either.

The next day, kids and I went to church, and after some quiet time, we got out the stuff to decorate the tree.  We turned on Christmas music and the house felt nice.  So far, Grandma and Grandpa's first tree experience had been some what of a disaster, thought Grandma did marvel at the beautiful ornaments we had which held special meaning from over the years.

The tree was a little crooked, leaning just a tad.  I looked at it fully decorated, with it's lights and it's meaning, and I decided that it did not have to be perfect to be beautiful.  And I was sure that I was right about that.  Do not let perfect be the enemy of good, Jenny.  It is leaning, but it is beautiful.  Lily went straight to work, making gifts for everyone and putting them under the tree.  She helped Bryson make some stuff, more gifts under the tree.  Sunday was a beautiful day.

Monday, I worked 12 hrs in the office for the first day of the interim audit, and went to bed at midnight.  5am, Lawr wakes me.  I was wrong, our imperfect tree was not only not beautiful, but now it was on the floor.  It had tipped during the night and spilled water all over all of the gifts Lily had made as well as broken the stand.  With only 5 hrs of sleep, I got ready for work, had some coffee and waited for the kids to wake up so I could break the news gently and make sure they focused on how lucky we were than none of our ornaments were broken.  The tree leaning haphazardly on the wall with a towel wrapped around it to keep the pitch at bay, and half the ornaments on the wet carpet.  

Tuesday was a brutal day of work, I just could not focus, I was exhausted.  I felt loopy and drunk.  I got upset by simple questions raised by the auditors.  I came home in time for dinner and Hanukkah, we exchanged gifts with Lawr's folks.  If there is one highlight of my last two weeks, it was the pure JOY on my kids faces as they opened gifts that they wanted.  A glow in the dark soccer ball for Lily, a carpet car track for Addie, and a Spiderman costume for Bryson.  The smile he had when he saw that costume was gold.  GOLD.  Each of them were overjoyed at receiving.  I felt proud of how gracious my children are.  You are doing something right, Jenny.  I loved sitting and watching them play, Bryson running and sweating and smiling under his spiderman hood.  Addie chasing him, Lily snuggling with me reading the back of her new Annie soundtrack.  High point of my weeks for sure.  Those smiles.  Those hearts.  That's what makes ALL the rest of this worth it.

Wednesday, another long day with the auditors.  Since I normally work 2 days a week from home, 3 days in the office in a row feels like a lot.  I am always reminded of what a blessing those days at home are when I don't get them for a week or two.  I hadn't seen the kids much in the last few days and today was no different.  I was babysitting for our friends, as a trade for them watching our kids during Springsteen.  Their 2yo son wasn't thrilled to have me there, especially during his transition from crib  to big boy but big sis was a big help.  They went to bed late, and got up a few times, but nothing too hard, no screaming or carrying on.  But there were also a lot of pet things to do, I'm not used to so much commotion after I get kids to bed!  I had cats making noise upstairs and on my lap and dog paws to wipe after letting him out and worrying to do about said dog getting into a skunk.  If you know me, you know what an animal person I am. Read: I am not an animal person.  But I am a friend person.  Our friend knew how bad my week had been, and they knew I hadn't seen my kids much and they offered me an out, but I didn't take it.  I wanted to do this for them.  They deserved it.  They appreciated it.  They have dropped everything for us.  We are both are without family close by to help out in a pinch and we have become that fill in family when we can, when we need each other.  Sometimes a favor is worth being tired over when you know the person receiving it not only needs it but they are truly grateful for it.  It was a chance for me to feel like I was doing something good, something right.  I needed that.  

Thursday, I'm feeling a little run down, but my day is going along okay, until I got out of a meeting with 5 missed calls and a few missed texts from the girls school.  This made me panic.  Everything was fine, and there was only a little confusion about whether Addie was riding the bus or getting picked up, but I panicked just the same.  She was fine, her AMAZING teacher knew that she would be upset if she had to wait in the office, so she brought her to the classroom to wait, and she said Addie had a little skip in her step at being a special helper.  But I felt defeated.  For missing those calls, for being at work, for not reminding my in-laws to pick her up, for....feeling like not enough in too many places.  You see, Jenny, no matter how much you do to prepare, something will always slip through the cracks, and this time, it was Addie.  The voice in my head, just won't let me be enough.  

I left work at a reasonable hour, I got home in time for the kids' bedtime, and then I got to bed early last night.  I got 9 hours of sleep.  Twas amazing.  I woke up this morning feeling renewed.  TGIF.  Only one more day of this.  I got ready for Lawrence's work party tonight, a little more makeup and high heels than usual, I got emails for work sent from home, I played with Bryson a little extra before I got in my car and headed downtown.

A block away from the house I heard, cu-clunk, cu-clunk, cu-clunk. I stopped and looked and one tire was all the way flat.  Shit!  Seriously, week?  So I got back in the car and slowly pulled it around the block and back into our driveway.  I sat in the car for a few minutes thinking of a way I could get to work, to deal with the auditors for the last day without asking Lawrence's parents for a ride.  But there wasn't, so I went in, to tell them about yet another thing that is wrong with a car of ours.  They were fine with it, and they gave me a ride to work, I played with Bryson as we drove, and they made it back in time to pick up Addie, in just the nick of time.

I rolled into work after 10am.

And I didn't have time to write this blog today.  Jenny, this is how you get yourself into trouble.  This is why you end up having to work late. 

But I needed to.  Write this long and wordy account of the pressure that has been building since we pulled away from Joseph at the end of November almost 2 weeks ago.  Notice I didn't even mention any of the every day stuff? The stuff that is already hard and already stressful every day.  This was all the on top of that stuff, stuff.

Does it feel better, now that I had my writing dump?  Maybe a little.  I'm taking deep breaths and putting it in perspective.  I could have had a scary blow out on I-5 last night in the dark and rain.  Instead my car is safely in our driveway.  We could have had the opposite problem, where Addie was left off the bus to a locked and empty house due to some confusion, rather than safe and sound and unruffled with her favorite teacher.  We could have ran out of gas, or worse, gone off the mountain, but instead we were fine, if just a little anxiety ridden.  We could be in a situation where we couldn't afford a $10 tree or gifts for our children, but instead we have more than 93% of the world.  We could wish for a square of space to put our not-so-beautiful-beautiful tree rather than having a warm and roomy house to put it in.  Do not wear your blessings like burdens, Jenny, remember, you always say that.  You are blessed to have clothes to make laundry, and children to feed, and a house to maintain, and cars to drive and then repair. 

We work hard.  Really hard.  It feels like I'm running on empty all the time.  So is Lawrence.  We are doing our best.  Trying to make good memories, do favors for friends, help our neighbor, keep up with obligations, be good hosts, be good parents, be good children, pay the bills, keep the marriage alive, be good employees, maintain a nice home.  But we can always look around and see what is left undone.  We need no reminder that the garage is unorganized, that the blower is broken, that the engine light is on, or that the dryer doesn't turn off.  We know this.  Some things are new things and some things are old things.  But it is impossible to do it all.  Even if we wanted to, we just can't.  We do what we can with the time and money we have.  And on most weeks, I think we do a pretty good job.  

So we chose our priorities.  But more importantly, we must, I must hear the voice in my head that says, Jenny, you can get a flat tire, even if tires are the newest thing on your car. You are enough.  You have enough.  It is enough.  

That's not what the voice says so often though.  Not when stuff goes wrong, and the world is not perfect.  Not when people feel neglected or point out your shortcomings or the auditors question your intelligence.  Not even when no one says anything or questions anything.  The voice is really mean.  

It's not the Voice of Truth though.  That voice is the only voice that I should listen to.  And that's the reason I have to write it all out.  Laugh about it, remember it, love it.  I want to look back in 20 years and remember this two weeks.  Remember Bryson's sweaty head that night as we cuddled and he told me about how much he liked to be "pidoman".  And I don't want to just remember it, I want to long for it.  I want to know without the shadow of a doubt that I have the life I wanted.  

When I write all this out, here on my blog that no one reads anymore because of my infrequent posting, I can't end it on a bad note, or a stressful note.  I want to end it on a tied-up-in-a-real-live-and-imperfect-bow-with-ribbon-fraying-at-both-ends note.  

Because this is it.  This is the one life we get.  And so today, for the rest of this day, I choose to notice all of the things that we are doing well, and ignore the things that are falling apart.  The things that matter are happy and standing strong.  So I choose those.  I choose the things on my thankfulness list from last month.  

Christmas Tree from Hagg's Tree farm - $10, Gas for the Truck - $70, New tree stand to replace the one that broke - $25, A new tire - $50.  A shitty week and a blog to remind you that you have a life that is full of love and worth living, Priceless.  

And wa-lah.  I don't feel like I am going to explode anymore.  Thanks God, for the Voice of Truth, and for the voice you gave me.  Thank you for reminding me to use it when I needed to.  Thank you.