To ensure that they all eat their vegetables when I am traveling, I tend to favor salad bags in a kit. All the big grocery stores have some and they are actually rather tasty. But salad in a bag has become more than a just nutrition, in our family, it is flag for things to come ......
Teen: [standing in front of open fridge] Mom, are you going away? Why is there bag salad in the fridge?
Me: Hahaha. No. It's for the potluck at Phil's house on Tuesday evening.
Teen: Phew! I thought you were going away.....but there was nothing on the calendar. But, you never know, I had to ask.
The lesson in this is that your teens are always watching and observing for the little nuances & patterns in your behavior. Nothing slips their notice even if there are earbuds in their ears 24/7. Don't forget to eat your vegetables!
So, my middle schooler is going to camp with her class next week. It’s a week away from home with her teachers and friends. She’s been going for 3 year and this is the last year that she will be able to attend because she will be in high school next year. Parents and siblings are encouraged to write letters because of they receive a letter at camp, you have to kiss a stuffed moose. After all these years, I still have no idea why this is fun or why the moose deserves so much love when I’m the one doing all the work. Some years, I haven’t sent letters at the specific behest of the kids..... I don’t know why.... maybe they broke up with the moose and are not on speaking terms.
On Monday, I left for Australia for two full days of meetings and on Saturday, it’s time to turn around and go home. Sometime during the 31 hour journey, in the 3rd maybe 4th airport lounge, I start texting my soon to be camper....
Me: I didn’t send any moose letters for camp wolverine. Should I?
Camper: Yes please send letters. It's my last year. Tehe
Me: You are getting sentimental in your old age. They can go out in the mail Monday but not sure if it will get there on time by the time you leave Friday. I’ll see what I can do.
Me: How many pieces of mail does one need to get “Moosed”?
C: One but u can send as many as u want. Last year Amy (names have been changed to protect the innocent) got 8
Me: You are killing me can’t keep up with Amy’s family.
Dear reader, we have to pause the text recount for now because I have to tell you what is going through my head at this point. The rant goes something like this ....
... oh no, I’ve failed (again) as a mom. Even if I send the letter now, it is never going to make it on time. It is in the woods and someone probably has a ride a horse to the post office to retrieve mail. Oh wait. Amazon can deliver anything. Prime can surely get it there in two days. That’s it!! I’ll send her this pseudo board game called FastTrack. It’s one where you shoot little wood coins through a slot with your finger. Face off with your opponent and first one to get all seven pucks through to the other side, wins. $15. Done. Let’s see about delivery. What? Oh no. Friday? Oh no, there’s no time to saddle the horse! Shoot. I mean, not the horse. Hurumph.
Quick, I need a plan B. Google the post office closest to LAX. Yup, there’s one right next to the Hertz rent a car place. I can take the free shuttle to Hertz and then walk to the post office. But what should I send her?
Me: I can go to the Delta lounge, grab a bunch of free cookies and mail that to you from LA. . I found a free banana. Not sure if it will make it.
Me: It’s raining like crazy. Trying....To....make....it ...to ....Post....office. Gush.....rain....wet. Yeeeeass. It can be done.
Me: Actually, I’m waiting till rain stops in 20 mins.
C: Wow mom
Me: Yup, I’m a fish. That’s means ... you’re a guppy.
Ok. This is how I worked it. Pulled out my TSA precheck, went to security, bought gift which were (overpriced) socks with little bowls of ramen printed on them. Googled the post office location. Caught FREE Hertz rental car bus to get there. Sit down, waited for 20 mins for rain to stop.
Mailed squishy banana, I mean, socks.
They said it will arrive Tuesday but might be Wednesday by the time horse is saddled. One package is all I could manage. This globe trotting uber Dr. Mom can’t keep up with the 8 letters that Amy’s stay-at-home mom sends her.
Then catch free shuttle back to terminal. Go through TSA precheck again. It’s 0900. Plane leaves at 1145. So plenty of time.
Oh, and I was too cheap to buy a card to go with the gift so I wrote a note on my Virgin Australia Melbourne to Sydney boarding pass, kissed it and stuck it in the envelope. There! Uber working mom with cape!
Click here to see the funny Ramen socks that I bought for her.
The rush, hustle, bustle.... violin, ballet, basketball, swimming, library books.....something always gets left behind and no one realizes until we get to the destination, 10 mins later for soccer practice with no shin guards. Great! There has to be a better way. Well, there is, a long time ago when the kids were in grade school, my mantra was "If it is not in the basket, it doesn't make it into the car." We used to set large laundry baskets by the door and the kids would put the things that they needed for the next day into the baskets. Everything from backpacks to lunchboxes and extra boots or snow pants. I did not permit a haphazard dumping of random items into the baskets. They had to me only and excatly what they needed.
Today, 10 years later, the kids have inherited a system of organization and they pack their own stuff. They make sure that everything makes it into the car on their own. Next year, when the kids start to drive themselves to school, I am not there to fetch or retrieve any forgotten items. So, moms, start organizing early because that is what they will need to fend for themselves when you let go inch by inch and make them independent. At a Christian moms conference many years ago, one speaker said that we have 18 years to teach kids what they need to know before they leave home. When you think about, 18 years goes by... in a flash.
They have some nice baskets by Sterlite
I actually have about 6-10 of these Sterlite baskets stacked for laundry and to facilitate loading of stuff into the car. More about laundry sorting in an upcoming & yet to be written blog.
I love, love post-it notes. There is something very satisfactory about the swwlippp that it makes when you flick it off the stack, purposely and furiously scribble your Zorro-like mark, and THWackkk, slap it into place. I get a vision of flashbacks to the 1800s when being a postmaster meant wielding an almighty rubber stamp; determining the delivery of court orders and love notes. It makes me feel like I am getting things done and neither foe nor foul weather may stand in the way of a mom on a mission !!! [Can you hear the thrum of a theme song…. starts with acoustic guitars and builds into …..the Eye of the TIGEEERRRRR]
Back on planet earth: post it notes keep me and the family organized. They lay out the menu for the day. Sometimes I dream up what to make for school lunch but by the time I wake up in the morning, it’s drifted out of my head and absconded to the same planet that all my lost socks reside. So, these notes capture moments of brilliance before they run off. Since, I am a practical person of consistency, many of my actions repeat themselves over and over again hence…… the board of recycled post-it notes was born. Why do it over when I already have one from last week?
They are reminders of what I need to set out tomorrow, what the kids need from me, making sure everyone has everything they need for once we leave the house — there is no going back to get anything coz momma has to be at work.
The recycled post-it note board has become somewhat of a family legend. When the extended family comes over, they take turns showing this museum piece to people who haven’t seen it yet. I supposed it doesn’t help that the glasses are stored behind that very door. “Hahah…what is that?…it’s HERs? Oh, now it makes sense. But hahah, still funny.”
Of all the post it notes, the ones I treasure most are the ones crafted by my husband because for all the things that I do to serve the family, it is his adoration that takes my breath away.
Every Sunday during the lunch after church, we have a family meeting to go over the week’s events. Not sure how it started, but it has carried on for a few years now. All stakeholders must be present, and we insist that there is quorum before we make major schedule changes. CEO (husband) and CFO (me!) have omnipotent veto rights. First order of events is to go through the calendar for the week. Next, we pair up the logistics for how to support each those events - meals, wheels, transportation of everything from sporting equipment to musical instruments, homework schedule, etc. Lastly, it’s around the table for any comments or concerns. Then, we proceed with a hearty round of fart jokes and the meeting ends when someone laughs so hard that one to two beads of rice accidentally shoots out of their mouths. Really, I’m not making it up.
So, I’m off to Asia for 2 weeks. It’s a long haul this time. The jet lag is going to be brutal. The flights are long, my head will hurt from lack of sleep. On the descent into Tokyo, there was 3 hours of turbulence and I had to put away the article that I was editing for fear that my mid flight cheese bread would make a comeback over all of my papers and keyboard.
Meanwhile, back on the range, I’ve left the fridge stocked with the things I think the family will cook, briefed everyone on the lunch menu at school and their options if they want to bring their own. The husband is a a real trooper and covering the after school sports activities. I know it takes a toll on him but it's the fine tightrope balance we all have to tread. A couple of days during my absence, my mother in law plans to have her chauffeur hat in one hand and casserole in the other - hopefully not when she’s driving. Actually, grandma is a really good driver. I love my in-laws, really, I do.
Pics from left to right: Dragon fruit, pomelo, rosebud tea, mangoes, bunches of lemongrass.
The real deal about what it’s like to be a working mom. I often hear the following phrase, “I don’t know how you manage it all.“ The reality is, I don’t even know. Deep down inside, I’m wondering the same thing about them. I have two kids, a wonderful husband, a normal suburban life. I’ve always been achievement oriented and simply love to tackle things that sometimes make other peoples eyes glaze over… in boredom. I’m a researcher and my view on the technical stuff is that nothing is difficult, merely complex.
Flat Stanley at the Changing of the Guards.