Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unspeakable Acts

Yesterday, 2 people in 2 different countries killed large groups of children.

Of course, amid speculation about the perpetrators of these evil acts, there's a bunch of screaming for gun control, better access to mental health care, you name it. People are yelling for it.

Here's a nugget for you folks out there who think there should be more or less of anything.

JUST FREAKING BE POLITE TO PEOPLE!! Stop being jerks. You being an asswipe to someone that afternoon could potentially be the last straw in their crappy day and you send them over the edge. Remember me talking about my husband's friend that killed himself? THAT is an example. If one person had chosen their words more cautiously, that sailor might not be dead, and friends mourning that horrific loss.

Let me demonstrate the opposite. I half-jokingly say all the time that I mistreat all the kids that come to my house just the same. If you're here when we're cleaning, working, doing yardwork, whatever - we are going to put you to work with us. I treat the kids' friends like I treat my own kids. Borrowed Billy practically lives here more time than at his own house. He loves being here, because he learns something new every day in our house. I never thought twice about sharing knowledge with my kids because that's what my dad always did with his 6 kids. It never occurred to me to not do that. How are they supposed to learn how to function in the world if we don't do that? Not sharing your knowledge with your kids leads to them being financially taken advantage of because they don't know something like how to tell if you need new tires, or your oil is too low, or your water heater only needs a new heating element or sacrificial annode rod versus full replacement. It leads to kids getting credit cards as soon as they turn 18 and student loans when they head off to college, then suffering the burden of being saddled with debt for the entirety of their adult lives. They get to retire into poverty because they couldn't save any cash for their old age. Borrowed Billy is an example of what happens when you're not an asswipe to someone. He's going to head into adulthood with knowledge he wouldn't have gotten at home, and be able to live his life differently than he would have if he hadn't taken up residence on my futon.

A few years ago a friend asked if his girlfriend could stay with us. She lived in what he described as a total trash-life situation. I told him I had to meet her first. If I'd had any hinky feelings, she wouldn't have lived with us. I saw a girl who felt lost and like she was always doomed to living like her family did. I didn't even know she was still 17, and legally her mother could have caused us all kinds of trouble. Thankfully she did not. Like with Borrowed Billy, I treated her pretty much the same way I treated my own. We held her to a standard appropriate for her age, and she did fabulously living with us. It was my husband's friend that mucked up things, but that's water under the bridge. Ours was the first example of a normal relationship she'd ever seen. She had always seen various abuses around her, and that's all she knew. She had new hope that she didn't have to be destined to live like the others in her family tree. We eventually parted ways, but a few years later she popped up in an IM to say hi. She thanked me for letting her live with us, and showing her that she could have a better life. She said that we gave her love and care and that nobody ever did that before. She made me cry. All I did was just help her meet her basic needs, and give her a hand when she was stuck. It as all I knew how to do, because that's how I was taught to treat people.

Common sense and human decency are two lost arts, to the point that they are now superpowers because so few people have and use those tools in their interactions. So when people are acting out evil atrocities such as happened in 2 places yesterday, everyone gets mad and starts muppet-flailing about how things need to change and rules need to be more stringent. How about holding your kids accountable for their actions from a young age instead of telling the teacher "not my child", or "My baby wouldn't do that!" or "why didn't you give my child a passing grade?". What you should have said was "I'm sorry my child did that, and I will discipline him/her at home" (and then DO IT, holding yourself to the discipline too), or asking "what was my child doing, who else was my child with, what else were the other kids doing, and who was supervising them?" and sort out the facts of the situation before calling "not it". It just might have been your kid doing the misdeeds after all. And your child didn't get a passing grade because your child didn't study for that test or do that project themselves. Teachers are NOT stupid. They know when you do the project for your child. If I were a teacher and got the idea a parent did the work, I'd be inclined to giving a failing grade, just because it's not the STUDENT'S OWN WORK. Aren't you lucky I'm not your child's teacher. Only once in Evil Genius' entire school career, did I side with him. ONCE. He knew I was going to side with the teacher because I was always teaching him that the teacher gets my vote initially. I met with her and gave her the benefit of the doubt, till I learned that she ascribes to the teaching method of "no straggler left behind", disallowing the accelerated students in aiding the stragglers to catch up with the other end of the spectrum. She did the entire class a major disservice. It was in the middle of that conference my vote moved and I sided with my son, because that teacher really didn't deserve my support after that.

And then I'm seeing in my crackbook feed the things like "why would someone have three guns in their house if they knew their adult son was mentally ill?"

To that, I say this:
The second amendment does not, and should not, specify that you have to be deemed mentally fit to safely own and operate a weapon. Nor should it stipulate restrictions if you have any form of disability or mental health challenges in anyone in your household. Just because you have a family member that has any of that, it does not mean that they are unable to grasp the gravity of handling a weapon, or the consequences of its use. Mentally and emotionally handicapped people CAN LEARN. When people stop making asinine generalizations and having overreaching kneejerk reactions, and wait a minute till we get all the facts in situations like this, then and only then can appropriate steps be taken to mitigate the atrocities.
I suppose if we use all that same line of logic, then knives sharper than a rounded butter knife should be made illegal too since the loon in another country stabbed a bunch of kids too.

Stop being a ninny and hold yourself, your friends, your children, your coworkers and your leaders accountable for their poor choices. The government can't babysit everybody, nor have they demonstrated that they can successfully handle what they already have. Why the hell would we want them nosing into how many boogers are in your collective noses?

Just be civil to each other, help without expecting anything in return, hold yourself and your kids accountable for actions and choices, and share your knowledge without fear of other people knowing what's in your head. You can't change the collective world till you change your own self, and inspire others to change their own selves. When you have enough people that do things differently on their own, you will start seeing a shift in how society behaves in general.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm getting old, and I don't wanna

This week has already been a roller coaster, and it's only Tuesday.
A few around me are brokenhearted after the loss of loved ones. And then I had an amazing Monday that got punctuated by my sister needing to go to the ER and be admitted to the hospital for a couple days. She will be fine, but she knows how to scare people.

And then... today, is another round of mixed emotions.

This goofy kid......

..... is the future of the Marine Corps

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Happenings

Ok, so I haven't blogged in a while again, but it's not like there wasn't other places to play while I wasn't entertaining you.
Since my last post, I very prayerfully considered some options, talked to friends to get their feedback, and then talked to Devildog. I decided to become an independent Thirty-One Gifts consultant. I approached it with a completely different manner than I did my last venture that ended badly. I made choices along the way that contributed to that end, and it was my fault for not cutting my losses sooner. I simply hooked up with bad leadership. I knew the other side of the problem, but hadn't owned up to my share of it. I know this now, after having read Dave Ramsey's book, EntreLeadership. I checked it out from the library, but one of my purchases will be a copy to keep around the house. At the time of this post, it's on his website for $10 as part of a Christmas sale. WELL WORTH that price and then some. I'm moving down my list of books faster than I can knit anything. And I can't read & knit or watch tv & knit, so knitting is hosed at the moment.

Thanksgiving was its usual, but smaller scale. Then Black Friday, I did no shopping, except to drive to the Publix a mile from the house, and buy a 10 pack of Ivory soap and a 3 pack of store brand soap. The latter for the Devildog, the former was for a project to keep the kids busy if they wanted to do the project. Prior to Thanksgiving, I'd stopped at my local yarn shop and bought some roving (too much roving to be honest). Roving is unspun-into-yarn wool.

So, what can one possibly do with soap and roving?

One would make felted soap.

Why would anyone do that?

It occupies kids inexpensively, and makes neat little gifts. And the felted soap is kind of like a washcloth/soap combo. This was a take-home project we did one night at the yarn shop a couple years ago, and I've always thought it was kinda cool.

Assembled are the roving, knee-high stockings, bar soap (your choice of brand), and random animal fiber yarns.

 I cut the bars of soap in half to accommodate the little hands that would be doing this project. It's not required to do this.

 Dunk the soap in warm water so the roving fibers stick to it.

Pull small bits of the roving off the pile and lay it over and around the soap till you get it covered.

Then, cut varying lengths of the other yarns to add to it. 

I untwisted the plies of yarn and laid the segments around the roving. You can leave the yarn strands intact if you decide to do that.

This is what you'll have at this point. It looks like you dropped a half-eaten piece of candy on the floor of a shearing station.

Here's a tricky spot. Bunch up the knee-high stocking like you're going to stick your toes into the closed end of it. You'll need to make sure any seams are on he outside, and that you gather the roving-covered soap into the finished end of the sock, otherwise the roving will felt to the seam.
 Ask me how I know this last fact.

Then you dunk it into the very warm water (as warm as you can tolerate) and start scrubbing, just like you would when you're washing your hands.
 This takes a few minutes, and I don't mean 2. It could be as fast as 3-5 or as long as 10. A lot depends on the fiber, some depends on the amount of agitation you put into it, some of it depends on the temperature of the water. A shift in temperature from hot to cold, or cold to hot can aid your felting, and of course any amount of agitation will too. I used a combination of all three. I alternated between one bowl of hot water, one bowl of cold water, and lots of agitation.

After your several minutes of scrubbing and dunking in hot/cold water, it'll start looking like this:

When you take it out of the stocking, set it somewhere to dry unless you really just want to throw the kids in the tub with it to get them out of your unsunny place. You can put it in front of a fan, in the sun, or even in front of the fridge exhaust (I do that with wet shoes) to dry the felt. Drying time depends on the environment it's in, and how thick the felted fiber is.
The day I did this with the 2 youngest, my kitchen floor was soaked at the sink so I kept a floor-worthy towel there to catch the drips my 3 year old caused. I then used that wet towel to quick mop my floor. By two days later, you couldn't tell it was "cleaned", but I also lack photographic evidence to prove that it ever was something less than grungy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Dave

After devouring a couple of his books, I've been listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts for weeks, in an effort to retrain my brain about how it thinks about money. It's slowly working. I'm trying to reach my husband, to plant seeds of new information in hopes of guiding him to thinking differently about our money. I keep praying for guidance, wisdom and the right words to do this. And then Dave shared this blog link on Twitter. Oh, I see she's met my husband. Except, I try not to go all "Dave Says" at every turn like some well meaning folks do. Devildog hasn't turned the same corner yet, like she did. I have hope he will. It's just a matter of when.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cheers, Devildogs

It's a Marine thing, and unless you are one, you would never understand.

Happy Birthday to all my Devildogs. Born in Tun Tavern on 10 November 1775, and hard charging ever since, every Marine has 2 birthdays. There's the one that brought their physical presence to this earth, and then there's the one that made them who they are. And you can bet your beer that the latter is the one they'll cherish most. They throw the biggest best party for themselves, and make no apologies for it. (Besides, when have you ever known a Marine to need to apologize?) They hold their forebears in high regard for paving the way ahead of them. They can tell who is another Marine, almost on sight. They cover the six of any fellow Marine that needs it. They give 1000%, and they don't quit. They shoot first, then ask questions, but there are few questions given their marksmanship.

I know these things about them. But I'll never *know* these things. I love my Marine. And I have a love for all the other Marines. I am who I am today, in part because of my spousal connection to the Corps. I have grown and blossomed and become as feisty as I am, because I learned things I would have only learned as a Marine's wife. I am strong, capable, independent, and (marginally) adaptable, because I had to be those things at a young age. While most people my age were going to college and partying, I was married with 2 kids, living at Camp Lejeune, and supporting my husband's career. It's where I learned how to get in the wheelbarrow sometimes, and when I had to be the one pushing it. My father taught me to be able to handle little things like minor repairs, taking care of vehicles etc. Knowing those things helped my husband not worry about the house falling down around me because I was incapable of handling it. To this day, 20 years later, he still trusts me to be able to handle stuff. Sometimes, I'd like for him to not leave as much of that pesky stuff to my charge though.

To all you potential employers out there: Don't overlook the military spouse, or the spouses of veterans. Generally, these folks are highly employable for the latent skill sets that come from being a military spouse. They understand the concept of a work ethic and loyalty, are more willing to stretch themselves to achieve results, and are often adaptable. As Semper Fidelis is the Marine's motto, Semper Gumby is the motto of the Marine spouse.

So, Happy Birthday Devildogs. And thank you to all who shared them with the rest of us.

(Photo shamelessly snagged from Devildog Graphix)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude: indoor plumbing & awesome fixtures

Blur is three years old and not always cooperative in the attempts to get her to use the bathroom somewhere civilized, instead of in her pants, on the floor or even out in the yard. This comes as no surprise to me, since 2 of her 3 older siblings were equally intriguing to train. In an attempt to stretch the measly budget, and eke progress at using a toilet, some days I put her in panties or cloth diapers. I had to stop that nonsense for a while because cleaning the mess was not worth it. I put out a call on crackbook asking for a shower head with detachable hose sprayer for the purpose of washing her tush more efficiently.
My sister found one for me at a great price (FREE!) but it took a while for one of us (her) to end up on the other side of town with it. Devildog installed it a couple days ago, and it has come in handy a few times already. Indeed, cleaning up the mess is more efficient, and thorough.

So, today I am thankful for my helpful sister, indoor plumbing, and awesome bath fixtures, because without them, I'd be up Poop's Creek sans the paddle, with an uncooperative and stinky 3 year old in my canoe.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Changing names

Ok, so I have this boy who got dubbed as Beast after this post a few years ago. It never really totally suited him and I've always been looking for a new pseudonym for him. I have one now. Since he puts hot sauce on everything except dessert, I'm calling him Hot Sauce. He wanted me to call him Hot Stuff, but I can't be party to self-agrandisment when it involves my spawn. I just can't do it. I also talk about his friend, who falls under the category of one of my borrowed children. Today's crackbook post involved Hot Sauce and Borrowed Billy hacking a swatch of the back-back yard beyond the fence to help get it cleaned up after a tree carcass has been taking up that space for the better part of a year.

How is it this particular child gets dubbed something when the post involves his participation in yardwork?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Purpose has a point

In the recent days the word "purpose" has come up in conversation at my house on a few occasions.

Devildog and I were talking about being intentional, or doing things with a purpose, or doing things purposefully. That one stemmed from a conversation to iron out some wrinkles in a situation. We get lost in our electronics and fail to truly be attentive to things in a manner that we should be. I catch myself numerous times a day moving without purpose, or as the case may be NOT moving at all.
That's not to say we should be in constant motion, but when moving about things, it shouldn't be aimless or haphazard. (I'm guilty of any version of it all) I'm the type that needs balance or I am completely out of sorts.

So here I sit with a list of things on my to-do list, typing on my computer instead of getting off my duff and doing them. I'm enjoying the quiet of half my house sleeping as the dishwasher runs (I'd love a quieter model at some point), drinking my coffee, and sitting on the couch with Clone's Camp Crestridge blanket over me. 

That list will keep me focused later when I get up and start doing something around here. For now, I'm letting my exhausted husband sleep. Rest heals the body, and he's got a few tweaks that need healing. He ran the trail at the park the other day in 22 minutes. He hasn't run since 2005, and had to walk at times too. He's got a PFT (physical fitness test) to take soon as part of a hiring process, and he really wants this job. It's in the line of work he has dreamed of doing. I can tell you first hand that when my husband feels like he has purpose his whole demeanor and energy changes. He could be a walking zombie, but press onward because he knows he's not undervalued, a worthless drone in someone's machine. He has been sliding backwards toward the lethargic side the last many months, because his current job has sucked the life out of him from day one. His first day, he came home and said that it was the wrong place for him to be and that he didn't foresee a long career there. It's a Sisyphus situation where he is. And he loathes being Sisyphus. It doesn't meld at all with his value system, the way he was trained to operate, or his personality. It would if the leadership actually led. Devildog is a natural born leader, and fortunately, was trained to lead in such a way that subordinates want to work for him. At Home Despot, he would get moved to a different department, and no less than 15 people would ask the store manager if they can transfer to where ever he was going. He could've been in charge of shoveling poop, and people would have still wanted to work for him. Knowing he was valued and served a purpose, he busted his chops to do the job well. I look forward to Devildog finding a job that gives him purpose, because it will prompt other changes at home in general.

In turn, the purpose of our household as a whole will shift.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


So, I'll bite - maybe not *daily* but I'll make a point to post something with gratitude as often as possible. Lord knows I need the attitude adjustment.

So, since I started off my crackbook day with this post:

"One segment of the Today show that I absolutely loved: The story about Catherine Ferguson Academy for young mothers in Detroit. As a teen mom, I had infinitely more support around me than most teen moms ever get in an entire lifetime. It was challenging enough, I can't imagine doing it without those around me who supported me in a million ways. The principal won't let the girls graduate without acceptance into a college first. Her goal: that her students give themselves options in life by surmounting this challenge of young motherhood. I once told a horrified mother of a teen mom-to-be "The best thing you can do for your daughter is be there for her and help her however she needs it. The worst thing you can do is talk about her like you did to me, and criticize her every move. Her life is difficult enough without you making it harder on her." I said it to her in front of her friend, and lost her as a Tupperware customer, but I do not care. She was indirectly criticizing ME by badmouthing her daughter."

I am grateful and thankful from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head that I have been surrounded by generous people who gave of their time, talent and treasure to help us get where we are in this world today. Instead of turning their backs on us, our relatives and friends helped us where they were able, sometimes to their own discomfort or detriment (even though they never shared it, I could sense it). In turn, my gratitude for those gifts has prompted me to try to share with those who could use what we no longer needed. Blessing others blesses us too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Whine, Cheese & Gazelles

I am sitting here at the desk typing on the desktop computer instead of the laptop I really really really liked using. I could go so far as to say I loved it. But, I killed it. It wasn't Dead-Dead. But Geek Squad's computer hospital declared it too expensive to repair, given the multiple issues it had, and opted to replace it instead, under the extended protection plan. I have to pick out a new laptop and I'm not liking my options at this point. I'll suck it up eventually and go get a new computer, but it's going to be a few days longer at least before I do. I need to scrape up the money for the extended protection plan. Eventually, I won't need to opt for such "insurance", because I'll have enough money set aside that a new laptop won't even dent the bank.

But first, I have to replace a bent rim on the mom-bus. I managed to hit the side of the storm drain and jacked up my wheel - again. This is the 3rd rim on the bus to get replaced. I'm thankful it's a plain steel rim and not a fancy alloy rim. It's much cheaper that way. But driving on a donut spare is not cool. We don't have insurance for that kind of thing...just have to suck it up and pay for it.

In the meantime, I am listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts on a daily basis, and tasting the koolaid he serves. I really want and need to make big financial changes to be able to live comfortably in my retirement years, and not work longer because I can only afford dog food for my dinner. I want to be able to tick some things off my bucket list without worrying about how I'm going to pay for them, or eat later after I do them. I grew up being taught that you make do with what you have till you can get something better. My husband did too, but somewhere our wiring didn't get run the same way. His mindset is that he works hard for his paycheck and he deserves to reward himself. And he's not incorrect. He's just going about it in a misguided way, at a cost of long term security. And I don't say that to be hurtful or speak ill of him. I say that because that is indeed a fact of what will happen at the current pace things are going. I will add that he has gotten better about how he thinks of money, versus his thinking way back when we were still kids ourselves.

My husband DOES work hard for his paycheck. And he has made some financial errors in his life (I'm not an angel either). But now that our vehicles are paid off, he's making strides towards a better career, and I just paid off my last credit card, I want more. I want his cards paid off. I want more security towards the long term goals. Dave Ramsey calls it "getting gazelle intense". I feel like I'm the gazelle stretching and warming up for the sprint. From my view of the savannah, my husband is still feasting away, with his guard down, while a lion lurks just out of the periphery - subject to pounce at any second. And that scares me on so many levels.

Hopefully I can reach him through love, and not go anywhere near being hurtful. I'm praying for guidance and wisdom in helping him see where my goal lies and see a bigger picture that spans a longer term.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More affirmation

In all the whining I've been doing lately, I got a couple clue-by-four swacks to the skull. And then I got knocked down about a thousand pegs last week when a few people in my life lost a friend to suicide. Sadly, I didn't know him, but I had met him and he seemed like a good guy. Hearing about those involved, and the lot they were handed in life, certainly makes mine and the challenges I've had from childhood to now, look like a freaking cake walk. Then 2 friends ended up in the hospital (same building actually).

I mean, if the worst of my day is wondering how the hell I'm going to cover my bills, then I have really no true reason to whine.

Then, the other day, I forgot my electronic leash at home, and didn't have a yarny project in the mom-bus either. I had a magazine in my midst  though, and enjoyed the quiet while waiting for my son to come out of JROTC drill practice, as the Blur slept, and the cool breeze wafted through my opened windows. If I'd had a folding camp chair in the back like I have done before, I would have sat outside in front of my van to read.

I picked up where I'd previously left off in the magazine, and as I turned the pages, found this blurb about connecting with people. And it just made sense. I do this stuff too, and I have often thought rather defiantly "dagblastit, I shouldn't be chasing people down to stay connected with them like I am." I have tried to keep in touch with friends, and tried to reconnect with those I feel are important in my life, but it isn't always reciprocal. If I am to continue the friendship though, I do need to step back and leave the ball on their half of the court for a bit to see how they play it.

This topic came up while I was talking to another mom friend at church yesterday and she shared some of the same challenges I'd been having. I read the blurb to her, and she nodded, saying it made sense. She and I both share some of the same opinions about certain groups of people around us, and how their behavior reflects poorly on them and their associated places. I often wonder if I should even bother swimming upstream to try to get anyone to pay attention to their own behavior, or if they'll even care that I'm trying to get their attention at all.

Or maybe I should just do as the story in the article suggests, and leave others to discover how awesome I am, and how being associated with me could be mutually beneficial (or even just beneficial for one party only). I'm going to give this other approach a try, and see what comes of it. After all, if I'm not spinning my wheels over people who can't hear the noise of my tires, then there's no noise to hear over other noise and it's just quieter that way. And Lord knows, I have enough mental clutter as it is. So, if I can dislodge some of it, then maybe I'll have fewer A.D.D. brain moments because I'm not caught up in trivialities of other people.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Looks can be deciving

So since my last post ... when WAS my last post, anyway? (hang on, I must check this)
Ok, so it was like not even a week ago, but it sure feels like forever.

Our world has been rocked lately. And it put all my previous whining into true perspective. The other day, a man took his own life. This man was 23, held the rank of E6 in the Navy on a nuclear sub. I can't go into details because it's a very sensitive issue and there is information that does not belong posted on the internet. But just know that this man's end was the culmination of a lot of ugly. His ex-girlfriend and the neighbor found him, right after he ended his physical existence on this earth. You can't ever get that gory image out of your mind. My husband was friends with this guy, too. They would spend time watching football and playing poker at the various neighbors' houses in this neighborhood of folks who have come to be friends. And the loss of this young man has resonated throughout the neighborhood and is making its waves throughout the base where he was stationed. The things I'm hearing, if true, are just mind-boggling.

On the surface he had his whole future ahead of him. But his past haunted him every minute of the day. The monkeys kept scratching and clawing his back. And then a series of events sent him over the edge. The guardrail on that mountain road gave way and he went down with the speed of lightning.

This loss has made its way into my household, as my husband is suffering the loss of a friend, the ensuing information is coming to light makes him shake his head, and he's trying to help his friend, who found this young man, cope with his experiences. It has certainly given both he and I a smack in the head for a minute. We're not doing all that wonderfully, but we're here to deal with it. And we're not feeling in such a pit that we think our only recourse is to end our own existence on this earth. I can't imagine how horrible that feels, and the thought of ever getting there scares the bejeezus out of me. The things I'm hearing make me grateful that the crap I got handed as a child was only as much as I got handed. I am just flummoxed by what I hear, and I can't imagine the testicular fortitude it took to carry onward despite all that.

So please keep the young man in your prayers, and anyone who knew him. They need to be able to make peace with this. And please keep your prayers covering the friend and ex-girlfriend who found him, just minutes after he took his own life. It's such a heart rending situation, and some of the circumstances are utterly mind-blowing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is it Rum-Thirty yet?

It seems that the last couple of weeks has been trying to just get me and drag me away like zombies on the prowl for brains. It's been a series of heinously annoying occurrences, punctuated by snarky stuff from my toddler. I have no idea where she gets it. I mean, I'm genteel and graceful, and sociable.
pffffft~ who am I trying to kid. I'm none of that junk.

Highlights include communication failures abound, and I mean prolific ones. Working weird hours to avoid having to intrude on friends or pay some stranger I dragged in off the sidewalk to watch the Blur so I can work has resulted in contentious exhaustion. And my favorite - Tuesday, we woke up late, and the ensuing travel was craptacular. I put 100 miles on my van before even stepping foot into my first store for my first service call of the day. All told, I put about 145 miles on my bus. If I'm going to drive that many miles in a day, can I at LEAST end up somewhere interesting?

I am SO looking forward to the first opportunity to safely imbibe at home, with minimal risk of needing to drive anywhere. The chaos is like that insidious virus at a job. It creeps into EVERYTHING and starts looking like a bunch of overgrown vines that cover a wall. Nobody is enjoying anything, unless it involves making other people miserable.

Rum, on the other hand, provides a nice veil of DILLIGAF for a brief time, and by then, I'm mellowed out enough to stop harping at all the BS landing at my feet. I anticipate the first available time slot to enjoy Rum-Thirty. Except, I have no idea when that will happen, given all the driving I have to do. That sort of thing seems to be frowned upon around these parts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life carries onward

My Crackbook post this morning:

Today, I honor those who died in buildings, planes, fields ,and on streets, and those who have suffered the effects of any and all of it - by holding my head high and living my life every day. Why honor them this way? Because the attempt to paralyze us can't be successful. The hatred can't be perpetuated. The lives lost can't be in vain. The joy mustn't be successfully stolen.

And further proof that life must continue and move forward: My toddler.

We've been working on the potty training thing since Clone went to camp at the end of July. So far there has been measurable success with the #1. It's the #2 that's going to be what drives me to drink. She'll keep her panties dry all day, overnight, while away from home. She won't, however, even admit that her backside is about to lose its contents. So, Mommy gets to be the primary mess cleaner in that regard. If you could hear me speak about it, you would just know the party this is for me. It's a real kegger, that one.

So, the Blur got quiet after dinner, as I was trying to plug the INSANE schedule of: 3 workers, 2 students, and Princess-poops-her-pants into the Cozi online calendar, as P-p-h-p pooped her pants. My husband was amused. Of course he was, he wasn't the one who caught her hiding behind the door that I opened to allow the lovely balmy breeze into the house. So she was carted off to the bathroom to hose her and her Boots-adorned panties off, without benefit of the kind of hosed shower head I need to make it easier on me.

Me:   "Seriously, child, this is not nice. You should poop in the potty. Or at least tell me you have to          
           poop so I can give you a diaper."
Blur: "Boots is not happy"
Me:   "I'm not either."
Blur: "Yea, I pooped on Boots."
Me:   "uh huh. What are you going to tell me next time you poop."
Blur: "sorry."

I've got nothing. Because I know she's right.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Making steps forward

I did call one friend, and apologize for leaving her hanging.

I knew she would be 1,000,000% real with me, and sure enough, she verbally Gibbs-smacked me with an iron skillet.

She said that our friendship was deeper than dishing out the day-to-day bullcrap at each other and that I shouldn't apologize for living our everyday lives. She went on to say that she knew that if either of us truly needed help, that we both knew the other would help in what ever way is possible.

Well, now I feel a bit stupid.

And then, I thought more about it. DUH, Trish, that's pretty much what constitutes almost all of your friendships that are worth a damn. We may only catch up with each other online, or in passing, or not at all for weeks at a time. In one case, years pass with no contact. And we can pick up where ever we are, and jump in for how ever long we have mutually available.

Then, I called L back and thanked her for her wisdom shared during our previous call, and relayed a sense of relief from at least one of my perceived burdens with one person. Some of the wisdom she'd also shared in the earlier call was that she and I are the type of women that dig in when we must, and we don't require incessant hand-holding from our friends, nor do we do well having to handle needy friends who must have their hands held all the time. We can pick up the phone if we truly need some kind of help - literal or mental/emotional, and there is a friend who can do just that.

So really, THOSE are the kind of friends that fit me best. And those are the most enduring kinds of friendships. And I'd rather have that, than a variety of people flitting in and out of my life because we're just incompatible. That will still happen, but I'm discerning the kind of role I want people to have in my life each time I encounter them. Likewise, I would expect nothing less of others when dealing with me.

Here I was carrying around this weight of guilt over being a bad friend, in a manner that would rival the fruits of a Jewish mother's laying it on thick. Does it assuage my guilt at all? A bit, yes. But then it piles it elsewhere, under the column titled "Foolish Errors & Worries". I am a much more confident, independent individual than I was even 20 or 25 years ago. But I have things ingrained into me that will never leave, and my inner child will forever be present. I hear her voice all the time, and I'm constantly learning how to parent her - much like I parent my own children, and much unlike how I was parented. I see the same kinds of insecurities appearing in my children, and with it come those exact same pangs I had as a child. And I hear myself telling my real children and my inner child the things I needed to hear at those times, but no one said to me.

Because really, why do I care if no one wants to play with me now that I'm an adult? Why do I take such trivialities as personally as I do? So, when my Clone brings to the table these complaints that girls at school are doing X, Y, or saying Z, I have to fight back my own insecurities that I felt at her age and beyond. And then I have to tell her the things my socially-challenged mother didn't know to tell me. Some girls are afraid of what everyone thinks, and it prompts them to behave poorly towards someone they once regarded as a friend. There are some girls that want to be seen as cool, no matter the personal cost to them or others. And that unfortunately, there are going to be people in the world that purport themselves as a friend, when in fact they may only be looking for personal gain. We must learn to listen to our instincts when something is even remotely off kilter about a person. We must also not be afraid of being real with people, and not be afraid to let go of the weight of burdensome friends. In turn, we must respect the decisions of others when they decide that we are not the kind of person they want or need in their lives. And to expect that when you're 1,000,000% real with people, you're going to find yourself on their chopping block.

And it will be okay to be there on occasion, because you're going to move onward to more fruitful things like friendships that don't drag the day-to-day BS, or incessant drama, into the friendship. Or if it does, you and that friend recognize it for what it is, and once it's behind us, it stays there. And even when your friend thinks you're out of your gourd for doing things a certain way, you respect her opinion, and she respects yours. And the differences don't harm the friendship, because the value of the friendship trumps the differences of opinion. Unfortunately, I'd let myself lose sight of this important revelation in evaluating my friendships over the years.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The wheels on the baggage go round and round

I noticed a friend who has lived in my computer for many years deactivated her crackbook page again. She does that periodically because she recognizes what the vortex does to her life and that she needs to step away from it. I applaud her for that, because she has ovarian fortitude that I lack in that regard. Slowly though, I am actually nearing that point myself. I'm still stewing over my losses, and haven't given a whole lot of effort to the attempt at amends. I'm still deciding if I even want to, or actually should do it. I know I should, at least to apologize for leaving certain people high and dry from my end of the fence. They may not see it that way, and just see it as their own evolution that left me in their dust. I won't know till I take that step though. I'm still working up my nerve to do it, just like I'm still working up the nerve to get back on the motorcycle. It will happen, I just don't know when my cajones will appear and make it happen.

In any case, I was talking to L on the phone since she isn't online at this point, and we shared our burdens with each other, looking at the blessings and silver linings of each situation. Interestingly enough, there were parallel threads with us both. I'd experienced my own version of her disappointment, and likewise, she'd had her own version of the one I am experiencing. She said even though her mind has reasoned that she needed to cut ties with people, she still feels IMMENSE guilt for doing so. We talked of forgiving others, and ourselves. We've always heard that we should forgive those who have done wrong by us. And for many folks, forgiving equals letting those offenders back into your picture. Forgiving, in fact, does NOT mean we have to allow them back. It just means we don't let the hurt they caused to remain as a weight on our own shoulders. Reconciling is a completely different bird, that has feathers of forgiveness in its plumage. Forgiving just means you don't have to lug around that heavy baggage of resentment, guilt and revenge.

L is also Catholic, with an excellent Southern Protestant upbringing full of Biblical Scriptures. She's got excellent timing with the verses she shares with me. This recent conversation bore "My yoke is easy and  my burden is light" to which I remarked "yea, cuz I put wheels on my baggage." That imagery sent her into a bit of a giggle. Leave it to me to not let things stay heavy too long. Levity is one of my many coping mechanisms. Lately though, I'm not as light-hearted, snarky, sarcastic, amusing, interesting, humorous,  - the usual Feisty stuff. I'm feeling weighed down with mental and emotional clutter. And it's causing difficulty pretty much everywhere. Rather than chucking the burdens, I put wheels on them and schlepped them EVERYwhere with me. All I'm doing is wearing out my shoes, my shoulders, my heart and mind. The whole problem is getting to be pervasive, and that is really annoying. I liken it to dragging a suitcase along on a plane, along with a bunch of other loose odds and ends that won't stay in another bag, and keep falling out of it. If I'd checked that suitcase, I could have less difficulty handling whatever was spilling out of that other bag. Nope, instead I put wheels on it, compounding my own challenge, and the trip becomes a chore, instead of an enjoyable journey.

What baggage have you put wheels on, and schlepped along behind you? How much of it should you have just jettisoned, restructured, or framed differently?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The suck sucks.

"Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process" - AJ Jacobs, Real Simple, May 2012
I literally JUST read this line in an article about being creative and how that prolongs mental acuity, and had to stop to brain-dump. I've been stewing on things for several days. And I don't like what I've recognized. 

I have royally screwed up on something very important to me. And I managed to blindside myself with it to boot. It's been a long time coming, and I was oblivious to it till it was too late to save as much of it as I could have. Of course, anyone who knew me from childhood knows I take comfort and refuge in my oblivion, as I'm painfully aware of so many other things that spurn any number of thoughts and emotions.

What have I killed? My relationships with people who aren't in my face daily, or live in my computer. Therein lies my problem. My most valuable connections have become those that live online. It started when I found out my friend was given a proverbial death-sentence a few months ago. For the record, she's still defying those doctors, albeit not quite as feistily as she has in the past. I learned via her blog, a few days after her post. It wasn't via phone, in person, or heck, even a private message on crackbook. Ouch. I'd made myself unavailable and less present in her life, and learned this detail like pretty much everyone else did.

Then, I decided that with the first day of school, I should celebrate the quiet my days can have between the schlepping tasks that I mourn having to do. I posted a "hey let's do a woohoo/boohoo coffee at my house", and 99% of the responses came from people who live in my computer and so many miles away that it requires days in a car, or boarding a plane and me schlepping them from the airport for the visit to happen. One person made it, one person was on the way out the door when something came up, one person simply had too many things for her own family to do she couldn't come. Everyone else was either working, or doesn't see me as important in their life to come join me. I haven't made efforts, why should they, right?


I reasoned that I'd deferred my social life to my husband's school schedule, need for study and homework time that didn't involve also minding his spawn so I could be the social butterfly. That's only partially accurate. A part of it is also fiscal. That mom-bus is not the beacon of fuel efficiency, and with all the driving that I *must* do for my family of 6, there comes a point that I fail to muster the wherewithal to do any driving if I even wanted to do it. Plus, given the unemployment/underemployment of our lives the last couple years, I simply couldn't afford the 60 mile round trip to the yarn shop, 16, 20 or 60 to a friend's house when I have to spare the wear & tear, and fuel just get where I must be.

Honestly though, the larger blame falls squarely on MY shoulders. I could have picked up the phone. I could have dragged the toddler with me, and shortened the visits according to the toleration she or my friends demonstrated with the situation. I relied too heavily on a virtual connection to people, and my personal connections fell by the wayside.

So now, I have almost zero turnout to an invitation, I get a cool reception when I try to join a conversation at church with people who were happy to see me 2 years ago, I find friends from church have ended the virtual friendship online after other friends were strongly disagreeing with what was said on the internet. I apologized to the now-unfriended friend, but I think that relationship is soured terribly over it. And I'm the loser in it all. She's an awesome person. And then I had NO idea she had some major and scary health issues involving surgery. No one tells me anything anymore, and that hurts too. I do care, but my actions state otherwise apparently. Again, that was my mistake, and I failed them and myself.

I have friends who have moved into another circle that I doubt I'll ever join, simply because my kids probably won't be attending the parish school. These families post pictures of communal activities, and I think "wow, that looked like fun", and then the sour "would have been nice to be invited". And I look, and everyone present has a child at the school. I understand that they're connected that way, and I hold no ill regard for it. But in at least the 2 parishes where I've been for more than a few months or years, I see it every time. I am (or at least was) friends with some of these people prior to their joining that club of school parents. It stings. I called a couple of them out on it about 5 years ago and was told it was imagined. Really? Then how about asking the people you know from church whose kids do NOT attend the parish school if they want to carpool to and from youth group meetings, or go sit at Starbucks or Panera while the kids are there, so we don't have to drive all the way back home or find something nearby to do so we can save the gas going home and coming back again 2 hours later. So far, none of them have. I'm not in their faces often enough to remind them that I want to have a friendship with them. And I don't want to be that annoying fly who keeps showing up and buzzing around unwanted. So I leave them alone more, furthering the chasm in our friendship.

The other night I told my husband that I basically left a friend whose husband deployed last year high and dry. When we learned of the impending orders, I told myself that I would make myself available to help her when ever I could, because she was amazingly available when Blur was a baby. I understood the stresses of deployment, having dealt with it myself when the boys were raucous preschoolers who drove me to want to drink (and I did). And what did I do? I figured that she was busy with work, baseball for her son, gymnastics for her daughter, had help from her mom, helped her mom with grandma, had come to rely on another friend whose kids went to the same school - and I left her alone. I was either afraid of imposing on her, or I was impeccable with the timing of a call (shower, bathroom, walking in to work, at the game...take your pick, I'm stellar with timing), or I was afraid to call and catch one of those moments. BIG OUCH. She's moved on to other friendships that don't include me. She's still happy to see me, but I don't know that our friendship is the same either.

I suck as a friend. I have long known this about myself, because of a genetic tendency to circle my wagons when certain kinds of chaos appear in my life. It's not entirely an acceptable excuse.
I'm sitting here with my eyes welling because I am mad at myself and, yes, even those I call friends, acquaintances, etc. Mostly I'm mad at myself. I've hurt myself, and my friends. And knowing that about myself sucks. I really DO value my friends, and the friendships I have with them. I just fail to show it. And I'm sorry. I need to call these people directly and apologize, but at the moment, this measly apology for the world to see online is all I can muster at this moment. I'm still raw and angry and hurt. And I know myself enough that I need to make peace with myself and this situation a little before I make those calls. I don't want to start out apologizing for being distant and unavailable, and end up unleashing on them, negating the apology by blaming them for their share of the chasm in our friendship.

So, if you're one of those friends I've let fall off my radar, or I've fallen of yours, I apologize. This is me attempting to embrace the suck that I've created, so I can try to figure out what to do next about any of it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Life, and how you live it

Today, I was scheduled to read at Mass. No big deal, it's old hat by now for me. But somehow, in rushing around to get out the door (forgetting to bring my electronic leash), I ended up with some kind of unprovoked anxiety, complete with elevated heart rate and shallow breathing. I was having the worst time centering myself and clearing my mental clutter. I was pleasantly surprised to see our pastor Monsignor H celebrating Mass today, versus our usual, the associate pastor, Father L. Whoever schedules the priests really needs to consider a rotating schedule, and not hogging Msgr H to whatever Mass that person attends. We love Father L, but Msgr H has some awesome homilies that we don't get to hear as often. Seeing Msgr H in the vestibule, I stopped to greet him and share my delight in seeing him in vestments instead of just his collar. He always has a thought provoking question when we encounter each other. I love how his mind works to make me think about things I wouldn't normally.
Today, he asked "Do you think it's a fair question to ask what people's mindsets are walking into the doors of the church, and what they are as they leave?"
I said "Absolutely, it's a fair question. I know for myself I'm usually rushing to get here on time, and be early when I'm reading, and then sometimes fighting with traffic, and inconsiderate drivers en route. Today was not horrible trying to get out the door on time, but I was a bit rushed because I had to be early. I made great time driving here with no issues. But somehow, I ended up with a bad adrenaline rush that I've had the hardest time clearing away so I can be calm. So I imagine that others are fighting with distractions and diversions and struggling to clear their minds before Mass starts." He shared his thoughts, but wasn't able to finish them, as someone else needed to speak to him. Such is the life of a shepherd.
How awesome was that kind of Divine Intervention in hearing what I needed to hear, and articulating what was going on with me at that exact point in time. I somehow managed to get myself squared away so I could do my job. All the readings talked about living. Today's Gospel reading mentioned the word "life" 9 times. Then Msgr H's homily talked about the readings talking about life, and living it appropriately. He moved on to talk about the NASA Rover Curiosity, and how it will explore unknown places. He asked us to imagine a rover exploring our parish, and how it could be determined that the parish was alive. He asked us to imagine a rover exploring our hearts, and determining if we were living our lives appropriately.
I'm certainly guilty of letting the diversions get more of my attention than they deserve. Right now, I'm supposed to be matching up my coupons to the sales this week so I can restock the house with groceries. We're nearing "Mother Hubbard's Cupboards". But I had to get this out of my brain before I got too diverted and lost it, because I really felt like I needed to share it. I am prone to being easily distracted and my focus gets placed somewhere other than where it's most needed. I prefer to blame my ADD brain, which is only partially accurate. I still am responsible for what I do, and what I fail to do, regardless of how my brain is wired. Today's conversation with Msgr H gave me food for thought, and the homily drove home the point. With school starting, I really do need to make wiser use of my time, and allow fewer diversions to detour my day as much as I have allowed them to do up to this point. I could be so much more productive and have fewer "aw, crap" moments in my life.

How about you? What kind of diversions detour you from what you should be doing? What else can you accomplish if you set aside any number of diversions in your day?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sleep deprivation

I live it.

I am a night owl, by some strange quirk, and it makes for some interesting events. Even as a kid, I was wide awake late into the night when my peers were getting tucked into bed HOURS before I even cracked the first yawn. I'm not a morning person, and require coffee-kick-starting. This week, Evil Genius has been going in to work at FIVE IN THE MORNING. Kill. me. please. This means I get up at 4:15 to take him to work, because he doesn't have a car yet. There have been a couple days that I got up after only a few hours of napping, and one of those nights, I don't even think I caught what could be considered a nap. Dinner has suffered for my lack of energy to think, much less plan or prepare food for the less-occupied household. It's much quieter since Clone and Beast left town with my father-in-law last week. Clone is at camp, and having an ABSOLUTE BLAST! The pictures I am seeing of her show a radiant smile and sheer joy. And I'm eternally grateful to the two aunts who trade their services as nurses in exchange for camp tuition. It would be fiscally out of the question if I had to cough up the cash for her to go. So, I get to live vicariously through my daughter, always a slight pang of envy because she's been given this amazing opportunity. Beast is helping my father-in-law clean up PawPaw's lake house. PawPaw died right before Thanksgiving, and left the house to the grandchildren. It avoided some of the pesky debates that would have come up otherwise. My son and his father's father are a fair bit alike, even though the boy has feet that are identical to my dad's, minus the gross toenail from an injury.

But life here must go onward, and onward it does go. The rest of us here are going to work, pecking along...and I'm just barely scraping myself off the couch some days. I'm thankful for the McCoffee the boy brings to me in my mom-bus, with the requisite creamer and sugar to doctor it up to my taste. Smart child that he is, he brings me a large. I have trained him well in the art of avoiding a cranky mom. Of course, if he got a car so he could take himself to work, or managed to not be scheduled any earlier than say, 6 in the morning, I could probably deal with it. But the sleep deprivation is a minor trade-off for getting a child to his job. This is especially monumental considering there was a time I was seriously thinking this boy was going to be the death of me, himself, or others in the process of getting him through adolescence.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Food...and my yammering about it

Growing up broke, living off 2nd (or 8th) hand tangibles, I didn't have the same kind of upbringing my peers got. Mom didn't learn to cook from her mother, or anyone else. We ate some gross stuff, some weird stuff, and lots of carbs. The only thing Mom cooked well was roasted chicken and egg noodles with TONS of butter, but it was probably margarine. Dad's parents were Irish immigrants and the only way his mother cooked was to boil everything, and you brought the salt shaker to the table. To this day he STILL salts his food first before tasting the first bite.

So when my sister went to the doctor at the end of 2011 for an issue with sleeping 99.999% of the day during certain parts of her cycle, her doctor sent her to an endocrinologist who told her on the first visit that if she didn't get the carbs out of her diet, she was going to be diabetic inside of a year. Well those labs came back the opposite - sis is actually hypoglycemic. She still needed to get off the carbs though. Her physiology just doesn't do well when wheat is involved, plus she has other allergies to tomatoes, beans (legumes), and I forget what else. In her search for foods and recipes that she COULD eat, she found Paleo-style eating. And she's done really well eating this way. She eats more calories per day than before (1500 easily vs the <1000 she ate previously). She weighs less, feels better overall, and has more mobility where she previously had injuries that plagued her ability to walk through the house. Of course she weighs less, she's fueling her metabolism instead of scaring it into dormancy for lack of sufficient fuel. In turn she's been preaching her diet to anyone that would listen, and anyone whose eyes glazed over after several hours listening to it anyway.

Prior to her diagnosis I had been cutting back on my sugar intake for a few months. I've encountered varied levels of success in the last year. I found that in general, I crave less in the way of baked goods, carbs and sweets in general. It started by simply reducing the sugar in my coffee by one spoonful. After a while, I didn't need as much sugar in my coffee. This does not entirely apply to coffee I have gotten from McDonald's or Chick-Fil-A, as their brews are just really bold and strong. It's not bad, so much as just stronger than I usually have my own home brewed coffee. Even then, I'm not putting as much sugar in the strong coffee as I was before making a conscious effort to reduce the sugar intake.

Sis found an Irish blogger who eats Paleo, and shared the link with me. We're all over on crackbook too, but seeing as how this is a slower paced, easier to follow blog I'm just gonna share it here. The little I've perused, has been interesting. But the crackbook page/wall/timeline (what ever the hell it's called anymore) has some useful bits too.

In the meantime, my sister's improvement can be summed up nicely with: it's a VAST improvement over a year ago. My improvement can be summed up with: I crave protein and vegetables frequently before I'll crave sweets. Tonight, Evil Genius wanted to eat at Subway, and I didn't want anything. Except, they have white chocolate macadamia cookies and those are some of my favorites. And I only ate one cookie. A year ago, I would've eaten 2, and seriously considered eating the others. And the one I did eat seemed like a lot to me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I feel validated

I am a self-proclaimed slacker parent. I am NOT one of those helicopter, lawn mower, or incessantly intervening parents. This blurb online is one of many articles and anecdotes that confirm for me that I'm not doing it wrong. I have not scheduled my kids for anything except doctor's appointments and religious education classes. I've kicked them outside to play without structure, instruction beyond basic safety rules, and their own imaginations. If they took an interest in something, I let them take that lead. I have kids who, like my husband, do not like for me to nudge them too much. It becomes nagging after about the second time I open my mouth. At that point, they decide to immediately do the exact opposite of what I have been suggesting. It didn't take me long to figure out their modus operandi, and subsequently, alter my own when dealing with any of them. The kids have my big feet, and his method of doing things - their own. How's that for genetic quirks?

So, I can find enjoyment being a parent because these guys have their own minds and methods. Oh wait, that's how I wanted them to be. I have always wanted kids who could function in the world, apart from me, because I still haven't fully enjoyed my mid-life crisis, nor have I cracked too far into my bucket list. Then there's that whole issue of mortality. What kind of legacy do I want to leave via my children? Do I want kids who grow up completely incapable of handling the slightest wiggle to what life pitches?  Or do I want kids that make use of the brain and common sense God gave them? Yes, the toilet overflows occasionally. So reach back here and shut off the water supply before it gets REALLY messy, and this is how you go about effectively unclogging it without making it worse. Don't curl up in the corner sitting in poo water, whimpering about getting stinky and wet.

This morning, I was dragged from my bed at 5:10 to get Evil Genius to work at 6. We arrived at 5:36 to find 3 cars of employees waiting since 4:00 to be let in the door, and the building locked and alarmed. My 19 year old is in training to be a manager 8 months after starting his first McJob, because we drilled life's lessons into his brain, and he saw the examples we set and emulated them. He started calling the managers whose numbers he has. Secondary access to the building was gained, an alarm code shared, and employees could finally start prepping - 2 hours later than they should have been. From my mom-bus, I heard grumbling and whining from the other cars. Those are the same kids whose feelings will get hurt when they have to eventually answer to Evil Genius. How unfortunate that they were not happy to be able to get their work done finally. They would have preferred to sit in the parking lot looking at an empty building as customers came through, expecting their usual breakfast and coffee. They were going to get paid whether they sat or worked, and who wouldn't rather sit and collect a paycheck? (After a while, I'd find it boring and old, and start getting restless.) Meanwhile Evil Genius set about getting the workday started. THAT is the kind of result to my parenting that I was aiming toward. He hates being bored, and thrives on staying busy. He was a horrible kid when he was bored. He's not nearly as hyper and angry anymore since landing this job. The chaos to my calendar is an acceptable trade-off in exchange for seeing my son do a job he likes, and learning to lead.

However, I could absolutely do without this massive caffeine withdrawal headache from not getting coffee when I dropped him off, and coming home to crawl back in the bed. I should have stayed awake and had coffee at home.  Another lesson: the smallest of things you do, can have impact elsewhere.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Progress of my peace

I'm slowly making peace with my defiant friend's slow exit. I still suck as a friend, and I'll always regret that. My friend isn't on the imminent deathbed with the "last call". But when you feel your body betraying you, and nothing's working right, and you're always feeling like crap, and a good day is just a LESS crappy day, you generally prefer to warn people that your body isn't Tupperware with a nifty replacement guarantee when it breaks. And when people like me get those kinds of warnings after such a plucky individual defies every odd and prediction with gusto for DECADES, I take those warnings very seriously. My kneejerk reactions are often TOO serious, and I end up making things worse. But I am wired to just blow off what ever initial reaction comes to me and move forward. I hope I got the better part of the emotional ugly out of the way the other day. I have been spared the pain of losing a lot of people around me in my life. My husband has not, so his reactions to death are vastly different from mine. I didn't know this detail about him till the other day when I shared with him that my emotional guts were all tangled and I was useless most of that day. Even 20 years together with my husband, and I am still discovering little tidbits about him. Meanwhile, I'm generally an open book most times. So I just brain dump somewhere - a friend, here on the blog, over on Crackbook, who ever is willing to put up with my blathering for a while. I do better once I've gotten whatever it is off my mind and heart and get that kind of roadblock out of my way. Then I plug the cracks and leaks, and I pick up and keep going. Life doesn't stop just because I'm having an emotional or mental explosion. I don't have the wherewithal to just stop and crawl in a hole. That just makes me crazier. When I get certain kinds of energy, I just have to expend it somehow. It's not always pretty either. The other day was just plain ugly. I imagine there will be other unpleasant moments as I move along this part of my journey. I can't *always* be sunshine, rainbows and fairy farts. But I can be honest about what's on my mind, in my heart and go back and apologize when I've gone overboard.
I do have regrets, but that's a short list by comparison to those things that I count as blessings. I have so many that I can't even begin to name them all. I'm grateful for all of them, and don't think I'll ever repay them, or even pay them all forward. But I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for other people in my life.

Also, 19 years ago at an UNGODLY hour of the morning, after an overnight labor with a young, albeit awesome labor coach who has stuck around all this time, a mini human emerged. So, to my oldest, Happy Birthday! You're becoming quite an amazing person, and I am so glad all those lectures about work ethic and common sense sunk in after all.
And to myself : Happy BirthING Day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Must Make Peace

I'm having the worst challenge making peace with losing my friend, and trying to achieve it before she leaves this earth. She told me this morning via IM that she feels like things are shutting down, and she's not lucid, she's hallucinating and trying to fight a high fever. I'm in tears as I type this, because I haven't fully made peace with this impending loss. But I either need to hurry up about it or it's just going to compound things for me when she does leave and die. I always have difficulty with death, and she knows this, and she's been trying to help me. Meanwhile other friends around her have been jumping ship and ending things on their terms. I am no hero, and I'm no saint. And I haven't been over to visit. I'm feeling like a horrible friend, but I can't just fall off the face of the earth either. It's just not right. I hate funerals, too. I have been known to avoid them because I just loathe them. I don't want people boohooing over losing me. I'm pretty sure she doesn't either. As a matter of fact, she wants everyone to go to Disney. That's her happy place. And I'm ever-grateful that the year Disney let you in for free on your birthday, that we went together on my birthday without kids (well, except the freshly planted one that was suspected but not confirmed) and had a blast. She jokes that she got me knocked up on the teacups. She always introduces me to people as her friend from high school who married the high school sweet heart, has four kids and is still skinny, and STILL has sex with her husband! (Well, that's what you're *supposed* to do!)
And as I'm standing in my kitchen, with tears and snot filling my face, my 10 year old is making a fruit salad for herself, and singing "yummy yummy, fruit salad!", I think in an attempt to cheer me up a little. I'm creeping and inching towards making peace with my friend's impending demise, but I hate death. I hate being left behind. I hate it for the others even closer to her being left behind. And I look up and see the chainmaille bracelet she made for me that went on her sale table at one point, and remember her saying "I made this for you, and then when we didn't see each other for ages, I figured I'd try to sell it, but it didn't fit anybody. It was too small for EVERY one. You skinny bitch, you have a custom bracelet. Happy Birthday." The bracelet resides on my fridge mostly because it's got a magnetic closure, and I'm prone to losing things. And it's a happy reminder of my friend since 9th grade. So it stays there when I'm not wearing it. And now my 2 year old is telling me "it's ok mama" and wanting up so she can get snuggles. And she just told me I need to blow my nose lol. She's right. There's a LOT of snot in my nose right now. I'm gonna need a big box of heavy duty tissues.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

a losing battle

So, in 9th grade I met this chick who was ballsy and didn't care what people thought, or at least she made me think she didn't care. But she had her own drummer and I admired that. I knew I had to be her friend, because she was not the same kind of dink I'd been encountering my first year back in public school after three years of Catholic education. Fast forward through several adventures to our senior year of high school. I already had a baby and woops, another one coming. I told ONE person who I thought I could trust - woops, she told another friend in the middle of class. As more and more people came up to me asking if I was pregnant again, I denied the accusation and grew increasingly angry at the betrayal. I suddenly found myself not knowing who to trust, so to protect myself the last few months of school, I cut everyone off except the father of my children, and our families.
Life carried on for everyone, and several years later, my friend and I found each other on AIM in a chat room, lost touch, then again via MySpace. We migrated to Crackbook and Blogger. Our girls love hanging out when we finally get together anymore. We went from living 10 miles apart to 20 miles apart to 30 miles apart, as we each moved to much nicer houses. She'd get sick, so I'd give her the time and space to recuperate and not feel like she has to entertain me. I have impeccable timing and always called when she was asleep. Then I'd promise to call back, get sidetracked with other stuff and forget to call. Then weeks would go by and we'd occasionally breeze past as we waved on crackbook. And then she posted a blog saying she was dying. Well, ok, it wasn't the most personal way to learn this news, but then again, I am guilty of not being more present in her life to get a phone call. She knows I don't deal with loss well at all, and we're both not the kind to keep it depressing and boo-hoo-ey. Snark is quick to follow. So, she probably figured that it was easier to break the news en masse on her blog, and let people digest it their own way and then take the next step.
She was born with a bad heart, and to shorten it all, she's died numerous times, defied doctors, and should have expired 11 years ago by all their accounts of things. But she's allergic to all the drugs, and a transplant isn't an option. As one gung-ho cardiologist got all hard-chargin' superhero on her, the cardiologist who GETS her said to Dr Wanna-Be-A-Hero, "She won't survive the anti-rejection meds, you dumbass." She now has a 19% ejection fraction, and only one chamber of her heart is functioning. She keeps fighting every day she can for another minute, another hour, another day because her daughter has no other ally, advocate, or teacher. She's decided to homeschool the rest of the time she can because it's the only way her daughter will get an education. This brilliantly funny girl is not a vegetable, but she's not being accepted by the kids and teachers in mainstream classes either.
And I suck as a friend, so I only learn of things via blog posts and crackbook status updates, not because I've stayed connected with someone. My life is its own brand of crazy, and all my friendships have suffered for it. And I was that friend that just disappeared. That's not what I want to be, and I shouldn't have gotten to that point. Meanwhile my friend has had plenty of friends fall off the face of the earth, some flat out say "I can't lose a friend on these terms, I'd rather lose a friend on my terms" - throwing up the deuces and walking away. At least they did that much. Some folks have become that really strong velcro that refuses to let go. You know the kind that catch the waistband of your underwear and pulling them apart frays the elastic so badly you can't fathom wearing that pair anymore? Yea, that's a couple people in her life. And she's had to deal with all of it. Meanwhile, my wagon-circling over here in my neck of the woods has unfairly left her hanging, and thinking I am not going to handle losing my friend. But even when you see it coming, even 8 or 9 years long, you still hold out hope that odds will again be defied and you can at least get closer to an age where people are *supposed* to start dying off on you. So, no, I won't handle it well. I never handle death well. My mom's death was hard, but in reality, we weren't ever really close. I think it was harder dealing with my dad's mourning than it was to actually mourn my own loss of my mother. But losing a friend who has peppered your life off and on over the last 22 years is a different ball of wax. Losing a friend forces you to start looking at your own mortality in a different light.

A few years ago she gave me a plaque just like this one. It's always been a joke between us because I'm 2 weeks older than she is, which for me is funny because almost all my friends are older than I am. But the unspoken story was that we both knew what was coming, and that there was more truth to this joke than either of us ever wanted to admit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Satin and Ripples

Devildog has a friend who is a member of the Navy League. For the last 20 years, the Navy League has marked the commemoration of the World War II battle at Midway Island. There is extensive fundraising involved to cover the costs of the event. The ticket prices don't even cover the entire cost. They rely on donations and sponsorships to make it happen. Devildog's friend sponsored a table at last year's event, and invited us to it. I got dressed up in a formal I'd worn to a Marine Corps Birthday Ball 13 years earlier (yes it still fit) and we had a great time. I was also humbled and amazed by the stories of true heroism, and real surviving at is most intense level. So, of course, this year I wanted to go again. First of all, I love dressing up and second - what better reason than honoring these heroes? I started dress shopping almost 2 months beforehand and was coming up bust. I couldn't afford much, and then there are fit issues, made worse by what has amounted to a longer recovery than I expected from a motorcycle accident. After trying on probably 50 dresses, I finally found a dress on cheaper than anything I was finding even in the local second-hand stores. It arrived in the nick of time, but the hot pink shoes I was thinking I could wear didn't work. So I had to search for shoes that fit my paltry budget, AND my not so dainty feet. It took several days, and trying on about 30 pairs of shoes before I found something that fit both my budget and my feet, and didn't clash with the dress. I think I'm just going to start shopping now for next year's dress. I find things more easily when I'm not pressed for time and the really good deals are going to be available later in the year, more so than at the peak of prom shopping season. Then you add the task of accessories, and I was about to go crazy with my perfectionism complicated by the budget. I have found items that hopefully will be able to use for a few years. My aunt Rita accidentally left some things at my house back in 2005 when she was here for my mother's funeral, and I took the liberty of wearing a bracelet she left behind. I figured that she wouldn't mind, and it was kind of like having a connection to my family's military roots present as well. My mother's father, three half brothers, and two nephews served in some capacity. My father spent a few years as an Army orderly at the end of WWII, with his iron stomach and hardy Irish immunity, in the sick wards with guys who "drank the water" as my dad puts it. My husband, his father, grandfather, and a slew of other relatives on his side served in the military. Needless to say, there is a strong connection for us to this event, and why we feel compelled to go.
This year marked the 70th anniversary of that battle, occurring 6 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was promised to be a big deal, and indeed it was.
At each table is seated a veteran who fought at the battle on Midway Island, was a former Prisoner of War, or is a wounded warrior of more recent military conflict. During the evening, each branch is honored and all over the room those who have served in any military capacity rise as the Navy Band plays a service song medley. Then things move on to honoring the veterans from Midway. These guys are now in their 90s for the most part. At this year's event was a 99 year old retired Rear Admiral, plus a Medal of Honor recipient from Vietnam. Most of the ones in attendance are still ambulatory, have their wits about them, and will flirt with anyone they can - because they can.
This year's Midway Veterans, keynote speaker, and nearby base commanders.
(Photo: J. Vargo)

This year our Wounded Warrior was Stephen & his wife Kimberly. I didn't get much of his story, as it's still a raw and ongoing situation for them. But he was injured in "The Sandbox" as it's become known, and is now working as a funeral director. They're expecting their first child, and they can't wait to finally meet him.
Last year, the honoree at our table was Captain Richard Stratton. He was a POW for 2,551 days. This year's bio that was read to us was not nearly as interesting as last year's. As it was told to us, he and other POWs in Vietnam were forced to be part of propaganda videos stating that they were being well taken care of, when in fact, it was everything otherwise. In one of the videos the then-Lt. Commander was forced to make, he was reading the script, and out of sight of the captors but caught on film, he extended the middle fingers of both hands. At that point, I understood why a bunch of ruffians from the softball team got seated with this particular veteran. He lives near the commissary where Devildog works (too bad the leadership makes it a sucktacular experience), and Capt. Stratton makes a point to find reason to tease Devildog any time he's in the store.
Also at this year's event was photographer William "Bill" Roy. He was on the Yorktown (CV-5) at Midway. He was capturing images of the battle when the Yorktown was hit, and began to sink. The abandon ship order came, and Bill stuffed as many film canisters as he could into his life vest and jumped into the water. He was picked up by another ship, and captured images of the Yorktown as it sank in the Pacific Ocean. Those images have been used in numerous publications over the years. Mr. Roy was snapping pictures of the displays just seconds before Devildog asked to have his picture taken with Mr. Roy.
I am looking forward to going again next year, and again enjoying an evening of delicious dinner, gratitude, humility, stories of heroism, and making a new friend. I have told several other people about this event, and I'm hoping that there is some result to my efforts to get word out about the Navy League's endeavor to honor those who have served and continue to serve in the military. I didn't know about it till last year, and it was the largest-attended event last year. This year, the event had 830 in attendance, which is a new record. It is a small note in the history books, and I was able to be part of it. But those being honored are a far bigger and more important part of history. At the time though, they were just simply doing their jobs, and doing what had to be done to survive, and never imagined their actions in those single moments would carry the major impact it has. It just goes to show how in an instant, one minor decision you make could have some serious ripple effect that reaches farther than anyone ever truly knows.

So, if you can't find, or can't get to a Midway Dinner near you, find your nearest Navy League auxiliary, and consider a donation to help them make these events across the country possible. Sponsor a table, sponsor the hotel accommodations for one of the veterans, sponsor the tickets for an honoree, or any portion of the expense it takes to commemorate a battle that turned the tables on World War II, honors the aging members of The Greatest Generation and their contributions to it, as well as giving credence and honor to those who served in Vietnam, Korea, and the Middle East. These Midway Vets are around 90 years old or older, and the simplest "thank you" makes them smile. Imagine their pride swelling as a room full of people give them a standing ovation, grateful for their presence on that day in history, and in that room.  For some, this year's dinner will be their last, as their health fails, and their bodies expire in the circle of life.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So, I am exhausted, brain fried and do not expect to catch a nap at all today.
Therefore, my wit and snark has eluded me for this post.
However, all 2 of you reading my blog, feel free to ask me questions, and I'll answer them to the best of my diminished ability.
Ok, so it's not just that I'm at a loss for material, but because I'm an attention whore like that too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New discovery

I was shaving my legs in the shower and discovered that my bruises go down to my foot too. I thought it was just on my leg, but nope, apparently I missed this detail in previous funk removal sessions. The knee is still heavily bruised and I'm still having circulation issues, but the swelling is improving. I'm working on rebuilding my hand, and trying not to overdo it and negate the progress. And the road rash is healing rather soon for what I expected. It's not nearly as ugly as it used to be, and I will probably have scars.

Now if I could keep the Blur from bumping into, kicking, or otherwise hitting the knee, I'd be pleased. It's a daily incident to have impact with the knee and some part of her person. *sigh* and OW.
I'd also be thrilled if she would make the connection with going to the bathroom and using the toilet. We're making progress, but ugh, cleaning up bodily functions of a 2 year old is not the kind of party I want to be having. I keep reminding myself that Clone was almost 3 before the light switch flipped in her brain.

In the meantime, my body is revolting and it doesn't appear that sleep will attempt to elude me, but the exact opposite.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A week after the crash

I have been hosting some friends rather unexpectedly the last several days, so I have been unable to post much of an update to how I'm doing. However, I did manage to sneak in an update video yesterday while everyone was out of the house. It took several takes, but this is the best of the lot, and I have no clue why my camera and mic settings were screwy, nor could I figure out what was wrong with them. So, we'll just have to live with what looks like Asian monster movie dubbing over in English.

Ever so thankful I'm only colorful and banged up and that it was not worse. And I pray that the occupants of the cars around me (and there were several) gleaned a lesson from this as well.

Meanwhile, I'm bumbling around, getting things done, despite being opposable thumb challenged.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Post Crash, Day 4

So, here I am day 4, and while I am not 100% by any means, I am MUCH improved.
I was able to work a couple store service calls yesterday, and I'm going to attempt 4 today so I can be home tomorrow. We'll see how it goes by lunchtime.
I want to thank everyone for their concern, prayers, admonishment, advice, and love.

Devildog is having fun teasing me about my injuries and of course giving me flack for dropping his bike. But he's not being a jerk about any of it, and for that, I am also grateful.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rockin something alright

I went for a ride around the neighborhood to practice my skills on Sunday. I got 5 blocks from home, and went down. I'm grateful it was 20 mph, and not 40 or 75. I'm grateful I was 5 blocks away, and not 5 miles or 5 hours away.

(pardon the crummy quality of the video)

I'm grateful I was wearing most of my gear. Most is key here. I could've avoided the road rash on my left arm with the jacket. That was the one thing I didn't have on me, and knew I should've had it on when I left. The long sleeve shirt was not enough even for 20 mph. I slid about 4 feet. My knee hurts and is swollen, and that's with me wearing the thickest pair of jeans I own. My arm hurts and is gross. And my right thumb is in a brace b/c I did a number on it. I don't know how long it will be till it's healed and I can get back on the bike.

Devildog has been kind about it. He got Humpty back together again, but had to swap the handlebars out for the originals, and he's not all that thrilled about them. I'm so sorry honey. It sucks and I hate being the reason for it. I bent the handlebars just enough that you don't know it till you look carefully.

Everyone has told me that it's not a matter of IF but WHEN you lay down a motorcycle. Apparently laying it down in class wasn't enough for me. I had to do it at home too. Well, I got the "WHEN" out of the way. So instead of rocking the gear on 2 wheels, I am rocking the ibuprofin, the antibiotics and the ice packs and a stellar road rash and thumb brace.

So, I'm here as your limping P.S.A to Rock the Gear. ATGATT - All The Gear, All The Time.

And here is an update at day 4 and then again day 8/9