the healthy option

it’d been several months that i had been mad at myself, coming home from work, from a day filled with the energy of 10 year olds. i’d walk in, drop my gear on the kitchen table, turn on the television, and lounge on the couch with the intent to calm my mind for a bit. the problem was i’d feel myself sink lower and lower, and before i knew it, i was falling asleep.

so.

i made a statement, not only to myself but to rudy as well. ‘i want this tv gone, out of the house.’ by the next day i had moved it into the garage, where it sat unused. and then i transferred my after school activities to the kitchen table. the hard chair and tabletop  worked, for a while, until i reminded myself that while working on teacher work i could use my computer to watch… whatever.

bad.

several more months passed when i made another statement. ‘all i do is sit here and watch shows on Netflix. i’m kidding myself. i am losing it. not taking care of myself. i need a stand up table.’

‘huh?’ rudy grunted.

‘well, a desk. a desk i stand at instead of sit. it’s a healthy option.’

the thing is, as a teacher i walk around the classroom all day long. checking students work here, checking behavior there, and guiding lessons everywhere. by the time i get home, the steps i’d taken at work, about 6500, made me feel i’d earn sit-down time. but, i’d mistakenly believed sitting for the rest of the night made up for all the walking i did during the day.

wrong. i was feeling bloated.

so, i did a quick search of desks that you can work at while standing.

and boy, did i find a beauty. it’s called an UPLIFT DESK, made in austin, tx. the tabletop is made from reclaimed fir wood and comes with a controller (attached to the desk) to automatically adjust its height.

i’m in love.

plus, a new puzzle obsession has occurred, an activity that (both figuratively and literally) keeps me on my toes.

and.

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to add to all the joy i am feeling, i have set up the room in my house, the one with the wall full of windows and, more importantly, the light filled room surrounded by items given to me by my sister and my mom, two people who are on my mind daily, two people who continue to guide me and remind me about what’s important in life.

I. Am. Independent

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When I was 16, able to work, I immediately applied at McDonald’s. A local place up the street. A walk-to-work kind of place. I didn’t have a car (and wouldn’t buy one for another 3 years) but, I really wanted to express my independence, mostly to myself. I also needed to take the burden off my parents (even though they never ever made me feel like a burden) because I was growing up.

Still young, sure. But ready to conquer life. Ready to prove to myself that I could manage, regardless.

I love being able to take care of myself yet, the flip side, the (sometimes – a word given lightly) negative aspect of complete independence is never asking for help, not wanting to be a burden –

(and yes, I do note a theme here, not wanting to bother people.)

Interestingly, and it took a few years, the one place I am comfortable with others helping me is in the classroom. Kids are notorious for wanting to take the burden off the teacher, do small chores, help out whenever they can. I’ve learned to embrace such willingness. Their excitement surpasses my need to just do it all.

But to be fair, I don’t have a huge problem with the fact I don’t ask for help, which stems from my desire to be independent, because taking care of ‘whatever’ myself simply means I am in control, and more importantly, I know exactly what is happening. Which then rewards self-sufficiency.

I can live the life I do, the life I choose, on my own.

(Which, I must say, my mom would be proud. She always, as I began my relationship with Rudy, told me to make sure I could take care of myself, with or without him. That I must be a female who can stand on her own, rather than relying on anyone, especially a guy, to prosper.)

No truer words have been spoken, to me.

I. Am. Independent.

if only cats can talk

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I watched my black cat antagonize a fat lizard for a few minutes. Well, really, Cassandra was just playing, pawing the lizard every time it tried to escape. And then I watched Skyler, my other cat, as she ran over to investigate, to find out what the commotion was all about. I let the cats have a moment with the reptile, then I scooped up the colorful creature, and let it go through a hole in the backyard fence.
That had been twenty-four hours previous.
Twenty four hours later, I was feeling sick to my stomach wondering where Skyler was.
After the lizard drama, both cats ran off, in different directions, scouting the neighborhood, as usual. When the sun began to set, I walked out to the sidewalk in front of my house, and gently called their names. Cassandra, Skyler, I called in a singsong voice. The voice the cats trusted. Cassandra came running. Ran right into my arms. Then I called to Skyler, once again, as I walked back towards the front door.
Every twenty, or so, minutes I’d walk out to the sidewalk and call Skyler’s name. But to no avail. I spent the rest of the evening and all through the night calling to my shy, quiet, observant cat. In the wee hours of the morning I had resigned myself to believe that something had happened. Something bad. My sick stomach told me so.
But, I was wrong, because later that afternoon Skyler walked into the house wide-eyed and fearful. As if something had happened to her. Something bad. When she heard the natural stomp of a foot, she ran under the couch, as far back as she could tuck herself in. She jumped at every noise. Noises that she had become immune to. With gentleness, Skyler’s family welcomed her home, into their safety net. Allowing her to readjust, at her own pace.
The next morning, when I had opened the garage door, just enough for the cats to slip under, Skyler sat, and observed her neighborhood. Taking a moment to reflect on something. And then she slowly followed Cassandra out onto the grass, and watched as her sister caught another lizard.
If only cats can talk, I said to myself.

just do it

i have a pile of books to filter through. lessons to lightly write. work to get done. yet. here i sit. unwilling to get on-task. me. a teacher. always reminding my students to stay on task. to concentrate. to get their work done. but, i am finding that the task, though necessary, has not quite found its way into my educator thoughts.

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in a while, i will sit in front of those school books. those teacher’s manuals. and i will review. yes i will. because, review i must. for my own sanity. and to ensure starting the year off right, properly educating students. who will be depending on me to fill their days with classroom ooo’s and aaah’s, and just as important, life lessons.

but first, i need to sit here and think.

“mom, can we talk?” brad asks.
“yeah, sure,” i say, with a smile.

i guess my teacher tasks will have to wait even longer to imprint my brain with information.

This Child of Mine

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It’d been an exhausting week… Back in the 5th grade classroom. Dealing with excessive heat. Walking into a house without central air, a house that is just as hot inside as it is outside, with no relief. Not complaining, just stating. Weather in the triple digits is sure to zap anyone’s energy, so when I began to slide lower and lower into my favorite oversized chair, the one planted directly in front of the TV, I didn’t care that it was only 6pm. I was tired. Then,  5? 20? 45 minutes? later, all I remember, was Rudy saying “Hey,” as he walked in from work, rousing me from a light doze. “Oh, hey,” I responded, popping back into an upright position.

Several hours later, I lay down on my bed, ready for a much needed snooze-fest. And then there was a knock on the front door. For a minute I waited, assuming Rudy would answer but he didn’t. Maybe it was because he was in the garage and the knock was very light? Maybe he just didn’t hear it? But anyway, because it was after nine, I knew it must have been important, which meant I couldn’t ignore the knocking. I stood on tiptoe, looked out the small window in the upper portion of the door and saw a girl. I opened it, gingerly. Carefully.

“Yes?” I asked. She was young. Early to mid-twenties. Polite.

“May I speak with you?” she asked quietly, backing off a bit. I was confused.

“What is it?” I said.

“Please, can you come out here? I need to talk with you.” Now I was more confused, and becoming concerned, frustrated. Did something happen to one of my kids, and for whatever reason, she felt responsible?

“Who are you? What’s up? What do you need?” I questioned firmly. She walked toward me, holding her phone out, showing me a map, a white circle with a computer icon in it.

“Someone stole my computer and it’s showing that the computer is here, at your house.” She was so polite. So nervous, worried, concerned, and upset. I leaned in close to her phone and sure enough it was my address.

“I don’t want to press charges,” she continued, “I just want my computer back. I’m a student at Cal. State, Fullerton and I just bought the computer for school. I need it. Please.” Still confused about the situation, but understanding what she was asking me, I told her to hold on, that’d I look for the computer. I closed the front door.

I immediately walked into Bradford’s bedroom, pissed that my son could commit such an act. I called him. Yelled at him. Told him to tell me where the computer was. Not wanting to hear excuses or explanations I told him to “just tell me where it is!”

I handed it back to the girl, telling her I was sorry, that I didn’t know what was going on. I called Brad again, in front of her, did some more yelling then handed my phone to her and let her have her say.

“What the fuck!…” she began, then turned and looked at me saying “I’m sorry about the language…”

“No problem,” I responded.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” she admonished. Then she went on saying this and that, asking who, where, and why. When satisfied, she handed the phone back to me.

Turns out, it wasn’t Bradford who stole, not only her computer, but a backpack with her wallet in it along with all her expensive school books and other supplies. Turns out Brad happened to give the thief, a person he didn’t know aside from seeing him occasionally around town, a ride. The fact that the thief, sitting in the back seat, was holding a backpack, a computer, and an iPhone didn’t faze Brad. Until I “schooled” him, told him “No son of mine!” that he realized his mistake.

“Mom, this dude had that sh*! on him. He called me about 20 minutes after I dropped him off saying he had left it in the car and wanted me to take it out because it was so hot!”

I believed him.

Later that night, after giving a statement to the police, after learning the thief lived four doors down from the girl, she walked up to Brad and thanked him for helping her, that she was planning to “throw that guy’s ass in jail!” And then she looked at him, really eye-balled Brad and told him, like a parent would, that he needed to think about his choice in friends, about what he wanted in life, that he shouldn’t be around that kind of BS.

Brad nodded. “I definitely learned a lesson tonight. Thanks for believing me.”

“Thank you,” she said to me.

It was after midnight when I lay myself down to sleep. I closed my eyes but so many thoughts bounced inside my head. Thoughts about my child. My children. About lessons taught. Lessons learned. About me as a parent. I’m teaching the lessons and my children are learning the lessons, but how far do the lessons take them, to what extend? My only hope is that what I pass on to them instills the importance of thinking about their actions and how those actions effect others.

 

 

 

My Newfound Relationship with Doors

So, this past summer I did quite a bit of home improving, choosing to challenge myself with various projects rather than paying a professional to fix what needed fixing. Of all the projects – painting, landscaping, creating a minimalistic vibe (except for my new office space which is packed with my life, packed with everything important to me– it was the interior door(s) that gave me the most trouble.

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Interior doors, I thought would be the easiest project to tackle. In my mind, after researching ways to replace the doors I discovered the “Pre-hung Door”, which arrives in its frame, the hinges and the door handle (hole) already in place. All I had to do was set it into the opening, the spot in which I planned to replace the door. Easy, peasy. Right?

Wrong.

I ordered one door. For my ensuite bathroom. A test I had given myself. Could I do it? Actually replace an interior door? Why not? I asked myself. You’re self-sufficient.  Hanging a door, regardless of the fact you’ve never done it, should be a no-brainer. Right?

Wrong, again.

The door arrived wrapped in plastic. And, yes, without knowledge about what I was going to suffer through, I was excited.

… here’s the kicker, though… I thought the frame around the door was simply protecting it while traveling to my destination, to my home. So. What did I do? I unhinged the frame and tossed it.

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Literally. Threw. It. Away.

Then I “tried” to put the new door into the door opening, only to discover it didn’t fit.

I. Was. Confused. Frustrated. Didn’t understand.

Light cussing. Bad words. Sprang into the air.

Believe me when I say I went through quite a bit of turmoil trying to figure out where I went wrong. Even after watching video after video and reading information, nothing quite explained my problem. Until it dawned on me, several weeks later, that I had thrown out, not a protector piece, but an essential part of the door.

So, I leaned that door up against the wall in my room and I ordered another door (seriously, I didn’t want to build a new frame around the door. No way!).

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I bought two doors, actually. I figured, I got it. I CAN do it, now. All I had to do was measure the original doors, side to side, top to bottom, choose solid or hollow ( I went with hollow – cheaper and lighter weight ) order them online, and wait for them to arrive.

Arrive they did. A month later. Two doors. One for the bathroom. One for a bedroom.

Yet, my confusion simply deepened. I now understood I had to keep the frame, but Why the heck wasn’t it fitting into the opening where the new door was projected to thrive? And then, again, it dawned on me. I had to take out the original framework before installing the new pre-hung frame.

During this second round, I decided to first replace the bedroom door – a more urgent necessity – so I began ripping out the heavy-wooded frame, making a mess in the hallway. I then proceeded to “test” the pre-hung door, placing it into the now (wide-open) opening, happy that it fit.

Yes! Now I’m onto something, I told myself, patting my back. 

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Until I realize that the frame (around) the new door didn’t extend to the width of the original frame (built with the house). Meaning, There is (not was, is) plaster board exposure inside the bedroom due to an inch difference in frame sizes. Plus, I had to chop off part of the bottom of the door to avoid it from scrapping (which is par for the course). What I didn’t think about, though, was that by cutting off an inch I cut the entire solid portion (sort of a sealant within the otherwise hollow door), exposing its inside, which means if a spider happens to wander underneath, it would find a prime spot to lay its eggs.

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Aside from all my mistakes, the door is in. Not perfectly. And surrounded by crude, unfinished work. But for now I am done. And I will admit that the unfinished work does not bother me. I, for some odd reason, like the reminder of how hard working I can be.

But, at the moment, I am over replacing doors.

Over it, until next summer, that is.

In the end, the bathroom door will remain leaning against the living room wall, outside of its frame. And it will remain there. As will the one in my bedroom. Both are now part of my interior design, which are actually my new, pleasing-to-the-eye conversational pieces. Ironically, they look like planned art.

Sometimes the planned takes a turn and the unplanned becomes the focal point.

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the life and times of owning pets, and the reason i renamed my cats

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long ago, probably about five, six, maybe seven, eight years ago brad announced he knew someone, or talked to them in passing, or something, and mentioned that the person had told him about a cute, little, itty-bitty, barely-born, newly-arrived kitten.

he wondered if he could have it.

hum.

i have forever been opposed to pets because kids tend to think all they have to do is pretty much nothing. just occasionally (operative word here) engage with their newly obtained hobby. goldfish died due to an overload of food. while on the other hand, hamsters starved to death.

for me, it was too much to handle. little kids running around asking mommy this, mommy that, mommy, mommy mommy, which caused me to forget there was a pet in the house. i had tunnel vision. hence, supervised kids. unsupervised critters.

which meant no more pets. no. never. not on my watch.

until brad showed me, and roberto (a huge pet advocate), an adorable photo of the kitten he had mentioned. he caught me off guard. sly kid. the kitten’s big green eyes and fluffy fur was hard to resist, for all of us, apparently. please, please, please they both whispered, hands clasped into steeples, prayer-mode.

ok, i said.

say what? what did i say? i asked myself.

really?! they both screamed.

really, i mumbled.

as they were walking out the front door, i said, bring home two. (again, what the heck was going on with me?)

two? you sure?

yeah, you know, to play together.

within the hour they brought home Cassandra and Skyler (named later that afternoon by the boys). fraternal twins. one black, one multicolored. both with green eyes.

i was smitten.

still am.

roberto recently moved out and brad is a busy 17 year old. both engaged elsewhere, most of the time. so, aside from brad allowing them to sleep in his room, the girls belong to me. i tend to them 99% of the time, and i even renamed them. (the kids don’t know this, they’d probably think i’ve gone bonkers, but oh well, a caretaker’s got to do what a caretaker’s got to do, right?)

cassandra’s now-name is chicka-chicka-boom-boom (which, ironically, is the title of an adorable kid’s book about the lower case letters of the alphabet climbing a tree, thinking they know what’s what) because of her diva personality and i refer to skyler as skitter. so sweet, yet so nervous. she has never been able to fully relax.

ah, there she is. I can hear chicka-chicka-boom-boom’s deep guttural mew call me.  she wants in the house for a quick nibble of chow and a full-on vigorous back rub. she likes her cheeks gently caressed as well.

spoiled. i know.