When Opportunity Knocks… (aka LOCK THE DOORS!!!)

So, we are only one week into the school year and I am already finding ways to fill my plate.  What was that last post about?  Something about not using too many burners at once?  Shooey, that’s for sissies.  I’ve decided that I am more the 8 burner stove kind of girl.  Whatever, so food might burn once in a while, but I’ll be having a blast and never get bored!

It kills me – You know when you think things are calm and fine and in about five minutes everything changes?  That’s what happened yesterday.  I got a phone call for a reference check for a precious friend of mine, so I went on and on about her because let’s face it, Margaret is freakin’ unbelievable – She has been loving on my children since before she even had her own!  She sends me lemonheads in the mail after a Cubs game to perpetuate the moments shared.  Margaret – God love her – the DOGS even know she’s wonderful! Stray ones show up at her door and she takes them in.  She remembers important dates and calls to encourage me when I need it most.  In my book, she’s a rock star.  So I get this call to recommend her as a foreign exchange student host and I gushed on and on.  I got the feeling that I was more excited about her awesomeness than most reference-checker-people are.  The conversation starts to come to an end when Jayme, the reference checker, asks, “Have YOU ever considered hosting an exchange student?” and I gave her the song and dance about how yes, I would LOVE to except that I have two small kids, one of whom does NOT adjust to changes well and has his own set of issues.  On top of which we have a small house.  She said, “Well, just so you know, it’s only six weeks… We just have to get him over here, and once he starts school he’ll for sure find a family to stay with.”  And she asks one more time if I’ll consider it.  So, what the heck, I say yes and she says she’ll send me two profiles to look over.  There are two boys left who don’t have a place to stay and maybe one of them would make a good fit for our family, she says. I’m thinking, “Lady, you don’t just having to sell me on this… You haven’t met Principal Graber yet…” But whatevs.  So last night at dinner, I sprung this on all three unsuspecting family members and waited to hear groans or complains.  I tried to tell everything I could possibly think of about it – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I showed them the picture of the boy who looked like the best potential match for us and at the end, Kate’s only concern was “Do you think he’ll mind sleeping in a pink room?”  Jake had no concerns – He is beyond thrilled that this boy loves to play chess.  And Brian looked at me.  Oh, how he looked at me.  With that painful smile of his that I know deep down means yes but at the moment means “Have you ever learned ANYTHING from all the crazy things you’ve schemed up in the past?”  So, I played it cool and just said that we should all sleep on it and we’d regroup in the morning…. Then, this morning during coffee time, Brian asked about my plans for the day.  I mentioned laundry, a little bit of cleaning, some yard work…. the normal stuff.  And then I haphazardly mentioned that I told the lady I’d call back within 24 hours, so I should give her a jingle at some point today to let her know yes or no.  I gave my best casual glance towards Brian and he just smiled and gave me a thumbs up.  MAN I love that guy!!! He’s married to Crazy and he doesn’t even act like he minds!

So today I will get the official ball rolling on us getting my new favorite German boy ever who is named Lukas.  And can I just say from his picture that he is ADORABLE?!  And he likes piano, chess, and karate.  This is a huge win, win, win for us.  My only fear is that we will fall in love with him and then want to keep him all year, not just six weeks. Which is freakin’ scary because we live in a tiny 3 bedroom 1 bathroom house.  ONE bathroom… Sigh…

Four burners – that is all…

All day long I’ve been feeling a blog post coming on, but I wasn’t quite sure what it would be about.  I’ve has SO many things on my brain lately that I didn’t know which deep thought to dissect publicly. 🙂

After a tremendously long day at Six Flags with Kate, my sister Amy, and my niece Annie, I am just about out of steam.  Actually, I’ve been out of steam since about noon.  That’s what four trips on the Whizzer and three runs on the American Eagle will do to a girl.  So, upon getting home, I geared up for bedtime and relaxation supreme.  Tubs for everyone, jammies please, and in the kitchen I started a pot of chicken noodle soup.  Lovely. However, within a minute, I realized I had an important email to write.  So the soup continued to warm while I began the email.  About two sentences into the email, Jake reminded me that I had promised to start his tub.  But of course!  Abandon soup, leave computer charging, begin to run the bath water.  Check.  Jake started to strip down, so I stirred the soup and went back to my email.  Which was when Brian came in from outside and needed help with a project.  Why not?  Boy?  Naked.  Soup?  Burning.  Email?  Not even close to being done.  Help with project?  Check.  Glancing at the stove on my way out the door to assist the Mister, I thought to myself “Too many irons in the fire!”  And then I loved the irony, because truly one of my irons was sitting on the gas flame of our stove.  Too perfect!  Which was what got me thinking… I had my hand dipped in four projects at once and was struggling.  There are four burners on the stove, too.  Rarely do I use them all but they have all, at some point, been in use.  Every once in a while (a LONG while!) they are even all used in tandem!  A feat, no doubt.  And often, when I am foolish enough to try to cook four dishes at once, something turns out burned.  It is dadgum near impossible to actually work with four burners on four different foods needing four differing levels of heat with four different spoons to stir them!  Phew!  So then I started thinking about how I really only use the front two burners most of the time anyway.  And I had to wonder… Is life like that?  Would I do a better job if I just used the two front burners most of the time?  Maybe keep some rice or pasta on a backburner to compliment the big things but really just take the two main staples and work on those? I know that, although I have begun to understand my own limitations in the kitchen, I still attempt to manage many burners in life… Often more than four!  I feel like I see a lot of moms ‘cooking with multiple burners’ – loving on kids, taking care of the home, working a job, exercising faithfully, and attending social events with the greatest of ease.  But what if not all of us are actually meant for that?  I’m no Rachel Ray, and it will NOT be pretty if I cook using too many burners at once.  So tonight, laying in bed with two llittle munchkins beside me and a precious husband attending a wake for the mom of a dear friend, I have to wonder – what are my two burners to focus on?

For me, I think family counts as one of them.  Brian, Kate, and Jake, and whatever that entails.  If Kate needs me as a homework helper after school, that’s my burner clicking to warm up.  When Jake has a fever and needs a mommy to coach him through a sleepless night, my burner is simmering.  And when Brian needs a quiet place at the end of the day to unload the troubles of trying to please 500 families, I’m that girl and my burner is at a boil and ready. That’s my first burner.

My second burner?  Hands-down that one is my friends.  Though there are a lot of other things out there vying for my attention, I want to chose wisely with that second burner.  With only two main burners and two small ones in back, my friends are way too much of a gift to relegate to a backburner… Friends are simply the family I got to pick. 🙂

In the meantime, I’m going to try to wake up in the morning, think about the projects of that day, and pick the four that get to be on the burners.  I’ve got the two big ones, and the two little ones can shift around on any given day. Any more than four, though, and I’ll start burning things!  Any less and we’ll go hungry and get bored.

And to kickstart tomorrow’s burners, I just heard from Kate with a precious request… “Mommy, remember how I had a bloody nose last week?  I’ve been sleeping in bloody bed sheets for a few nights now… When I’m at school tomorrow, could you please change my sheets?”  Clearly bed sheets has NOT been on the burners for me.  But I guarantee it will be there tomorrow.  Along with whatever else comes my way….