Day 40 – Pie Face

It was adorable how excited Henry was to buy Cadence a birthday gift this year. He talked for days about going shopping, and kept insisting that Cadence wanted a Buzz Lightyear rocket. (We warned her ahead of time that she might get something Buzz Lightyear related if we weren’t able to talk him out of it at the store, and she was cool with it. She’s such a good sister!)

Luckily, there were no Buzz Lightyear rockets to be found, and after a few laps around the Target toy aisle, Henry finally settled on getting his sister the game Pie Face! And for the last 6 days, he has been asking nonstop to play “the cream game.”

I don’t know exactly what he thought this game was, but when we finally busted it out to play today and Stevie explained that he might get slapped in the face with whipped cream, Henry suddenly didn’t seem so sure about the whole thing.

And you know hilarity ensued.

Day 39 – Math

If you know me, you know my feelings about math.

Addition. Subtraction. Multiplication. Division. We get along. Well, we do okay. I’m not working multiplication problems for fun or dreaming about long division. We tolerate, and maybe even respect each other.

Get beyond that, and my blood pressure begins to rise. Algebra? I start to feel physically ill. Geometry? Instant migraine. Calculus or Trigonometry or any complex problem that looks more like hieroglyphics than a math problem? I’d rather light myself on fire than have to try to figure that out. Sorry, my English major writer brain just doesn’t work that way. Give me a 20-page paper to write or a sentence to diagram and you’ll hear zero complaints. Give me a math problem to solve and I’m going to call you a filthy name and start to question our friendship.

Luckily, I’ve spent the last 20 years not having to use much of that math they kept trying to tell me I needed to take in high school. My Guidance Counselor, Mr. Larson, lectured me daily to take more than the minimum two years of math required for graduation. He said I would need it to be admitted to college, and I told him that I was planning to major in English and Creative Writing and any college that wouldn’t admit me without having a third year of math was a college I probably didn’t want to go to anyway.

In college, I found out I had to take two math classes. Of course I put them off until my senior year. I begrudgingly took College Algebra and managed to earn a B (because Professor Allport was the first person to actually explain Algebra in a way I could understand). When Spring registration rolled around, I set up a meeting with the Provost, David Jacobson, and presented him with a detailed argument on why the final math requirement should be waived because it was useless information for my future and a blatant waste of money and credit hours. He told me that while this was the best argument he’d ever heard, he couldn’t just change the requirements for me. Then he jotted down the name of a class (Math for the Liberal Arts) on a sheet of paper and slid it across the desk to me, telling me to add it to my schedule for the Spring and I’d be fine.

I walked out with a B+ and I was fine.

And for the last 20 years, math and I have kept a respectful and mutually-agreed upon distance from one another, occasionally crossing paths when I need to do some budgeting or or help Cadence with a homework problem, or when Henry decides he wants to play the Math Bingo game on the iPad. And all those teachers who said I was going to use Algebra and Geometry every day? Liars.

And then today happened, and some sadist at HelloFresh decided to throw in some bullshit fractions into tonight’s recipe just to make me squirm.

I mean, if you’re going to tell me to use 1/3 of the cheese, can’t you just put it in one package, or divide it into three packages? You’re supposed to be simplifying my dinner prep you jerks, not making my brain bleed.

So, I improvised and just used however the hell much cheese I wanted, and you know what? It still tasted delicious.

And now I’m ready for another 20 years maintaining a respectable distance from anything beyond long division. Thanks math, it’s been fun. Don’t call me; I’ll call you.

Day 38 – SSDGM and BYO Pizza

After my Aunt Jean passed away last year, my Uncle Harry decided to move back to Nebraska. He’s only been in town a few months, but he’s already making it home–throwing dinner parties, making fast friends and all of the local restaurants. My Grandpa Carl was a charmer, never knew a stranger. Throughout my childhood I lost count of the number of times my family would be out somewhere and Grandpa would run into some random person he knew from sometime somewhere, and they’d start joking and laughing as if they were lifelong friends who’d never spent a day apart.

Harry inherited his father’s charisma and exuberant zest for life. He’s fun and kindhearted and delightfully witty, and he’s just got this vibrant, positive energy that has a way of filling up a room.

One of the things my Uncle Harry loves to do the most is cook. He’s taking cooking classes here and there, but I think it’s more of his passion for food that has turned him into a regular amateur chef (though Uncle Harry’s every day cooking could outmatch at least half of the restaurants currently operating in Lincoln). And somehow, in the few short months since he rolled into town, he managed to talk the local restaurant Dino’s into making one of his favorite signature dishes–a gourmet pizza made with smoked salmon, goat cheese, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese–a pizza so good some of the staff did a taste test and started talking about how they’d like to get that pizza on the menu.

But the even crazier part was that tonight, Harry reserved us a couple tables, and had the Dino’s chefs make his recipe for us to have a family dinner together.

And damn, it was divine!

And as we wrapped up, H-man was getting restless so we grabbed one of Cadence’s markers and started practicing our letter tracing.

You know I could’t resist. #SSDGM

Day 37 – Impromptu date night

Impromptu date night after Stevie wrangled a couple extra tickets. Even though the team I was rooting for didn’t end up winning, but it was so much fun to have some drinks and dinner with my hubby, Dad, and Uncle Harry and watch some Husker Basketball.

Best parts of the night:

  1. Being surprised when our selfie ended up on the big screen during a timeout.
  2. Seeing two of my students on the big screen when they were scanning the crowd with the dance cam.

Day 36 – Bird’s eye view

It happens to everyone at some point–life just gets to flying by and you’re so busy and bogged down and buried that you feel yourself getting lost in the middle of it. There was a time in my life when these situations may have overwhelmed me, stopped me in my tracks, knocked me flat on my ass. We’ve all had those moments haven’t we? When things just sort of spiral out of control? But what I’ve learned through the years is how to maintain balance, how to stand in that crazy, chaotic space and not let life knock me down.

What can I say? I’m stubborn.

But more than that, I think I’ve managed to develop a pretty decent perspective. And it has a little something to do with this…

“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new suit in a men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee like this.” -Special Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks

Maybe I’m a glass-half-full girl. Maybe my default these days tends to be on the positive, looking for opportunities in the challenges. It’s not that I ignore issues or never feel frustration–it’s that I don’t allow myself to get bogged down and wallow in it.

Trust me, I’ve been there. And life is way too short to stay in that negative space and be miserable.

Instead, I make a choice every day–a choice to do the best I can with the circumstances presented to me. I can’t control everything. (Not even close!) But I can control the way I react, and the way I choose to respond. And I’m going to make mistakes along the way. We all do. And I’m okay with that, because I’m going to own those mistakes and learn from them and use what I learn to do better.

It’s been a really busy few days (hell, it’s been a really busy few months, years, decade!), but even in those busiest times, I make a point to be present, to give myself that present, to find the little bits of beauty in every day. And this was one of those moments today, looking up to see some soft snow flurries beginning to swirl outside my window, and a large hawk perched serenely on the bare branch of a tree.

I paused for a moment to admire him, thinking what a gift it is to see the world from that bird’s eye view, having the opportunity to look around at that big picture and not get lost in the details. It was a long day, a busy day, a challenging day. No doubt. But from where I’m sitting and soaking it all in, it was a really good day too. Because every day is a good day, if you get out of your own way and allow it to be..

Day 35 – Monday Monday

So, I’m realizing something…I’m pretty much useless trying to write at night. I keep thinking that those quiet moments in the evening after the kiddos have gone to bed and I can finally sit and unwind should be moments when I can focus and create and get some words down on paper. But it just doesn’t work that way. I’m too fried at the end of the long day to really make much sense of anything, let alone try to put coherent thoughts in any sort of reasonable order.

I used to be better at this–back before I had long, challenging days at work and kids and kids’ activities and evening meetings and all of the other obligations that come with maturity and adulthood. These days, I have to set a reasonable bedtime and try to get up early in the morning if I stand a chance of finding my focus and getting any writing done.

And here I still sit, 10:30 at night, eyelids drooping, trying to tap into something. But the truth is, at least for today, I’m tapped out.

And that’s okay, because tomorrow is a great day to try again.