Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What are Friends For?

No, I haven't been fishing
It’s a hot, humid day – the usual. I exercise, take the kids to the pool, and do a few other things, too. It’s time for a shower and a shampoo.

I get out feeling clean and refreshed. Because I’m not going anywhere else, I comb through my hair and decide to let it air dry, then throw on some capri jeans and a t-shirt. I go downstairs where Layla the dog is standing at the door ready for a potty break. Two of my girls are in the shower; the other is nowhere to be found, i.e. on the computer, so that leaves me to do the job.

The grass is a little high and moist, so I put on my rain boots. With my wet hair combed back, the salt and pepper roots are very obvious, so I band it into a ponytail and grab the first cap available which is purple and belongs to one of the kids. (So I’m a little vain. Garnier Nutrisse will take care of me soon.) You never know who you’re going to run into in your backyard!

Well, guess who I run into? Robin – my friend and next door neighbor. She’s pulling out of her garage, yet looking stalled. Layla loves her and will immediately try to get to her, so I head the other way, but upon taking another glance, I notice that the car is diagonal – only one side of the front end had cleared the opening. Layla and I go over to get a closer look. Even the dog is puzzled.

“What’s going on Robin?

“Don’t come over here, Anita!!!”

“You look like you need some help. Are you stuck? I think you need some help.”

“Okay…but at least take the dog back in the house!”
Wet-haired Hayley and Kelly (alias Diana Ross and Madison Pettis) are now out of the shower, standing on the porch – watching. I take Layla to them, with a fleeting distraction and thought, “Gosh, I hope they’ve combed the tangles out of their hair, or I’m going to be stuck with helping them to get the knots out.”

No time to think about them – back to Robin.

Her two-car garage has separate doors. She usually pulls into the right side to park, but when I see her, she’s trying to drive out of the left side. Hmmm… The right side door would not open, so somehow she had managed to almost do a one hundred eighty degree turn to come out of the other door, except…she didn’t quite make it.

I begin my air-traffic controller routine that goes on for fifteen minutes or more, with intermittent periods of gut busting laughter.

“Back up – V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y !”


I hold my index and middle fingers together, raised up for her to see, and shout, “You only have this much room between the car and the brick siding!”She turns the wheels and moves the car.

“STOP!!! You’re this close to the brick!” as I now hold up one finger.

I go to her side and see the van one inch from the metal framing. Also, the van's slide door is open, which means four more inches have to get through the one inch that is available.

“Can’t you get that door closed?"


“You have to back up a pinch and get that door closed!”

“Anita, you go to the other side; I got this side
“Yeah, right,” I’m thinking. I don’t quite trust her because she’s huffing and puffing and lifting her right hip, and twisting her body and head out the window while steering. I’m still going from one side of the car to the other, until she convinces me to stay on my side.

“Okay,” thinking again, “Let her tear up her side of the car, but I am NOT going to let my side get even a scratch on it!”

While this is going on, the paparazzi are filming and snapping pictures. Ten year old Andrew (Robin’s son) is in the passenger seat using his new touch screen phone to video the show with threats of debuting us on You Tube.

“Sit down ANDREW!”

“Get that thing out of my face ANDREW!”

“Get your head back in the window ANDREW!”

“Be quiet ANDREW! Mama’s trying to think!”

Even “Diana” and “Madison” get in on the act; from the porch, they get a couple of shots using my cell phone camera.

It seems hopeless. There are moments when I stop and stare and visualize her van being stuck there for life, like a monument or something. I look at Robin with the frustrated look on her face, and feel sad…for two seconds…then I crack up again!

It’s 7:10 p.m. A contractor is expected at my house and my husband is expected home.

“OH NO! I don’t want anybody to see me stuck here like this!”“Well Robin, the contractor can probably get you out.”Hubby pulls into our adjacent driveway first. He gets out of the car with the bewildered look. (I would later learn that it wasn’t the car that was strange, but the sight of his wife in the purple cap, and the boots, complete with hot pink ribbons.)

I’m sure you know the rest of the story. My “missed his calling, wannabe architect” husband figures out how to get the slide door closed, and after I convince him that I can watch MY side of the van, he mathematically figures out what she needs to do to get out. We all hug each other, and I'm proud of him. Then Robin adds, “Anita! Dog! It took a man to get us out!” Yep, we were rescued.

But wait…there’s more! And it’s good!

Why can’t the garage door be opened manually?

“Oh, there it is. There’s a metal chord stuck in the hinges.”

Hubby goes to our house to get the stepladder, stands on it to move the metal chord, pulls the rope chord with a red handle on it, and tells me to hold it while he and Robin raise the door.

“Okay, you can let it go.”

So I let it go.

click click click click click click click click
B A M !!!I wish I could see the looks on the four of our faces as the garage door comes SLAMMING down on the bottom step of the stepladder that was forgotten about and left in the path of the runaway garage door. There was a little bounce and a good size dent, but other than that, it was still in one piece.

Non-cursing hubby almost cursed, followed by a declaration of guilt.

“Ugh, I should have moved that stepladder.”Robin says, “If that stepladder hadn’t been there, the glass may have shattered. Don’t you dare give it another thought.” She's still thrilled to have mobility.

After getting over the shock and noticing all the other dents from Andrew practicing hockey, I say, “I guess it’s not t-h-a-t bad.”Andrew is still oblivious.

missing window here from a previous injury caused by...a ball

The next day, the garage door mechanic is there. I peek out my window to see the door going up and down. Success. Then I hear loud noises. He is pounding and beating the door into submission. He leaves. The dent is barely noticeable.

What are friends for?

A friend keeps her friend from gunning her van through bricks and mortar in a desperate attempt to leave her home to get the Father's Day gift. Can't miss doing that!

Got any “friend” stories to share?” Please do.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Busy as a Bee

Is there a month that seems to by your busiest? Mine used to be December, with May as a strong second. When my first child entered kindergarten, May crept up from behind to take the lead.

(It’s now June, but I’m going to post this blog about May anyway, that I started a couple weeks ago, but just now finding a few quiet moments to get it online.)

May is spring! The days are long, the weather is warm. In April, I peaked out of semi-hibernation for Spring and Easter Break. I got a little relaxation, did a few things, and tried to brace myself for May as the calendar became fuller and fuller.

Let’s see…what did I do? Before I clean my second dry erase calendar board for May to fill it with July, I’ll reminisce. Without the calendar, it would actually all be a blur.

May 1 started with a sick child. Day, shot. Okay, maybe not shot. It was a “forced bonding day.” There would be two more of these during the month. (See my post dated 2/10/09 to see what a typical day is like, at home with a sick child.)

Kid activities: Sports begin. Parents and kids are excited, but by mid-May, I hear my “mom” friends uttering a sigh of relief when it rains. My kids do not play team sports, but I see that coming over the horizon. One of them is interested in field hockey, another, tennis. So…to prepare for the tennis team, my kids began tennis lessons this spring - something new for the calendar.

Personally, my kid activity that requires major attention is the Piano Guild; getting my kids to realize that five to ten memorized pieces of music is not going to happen by osmosis.

Everyday, it’s:
“You have to practice.”
“You agreed to do this, so now do it…and do a good job!”
“How many have you memorized so far?”
“How many more do you have to memorize?”

Pure mental anxiety.

It's the usual, annual, three week period prior to the audition where I get tired of hearing myself say those things EVERYDAY. (I try to rotate so that each kid will only hear me every third day.)

Other kid activities: Piano recital and a piano class graduation, Instrumental Ensemble performance, 5k run for charity (post date 5/13/09), strings concert, field day & 5th grade picnic (all day for two kids), the Hannah Montana movie, shopping (post dated 5/29/09) – and to top it off, the pool has opened!

"Mommy, we wanna go to the pool!!!"

Any allergy sufferers out there? Need I say more? I’ll just say that what started in April became full blown by May. I dispensed more generic Claritin and Zyrtec to Hayley and Kelly than a worker at a heroin detox clinic dispensing methadone to addicts.

And, each morning, I analyzed their puffy eyes to see if drops were necessary, and emptied bathroom trash baskets full of tissue used on noses with bad plumbing. (Actually, the tissues were on the floors beside their beds and I put it in trash baskets.) Thank God for my allergy shots; maybe the kids need them, too.

Special occasions: My daughter Mallory’s birthday (2 celebrations), my mom’s birthday, Mother’s Day, a college graduation, a middle school graduation, an anniversary party, an engagement party, a “before the prom” gathering, a dinner to honor a friend from South Africa, a “new marriage” cocktail party, and a Memorial Day party. (The ladies at Hallmark Creations and I are practically family now.) I missed four of the events - but the rest, I was there! And, I had a good time socializing. Give me a high five!

All of that and some, in addition to the daily routine, like eating, cooking, hygiene, laundry, cleaning, school, church, exercising, communicating…

Plus, of course, I had to fit in my life! You know...the things that the girls do together. I’ll save that for future conversations with you.

As busy as life can get, with its periods of exhaustion, joy, frustration, eagerness, anxiety and peace, I can honestly say that boredom is not a problem. And that’s a good thing.

When is your calendar overflowing? How do you handle it?