40 and Fired had a better ring to it than 39 and Layed Off--thus the title and impetus for a blog. I'm a freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado with my husband, children and high maintenace pets. I'm over the whole turning 40 thing, so this is now more about my humorous/sarcastic take on life, excercise and our daily adventures.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

White Lies, Garden Variety Lies and Damn Lies - Is There a Difference?

Intellectually I know there isn't. But I had myself fooled--for a little bit anyway.

We recently made the trek back East to celebrate my Grandmother's 90th birthday. Flying from a small mountain town in Colorado always presents travel challenges, but I generally like to look at them as adventures. And it truly drives me nuts when people complain about travel--roll with it or stay at home. Well usually. There was one time last fall when I missed the last flight home, had horrible allergies and a work deadline and burst into tears at the customer service desk. While I'm not proud of it, that tearful, snot-filled episode did net me a free ticket, two meal vouchers and a hotel.

Back to Grandmom's 90th. We were flying on the first flight of the day to Denver, so we could catch our next flight. I was risking it by booking tickets with less than an hour between connections, but really didn't care to hang out in the airport any longer than necessary. That was fine until our flight was delayed and delayed and delayed. Finally the girls looked at me and asked if we would make our next flight.

Barely. We disembarked at 8:21 and our next flight, which was 50 gates away, took off at 8:35. In a less than proud mothering moment, I took all of our carry-on bags and told the girls to run like hell to our gate. Whoever made it first was to tell them we were coming. I lost one child 35 gates in and the next 45 gates in and made it to our gate just as they were closing the doors. The gate attendant was kind enough to hold the door open for 60 seconds so I could collect my children. Once we all made it to the gate, the girls were stripping clothes and the kindly attendant was picking them up and forcing us through the door, "for an on time departure." This is relevant only because we were really coughing, I mean serious lung aching hacking, by the time we got on the plane.

The next day, we did a family fun run--so I'm sounding just a bit like Mommy Dearest--and my youngest continued coughing. Her cough worsened over the course of our trip, and I was worried I had caused her to stress or damage her lungs. She didn't have a fever, so I let her rest (as if in this family!) and loaded her up on fluids, cough drops and honey.

I broke out in a cold sweat when it was time for the return flight. I realized I was in an airport with a child who could not stop coughing and chances were slim they would let us on the plane. She held it together through security and then we bee lined it to the store to buy all the medicine available in the airport. The sales lady even took pity and gave us a free sample of cough syrup. I opted not to use it, but my poor child had more medicine that day than she's had in the past year. And it didn't help.

Sure enough, when we went to board, she started coughing and we were pulled aside.

"Is your child sick?"

Here comes the lie, but in my defense I honestly thought she had stressed her lungs.

"No, she has weak lungs and the humid air combined with jet fuel fumes are making her cough. So we really need to make it home."

After a pause, "Fine, but we need to arrange a mandatory wheelchair transport in Denver, just to be safe."

As both girls stood there with their chins on the floor, I said that would be just great.

Long story a bit shorter, we made if to Denver, by-passed the wheelchair because it was just a wheelchair and not one of the fun carts and made it home. I took T. to the doctor the next day to assess the damage I'd caused. After oxygen level tests, deep breathing and lung capacity tests it was determined that she had.....a cold. Hmm, that possibility never occurred to me.

It appears I was telling more lies than I realized, and I apologize profusely to everyone who traveled with us. I should probably feel a tinge guilt, but I don't. My daughter just had a cold, and I got to sleep in my own bed. I guess it's all part of the travel adventure.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Camping Out At The Ranch

When I was growing up, a childhood friend used the term "camping out at the ranch" to describe her rambling waterfront family home and boisterous siblings. For an only child, from an organized home, the constant parade of siblings, friends and extended family, house projects, boat projects, horses, dogs, cats and overall controlled mayhem was like Christmas on a daily basis. My friend's loving, matriarch of a mom would dole out chores, hugs, reprimands and snacks to relatives and visitors alike.

The true magic of the orchestrated chaos was at its finest during crises and celebration. The AC is out on the hottest night in August--sleep on the screened porch; the well pump is down--jump in the pool or river; the police brought you home--scrape and repaint the dock, then we'll discuss it; you're ready to launch your boat--everyone and then some will be at the launch; you found an injured bunny, bird, squirrel--nurse it back to health in the barn; you need some money--pick a project (paint the barn, fix fences, re-screen the porch), and get paid by the hour.

As much as I loved the chaos, it was a welcome relief to escape to my orderly family life, and I didn't realize the lasting effects of my friend and her family until this past weekend.

We ran out of propane in the middle of cooking Sunday morning breakfast. Our first inclination was to freak out--frantically digging out the 1000 gallon tank, calling all gas companies in the valley and begging for rush delivery. John located the tank under a snow drift, but I was unsuccessful in my pleas for service. So we sat back, looked at each other and laughed. The girls thought we had gone around the bend.

We have solar hot water, a fire place and an electric oven--so we were actually prepared. By the time our tank was refilled on Wednesday (an envelope of cash taped to the front door provides amazing incentive), we were in a "camping out at the ranch" routine of keeping the fire stoked, roasting marshmallows, wearing slippers and an extra sweater, taking showers when the sun was shining for the hottest water and enjoying baked dinners. And it was fun.

Once the house was fully operational, I transferred laundry to the now functioning propane dryer, and, while petting one of four household rescue animals, I sat back and took a mental snapshot of our family life.

Windowsills are filled with botany projects, one child's work in progress Florida diorama rests next to my other daughter's gnome project--all on my desk amongst test gear, papers and computer manuals, a plate of cookies is on the counter, the dogs broke open a bag of quickcrete for the almost finished fire pit, there's a puzzle on the coffee table, a carboard box fort resides in the hallway, friends come for the night and stay a month or two, tractor implements in various states of repair fill the garage, stacks of books and magazines litter the den, and, at the ages of 9 and 11, the girls, out of necessity, can do their laundry, shovel snow and fix breakfast.

Last week, I was truly questioning my abilities to raise our children in an orderly fashion. Now I realize I can't, and the girls are better for it. We have love, respect, quickcrete dog prints in the kitchen and a parade of fresh faces at the dining room table. Merry Christmas!