Thursday, April 24, 2008

What Did I do With my Hours of Freedom?

Many of you may be wondering what I did with my time off. Let me warn is not exciting and maybe somewhat disappointing to those of you who would give your right arm to have two hours alone.

After I was done blogging about my new and temporary freedom, I decided to lie down in my bed and just relax for a minute. I think I would have been instantaneously asleep, but the phone rang. An old friend of mine needed help on some math problems. An hour later, my time was up.

I know, not that interesting. Not very productive. But it remains a very surreal memory for me. I actually was in my home for 2 hours without anyone in the house with me. It felt strange and made me think that this is how it will be, someday, when the kids go off to their own lives. How sad that day will be. It almost makes me want to have more kids...just to prolong the inevitable...almost.

Last night I had the rare opportunity to hang out with some of my old girl friends from college. I had forgotten how much fun we used to have. The memories and stories that we brought to the table kept us all laughing for the entire two hours we were together. I am tempted to share some of the funniest moments, but I don't think they would translate well. A lot of you- just- had- to- be- there- moments. My face and sides were sore from laughing so much. The stories ranged in topics from a chance encounter with Brad Pitt to a 12 year old story about an unfortunate bunny that seemed like a funny story at first, but it just became sad...and for that reason it became funny again. See what I mean? You just had to be there. If you want to know the stories, ask know how I love to talk.

Two good things that happened:
1. Today I got to play tennis across the street from the ocean. Sure, my partner and I were killed in the match, but it was beautiful and such a neat thing to get to play at the beach.

2. Steve just called me today just to see how my day was. It felt good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alone in the house

Well after a series of kind of strange and interesting circumstances, I find myself alone in the house this afternoon. It wasn't something I had planned, but it has worked out that way. As Steve and the kids were leaving, Steve asked, "What are you going to do here all by yourself." And that's when it hit me, I am going to be here by myself for an extended period of time. All by myself. I remind myself of the guy from The Twilight Zone episode, "Time Enough at Last." After a lifetime of being thwarted at every turn when it came to reading, he finds himself completely alone with no one to tell him he can't read. He begins organizing the books in the library into months to be read. He is so excited to have "Time Enough at Last," to read every book he wants. Then the unfortunate happens. He stumbles, drops his coke-bottle like glasses, and can no longer see. The show at this point ends. I empathize with his plight only because here I have been given a great gift of time alone, and I can't think of one thing that I really need to do. I am wasting my time sitting here at this computer instead of accomplishing things that I always wish I could accomplish...if it weren't for the kids. Sure, there is cleaning that can be done, the lawn always needs work, but I am so overwhelmed with this gift all I can think to do is write and share my joy and confusion it seems.

Haley learned the word hypocrite in church last Sunday and decided to use it on me today. She said that I am being a hypocrite. The reason behind this bold accusation is that I don't let her watch certain shows with questionable content, yet I will watch episodes of Friends while folding clothes. She knows this show has questionable if not Amoral content, so therefore I am a hypocrite. Steve is trying to explain that one can be hypocritical without being a hypocrite per se. Thanks honey for the support.

It's really quiet here. I can hear birds chirping and no kids arguing. It's weird. This is what it would be like to have my kids in school during the day. Interesting thought. I could either get a lot done, or I could sit here all day and write. Hmmm.

What to do? What to do?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Toilet Paper

There are two things that occur DAILY that really test my patience. I feel like, since becoming a wife and a mother (12 years ago almost for the wife part) these things should no longer get to me. But they do and I am powerless to change either one.

I honestly cannot, at all, understand the mentality behind someone who uses the last bit of toilet paper and then does not replace the roll. I have read other commentaries on this very thing and have come to the conclusion that God has seen fit to match up two types of people in every household. The toilet paper roll changer and the non toilet paper roll changer. I am the changer in the house. And because of this ability, I seem to always be the person who changes the roll. Why? Because it is ALWAYS empty when I need to use the "Facilities." You may say, "Jen, surely you exaggerate." I wish I was exaggerating. But alas, the members of this family have all conspired against me to make sure the toilet paper roll is empty EVERY FREAKIN' TIME I SIT ON THE TOILET. (For those readers who feel I am always playing the victim and adding chapters to my "Poor Me Book," in this case you are exactly right.) There are days when I actually laugh about this. But as often as it happens, I still forget to check the status of the roll before I sit down. (Mostly because with the pace of my life, by the time I finally allow myself to relieve myself, it is pretty darn close to an emergency.) There are days when I am on top of things and put extra rolls near the toilet. Sadly, there are other days when I am left lamenting my precarious position safely inside the confines of a locked bathroom door with no hope of help.

The second thing that drives me crazy, and seems to send me into a bad mood almost immediately, is the constant demand for food from the three small members of this family. For the most part, I feed them three balanced meals a day. While ideally two meals should be sufficient, I make sure (with a few exceptions) that the girls have three good-sized meals a day. It is the in between meals that drive me nuts. My youngest, will finish a meal, and I'm pretty sure out of boredom alone will want a snack 10 minutes later. She doesn't just ask for a snack, she wines and says, "I'm starving to death." I think it may be the wining that drives me crazy. It is like finger nails on a chalk board. As I write, the girls are eating their lunches. I am enjoying the next 10 minutes when no one is asking me for food. It would probably be a good idea for me to eat, but after fixing lunch for everyone else in the family, I just don't ever feel like fixing anything for myself. I cut up a cucumber and this is what I will eat for lunch. No mess, no plate to wash, and surprisingly filling. But my eating habits are not the topic for discussion today. It is the annoying need for kids to eat all day long. My mom used to say, "The Kitchen is closed until the next meal." It seems like that was enough for us. That phrase doesn't work, for some reason, with my kids. Neither does the smoke coming out of my ears when one or more of them ask for more food after I've just finished cleaning up from the last meal.

The best is when I am sitting on the toilet trying to figure out how to get a new roll of toilet paper and one of the kids knocks on the door asking if they can have a snack. Those are the priceless moments of motherhood.


It seems that my blog has been suffering lately because of the craziness that is our life. My awe inspiring friend Jodie puts me to shame with her very current blog, her busy life, and her well taken care of kids and husband. I don't know how she does it, but maybe I should dedicate a blog to her. She really is an amazing woman. A good example for me and for others.

I met Jodie during the uncertain days of college. I always thought I had it all together. I thought I knew what I was doing with my life. I knew that I was better prepared for life then some, because my parents had practiced a lot of tough love with me. While many of my friends were given a weekly allowance for expenses and entertainment, I had to work my tail off to pay my bills and have any hope of "fun money." I didn't have to pay for my tuition; I did have to buy my own books. I thought this was tough and maybe a little unfair. I didn't get to do all of the fun college things, I thought, because I had to work whenever I wasn't in class. Then I met Jodie. Jodie also worked as a tutor, but this was only one of her jobs. You see, she worked to pay for all of her school. ALL OF IT. This is no easy task at a private Christian university. I admired her from day one.

Then we were lucky (luck had nothing to do with it...God knows things) enough to have a class together. Yes, 8:00 am on Tuesday and Thursday morning we sat through an hour and a half of Grammar. Most of you may wonder, "How in the world is there enough content in Grammar to fill up a semesters worth of time?" Let me tell you, there is a lot to this old English language that many don't understand. But Jodie and I were the two students in our class (call us nerds if you must) that made it our business to learn it all and learn it all well.

This bond formed in Grammar and in the LEC (learning enrichment center) was a solid bond. We graduated from college right next to each other and have only looked back to laugh at ourselves then.

She and her husband were one of the few to come and visit Steve and I in Boston. Yes, they came to visit us in Boston when I was so lonely and so desperate for a friendly face. The weird thing about this visit is I don't remember much. This concerns me. I remember being so glad they were coming. I remember picking them up from the airport via subway...something new to them I think. I remember we had a nice warm Easter Sunday...then the blizzard of 1997 that dumped three feet of snow. Things start getting fuzzy after this. I have been told that I was hit in the head by a well aimed snowball thrown by her husband...but I don't even remember that. We took a trip to New York. Ran in the rain and got soaked in order to see the Statue of Liberty. Sadly, it was so cloudy and rainy that when we got to vantage point to see said Statue...she was covered in fog. We were all so poor that we brought our own lunch to eat in New York...that I remember.

Jodie is a teacher, a mother, a wife, a yearbook editor, and a friend. She does it all well. On top of all of these attributes, she loves God too!! She and her husband have the gift of hospitality and make everyone who visits feel like an honored guest. She is willing to help out whenever she is needed. Her writing is an encouragement to me, her character is an example to me. (She may be politically a little misguided, but one can't have it all right?)

She deals with life in such an incredible way. On top of it all, her life may be a little harder than most of us can understand. She is, on a daily basis, dealing with the fear, pain and uncertainty that comes along with having a brain tumor. If anyone has reason to curl up in a ball and turn bitter, she does. Instead she welcomes everyday and finds opportunities to enrich the lives of her students, her family and her friends. She is amazing and I'm proud to call her my friend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jelly Beans and other dishonesties

Courtney is entering a new and not so endearing phase in her life. She is 4 and 1/2 and is pretty certain that anything she says and does is cute because she is the baby. Sadly, up until age 4 this has been true. She is and has been the most joyful child to ever be birthed in Southern California. I'm pretty certain she came out of the womb smiling. I distinctly remember her smiling while she was crying when she was an infant. She just couldn't help it. Back when she was "Nee-Nee" or "Not-Nee" she could do no wrong. But we all know, all good things must come to an end. While she is still a very happy little girl, there has now come some deceptiveness behind those dimples and eye of blue. It is sad. But in someways very funny. I have to admit, this is not new. All three of my children now have entered this phase of deceptiveness, so I will take a deep breath and say...this too shall pass. (Or at least the lying and stealing will become harder to detect.)

The first incident happened while she was being babysat by an old college friend who also has a daughter Courtney's age. Allegedly, Courtney discovered Claire's stash of jelly beans from the Easter festivities. There were 11. Courtney was told specifically not to take them because they were not hers. Courtney, being the mental giant that she is, took 10 and left one behind. I guess in her little mind, leaving one behind meant she didn't take all of them and that wasn't a crime...really. She even said, when confronted, "Claire needs to learn to share." We had a very stern talk about stealing and how wrong it is no matter how much you want something. I think I got the message across because she looked at me very seriously, trying to smile, with a ever so slightly quivering chin and said, "But you're not going to call the police right mama?" Being the loving parent I am I said, "Not this time, but if you steal MY stuff, I will." I think she learned her lesson.

I like to tell the kids funny stories about when they were babies. Things I know they don't remember and things I'm certain I will forget if I don't pass them on to the little sponges that are my kids minds. They love hearing the stories and often ask me to tell them their own personal stories. Courtney, however, has added a new dimension. She makes up her own. Seriously. None of my kids have gone this far. She likes the stories so much, she has added her own versions. Just this morning, I said "I'm so glad you're my baby." She responded with,

Courtney: Remember when I was a baby and you tried to take my blanket and I said Wah, Wah?
ME: Um, no Courtney I don't remember that at all.
Courtney: Remember when I was a baby and you left me at home and took the other sisters somewhere and I was mad?
ME: Um, no Courtney...If I left you...I left the sisters too. And I probably had good reason.
Courtney: Remember when you buyed me from the hospital and you didn't have any money?
ME: Oh, yes. They wanted exact change and I had forgotten my wallet. You remember that huh? That other family almost got to take you home.

I don't know where she gets these. But as soon as I tell her something isn't true, she is quick to point out that she doesn't lie because then she'll get a spanking. The message is not getting all the way through.

Case in I precious third born just asked me to help her with her shoes. As I was putting her shoes on, I asked if she had brushed her teeth. She gave me a cautious toned (which means she is lying) "yes." I just looked at her with those I-know-you-are-lying-eyes. And she said, "Why are you staring at me mom?"

"Is this the little girl I carried?....Is this the little girl.....Sunrise...Sunset."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Trip to Oregon

My mother was a super hero, because she basically drove the entire 14 hours all by herself. I hate to drive. I have always hated driving. It began back when I got my big Pontiac Safari Station Wagon stuck on a safety pole in a Taco Bell drive through. I have not wanted to drive since. Then factor in our recent car accident, and the fact that 85% of the time in Southern California there is traffic, and you get me going way beyond hating driving. I loathe it. My mother, on the other hand, prefers to drive. We make a good combination in that regard.

My kids were amazing on the 14 hour trip to Oregon. They barely complained. We only had to watch two videos in 14 hours. The rest of the time they slept, read, colored, ate snacks, and basically entertained themselves. I was so impressed with my offspring.

My dad brought along some great knock-knock jokes that kept us all asking for more. My dad has such a great way of delivering every joke that it's funny even when I don't "get it."

The trip went pretty fast too. Once we got there we had the joy of another"Seymour Surprise." JRG only thought I was coming....much to her relief I soon discovered...I brought along mom and dad too. She suspected they were coming, but she wasn't sure. I dropped them off at the entrance to her neighborhood, pulled up in front of her house, and then she saw them walking up the street to her house. It was lots of fun. Then to add to the "Seymour Surprise," a couple of days later JRS flew in. So the whole original Seymour clan was together. It was a lot of fun. My family knows how to have fun together. Sure, in some ways we have to keep our relationships superficial because we have some deep seeded issues, but for the most part we love to play together and laugh together. I know families who go years without talking to each other. Not us. We are as close as we've ever been and they are the greatest support system in my life. I am very thankful.

Why I Like To Stay Home:

Warning: This is not my typical light-hearted funny blog. It is my attempt to make sense of somethings going on in my life. Some may say I am trying to sound like a victim. I am not a victim. I own what I am about to say and am not ashamed. Please do not read if you are looking for a is not funny...but it is still true.

I am a home body. Anyone who knows me well knowsI love to be in my home. Sometimes I feel like I need a break, but my break doesn't necessarily mean I like to leave the safety and comfort of my own home. Safety. Comfort. Predictability. Stability. Familiarity. All words associated with my home. When I am home, my world is very comfortable. There are, of course, the continuous changes and surprises that come with having three girls under the age of 10 and a musician husband, but I can handle these occurrences within my home. I know my immediate family's opinion of me. When I make mistakes, my girls, and Steve are quick to forgive. They really don't have much of a choice, I realize, I'm all they've got. When I act unbecomingly, my husband is quick to call me on it so that I can fix it. When I hear my children mimicking the way I talk in a frustrated way, I know I need to fix the tone in my voice. If I can be so bold as to give myself a compliment, while I sometimes resent being told something about me is offensive, I am usually pretty willing to change.

Outside my home, I am reminded that it is not safe. There are freeway shootings, car accidents, and heartless crime. And while these are major problems outside the safety of my home, the lesser yet equally frightening problem outside of my home, is the unpredictability of those who you let your guard down with because they are your friend. There are people in this world who have a perspective on me that is not entirely true. However, this perspective has been fueled by years of hurt and resentment...most of which I have been totally clueless about...and there is no changing this perspective as far as these people are concerned. Being a recovering people pleaser, knowing that someone is disgusted with the person I am, is like carrying an overstuffed backpack that I can't put down, everywhere I go. I want to put it down, but it is so stuffed that the straps are too tight to budge. I can't reach the zipper to unload it so I just trudge around with this monstrosity on my back waiting for a solution to getting rid of it. I can say, "It doesn't matter what other people think." But those are just words. And it does matter, to me, what some people think... especially when the view is dead wrong. Yes, I can even acknowledge that while some people may have known me for a long time, their conclusions about me are not even close to being right. I am learning that I can't change what someone thinks about me, but it doesn't mean I don't lose sleep trying to figure out how I can.

The funny thing is this. I have a good life, with many good friends and a good family. For the most part my family and friends take me as I am, call me on the stuff that needs to grow up, and we keep going down our merry way growing together. But in one small conversation, my world is turned upside down and I start to question, "How in the world does anyone stand being in the same room with me?" I'm almost 35 years old. I feel like I should be a lot further along in my journey than this.

Oh well. I am home now. My husband adores me. My kids want nothing but me. My friends, my true friends, are still calling. And in spite of all the flaws in my personality, I am reminded that Jesus thinks I'm pretty cool too. He made me the way I am and maybe , just maybe, I wasn't meant to gel with everyone I came in contact with. I guess I have to be OK with that.

Two Good Things That Have Happened:
1. I laughed my real laugh a lot with my mom and dad this past week.
2. My kids got to spend a week with their cousins and can't stop talking about how much fun they had and how much they miss them.