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An Ultimatum

Basketball practice times aren’t ideal, but we’ve got good carpool situations to make them easier to handle.

Early morning practices have me getting out of bed at 5:00, leaving at 5:15 with Caleb, meeting his ride at 5:30, then coming home together ready for the day.

Since Mondays aren’t school days, practices are mid-afternoon: 2:00-4:00. It’s a little tough for working parents, but we figured out a system. Lori brings Jackson to the church and takes Jacob with her so he can hang out with Aidan. Stephanie takes Jackson and Caleb with her, picks up Andy, and takes them all to school for practice. Billy picks up Caleb, Jackson, and sometimes Andy, then takes Jackson home and picks up Jacob. If he has Andy, he brings him by the church before heading home with the boys. We call it the Teenage Shuffle. It’s crazy and confusing, but it works.

Well, all except for Jacob and Aidan doing their homework. They’re in the same class (except for math), so you’d think they’d get a little studying done or work on their writing assignments together. No. Jacob keeps insisting on taking some work with him to Aidan’s, but it never gets done. Then it makes us have a late night – especially since Monday nights are cooking nights for me. Tonight, after much frustration, I told him he wouldn’t be able to go to Aidan’s if he doesn’t have ALL his work done beforehand. That wasn’t met well, but he’s got motivation now. We’ll see…

I recently got a prescription for bifocals. That didn’t bother me as much as the fact that I’d have to move up from children’s frames to women’s frames, which rarely run as small as I like them. I finally found a pair I liked and ordered two: one for distance/reading and one for the computer, which is where I spend a good portion of my days now. I don’t really need the computer glasses, but they had a BOGO sale…

Then I decided since I have a new job and new glasses, I may as well get a new haircut. A few weeks ago, I cut off my long curly (and frizzy) locks for something shorter, hipper, and “easier”. And in the beginning it was. Then I found out about Curky Girl, a handbook for curly hair. I had been doing a few things right, but I was also doing several things wrong. Namely my choices of shampoo, conditioner, and gel. Well, that and some styling issues…

After reading a little more than half the book, I went in search of sulfate-free shampoo, an alcohol-free conditioner, and silicone-free/paraben-free/alcohol-free gel. That’s hard to find within a reasonable price range! I finally found what I needed and spent about $16 for three items.

For the last week, I’ve been sulfate-free shampooing (three times, but I need to do it less), drenching my hair in conditioner and finger combing it as I rinse it out several minutes later, squeezing out the water with a microfiber towel (instead of towel-drying with a hand towel), and scrunching with gel (without combing it first – because the only time I should comb it is in the shower). Then leaving it alone. Keeping my hands out of it. Not touching it up until it’s completely dry. That’s hard to do!

I’m also not supposed to use a flat iron on my bangs, which is something I’ve been doing for years. Curly bangs are not pretty. I’ve been trying to clip them down to dry, but the clips are a little heavy and my bangs end up looking plastered down. That’s also not pretty. Oh, and I end up with some little crazy flip on one side that even the flat iron won’t tame. (Yes, I keep going back to the flat iron… The one day I didn’t was a disaster!) I’m still experimenting with the clips…

All that to say my personal morning routine now needs tweaking. Showering now takes longer because of the finger combing, but I’m getting better at that. The hair-fixing routine is quicker because I’m not combing my hair out after towel-drying it, which was causing quite a mess. I need to brush my teeth before showering instead of after because my hair won’t be up in a towel anymore (the microfiber towels are too small). I need to put my moisturizer on my face before clipping my bangs. I need a diffuser for my blow dryer (which I rarely use but would like to). It seems each day I make a new discovery. I keep thinking surely I’ve made them all…

Once I get my own personal care routine down, I think the rest of our morning routine will flow more smoothly.

It’s been 11 days since I last posted. I only made it 1/3 of the way through the 31 Day Challenge. Busyness won. But I am succeeding in finding our new “normal”. I’m getting my ducks in a row.

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Evenings have been the best indicator. Jacob was finished with his homework before 8:30 three nights this week, including Wednesday night. I was tired of coming home after youth activities and having to urge him through more homework when he should have been in bed. This time I told him if it wasn’t finished before youth group started, he and I would just be late – if we went at all. That worked! He got right to it and finished with enough time to go out and play basketball for half an hour before things got started.

Next week, we start basketball games. The first two or three weeks, we just have one a week, but we’ll go to two a week after that. Until early February. With a 3-day double elimination tournament our school is hosting at the end of December. Basketball season also means those insanely early morning practices will be reduced to one or two days a week. Hallelujah! Driving Caleb to 7-Eleven at 5:30 a.m. to meet his ride is excruciating. I’ve learned to not hit the snooze button…

At least I remembered to check my calendar and plan our menu accordingly before I went grocery shopping today. (And speaking of that, I drove by ALDI yesterday morning. From the looks of things, they should be opening any day now!) We’ll only be eating at home two nights next week, three if you count Saturday night. That’ll be one big pot of chicken & dumplings and two nights of leftovers. Yes, a big pot. Really big. And if no one wants the third night of chicken & dumplings, there are frozen corn dogs, waffles, or sandwiches. And that will leave more chicken & dumplings for another night… It’s a good thing I like them so well!

In spite of all the busyness, I have managed to carve out a little time for myself. I walked around the pond three days this week. 2 1/2 miles over the course of the week. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a start and I feel good about it. Even though I didn’t have to take Jacob in at all this week, I chose to go in to work early and get some walking in. Once were no longer in the upper 80’s and 90’s, I’m considering walking during my lunch break. I take my lunch three days a week. It would be so easy to eat in the park, then walk a mile or so before going back to the office. I finally remembered to put a spare pair of earbuds in my car so I don’t have to share my Pandora “Journey” station with everyone. Now I need to remember to take my tennis shoes. The flip flops are okay, but not my best choice.

Grocery Shopping Blues

Grocery shopping on my short day is good only because it’s a shorter day and I can make it home at my usual time.

It’s not good for several reasons:

1. It’s Friday afternoon.

2. I have to spend my “free” time at the grocery store.

3. We’ve (hopefully) got a good part of the weekend at home, so that means everyone (me, too) gets snacky and goes through the groceries like they’re starving – which means there’s not a whole lot left by Monday.

4. Menu planning, which used to happen over the weekend, now gets forgotten completely. As I’m shopping, I’m thinking What’s going on next week, and what on earth will I cook? I end up grabbing flour tortillas, black beans, corn, and cheese so we can have Black Bean Quesadillas, which everyone likes (for now…) and doesn’t require a lot of prep or cooking time.

5. I completely forget about veggie side dishes, even if they’re salads. I didn’t have that problem when I was in my produce co-op. Things were chosen for me, and I planned around what I received. Since I’m sitting out for this rotation, I’m realizing how much I depended on it and how much I miss it. I’ve got to figure a way to make it work next time around!

There is hope. Our local ALDI should be opening soon. I could go to that location on Friday afternoons, or I could choose to go on Saturday mornings early. That wouldn’t solve all my problems, but it would be helpful. Now if they’d just open already. I first heard about it more than a year ago. Since then the Kroger “mall” was built and opened and is thriving.

I had heard ALDI would be open in September; it’s now almost halfway through October… For a few weeks, I’d drive by every week to check on its progress, but that became a disappointing ritual because it’s hard to tell anything when all the work is going on inside. With every pass by, I’d tell the boys, “Well, it doesn’t look like anything has happened yet.” I didn’t drive by this week. I think I’ll just wait until I see it on Facebook.

Finally Friday

I’m a homebody. I used to not mind getting out on Friday evenings after being home most of the week. Now that I’m working, I’m exhausted on Friday evenings, and I like nothing better than coming home (after the grocery store, of course) and relaxing. Last night, I did just that. Well, after I put on a load of laundry and fixed a quick supper. I got so relaxed I fell asleep in my recliner – and forgot to post to my blog.

Basketball season will soon be bringing these wonderful Friday evenings to a close, so for now I’ll enjoy every one I get.

A Walk in the Park

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Since I’ve been taking Jacob to school while Caleb has his 6:00 a.m. basketball practices, I end up being 45-50 minutes early for work. I’ve just been going on in – until today.

The thought has crossed my mind before. Just go to the park and walk a lap or two around the pond. Today I did it. I didn’t overthink it. I didn’t come up with reasons why I shouldn’t. (There are no good ones, really.) I need the exercise. I enjoyed it. I felt great when I was finished. And I’m going to do it again – most likely tomorrow, weather permitting. (And that’s not an excuse. There’s actually rain in the forecast.)

The Longest Days

Wednesdays are our longest days. Not only do we have school and work, but we also have church in the evening. There’s no time to go all the way home between work and church, so we stick around. It’s a pretty set routine. It’s not ideal, but it works. Sort of.

After work, Billy brings the boys to the church, then makes a quick stop somewhere to pick us up some supper. We eat at church, then the boys work on the (hopefully) last bits of homework, while I scramble to get ready to teach the junior high girls. I feel bad that I’m not better prepared, but there’s just not enough time right now. Thankfully Lauren and I switch out teaching responsibilities every other week, but I need to have a clue of what’s going on.

At 6:30, the boys go out to play basketball with some of the other guys, and I talk with Lauren, going over what were teaching that night. Then we go out and visit with the other leaders and the youth while we wait for things to get started.

When our groups end, we talk a little more about the next week, then I get the boys rounded up to leave. They need to get home as quickly as possible so they can get their showers and get to bed – especially now that Caleb is having to get up at 5:00. (This is usually the time Jacob remembers some homework he forgot about earlier…) Billy sometimes stays later until all the kids have left. He’ll usually get home about 15 minutes or so after us.

All this makes for a really long day, and unfortunately, I don’t see any way to make things easier.

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