Friday, October 26, 2012

And then again...

Y'all know it's not truly a calendar that saves the day nor a 'smart'phone that simplifies your life. Right?

I'm just late to this party, this realization, this evolution of humanity, and I want to be clearer than I was in my last post: I only write about my calendar because it's a breakthrough for me. All of you, dear readers, are waaaay ahead of me in figuring out that I am a flake-with-a-capital-reschedule when left to my own brain's ability to multitask.

(Have I mentioned that multitasking is the evil of our generation?)

Until a couple of years ago, I thought the calendar and the electronic gadgety things that start with "I" or that have a name that came from Startrek or Star Wars (or was it Dancing With the Stars? Android? His quick step was ah-MAY-zing.) were fine for people with high-pressure, deadline-oriented lives. In fact I lived by my Daytimer (TM) and my pager (ha!) while working in publishing and this is a gift to you, this giveaway about how long it's been since I was a professional person. And my years in real estate sales (shudder here) were ruled by a cell phone and the electronic mail, the fax machine, the clients' calendars, the banks' calendars.

So I know from schedule stress and I thought my stay-at-home, homeschool self should just be able to keep it in my head. You know? The lessons and doctor appointments, the veterinarian and farrier visits, the gym times and my husband's duties on local committees and commissions.

I thought pretty highly of myself and I feel better now that I've reduced that opinion. I sleep better. It's simpler, even though it's a crazybusy life we lead.

Thanks. I needed to post that.

Meanwhile I must take the applesauce out of the canner because one of my four timers went off while I was typing. And case in point: I have four timers while only three calendars (wall, phone, purse). I have four timers because I am easily distracted and things can burn and a timer means "pay attention," it's time to [use your imagination, something urgent usually, or else just the end of someone's screen time or the dog's outdoor 'bathroom' break]. I have four timers because my memory is fallible, short-term and long-term. I forget. It happens.

And skirting and the edge of my no-politics-on-interwebs rule: Please remember to vote.

Perhaps put in on your calendar.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Look! It's autumn. Or: Still peaceful, happily surprised

Madeleine took this picture at the dedication of a local park (engineering done by Mr. Suite!). And then we rode in the balloon. A Very Good Day.
Over the summer we took approximately forty-nine trips to the river, "rednecking it" with our lawn tractor trailer full of toddlers and inner tubes and a cooler full of pb&j sandwiches, iced tea in Mason jars.

For the first two weeks of October we left the flotation devices and life jackets and whatnot accessible. "One more swim" was still possible. Beach books still resided in go bags. Sun tea was even an option because we still had, you know, sunshine.
Salvador has discovered his pockets. So boy.
Now that the rain is here and our stove is crackling with flames that fog up the viewing glass I am almost instantly ready where I wasn't before. I didn't see this coming, and the surprise is a little burst of joy over and over. Fall. How is it possible to be taken unaware by a season one has loved for 40 years? I think it's a bonus, a little-known side effect of that cliched but wonderful practice of "living in the moment."

Come to find out I like the NEXT moment a lot better when I enjoy the one I'm IN well.
The tractor races at Farm Suite's front room always draw a big crowd. Scalewise anyway.
When Madeleine, our nearly 14-year-old, was a tiny baby, we were unfortunately anxious. (Royal we again.) When is the next feeding? How long will she sleep? Should she sleep that long? Can we grocery shop between naps or let her sleep in the car? We missed a lot of joyful moments, I fear, in the practice of scheduling and looking for what was next.

Our schedules today, as I go on and on about here, are ever-so-Seussian muchly much much more busier than that. (The house it often looks like it was visited by the Cat in the Hat.) On a daily basis our calendar is so full as to give me hiccups if I look toward what is next, or worse, how many/few minutes we have to prepare for "what's next." Algebra, chemistry, literature, ballet, tap, jazz, modern dance, flute lessons, community theatre rehearsals... they all go better with a cup of tea and my full attention. The next will come around in its own time.

And just in case you ever struggle, as I have for years, with how to do that, how to be fully present and still be ready when the agenda switches up, I want to share the logistical, completely non-spiritual tool that has helped me achieve a little bit of peace in apparent chaos.

It's a calendar. In my purse I keep an old-fashioned appointment calendar. I also have it hand "synched" to my phone and kitchen wall and computer calendars. Even though I resisted this system for years, preferring in my fantasies to think I was better unencumbered by such mundane tools, I actually feel much more FREE having it all written down, keyed in, cross-referenced.

My little purse calendar saves the double-booking disasters and saves my life. (We also have a newer launch pad system of dance bags, snack bags and whatnot that I think you can probably imagine better than I, and this is instrumental in the new peace system as well. I might write about that later but I'm not very predictable in the posting. Maybe I should put blogging in my calendar. A-hem.)

Does jazz start at 3:00 or 3:15 on Mondays? Would we be able to pick up an extra child in the carpool next Tuesday? Can we move flute to Friday at 4:00? In five seconds I can answer and I don't have the anxiety that comes with the not knowing, the must-remember-to-check.

When I get an email tweaking rehearsal schedules I transfer the new information to my calendar(s). When the girls get invitations to parties I write the time and contact info in my calendar. When I make my weekly menus I write them in my calendar.

The calendar saves us from the fast-food drive-through, which my kids and wallet dislike strongly, on nights when there's no time to go home for dinner between dance and theatre. I can plan ahead for portable meals for my actors and snacks for the rest of us. I can reasonably tell my dear, patient, already organized since birth engineer husband what time we will be home.

Don't get me wrong: I still struggle with busy-ness. But it seems somewhat manageable this way and I can even feel free to be happily surprised by something as small as a "divine appointment" with a friend at a coffee shop or something as huge as the change of seasons.

Now to go deflate the inner tubes. Because, friends? It's raining outside.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If you're busy and you know it

It's been a little while since we looked in the attic.
It will be a library. Soon. And that is a (not-plugged-in?) power tool next to the baby. Just sayin'.
Because September and October are the real months of summer in Western Oregon, we are still harvesting. Just last night I brought in the last of the tomatoes under threat of frost. We haven't finished picking blackberries yet, but I do believe that'll be this week. And just one more apple tree still holds fruit, which we hope to core and peel with my super-duper thirteen-dollar gadget as we did the apples from the first two trees. Applesauce is our friend, my friends.
Late in the summer we took a little trip with Grandma and Papa to the butterfly garden and the adjacent Fort Umpqua, the southernmost Hudson Bay trading post to view the in-progress buildings and gardens. Summer school. Who knew?
And Mr. Suite and I went to a Jimmy Buffet tribute band concert in some friends' back yard. I never laughed so hard. Ever. Highly recommended.

Madeleine and Sarah are back in the dance of things, with ballet, jazz, modern and tap filling six afternoons a week. Oh, and hip hop on Fridays. I don't want to talk about it.Grace dances too: ballet and tap and jazz. Laura just moves creatively in a preschool dance class one day a week and Sal waits (more or less) patiently for everyone elses' classes from 2:30 until 5:30 most afternoons. Thank goodness for the Legos in the waiting room.

We are busy and it's still somehow peaceful. How did this happen? I think it's all about perspective and intention, which I fully intend to write about here once I stop writing about it for a national magazine. YIKES. (Mommy's busy too.)

Oh! I almost forgot: Madeleine auditioned for the community theatre's holiday season production of Willy Wonka, where she won two roles: Oompa Loompa and a candy shop child whose name I can't recall. She is super disappointed that the OLs will not be face-painted orange. Rehearsals 6:30 until 9 most nights.

Meanwhile we continue to learn and grow at the school table most mornings from 8 until noon. I thank God for homeschool, among many reasons but front of mind today is because one afternoon a week we pick friends up at the middle school for tap dancing class and that carpool line is brutal.

Sarah is working for Grandpa at his office, performing hard labor at her own initiative in pursuit of an electronic gadget that starts with an "I," one morning a week. She still plays flute and her private lessons directly follow working for Grandpa. Well, they directly follow the Dutch Brothers coffee stop that directly follows me picking her up from Grandpa's office.

Circling back to dance (as every day does around here): Sarah and Madeleine will both perform in the Nutcracker Suite this year. Sarah is a Chinese tea dancer and Madeleine a Spanish flamenco dancer. Rehearsals ramping up soon.

To fill the waiting time I have my laptop and my embroidery. A little knitting. And I'm tired, but it's a good tired, you know?