Movies, Books, and How I Spent My Winter Break

As someone who works from home, when all of the noise and commotion exited the door yesterday morning in a ball of chaos, it was stunningly silent. I was alone for the first time in over two weeks and the only noise was the background hum of appliances. It was surprisingly a little scary, but that only lasted a beat, leaving me ready to dive in.

What I did over the break:

I threw my back out for the first time ever at the start of break. I do not recommend this. In fact, I recommend you NOT do this. The next week was a blur of Advil, muscle relaxers and a heating pad, all of which made me feel like some of my elderly relatives who would fall asleep in front of the TV moments after sitting down. We tested the limits of my screen sleepiness by going to the movies.

urlAnchorman 2 – This was so sad because I wanted it to be funny, but really, the best parts are in the commercials. It pains me to write that (and I mean it pains my soul, not my back, which is recovering nicely).
tbn_d53321c12a0d7137American Hustle – This was fantastic. The story was good, the actors were good, and the hair was awkward. It’s worth getting a babysitter to go see.
tbn_28dd37a4b93b9e21The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – This was good, too. I really liked it, especially on the big screen due to the beautiful scenery. I didn’t enjoy the 12 year old next to me with a severe case of restlessness. He was in a party of about seven family members, who shared popcorn by having the mom get up and pour it into even amounts for each person, all while standing upright. That happened throughout the movie. No one passes anymore.

I read two books, one of which slipped out of my hands and landed on my face while reading in bed. Another thing I advise against trying.

How to Be a Woman. It ebbed and flowed, but I really liked the final chapters about abortion and getting older. Those were separate chapters, in case that wasn’t clear.

The second book I cannot remember. It was a paperback?

Where we’re going:

Literally, we’ll probably go to Colorado, New Jersey, and I hope to Disneyland and maybe on a long out-of-state road trip.

Figuratively, we’re going to know better and do better, a la Maya Angelou. We’ve pinned the stuff and read the books, now it’s time for action. This year I will drink more water and less Diet Coke, clean the garage, work better, read more (once again, I have a year’s worth of New Yorkers stacked up), take more photographs, and let my kids make mistakes, but help them in ways that will serve them long-term.

Last year, I started walking away from things, as in I finally realized I don’t need to be involved in every single thing. Saying no was liberating. I plan on continuing.

I finally remembered the other book! It was The 5 Love Languages. I read it to help me with one of the kids, only to get to the end of the book to find that there is a version specifically written with kids in mind (The 5 Love Languages of Children). Back to the library.

Year-Ending R&R & Rx

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The plan was to have a relaxing week following Christmas, but what I didn’t know is that it was going to be medically ordered. When cleaning on the Sunday before Christmas, I had been dusting the baseboards (the downside of having large, thick, “elegant” – our builder’s word – baseboards is that they collect a lot of dust) and in a rush, went to get the last dusty spot with a twist, bend, reach, and swoop move that made my back pop. Five days later, I could barely move and it was only getting worse, which was when I called the doctor.

The good news is that a heavy heaping of Advil with a muscle spasm chaser kills any anxiety. I usually itch to get moving to accomplish something, but with the meds, I can barely stay awake. Loaf life is where it is at. We saw four movies (three in the theater and one that’s been on our DVR for six months), I read two books, and I watched about 20 episodes of How I Met Your Mother because all I could do was sit. I felt so complacent that I got excited by a marathon of America’s Funniest Home Videos.  At one point, Sesame Street started looking good. I used phrases like, “real good” to describe anything better than okay. For a moment, I thought that like me, the rest of the world concluded Hanson’s Mmm Bop should be brought back and celebrated as a timeless classic. Also, I started to get a little too mushy in love with Google Shopping Express. Thankfully I couldn’t get up to open the door or each of the delivery drivers would have gotten long, awkward hugs from me. This is my brain on drugs.

My back is getting better and I’ve cut back on the meds, which means fewer “real goods,” but it means I’m going into 2014 rested, with a clear mind, and a back that will be stronger than ever, thanks to doctor-ordered physical therapy. It’s all really good from here.

The War Against Knots: Four Inches Cut Off

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This is after four inches were chopped off. It’s not even my head of hair, but I feel liberated. The girl is almost 11 and we still battle with knots regularly. Before, I would threaten to cut her hair, and she would argue and promise that things would get better until recently during one of our post-shower knot battles. With me getting more of an upper arm workout than one should from combing wet hair, she quietly changed her tune. When I suggested three inches off, she didn’t flinch, which encouraged me to push for more. She wanted to keep her hair long, ruling out a cut long enough to donate, but she agreed that a four-inch trim was fine.

After both kids cuts were complete, the hair stylist and I looked down at the giant mound of hair (it looked like a medium-sized sheep had been shorn). She sighed and said, “Your kids have A LOT of hair.”

Yesterday’s Mothering High was a Gross Low

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Yesterday’s highlight came out of my son’s nose. It was a moment no mom wants to be in: where your kid has an incredibly productive sneeze and there isn’t a tissue in sight. The school Halloween parade was just beginning, we weren’t near my son’s classroom (or any classroom) where a tissue box sat near the door, and who knows what happened to the clean tissue I watched him put into his pocket 10 minutes before. He sneezed and gross stuff in Costco-size quantity came out, dangling there, and all he could say was, “Mom?” After a split second of weighing my options and not getting rescued by a Kleenex fairy, I pulled down my sweatshirt sleeve, grabbed it all off his face, and then rolled my sleeve up until I could get to my car.

The whole thing was about 20 seconds but it changed my week. It’s been a few days of questioning what is next for me work-wise, second guessing my skills, fretting over disappointing people, and as always struggling with a work-mom balance, but in that really gross moment, I felt like I did my job and did it well. It’s not like a donated a kidney or anything, but my kid needed me, and for a task that only a mom would step up to do. I was there for him, and everything felt right. (Especially after I removed my sweatshirt and threw it into the washing machine.)

It’s the first day of Nablopomo (National Blog Posting Month), which means that if I remember to set a reminder in my calendar, I will be posting something every day. Hopefully.

Though No Candy Corn, Fall has Unofficially Begun

tippytoes-pencils-1Things did not go according to my plans this weekend, which flat-out sucks. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a year, and definitely since February when the 49ers lost the Superbowl. We missed the football season last year due to the remodel. Just typing that gets me angry with our builder, who was so late, he made us miss our traditional Christmas and our annual Superbowl party. Grrr.

This was the big weekend, yet I wasn’t feeling well and my heart wasn’t into it. I sat and watched, but felt more like I was in a coma. I yelled at the TV once during the 49ers game, only once, which is a clear sign something was amiss.

We did manage to mark the last day of summer vacation with s’mores. Rocket had been asking about s’mores since our August camping trip because we only had marshmallows (don’t blame me, I’m not the mom in charge of dessert), and with only seconds on the clock, we got Rocket’s symbol of summer crossed off our list.

Though it’s still our summer, I ran to Target to grab some bags of candy corn to use for decor (and probably to emotionally eat) and – sit down for this – they did not have their Halloween stuff out. Why? WHY? Doesn’t the Halloween stuff normally hit the shelves in August, allowing everyone to complain about corporations over commercializing holidays by shoving seasonally colored Peeps down our throats weeks too soon? There were candy corn flavored Oreos and candy corn flavored M&Ms, but no actual candy corn. Oh America, why sully candy corn? It’s perfect on its own. My jar in question still is filled with summertime gum balls.

One kid started school today and the other starts tomorrow, then marks the time of year where I say, “It’s already 3 p.m.?” nearly every day. This weekend I was reminded that time slows down most when your kid is playing goalie or when you favorite football time is being challenged with only a minute left in the game. School days, though, they race by.