Lands End (of the line!)

August 31, 2007

I have truly made it a goal of mine to not come to my blog to complain and whine about petty life irritations, but really, I have to cheat for a second.

What’s the problem, LANDS END? You have completely let me down and pissed me off! I have purposely waited until the second week of school to purchase a lunch box. I did this because I wanted to see how often my child would actually be taking a lunch. See, at the BIG school, he can either take a lunch or go through the line. When I was a wee lass, going through the line was not as cool as bringing a lunch from home, for only the lunches from home could contain things such as Candy Wax Bottles and Oatmeal Creme Pies. But at this BIG school, it is WAY cooler to go through the line. Perhaps it is because he can choose whatever he wants for lunch (with help from the teachers, of course) and the independence is too much to resist. It’s either that or the Chocolate Milk on Fridays. Who knows?

What I do know is that I was so cheery this afternoon when I got the newest Lands End Kids catalog in my mailbox. I mean, perfect timing, right? Keep in mind that I REALLY want the Lands End lunch box because only THEY have the CleanSweep. And we all know that the CleanSweep is the Mercedes of lunch boxes, now don’t we? (-5 cool points)

Off I went to the online store to pick out a good color to coordinate with his backpack – and you know what – let’s even get crazy with the MONOGRAM, bitches!

Imagine my shock when I hit the “Continue to Shopping Cart” button and I get this evil message:

We’re sorry. The item you’ve selected, CleanSweep Solid ClassMate Lunch Box , color True Navy, is no longer available and cannot be added to your bag or backordered.

Uh, wha? Surely this is a mistake. Or maybe True Navy is just crazy popular? I was irritated, but hey – I’m a flexible gal. Let’s try this again. We can do Cobalt. And plus, that monogram is just TOO cute! (-3 more cool points)

We’re sorry. The item you’ve selected, CleanSweep Solid ClassMate Lunch Box , color Cobalt, is no longer available and cannot be added to your bag or backordered.

At this point, I’m livid. I mean, really. It’s more than annoying – it’s irresponsible as a company to send out a catalog showcasing its “new! packs and lunch boxes! p.110” when what it should say is “new! a few packs and a couple of lunch boxes that are in colors that suck – maybe. p. 110”

So, I calmly and nicely contacted the online chat customer service to voice my frustration. She, of course, said that she was sorry and would pass along my comments.

Whatever. I’d rather have a lunch box.

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It’s been – what – three weeks since I’ve written? And I’m sure you’re all thinking, doesn’t she have anything noteworthy going on in her life? And to that I will respond:
I have too much noteworthy going on in my life.

The last few weeks have been jam-packed with the first days of school, new parent orientations, sick baby, birthday parties, back-to-school festivals, finishing unpacking, and trying with all my might to squeeze some type of routine back in our lives for the sake of our children. I’m even COOKING, OKAY. Like, REAL food and not grilled cheese for the love of all things!

So, it finally caught up with me Wednesday night when I cold PASSED OUT with Big Brother and didn’t wake up until midnight. You must know how insane this was for me when you hear that I missed our standing Wednesday date night which consists of the highly anticipated Top Chef and Oreo Blasts from Sonic. Passed out, I tell you.

In the last few weeks, I have thought of 107 things on which I wanted to write and share. I have photos that are precious and stories that are precious-er. I have deep thoughts and grand ideas and dreams that I’d like to put into writing. What I don’t have is time.

Perhaps in this routine-making mode I am in, I will find some way to create a space for me so I can keep up with this lifeline hobby of mine. In the meantime, hang in there with me.

I have 14 minutes to get to school.

I know you all JUMPED out of your beds this morning hoping that I had written a conclusion to the Great Pool Dilemma of 2007. Not one to disappoint (and successfully finding a way to avoid dishes,) I give you this.

The almost six year-old love of my life would not SHUT IT about going swimming, so I called some neighbors across the way to get the official Terms of Service regarding the pool. The way I wrote that sentence makes you think that I am good buds with the folks across the street, and while we like them very much and we are friendly, the sheer fact that I had to do a whitepages.com search for people living on that street shows you just how close we are.

She answered and laughed with me at how weird it was to just show up at someone’s pool, but also told me that there were other neighbors on the street that did it ALL the time. She even said she would go with me, but her boys were at her MIL’s house so she could clean. And I was jealous. (Note to self: Write a blog about how sad it is the day you are jealous of someone who is housecleaning in peace.)

At about 3:15 I slapped a little sunscreen stick on our faces and loaded up the backpack and red wagon with pool paraphernalia. Off we rolled to the Very Nice Pool.

It was like Christmas morning for Big Brother – no kidding. It’s not like we haven’t gone to other pools this summer, but for some reason this was making his year. I’m thinking it was the fact that I totally caved in on his whining for once and not so much about the pool.

When we reached the driveway, I’m telling you, it was WEIRD! It is just WEIRD to open someone’s back gate without permission. I am SUCH A RULE FOLLOWER! I am still the little private school nerdo who is freaked out at the possibility of getting 10 demerits and Saturday clean up detail. (Note to self: Write a blog on how you ended up a stay-at-home-mom who regularly participates in Saturday clean up detail.)

As we walked the beautifully landscaped path to the back, I kept looking around me as if the SWAT team was about to swoop down and raid the pool oasis with snipers and tear gas and automatic weapons. My heart was pounding. Big Brother was already in the pool. Way to break the ice.

BB isn’t quite ready to be in a pool without an adult present, mainly because he thinks he’s invincible and can lengthen his legs to 9 feet when he gets in deep water. So, I set my cell phone alarm for 30 minutes, looked around again, peeked back to the front yard, peeked into the garage, and hopped in.

Y’all, it really is a very nice pool. It’s not big, but it’s shaded with all these really big trees that magically don’t drop leaves and twigs. The trees are all well landscaped with really pretty grass and little stone pathways that lead to a little playset or a little outdoor fireplace with swing and benches or a hot tub under a little gazebo-type cover. I completely expected to see some little gnomes or fairies skipping along at any moment. And even though the thermostat was reading 112, it felt 85 and breezy.

Which is why it is just SAD that I couldn’t enjoy ONE SECOND of my time there due to CONSTANTLY looking around and checking the time. We ended up getting out about five minutes before the alarm even went off. Luckily, BB had jumped enough “Mommy, look at this one!” jumps to appease – and I didn’t even get one whine.

I have never been so glad to leave a pool. And while I truly do believe that the neighbors there are whole-heartedly gracious and sincere, I am just not capable of pooling at their house without an invitation from them or someone closer to them. I would really like to be a card carrying member of the Very Nice Pool Club, but I think we’re going to have to wait another summer.

Or at least until I know they’re on vacation. 😉

To pool, or not to pool

August 10, 2007

Good news! It’s a whole one degree cooler today than it was yesterday! Only 104! Break out the cardigans!

This heat is sucking the life out of me, people. 104 today. 105 yesterday. 100 and too much the four days before that. Who can I blame for this? I mean, I know it’s technically God controlling the weather, but I’m a good little Presbyterian and feel like I shouldn’t challenge the Father Almighty on the temperature thing – which leaves me with no choice but to point the finger at Storm Team Meteorologist, Brooks Garner. Or one of his Storm Teammates.

I’d like to go to the pool this afternoon. Not my pool, mind you. In this new, lovely, well-manicured, suburban neighborhood of mine we have very nice neighbors. And on the cul-de-sac across from us we have very nice neighbors with a pool. They are SUCH very nice neighbors, in fact, that they have issued an open invitation to all of the children in our little cul-de-sac area to utilize their very nice pool.

I am not that very nice.

In the last two months, people have stopped by to say hello, welcome us, bring us pies, peek through our front door to see how we’ve changed the house – basically, scoping us out in their very nice way to make sure we brush our teeth and speak English. (We do both.) Each person has made a point to tell us about the very nice neighbors with the pool and how they don’t mind AT ALL if we use it whenever we want. I mean, EVERYONE has told us the same thing.

But we didn’t go. Because how do you walk up with your two children all sunscreened out, pool toys dripping off you, towels over your shoulder, cold drinks in hand and say, “Hey there! We’re the Blackwelders! Nice to meet you! And can we use your bathroom if my son has to pee while he’s in your very nice pool?! His aim is pretty good!”

I don’t know. But yesterday was a different day. At 8:30 a.m. (!!), our doorbell rang (!!) and it was some very nice kids from across the street and their very nice babysitter inviting us to the pool (and bringing us an Oreo pie.) So now we have been assured that it is okay to go AND been double invited by an actual Cul-De-Sac Pool Member.

Oh, and it’s one hundred and eleventy degrees outside.

So we go. And it is paradise. Shady. Pretty. Clean. Very nice. Lots of neighbors are there, so we fit right in, the owners come introduce themselves and assure us that yes, we are welcome anytime.

Of course, here we are now – inside the house watching the Prehistoric Planet on Discovery Kids. Again. I am learning more and more about the Iguanadon and its eating habits each day – but what I REALLY want to do is go across the street to the Very Nice Pool Club. On our way back from Mecca Target, we took a drive-by to see if we could hear any squeals or splashes, but alas. Technically, we have been invited, but is it still weird to anyone else to just show up at someone else’s house unannounced so that you can jump in their property?

Hmm. Maybe I would feel better about it if I brought them a pie.

Learning to make change

August 9, 2006

Have y’all seen that Staples commercial? It’s one of my favorites. This father is going through the aisles of the store lightheartedly tossing school supplies in the cart with a great big goofy grin – while the children follow behind – looking as if they’re on the path to the guillotine. And in the background you hear the Christmas song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

The first days of school alway strike a chord in me. I adore shopping for school supplies. There’s something about the smell of new notebooks and pencils, the shiny packs of colored pens and highlighters, and all those nifty organizational products – call me a nerdo – but I could probably spend as much money at Staples as I do at Target (quite a feat.)

I have to tell you, though – even the excitement of a school supply shopping spree hasn’t been enough to calm my anxiety about this year’s first days of school. Big Brother is starting his last year at preschool and next year he’ll be in real school. My baby is starting preschool of sorts – same school as older brother, but obviously less intense. And me – well – mama’s going back to work. The winds of change are blowing again and all of a sudden I feel like the preverbial sparrow in a hurricane.

Yesterday was the beginning of the madness and today I am trying to find the words to tell my new boss lady that I quit. Let me quickly describe how horrific it was to even drop off my children. I had to hold back my big boy from running into his new classroom. I mean, I’m glad he loves his class, but what about me, man? Aren’t you even going to miss me? Don’t I get a hug? I could barely see my almost-five-year-old blow me the quickest kiss from across the room as my eyes fogged over from tears. Why is he growing up so fast?

Once I broke the seal of tears, it was over. I cried the entire walk over to the baby hall, and it just got worse as I handed the baby over, kissed him goodbye, and walked to my classroom. I literally had to duck into a bathroom to get myself together before moving on.

Keep in mind that this is my CHURCH, okay? It’s not some ghetto day care where the workers are filing their nails and washing their cheez-its down with a quick chug of vodka. It’s a beautiful, accredited school where I know almost everyone and even used to work myself. It’s just hard!

After I sucked back the tears I made my way to “the other side of the tracks” to the rooms for the Drop-In day care. I spent a good bit of Monday making the room look less like a holding cell and more like a classroom and damn, if it didn’t look good. The director was pleased and I gained a teeny tiny bit of confidence as I glanced over my legal pad with my detailed plans for the day. I met my two co-workers a few minutes before the children began to arrive. One of them has been with the program for eight years – but we all seemed to be on the same page regarding the daily schedule – blah, blah, blah.

I’m trying to find a way to condense my day without going into the details, so I’ll just say this and hope I get the point across.

CHAOS!

I blame myself, really. For starters, I only know how to deal with structured education programs. The whole “drop-in, sign-in, first come/first serve, laid back, who are you anyway?” system is just not something for which I was prepared. That, combined with me trying to implement some structure into a program that one teacher had been a part of for almost a decade – well – it just didn’t fly. It’s a very good program for its purpose, mind you. I just wasn’t as ready as I thought.

So there I was – tired, confused, overwhelmed, SAD – I honestly wanted to leave. I was in a daze for most of the morning and found myself wandering in thought. For instance, I was sitting there in front of my beautifully crafted bulletin board and calendar, singing a song for Morning Circle Time (which was to occur from approximately 9:20-9:35) and out of 18 children, I’m guessing that – oh – maybe – five of them were actually sitting there and listening. And all of a sudden I just zone out and think…”This must be what musicians feel like when they’re playing for an audience of assholes…”

Oh, yes – hello children.

The ages of the children range from three to five years old, so trying to determine content is a joke. BIG difference between three year-olds who barely speak and five year-olds who want to read to me. Geez.

It’s no secret that I hate change. I like finding a groove and sticking to it. I like the familiar – even when it’s to my own detriment. I’m trying to figure out what choice I’m supposed to make here. Do I bail on the Drop-In now so the director can find a replacement as soon as possible? Do I give it another week or two? The answer is somewhere inside me and I have to dig it out. What I know right now is that I dread tomorrow like the plague and that is not a feeling I want on a daily basis.