Wednesday, June 30, 2010

things i'll miss about san diego #5

We live in a wonderful community, just outside of San Diego. There are several community pools here, and if we time our swim sessions just right - which we almost do - we can have the whole pool to ourselves.


One of our favorite things to do is to spend a few hours at the pool in the morning, before the waves of people appear. Our favorite pool, especially in the summer, is a gradual entry pool that the children adore.

And we adore it, because there's nothing better than expelling your young children's vast energy stores by lunch time.


Warm days. Palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. A sand pit and playground at one end. Water the perfect temperature. Bright blue skies. Children happily splashing in the water.


And at the front of it all, a Wyland dolphin fountain.

I will always have wonderful memories of these blissful moments.


Other memories that I hope to not hold on to quite so tightly are those moments when I totally blow my gasket because my children are acting their age and splashing in a gradual entry pool hasn't expelled their energy stores quite enough to launch them in to an 18-hour sleep coma.

There's no doubt the children are sensing all of these changes in the air and their behavior is perfectly normal. So, I suspect that my behavior is perfectly normal, too. That behavior being the vision of wrapping them in painter's tape and sticking them in the closet until it's time to leave. Because I'm positively certain it would be easier to shovel snow with one hand then prepare to move cross-country with four little ones underfoot.


Interestingly enough, I went for a walk the other day and I heard a mother scolding her young child. The mother was livid, telling the child that they were acting naughty and forcing them to stand in a corner with their nose against the wall. "Oh, that poor little dear," I thought. Surely whatever they did didn't warrant that kind of reaction from their parent.

But then I thought of my own circumstances and how many times I've totally lost my mind over what a passerby might deem to be the most SIMPLE of things. All I saw was a mother in the grocery store swat her child on the rear when they had their hand in the meat cooler. I didn't see that the child was sticking their finger through the cellophane wrapper on packages of hamburger.


Nor did I see in to their home an hour earlier when that sweet child spilled an entire gallon of lemonade all over a newly mopped floor, seconds after their mother had specifically said, "Please don't you pour it, let me help you!" I didn't see it when they twirled a half licked lollipop through their hair in the car. Or when they took a pair of rounded-blade scissors to their parent's wedding album to snip out pictures of the pretty princess.

Not all of these things have happened to us, per se, but the point is: who really knows what last nerve that sweet child just severed?


It is sometimes so difficult to be a good parent. You are expected to act like an adult. You are supposed to *always* be a good role model, demonstrating kindness and graciousness and patience. You are supposed to have it all together and not lose your cool when your child acts like ... a child. Yet, these little people that we brought in to the world, the ones that we love more than we love our very own selves, possess the ability to induce instantaneous insanity.

Tonight, when I was tucking the children in to bed, I admitted the frustrations I had with myself for my lack of patience. I promised that tomorrow, I'd try (again) to do better. Gently, the children put their hands on my cheek and said, "It's alright mom. We forgive you."

Isn't that adorable? I'd really like to know how they cue unbelievable sweetness like that. And perhaps more importantly, where the heck was it an hour earlier?

Look at those dolphins, I'm convinced they're smiling at us.


I'll bet they've never once thought about the complexities of shoveling snow one handed. Nor have they ever had to mop up a gallon of lemonade from a floor. Yet, we are the more highly developed species? I'm really not so sure about that.

I'd maybe consider giving up my opposable thumbs for a pair of flippers.

Monday, June 28, 2010

things i'll miss about san diego #4

Today was one of those days that started out difficult and 12 hours later, hadn't improved much.


Today, one of our children was just as sick as she had been yesterday. But today, the novelty of having one child laying on the couch all day, not causing a disruption, was replaced by concern that she might have strep throat or something highly contagious that would sweep through the entire family. She couldn't eat, she couldn't drink, she couldn't do anything more than cry that her throat hurt so badly she couldn't even swallow. I typically hold off until the absolute last possible moment taking our children to the doctor, because I've learned, most things resolve themselves. But today, when she wasn't any better and seemed to be getting worse, I called the doctor only to find out that they had absolutely zero availability today. The only option was to take her to urgent care.

Today, Charlie took her to urgent care and shelled out the $100.00 co-pay only to have our daughter skip joyfully in to the exam room and chatter with everyone she saw. Her temperature, which had been over 100 this morning, miraculously disappeared the moment she stepped in to the doctor's office and she became the undeniable picture of excellent health. That lasted until the appointment was over and she was buckled in to her car seat. She then promptly resumed her sickness and cried the whole way home.


Today, I learned that the cost of a furnished studio apartment in Fairfax, where we will temporarily reside until we find a new home, will be approximately twice the cost of our current mortgage.

Today, I looked in to campsites in the Fairfax area because: a) we'll be there in the summer, b) there are showers at the office and although my company will be providing us with a lump sum for our relocation costs, c) I cannot pay twice our current mortgage for a two bedroom apartment. There is an invisible force stopping me.

Today, the magnitude of what we need to accomplish in the next eight days hit us square in the eyes and we just about lost our marbles. Especially when our children began to UNPACK the boxes that we painstakingly organized this past weekend.

Today, without our knowledge, our toddler went poop and then he went commando. And then he climbed all over our beige couch and his sisters' white bed spread.

Today, I gave thanks to the makers of RESOLVE and Oxy Clean.


Today, one of our children locked themselves in the bathroom because they wanted to give their stuffed kitten a bath. And while they were in there, their sibling couldn't get on the potty fast enough and went poop in their pants.

Today, our children forgot that we have TWO bathrooms.

Today, our toddler skipped his nap.

Today, I realized that it would be less painful to put my hand in to a paper shredder than spend an entire afternoon with my toddler when he's skipped a nap.


Today, my husband went to the store and bought all of the ingredients necessary for a nice dinner. A dinner, which once prepared, my children stared at as if it was the smear across a beige couch or white bedspread.

Today, after realizing that the children weren't going to touch a bite of their dinner, I speed read "Green Eggs and Ham." Then, I brushed their teeth and got them in to their pajamas. Our toddler was so over tired and confused by the fact that one minute he was at the dinner table and five minutes later he, and all of his siblings were in bed, that he fell asleep crying, "I NOT WANT BWUSH MY TEEF!"

Today, our children were put in to bed at 6:18 PM. The Good Fairy smiled upon us and they were all asleep less than 10 minutes later (with sparkly clean teef).


Today, once everyone was settled down and Daddy was sipping a beer and thanking GOD that his children were FINALLY in bed (and Honey Sugar Iced Tea, how did we SURVIVE today?!) I went for a walk around our neighborhood and I visually soaked up the magnificent Jacaranda trees. They are in full bloom right now and while I love all flowered trees: Magnolias and Dogwoods and Cherry ... I don't believe I've ever seen anything more breathtaking than a drooping Jacaranda tree covered in bright purple blossoms.


Alice Walker wrote, "If you pass by the color purple in a field and don't notice it, God gets real pissed off."

I don't know about the getting pissed off part, but I do know that tonight when I was out walking beneath canopies of purple flowers, I stared in wonder at the majesty around me. And without even trying (or having a tranquilizer administered directly in to my carotid artery), all of my worries disappeared, everything was right in the world, and my confidence about what we'll be able to accomplish over the next eight days was totally restored.

I'll really miss Jacaranda trees and must look in to getting myself a bonsai version.

It'll be like my floral version of Xanax.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

things i'll miss about san diego #3

I'll really miss May when the Lily of the Nile buds begin to appear ...




And June when they unfold their spectacular purple to the world.




After the challenging May I had, these flowers were especially beautiful to me this year.


Where flowers bloom so does hope. - Lady Bird Johnson

Saturday, June 26, 2010

things i'll miss about san diego #2

The winding country roads around eastern Chula Vista with Mount San Miguel in the background.


And the breathtaking views of Lower Otay Reservoir with Otay Mountain in the background. Charlie wants everyone to know he has successfully ridden his bike to the top of that mountain three times and in the course of doing so, only had five flat tires.


About 12 years ago, on what I remember being the hottest day of the year, Charlie and our neighbor set out on a quest to find a route to the top of Mount San Miguel. In the process of exploration they stumbled upon a quiet little town (Jamul, pronounced Hah-mul) at the foot of the mountain. And in that town there was a small hole in the wall Mexican restaurant.

(I'll bet you can imagine what happened next...)

Less than two hours after they'd left, they called to tell me where they were. Essentially, in a restaurant bar hoovering basket after basket of chips and salsa and throwing back ice cold beers. They wanted to know if I'd come have a beer with them. And, of course ... then drive them home.

things i'll miss about san diego #1

I had been posting updates on Twitter about the things that I'll miss about San Diego, but because I hope to one day turn this blog in to a book of memories for our family, I'd rather capture those things here.

The Number One thing I'll miss about San Diego...


The beautiful bougainvillea that is just about everywhere.

why the tears?

We are leaving in less than two weeks.


And there is still much to do.

Very Much.

Tonight I pulled together an Excel spreadsheet and this is what it looks like...

(I'm JL. Charlie is WC. Jose is our gardener. LP are our Little People.)

Paint Garage Door WC June 26
Paint Front Door WC June 26
Paint Window Trims WC June 26
Wash Windows Inside JL & LP June 26
Wash Windows Outside JL & LP June 26
Wash Screens JL & LP June 26
Clean off Spiderwebs Fence/House LP June 27
Concrete Patch Front Step WC June 27
Paint Step Face Plates WC June 27
Repair Back Patio / Concrete Seal JL June 27
Stain A/C Cover JL June 27
Move Furniture from House > Garage WC / JL June 27
Reduce Closets WC / JL June 27
Reduce Drawers WC / JL June 27
Reduce Cabinets WC / JL June 27
Move Furniture from WC's office > home WC June 27
Shred huge stack of unnecessary paperwork LP ( JL supervise) June 28
JL Blood work June 28
Dentist Appointments LP June 28
Re-Install Door Stops WC June 28
Fix Wall in Laundry Room WC June 28
Remove Hooks / Repair Walls WC June 28
Replace Wood Piece next to Pantry WC June 29
Truck in Shop WC June 29
Replace Caulking in Bathroom WC June 30
Fix Fireplace Handles WC June 30
Replace Closet Track in Boys Room WC June 30
Van in Shop WC June 30
JL Blood work July 1
Paint Baseboards WC / JL July 1 - 3
Paint Walls WC / JL July 3 - 5
Replace Face Covers on Walls WC July 3 - 5
Celebrate LP4's 3rd birthday July 4
Steam Clean Grout TBS July 5
JL Blood work July 5
Replace Cabinets / Paint Under Island WC July 6
Reorganize Garage > Goodwill WC / JL July 6
Jose to Lay Down Bark July 6
Jose to Prune Plants / Palms July 6
Jose to Adjust Sprinklers for Front July 6
Plants in Back Yard JL & LP / July 6
Clean out fridge / pantries JL & LP July 6
Cancel utilities JL / July 7
PACK, Load Car JL / WC July 7
JL Blood work July 8 ... pending results ...
Leave July 8

That list is just a sampling of the things we still have to do. Not shown are the numerous close friends and neighbors that we need to see to say goodbye. I had started to plan a party, but then felt totally overwhelmed when the guest list reached 80.

We've been working SO MUCH it's difficult to believe there is still that much to do. I should probably also make a list of what we've done so I feel a little better about all that we've accomplished.

So the primary reason for the tears streaming down the face of my five-year-old daughter really has nothing to do with all that we have left to do before we leave.

Alas, last night when I was flossing her teeth, I recognized that she has a slightly loose tooth. I told her. She burst in to tears. And me, being the thoughtful mother that I am, took a break from consoling her to grab my camera and document the moment. For I know that one day, she will really appreciate seeing how distraught she was upon learning that she'll be losing her very first tooth.

I'm not sure which makes ME more prone to weep?


The fact that we'll be in need of a windfall to cover the tooth fairy's allowance for three children, losing teeth at approximately the same time?

Or, the fact that this is just one more hard line of evidence that time is indeed clipping past and my babies are growing up, lightening fast?

I definitely tend toward the latter.

Because wasn't this toothless wonder her ...


Just yesterday?

Friday, June 25, 2010

home: where the grass is always the greenest (except for where you baked it under a 16-foot strip of plastic)

Charlie has been out of town at a business meeting for the past several days and returned home, tonight. I kept the kids up an hour past their bedtime so that they could see their father.

They were so excited. They've missed him so much.


When he walked in the front door, the kids were in the backyard playing.


They didn't hear him come in. So I grabbed my camera and took pictures of the reunion.


In the midst of the hugging and kissing and "Oh I missed you!" and "I'm so glad you are home!" and "I am so happy to see you again!" Charlie asked, "Children. What happened to the lawn?"


Without hesitation, the children tattled, "Mommy left the Slip N' Slide out and it cooked the grass." Then they pointed their little accusatory fingers at me.


(Yeah. It was my fault. Because I use it so much, you know?)


(Seriously though, "we" left it out yesterday and within four hours, it COOKED the grass.)


Charlie was so swept up in being home that he didn't ponder the baked patch of lawn for too long. Especially when I interjected that it was nothing a little green spray paint couldn't fix.


And the kids, well, if you think that they were happy to see the man of the house...


You should have seen me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

time marches on

We moved to San Diego in 1994 to attend graduate school. Some might say we became bona-fide adults in San Diego. We landed our first full-time jobs and established our careers in San Diego. We established credit and bought our first home in San Diego. We've made a number of strong friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. All of that here... in San Diego.

And now, we are drawing to a close on this chapter of our lives.

We are leaving behind our first home, as a married couple. The wonderful home where we brought four children in to the world, and in my opinion, lost one. We are leaving behind our doctors and dentists and neighbors and friends and church and grocery store.

We are moving on.

Charlie is out of town for a few days on business and I've been with the children during the day. It's been a very sweet time for me, spending this quiet time alone with the kids and I've been very reflective on just how fast time goes.

Everyday, I've been taking the children to play in our community pool and everyday, it seems like just yesterday, I was their age. I clearly remember being five-years-old and spending long summer days in the pool. I remember swimming until my eyes were blood shot and my entire body was pruned. I remember having a deep tan, despite being coated in sunscreen, and having a slight glow of sunburn on my nose and cheeks. I remember taking breaks from swimming only to eat whatever food was provided for me, and I remember feeling like I haven't a single care in the world. I remember when I was my children's age and I looked at my parents as invincible.

Now, I'm the grownup.

And I'm not sure where the time has gone.

My father has been in an assisted living facility for over a year and my mother is recovering from her second knee replacement. My hair is turning gray and I'm getting wrinkles. Sure, it makes sense that everyone has grown older. But it surprises me how fast it has happened.

Tonight, between that span of time from dinner to bedtime, I was thinning out books from our bookshelves and packing up pictures from our wall.

That's when it struck me. We are actually leaving San Diego. We are leaving our home for the past 13 years. The decision has been made. The plan has been set in motion. It's becoming more obvious that we're moving because the walls are beginning to look more barren and our garage more full. And it rattles me. Because I know that there is no coming back. Even if we decide in a year or so time to return to California, there is virtually no chance that we would ever return to this home, or to this life that we have established.

This life, as we know it, is about to come to an end. We're leaving California. Our children are starting school. I've accepted a new job. Everything is about to change - dramatically.

While I stood there reflecting, the children were busy doing what they do.


William was dressed as an explorer with his little mismatched brother following him everywhere he goes (with one hand on his pants, as he always does, to hold them up).


Elizabeth discovered a book of paper dolls and was contentedly sitting and swapping out various outfits. Carolyn was sprawled out in her brother's new shark pajamas reading a stack of Berenstain Bear books.


Our children have grown so much in this house and I hope that they have warm memories of what a wonderful place this has been to live. I certainly have my own collection of memories.

Memories of looking at the empty room in our home with longing that it might one day be filled with a crib. Memories of when it was.


Memories of when I could hardly move, while pregnant with the triplets, watching the green digits on our microwave clock wondering if my body would make it to the birth, or pop open in the kitchen.


Memories of when our three newborns laid about like larvae, swaddled in blankets.


Memories of when I had three highchairs lined up in a row across the kitchen.


Memories of when my babies learned to roll over, crawl, walk, climb and RUN.




Memories of when I had another precious newborn.


Memories of when I was stepping over toys, debating what could I get rid of next and wondering how we'd survive another day in a small space. Memories of taking a conference call from one room, while the children played in another.

There were some days that I thought would surely never end.

But they did.

Those simple moments from earlier tonight have already passed.

Now the children are in bed asleep. Their hair and teeth have been brushed, their faces washed. They are cuddled up with their favorite stuffed animals and dreaming about the things we have planned tomorrow. When they wake up, they will be older. Indiscernible to the average eye, but I'll undoubtedly notice something different about them.

These years that we have been in this home, have without question, been the best years of my life and our departure is bittersweet. Because while I know that there are wonderful adventures that lay ahead, I will miss this place.

But isn't that just how life goes?

Chapters begin and chapters end. One phase transitions to the next. All of these chapters are what make up our life and it is for that reason it is so important to take time and savor each one. Because although it might seem like you are on a single track with no end in sight, eventually, there will be a shift.

Eventually, things will change.


And when they do, all you will have are the memories.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

slip sliding away

We're leaving in about two weeks and we really should be getting the house ready for sale. Even though we'll have professional movers get us from point A to point B, there is much to be done.


Here's a partial list of what we need to be doing: steam clean the grout, paint the baseboards and all the window trim, wash the windows inside and out, replace the caulking in the bathroom, install concrete patch on front step, fix outdoor lights, sort through our closets and garage, clean out our attic crawl space.


Here's what a partial list of what we are doing: eat Dove squares and reflect on the profound messages on the inside wrapper, go to the swimming pool, go to the movie theater, take mid-afternoon naps, play on our new Slip 'n Slide.


Charlie didn't realize just how fast he'd go once he hit that plastic.


(Out of the way kids, Daddy's coming through!!)


(CHARLIE! CHARLIE! WAIT!! The label says that people over 110 pounds shouldn't use it!!)


I'm just tickled that he was able to stop before he went flying off the end at 50 mph, or we'd also need to add, "replace fence panel" to our gargantuan list of things to do.