Taking back the night… & GratiTuesday

A while ago, Justin Timberlake released a song called, “Take Back the Night.” I’ve been humming it all evening, because today, spurred by the almost-13 year old and his independent decision to join a club soccer team without the appropriate level of parental notice, I decided it’s time to “take back the night.” My night.
Lately, due partly to our family’s unique set of circumstances, I have donned a taxi cap for an average of three hours each afternoon/evening. This shoved back dinner, which shoved back the kids’ bedtimes…which began to monkey with that precious time later in the evening where Jeff and I can sit, talk and [gasp] actually have a conversation or watch a movie together. We don’t usually go out on weekends for actual “dates,” so that hour or two at the end of the day is truly important to us. It isn’t that I want to shortchange the kids, since sports are definitely a huge part of their lives, but we’ve fallen a bit too far out of whack.

And it’s time to (say it with me now) take back the night.

I am hopeful that very soon we can sit down with all parties involved, and outline a do-able calendar which allows them to participate in training sessions, while not disrupting every evening of the week. As with everything, there’s much to be said for moderation. And in this case, moderation seems to be the key for all of us to carry on happily.

GRATITUESDAY
Last week I dedicated GratiTuesday to my BFF, Maria, on her birthday. Today, I want to shift focus and express gratitude for the situations, opportunities and events that have shaped themselves into the story of my life. I’ve been a long-time believer in things happening for a reason. I now humbly acknowledge those “reasons” being part of God’s plan for me. I don’t know if it happens to everyone around middle age, but over the past couple of years, it feels like things are falling into place a bit more. Things feel “right;” as they’re supposed to be. To me? This is both comfortable and comforting. I am so extremely grateful for all of the blessings and gifts given so far. I eagerly and faithfully wait for what’s to come, as well.

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Look who’s back, and it’s GratiTuesday

I’m back.
While I could go into the myriad of reasons why I posted nothing for several months, I won’t. It’s a dizzying mix of busyness, hectic schedules, and the ever-present, nagging thought that constantly whispers, “you have nothing worthwhile to say” in my head. Well, I still may not have anything worthwhile to say,… but I’m going to say it anyway.
The holidays are now in the rear view mirror, and since December 26, we’ve been on a post-operative adventure with Jeff, after not one, but TWO surgical procedures within the same week. These procedures were opted for by choice, because that’s how we roll when we make good use of time off work. For two-and-a-half weeks, I have been Alpha Parent morning, noon and night — cooking, cleaning, driving, shopping, schlepping kids here and there, … generally running the entire show, whilst my Beloved rests and worries that he’s going to inadvertently ruin the surgeons’ best work.
We welcomed the return of school and a (somewhat) normal schedule last week, then received a prompt smackdown from nature in the form of two days off school because of cold. Yes, cold. It’s a thing in Indiana anymore. Just nod, smile and pretend you understand. So, three days of school, followed by four days off did nothing for the kids’ dispositions, because it wasn’t even like a snow day where they end up going outside to play in the snow that kept them home that day. Days off due to bitter cold (i.e., -30 wind chill) keeps everyone indoors, and just shy of the line at which you drive each other batshit crazy. Except for my family. We walk boldly across that line. March, really. Like a parade.
So, yesterday… Monday… began with fresh hope of a full week of school. Only we woke up to falling snow and a 2-hour delay. Fine. We can handle that. I can do a 2-hour delay standing on my head. On fire. The older kids dutifully caught the bus at 9a, while I readied the Kindergartener for his bus at 10. We waited at the bus stop until said bus was 40 minutes late, then I just went ahead and drove him to school myself. Apparently of all the days for the school system to pass up the option of calling a snow day, yesterday was the worst one. Cars and buses were sliding off the roads, accidents were happening and almost happening… it was awful. According to our local news, 40-some accidents were reported around town yesterday. Today, despite another arctic dip on the thermometer (currently 11, with a “real feel” of -6!) we were all in for school happening at regularly scheduled times. While I was glad for the return to the normal schedule, let me tell you something… 5:40a was so not my friend this morning. I actually sat on the edge of the bed for a minute or two, really kind of angry at being awake without the option to go back to sleep for an hour or two. Not even the promise of coffee downstairs would soften my mood, but I got up and went down anyway. Good thing I did, because actually having coffee in front of me did the trick. We all got up and on with our days – kids are at school, I’m at work and Jeff is probably slowly pacing the house since he still can’t drive anywhere, or even walk on snow/ice, for that matter.
All this to say that I completely understand how life can really get in the way of one’s self. Despite all my great intentions of finding time to write, I find that with our family and what we do, it’s not often I a.) find those rare moments to sit down and put thoughts to paper… or computer screen; or b.) don’t find myself completely exhausted at the end of most evenings, where staring at Facebook or Pinterest is about all I have energy for.
But that’s going to change. It has to.
For well over six months now, I’ve felt a renewed sense of faith and purpose – which can be both exhilarating and frustrating all at once. I have more positive, Christian influences in my life now, with life-changing potential than I feel I’ve ever had before. While some people may dismiss things like that with a wave of their hand, and chalk it up to simply “life,” I can’t. I think it means something. I believe it means something. I just haven’t exactly pinned down what that is yet… but I’m leaving myself open for it.
While I wait for this epic revelation, I decided I want to make a conscious effort to recognize and be grateful for various things in my life. Welcome to GratiTuesday. Each Tuesday, I am going to focus on one aspect, thing, person, whatever that I am particularly grateful for. For this, the inaugural GratiTuesday, I want to honor someone with whom I’ve shared a friendship for 34 years: Maria (Miller) Vreeke. Today is her birthday – exactly two weeks after mine (so she can only revel in being younger than me for 14 days each year) and I would like to express my extreme gratitude for our friendship. I have been fortunate to maintain a handful of close friendships throughout my life, and hers is one of them. Maria and I weathered junior high, high school, college, post-college, marriage, birthin’ babies, divorce (mine, not hers. Shout out to Mark for being a super husband to my bestie! Haaayyyyy!), remarriage (again, mine, not hers) and birthin’ of one more baby each to initiate us into the Mid-Life Mommy club. I love you dearly, Maria, and treasure all the years we’ve known each other. While time may pass between our visits, I know we’ll always pick up exactly where we left off, like no time has passed at all. I am extremely grateful for you, the influence you’ve had on my life with your wonderful Catholic self and all the laughter, joy and special memories we’ve shared. Happy GratiTuesday and Happy Birthday to you, Maria!