Status Quo

We have settled back a routine, into a state of consistency and reliability, a rut. But a healthy rut. And one for which I will yearn in about 3 weeks when we are both in the thick of rehearsals and hating every minute of that. But work has calmed down. Fires have been put out and no longer require me to be at the office until 9pm or on Saturdays. I’m back to a manageable open position list and even have time to walk in the afternoon again. So I do.

I come home at about the same time and change into something more relaxing. I set up the Wii fit and start walking or running or hula hooping while Shoobs makes me dinner. I have been able to get about 20 – 30 minutes in consistently and that makes me feel good. I eat a healthy meal. Ever since our TN trip, Shelby has been super motivated to get healthier and so our meals usually consist of some combination of steamed cabbage, green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, cucumber, tomato, green onion, and either red beans, black beans, or baked beans. Sometimes there’s rice. Sometimes he has fish or lamb or whatever meat he found for $2 on manager special that day. And since he has amazing seasoning skills, everything is delicious.

And then we sit on the couch. And watch TV. Because while the computer was broken (which it is not anymore!!!!), we were so bored out of our minds staring at each other all night that we signed up for Netflix again. Every once in a while I get antsy and run up and down the stairs for a glass of water or a bowl of fruit. I’ll do some crunches or jog in place. But mostly I sit in front of Netflix and waste away the hours with the iPad, fixing up my farm or assigning tasks to characters or getting the best possible score in Tetris.

And then I go to bed (at like 10) and read a book, listening to Shelby clinking away in the kitchen, cleaning the HAZMAT area that was dinner prep. He checks on me at some point, pulls the open book from my lifeless hand and makes sure to mark my place. The lights go out. I wake up at about 2am to an empty bed and search for him, usually finding him folding laundry or cleaning something. My husband works the graveyard shift.

And then it starts all over. It’s mostly comforting, and mostly boring. Sometimes I want to institute a mandatory date night each week, but we try and find at least one thing different to do each week anyway. I’m playing hooky next week so we can go to the beach for a day. This week we baked together (last night). Last week was his birthday party.
And like I say, by mid-August we will both have separate rehearsal schedules for separate productions and will wish we had 30 minutes to sit with each other on the couch, let alone a whole evening.

There and Back Again – A Daughter’s Tale

While a typical day at the in-laws (on this vacation) may see Shelby slumbering sweetly in his room, brother 1 watching sports “with” dad in the TV room, brother 2 walking and/or privately fighting with new wife, teenagers sequestered in Netflix and texting, and me sitting quietly on the porch watching my MIL smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, a typical day at my parents house is anything but quiet.

Well, I take that back. The first three days were pretty quiet. The rest of the family was coming in for the 4th, so it was just Shelby and me. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense for us to drive the 6+ hours to our house for a few days just to turn around and drive the 8ish hours back, so we just connected our trip with a few days of alone time with my parents. I was working. Legitimately, remote office, commandeer father’s computer working. It was equal parts awful and awesome. I got to roll up in my PJs every day, had my dad bring me coffee and toast, took long breaks, and still got an amazing amount of stuff done.

But then, the crew started arriving and quiet time got a lot more raucous. My parents are young-ish. Their oldest child is 35. Their oldest grandchild is 6. They are active. Their children are active. Their grandchildren are active. If it wasn’t a massive effort to build the coolest race-track in history for the recently four year old boy, it was teaching the 6 year old that piano is cool, especially when played loudly. Any manner of soccer, football, and Frisbee were played in the yard and on the X-Box at all times. When the boys under 10 went to bed, the boys over 20 played the shoot em up games that were forbidden earlier in the day. Great efforts were made to coordinate dinner as a family, even in the mall parking lot where we watched the fireworks. This includes the recently-eating-solids-baby that also required spoonfuls of colored goo at each meal.

And while this may not seem relaxing to most, the amount of love, attention, and consideration that I get from being surrounded by my familiar siblings is some of the best medicine. I get to share in the joy of the nephews while not being solely responsible for their Super Awesome Fun Time. I can sip wine and commiserate with my girls about Work, and Life, and Stuff.

And then it was over. And we had our epic drive back to NC (during which, I am happy to report, the cat did not pee on anyone!) to our clogged garbage disposal, humid house, and comfortable home.

There and Back Again – A Wife’s Tale

I have finally returned home from my epic journey this summer. Two weeks away from the broken computer, the floundering water heater, and the office (sort of) have rejuvenated me somewhat. I have often noticed the difference between my family and others’, this particular trip highlighted those differences much more clearly. Allow me to explain.

Week 1 my husband and I journeyed to his parents’ home. We joined 2 of his brothers and their children (and one new wife) in the annual summer get-together. My parents are only a few hours away, so they joined us for the end of the week before we packed up and headed to their house for week 2.

His parents are older, late 70s early 80s. Their youngest child is roughly 10 days away from being 38. Their youngest grandchild (so far) is a 14 year old girl who lives in California. They are quiet people. They have lake front property, but they are situated on the end of a cul de sac of the water, what is that called? An inlet? Anyway, not on the main lake so only the frightfully lost or the quiet fishermen make the water ripple. He lowers the boat once a year when the family converges on him in the summer. They spend most of their time staring out the window or sitting on the back porch. My FIL can tell you the traffic pattern of every animal that traipses through his backyard, the quantity, and what time to expect them. He notices if they don’t turn up. The bird feeders in his backyard are filled with just the right amount of food that will attract the right birds. After lots of trial and error, he has the feeders dangling far enough away from the trunk of the tree so the squirrels can’t get at the seed, yet low enough that he can reach them with minimal effort. The strings are covered in PVC so squirrels will plummet to the ground if they try to shimmy down. (He has spent the last 10 years trying to rid the valley of squirrels.) He is a creature of habit. He knows everyone in town and they know when to expect him, just like the wild turkeys and deer that traipse through his backyard.

There are many things I find to be absolutely perfect about this scenario. I love sitting on the enormous back porch listening to the rain or reading a book. We had a few good nights of discussion and storytelling and one night of singing and strumming. I’ve been part of the family long enough that I don’t feel awkward or out of place talking to his parents alone, though his brothers still make me a little nervous. His mom makes special efforts to make nice breakfasts everyday and there are enough people scattered about that everyone can feel comfortable doing their own thing without guilt.

However, there is absolutely nothing else to do. Wal-Mart is at least 30 minutes away. The highest excitement is getting to drive to the Piggly Wiggly in town. It was only last year that the eldest child broke down and bought his parents Wi-Fi. The year before that, Shoobs and I replaced their ancient TV. Otherwise, it’s the boat or nothing. This year we came equipped with board games, decks of cards, and enough wine to limber everyone up a bit and that seemed to help. We miraculously got the 14 year olds engaged in some board games instead of hiding in their room watching Netflix on their iPads with ear buds in texting each other from across the bed. I count that as a win!

I do feel some amount of guilt about the breakfast situation. They are early risers. My FIL goes to bed at 7pm if that gives you any indication. So they wake up and have their breakfast. I try not to sleep in too late so I am usually up around 8:30 or 9. At which point, a second breakfast is made. Specifically for me. Regardless of who else may be awake. She actually made an announcement in the TV room one day that she was making breakfast especially for me and no one else. She made 12 blueberry biscuits, scrambled what had to be 5 eggs, and had out fruit salad, toast, butter, strawberry jam (made from scratch) and a variety of juices. I had eaten so much over the last few days that I really just wanted to fade into the background and maybe eat a banana and call that breakfast, but I ate what was prepared for me since her sons have no qualms about hurting her feelings.

This is getting to be longer than anticipated, and I have an interviewee waiting for me, so I will wrap this up for today and continue my tale later.