Lost in Leaves

Have you ever over-analyzed a decision? I am the queen of over-analyzing. Before I make a decision, I think about it from every. single. aspect. usually beginning with what will happen if things go disastrously wrong. After I make the decision, I re-think it and decide if I truly made the right decision. (I should also mention that I’m married to the king of over-analysis; we make a great team.)

* * *

Last Monday was the perfect day for leaf raking at the Miller house, especially since I hadn’t picked up a rake yet this season. The temperature was somewhat warm, and I was subconsciously aware that the township leaf-pickup crew was due to make an appearance soon.

I raked for most of the afternoon, stopping only to walk to the bus stop. Ian had been waiting for Alice to come home so they could jump in the large pile of leaves I had deemed the “jump pile”. They had a blast, re-scattering that huge pile all over the yard.

Usually during leaf jumping, I take pictures of the festivities, pretending I’m a prominent professional photographer who is about to capture her picture of the year.


Alice 2

But this year I didn’t. I was laser focused on finishing the back yard before supper, and it was quickly becoming obvious that that was going to require some serious hustling.

After almost 4 hours of hard work, my shoulders were aching, and I was tired but almost finished. Then, from the quickly darkening front porch, I heard him before I saw him. The front door burst open, and Ian emerged, sobbing uncontrollably. After determining his physical intactness, I translated his halting gibberish… his flip flops were missing. He had put them on the bench beside the “jump pile,” and now they were gone.

I’ve got to be honest. I didn’t care… or have the energy to care. Or maybe it was that I didn’t believe they were truly missing. My kids are always “losing” shoes, and somehow we always find them. I firmly believed said flip flops were inside the house. Ian probably forgot that he put them on to go inside to get a snack. And knowing my kid, he walked in the door, literally chucked both shoes in two different directions, and could no longer find them. (Yes, we’re working on putting away shoes properly, but we still have occasional shoe chucking bouts.) Either that or the flip flops had fallen off the bench onto the ground, and were now 18 inches from their original resting place, which is approximately 6 inches beyond the “find-radius” for my children.

It was now dark, and I was hungry. Ian and I did a quick flashlight search for the flip flops and found nothing. Unconcerned, I went inside and went about the rest of our evening routine. But by the kids’ bedtime, I was becoming convinced those flip flops were indeed outside. And worse than that, I was pretty sure I had raked them up in the dark and moved them with the jump pile leaves to the mountain of leaves in front of the house. And here’s where the analysis comes into play.

That evening, I spent the ad breaks while catching up on Parenthood deciding whether or not to launch a flip flop recovery effort the next morning. Now remember that Ian was beyond! hysterical when he discovered his flip flops were missing. He’s my perfectionist; he hates! to make mistakes. He gets really upset at himself and belittles himself. And even though I had told him over and over that this wasn’t a huge deal, that losing things is a very common occurrence for many people, his hysterics continued the rest of the evening, taking on several forms which finally resulted in an early bedtime. So if I went flip-flop-diving the next morning, what message would I be sending to him?

1. His mistake actually was bigger than I wanted him to believe it was… or

2. The mistake was partially my fault because I didn’t believe the flip flops were lost, so I’ll make it right… or

3. I don’t think he can handle disappointment, so I’ll rescue him… or

4. Sometimes mistakes can be corrected with a little bit of hard work… or

5. Waste not, want not… or

6. $1.99 is worth ridiculous amounts of time if it’s something you love… or

7. Mom is such a sucker. As long he cries his heart out, Mom will spend ridiculous amounts of time bending to his whims.

“Should I look for the flip flops?” I asked Daniel for the twelfth time the next morning, knowing I had to do it soon because the leaf crew was coming that day according to the township’s website which I had checked last evening. Daniel told me he had a dream that he found the flip flops at the edge of the pile, so he went outside to look.

He was back one minute later, not having found the flip flops and declaring it “too wet” for an extensive search. Well, I knew it was only wet on top of the leaves, so I grabbed the rake… and finished raking the front lawn.

And then, for some reason I still don’t completely understand, I just went at it, setting a 30 minute time limit for destroying the pile it took me four hours to create. Ian came out and joined me, using his shovel to spread the leaves into the street.

At 25 minutes into our search, we found the first one. Three minutes later, the second flip flop was recovered.

Found them

I still don’t know what I taught Ian. I like to think my actions had some type of positive impact on him somehow; that I taught him that hard work and perseverance pay off. But in reality, he’ll probably just remember his mama frantically spreading freshly raked leaves all over the street while trying to beat the “leaf-sucker-upper”. What a ridiculous sight we were… all for a pair of flip flops he probably won’t be able to wear next spring. Did I make the right decision?

here they come

A New Theme Song

Recently I’ve been looking to add some more songs to my running playlist because when you listen to the same 42 songs for 300 miles, they don’t lend much punch to your workout anymore. In fact, I’ve been feeling as though my life hasn’t had much punch in it lately either… like I need a new theme song to put some spark back into my workout… and my daily routine.

I have a relatively good life, so I highly dislike it when the doldrums get me down. I have no decent reason why I should be feeling “blah.” A little bit ago, my brother-in-law asked me “What’s new?”. I hate that question. Hate. It. Ninty-nine times out of one hundred, that question reminds me that there’s nothing  “new” in my life—other than becoming the box top for education co-ordinator, but do you really want to hear more about that? (I didn’t think so.) I do the same thing, ad nausea, day in and day out—pick up, pick up, pick up, make food, repeat process.

And yes, the half marathon went well, but that was also pretty unremarkable—except! that Daniel ran the entire thing with me with NO prior training. (No, I don’t want to talk about it… maybe ever.) My time was smack in the middle of the times for my first and second races, so pretty run-of-the-mill in that department as well.

The other day I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a while who has kids similar in age to mine.

“How are you doing?” I asked her.

“We had another baby (#4). My firstborn is now playing a sport. The older two are taking music lessons. So we’re running around to lots of practices, games and lessons. The third one is in preschool. We’re staying very busy! How about you?”

“Um, yeah,” I mumbled. “We’re busy too.”

My answer, I’m sure, sounded as lame as I felt at that moment because pretty much nothing has changed in our lives since I last talked with my friend. (I guess Daniel did change jobs eight months ago, although even his changing jobs has started to feel somewhat routine).

My kids aren’t playing sports or taking music lessons or making origami butterflies or winning chess tournaments (although Alice is developing amazingly beautiful cursive handwriting, which is definitely not a hereditary trait), but I feel crazy up to my eyeballs. Most days, I’m barely hanging on at home trying to keep things under control; and usually by 4pm, the house looks like something exploded all over the place.

I took this picture because this table was spotless less than 10  minutes ago. Why do I even try?

So this afternoon as I was washing the 61 mixing bowls I made dirty while making a mocha cheesecake, I had an overwhelming sense of (sing it if you know it)…I’m going nowhere. Somebody help me.” And that’s when I remembered The Song I had wanted! to put on my running playlist for October’s half marathon, but had forgotten.

However at that exact moment, youtube was at my fingertips, so I cranked it up and broke out my “dance moves” (Somebody help me, yeah!) to… “Stayin’ Alive”.

“Stayin’ Alive” and I go way back to the first time I watched Ted Striker and Elaine Dickinson dance to it in the TV version of the movie Airplane. (If you haven’t seen Airplane, the TV version is much! more funny than the theater version.) Airplane is a ridiculously ridiculous comedy that made my dad, brother and I howl with laughter every single time we watched it when I was a kid. It’s a movie that my family still quotes with great enthusiasm. (Surely you can’t be serious?… I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.)  And “Stayin’ Alive” reminds me of that time when life was simple and carefree, when I was a “little” girl laughing with her Daddy on a Saturday evening before bed.

I listened to the Bee Gees sing “Stayin’ Alive” no less than 8 times in a row (also had to play their incredible! music video for Daniel later that evening), and something changed… in my attitude, in the burdens I carried, in my outlook on the mundaneness. Things became a little lighter, a little less serious.

What’s more, the next day Ian found the youtube tab that I forgot to close, and I introduced my kids to “Stayin’ Alive” albeit without the movie. But we still had fun.


Ah ah ah ah



And if our impromptu dance-session doesn’t make you smile, I dare you to watch the music video without cracking up. I’m pretty sure you can buy the lead singer’s white pants at a store too expensive for my wallet. And Daniel is hoping that with a little time he can pull off that amazing hair style, although I think I have a much better chance than Daniel does at making that happen.