Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hobby Dropping

As I was sitting here for hours yesterday  finding wonderful ideas on pinterest to pin for later use, I began to realize that I spend so much time researching new ideas that I never have time to actually do one. And as I thought about it even more, I realized that I have a history of doing that. I find a new interest, I throw myself into it head first and then spend hours upon hours reading about it and shopping for supplies.

I have boxes of paints, canvases, and brushes for the paintings I never created. There is another box somewhere with suede upholsory material and stitchwitchery for seat cushions I never covered. I have empty scrapbooks, photographs, stickers, and hundreds of empty sleeves. (I think I did two pages.) It is sad to say, but I even have a box of grinning doll heads and body parts worthy of its own scary movie.

No matter what the hobby is, or was, it literally always engulfs my life with such an urgency and need that it supercedes all things sensible in my world -- for just about two months. Then I discover a year later in hindsight when I stumble across a paintbrush or doll head, that I have commited Hobby Dropping.

For example, in 2009, I was asked to join the knitting club at school after admitting that I used to crochet as a child.

I went to my first club meeting. There were young girls experianced enough to teach, and others awkwardly holding their needles. But all were filled with such enthusiasm, and were asking questions and showing off beautiful works of art that I began to feel the yarn calling out to me.

Hours later I was in the Michaels' checkout line with over eighty dollars worth of yarn, kntting needles, and pattern books. My evenings were spent on looking for patterns and saving them to my "future" projects box. I even had to buy a four drawer storage unit to keep it organized. And I, who never watch television was propped in front of one because my friend said that is how she finds time to finish hers. So there I sat splitting my tv time between crocheting 120 granny squares for my mom's blanket and knitting my first scarf for my husband for Christmas.

Well, it's 2013, and I believe the storage unit is in the back of the closet of the guest room wedged behind some paintings we took down, and beside an old vacuum cleaner.  The needles are still in the scarf where I left off, and the five completed granny squares should be in the bottom drawer.

Hmm, I wonder how long does it take for material to dry rot? I could always donate it to the knitting club, (which I dropped after one year, btw.)

Nah! I will get to it one day. It is, afterall, a hobby!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Workbook Blues

He sits beside me hiding beneath a blanket while doing his workbook as slowly as he possibly can. I have screamed, punished, threatened, and more. He was even begging for time-out at one point, which I refused. Why would I remove him from the very workbook I want him to complete?

"Vacation Station" they called it. Just 15 to 20 minutes of simple reading and math to keep them from forgetting everything they learned all year.

So why does it take us over two hours and a ton of stress!

Then again , maybe it is my fault. Maybe I should not have given him the bowl of cereal first?

Oh, who am I kidding, he would act like this without the sugar. 

As we are coming up on one hour and twenty minutes. My breathing has become shallow and I am feeling horribly anxious. Maybe it's from the third cup of coffee that I consumed to replace the yearning for a shot of Jack Daniels. But at least the tide has turned and he is now speaking to me again. The last thing he had said earlier as he scooted his chair as far away as possible was, "I do not like you!" I guess I am on the friends list again.

"Mommy, if I blow in your ear, will it come out the other side?"

"No, baby!"

"Can we try?"

I smiled at him and tapped the book as if to say let's get back to work.


"Okay." Maybe if I let him, he will  finish his work which should take five more minutes.

Not so gently, he blew. I stiffened and cringed beneath the spew of damp, spittled breath. Fun, I thought and then wondered how much more I would have to tolerate before he wouold get back on task.

It worked. After ten more minutes of playing "Blow Hot Wet Air in Each Other's Ears," he became bored and finally began to slowly complete the rest taking all of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Yeah! We kept it under two today!

Now it's time to start his minimum 10 minutes of daily reading. I wonder how long that is going to take?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

First Twenty-Five in Fifty

The simple email mentioned that the last day of swimming practice would be filled with fun and games and that the parents should wear suits to participate in a family relay. It was, in fact, very innocuous at best. It actually sounded like something I would not mind doing.

I knew only a small amount of the mothers had bodies suitable for the bathing suit competition in Miss U.S.A., so I had no shame in being in the larger percentage that did not. I also knew from conversations that a lot of them could not swim, either. And since they told us we would be wearing weights, I did not mind playing along for the children's sake. Lastly, the children had been told by their coach to make sure all of their parents remembered their suits, so there was little wiggle room for getting out of it, anyway.  Surely, I could participate where the parents had to run across with anklets while the children swam.

The morning of the big event, I awoke at 6:30a.m. as usual, threw on my shorts and a tank top, and headed out to walk my dog. I opened the front door and I was immediately assaulted by a burst of cold air.  The temperature had dropped 30 degrees. Instead of the 95 degree days we had been experiancing for the entire swimming season, the thermometer read sixty-four. Talk about an omen.

I quickly ran upstairs and threw on my sweats, and I do mean long pants and a jacket. This was going to be a probelm. If I couldn't even walk the dog without being bundled up, how was I supposed to strip down to a tiny swimsuit and then get into an unheated pool? It was just not going to happen. I was also sure that the children would not be forced to endure this. I hurried to check my email for the cancellation notice. 

There was none. 

That's when a tiny little voice in the back of my head reminded me of the rules: "They will swim every day rain or shine unless we hear thunder or see lightening." The rules book never mentioned temperature. And as much I was wanting to find a big black cloud off in the distance, I saw only a clear blue sky. We would be swimming. 

"Parents who are swimming, line up behind your child!" the voice commanded.

I moved to the other side of the pool and slowly began to realize something, First of all, there were very few participating parents... and secondly, most of them were men. I overheard one dad telling another how he thought it odd that his wife asked him to bring her today and then added "be sure to pack your swimsuit."

That is when it hit me, the other moms knew what was involved and had gotten out of it. The two men laughed at his joke, but they may as well have been laughing at me. I secretly cursed the fact that my husband was out of town. But I knew he could not have taken off anyway.

Next, I heard the coach announce jokingly, that the kids had voted for parents to do the breast stroke. Oh my gosh, I am actually supposed to really swim. And any stroke for me to attempt was going to be a joke. I told my son, I thought it was a mistake for me to be there and that I did not belong because I am not a real swimmer. But he looked at me and said "Uh-uh! You going in!"

Had he not noticed, I only play with him in the 4 feet, and  he has never seen me swim the length of a pool. In fact, he had to talk me into going down the waterslide for the first time last year. Somehow I feel as though those little facts escaped him. Unfortunately, he would have been heartbroken if I backed out of it now. (I know because I tried.)

I looked around again and noticed that the two other lady swimmers that I did see were wearing competition style speedo suits. The boring one piece suits that are ugly but extremely functional. I was in a two piece halter just waiting for my boobs to pop out. 

Just then my chest tightened and my breathing became very shallow. I  looked down into my proud son's face who was beaming and hugging and hanging off of me because he was so happy to have his mother one of the few participating. The was no escape. 

The whistle blew and the children swam the first leg, donning what I found out were the weights -- t-shirts that we would have to peel off of them and then place on our cold dry bodies before taking the next leg of the race.

As I fought to get into the twisted wet mess, I saw the two men on either side of me dive in like Michael Phelps. I, then, sat down shamelessly on the edge, slid into the water and proceeded to do the worst version of freestyle anyone had ever seen.

Everything I ever chastised my son for doing, was done, including keeping my head above the water. I stopped three or four times. I finally gave up on the stroke and did some crazy under water streamline the last 1/4 of the way. I stopped short of the wall because I was out of air and I couldn't find the energy to do one more stroke. It brought back images of my son struggling and stopping just shy of the wall while I screamed, "Keep going, you got to touch the wall!" Now I know what he was feeling.

As I mustered the last bit of strength to come up and lunge for it, someone grabbed my hand.  No, not to help me, but instead to get the wet T-shirt off of me while not understanding that I was fighting and pulling back under the water to keep my halter top from lifting with it.

Finally, it was on the next kid, and all eyes were off of me.

I had to stand there a moment longer to catch my breath and then it hit me, I am almost 50 years old had just swam my first 25 meters.

On the outside I may have been wheezing, and gasping for air with no energy to even climb out, on the inside I was beaming. Once again, I had conquered another fear. But for now, I guess I will finally listen to my husband and take those swimming lessons I had been avoiding like the plaque.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jumping in the Pool with Both Eyes Closed

There we were sitting by the swimming pool of an aquaintance, watching my son play in the water alone (her boys had just left for ten days in Hawaii with their dad); meanwhile the guys grilled in her outside kitchen.

There were three of us. The other two ladies were discussing pool "stuff" while I (mildy bored) was trying desperately to listen intently without yawning:

"So who is your pool service company?"

"Pool Professionals."

"I use Acme Pool."

"Oh, I have been using mine a few years and he is pretty good."

They seem to be belting out one liners of  information just to fill the silence because there was no real discussion or reason to the statements.

"I have a new guy. I have had him for two years and he is really good.

Did she just say she has used him "for two years?" News flash: He is not new anymore.


"Yes, he is Hispanic, but he really knows his stuff"

Did she just say that? Why does it matter what his ethnicity is? Because he is Hispanic is he not supposed to know anything about pools. Now if she said he was young, but he really knows his stuff, that would be acceptable.

"Have you heard of the new resurfacing material? It's supposed to be great on the bottom."

"Oh yes. I am having it applied next month."

"I am so glad that I have the electronic cover."

"Me too. It really helps."

Helps what? I wondered because neither finished that thought?

Finally, I chimed in, "Wow, that blue tarp rolls out by itself? I thought you had to pull it across."

"Oh no!" they sang together.

"It keeps all the leaves out and you wouldn't have to get a fence if you didn't want to," one said.

Wait, what did she say? I think I heard something I could actually comment on; I could finally join the conversation. Or, so I thought.

"I definitely can understand and relate. Even though all I have is a cheeesy blow-up pool from Big Lots for my son, I still need to take into consideration the two year old next door since we do not have a fence. So much to my son's dismay, I have to deflate it or drain it every night for fear of him wondering onto my property and crawling in. So imagine the water bill to constantly fill it. It's crazy."

I waited. No response.

I went on, "Because all it takes is a couple of inches of water to drown a little one."

Still no response.

"We all share one expansive yard without a fence; the kids just run from one yard to another."

Uncomfortable silience.

"So that pool cover unwinds and covers it automatically, huh?"

"Oh yes, you just push a button."

"That's great," I said with a big Vanna White smile that was probably just as genuine (not) as hers. The only difference was that she got paid to put hers on while I was trying to hide behind mine.