Ramadan 1438 (2017)

Well, in sticking with my usual Ramadan traditions, breakfast was LATE on the first night this year, too. I had big plans, people. BIG plans. We had the dates soaking in milk for about 13 hours. We had freshly made mango juice. We had hummous and baba ghanouj and I even remembered to have my husband bring bread home with him…because I always forget it. We had the coffee pot set up and ready to brew. I had found a recipe for making spiral-cut parmesan baked potatoes and had them ready to go. I had pulled the ribeyes out of the freezer before noon to thaw and since it was 40 billion degrees outside, I decided we’d grill them in the oven instead of any of that charcoal grill nonsense. And I made Brussels sprouts. I should have gone with the charcoal grill.

The stupid meat would not freaking cook. They’re steaks. I’ve made them at least 4000 times in my life time. WHY? What gives? The physics in my oven just decided to go on strike? AUGH! I don’t know what was going on there….but it was terrible. We had all the sides and juices and salads. But no meat until 9:00 when they finally finished cooking. And they were terrible. I was so sad that, of all the traditions, being late with dinner on the first night of Ramadan was the one that I managed to keep. *sigh* Oh, well.

Today I took the meat out of the freezer at 10 a.m. I’m going to start cooking at 3 p.m. And all I’ll have left 40 minutes or so before the sundown is to make a pot of rice and to turn the coffeepot on. Now if I could just remember this lesson on the first night of Ramadan 1439, I’ll be in good shape.

Ramadan Mubarak.

رمضان مبارك

 

Overbooking and Aging

I’m not really old. But I’m no Spring chicken, either. And for those of us who have been in the “over achiever” category all our lives, this whole aging thing is just ass-kicking. No, not a little tiring. I mean, beat-down with a baseball bat, friggin’ leaving you taking 3-hour naps in the middle of the day, exhausting.

When I was 18, I lived in an apartment with my sister. We both worked several jobs in order to pay the rent, utilities, phone bill, gas/maintenance on our cars, and our part time college tuition and books. And by several jobs, I mean that we were like that overworked family from the West Indies whose members all had multiple jobs on “In Living Color.”  I remember at the time working 5 days a week for my office day job from 7:30 am – 4pm and then from 5- 9pm bagging groceries on Ft Meade 3 days a week, answering the switchboard at (the now closed) Laurel Toyota and Jaguar in Laurel, Maryland from 4-9pm twice a week and all day Saturday and loading boxes onto trucks for E.I.Kane Office Movers on Sundays and days off with the other jobs. I sometimes worked overtime at my day job watching over contractors to keep them out of the “off-limits” corridors or working for our own internal office movers.

The older I got, the more part-time jobs I held down after my day job. I worked as a cashier
for Rite Aid, Romano’s Restaurant, (the now closed) Rumblefish Nightclub, Damon’s Ribs (closed down within a year of my leaving allegedly due to the owner embezzling), and various babysitting jobs, tutoring jobs, and once as a free-lance maid.

Once I got married and had kids, part-time jobs were a thing of the past. I couldn’t juggle all the schedules of five children and work plus a second job. So I made up for the “not enough to do” feeling by over-achieving at housework and cooking. I learned to sew. I would scrub down the walls and shutters and windows every month. I would scrub area rugs and wipe down cupboards and appliances. I scrubbed floor tiles and hung my laundry out to dry on the line.

I’m in my 40’s now. Screw all that shit. I keep a tidy house…mostly. I still cook amazing foods…because we can’t afford to feed a family of seven at a restaurant frequently. I now over-achieve by volunteering all the time and this Summer, my kids decided to kill me slowly by signing up for Summer School to take accelerated Physics and Geometry. That would be fine ordinarily….except they signed up for different sessions. The two taking accelerated Physics took it in the first session. The one taking accelerated Geometry signed up for the second session. Ugh. Also, the two that took the first session now both have jobs so I feel like I’m constantly behind the wheel of a car. My rotator cuff is threatening to go on strike…permanently, due to all the gear changing and u-turns required in a car that does not have power steering.

I’m currently attempting to set up 3 different fundraisers for a non-profit organization and I’m running into brick walls while trying to meet the deadlines I set for myself thanks to all the driving. Today was supposed to be a “get the house CLEAN clean” while the kids were at work and school. I ended up losing in a battle of wills with my bed that kept taunting me. I took a 3 hour nap.

I think I’m just going to admit that I’m too old to take on all of the things like I used to do. The sooner that my family can just learn to applaud when I’m able to fold and put away a basket of towels AND get the dinner made, the better. And so what if I’m getting all this accomplished while still wearing pajamas? At least I remembered deodorant and I’m remembering to put actual pants on before going grocery shopping. What more do you people want?!

 

Fifty

He turned 50 yesterday. He was working out of town and didn’t get home until really late. The children were all asleep as they had final exams today and needed the rest. I sat with him for a little while, fighting to keep my eyelids open. Five o’clock in the morning comes so fast. I wished him a happy birthday and went to bed.

And I left to take care of paperwork in the counselor’s office at the school this morning, just after he poured his first cup of coffee. The kids got out early after exams, so the girls and I talked it over and decided that we’d have a surprise party for him tonight when he got home. The boys all agreed it was a good idea. The kids blew up over 60 balloons and hung a banner and we got him a cake. And a card. And a 5 and 0 candles so that we didn’t have to disconnect the smoke alarm before singing “Happy Birthday” to him.

And I looked at the 5 and the 0 candles and thought, “50? That’s half a century! Where did the time go?” And I looked at my “children” ages 15-20 and see exactly where the time went and how much fun it has been along the way. And I asked myself if I’ll ever willingly admit that he’s only two years older than I am and that I will soon be half a century old…..Nah.

And then I smiled. His AARP membership card should arrive any day now and just think of the discounts we’ll be eligible for not that he turned 50 yesterday!

20160527_223616 (1)

 

Oh, I Like This

I just tried this Chobani Coffee Blended Greek Yogurt.
I licked the plastic container clean and I don’t care who knows it.

 

And I’ll do it again. That is all.

Her Typical Morning

She reaches over and grabs her cell phone to turn off that annoying bubbling brook ring tone that she has set for her alarm. She tries to set the phone down quietly but misjudges the distance from her hand to the the night table and it lands with a loud thud, causing her husband to grunt, turn over and yank the covers from her. He immediately begins to snore again softly. She clumsily feels around on the low table for her glasses, bumping into OTC pain relievers, half-read books, a straightening iron her daughter never put away, and a small bottle of personal lubricant. On the 14th drop of her hand, she lands the glasses and shoves them unceremoniously onto her face, unsure why she needed them since she can’t see squat at 5:30 a.m. when it’s still dark.

She does the morning ablutions, prays, and shuffles into the kitchen and turns on the coffee pot that was prepared the night before. She starts the morning bathroom line-up by staggering the wake up of teenagers, two at a time, keeping them moving and focused on their next task like a well oiled machine. Between 6 and 6:45, she is able to get 4 high school students up, dressed, fed, loaded with correct backpacks and clean gym clothes, signed permission slips, and requested additional school supplies, out the door and on the correct buses. She wakes up the college student who spends exorbitant amounts of time in the bathroom and then ties up her walking shoes and heads out the door.

She’s got a family history of heart disease and has decided that this is the year to face facts. She’s fine with her curves and is old enough to know that that tag in her jeans is just a size and not a definition of her character. She just wants to feel healthy and working out is the only way to get that feeling. Also, it’s the only “ME TIME” that she is able to afford. She plugs in her earbuds and turns on her eclectic playlist and walks as fast as she can to her favorite songs; some heavy metal, some pop, some old school rap, some pseudo-country. She doesn’t care about the labels; only the best 8-count to keep her heart rate up. She warms up by walking the first 0.8 mile with a quick stride and then continues this pace with boxing moves to keep her arms and torso in shape for the next 0.6 mile walked. She completes the remaining 0.8 mile with the same paced stride all the way back home. A quick shower and she’s handing her husband his coffee and hanging with him on the back porch while he performs his morning wake up ritual with caffeine and nicotine.

It doesn’t seem like much, does it? A 40-minute plus shower routine to break up the morning and motivate her is all she needs to be able to get that self-preservation of mind and body that aids her in continuing her service to family. Keep it up, woman! You kick that heart disease gene right in the ass! Live healthy. Feel good.

Really?! Another 19 Days?

So,  I was in the zone yesterday. I got up relatively close to on time and got the two high school juniors up and dressed and  out the door. We raced over to my best friend’s house and picked up her daughter (also a junior) and dropped her off  at volleyball practice. My kids and I drove as close to 15 miles per hour as 30 mph would allow, found a parking place in the  visitors lot and raced inside to register them for school. “It’s next Tuesday, Mrs Mohamed,” said the security guard.

Damn. Me and my wishful thinking.

Athletic Cholos, Binary Code, and Thunderstorms

This morning I was going a special kind of nuts. No one reason in particular. More like several particular reasons. It all started last night when I decided that it wouldn’t be so bad if I stayed up and watched just one more episode of “Burn Notice” on Netflix. Since I slapped the snooze on my alarm clock twice and overslept by 40 minutes this morning, I’m here to tell you YES. It actually IS so bad if I stay up and watch just one more episode of “Burn Notice” or any other show on Netflix. Binging on streamed television means purged energy that a caffeine IV drip cannot replenish. It’s just bad for the whole mom gig when I don’t get at least 6, preferably 7 hours of sleep. The exhaustion affects everything from completed tasks on the to-do list to rational thought.
After getting the first 3 kids out the door and onto 2 different buses, I decided to start a load of clothes while my husband had his morning coffee and cigarette on the back porch. I noticed some dirty clothes had already been tossed into the washer, so I turned on the light to see what was in there before bleaching someone’s pants or turning white t-shirts a lovely shade of pink. I did not recognize the football jersey…or the size XL drawstring shorts….or the polo-style shirt….or the black and white and beige plaid short-sleeved button down shirt that was only buttoned AT THE COLLAR…. HOLY CRAP! MY HOUSE WAS BROKEN INTO BY AN ATHLETIC CHOLO WHO DOESN’T HAVE ACCESS TO A LAUNDRY FACILITIES!!!!! That’s ridiculous. I kicked the beds of my third and fifth children.  “WHICH ONE OF YOU TWO BROUGHT HOME SOMEONE ELSE’S CLOTHES FOR ME TO WASH? DO YOU REALLY THINK I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH LAUNDRY IN A FAMILY OF SEVEN?  DO I LOOK BORED TO YOU?”
The 14-year old, who has been suffering lately from “I-can-say-whatever-the-hell-I-want-itis” opened one eye and asked, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m going to forgive that lapse in conversational judgment because you just woke up so suddenly”, I replied. “Whose clothes are these?”
My 16-year old said, “I don’t know.” The 14-year old said he also didn’t know and went back to sleep. The Athletic Cholo Theory didn’t seem so bizarre anymore. I ran out the back door with the smelly foreign clothes in my hand.
“Please tell me you know the story behind these,” I begged my husband.
He looked at me, annoyed that I was all crazed at this hour and only half a cup into his caffeine/nicotine ritual.
“A guy at work gave them to me because he thought the boys could wear them.”
“YOU CAN’T JUST SURPRISE ME LIKE THAT AND TOSS UNKNOWN  CLOTHING INTO THE WASHER AND NOT TELL ME ABOUT IT! I THOUGHT SOMEONE WAS BREAKING INTO THE HOUSE TO SCREW WITH MY MIND!”
My husband questioned the ability to screw with lost things. “Look. You can get just as annoyed with me as you like. Don’t forget that I’m home by myself all day long. Sometimes it’s scary and insanity is the end result…not that any of you people care as long as your sock drawers are full when you need them. Don’t judge me.”
I decided to get rid of the clothes and tossed them into the donation bag…because sometimes the needy get clothes out of spite. And then I went on with my day of making breakfasts, finding lost shoes and book bags, disappointing the 14-year old by agreeing with his AVID teacher that writing his last essay in binary code instead of English, while creative and talented, is unacceptable, and sweeping the next 3 inches of rainwater due to the never-ending Texas thunderstorms off the concrete and into the overwatered lawn.

The Thank Yous 2015

The scholastic year is coming to an end and I am trying to spread as much positive feedback as I can to the people who have made a difference in our family. With that goal in mind, I’m going to send out a great big post of THANK YOUs for all the world who stumbles across this blog to see. That whole “it takes a village” thing? It’s true. It really does.

To the AISD bus drivers:  Thank you for waking up before all of us and making the trip into the motor pool  everyday, regardless of the rain, snow, suffocating humidity, heat, more rain, ice, more rain, snow, HOLY CRAP! THE SOLES OF MY SHOES MELTED IT’S SO STINKIN’ HOT, and/or how little time you had to slam back coffee. Your attention to speed limits, stop signs, traffic lights, crosswalks, school zones, and road construction remains high, all while you’ve got one eye on the rear view mirror to keep tabs on the 65+ teenagers you’re hauling to and from school. Talk about your multi-tasking. Wow. And still you greet my kid with a “good morning” and a smile each day. You are the first ones out and the last ones in each day.  THANK YOU.

To the AISD Janitorial and Grounds Staff:  Thank you for sweeping, buffing the tiles, emptying the trash, wiping down windows and door handles, and cleaning the restrooms of all of our schools each day. Thank you for keeping the grass cut, trees pruned, leaves raked, sidewalks swept and flowerbeds weeded. Our schools are beautiful and clean because of your hard work and attention to detail. I cannot imagine our schools without your service. You and your work IS appreciated. THANK YOU.

To the AISD Security Officers:  Thank you for your security checks and ensuring that all visitors to our schools are registered. Thank you for enforcing the student and faculty/staff ID badge policy. These steps are vital to the safety of our students, and all employees. Thank you for assisting in the safety of our participants and audiences at every play, choral or musical or dance recital, sporting event, meeting, rally, open house, or study session on weekends, week nights, and even during the summer. Thank you for every broken up fight, hall pass evader caught, high five given, every smile shared. THANK YOU.

To the AISD Cafeteria Staff:  Thank you for your daily efforts to provide our students with healthy, hot meals, with wholesome foods and in a clean environment within a short period of time. No one can say that your job is easy. I have trouble keeping just 5 teenagers fed each day. You all feed THOUSANDS every single day. THANK  YOU.

To the Teachers, TA’s, Nurses, Diagnosticians, Social Workers, Accountants, Clerks, Secretaries, Personal Assistants, Counselors, Family Representatives, Registrars, Substitutes, Coaches, Administrators and other Faculty Members and Staff:  Thank you for all that you provide our students. Education is always important. And of course, we thank you for that. But also thank you for the encouraging word, smiles, understanding and support, guidance, listening, and discipline that you provided along the way. Positive feedback and constructive criticism are appreciated. THANK YOU.

You people are my village that help me raise my children. I don’t know each and every one of you personally but I know that you are there and that your interaction with my child helps shape the person he is and who he will become. I appreciate you and your kindness.  So I’m trying to do the same because the fruit of kindness sown is kindness reaped. So let’s sprinkle those seeds everywhere and see if we can get kindness to spread like wild flowers all around us.

He Loves Me

I have a temper. I’m not sure if it’s part of my Irish make up or if it’s the red hair or if it’s
learned behavior from my kids…..Oh, yes. I am TOTALLY blaming them.

About 8 months ago, I was holding said temper at bay and had been holding it for several
hours and about 14 different fights between various teenagers. When the noise level began
to quiet a bit and my guard let down and my nerves began to calm and I could no longer
hear the blood pumping through my own ears, I started to relax. My mistake.

The shriek from the living room that came out of my daughter because my son was teasing
her YET AGAIN was the straw that broke my camel’s back. I grabbed the first thing that I
could reach and chucked it across the kitchen at the wall. As my favorite coffee mug
shattered before me in slow motion and the distorted word “NOOOOOOOOOO!” came
dragging from my lips, the house fell under one of those eerie silences and my son ran out
into the backyard and started to cut the grass so that he could dodge responsibility of
having to replace my mug. My daughter swept up the remains of the cup and I went and
cried because I’d not had enough caffeine in the first place.

Since that time, we’ve been on the lookout for a new favorite mug for me. I’ve been using
one that we inherited from someone who swiped it out of the break room when he was
working under contract at Nokia. (Don’t worry, David. I won’t tell them it was you.) It’s a
pretty color and a perfect weight. But my husband felt that it wasn’t the right fit for me.
(Strangely, I don’t see that he’s concerned that no semi-precious stone jewelry is not a
right fit for me. Really, honey. A lovely sapphire or opal would be a PERFECT fit for me,
coffee mug be damned.)
mug nokia
So the first mug my husband bought me was this one…which is similar in color to the original
mug that I threw but it’s heavy empty so when I add coffee to it, it is difficult to drink without
using two hands.
mug deer creek

The second mug he bought me, while kitschy and cute, is really not my style at all hard to
drink from. It also does not fit on a coaster. Truth be told, it’s a dribble glass shaped like a
hat.
mug cowboy

Then last night he brought home another heavy mug. BUT it’s so cool and now that my
tennis elbow has seemingly disappeared, I can drink coffee one-handed again. Wanna know
why I love it so much? Three reasons.
mug stormtrooper

1. Star Wars, duh.  Stormtroopers are the coolest. So there.
2. It’s so honkin’ big that it’s like drinking TWO CUPS OF COFFEE AT THE SAME TIME!
and most importantly,
3. My husband loves me so much that he continued to look for the perfect mug for me for
the last 8 months. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. ❤