Friday, March 30, 2012

Help With the Little Things

As part of launching my own business, I discovered that I needed some help.  Lucky for me there was someone who loves to hang around me, who works for virtually nothing and was available immediately.  Of course I'm referring to my darling and occasionally "very three" year-old daughter, Sarah.

On my first day here she was over joyed to discover that I wouldn't be going into the office and was happy with just swinging by my home office on occasion to make sure I was still here.  There were several of these little toddler drive-bys throughout the day.  She even brought me part of her snack around 2:00 p.m.

By day two her demands became a little greater and she insisted that we eat lunch together.  Being one to not typically stop for lunch, having this break in the middle of the day turned into a double surprise for me.  Not only did I actually get to let go and relax for a bit, but I got to do it with one of my most favorite people on Earth.

By Wednesday, Sarah was in full "Sarah form."  She decided to spend the day with me, spending several hours sitting on the floor beside my desk coloring and singing to me.  She took a break at one point, climbing up on my husbands guitar case, apparently an excellent stage, and put on an entire performance.

By Thursday we began to get into a groove together.  It seems our new pattern is for me to spend the first couple of the hours of the day in my office alone, answering emails and sending out proposals.  By 7:15 the two older girls emerge from their pre-teen cocoons and I drive them to school.  By the time I return, Sarah greets me with a huge smile and we sit down for breakfast together.  After a morning of her hanging out in the playroom we take a break and eat lunch together in the park, our new favorite long as we get there before the Flower Mound mid-day rush.  After lunch she heads upstairs for a nap and I return to my desk for some serious focus time for the remainder of the afternoon.

Today, day five of our new partnership, she added a new twist to the daily routine.  She's now "Mommy's Helper."  She has decided that she needed to reorganize all the books on my shelf, while singing of course, and then moved all the papers around on the floor into a new collage of some kind.  We ended the day with her helping me with my blog.  She crawled up in my lap to "help me type" (by putting her fingers on top of mine while I typed).

There are tons of risks with starting your own business, but after this week I've discovered that the rewards far surpass anything I could have ever imagined.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Something Funny Happened on the Way to Forty

For those of you that don't know me, I'm one of those warped individuals who has always felt that age is just a number.  Truly, I mean, as long as I am still having birthdays I must still be clicking along, right?

I still feel that way, but wow, the reality of being forty hit me out of the blue today.  No it wasn't anything as spectacular as bending over to pick something up and throwing out my back, suddenly realizing that my body is changing.  It was one of those "holy cow, really?" kind of moments that just struck me while sitting in the park with my daughter.

You see, I've always been a super driven person; never happy unless I had about eight things going at once and lived in a state of constant change.  I've never been good at just sitting or doing only one thing.  Heck, I have a tendency to have three or four books going in the "currently reading" hopper.  I drive my family crazy because I can't watch television without reading or surfing the web at the same time.  For crying out loud, I've never lived in the same place for more than 18 months in my entire life (I swear I'm part gypsy).  I'm telling you, I am the poster child for multi-tasking!

So imagine my surprise today when I was sitting at the park watching my daughter play and......well, that's the point, that was it!  I was just sitting there watching her!  I was perfectly happy and content with that moment.  There was no nagging urge to check my phone or start a new project.  I was sitting there with no need to control her every move or constantly worry that she might hurt herself - I just let her play and do her own thing and that was okay.  That realization got me wondering if I should immediately head for the closest emergency room because clearly I had to be having a stroke!  This type of causal behavior is so against my type-A personality.

After recovering from my initial shock, it hit me that I've been behaving in this "in the moment" manner for a while now.  I've actually watched television recently - no really, WATCHED it!  I've been to the park with the girls on multiple occasions.  Heck, I even took a vacation with my older daughter this weekend and didn't work (so unlike me).  In fact, I recently went.....wait for it.....over two weeks without nail polish on my toes AND I wore sandals in public!  (which everyone in the South knows is a totally no-no for any respectable Southern woman)

A few hours later I was walking through the grocery store, post park so I'm sure I smelled of a lovely outdoor aroma, and caught myself doing it again.  There I was, walking down the hair care aisle singing along with, and rather loudly in fact, Tom Jones' "What's New Pussycat".  I haven't behaved in that manner in public in so long!  And ever since surgery #12, let me assure you that I can no longer in fact "sing".....I now croak in time with the music.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm still a driven person, but some where along the way, in between 30 and 40, some ability to live in the now and enjoy the little things crept back in.  At some point I decided that loosing a half an inch and gaining 14 pounds since high school was okay (no gasping, I still workout, but suddenly I'm okay with my new body and no longer crave my pencil-thin frame from 20 years ago....curves are cool).

I now find myself talking to and playing with other people's children....and enjoying it!  I'm cool with driving a mommy-mobile and the fact that it's never spotless.  Come to think of it, I can't recall the last time my house was up to my typical OCD standards of cleanliness.  It's been in this state of "three small girls live here" for some time now.....and I'm okay!  No one lost a friends refused to come over and hang meteors hit the Earth due to some unexplained shift in the universe.

What is it about 40 that causes some to have a mid-life crisis and others to finally slow down and start to appreciate life for what it really is about?  And at what point does the super secret switch inside of us get flipped without us knowing?  Is there a main control room somewhere with the cast of Golden Girls sitting watch deciding when it's time for each of us to flip over?

I'm really not sure how or when it happened, but man, if being forty brings this much calm and clarity, I can wait for fifty!

[END NOTE: And for those of you wondering, yes I did in fact pick up the hair color while in the grocery store today.  I said I'm calmer and am enjoying life more.....I didn't say I was cool with the graying roots just yet.]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Red Light District

As many of you know, I live in what I like to refer to as "The Bubble".  You know what I'm talking about - a small suburb of Dallas where weekends are consumed by parents shuffling children from event to event; where neighborhood block parties are a regular event; and, where a big night for our local police department consists receiving a call about someone locking themselves out of their house.  It's your typical Normal Rockwell meets Gordon Gekko kind of neighborhood.  You know, a "bubble".

Now don't get me wrong - we live here for the same reasons I'm sure everyone else's safe, beautiful, complete with good schools, great shopping and picturesque environment in which to raise our kids.

So, now that you understand how jam-packed our streets our and how insane our traffic must be, imagine my confusion when, while sitting at the park today with my two year-old (yes bubble behavior at it's finest), I happened to notice a new set of traffic signals being installed.  Now keep in mind that this particular set is being plopped two city blocks away from one set and one city block away from another it's not like anyone could even get their imported car up to a dangerous speed to even warrant another abrupt stop.

I found this particularly unnerving on several levels.  First, there hasn't ever been a wreck at this intersection in the three plus years I've lived in said "bubble" (shock that I've lived in one place over a year aside please).  Secondly, why would a neighborhood such as ours suddenly require the traffic control power of three separate sets of traffic lights within about a 3 block radius.

I think it's the "duh" answer to the second one I landed on that really irked me, if we're being honest here.  You see, the town recently tore down EVERY large, blooming tree that lined our beautiful thorough-fair and replaced it with new and improved, scrawny little saplings.  Why?  Well, because they could I guess.  Because, based on the same display on intelligence of three sets of traffic lights within a three block radius on a very suburban bubble street, they have more money than they know what to do with.

No worries, I'm not about to get all Andy Rooney on you, but seriously, this has to raise a few eyebrows in my little league loving town, doesn't it?  I mean, I can't be the only one who finds this behavior a bit odd, can I?

It just makes me wonder if we, our sleepy little "bubble" in West Dallas, have this much money to throw around and time to kill, couldn't we find something better to do with both?  I can think of a few local causes and neighborhoods who could surely benefit from our need to spend money the bubble-fashion way......"we burn it."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crabitat for Humanity

So who would have thought that I would become a Hermit Crab lover?  Me....I'm sure the world's biggest arachnophobia, is now the proud owner of two Hermit Crabs.  Okay, well it's the kid who owns them officially but let's face it, when a ten year-old owns a pet, the parent "owns" the pet.

How could this happen?  Glad you asked!  You see, I took my daughter to Houston to visit where I grew up.  While on Mommy-Tour 2012, we made a stop at Galveston, my very favorite place to escape from the pressures of teenage life (go ahead, laugh....I'll wait).

On her first venture out into the ocean, I found myself a comfy spot on the beach and marveled at the pure joy my daughter was experiencing leaping over waves and crashing into the water.  She laughed and screamed as she performed this dance for about half an hour.  Suddenly, she jetted from the water and began stalking something on the sand.  You guessed it, her keen little eye had spotted something moving on the beach.

Now before you go on thinking I'm the coolest mom ever and I let her adopt a little dude she found lollygagging on the beach, know that he too must have spotted her and seen her coming because I can now say from experience, Hermit Crabs can move when properly motivated!  He was gone before she cleared the water.

Well being one not to disappoint, I figured why not try and fulfill what was surely her crab-destiny. So, off to the biggest tourist trap on the Galveston Coast.  We looked and studied the crab options carefully, watching for movement, learning about their personalities until settling on just the perfect specimen.  We bought a Sponge Bob painted crab (whom I'm told is a girl.....and no, I haven't checked).  We bought our tiny crabitat and headed to our hotel.  Much to my surprise, during a moment of post-purchase dismay while surfing the internet, Hermit Crab apparently like to travel in packs.  Yes, packs!  They are village people!

In the logic that only a ten year-old can employ, it was decided that we must stop at the nearest pet store immediately and purchase a friend as "If she is used to a pack, there's no way she'll make it all the way back to Dallas alone!"  And thus my traveling crabitat was born!  So my car, loaded to the brim with road trip supplies, a ten year-old, myself and two crabs snugged securely in their traveling cage, which was strategically placed allowing them the best view possible, hit the road for the long journey home.

Once we arrived, we set up a much larger crabitat and placed it on the island in the kitchen where all in the house could partake and marvel in the amazement that is the every day life of a Hermit Crab.  And I have to say, after two days of being with them, I have found myself making detours by the kitchen just to check on our new arrivals, Rusty and Willard (names in homage of Footloose no less). 

After watching them scamp about, climb on the fake plants and do what I can only imagine is something resembling playing, I believe I see now why they travel in packs, as I guess it's true, it does take a village.