Thursday, August 30, 2007

Farewell to Summer

This time of year is bittersweet for me. I love all the Back to School excitement, and I'm more than ready for a break from the heat, but there is always something sad about leaving summer behind. We had a full three months of summer vacation this year, and I thought I would be ready for it to end. But I wasn't. And as I look at my September calendar, already filling up with meetings and obligations, part of me regrets that those carefree days have passed.

The kids and I made a list this year at the beginning of summer break of all the things we wanted to do, and we hung it up on the refrigerator so we could check it off. It mainly consisted of things in the city that we hadn't seen yet or favorite places to go play. I'm proud to say we got quite a lot of them done.

So in honor of the first week of school, I'd like to submit my homework assignment:

What I Did This Summer
Slept late (till 9). Played in the back yard. Went swimming. Went camping at the beach. Went to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Went to dinner with some old friends. Went to a family reunion. Went to Grammy and Grandpa Carroll's house. Played with my nieces and nephews. Rode the train to the zoo (twice!) Rode bikes to the school parking lot. Chased fireflies. Ran a 5K. Played on playgrounds. Played at friends' houses. Had friends over to play at our house. Watched the sun set. Saw two rainbows. Played in rain puddles. Watched movies. Went hiking. Fed the turtles and ducks at the pond. Grew flowers in the front yard. Went to the mall playground. Taught the kids to swim. Stayed in my pajamas as long as I wanted. Went to some birthday parties. Made cookies. Enjoyed my family.

Tommy, Grace, Natalie, Katie, Will, Myatt, and Laura at the beach.

I think Laura says it best.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


My sweet friend Joy, of Course made me smile yesterday by linking this blog with her blog, so if you're visiting from there, welcome.

It occurred to me that I should probably have started off this blog with an introduction instead of just jumping in with the madness that is my life. So here are some random bits of information about me:

Let's see...I grew up in Suburbville, Georgia, (where I went to high school with Joy), and I lived in Charleston, SC for a long time, and I've also lived in the DC area. I have lived here in Suburbia, Texas for 2 1/2 years and I have arrived at my heart's home. I never want to leave. Texas seems to have that effect on people.

The main drawback of living here is that my family is really far away. I do a marathon drive out to Georgia every summer to visit, and I try to encourage (translate: beg) my sisters, parents, and in-laws to come out here whenever they can. I am bitterly jealous of friends that have their parents and siblings nearby, especially on holidays or days that I long to "drop the kids off at Grandma's", but thankfully I have been really blessed with a group of friends that have become like an extended family to me.

What else...I've been married for almost 12 years, and saying that makes me feel old...I had 3 children in 3 1/2 years in 3 different states, and while I recommend having 3 children, I cannot recommend the rest. I enjoy being a stay-at-home mom to them. They are one of the many huge blessings in my life.

I like hiking, camping, and chocolate. I dislike Jeff Wiggle, TBN, and Mexican food. I'm active in my church and I am the leader of my daughter's Brownie troop. I refuse to participate in the PTA for no reason whatsoever. I am also can I put this, I don't want to say cheap...bargain-oriented. My house is messy at all times. I can't stand being over-scheduled, but I usually am. I am a work in progress. I am obsessed with Big Bend National Park.

Well, that's me in a nutshell. Feel free to let me know how you feel about Jeff Wiggle or the PTA. I'm anxious to know where you stand.

Close encounters in the parking lot

My daughter is in first grade at the magnet school. Here in Texas, we have our regular, non-superior schools, and then we have our magnet schools. Magnet schools are for people like me who think our children are superior, and belong in a superior school, but we can't afford private school, so we pretend that the magnet school is just the best school ever. The main problem with the magnet school is that there really isn't any bus service, so I drive my daughter to and from school each day, along with 600 other parents.

Which brings us to the Car Pool Lane. The Car Pool Lane is where all of us parents of superior children sit and wait in traffic at our superior school. Every. Single. Day. Every single day, I drive the mini-van with my two preschool children to the Car Pool Lane at 3:15, and I sit in line and occupy myself for 20 minutes by either 1)reading, 2)people-watching, 3)telling the two preschoolers to stop fighting, 4)general musing, or 5)all of the above.

Today, I was doing a little musing, and a little people-watching, and I noticed a lady walking towards my car from the kindergarten carpool area. She was pretty, blonde, and petite, and she had her cute little girl by the hand. She walked over to the front left of my car and stood behind her behemoth SUV with her hands on her hips, surveying the scene. What she saw was wall to wall cars, lined up 20 deep, and no hope of backing her behemoth SUV out of its parking space prison. And mine was the first in the long line of cars blocking her way.

Obviously, this woman made a rookie mistake. I feel her pain, because I did something similar when my child was in kindergarten. She got there early and figured if she parked in this lot, she could avoid the kindergarten car pool lane, and that would enable her to sneak over there and pick up her child, driving away quickly and laughing wildly at all those suckers waiting in line. What she didn't realize was that she was planting herself right in the middle of the First Grade traffic snarl. Tough break, rookie.

So she eyed me warily, turned with a flip of her hair, hefted her child up, up, up, into the behemoth, then proceeded to climb up herself. Then this pretty little lady, I'll call her Ms. I-Have-One-Child-And-I-Need-To-Drive-An-Escalade-To-Keep-Her-Safe, proceeded to slap that car in reverse and start backing up.

Ms. Escalade, why? Where do you think you're going to go? Do you think that you can fit that gigantic thing into the 3 feet of space that you have to back up? I know you saw me here because you gave me the evil eye. Really, Ms. Escalade, this is beneath you.

For the next ten minutes (I'm not exaggerating, I timed it), she sat there with her behemoth in reverse, impatiently tapping those brakes, inching slowly back, coming closer and closer to the minivan.

Now, I want you to know something here. If I could have moved anywhere to let her out, I would have. I have no ill will towards Ms. Escalade. But I was boxed in on all sides, which she clearly saw, and there was nothing I could do but sit there and smirk at her. But I did it in the nicest way, I swear.

Well, finally the line moved, and the Escalade family fell in behind me. I guess she thought she was home free, but then I stopped my car and hopped out to wave Gracie down and help her into the car. Apparently it was too much to ask of Ms. Escalade that I could pick up my kid before exiting the parking lot. The minute I put it in park, she started honking and gesturing wildly. I wonder if she taught that sweet girl any new words. I couldn't read her lips, because the only thing visible above the steering wheel were those perfectly tweezed eyebrows, but I'm sure she had plenty to say.

I couldn't help but laugh at her second rookie mistake: When you have road rage in normal traffic, you are anonymous. When you have road rage in the Car Pool Lane, you have to see that same car every day until June.

Same time tomorrow, sweetie!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Banned from Petco

When Greg and I were newly married, we went to the pound to look for a puppy. We fell in love with a sweet little dog who had been shaved completely bald. In hushed tones, the workers explained to us that her abusive, neglectful former owner had allowed her fur to grow so tangled and matted, there had been no other choice but to shave her. The cruelty! We scooped her up, named her Molly, and vowed never to let that happen again. For years we kept her coiffed, beribboned, and smelling like baby powder.

Until we had kids. Then little by little, things like Keeping the Children Fed and Keeping the Children Clothed pushed Molly's hair care needs out of the family budget.

Today, eleven years later, I walked into Petco with the most matted, tangled, filthy dog they had ever seen. I quickly signed the paperwork, including a special form about risks for grooming exceptionally matted dogs, and ducked out of there in disgrace.

Okay, I'm a terrible dog owner. I admit it. She only goes to the vet when her shots expire, and I only take her to the groomer after she has started looking like a walking tumbleweed.

It's gotten to the point now that the poor dog never even gets her fur brushed (hence the giant dredlocks hanging off her tummy). I occasionally feel guilty about this, but quite frankly I have four heads of hair to brush every morning, and I just don't want to mess with hers. We have a pretty good arrangement now: I let her sleep behind the couch all day while everyone leaves her alone, and in return she tips the trash can over and rifles through it any time I leave the house.

It's working for us.

When I came to pick her up, she looked almost exactly like she had that day at the pound. A little fatter, slower, and crankier, but just as excited to leave that awful place. Just as I was about to walk out, the head groomer waved me down and lectured me sternly on how difficult Molly had been to groom.

Apparently, Molly was completely out of control. She snarled, she snapped, she dodged and darted and all the groomers had to stop their work to come and lasso her and hold her down and muzzle her. I was also informed that the next time she comes back, I will be charged a handling fee if it takes more than one groomer to control my little monster. And she was writing that in my file.

I apologized and made for the exit as quickly as humanly and doggily possible. I feel certain that they were in the process of printing my photo off the surveillance footage with the label, "WORST DOG OWNER IN THE WORLD" to hang on the bulletin board near the front.

So obviously, I'm now in the market for a new groomer. Hopefully one that uses sedatives. And maybe I won't wait so long before the next appointment.

The kiddos

The kiddos

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chrissyinthecarpoollane at g mail dot com.