Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Timeless Words (And A Couple Misspelled Ones)

My son has been bringing home all of his books, folders, notebooks, and projects this week as he wraps up third grade.  One of the things his class did this year was write to and receive letters from pen pals.  Since that involved three of my favorite activities, reading, writing, and making new friends, I was super excited about it.  I peppered him with questions about it during the year, but all I got out of him was the kid's name.  Being a typical male, Brainy's frugal with his words unless he's describing a sporting event he has either participated in or witnessed.  Then he will literally give me a complete rundown of every assist, blocked shot, rebound (quick update on how many that is for him/his teammate/or Kevin Durant this season), touchdown, fake pass, rushing defense (and how big each kid was on the line), all the way down to how tired he personally was at the end of the game contrasted with how hard he kept hustling.  It can take him the better part of a day to recount an hour long game.  But I ask him what he and his pen pal write about and I get a shrug with "I don't know.  Nothing important.  Just school and stuff."

So I was delighted today that he brought home a couple of letters from his California pen pal Kailer.  When the kids were upstairs and I started working on dinner, I took the time to read them. They made me laugh so hard my side started hurting!  I have to share some of Kailer's correspondence with you.  For full effect, I won't correct any spelling or grammar or ridiculousness.  My thoughts are in italics.  From the initial letter:

Dear "Brainy's Real Name",  (I don't share my kids' names just in case some online predator tracked us down and tried to lure them to a kidnapper van by knowing their names and other facts about them.)

I some times play baseball in the spring.  What is your favorite sport?  Clearly Kailer doesn't waste time with formalities like hello or how are you.  I have a sibling named Kaden, he is really mean.  What do you do for fun?  Stuff I do for fun is, go out side, play on the computer and play video games.  Do you like music or art?

I was born April 20th, 2004 in Red Wood City, CAL.  This seems like information for the introduction paragraph.  When were you born? Nice smooth transitional follow-up question.  I played baseball in the spring.  Yeah, you mentioned that in the first sentence, but this drives home your point.  My favorite holiday is Thanks Giving.  What do you do at recess?  I've been accused of switching topics too fast before myself, but come on.  My husband could not be pen pals with this kid.  He'd be all "Wait, weren't we just talking about Thanksgiving?"  I'm eight years old.  How old are you?  I play baseball.  In the spring?  Do you play any sports?  Yes, in fact, he does.  Wanna hear every detail from every game he's ever played in?  How much time do you have?  Do you like this assignment?  I like this assignment.  What do you do on the week ends?  I mostly go to church, watch tv, because my brother is, edicted to tv, and play with, my friends.  I feel like Kailer went a little overboard with the commas there at the end.  Speaking of edicted.

From your pen pal,

My favorite paragraph from another letter:

Did your hand hurt when you wrote your letter?  Mine did.  What do you do at recess?  Do you like oranges?  I love oranges.

More good stuff:

The first week I'm out of school I'm going to can-con.  I know your thinking what the heck is can-con.  Yes, I am.  But Brainy is probably just wondering if it's almost time for recess.  Do you mean Comicon?  That's in California, right?  (can-con is a place in Mexico, with a Beach,  oohhh, Cancun) I'm staying in a fansiy hotel.  My parent are super ated.  Are yours?  I had NO IDEA what Kailer was trying to say there. I was pretty sure he was dissing his parents 'super aged?' and trying to get Brainy to do the same, but through further investigation, I think he might have been trying to say separated. 

Last paragraph, I promise:

I'm going to flordia with my mom on the third week.  I'm going with my cousins, grandparents, and aunt.  Don't you think I'm funny.  I'll tell you some jokes!  Nevermind.  My brother is edicted to tv.

If it weren't totally sketchy; I'd get my own eight year old pen pal just for laughs.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is Everyone Sleeping But Me?

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I've always been a champion sleeper.  I slept through the night at only a couple months old and I've yet to outgrow napping.  When I was younger, I could polish off twelve hours of sleep with less effort that it takes some people to finish seven.  And I've never met a moving vehicle I couldn't snooze in.

But for the last couple of years, as I've started wading into the murky waters of middle age, there have been nights when sleep eludes me.  Thanks to the random updating power of Facebook, I know I'm not alone.  Many of my peers have posted things like "1 a.m. and still wide awake! Don't know why.  So frustrating!"  Or, "Woke up at 3:30 and couldn't go back to sleep.  Will there be enough coffee to get me through the day?!"  (My friends are always worried if their coffee will come through for them in a jamb.  I don't drink coffee, so I know I'm on my own.)

And when I wrote "peers" above, I meant women.  You never see a dude post "I've tried everything and just can't fall asleep.  Guess I'll fold the laundry for my wife since I'm awake anyway."  As a matter of fact, if you see that post, get right with the Lord immediately because the end is surely nigh.

Women have a lot more trouble powering their brains down at night.  Probably because there's so much more voltage running through ours, and there are multiple processes to shut down.  It isn't even necessarily worrying that keeps us up.  Like last night, I was watching TV and got tired and droopy-eyed around 10:00.  I checked on the kids, brushed my teeth, and burrowed into bed.  Then my conscious started acting like a two year old!  You know how a toddler can come back out of the room like a dozen times after you put them to bed, with each excuse being more trivial than the one before?  My mind was doing that last night.

First it went through tomorrow's (today's) schedule.  Okay, so I'll get up and make breakfast for everyone and pack lunches and pick out clothes.  I'll drop the kids off at school then come back to the house and run three miles.  Then I'll have to shower real quick, no time to do my hair - as always, and drive over to the church for that meeting.  Then I'll come home and pick up the stuff for Stretch's end of the year party and head to that.  Oh, gotta remember to talk to her friend's mom about a playdate.  Then I'll have a couple of hours to put away dishes and vacuum, but I need to stop by the store and exchange those shorts first.  Hey, I wonder if there are any cute tops at Loft?

Then my mind pulls the classic toddler trick:  I'm thirsty!  After a cold drink, ideas start popping into my head for that meeting at church.  At first very applicable ones, like team building exercises and announcements we need to make for Sunday morning.  Then I start writing commercials in my head and casting friends' kids in them.  I begin to imagine we have some kind of special effects A/V genius on call at church who can make a very moving video montage that will get everyone giving more to the Backpack Buddies program.  Suddenly my imagination is borrowing from Michael Jackson and friends "We Are the World" video, circa 1985, to end world hunger.  CONSCIOUS, GET BACK IN YOUR ROOM AND GO TO SLEEP!

Things go on like this for a long time.  I start to worry I won't get enough sleep and to calm my worries, I look at the clock every forty-five seconds.  Oh no, it's almost midnight.  Oh no, it's 12:01!  Now I need a new plan for tomorrow.  Okay, I'll get up and make breakfast; the kids can just buy lunch.  I'll drop them off at school then take a quick nap before the meeting.  If I don't exercise, I can skip the shower and just put on a little make-up.

At like 2:00 in the morning, I decided I should take an Advil PM thinking surely it would help me sleep.  WARNING:  Do not take a sleep aid if you have to wake up in five hours!!  I was only semi-conscious when I got up and fed the kids.  Who knows what they wore to school today.  I wore pajamas when I was dropping them off, I do remember that.  I gambled big on Coke Zero to keep me awake during the important parts of the day and used the rest of my time to sleep it off.  Now I'm worried that I took too many cat naps today and I won't be able to fall asleep tonight.

Where oh where is the easy slumber of my youth?!  Has it gone the way of my elbow skin elasticity?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Day In Court

Several months ago, the girls figured out the connection between the Speed Limit signs and our speedometer, realizing those two numbers should match.  They have this annoying helpful way of making sure we don't go even a fraction over the limit.  Last Sunday, my husband was driving us home from church and Reckless caught him going 30 in our 25 neighborhood.  With much exasperation she said, "The speed limit is twenty-five, Dad!"  Like, how many times do I have to tell him that?  Stretch piped up that he was "breaking the law."  If my children's idea of a lawbreaker is their father then the real world is going to take their figurative lunch money every day, because my husband makes Honest Abe look like a hooligan.

But the one time the twins' speed monitoring would have come in handy, they fell down on the job.  Actually, they didn't even show up for work because they were at "kindergarten", or so they say.

It was January and I was coming back from a doctor's appointment.  There had been some numbing and injecting, so I took advantage of my ability to function somewhat normally and stopped at the grocery store on the way home.  Predicting I felt good enough that I'd probably be able to make dinner, I decided to round up ingredients to make something.  I walked into Harris Teeter with no list, no plan, and a growling stomach, so I left with 12 Greek yogurts (2 of each of my favorite flavors because they were on sale!), Smartfood white cheddar popcorn (because it says "Smartfood" and comes in a really elegant black bag that alludes to the promise of being healthy and happy), two new flavors of Wheat Thins I hadn't tried (enough said), and lunch meat.  I completely forgot I had stopped there for dinner ideas.  No one else in my family even likes Greek yogurt.

It was eleven-thirty in the morning at this point and I was driving home south on Capital Boulevard from Wake Forest, in no particular rush.  For those of you unfamiliar with this stretch of highway, it's a free flowing divided four lane at this point and further ahead it slows down and clogs up with traffic, lights, and more lanes when you get into Raleigh.  It was approaching the point where I got off Capital when I saw two sets of blue lights up ahead on the right shoulder of the road.  I assumed it was an accident and got over in the left lane.  I was gonna turn left soon anyway.  I could already taste my blueberry yogurt, visions of it started dancing in my head, and, wait, rearview mirror!  Uh, oh, my heart just stopped.

I kept driving because I don't like to park my minivan in the middle of a highway with oncoming  vehicles.  I figured I would pull into the Sheetz that I was about to pass by anyway.  Meanwhile, the original two police cars were still terrorizing motorists on the side of the road and now a fourth one was flashing its lights at a sedan two cars behind me.  So, here I am in the left turn lane, blinker sounding like a ticking time bomb, holding my breath, waiting for a green arrow to allow me to turn down the side street and pull over at Sheetz.  Well, apparently, I was a flight risk or too dangerous to be trusted, because the cop actually got out of his car and approached me at the light, pressing me for my driver's license.  "I was going to pull over at the gas station," I assured him.  Because, duh, if I was going to flee the scene of my violent crimes, I'd go ahead and turn left on red to get away.

"Just pull into that empty church parking lot when the light changes," he said, "But hand me your license now."  I gave the officer my license, even though I knew it was illegal to drive without a license and we both knew I was about to keep driving.  It had sting operation written all over it.

We pulled into the empty church lot and so did the sedan behind me and his police escort.  Our entrance startled some pants-around-my-middle-thigh-undies-on-full-display-hoodlums who were loitering on the edge of the parking lot, under this wooden canopy, rolling & sharing their own "cigarettes".  They stuffed their hands in their pockets, which were by their knees, and kept darting their eyes and milling around nervously until they realized it was the mom in the minivan the Po-Po was trying to take down.

The officer asked if I knew how fast I was going.  "No."  Luckily he didn't ask if I knew what the speed limit was because I might've guessed that wrong and he probably wouldn't have taken "That's my six year old's job" as an excuse.  He claimed I was going 68 in a 55.  I said, "Really, I don't think so.  It didn't seem that fast."

Next he asked if I was in a hurry.  "Maybe late for a lunch date?"  I think he was trying to help come up with an excuse, because he'd been standing there for long enough that I should've been launching some by now.  "No, just going home."  Can I get on with that now?

He sort of peered around in my van (making sure I wasn't smuggling heroin for the Columbians, of course) and then said, "I'm going to need your registration."  Okay?  Wonder what that looks like.  I've only been pulled over two other times in my life.  Once when I was twenty and going ninety-something in a seventy-five, coming back to Texas from Colorado, and there are no obstacles on those long Interstates in Kansas, so it's easy to get carried away.  The other time I was leaving the hospital with a very sick kid and the police are less forgiving than if you're on the way to the hospital with a very sick kid.  But I thought the registration was probably in the glove box though, so I found two official looking paper thingies in there and offered him both.  He took the one that wasn't my voter registration card and said, "It's this one."  Then he handed it back and said, "It's supposed to be signed.  I could write you another ticket for not signing it.  But just go ahead and sign it now."

That was the point I started getting irritated because A) why does he expect me to know something useless and pointless like that and B) why is that illegal and C) the numbing was wearing off and my neck hurt!  And isn't there a bank being robbed somewhere or, I don't know, some dope being sold - like thirty feet away from us!

He went back to his cruiser long enough to have lunch, while my truckload of yogurt was going bad in the van.  I mean, Greek yogurt is halfway to spoiled anyway.  And my stomach was really growling, but I figured getting out my bag of popcorn and having a snack wasn't going to help me get off.  The officer ended up giving me a ticket for going 9 over and suggested I go to court because with my clean record, I could probably walk out with just court costs and not have my insurance affected.   He made it all sound like no big deal, easy even.  It was all I could do not to point out that him leaving me alone and tearing up that ticket would be even easier.  But I was aware of my right to remain silent and for once in my life I exercised that right.

Over two months later, I had my day in court.  The judge thought the ticket was as ludicrous as I did and all but apologized for me having to drive down there to straighten it out.  Which was not easy, for the record, because downtown has lots of confusing one way streets and I had to find a parking garage and the courthouse and the right courtroom, and the security guards downstairs stole my tiny little blue sewing scissors my mom got me to keep in my purse and cut rogue strings off with.  Or break out of jail with, they're all-purpose, I guess.