Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Just Another Christmas Memory

Me (to oldest child): What should I write about on my blog today?

Him (takes huge bite of cereal): I don't know.

Silence hangs. A couple of years ago I would have received thirty crazy ideas for what to write about. Aliens taking over the world, if all our furniture came to life, how you cut your arm and had to get stitches. I take a picture of the cat and post it on Instagram. I notice that my Instagram feed is becoming a series of pictures of our cat. Oh well. Some people like cats I guess.

My coffee is cold. I warm it up; it's almost 6:45 and the youngest child isn't out of bed yet. I don't blame her. Every day they get up, go to school, have after school activities, and then come home and do homework. It's your job, I say when they complain. Find the good. You're building a knowledge base and expanding your brain power. You see your friends. School is fun.

I know it's a lot. They are used to it, can handle it. Just like I handled it for years.

These kids are growing up and out. Few weekend nights find all four of us under the same roof. They make plans, only need my driving services and spending money and the occasional help with arranging carpooling. Can you find a ride home? I ask more than I ever thought I would. Not long ago I'd set up the activity and arrange it all behind their backs and let them know what was going on.

Now they are reminding me what is going on.

* * *

It's Christmastime and our house isn't decorated because holiday decorations get in the way of house projects. We planned it like this, even though we didn't really think about what Christmas without a Christmas tree would look like, would feel like. It's strangely freeing. My daughter noted that it's hard to imagine that it's Christmas because we don't have those markers of the season in every corner of our home. She wasn't complaining. It's Christmas everywhere; you just can't see it. I turned the Christmas music up on the radio after she said that.

It's nice, having teenagers. Nobody says it. But it is. They are the babies we watched grow. They are our family, our people. They have their own opinions and thoughts and personalities and they surprise us with what they know and frustrate us with what they haven't yet learned. I like seeing their two- and five- and ten-year old selves in their words and actions today. I like having a holiday marker like Christmastime to remember how life looked in the past, to think about how much they've grown, how much we've all changed.

It doesn't really look like Christmas, it's true. There's plastic sheeting making a division between the dusty and non-dusty sides of our house. We have caution tape instead of stair railing, boxes of supplies where our Christmas tree usually stands. I found the Santa hats and hung them on a chair.

It's okay. We are making memories, as they say. This is the year we did house projects instead of decorate for Christmas. When our teenagers are all the way grown, it will be just another blip in their conversations when they remember Christmases past. This one will come up and they will remember how Mom and Dad made the questionable decision to do home construction over the holidays.

Hopefully I will be there to defend our decisions. To say it didn't really matter. To remind them that we still had Christmas, even though it didn't really look or feel like it.

I think they will agree.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Let it be known that around here, we don’t do anything quickly.

Getting out of the house is a major chore. We say “Be in the car at one o’clock” and there are people still sitting around in bare feet and sauntering into the bathroom at 1:08. There are some things that you just can’t teach to another person, and one of those things is moving in a timely manner.

Two years ago we realized that our upstairs carpeting was in disrepair and it needed to be replaced. We decided on hardwood, to match the downstairs. We sort of haphazardly shopped around for the flooring, casually figured out how much it would cost, and talked about replacing the carpeting in the way that people talk about their dreams for the future, or losing ten pounds, or going to Alaska.

We just sort of went about life, and tromped on the old worn-out carpet and vacuumed it and spilled on it as usual. We painted some walls and figured we were going to replace the carpet anyway so we didn’t bother with drop cloths and you should have seen the huge glob of paint that I spilled the one day the paint tray tipped over when I wasn’t paying attention.

Finally we got up the nerve to go to the store and ask them to help us measure for our new flooring and a guy came out and measured our whole upstairs with a laser and it took him ten minutes and I thought what a job that guy has because I paid thirty-five dollars for that, I wonder if that thirty-five dollars goes into his pocket because he could make like two hundred dollars an hour if he didn’t have to drive all over town.

Really I was thinking eleventy billion dollars an hour because I’m not that great at quick math and that’s obvious because I couldn’t even figure out how to measure for flooring and that’s why I had to pay someone else thirty-five dollars to do it.

We ordered the flooring and then promptly ripped up all of the carpeting ourselves because we might not be able to measure for flooring but we can surely do a disgusting job like rip up carpeting and the amount of dust underneath was eye-popping and I felt like a housekeeping failure. There was even a huge bloodstain underneath the carpet in one of the rooms - spot remover works amazingly well on carpet but not the underside or padding - and I was glad that I didn’t have to explain THAT to anyone. And we rolled up all the carpeting and the padding and duct-taped it in rolls and deposited them on the side of our house and it looks so pretty.

You're welcome, neighbors.

And then we got a notification that the flooring was on backorder.

Backorder as in, oh, your floor will be in in two weeks instead of one, and then another week, and then we’re not really sure, and then the calls stopped coming. And then I called and they said they’d bring some of it by soon.

So now it’s December and we’re living on sub-floor which is not as cold as ceramic tile but pretty dusty even though it's been swept and vacuumed and even lightly sponge-mopped and we’re wearing shoes upstairs which previously was a big fat NO and it’s hilarious when the first article you put on in the morning or right out of the shower is shoes. It’s pretty inconvenient, but still hilarious.

I have informed my family very gravely that we will not be decorating for Christmas in the traditional sense so don’t mention it because the idea of not being able to spend quality time in front of the Christmas tree this year is wearing hard on me already and I don’t need any extra grief. We’re talking quality time, people. Like hours and hours reading and remembering past Christmases and having Bing Crosby and Vince Guaraldi lull me into a stupor while I stare at the twinkle lights Quality.

So we’re waiting. And it’s hard. And I’m not sure when it will be completely finished, and my mind immediately goes to crazy stories about people who live in houses that are only half done because their contractor ran off to Vegas to gamble all their remodeling money away. But I try not to think that way. After all, waiting around is what we DO. You know, because we’re slow and all.

But still.

Shoes right out of the shower, you guys.