Since I went back to work, 2 1/2 years ago, I have grown to hate this question.
Now my vacation days are full of doctor appointments or family trips.
BUT - - gone are the days that Max is excited about sitting in Dr. Chanin's Blue's Clues Thinking Chair....
Gone are the days of a stay-at-home mom of little boys....
My baby Jack will be 17 in a month. He is never home because he drives and has a job...
Monday, he flew on an airplane for the first time......to Budapest, Hungary...for 12 days.
The red suitcase is mostly full of empty space, 13 t-shirts, and a couple of shorts.
The black suitcase was packed by a youth leader, not Jack, and contains 50 pounds of powdered paint in baggies....much like drugs....and Jack was instructed, by the mission trip leader:
"they will ask you if anyone else packed your bag. You say 'no'..."
Thankfully, I found this funny...going on a mission trip and lying to the feds....
My baby Max will be 15 in two months....driving...
He has passed his mother in intelligence. He gave me a complete History lesson at the 3rth of July celebration.
Being a homeschool teacher/mom, I should have responded proudly:
"I'm glad you paid attention to my teaching."
But instead I was: "Really?? where the heck did you learn that?"
Gone are the days of feeling the need to provide educational playtime, worrying if he will wander off at the 3rth of July concert....
What is not gone? Max's fascination with destruction...explosions, taking things apart to see how they work.....burning things with a magnifying glass...
I needed some summer days...DESPERATELY!
So Friday and Saturday, I did nothing but read a book.....one of the best books I have read in a long time!
I donned my Esther Williams swimsuit and lounged in the backyard for two days. I was transported to Germany during the late 1930s and early 40s. I laughed and cried as I became another character in the book. I had not lost myself in a book, in years. I entered 2014 only to go in the house for water or break for lunch with Max.
Today, as my heart pounded because I was nearing the end of the book, I needed to stop for water. I ascended the steps to the back door and noticed my neighbor had been watching me through parted blinds.
I told Jeff, "the weirdo is looking at me, in my bathing suit, and probably wondering why I would walk around the backyard without a cover-up!" Jeff responded with an obligatory compliment. I rolled my eyes and went back to my backyard blanket, and a riveting story.
Later, my phone buzzed with a text. I paused my running from the Nazis, to see who might be trying to contact me. It was Jeff and he had sent an image....
I turned to look at the house, and Jeff stood proudly in the window.
Gone are the days that I need 2 months of nothing. I have thoroughly enjoyed my two days of summer and am ready to go back to work, on Monday.
Tonight, I ran on the hotel treadmill, instead of running outside, in the beautiful weather, into the colorful sunset. Why? I don't know.
As I entered the tiny workout closet, I noted that I was the only one in the room. I turned on the basketball game, turned on my music, and started running. Out of the corners of my eyes, I noticed 2 other people running with me.
It began to be distracting so I casually turned my gaze straight ahead, into the entire mirrored wall. I then turned to my left and lost my orientation in the other entire mirrored wall.
I tried to go back to watching the game, but I was mesmerized by my reflection. No matter how much weight I lose or how toned I get, my body does not show it.
To pass the running time, I started really looking at myself, trying to see what others see. I have spent my whole life avoiding my reflection. I have perfected the glance-roll-eyes-and-go move.
I have never LOOKED at myself.
I started at my face and moved down to my feet. I probably should have cringed at the sight, but instead I was whisked away into "my life story".
I saw two spiral curls on top of my head that did a trampoline "double bounce" every time my feet landed. They looked like broken, unraveling bunny ears. I have thick unruly hair, and it matches my personality perfectly.
The longer I ran, my skin shade turned from white, to pink, to a light sunburn shade. Sadly, I had a few years in high school and college, when I thought a tan would make me pretty. I am thankful I realized in my late 20s that my shading is perfect for me. I am not without blemishes, but the sun damage is minimal.
My face is round and will always be round, supporting my wild hair, my grumpy expressions, and providing amusement. It is rare that I get an involuntary real smile, but when someone is able to extract it from me, my cheeks fill out and block my vision.......making me laugh at the absurdity....creating a bigger smile.
My full and sagging chin/neck identify me as a Kennedy. My maternal grandmother, her sisters, her brother, and my mother have the same chin/neck. A family story tells about my mother's aunt strapping saran wrap under her face to hold up the hereditary droop, for a family picture.
My profile presents my odd nose, but it is my maternal grandfather's odd nose. It reminds me how he would listen without response to all the chaos around him, puff on his pipe, wipe the end of his nose with one finger, and grunt a laugh or grumble, as his opinion.
My full upper arms and upper body were developed during the years I swam, and they remind me of all the years of picking up my special needs students and my own large babies! I have great upper body strength.
My firm calves and skinny ankles made me audibly giggle. They are the only evidence that I am a runner.
My thighs......my thighs....
As I looked at my thighs, I tried to see some of my life history in them. I had a thought on the tip of my brain, but I could not think of what my thighs could remind. So I looked at them intently, and it hit me.
They look like two baked potatoes.
The family album project was over. My brain was flooded with thoughts of loaded baked potato, baked potato with French Onions on top, twice baked potato, potato soup......
The run was over. I hopped off the treadmill and hurried to the shower.....ready to eat!
What is a valentine?
Anyone that chooses to love you when you are at your worst.....
a friend, a spouse, family
I chose the above picture to represent LOVE because I had just birthed Max, Jeff was in zombie state and Jack was being so naughty. I remember thinking "what have I done..."
I really don't care for valentines day.
I want to be shown love because a sunrise was inspiration or I said something funny, not because you ran in Walgreens and an aisle of pink and red crap commanded you to love me.
I haven't always felt this way..
I loved it in elementary school!
The class party!
The 43 valentine cards in a shoebox!
(I went to public school=challenging student/teacher ratio)
As you can see, I was the same at age 8.
Hungry and not so girly....
Then, when I entered junior high, there was no shoebox.
I quickly realized my classmates were forced to love me in elementary.
Not so in junior high.
And therefore, I never received a pink, yellow, or red carnation....not even the friendly white.
High school.... I was never asked to the dance....or given a dang cupidgram.
But despite the many movies, books and TV shows confirming my feelings in my teen years..."I am not the girl they want to love"
I learned what "I love you" means:
Being disappointed but not leaving
Disagreeing but willing to agree to disagree
Hurting feelings but feeling the need to repair them
Enjoying silence without anxiety
Enjoying conversation on any topic because it is conversation with the one you love
Making an effort to let the other "feel" loved
Knowing that you both like each other even in the worst fight
Showing love to them on Valentines Day, as well as "you're gettin on my nerves" day.
When I travel, the guys text me pictures of their day. I always look forward to my texts from home!
Our Science curriculum ALWAYS says to wear safety glasses, even if all you are doing is measuring a book. It is quite ridiculous!
Jeff sent me these pictures with the text, "good thing he had on safety glasses"
I have learned not to check my texts during meetings because it is quite possible that I laugh!
I was sent this picture to show that my sweet child, although recovering from surgery and dealing with double ear infections, was doing his school work.
The picture was sent as a "slide show" with the second picture. So when I received the text, I was looking at the following picture of Max, and then all of the sudden, the second picture popped up!
Last night, we arrived at the beach the same time as Tropical Torturo. Our condo is on the 21st floor, so our entertainment with the wind was amazing!
Of course this land locked family felt the need to go straight to the beach and pool, because that IS what we came for.....storm or not.
I stood in the torrential downpour, like a freakin Al Roker reporting on a Miami hurricane, while the boys swam the lazy river and went down the water slide....
I had on my comfy/lazy jeans from the day of travel. They are too big for me (lost 35 pounds since January...woo woo) and already hard to keep up....so as they were weighted down with the rain, they started falling down.
I stood in the dark storm with a beach towel wrapped around my shoulders like a shawl and the kid's beach towels and shirts (adult kids included) stuffed under my shawl- towel and arm pits, trying to keep them dry. The rain was coming down so hard, I felt like my eyes were bleeding. As I hobbled toward the gate....
yep, I said hobbled....I did something to my hip on Thursday. On Friday, the pain was awful. I moaned when I moved certain ways, at work. Saturday, on my car trip, I realized it was out of socket, rammed my hip into the floor and it made one last pop. The pain shot white searing heat through my body....worse than childbirth, and then it stopped popping and hurting. Just sore like a bruise.
So anyway, as I hobbled toward the pool gate to find some sort of escape from the rain, my pants slid lower. The crotch was to my knees, my ass half hanging out, my pants legs sliding over my feet causing me to shuffle to keep from tripping. I made it to the gate, but as I stood there wondering how I was going to unlatch the gate without losing my pants completely or dropping everybody's towels and shirts, a fire truck pulled up. The 4 firemen got off the truck and started toward the hotel/condo door, then looked toward the dark at what was in their peripheral vision. A soggy girl standing with towels hanging off her shoulders, her glasses fogged up causing blindness and her pants half-slid around her knees.
Each of the buff hunky firemen looked at me, then each other, paused a few seconds and then walked into the hotel......I later found out they were rescuing idiots that jumped in an elevator and disabled it.
I am sure when they got back on the truck, they asked each other,
"did you see that thing in the rain that looked like it belonged on an X-Files episode?"
Today, we played in the ocean's warm, rough waves and built sand castles in the pouring rain. Well, actually, I have never excelled at the sand castle building. I scooped sand into mounds that circled me, then I dug my heels into the sand creating a strange crater shape. The exhaustion from the night before, and today's fighting the waves, swept over me rapidly. I laid back in the sand and looked up into the gray sky and light drizzle. The rain and sand bed were so comfortable, I continued to lay still....arms flopped out to my sides. Jeff walked over to me and said "If Max and I weren't near you, someone might think you just washed up on shore." I didn't care. I was comfortable.
I eventually had to sit up when a guy walked over to talk to Jeff and looked extremely concerned at what was laying nearby......me
But I imagine I looked to him something like what is resting 3 floors below our condo.
I am never content. Especially when everything is going right....
That means trouble, stress, disaster is around the corner!
Jeff recently got me in trouble with our senior pastor. Sandy was commenting on the nice memphis weather. Jeff says
(while I am serving in nursery and nowhere near and able to defend myself)
"my wife cant enjoy the weather because she fears the retribution"
To which our pastor responded, "you have to watch those that have weather gods"
Real nice, Jeff.....now the weather is not the only retribution I fear.
Despite my discontent, I have always presented myself as a person full of joy!
From my baby/toddler years, joy oozed from my every pore!
I always wore a smile in high school
and I was the life of all the parties in college
a teacher full of energy!
and I definitely made sure I was the young mother that brought happiness to every occasion!
I have been teaching my sons......well, since birth....
AND I have been homeschooling them for 6 1/2 years.
As with most students, finding out what they truly have retained is like running in sand:
After finishing a great, visual, auditory, and tactile lesson, I ask
"So what year did this take place?"
"I don't know"
"Well, what was the purpose?"
"I don't know"
"Tell me the steps they took"
"uh, well....I can't remember all of them"
I gladly spend my free-time planning and re-planning to suit their educational needs. I figure I will get an extra smiley face in teacher heaven.
Two weeks ago, on a short car trip around town, Max got bored in the backseat and started reading the OSHA manual.
It was actually quite entertaining hearing him read, in a very animated voice, the regulations on floor holes....or as he read it FLO HOES.
Two long weeks after he read this information, I pick him up from a week long mission trip. He is telling me about serving in a mission house.
"....and mom, they weren't obeying the rules on floor holes. They had open holes in the floor that didn't have covers, or barricades, or guardrails."
This from the kid that can't retain my repetitive lecture on
"when you take your socks off, don't just toss them, take them to the laundry room"
complete with "repeat what I said", "now show me"
But apparently I need to say
It shall be unlawful to place, or cause, or permit to be placed, on any floor or roof or wall or other structure, haphazardly tossed sock(s).
To facilitate cleaning, every floor, working place, passageway, areas of comfy sitting, and storage of random outdoor items shall be kept free from freely tossed sock(s).
So I guess Max's learning style is how the OSHA manual is written.......ACHHH, I refuse to write my lessons like federal regulations.
We went to view an exhibit on the University of Memphis campus. As we walked by the psychology building, Jeff pointed to a window and said, "do you remember that window?".
I racked my brain. I took quite a few psychology classes (should have gone for a minor) but I wasn't sure what HE would have known about my psych classes.....
Then the memory came back! One day, in my 8AM abnormal psychology class, I was sitting in my regular seat by the window. Half way through the class, I looked out the window. There was a paper taped to the outside. I leaned over to get a closer look and recognized Jeff's signature.......fish.....
I love you infinity (Jeff)
Jeff taped it to the window the night before my class!
Remembering this, I joked all day how this was his one and only attempt at being romantic.
I don't keep things, but I hoped I had kept this note. I found it in a secret drawer of a wooden chest Jeff made me when we were dating......along with
46 other notes!!!
I truly had forgotten ALL of this. I found over 30 notes that he had left on my car for me to find after class.
One of my favorites was one I obviously scored when we first became friends.....
That's right! I got HIS digits!!
Several made me laugh. I have always been high strung and put my ALL into work/studying. So Jeff knew from the start about my STRESS!
Sorry it is blurry, but it says "I hope you did well on exams, but if you didn't, don't STRESS"
ALL of the notes said something about "Margaret, the beautiful"......WHO was that?
(when he says this now, I say "you have to say that, I'm all you can have")
Finding this note cracked me up. He wrote it on my DAD'S work stationary!
It seems like it has always been US.....I don't remember the dating.
The artist, Carroll Cloar, was Jeff's uncle. He was actually my mother-in-law, Connie's, great uncle, but he was about the same age as her father. Carroll and Tommy "Sonny" were great friends, as well as family. Jeff spent almost every 4th of July at Uncle Carroll's house, swimming in his pool.
Memphis is celebrating what would have been Carroll's 100th year. There are several exhibits and events across town. Today, we went to a function at the Brook's Museum. We, as a part of the Cloar family, got a personal tour of the exhibit and then attended a presentation given by Dr. Stanton Thomas. He has been studying Carroll Cloar for several years. He did a wonderful job! Afterwards, we were able to visit with Dr. Thomas.
Lee, Jeff's dad, asked Dr. Thomas if my son, Jack, looked familiar.
Dr. Thomas looked at Jack a few seconds and then said, "yes, wow!"
Jack has a few of Carroll Cloar's features!
Dr. Thomas made several jokes and comments about how much Jack looked like Carroll.
Because Dr. Thomas was with us, we were allowed to take this picture.
Dr. Thomas's wife tweeted it! #summerofcloar
Jack and Dr. Thomas posed in front of a lithograph that Uncle Carroll drew himself at different stages of life.
Jack and Dr. Thomas are sporting the famous Carroll Cloar expression.
In our personalized tour, I asked if I could take a non-flash picture of a painting Carroll did of the Ziegenhorn family. This is a rare and special painting because most of the other family paintings are of Connie's family, the Cloars. I was told "no, photos are forbidden".
When Jeff's family was ready to leave, I snuck back around to the painting, held my phone at my waist, and took the picture. The security guard (one in every room) was eyeing me! I told my sons that I needed to leave because I had taken a picture. They were shocked...not sure why.
They should expect this of their mother.
I get what I want. Rules don't apply to me.
The guard followed me out of the entire exhibit.
In the above painting, there is a kid, in yellow, sitting on the lap of a man with a tie. This is Lee's dad. The man in the blue overalls is Lee's grandfather.......
now you see! I had to take the picture!
Even though I had to wear a skirt and dress shoes all day...
Even though my hair looked totally ridiculous (I wore a stupid headband)....
Even though I looked like a bloated penguin...
I enjoyed all the paintings and the special stories.
It was a good day with my sophisticated family!
I take full credit for my boys' genius!
I planned ahead and chose to start a family with a mature man with a great head of hair!
I put great importance on everything my boys did.
I made sure they only drank filtered water!
I made sure candy was never in the house and that the delight of food was never important.
I am a model of how to never be quick to anger.
I made sure that they were always calm and clean!
I made sure they were never puzzled or confused and uncomfortable.
I made sure they were immersed in culture and the arts.
and....I never EVER was amused at their discomfort....
because of my great parenting and teaching......
As of today, after reporting grades, Jack is now a sophomore in high school and Max is an 8th grader....last year of middle school.
Thanks to me teaching them to always be serious and composed....they are nothing but complete SUCCESS.