Good Gravy!

It’s been how long since I’ve posted?

I can’t even remember all that’s happened to me since August. I thought about spending time writing a wonderfully witty comeback post, but let’s be real. It would be another six weeks before I got that post done. So I’m going kick off my return with the following list of updates:
1. Writing: Clearly, I haven’t been writing as I should, but I did enter an essay contest for Real Simple. They announce the winner in January. Keep your fingers crossed!
2. Parenting: E is growing up to be quite the sassy young lady. After spending Halloween evening as an angel, complete with a Marabou halo and wings, she remarked: “I think I was the cutest little thing people saw tonight.”
3. Marriage: Hubby and I are still going strong. And yes, we are still sharing one car. One day, though, it will get better.
4. Me: I actually had to write “relax” on my to do list last week. Sad, but true.
More soon!


I can’t count how many times I saw Revenge of the Nerds as a kid. Now that I think about it, I really didn’t have any business watching that, but every now and then, my parents let something sneak through. The alcohol-induced antics of the Tri-Lambs and the Alpha Betas gave me a skewed sense of collegiate reality.

By the time I was old enough to go to college, I knew that 99% of that film was far-fetched. Still, a teeny part of me was nervous when I applied to join my sorority. I needn’t have worried. A combination of university and sorority policies prohibited a good deal of nonsense, including riding a tricycle while guzzling cans of beer.
Even though there were no arm-wrestling and burping contests (Thank goodness!), we still had our share of good times. And one of my sorority sisters was there to document most of them with her camera. D would say the same thing every time she looked at pictures from our new-member phase:
“We hazed ourselves.”
D’s comment came to mind this weekend when my friends and I took our daughters for a girls day out. A local salon offers a “Princess Party,” a spa experience for girls ages 6 and up. Our kids ate pizza, danced to Kid’s Bop CDs, and got manis and pedis, all while wearing little pink robes, tiaras and feather boas. Meanwhile, we sat in a waiting room with bottles of water.
Oh, wait, I take that back. The salon was out of bottled water. We just sat there. Venting.
About how we need more hours in the day. And how hard it is to be a mom. And how sometimes we want to just pull the covers over our heads and sleep the day away. We could hear our girls singing along to Justin Bieber and Willow Smith.
We hazed ourselves.

There we were, four stressed out mamas, lamenting while our daughters were being pampered. We should have given ourselves a little love while we were treating our girls.
Mama’s Day Out is in the works for September. A massage is definitely in order.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

First Day of School

I’ve known for weeks that school started today. GI Joe says that “knowing is half the battle,” but I’m not sure how much good it did me this time.

The school sent a newsletter that I scanned, then promptly lost. “Meet the Teacher” night, I noted, was at a time when I couldn’t attend. School supplies were the teacher’s responsibility. My job was to send $20 and a donation of tissue and disinfecting wipes. Thanks to my coupon clipping, I have a stockpile of household supplies, so this was no problem.

E spent Sunday afternoon arranging outfits; I stuffed wipes, tissue, cash into her book bag. We were ready, or so I thought.

“Mom,” my girl asked Tuesday night. “Who is my teacher?”

(Insert “Price Is Right” loser music here.)

I had no idea.

I spent all day Wednesday calling the school. No answer. I scanned the Web site for clues. Nothing.

I tried to make light of the situation. “It will be a surprise!” I declared. “You’ll find out when you get there.” My daughter was not convinced. While clearing out a stack of newspaper, I found the school newsletter.

“Class listings will be posted in the gym on Meet the Teacher Night.”

“Meet the Teacher Night” was that very day, from 4 – 6. I looked at the clock. It was 6:05.

(Re-insert “Price Is Right” loser music.)

I woke up this am at 5:45, determined to find the elusive name. I called the school every 15 minutes to no avail. I got my kid dressed, handed her a Pop-Tart, and said we’d go to school early to find the identity of her teacher. I’d then have to take her to daycare, because the school didn’t officially open for another hour.

We hurry to a the car, and I hit the garage door opener. No response. By the time Hubby got the door up, we had run out of time. I wouldn’t be able go take her to school, then to daycare, and make it to work on time.

(You know what to do.)

I dropped the kid off at daycare, drove to school, and ran into the gym to read the school listings. I called daycare and asked the director to tell my kid to go to Mr. K’s class.

I miraculously made it to work on time. And my kid had a great first day. What’s not so great is all this homework. Her workload has tripled since kindergarten. Last year, we had a worksheet or two. Now there’s reading, spelling, and math. Not to mention I had to fill out about 20 forms, all which seemed to ask for emergency contact information. Couldn’t they just copy the one form and circulate it?

– Posted using BlogPress

Shoulders Down

I’ve started doing yoga every morning before I get ready for work.

Yeah, I’ve been here before.
I love yoga. I know it’s hard to believe because I do it so infrequently. But there’s something very calming about moving through a sun salutation. I feel more at peace, more ready to face the nonsense better known as “a day’s work.”
On Wednesdays, I attend a lunch-hour class sponsored by my company. As we move through postures, Steve, our yogi, walks by and places a gentle hand on my shoulder.
“Shoulders down,” he reminds the class.
Even though I believe my shoulders are exactly where they should be, Steve always is able to move them by an inch or two. So this week, I started paying attention, and I learned something:
I hunch my shoulders. A lot. Stress, I’ve discovered, is a major cause of my shrugged shoulders.
I also learned it’s a painful habit to break. I didn’t know putting something back where it belongs could hurt so much. My shoulders have been aching for days.

Forcing me to put my shoulders down has also encouraged me to deal with my stress, instead of letting it build. Sort of like my “Jesus, be a fence” mantra.

I made it back to yoga last week, ready to see how my poses improved with lowered shoulders. Our substitute yogi, Becky, mentioned she was a “hands-on” teacher. She corrected my leg positions, adjusted my back’s alignment, and encouraged me to stretch a little further while in cobbler’s pose. Not once, did she touch my shoulders.

I thought I was home free as our hour came to an end. I happily stretched onto my mat for corpse pose, a position where you lie flat on your back. Becky came by and made one last adjustment. She pressed my shoulders away from my ears. Damn.

I guess I’m a work in progress.

Jesus, Be A Fence

I believe the last two months can best be described as insane.
I signed up to teach more night classes, but I didn’t pay attention to the dates when I did so. The beginnings of some classes overlapped with ends of others, which meant there were a few weeks where I taught two to three classes on top of working a full time job.
During an eight-week stretch, I heard more “Canyou-cover-for-xyz-employee-my-grade’s-not fair-because-I-was-sick-oh-we-know-you’re-busy-but-would-you-take-this-project-my-last-instructor-was-nicer-than-you-can-you-squeeze-in-this-new-biz-thing-this-class-isn’t-even-in-my-major-I’m-going-to-my-academic-advisors” than I ever wanted to hear in my lifetime.
Yep. Insanity is the perfect description.
A friend who often teaches dual classes said I would feel better after I saw my paycheck. She was right, but the the good feeling lasted for about two minutes.
Most of the time, I was overwhelmed and tired. Add to that the fact that we’re once again a one-car family (a story for another day), and you’ve got a recipe for a nervous breakdown.
There was a phrase, however, that helped me whenever I was about to scream:
“Jesus, be a fence.”
I don’t think there’s a gospel singer out there that hasn’t done a rendition of this song. My favorite is by a group called the Meditation Singers. These ladies brought it.
The words were my battle cry. They populated my Facebook status and Twitter timeline whenever I felt frustration mounting. And on days when it was really rough, I took it farther:
“Jesus, could you throw in a moat?”
“How about an electric fence?”
“What about attack dogs?” (Not to be confused with guard dogs.) I’m certain Jesus wasn’t on board with this request, but I felt better after saying it.
In the beginning, I said the words whenever I wanted a fence to keep people from angering me. But over time, I learned I needed a fence to keep my anger from them. The phrase went from battle cry to mantra, encouraging me to deal with my frustrations rather than waiting for the breaking point.
I realized this during my first night with a high-strung group of students. After arguing with me about the terms of the syllabus, a student stormed out of class to contact her “prayer warriors.” Instead of telling the entire class to go to hell, I called for a break. When we returned, I asked them why they were so on edge. I listened, with fences down. I addressed their concerns calmly, and I didn’t change a thing in the syllabus. At the end of our five-week session, the prayer warrior told me how much she enjoyed the class.
The Lord’s standard-issue fence handled my nonsense without a spark of electricity or a snarling canine.
My “Jesus-be-a-fence” tweets are much less frequent now. Partly because I’m down to once class a month, but mostly because I’m learning day-by-day not to sweat the small stuff.