Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Out Riding Fences

There has been much excitement at my house for the past few days. Ryan is finally putting up that fence I asked  him to build like oh, nine years ago. See. I can be patient.
Beau in particular is super excited. It is a little bizarre how excited he is about the fence. Carmella and I are like, meh, fence, yay! But sheesh, finally.  . .

Beau came home from school yesterday so pumped about helping Daddy build the fence. I was a little worried that Ryan didn't know yet about all the help he was going to be getting but you know what? A Beau off my back for an afternoon is a Beau off my back. I don't care who I toss under the Beau bus for that. Not that I don't love the guy but you know, his energy is like boy to the fourth power. His energy? His talking? (irony on so many levels) It trumps mine.

I insisted he do his homework first. Much fence building time was wasted over a tantrum, failed negotiations, complaining  and then him finally doing it after Ryan said he couldn't help if he didn't do his homework.  I left to take Carmella to the dentist. I returned an hour later  to find him wearing ripped camo shorts, a ripped t shirt, a pair of Carmella's old hiking boots that are 3 sizes too big, bike gloves and wielding pruners as big as him. Ryan actually wears a similar outfit to work in the yard, minus the bike gloves which are replaced by heavy duty work gloves, but I guess Beau saw what his uniform should be and improvised the best he could. I also guess that Beau was probably driving Ryan crazy with "Dad! Dad! What can I do? You need me to hold a post?" That Ryan said, "Here, take the pruners and go clear the weeds." I think the neighbors will be excited all the bushwhacking Beau did on their property.
I went to meet Steph and the other Tuesday night groupies to ride in Roswell and then run last night. Apparently I missed out on Beau's 5 hour non stop blue streak talking about fence building. When I got home at 9pm Beau heard me and woke up to tell me that he had changed the outfit we laid out for school. I looked it over and decided that since it didn't have any holes or stains that it wasn't worth the fight, so I left it. Plus, if the kid wants to look like a fool why should I stop him? Maybe in this case a little peer pressure and ribbing might be good. But knowing Beau he has probably started a fad .

He woke up at 6:30 this morning and talked nonstop about the fence, even showing and explaining to me the blue print sketch that I had been there while Ryan drew it. He kept right on talking and talking and talking until I dropped him at school at 7:20. He didn't even break subject when he did a face plant down the stairs from tripping over the boots and could not be persuaded to put on shoes that fit.

I can only guess what he talked about at school today. I find it very interesting the Adderall does not make him quiet like the Ritalin made me. He has self control, behaves, sits in his seat and is able to focus but he still has a lot to say. Ritalin near made me a mute.  I am not saying this is bad thing I am just saying I am surprised. Clearly it is a better medication.

Okay, so yeah, after school. . . 

As soon as he got in the car he said "Hurry up Mom! I gotta help Dad with the fence! " He was again pissed about the homework first stipulation; especially since Ryan had hired to workers to help and Carmella had told Beau, when she saw their truck, "Oh Dude, you've been replaced!"

He finally finished his worksheet and reading and went out to help Ryan. Even Carmella went and a bit later the neighbor girl, Riley, came over--expecting to play fashion show or veterinarian-- and got roped into fence building.  She also got roped into painting the house last summer too. You'd think she wouldn't want to come play here anymore. I know I wouldn't.

So I went out to check the progress on the fence just now and the kids told me they decided to build their own fence. In the middle of the yard. It will be their talking area, Carmella explained. And I was SO relieved to know that, now, there will be a specific area for that. It will make things so much easier on me. I might even be able to focus or complete a thought without being interrupted by chatter.

Beau said it would be their special meeting place and Riley added that it would also be "a war memorial for 1983. " Beau, Carmella and I just looked at her and she said, "Right, I don't know what I am talking about. I just wanted to say something too." See! Good thing that there will be a fenced off area in the middle of my backyard specifically designed for that!

Okay, so here is them working on their fence. I asked if the flags were for gas lines or something but Carmella said that was where the posts were going.

I know. That is going to look awesome! Really going to enhance the landscaping (snort). Okay, eventual landscaping. Whatever. It may be an eyesore but it has kept 3 children out of my house that I have been trying all afternoon to clean and, even better, it is going to be a future talking area! A play pen that the kids built for themselves. Fabulous! Who cares how ugly it is!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Running so I can (Run and THEN) Stand Still . . .

Whenever I meet someone and they inform me that they are smart or super intelligent or something to that effect I immediately form the opinion that they are in fact, most likely, not smart at all. As one manipulator to another I personally find that very insulting. If nothing else, I am good at forming opinions.

So feel free to form your own opinion but today I realized I'm a bit of an idiot. Not really blog-worthy info, I know but bear with me.

I have this mentality, I've always had it--I guess you could call it running to stand still. Right, the U2 song but the saying has been around forever. Cliche. Right, surprise again, me? Cliche, never.

I think it is maybe an ADD quality because I see it in Beau. For example, I will ask Beau and Carmella to pick up their toys around the house and clean their room. Within 5 minutes Beau, whose room was 10 times messier will announce "Done!" And go downstairs and turn on the Wii. Carmella, on the other hand will be still cleaning her already clean room and getting ready to organize her closet too, right after she gets done folding all her American Girl doll clothes and arranging her stuffed animals in little conversational vignettes.

I warn  Beau that I am going to check. And he will run to his room, shut the door and I will hear some banging around and then after 10 or so minutes, he will emerge and tell me, to "Go ahead. Check."

I tell him I will be looking under the bed . . . and his eyes will shift but he gives nothing away. Instead, he goes back downstairs, turns on the Wii and resumes, along with Hans Solo, saving the universe.

At first look, the room is perfect (for a 7 year old having cleaned it), even under the bed is clear. I start to leave but notice one of the shelves above his top bunk is crooked. Well, that's no good! So I climb up there and while straightening it I see, stuffed between the bunks and the wall but not easily seen when just standing in the room eye level, his sheets--fitted and top because I guess he was too lazy to put them on, straighten them--I don't know. He tells me "sheets are hard." Just like he use to tell me buttons were too hard and he only wanted elastic pants.

Stuffed animals, some lego Star Wars,  along with dirty clothes, books, binoculars, hand written notes and other miscellaneous items are tucked in between the side board and mattress and the wall. There is so much there that you know that it wasn't a case of a toy falling to the wayside, getting stuck and accidentally being overlooked. No, they were placed specifically there. This involved thinking and method. This is sneaky.

So I begin investigating. I open the closet. Sure enough, clothes, shoes, and whatever else is stuff, shoved, tossed and pushed where ever it can fit and the closet door can still close. I don't even bother to look in the drawers. I'll find that another day. I don't even have time for this. Why? Because I want to go to the gym and get my run done. This is all cutting into my time! My time that I planned and had accounted for!

Le big fat sigh. I think, annoyed and knowing that this is my Mama's curse yet again biting me in the ass: a child just like me. . .
Karma, Karma, bo-bkarma
Banana-fana fo-fkarma
I yell for Beau to come and having pulled everything out I tell him he has to put everything away in its right place. And I have stripped his beds too so now he has to remake them the correct way. He is pissed.  I am pissed too because this is all going to take more time. Time that I have not scheduled for! Already I am changing my planned hour spin bike and easy 6 mile treadmill run to just a run, treadmill intervals I decide. As many as I can do. That will be harder, I decide. A compromise, not what I want but still better than nothing.

Sure, I could just let it go but everybody knows when it comes to parenting it never ever workouts out when you try to rob Peter to pay Paul. In my experience Peter is the debt that is never forgotten. He is always coming back around looking for his money.

So the problem is twofold here. The first, in the case of Beau, is that he spent so much time trying to get out of cleaning that had he just done it right in the first place he would be done. He put so much effort into NOT doing the thing that was expected of him that in the end he wasted more of his time (and mine!). If he had just done what was expected of him he would have been long done. This is proving a very long and not so sharp of a learning curve for Beau.We deal with this in nearly every aspect of his life down to the smallest things--like eating a meal, writing a thank you note. It is all very time consuming and also, very frustrating because I am still trying to straighten out my own damn curve on this issue.

Hmm, I guess on second thought that curve might be wrong word because when it comes to parenting Beau it isn't so much a curve as it appears to be one freaking circle.

Anyway, I'd like to think that I am not like Beau anymore but honestly my methodology in approaching tasks that I don't love has just evolved. Certainly I don't try to avoid them or go to great efforts to skirt around them like he does but instead I put a great deal of effort into  trying to make said tasks easier or at least more palatable. Really, I put a lot of effort into trying to trick myself into thinking that I am getting out of something when really I am not.

While I won't go to length's anymore to avoid a job I don't want to do  I still  try to find the easy way out while still doing what is expected. And I am finding that while it may seem I might be "trumping the chore" so to speak it has occurred to me that I might also be making things harder for myself than if I just tackled the task as it came. But I don't know, maybe not.

Like anyone I have things I have to do before I can get to do what I want to do. This is that running to stand still part and while that is probably meant as a metaphor in my case it is literal.

I feel like I am running so that I can go running or biking or swimming or to yoga. I near exhaust myself to plan for it and it does, at times, occur to me that is a little crazy.

But this is a long ingrained habit of mine that I have to think I developed in response to what I see Beau going through. My first memory of it is when we would go back packing as a family. I would complain at length how hard it was, how tired I was, how heavy my pack was, and how much I wanted to quit. Everyone else would just quietly march ahead, ignoring me. I would ask "how long till we can stop for a break?" And my dad would say in about 15 minutes or in a mile. So I would start running. My thinking was that I would get to the rest spot first and have to wait on them. Thus I would get extra rest time, more rest than everyone else. How smart is that?

Right, if you go twice as fast you do almost need twice as much rest. See how it is still the same and also probably more effort than if I had just shut up, sucked it up and marched along with the rest of them?

Then in high school I discovered what I called "planned procrastination." For example I'd get an assignment to do a research paper. We'd have a month to complete it. Now my normal inclination would have been to put it off and wait until the night before and stay up all night and write it the day before the due date. Knowing this about myself I would prepare for it. I would decide on my topic and do all the research. I would write up an outline, pick out my quotes, write my works cited and then set it all aside until the night before it was due and then stay up all night writing the 20 page paper.

This seemed to work pretty well and it did take off some of the stress of leaving something to the last minute since I had done some of the leg work. But why, why if I had done all the research and damn near had the thing written 3 weeks earlier--why wouldn't I have just written it then? I don't know. I guess I kind of thought this was how everyone did stuff.

Then I found out when I dated this guy in high school  who was really studious (I don't want to say smart because I always did better on tests but I guess he was smarter than me . . .)  and in my Southern lit class that this was  not how everyone else wrote their term papers. He not only began his researching his paper immediately he also began writing his paper even though we still had three weeks until it was due! I think that was the first time I ever heard the word "rough draft." You mean you do more than one? I asked.  He laughed at me. I think he thought I was joking because then he asked to see my "rough draft". I showed him my outline.

So, you know, now that I am a real live adult I've been trying it the studious way: the research, write, edit, revise and rewrite way (please note, this methodology does not apply to blogging. Still old school there!) Oh, and by the way this  being an adult thing is not an age thing. It is because I have kids and I have to set the example. By default, I am the adult so for that reason I try to (most times) act like one.

What in the hell am I talking about? Well, I'll tell you. In plain terms. This week I need /want to ( I still get those words confused) go to Bikram yoga in the evening and go to the Roswell ride. Both those activities keep me out when I should be at home playing mommy in the kitchen. I also want to do a long run on Friday and ride my bike on Saturday. Both big workout days that will leave me tired and not inclined to slave over a hot stove after slaving for a few hours in the August heat running and riding.

Now my mom, Lala/Smut use to do this thing  she called "making plates." I know I have mentioned before that my affection for endorphins is inherited. My mom use to go to step aerobics in the morning and in the evening.  Sometimes she would run too so that could have been her evening workout.  My dad was also a twice a day workout fiend. Running in the morning, step aerobics with mom or karate in the evenings. Us kids would complain about having to eat dinner so late. So my mom would make dinner everyday sometime around 3 or 4 pm. Then she would clean the kitchen, put every one's food on their plate, cover it with tinfoil and pop it in the oven on warm. Then you were free to eat your dinner whenever you wanted.  This worked awesome for us when we were kids and had things like work, sports or social events after school. We also didn't have to wait to eat with my parents whose preferred eating time is never before 9pm.

I will admit making plates is genius  but the flaw in the making plates process is that you have to well, make the plates.  You have to make them everyday. You also have to be willing to leave your oven on. Something that is okay in the winter but in August? In Atlanta?

So my "genius" Nat idea was to make a bunch of meals yesterday and freeze them so that I wouldn't have to do much the rest of the week. I could catch a break was my thinking!

Pork roast in the crock pot with lime juice, salsa and cumin. Monday for pork tacos, leftover pork and black beans to made into Enchiladas Verde and frozen for dinner Friday night.

Baked Ziti. One for this week and one for next week.
On paper, and I am just saying that since I didn't actually write it down, it seemed like a good idea. But in execution (isn't that always the case?) I think it may prove more work than if I just cooked every night before going to my workout and ordering pizza when I am tried. 
For certain, I don't think I am actually getting out of any work here, which originally, I guess I thought maybe I would. I thought I could at least trick myself into thinking that someone else made me dinner. But I think, if I were to add up the hours spent making extra meals and cleaning up from making them and then add in the clean up involved on the days I eat them I think I added an extra hour or two in the kitchen rather than sparing myself any.

That part kind of bothers me. The doing of extra.

I am still not a person who wants to naturally do the extra, just cause. (Especially when it comes to things like laundry, cooking and cleaning. )This is not to say that I won't become one but at the very least I am not a person who is trying to get away with less anymore. Even if you don't see it, trust me, that is progress.

Yes though, I am still that little girl with a 30lb Jansport backpack racing down the trail, trying to beat everyone else to the rest stop so I can catch more of a break. Old habits die hard.

However, I do think that when I get home from yoga, or my bike ride or from running in the woods for a few hours when certainly I will be tired, hungry and have eyes only for food and energy only to shower that I will be grateful for the extra.  I am thinking I might even be pleased with myself at my forethought of doing the extra; for having dinner done. I will be able to relax after wards because I will have all the laundry washed and folded and put it away so that the only dirty clothes in the house are the workout clothes I peel off of me. No looming laundry baskets. And  I will be happy to sit in my clean (ish, let's be honest here) house so I can relax without guilt and worry that there is something I should be doing or should have done. Oh, and for sure, the next morning when I am stiff, sore and invariably extra tired I will be relieved that I had made certain the kids backpacks were packed, clothes laid out and everything was in its place before I  went to bed so I won't have to run up and downstairs searching for shoe, sock, homework or book because, well, probably I won't be able to, at least not quickly.

I am certain I will be grateful for it all, when (if) it happens, but there is always that Beau factor, that karma that always thwarts my plans for sitting still; my plans for lethargy. So in truth, I am always running in hopes that eventually there really will be that rare moment when I will find myself standing still.  Until then I guess I will keep on running so that when it arrives, I will be able to enjoy it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The First Day of School

I just love the first day of school. The nervousness, the excitement surrounding the first day is tangible. It is like how the humidity in August makes the air so thick you think you might could chew it. I just love seeing the kids all shiny in their new clothes and ready to implode from possibilities and promises of a new school year.  . .

Carmella loves it because of the new school supplies and the chance to hone her superior organizational skills. (She was about to burst wide open  and leave tiny Carmella pieces all over my car when I told her I was getting her a new agenda at the school store this morning.)

Another school year means seeing if she can be even nicer to people this year. Maybe make it for a triple crown this year for the Principal's award.  . .  Honestly I think the child is relieved to have routine again as I've slacked off the past few weeks with my stringency to the chore chart and the schedule. She has seemed a bit adrift, mentioning how I need to update. . .

Beau loves it because he likes to collect friends and the first day is primo  opportunity to make new ones. Already he has made nice with the new girl from New York. Her name? Not important. But she is new and she is from New York. Exotic girl. Also, his teacher? She likes to sing and she had some funny stories. He also got to talk to all his friends from the past years, his speech teacher, his old kindergarten teacher, his first grade teacher, some lady in the library, the janitor, the Principal, Abby's dad and who knows who else. Beau may never be the most studious or most well behaved student but he is possibly the most friendly and  the most eager. (PS. I got a personal call this afternoon from his teacher telling me how awesome his day was! Uhm, that has NEVER happened.)

Me? I like it because it always seems like a chance to start over.  It also marks some free time for me to focus on training. To begin, in this case,  marathon training anew. That whole training through summer didn't workout so well for me last year. So this summer I took a big cut back in miles, tried my best to heal all my nagging injuries and enjoyed the view from the pool, the bike, the Bikram yoga mat . . .

Today I christened my first day of marathon training with a 10 mile run. I am tired and have a fun over from our recent beach vacation so this little run wasn't as awesome as I hoped but it was okay. I mean, okay as in I didn't die.

But, I mean really. Like any run in August in Atlanta at 9 am with a temp of 86 degrees and 70% humidity is ever going to be awesome? I mean, sure I could go run 10 miles on the treadmill and average a minute faster per mile and all but where is the fun in that? More importantly and most pointedly: I wouldn't be sweating out near the amount of beer running 10 miles in air conditioning as I do making nice with the sufferfest trinity of heat, hills, and humidity.

Cause, out there? In the heat? Where I bake for an hour 25ish on the side walk? I literally see the fat melting off of me.

At least, that is what I like to think  is in those pools of sweat I leave when I must stop at a stop light.

Okay. So has anyone else noticed lately the heat inflation going on? I will note  that the posted official temp says one thing--like 90 degrees-- and  then they've got this "real feel" or heat index of 10-15 degrees higher?

Is this so I will feel more extreme?
Is that so I will feel more hardcore or possibly, stupid for not only attempting outdoor endurance activities but for just peeking my head out the door?
Or is it a conspiracy to make me crank my air conditioner up? Cause, uhm yeah. That is working (daily prayer of July, August and September: Please don't break. Please don't break. In Artic Jesus name I pray you can leave me so poor I can't buy food but please keep my air conditioner fully functioning. Amen.)

Besides, what does it matter?

I don't need weather dot com to tell me that anything close to or over 90 degrees in good ole Hotlanta is going to feel like someone mistakenly stuffed me while still breathing in a crematorium. 110? 95?  Even 93 degrees-- any way you sell it to me it does not make me think my run is going to be blissful or even remotely comfortable. It honestly doesn't matter to me at this point if it is 80 degrees or 110 degrees. Unless it is under 70 degrees I am probably not going to love my run. And besides, that sweet spot for me in running? It is a cool 32 degrees. And well, I got months and months and miles and miles to go before I am there.  Ahhh, running through the woods on a snowy evening. Doesn't that just sound divine?

But never mind the heat. I'm staying in the kitchen! Hell's Kitchen, Hell's ditch, whichever-- I can take it! I am ready! Bring it on!

And like a kid on the first day of school:  I am bursting with the hope for a good year, a better year.  . .
So with my new supplies (why hello there yellow--viva Livestrong!!-- Air Pegasus) and new found ambition; I am ready to start a new. And I am  looking for my first quarter exam to be on November 13, 2010.

For certain, I have lots of studying-- lots of catching up to do-- but I hope, at the very least, to make it an A+ effort.