Thursday, September 6, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.
"This is really sad," Adventure Guy said as he joined me lounging in bed last night. We had assumed the position: pillows propped, laptops on laps, television tuned to an episode of Weeds on DVD. The kids were in bed, and we were enjoying those precious moments of quiet before bed, our time.
And that time is far from sad. While we may need to ditch the electronics from time to time, that comfortable familiarity is something I value most in our marriage. After nineteen years together, he knows me far better than anyone else. He's my confidant, the one I want to talk to about the good and the bad, the exciting and the mundane.
Contentment is not exactly something I've striven for in my life. I'm much more of the type to disregard accomplishments as soon as I've achieved them. I've always been the one looking toward the next task, the next challenge, the next thing to possess. But, suddenly, I find myself in a place I really like, a place I have to call contentment.
Careening toward forty at a rapid pace, content is not exactly where I expected to me right now. I hated turning 39. I had been dreading the next birthday. But, now, admittedly 6 months from the big date, I'm not focused on that milestone like I was earlier. I attribute much of that feeling to Adventure Guy, but I also know that my new job has something to do with that as do the current ages of my kids. I love the new challenges at work right now, the opportunity to make a significant difference in the operations of All-American Public Schools. And I love having older kids, even dealing with Dancer Girl, our resident teenager. I enjoy being able to have a different level of conversation with my children than I could when they were younger, and I especially enjoy catching those glimpses of the adults they'll turn into in just a few years.*
While I'm sure that one day soon readers will surf by the find me bemoaning the latest personal or career crisis or the everyday craziness that is my life, for tonight, all's right in Suburbia.
*In case the above post made anyone feel like throwing up just a little bit because of the sappiness, I should mention that my current level of contentment does not rise to the level that I would feel comfortable posing nude for a Times Square billboard like the women I just saw on Ophrah did. There's got to be a limit to this whole contentment thing.
Monday, September 3, 2007
But I digress....back to the long-weekend which is much more fun to contemplate than is the beginning of the work week.
The weekend went very much according to plan. We were ready to hit the highway once we picked up Soccer Boy from school--his school starts and finishes an hour later than the girls' schools do, so we had already retrieved the other kids from the bus. Our trusty new route did indeed cut off a good amount of time, so we rolled into town in time to begin our eating tour of College Station.
My friend over at The Testosterone Zone often writes wonderful reviews of classy restaurants which serve gourmet food. Her posts make make my mouth water. There will be none of that here today. As I told Adventure Guy when the Suburban rolled into town Friday night, "This is an official points-free weekend." He suggested I use that as the title of my post. In total disregard to my Best Life and Weight Watchers efforts of late, I decided to eat whatever I wanted during the weekend. I had saved all my bonus points for the occasion, but, trust me, there's no way I stayed within the total. But I have lived to diet another day.
First stop on the greasy and/or fried food whirlwind was Double Dave's Pizzaworks. Double Dave's started in College Station and has since expanded to other cities, but it's a rare treat for us, having not made it yet to a location near Suburbia. We were happy to have a franchise open in my hometown, so it's not quite as rare an indulgence as it used to be. We had just enough time to down a dozen and a half pizza rolls, soft drinks for the kids, and not-so-soft drinks for Adventure Guy and me before heading out to midnight yell practice. It was fun to introduce the kids to an Aggie tradition that Adventure Guy and I enjoyed while we were students there, but it made for a late night. By the time we rolled into the house at around 1:00, everyone was more than ready for a good night's sleep.
There's a saying about the "spirit of Aggieland" and the traditions at A & M, "From the outside you can't understand it; from the inside you can't explain it." I'm finding that to be true in my accounts here. I ran across a new song during our visit, though, by an Aggie who's trying to make it in country music these days. Check it out at his myspace page. I wish I could share the video that they played at the game, but I'm not having any luck finding it yet.
And now, back to the eating! Saturday morning the girls and I slept in but were treated to round two of the food tour by Adventure Guy and Soccer Boy who were nice enough to go fetch us Shipley's donuts for breakfast. Forget Krispy Kreme. These are the perfect donut food, especially the plain glazed ones still warm from the oven. Then, sugar fix taken care of, we set out to buy an obscene amount of Aggie paraphernalia at the local bookstores. We bought Best Friend her requested A & M logo for her car, Mother-in-Law some t-shirts, and replenished the kids' stock of shirts, shorts, and jerseys. Oh, and I bought a cute belt that has no Aggie logo whatsoever.
After stopping by to visit Father-in-Law and his wife, we continued the food tour, going to Wings 'N More for lunch. While the rest of the family indulged in the signature chicken wings, I, in true no points barred fashion, had the steak fingers. And the onion rings, and, of course, the cream gravy as a dipping sauce. Fried-food heaven, I tell you. It's a good thing I only have the opportunity to eat this stuff once or twice a year!
The next stop was campus for a visit to the Memorial Student Center, where Adventure Guy and I were both involved in a number of student activities while we were at A & M and the Quad, where we watched the Corps of Cadets step off to march in to the game. Adventure Guy was a corps member as were my father and his father. We ran into several people we know and also met up at the end of the afternoon with our friends from Houston who were in for the game. I'm sure Adventure Guy would want me to note that one of the people we ran into was a yell leader during the time we were all at A & M. The term yell leader should automatically be translated into "big man on campus." After we finished visiting with him, Adventure Guy said, "Please tell me I've aged better than Yell Leader." I was able to assure him that he decidedly had!
Adventure Guy's ego appropriately stroked, we began the climb to our seats for the 6:00 p.m. kickoff. The kids were excited because we split them up so that the girls could sit together with their friend from Houston and Soccer Boy could sit with her brothers. This left Adventure Guy and me with the really good seats all to ourselves in the new endzone club area. I have to admit, I prefer being out with the general public, though the bathrooms in the club area are primo. The game itself went fairly well, and I'm happy to say that A & M did not go the way of Michigan this weekend.
After the game we visited with Father-in-Law a bit more and then turned in for the night. He left the next morning, and we decided to run on over to Houston to visit some more with our friends there, instead of spending more time in College Station as planned. The kids got to swim, and we got to conclude our feasting weekend with a trip to our absolute favorite Tex-Mex place, Lupe Tortilla. Their chicken enchiladas with green chili sauce are the best I've ever eaten, and the fajitas are fabulous too. I managed to indulge a bit in both and left absolutely stuffed. My two older kids were introduced to Mexican food at Lupe's and I can still remember Dancer Girl as a toddler powering down their barracho beans like she'd never have a chance to eat again.
This morning we drove the kids by our old neighborhood and showed them the two houses we lived in when we were there. Dancer Girl can remember a bit about the second house, but Gym Girl was too little when we moved to remember anything. Soccer Boy finds it strange that we lived anywhere else before he joined the family and emphatically states that HE never wants to live anywhere other than Suburbia unless he can take all his friends with him when he moves. That being unlikely, I think we'll stay put!
So, now we're home, and I'm the only slacker who's not unpacked. I've been wasting time catching up on blogs and having a nice glass of wine instead of getting to work. But I'm sure there will be plenty of time for that tomorrow.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
One incredibly ugly shirt, vetoed by LSM.
One highly annoyed black Labrador refusing to cooperate for cute photo op.
Once we had selected a lovely polo shirt with a discreet A & M logo for Adventure Guy and given up on torturing the dog, we quickly finished up the travel preparations. Barring any unexpected developments, we'll be on the road by 4:00 p.m. tomorrow. We may even make it into town in time for Midnight Yell Practice.
Several of our friends will be in town with their kids, and Adventure Guy's dad and his wife will be there as well. We're looking forward to a weekend of eating our favorite college-era foods (I've been saving WW points all week!), hanging out with old friends, and then taking the kids to the George W. Bush presidential library* on Sunday before making our way back leisurely on Monday.
I'm always amazed at how much I need a long weekend by Labor Day. I'm even looking forward to the long drive. Adventure Guy and I get some of our best chats in while we don't have the distractions of work and home. I may or may not have time to post while I'm gone, so I'll catch up when we return. Have a great weekend!
*Disclaimer: One of the things I pride myself upon is that I never, ever voted for anyone named George Bush in any election. Not for governor, not for president. However, this is history, people. It seems like a shame not to take the kids to see some history while we have a chance!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tonight, we engaged in the timeless tug of war between parent and child. Him seeking independence, me seeing the toddler he was seemingly just yesterday. It was a beautiful evening in Suburbia, and Soccer Boy wanted to take our dog on a walk around the neighborhood by himself. Recently, Soccer Boy's responsibility and maturity levels have increased significantly. It was time to reward that, to recognize that he is growing up. So I said yes.
No matter how much I know that our neighborhood is a safe place, that the likelihood of abduction by a stranger is truly slim, I was unable to still my mind, that mother's heart, unable to relax until my fledgling returned to the nest. I finished the dishes; I started a load of laundry. And then, as the sky began to darken, I set out to find my boy and his trusty canine companion.
And I was rewarded, as I stepped beyond our yard, with the sight of Soccer Boy rounding the corner, our miniature dachshund scampering by his side. He was so proud of himself for taking on the challenge of walking the dog by himself. I was so proud of myself for allowing him to go, for letting him take one small step on the journey that will ultimately lead him much further than around the block. But tonight, I took advantage of the moment to hold Soccer Boy tight. Just for a few moments, holding tight while letting go.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
But tonight, I was set. I was determined to make it to class. I had a plan. I had worked it out with Adventure Guy that he would go run in the early-evening time frame and then take Soccer Boy to the Boy Scout informational meeting at 7:00. I would go to my class from 7:00 to 8:00, and we would all meet up happily afterwards at home. Ah, but the best laid plans o mice an men gang aft agley, and Robert Burns' mouse had nothing on us here in Suburbia tonight.
At 4:00 p.m., my cell phone rang. Gym Girl asked, "Mom, did you remember my Back to School night is from 6:00 to 7:00 tonight?" Uh, no, because it was on my calendar for Thursday night. Gym Girl said that not only was it written in her agenda for tonight but that her teachers also reminded them before they left school today. Great. I double checked the district publication that listed all the Back to School nights....6th grade, Gym Girl's school, yep, Thursday 6:30-7:30. I called the office to double check the night and time. Voice mail. I called the assistant principal's super-secret line (there have to be some benefits to this job). She confirmed a misprint in the district guide and mentioned the correct time in on the marquee outside the school and that there have been reminders in the agenda. Ummm...must not have noticed that.
I called Adventure Guy to inform him of the situation and tell him that I won't be making class after all. He promptly volunteered to go to Back to School night before heading to the Boy Scout meeting. The two schools are close together, and the timing actually worked as well. Since I am working hard on not feeling like I have to do everything myself and taking him up on his many offers to help, I actually agreed to this plan and thanked him. I felt guilty. But I went to Pilates.
I'm convinced that in all marriages, it's the little things that matter. Both the little good things and the little bad things. While seemingly small, Adventure Guy's willingness to put aside his own desires so that he could help me get a little time to myself means so much to me. It's those little gestures that say "I love you, and you're important to me." And year in and year out, I'll take a dozen little kindnesses over a dozen roses any time.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Thanks to the people who continued to surf on over to the Suburbs since my last post. My goal is to post at least every other day, which I obviously did not achieve this week. So, to catch up quickly here's what been up in Suburbia since Tuesday.
- I helped host a shower for the new wife of a colleague. It's interesting to see how showers have evolved now that most of the brides involved are no longer 20 somethings. This shower involved dinner at a great restaurant, good wine, lots of laughter, and a limo to make sure no one had to drive after all the fun.
- I dealt with my first PR crisis at work. It's always fun to talk to the media, particularly when our local paper is guaranteed to get something wrong or misquote you. This time they didn't misquote me but they did get some facts wrong. I often had to speak to reporters in my previous position, so at least I'm used to that aspect of things. For this issue, I also was the liaison between the district administration and our school board members, which is a new role for me. I just had to remember my earlier statement about being excited about new challenges while taking on this task!
- Gym Girl had a school crisis involving not being selected for a program she was really hoping for. I'd rather be disappointed a hundred times than have to deal with one of my kids being disappointed. She's dealing with it pretty well now, though she was upset on Friday when she got the news.
- We had a new fence put in since our old one was rotting out at the bottom. The fence is lovely, but it took three days longer than it was supposed to, requiring the dogs to stay in the kennel that much longer as well.
- Adventure Guy's mom gave his step-dad a surprise 65th birthday party. We all went over for a cookout and got to see some family that came in for the occasion.
- My father in law and his wife were in town and visited us from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. on Saturday. Yes, really.
- Gym Girl and I travelled to the state capital to attend the All-State Gymnastics banquet. Gym Girl was named to the All-State team last spring, and this was the recognition event. She had her name announced and received a plaque.
Amidst all that excitement, we managed a few more mundane things as well. I introduced the kids to one of my favorite television series, Freaks and Geeks. We're through the first season. It's been fun spotting all the actors who went on to big careers. I loved this series when it came out because it captures high school so perfectly, and the kids seem to be enjoying it as much as I did. Hey, it's one aspect of Judd Apatow's work I can actually share with them. It's not likely we'll be taking them to see Knocked Up or Superbad any time soon.
On tap for today is actual relaxation. We went to church and Sunday school, and, while I'm currently doing laundry, my only other big plans for the day involve taking the girls to see The Nanny Diaries. I loved the book and am hoping the movie is better than the reviews indicate!