Finding Time—Without Going Cuckoo

So you’ve probably noticed that it’s now been two days since I posted anything.

Believe me, people, I’m trying. I really am.

After BlissDom, one of my takeaways was that I need to be more consistent and post EVERY DAY.

And with my (sister’s) suitcase not even unpacked yet (Yes, I realize it’s been two weeks), I have already failed. In fact, I think I’m more sporadic now than ever.

Tonight, as I fretted about not knowing what to write about and feeling pressured to produce something somewhat worthy of Google Reader, I began wondering: How in the h-e-double hockey sticks do all these other women post so consistently? And not only post, but post stuff that’s good.

Because here was my day, people. This is what I had to work with.

6:45 – Wake up to Husband’s alarm clock and curse my iPhone alarm clock app which has failed to go off at my requested time of 5:20 AGAIN. Go downstairs to try to finish a freelance proofing project that I had fallen asleep working on the night before.

7:00 – Husband asks, “Are you ready to go?” (Let me back up here. My van has been in the shop for 9 days now. Some sort of electrical short in the heater blower. Long story short, I haven’t heard from the shop since Friday, and I’m pretty sure my van has been kidnapped. But I really don’t want to rush paying the $500+ I’m going to have to shell out, so I don’t call them either. Now it’s become a battle of the wills.) Since we are a one-car family right now, I have to take Husband to work and then come home to take the boys to school. This morning, I chauffer him to work still wearing my pink sock monkey pajamas.

8:30 – Since we have a one-hour late start each Wednesday for teacher in-service, I tell Boy #2 it’s time to go to school. Since arriving home from taking Husband to school, I have managed to finish my proofing job, shower, get dressed, and brush my teeth. Boy #2 starts whining that his throat hurts because of his coughing. I don’t doubt that it does, but he’s a bit of a hypochondriac when it comes to going to school lately. However, after a bout of “the runs” (him, not me) I tell him I will take his brother to school first and make sure his stomach is better before I take him.

9:00 – Boy #1 complains that it’s not fair that Boy #2 doesn’t have to go to school right away. Yelling between brothers ensues. I push everyone into the car and drive toward the middle school.

9:05 – Boy #1 tells me to stop at the gas station to get him gum. I tell him no. Disrespectful comments follow. Then a little yelling by me. I love the middle school years.

9:15 – I call Boy #2’s school to tell them that he will be arriving late and get the answering machine. I leave a message.

9:20 – I get a slightly condescending-tone-“What’s going on?” call from Boy #2’s school secretary, who I do not think believes that Boy #2 has medical issues that cause him to miss school and arrive late at times (which unfortunately he does). I tell her that I just left a message. She says, “That’s funny; we don’t have any messages.” I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m irresponsible AND now a liar.

9:30 – I walk Boy #2 in to school. The secretaries give me the “bad parent” look. I’m used to it. Boy #2 gets his pass, on which he’s marked “tardy,” and I walk him to his locker. He then realizes that his jeans have been completely unbuttoned AND unzipped, and I discreetly help him hitch up his britches before he heads to class. On the way back by, I stop back in the office and inquire as to why Boy #2 was marked “tardy.” Explanations follow. The secretaries now hate me more than ever.

9:40 – I drop Boy #3 off at daycare and don’t make it out the door before he’s picked his nose and wiped a booger on the snack table.

9:45 – I get a call about the ETA of my freelance proofing project. I say I am driving there as we speak. I arrive at 10:00 and drop it off.

10:15 – I walk in to Husband’s school to deliver his wallet, which he had left on the dresser.

10:45 – I finally arrive at my job—you know, where they pay me. To work. I proofread the Teacher’s Edition of a grammar textbook until 2:30 and drink 3 cups of coffee to keep me awake while doing it.

2:30 – I leave work to pick up Boy #2 from school. After shopping at the book fair, we leave to go pick up Boy #3 from daycare. He’s excited because I have bought them both a Kit-Kat, which I hand to him before driving off. He immediately drops the Kit-Kat on the floor and commences to yell. I drive with one hand, the other hand feeling around on the floor behind me for the precious chocolate stick. Feeling it, I hand it back to Boy #3, trying not to think about the grit that is likely stuck to it.

4:00 – I get a text from Boy #1 (from his friend’s phone since my son’s the ONLY middle-schooler without a phone) asking if he can get off the bus at his friend’s house.

4:30 – I have been home 30 minutes when Husband calls and asks me to pick him up from a math competition at a local college. I load Boys #2 and #3 back into the car (since Boy #1 is at his friend’s house), and we make the rush-hour drive to the heart of Des Moines. Oh, and I almost forgot: the dog comes with us too. Because Boy #3 is sure he wants to. I pick up Husband (literally) alongside the road and we head home.

5:15 – I make pasta and salad for supper.

5:30 – Boy #3 asks me if he can clean the bathroom, which would be music to my ears if I didn’t know that it was just an excuse to get things wet. But I agree, and he actually works pretty hard on it. The floor is sopping wet and the mirror is a little difficult to see into now that it is covered in streaks from top to bottom, but he’s so proud of himself that I just heap on the praise.

6:15 – We wolf down the meal in 3 minutes. Well, all of us except Boy #1, who is due home at 6:30.

6:30 – Boy #1 arrives home (on time!), and I announce that I’m going to the coffee shop to try to get some work done. Begging, pleading, and guilt-inducing comments fly. Finally, I give in and say that I will stay home if I am guaranteed some peace and quiet so I can concentrate and try to write.


6:40 – Boy #3 is sitting on top of me in the recliner, asking me to put a Band-Aid on his lip. Boy #1 is arguing with his dad about geometry. Boy #2 is by my side asking if he can show me “just one more” magic trick. Boy #1 then yells at Boy #2 to be quiet. “Mom’s trying to work!!!” (If only tweens understood the extent of their irony.) I ask for headphones. Boy #1 finds me a pair, and I try to drown out the house with some Vivaldi. It doesn’t work. I go upstairs to sit in my room. Husband is there on his computer, talking to his students in an online tutoring session. After approximately 3 minutes of calcuspeak quiet, Boy #3 opens our bedroom door and comes in to “whisper a magic trick” of his own. I try to write and listen to him perform his card trick. Doesn’t work. Multitasking and creativity are not bosom buddies.

And suddenly it’s bedtime. I check homework. I read to Boy #2 while he sprawls halfway on, halfway off my bed, which in my current state of mind, drives me flippin’ crazy. (Especially after I’ve already told him twice to stay on the bed!) Boy #3 falls asleep in his underwear beside me in my bed. Boy #1 takes a shower and then proceeds to yell, “Mom! Towel!” when he’s done. Funny how they never think about the fact that they might want to dry off BEFORE they actually step into the shower. I grab a towel off the bathroom floor, give it the sniff test, and hand it to him. That’s what you get for not planning ahead! Then I wait until I am officially allowed into his room so as to not catch him in his nakedness (because apparently I’ve never seen him in his natural state), and I clear a spot on his chair so I can sit and read. I get one page read when he barks at me to turn off the light because it “makes it hard for him to breathe after he takes a shower.” Whatever in the heck that means. I inform him that it will be impossible for me to read without a light, and he actually tries to argue with me a little about that fact. (Besides being full of irony, tweens are also completely illogical.) Finally, we go into my room, where I can turn the overhead light off and my lamp on. I guess lamplight isn’t as suffocating as overhead light. I read a few pages of our current book, and Boy #1 heads to bed.

And here we are. It’s 9:30, I’m tired, and I feel about as creative as generic toilet paper.

So tell me, how do all these women do it?

And if you’re one of these women, how do you do it?

How do you find the time, the energy, and the creative spirit to produce good content every single day? You know, aside from illegal drugs or potentially prosecutable child neglect?

Image copyright carlsilver
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So It’s Come To This . . . Scavenging Through the Neighbor’s Trash

Yeah, this is the type of thing that only happens in my home . . .

Yesterday afternoon I hear Boy #1, who has just arrived fresh from the school bus, yelling, “Mom! Come ‘ere! Come help me!”

So I head to the front door and outside, where I immediately see him struggling up the porch steps with this.

“Help me get this chair in the house!” he says with excitement in his voice.

A bit stunned and confused as to why he’s dragging a faded and worn mauve chair, covered in cat hair I might add, into our house, it takes me a few seconds to sputter, “What? Why?

“Mom, this was just sitting outside someone’s house, and it said FREE on it! It’s FREE!” he says, still struggling to drag the thing over the threshold of the front door.

“Um . . . okay . . . but why are you bringing it here?” I manage to spit out, my mind still processing what could’ve possessed him to pick up someone’s discarded chair on the short walk from the bus stop to our house and carry it home.

“Duh, because it’s FREE!” he says. “You’re the queen of bargains, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean I want everyone else’s junk!” I protest, but alas, the chair is already inside.

“What are we going to do with it?” I ask.

“Put it right here, ” he says, setting it down triumphantly in the office. (Of course, it’s the FIRST THING you see when you walk in our front door.)

And there it sits. A mauve chair that doesn’t match anything in my house and has long white cat hairs all over it. (Oh, and Husband is allergic to cats.)

But here’s the thing—I can’t very well put it out on our curb now. What would our neighbors think if they saw their chair on our curb? I’m sure they’d think we’re weirder than they already do . . . But I don’t want to leave it where it is because 1) it’s ugly; 2) it’s covered in cat hair; and 3) I’ll be totally embarrassed if our neighbors stop by and then see their dumpster chair displayed like fine furnishings in our house. I already feel like the honyocks of the neighborhood as it is . . .

So for now it still sits until I decide how to properly (and discreetly) dispose of it.

To conclude, I’d like to borrow one of the formerly favorite phrases of my now-5-year-old: “What the—?!”

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“Sorry to tell you this, ma’am, but you’ve got a raging case of boys!”

WARNING: For those of you who picture me as the “ideal mom” with perfectly trained children and a house so immaculate that it makes Molly Maid jealous, STOP READING NOW. Put down the mouse and SLOWLY WALK AWAY from the computer. Pick up the latest copy of Martha Stewart Living and superimpose my head onto her body, especially if it’s in a photo where she’s making her own candles or arranging a stunning bouquet of flowers freshly picked from her own garden.

For those of you who prefer to know the REAL ME, continue reading at your own risk . . .

You may have been suspecting it for months…possibly years. But now, for the first time, the true signs are revealed:

How To Tell If You Have Boys Living in Your House.

1. Your house has been overrun by soldiers, knights, Star Wars characters, turtles with weapons, or basically anything that fights. You know for sure that you’ve got boys if the majority of these characters are missing limbs or are otherwise deformed.

(Notice the vacuum in the background? That’s just for show. We like to leave it out so people think that we’re really serious about cleaning. “It’s so much a part of our life, we can’t bear to shut it in the closet!”)

2. Your mantel is tastefully decorated with an angel, antique books, and … a nut cup.

(Enough said.)

3. You find a toilet paper holder underneath your kitchen table.

(I’m sure it was being used as some sort of weapon when it found its way under the chair. Since I’m “keeping it real” I’ll even tell you that it was under there for at least 3 days until I finally picked it up.)

4. Sunflower seed shells mysteriously appear on your kitchen floor.

“But Dad spits out his seeds on the ground!”


5. You find a name carved into your kitchen table.

(If you can’t tell, it says “Jake.” I actually caught Boy #2 doing this with a fork at dinnertime. Not because he was mad or anything. Just because. And not because HIS name is Jake, either. Jake is our favorite 14-year-old baby-sitter. I guess he’s got a permanent place at the table!)

6. At least one of your kitchen chairs has been glued again . . . and again . . . and again . . .

(If you do find that you’re living among boys, know that you will NOT want to get new furniture of any kind until the last one has left the nest. A lesson we’ve learned the hard way.)

7. Your dog’s brand-new L.L. Bean personalized dog bed has been “decorated” with black permanent marker.

(I used to cry when things like this happened. Now I barely give it a shrug.)

8. Your cupboard goes from full to looking like this approximately 30 minutes after you’ve returned from the grocery store.

(Notice that they’ve left the raisins, the English walnuts, and the bottle of salad toppings. How generous of them!)

9. An icon for World of Warcraft somehow shows up on the desktop of your computer.

(This is also a sign that will be featured in upcoming post: How To Tell If You Have Geeks Living in Your House…)

10. No matter how hard or how often you scrub, your bathroom reeks of urine. And even if you try to light a candle, it then just smells like baked apple pie and urine.

Well, there you have it. If you read the signs and couldn’t relate to any of them, chances are you are boy-free in your house.

BUT—if you found yourself identifying with the photos or descriptions, I hate to tell you this . . . but you’ve got boys.

It’s best to face the facts now and learn to live with them.

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