Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Peace, Joy, and Health

T'was the day before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse.

The sun rose and still
The pets slept without care
'Cause the boys that lived
In the house weren't there.

The mom, she was tired
And not yet done napping,
For very late into the night
She'd been wrapping.

The day stretched ahead
With cleaning and baking,
And would end at the church
With some fun music making.

She'd run back to the house
When that was done
Where her boys would be waiting
Fresh from Christmas Even Fun.

This year is different.
This year is new.
But the message carried
On by this season is true

The days will get brighter.
Up ahead, there is hope.
Remember that, when you're
At the end of your rope.

And today, take a breath.
Let it out. Take another.
While I spell out the things
We all wish for each other.

I wish you all Happiness,
Peace, Joy, and Health.
I wish you all Comfort,
And Spiritual Wealth.

May your Holiday Time
Be full of great cheer,
May Love and Compassion
Be with you this year

Now I have to go,
'Cause on time, I am tight.
Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Slideshow

OK, so for a little while now I've been all talk and nothing to show for it. Blah blah blah... show us some photos, Kathleen, or we're hanging up on you.

Fine.

Here's the catch: I don't have any new photos of the boys. I'm sorry, but when I'm with them we seem to be either doing stuff, or rushing to get somewhere, and when we're not doing those two things we're either eating or hanging out watching Dr. Who.

I do, however, happen grab my camera every once and awhile to capture other things. Such as...

These cookies I made:






This birthday cake I made for Andrew. Taste the rainbow!:



My broken oven:


The snow that snowed:




Some of my favorite Christmas Ornaments hanging on our tree:











Saturday, December 21, 2013

Around Here

Here's what you've missed:

I forgot to inspect my car last month. When I finally remembered and took it in, I was told I could not have a sticker until I replaced three tires. Apparently it's not good when you can see the fabric underneath the rubber. They are run-flats, and cost over $200. Each.

The glass on the inside of my oven door shattered during a self-clean cycle. When I opened the door, half of the glass had already fallen into the oven, while the other half waited until I had cleaned up most of the mess to fall. The glass nuggets fell in between the oven and the door, onto the top of the oven door below, and then into the lower oven when I opened that one. I'm still finding glass bits everywhere. The oven is new from when we did the kitchen last year... just a little over a year ago. Guess how long the warranty is? Yeah.

Andrew is six.

I thought I was safe taking the cone off Gunther. I removed it long enough to clean it before noticing that one of his legs were already bloody from over-attention. So frustrating.

I got a (long term temp)  job. This is a good thing. Only it is a bad thing. I am glad I got the job. I would have been devastated to not get the job. Only it's not that great a job. And I'm mourning the loss of the time I get to spend with my kids. I'm suitably terrified about childcare.

My house is a mess. I'm way behind on laundry. I'm yo-yoing between feeling on top of the world and all powerful and feeling taken advantage of and out of control. I'm sure cleaning my house while blasting music will help.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Third Child And The World

When Andrew was still very small, one of my politically charged FaceBook friends (I have a few) posted a status, or an article, about how couples deciding to have a third child would do better to consider the effect that choice would have on the planet and the destruction of our environment.

I wish I could explain exactly how I felt when I read that. I was... angry. I remember that I wanted to type something, I wanted to say something, to type something, and I couldn't really do it because my hands were shaking and I could remember to keep breathing. It was a very emotional reaction. But I wanted to say something, something not really mean, but something that would show this person, the author of the article, and all of the people who thought this way, how amazingly hurt I was.

Hurt. I was hurt, and I was emotional, and I was angry. Because in my eyes, they were telling me the world was a better place without my child. MY child. My baby. A small human being I devoted my life to, and who I had hopes and dreams and expectations for. And to clarify, none of those hopes and dreams had anything to do with harming the planet.

Yesterday, this friend posted a link to the Thought Catalog's letter to Women Who Choose Not To Have Kids. I didn't bother to read it, honestly,but today he posted that he might do a show (he's a monologist) about population, the environment, and every person's choices about how many children they are going to have.

Again, my hackles went up, but I've had some years to sort through all of the emotions and all of my reactions, so I could better identify what it was, exactly, that I was feeling.

The truth is, even when I read the original article years ago, I knew it had its merits. He was right, he had a point, and the article...  It was referring to the simply math of the situation. We have a planet with limited resources. Each person, simply by existing, uses up a number of these resources. More that two children increases the population, and uses up more of the resources, which have no time (or way) to replenish.

More than that, humans have become reckless about their belongings and their waste. We want everything to be disposable, and as soon as something is thrown out, it's out of mind. Given how the average American person disposes of items for convenience or status, the individual's footprint is growing larger and larger. As generations go on, each baby has more babies, and the population increases exponentially. Resources disappear even faster.

I realized this when Andy was an infant. My awareness of my impact on the environment was growing, and I had an infant in disposable diapers. Plastic sip-cups covered my home, and we had buckets full of plastic and electronic toys that were already broken and of no use to anyone. I made some personal choices and changes to my life to reduce our impact to the planet, choices about how often we used our car, how some of our purchases were packaged, how often we ate meat. I stopped buying things I didn't need, a decision that to this day causes people to think I'm stingy and cheap. These choices were sound choices, I believe, and responsible choices.

But none of that would make up for the fact that I brought into the world this extra person. My parents explained to us, when we were young, that each person born replaced an older person. I was born to 'replace' my mother, and my brother was born to 'replace' my father. Well then, we asked, what about our other three siblings? My parents simply pointed to my mother's unmarried sister and told us they made up for adults who had no children. Now, I knew this didn't add up or the population wouldn't be growing, but I still ticked people off when my kids were born. One for me, two for my husband, and three for... well, none of my four siblings had kids, so I should have been covered. I still felt a measure of guilt. Because, in my mind, what my parents had said was hooey, and the theory that more children meant more strain on the environment was sound.

But it isn't that simple, is it? Because we aren't talking about science, we're talking about people.

Yes, there are many women out there who do not have children. Many of these women actually make this choice not to have children, and I applaud them. There is no reason to have a child if you don't want a child. Please! It's too hard a job to go into reluctantly. And for the record, I feel I should step up here and say something about it always being WOMEN who are the odd ones for not wanting children. I know some men out there who also choose not to have children, but no one calls THEM strange. (Actually, that's no always true. Once I told my brother he was weird for not wanting kids, but I take it back now. Never say I don't admit it when I'm wrong.)

Um... where was I? Yes. Women (people) not wanting to have children. That is an OK choice. Just because I chose something different doesn't mean it's the only way. I can breastfeed and still approve of those who use formula. I can be an atheist and still tolerate those who pray. Just as long as they don't expect me to fess up to making a mistake or admit the error of my ways.

Having a child is a very charged issue. Many couples choose not to have children, but many other couples try very, very hard to have children of their own. They see doctors and have treatments and procedures and spend thousands of dollars on the off chance that they might have their own biological derivative. As baffling as this is to me, they do it, and they do it for a reason. Maybe this is the only way they can have a child. Maybe they can't adopt. Maybe they think they won't love a child if it isn't genetically related. Whatever the reason, it's theirs to have. I'm sure that anyone who has leapt through hoops and put forth such emotional investment would resent their child being described as a burden on the planet.

As would anyone who has lost a child.

We aren't logical with our children. We're emotional. We're primal.

What does this mean?

Well, it isn't just our kids. I mean, when you look at it, we're all burdens on our planet. Some more than others, depending on habits, environment, and how often we buy a new iphone. If we're going to survive, we're going to have to take a look at all of our habits, from how often we use disposable plates, to how often we upgrade our phones, to the reasons we want to have children.

Now, I know a number of families with multiple children. (Hello, I live in suburbia!). I know families with multiple children that would like to have more, some of them having more (the people down the street have 9. Nine. I go slightly crazy thinking about it.) The thing is, these families are wonderful families. The children are wonderful and brilliant and a joy. I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and that includes each member of the family with nineteen children whose parents just keep on reproducing because that's apparently what God wants. (Maybe God does want that. Maybe God wants the Earth overpopulated? I wouldn't know, I'm not a believer.) Hey, hooray for them. I disagree, but I don't think we could morally put a limit on the number of children a family could have.

But in general, the middle of the sane, reproducing-age population should take a hard look at why they're doing what they're doing. I'm not saying not to go for it. Hey, I did. I had two boys. I wanted a girl. We didn't make a decision to try, we just... stopped trying not to. Now I have three boys. Part of me wanted to keep going. Part of me wanted to try for that girl, and honestly, I can't say that, under different circumstances, I wouldn't have tried a last time.

Because I love babies. I love kids. I've loved kids ever since I was a kid. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I couldn't tell you what my house looked like or what my husband and I would do on the weekends, but I could tell you that I was going to be A MOTHER. I knew it when I was five. I knew it when I was seventeen and about to go off to college, and spent an hour at a diner staring at a baby wondering why I had to do all this other stuff when all I wanted was that squirmy thing over there. (As a side note, I was really not ready to have a baby at seventeen, and I'm very glad I went to college and went through my 20's first. I would have missed out on a lot of life, and I wouldn't be as good a parent as I am now.)

My point is, I could have more kids. I mean, in my heart, I feel as though I could parent a couple more kids. Not at the moment. At the moment I'm having a hard time remembering what day it is and getting myself in and out of bed. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm just saying that, at some point in the future, I might possibly decide I could be a parent again. But knowing what I know, I would have to give serious thought to how that child came to be mine.

There are so many options out there, people. There are children out there aching for homes. There are children out there who need temporary homes. If you're trying to fill a gap, there are other options. Especially for that second or third child.

So... this post is very long and convoluted, and I feel I must apologize for that, to some extent. I could sum up: People have many emotions when it comes to babies. It is every person's right to decide if he or she wants to become a parent, and both choices are OK. It is every couples's choice as to how many children they would like to have. It is also our responsibility as humans living and caring for this planet to take into account how our actions and indeed how our very presence affect it. Part of this is re-thinking how we perceive having children and what it means to be a parent.

In the meantime, I refuse to feel guilty about what we have already. I will not regret my children, not for any reason. Asking me to do that would be unfair and evoke all the kinds of emotions that would prevent meaningful discussion. So I will cherish each one of them and teach them what I know. And part of that is to be willing to think about difficult things.










Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Andrew

Today, Andrew is 6 years old.


It's not much, turning 6. Kids turn 6 every day. The world doesn't stop turning. But it's still the most extraordinary thing. Both at once.


First of all, it's all Andy's been talking about for weeks. He's been extremely concerned because I hadn't been buying him birthday presents. (I've taken care of it.) He's been bugging me for a party, and I had to explain that we'd have one in January because December was too full already and I hadn't prepared properly. For him, turning Six is about the biggest thing that's ever happened to him, ever.

But for me... Six? Already?


When I started this blog, I was pregnant with Nathan. Andy wasn't even a blip on the radar. I can't imagine my life without my sweet and wonderful boy, but I feel as though he just got here. I am not prepared for the things six means. Bikes without training wheels, first grade, homework... Time just goes by so quickly. I want to grab every second of time with Andy that I can, do it now while he's still small enough to curl up with me in my bed for a nap and play games and help me make PBJ's.



It's not fair, really. He's such a smart kid. He can read. He can ride his bike. He has started drawing all of the time. He's learned so much and accomplished so much and I shouldn't want to discourage that. He's a marvelous boy, and every day he's growing more into the kind of older kid I am proud for him to be.

Happy Sixth Birthday, Darling Andrew!





Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Called a Schedule

Last week I say down and scheduled out the events leading us up to Christmas.

It's trickier than you might think. Remember, I'm dealing not only with my schedule, but with the boys' schedules, too. And nothing is ever as straightforward as you'd think.

So, Monday is the last day to send in a toy for the toy drive at the school. That morning I'm at the school library as a volunteer. Also, I have a music committee meeting. So I'll get Steve to take the boys.
 That's it for Monday.

Tuesday is Andrew's Birthday! He's turning six! So exciting! Except Tuesday afternoons are really, really busy, with Karate for Andy at 4:15, Karate for Nate and Nick at 5pm, and piano for Andy and Nate at 6:30. I can't reschedule piano because they don't have lessons for the next two weeks. I'll make cupcakes and we'll have them with our regular Tuesday dinner-in-the-car. We'll have to have Andy's Birthday dinner on Monday.

Monday I'll pick the boys up, take them to the mall to see Santa, buy our annual ornaments, and then go out to dinner.  Steve can come with us. We should be done in plenty of time for me to make it to Music Committee. And I'll wrap Andy's Birthday Gifts when we get back.

Wednesday I take the car to be inspected. Then that night I have Choir and the boys will be at Steve's so...

Thursday morning I can pack all the stuff we'll need for the DI meeting that afternoon - the boys will be creating gingerbread circuses out of graham crackers, ginger snaps, and sugar cones. And icing and candy. After the sugary meeting, we'll run off to Karate at 4:30 for Nate and Nick. OH! And it's the last day for some of the teachers to get teacher gifts, and I have to bake those...

Add to Tuesday AM - bake cookies at the same time as the cupcakes.

Add to Thursday take out trash. And Clean Bathrooms, because there is no other open space and that needs to happen.

And Friday is the last day of school with all of those parties. I need to buy napkins and plates and cups that are holiday themed. I'll need to go food shopping, but they had none at the grocery store or at CVS. Add to Wednesday - buy napkins, etc.  And then Andy has a playdate at 3pm. And Nick has his DI meeting after school until 4:30. Andy will skip his karate because of the playdate, but Nate and Nick have Karate again at 5pm. Sometime in there I'll pick Andy up.  Then we can have movie night and eat sugar cookies and watch Arthur Christmas or Scrooged or something.

This is all very manageable.

Only guess what? It's Monday morning, and Andrew is sick. Too sick for school. Too sick (probably) for santa and dinner out tonight.

So...

Monday, cancel the library volunteering. Email Steve and let him know we may need to reschedule Santa on Wednesday before Choir. Music committee was postponed (not because of me, ironically) so I have tonight to wrap gifts and bake cookies and figure out how Nate and Nick can conjure birthday presents for Andrew out of thin air. Also, the boys can do whatever homework they have.

Tuesday - as usual, school, library, karate, piano, dinner in the car. Only Andrew will be better (right?) and go to school so I can make all the teacher gifts.

Wednesday I take my car in, I'll run into Wal-Mart where they better have holiday themed paper dinnerware. That PM we do Santa, dinner our, then Choir, Steve will watch them here which means I have them...

Thursday morning, clean bathrooms, pay bills, DI circus, karate the day we give the teachers their gifts and I can stop thinking about them, and then

Friday, the last school day before Christmas Vacation, food shopping (buy wine), Andy Playdate, Nick DI, Nick and Nate karate, movie night, cookies, wine, and write out the schedule for the next couple of weeks so they aren't this hectic.

right?


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nibble Nibble, Little Mouse...

This year I was going to make my own gingerbread house.

Usually we purchase the pre-fab ones from the supermarket, and I just let the boys have at it with icing and the stale enclosed candies, but this year I was going to make my own, and it was going to be bigger and cooler.

What made me decide this was a logical and doable task, you might wonder? Well, when I was a kid, Linda made one that kind of resembled our house, and it was awesome! Not so great that we didn't destroy it by prying the licorice tiles off the roof.

Also, last year I saw this video of the Downton Abbey House being created out of gingerbread, and I was filled with a kind of.... I don't know. Longing. Jealousy. Need to create something that didn't fall apart in three minutes.

So last week I purchased our usual pre-fab gingerbread house for the boys to decorate. I figured I was dealing with enough and would wait until I had a little more... a little less... I would wait a couple more years.


Here she is. This year I got additional candy for the boys to use. I hope you enjoy the photos, because the house no longer looks like this. She is naked. And it's not just because of the boys. Those chocolate roof tiles were tempting.

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Shoes


You know that song New Shoes?

Want to know what Nate's shoes look like after 6 weeks?

No?

Too bad. I'm gonna show you anyway.


Take a good look at that toe area. Yes, that's right. The sole is completely coming apart from the rest of the shoe.

I have admit, my reaction when I found this shoe was not to be filed under "parenting award nominee." After all, these shoes were not the school shoes I'd gotten for the boys in September. No, these were a replacement for those shoes, which had holes in the toes and were so bad that I finally told Nate we were going to throw them away after he wore them as part of his Zombie costume at Halloween.

Recently I found them crammed under his bed. Which turned out to be OK, because he had to wear them while I replaced these grey and orange things.

"What do you do to your shoes?" I shouted, shaking the shoe in the air like it was an etch-a-sketch and the hole would erase itself if I only shook it hard and fast enough.

Nate shrugged. "I just ride my bike, is all." And by 'ride my bike' he means 'drag my feet to stop the bike.'

So I had to buy Nate a new pair of shoes.

I never know if I should buy him an expensive pair of shoes, or a cheap pair. When I buy a cheap pair, I do it knowing ahead of time they are going to fall apart, so I feel like I'm not even giving Nate a chance. I can only blame myself for the holes and the rips and tears. But when I shell out three times as much for a pair of sneakers only to have the same type of thing happen, I despair. Then I blame myself for paying out so much because of COURSE this was going to happen, it ALWAYS DOES!

Actually I went and bought him two new (medium priced) pairs of shoes. Just in case. He also has a hand-me-down pair that is slightly too big, and also still shiny enough to pass as a dress shoe, so I won't let him wear them, you know, EVER.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What's In The Box?

If you're anything like me, you've ordered a lot of things online over the past couple of weeks.

In fact, I've ordered so many different types of items from a multitude of stores, and the delivery people do not seem to be at all concerned that there might be children around begging to know what's in the box. At least all of the boxes that have arrived have been brown. When you order a larger item from certain places, such as ToysRUs, the item sometimes arrives simply in the original packaging, with the photo of the item on the front, and no way to disguise what's inside from an over-excited three year old.

Anyway, I whisk the boxes upstairs as soon as I can, and figure out what's in them later. Sometimes I know, because the store is on them. Sometimes I have no idea, because the item was actually ordered by another person.

But yesterday a large box was delivered. And by large, I mean it was huge. Andy could have stretched himself out in this box and taken a nap. And I couldn't for the life of me think of what it might be. Someone had told me to expect a delivery, but it didn't sound like anything this huge, and it was too recent a conversation for this to be that item. I was waiting for a number of smaller things, but nothing this huge.

So I chanced it and opened the box.

And that's when I remembered that I had placed an order for a number of bankers boxes for a project I was doing. Bankers boxes. Ten of them. Shipped... in a box twice their size.

Does this seem absurd to anyone else?

Monday, December 09, 2013

Can I Have A Cookie?

When I was a kid, we used to watch Bill Cosby - Himself. We thought it was hilarious. Especially the part where the toddler builds a staircase to reach the cookie she knows she's not supposed to have.

I took advantage of having the boys trapped in the car and re-enacted this little sequence for them. "What are you doing?" "I get the cookie for you!" "I don't want the cookie!" "Then can I have it?"

I was giggling as I said it, more because of how funny I was remembering it was. But from the backseat, there was silence.

"Get it?" I asked.

"I don't think two year olds are supposed to have cookies," said Nick.

"Of course they can!"

"Then did she get the cookie?"

They don't find it funny. Not at all. It's just a regular old conversation to them. Because they still do stuff like that ALL THE TIME! If not, then see the logic, but not the humor.

Before you go thinking they might be too smart, two minutes later one of them farted and they laughed until we got home. So.... yeah.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Freaky Friday

It took me a few days to get over Friday.

OK, I wasn't my best on Friday. I was still getting over Thursday. And Wednesday and Tuesday. You know how it goes. And if you don't, too bad. I'm not getting into it right now. I'll just say that I wasn't at my best.

The thing about Friday is that Nick has violin. It meets at 7:30. And by 7:30, I mean AM, as in Before School. I'm awake by 5:30, but for some reason we've never yet been able to make it out the door so that we get to school in time.

Not that it matters. No one else makes it on time, either. But still, I like to be punctual, even when others are not. Especially as I have to bring the other two boys. I have no one here to leave them with, and if I try to drive back home we usually make it just in time for the school bus to bring them right back again, only with stops. It may be boring for them, but at least they don't have to be in a vehicle.

Anyway, I usually shorten my workout, give the boys cereal and fruit for breakfast (no eggs or toast or oatmeal) and then get the boys upstairs to get dressed as quickly as possible. This Friday I was sure we were going to make it. I was in the shower before 7am, and the boys were dressed and just needed shoes.

When I hopped out of the shower at a little past 7, I shouted out to the boys to put on shoes and get ready to go.

When I got downstairs I noticed Nate's folder on the counter. "You didn't log your reading!" I said.

"I've already logged out with my teacher for the week," he said. "I don't want to write down anything else!"

"Nonsense!" I said. "You read for so long yesterday! You can write it down during the violin class!"

I walked into the living room to turn off the light. Andy was still in there, trying to put on his shoes. He screamed and cried. (It was before 7:30, you see. So it was still dark out.

I said something about needing to get into the car to go and the fact that he'd had 20 minutes to put on shoes.

I walked into the kitchen to find Nathan had removed his reading log from his folder and was painstakingly logging his "Notebook Of Doom" reading.

I started speaking very loudly about getting into the car. Nathan started speaking loudly back, because hadn't I just SAID he should write down.... etc.

I told Nate to hurry and ushered the other two boys into the car. Nick was trying to tell me about how Gunther had bumped into him and all the pages had come out of his 3-ring binder. I realized it was raining and I had to get the trash barrels.

I reached behind me and flicked off the light to the kitchen.

Nate screamed, because he was now alone in the house and it was dark.

"Well, hurry up and get out of the house, then!" I yelled. And I headed out up the driveway in the rain to retrieve the empty trash barrels before the wind blew them into the street.

When I came back, Nate was still standing in the doorway, still crying, still hadn't packed his backpack.

And again, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is one of life's tests.

Because what I want to do at moments like these, what I have a very strong urge to do and indeed what I believe I have a right to do and may be justified in doing, is scream louder. No, louder than that. I want to shake that kid and thrown things and stomp my feet and shout obscenities I haven't even learned yet. We need to go. Get in the car. We don't have TIME for this GARBAGE (only instead of 'garbage' it's something else, and also every other word is illegal.) I mean, come ON! He knows where the light switch is, if he feels he needs it.

But honestly, Nate was already a mess. He was already screaming and crying so hard he couldn't do what he was supposed to, which was to pack his backpack and sit his behind in the car.

I could have reacted better, I suppose. I could have calmed down completely and kindly taken the time to comfort him and get him to do those things on his own. And by then Nick would have missed his violin quiz, and there would be no point in even trying to make the class.

I steered Nate inside. I reminded him where the light switch was. I reminded him where his backpack was. I reminded him of how his backpack was supposed to be packed. Then I told him to get his body inside the car.

At this point steam was coming out of my ears. We were late AGAIN! We were almost not late. We were almost on time. So close.

As we pulled into the school parking lot I suddenly remembered something. "Oh no! Andy, do you have your backpack?" Andy sometimes forgets, see? Because he's so young and doesn't carry homework back and forth.

"Yes!" he said. "It's right here, see?"

And then Nate shouted, "But I forgot my coat."

How.

How can you freakin' forget a COAT? It's 30 degrees out, it's pouring rain. And you forget a COAT?

I should have just shrugged my shoulders and let him be cold, but I have this fear that the school is going to report me to Family Services for not dressing my kids and also for turning off the lights in rooms I feel should have been vacated but haven't yet been.

It all worked out, anyway. As I picked up all of the loose pages from Nick's 3-ring binder, the one Gunther bumped into and broke open, but that Nick apparently never learned to close, I realized he'd forgotten his actual book, the one with the notes in it, at home. SO I got to drive home and pick that up along with his brother's coat.

All this before... well, it was after 7:30am.

But it was before 8am.



Saturday, December 07, 2013

Hard To Shop For

I never know what to get anybody.

This video.... didn't really help. Much.

But it made me feel better about not knowing what to get folks. Maybe I'll just make everyone some cookies.

Seriously, people should consider charity gifts. More often than they do.




Dark Days

I have a confession to make.

I think I'm a little depressed.

Now I'm going to step out of myself, here. See me? I'm stepping right out of my post and I'm going to say, in a big, loud, clear voice, " Do not worry about me! I am fine, really! There is no need to be alarmed or call the cavalry! Seriously, this is just a short term thing I happen to be a little embarrassed about!"

On this blog every time I mention that I'm feeling blue I pay for it with hours of well intentioned emails and phone calls making sure I'm OK, or else I listen to another handful of people telling me I sound like I hate my life and I'm a negative person. I do not hate my life. I don't. Please don't freak out and have secret meetings about how to check me into a metal institution. I really am OK. I'm only a little bit down. Not as bad as this description here, which is one of my favorite descriptions of a battle with depression.

But I think I am a little depressed. 

It's to be expected, isn't it? Given the situation? In the past, when feel down, I can usually trace it back to something hormonal  or to something that has just happened - a fight, a death, the shampoo I use being discontinued... Things like that.

I'm not feeling holiday cheery. I mean, I am. I'm listening to the music and freaking out about shopping as always. I have the date set for getting a tree and the candles are in the window. I'm good. I'm doing the normal December stuff.

But... But...

It's just been so dark. And we've had a couple of days where the sun doesn't seem to come out at all. It's not cold - mid forties. But still, it seems colder. It's getting dark by the time the school bus drops the boys off. 
Even on the sunny days in between, I can seem to keep going. Oh, I'm waking up ok, and working out,still. I'm getting the kids on the bus and making sure they've got homework down and all that. I'm even pretty much keeping up with housework. And, of course, checking Job postings daily, just in case the perfect job is out there.

By the time I pick up Andy, I'm knackered. I need a nap. Andy takes forty minutes to eat his lunch, which is usually just a handful of goldfish crackers and a yogurt, while I eat enough to feed a small village. I don't mean to. I eat a small thing, but then he's still not done so I eat another small thing. Then I eat another small thing. By the time Andy's finished his lunch I've ingested half the groceries and need a nap.

And boy, have I been napping! I fall asleep and I don't want to get up. I want to stay in bed and stay in bed and sleep and sleep and sleep. Why should I even get out of bed, I ask?

Usually I have an answer. Because I need to pick up the boys from school and take them to karate. Or I need to to pack the piano bags, start making dinner, fold laundry so the boys will have pants in the morning... stuff like that. I mean, life doesn't stop, yo! I got stuff to do! I know this is a temporary feeling and I need to get over it.

It's just that the getting out of bed is hard. Really really hard. I'm sleeping too much during the day, not enough at night, and I've gained ten pounds in the past six months. I haven't been able to go to choir regularly. Because of Thanksgiving, I missed quite a few workouts. (It sounds obsessive, but they really get the gunk out of the emotional system.)

So...

I need a plan. I need a plan to become un-depressed. I don't think I'm so far gone that I can't snap myself out of it if I try. Work out (a little) more or harder. Eat less garbage (pie / cookies) and more kale. Get to bed earlier. This weekend we're buying a tree and decorating a gingerbread house. I'm going to make plans for the rest of the holiday, including helping the boys with shopping. I'm making it choir, and I'm singing on Christmas Eve. It's going to be a great December. 

See? Already I feel better. And now I'm going to get out of this bed, feed the boys and the pets, and hop of the treadmill for a nice long walk before Saturday Karate / therapy / playdate / gingerbread house decorating mayhem! 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Nate's Poetry

Nathan is working on a poetry unit in school.

This means that they're reading some different kinds of poetry, and also that he's writing some poems himself. He likes doing this a lot, and last night he informed me that when he grew up he was going to be a poet.

We had a short conversation about being a poet. I told him I thought he's be good at it, but that it was hard to make a living that way.

His response was to hand me three poems this morning for me to post.  "And for every 'like' I get, you give me a dollar.

We haggled, and now I'm giving him a quarter for every comment left below. Remember, he's buying holiday gifts for some of you people. You might want to leave a couple of words.

Seriously, the last one is my favorite.


Christmas

Santa present
Red and red
Soon Santa's coming
So go to bed



Cookies

Roses are red,
Violets are blue
I know that cookies
Can be, too!



Rush Hour In The City

The trains are gone,
The busses are taken,
The cabs are, too.
Finally, there is a cab,
And I looked at my watch.
It was too bad.
I was late for work.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Dear Santa

It's been a crazy year.

Do I need to go into more detail? Because I don't really want to. And you're supposed to know everything - or at least see us when we're sleeping and know when we're awake. Etc. But if for some reason you need more information, I'll just say that it's been so crazy and I'm so far behind on my holiday lists and planning and shopping, that I don't even know what I should be writing down, here. Can you fit a trip to the Bahamas in your Santa Sack?

Seriously, I'm excited for Christmas. I've been sorting through Holiday songs for a couple of weeks already, and I've been waiting for Thanksgiving to be over so I can start putting up bells and paper chains and plastic green wreaths. You don't really have to bring anything but peace and goodwill.

The boys, though... I'd like to see the boys get things they want. Its been a tough year for all of them, and I've made quite a few half promises I'm not sure I can fill. At this point I'd like to shower them with stuff, every little thing they want. But I can't, and I shouldn't, so I'll just put this stuff down and I'll be leaving some of it to you.

Here is all we can ask for. As usual, items may be added or removed, so check in before you commit. See the top of the blog? Where it says "What Do The Boys Want For Christmas?" That's where you click, even when I post new things. And if you know you're getting something, let me know and I'll remove it so it doesn't get doubled.

Things all three boys might like:
Legos
Notebooks and pens or markers
Board games of kids games they  can play together.
Outside toys - I promised the boys new bikes in the fall, as the ones they've been using are getting small, have flat tires, and all 3 of them now ride without training wheels! But they would also like roller skates, scooters, balls... 
Duffle bags / gym bags - the Wall-E suitcases they've been using to go back and forth to their Dad's are old and too big for a simple overnight, and they could use gym bags for karate.
Nightlights
Rainbow Loom
Trips and visits - the boys love you and want to spend time with you. Come visit them. Take them to the zoo, or to the movies, or for a walk. Or make cookies with them. You plan it, I'll make sure it happens. They'll love it.


Nick - 9 years old
Pants: 8
Shirt: 8-10 (Med)
PJ's: 10
shoe: 4
asking for: DS games (Pokemon X, Pokemon Emerald), Rainbow Loom kit, Furby Boom, iPod (do not get him an ipod), a soft sweater (he wants cashmere, but he's 9,House of Hades by Rick Riordan, Spirit Animal books (it's a series. I think.) A frog (do not get him a frog.)
Also likes: Pokemon, Harry Potter, Cats, Owls, Minecraft, Karate, Roblox

Nate - 7 years old (8 on Jan. 16)
Pants: 8 (needs pants)
shirt: 8-10 (med)
PJ's: 10
shoe: 3
asking for: DS games (Pokemon Y, Scribblenauts - unlimited if they have it), iPod touch (do not get him an iPod), Piranha Panic (it's a game), Legos (no girl legos), A Watch That Makes You Teleport (?) , a Toy Set of Dr. Who with any Doctor (there are 12) and a Sonic Screwdriver. And a composition book.
Also likes: Football, Dr. Who, Goosebumps, Minecraft, Roblox, Pokemon, Poetry

Andy - 5 years old (6 on Dec. 17)
Pants: 5 (6)
shirt: 5/6
PJ's: 6-8
shoe: 1 / 1.5
asking for: DS games (Pokemon X, Pokemon Y, Plants vs. Zombies 2 ), a hermit crab, Dr. Who stuff, a cat stuffed animal, an owl stuffed animal, Rainbow Loom Kit, Science Kit (Truth or myth - as seen on lakeshorelearning.com), Beginner's Science Lab (lakeshorelearning.com), Solar System Fact Finder and Programmable Rover Robot (lakeshorelearning.com)
Also likes: Cats, Dr. Who, Pokemon, Drawing






Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful List

I spend a lot of time complaining.

I don't mean to. I try not to. But no matter how I try to be optimistic and uplifting, there are always moments of .... "UUUGHHHH!"

Today, though, I had a sudden rush of gratitude and I had the urge to list of the things that I was thankful for throughout the day. Some of the list is remembering what I was thankful for in the morning. Some of it is me anticipating things. Some of these are funny and some are oh, so so very serious and heartfelt.

I am Thankful For:

Coffee

My kids waking up in the morning on their own.

My doctor. Health insurance. The fact that I've had good health care my whole life.

The fact that I'm healthy.

That my kids can all put on their own seat belts.

That my car wasn't the one that broke down in the kindergarten pick-up line.

The guy that pumps my gas and stands out in the cold so that I don't have to.

The kid who mows my lawn.

My yard.

The Republic Of Tea catalogs that come in the mail with free samples.

My friend who is so invested in the children's choir.

Andy, who is so good at entertaining himself each afternoon while I do things.

Our library.

Nick finding karate, because he loves it so much and he's good at it.

Our piano teacher.

The fact that I like to make lists, because they keep me sane. er.

That I have the best boys in the whole world.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cone Story

Gunther is wearing the "Cone Of Shame."

No idea what Im talking about? Go watch the movie "Up!" for heaven's sake! At least watch the first ten minutes. It won't help you understand what I'm talking about, but it is required if you want to be my friend.

Um. I'm sorry. I'm a little sleep deprived. Where was I?

Ah, yes, Cone Of Shame. You know, the cone you put on a pet to stop him from licking a wound. Or more specifically, in Gunther's case, to stop him from licking his legs for no reason until he creates wounds.

I have very little sympathy for him in this. He did it. It's his fault.

Anyway, with the cone on, Gunther is a little clumsier than usual. First of all, he has lost all peripheral vision, so he keeps bumping into things. Second of all, the cone keeps getting stuck on things, like the stairs or corners of furniture. Gunther can't figure out what's happening when he does this.

And once he managed to accidentally shut himself into the bathroom.

Where was I going with this? Oh! Yeah....

So last night Gunther started walking around the bedroom.

He sometimes does this when he gets hip pain. It's like he hurts standing and hurts sitting so he just keeps circling. Only he had the cone on, so he was walking around the bedroom very, very loudly, the cone scraping on every available item of furniture.

And then I heard him start to pee.

I might have shot up faster than when I hear unexpected vomiting.

I don't think I was yelling. The boys didn't wake up. I managed to lead Gunther, cone scraping, down the stairs and to the front door, where he could go outside and finish peeing without additional stairs.
While he was out, I prepared an aspirin tablet. Then I looked out the door and saw him disappearing around the side of the house.

I went to the back door and saw him walking to the woods.

And this was when I remembered that I hadn't put his electric collar on, the one that keeps him in the yard. Away from the street and other people's yards. And he has no peripheral vision.

Did I mention the snow on the ground? There was. Did I mention that it was 4:30? AM?  And pitch dark?

I decided I had to go out and find him. I put my snow boots on, and my coat, and headed out the front door.

But I didn't see him. I didn't see anything. It was dark.

So I went back inside and grabbed a flashlight, and went out the back door. I still couldn't find him. I saw his footprints go off to the woods, and loop around the swing-set and back around to...

This was when I heard him start barking at the front of the house. Impatiently. Because I wasn't there to let him it RIGHT AWAY when he came back.

If this had been it, I wouldn't be so cranky, but even after the aspirin, even after I cleaned up the pee in my rug, Gunther refused to settle down. And I was too riled up to go back to sleep, especially with the cone scraping and Gunther's loud breathing. Seriously, the panting... I think the cone was acting as a megaphone. And  Gunther kept coming over to the bed and looking at me, like I was supposed to do something.

It's not that I don't feel bad for him. I do. But the cone is his fault, and I can't DO anything about any of this.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Barrel Of Apples

A few years ago, Meg and Winston came to visit and bought us Apples To Apples.

This is a really fun game. But it got put away once they left, because it was no fun when Steve and I were playing it alone.

Then the boys discovered it at some game night, and they started playing it at home. It came out when my family came to visit.

Seriously, the boys this this game os so much fun.

Cleaning it up, however? Less fun.




Saturday, November 23, 2013

Secret Identity

As part of his homework for school, Nathan is supposed to do 60 minutes of reading every week. His teacher chooses to monitor this with the help of reading logs. Every day Nathan is supposed to read from 10 to 15 minutes and write down what he read, how long he read, and the date he read it.

The thing is, Nathan loves to read. He simply hates to write anything down. Friday mornings we usually find ourselves scrambling to remember what he read, a task made more difficult by the fact that he also reads at school and at his dad's.

This past Friday Nathan insisted he'd read The Young Mark Twain for an hour.

Now, an hour is a long time, but I know Nate is capable of it. And I know Steve has this book because it used to live in the basement and recently made the trip to his house. I figured Nate probably did read the book for a little while. But it seemed like a challenging book for a seven-year-old.

So I thought I'd give him a test, a chance to show off.

"If you read that book then you must know Mark Twain's real name."

Nate nodded uncertainly. "Yeah!" he said. "It's Batman. Right?"

I gave him a funny look because I didn't get it at first. Mark Twain was Samuel Clemens, and I explained this to Nate, wondering why he would try to pass off reading the book with such an obvious untruth. I mean, Batman... Batman was... Bruce Wayne.

Bruce Wayne.

Not Mark Twain.

And then I started laughing.

Because I know Nate did spend time reading the book, and I imagine him sitting there, gripping it, turning pages eagerly, thinking he was reading about the early life of Batman.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Something's Coming

I have a cold.

No. Wait. I don't actually have a cold. Not YET, anyway.

But I can feel it coming.

See, I had kind of a busy weekend that involved staying up late and spending a lot of time in an enclosed place with a lot of people and loud music that I could feel reverberate through every bone in my body.

So last night, when I kept waking up thinking, "Hey! I have a sore throat" I thought is was nothing but a fluke and a reaction to breathing in heated air.

But this morning, as I sit here and think, "Hey. My throat is a little scratchy," I know. I feel it coming for me. The cold.

I can feel it creeping into my nasal passages, making breathing just a little more difficult. I can feel it in my head. I'm really fine, but my head is just a teensy bit heavier, a smidgen foggier. I'm oh so slightly more tired than usual.

When I had the flu last year, I shut down the world. I tried for a little while, getting the boys to school, making meals, trying to hit all of our karate, piano, library commitments. But eventually I just stopped. I declared a state of emergency and shut down all government funded programs (within my home). I sat in bed for days (days!) and watched every single episode of Robin Hood while drifting in and out of consciousness. And the single thought in my head was "I feel like crap. I might never feel normal again. Please let there be a time when I don't feel so awful."

It didn't get so bad as the times I had food poisoning, when I actually found myself thinking death would be preferable to ten more minutes of sitting on the bathroom floor wondering if I was going to throw up again or could crawl back to by bed. But still, my mind was all about how I felt, physically.

Right now I don't feel that bad. I feel pretty OK, except that I can feel what's coming. And the thought in my head isn't about sleeping or feeling better one day. I'm looking around and thinking. "I have a lot of stuff to do. I don't have time for this crap!"

Go away, cold. I don't have time for you.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yesterday At Dinner...

Nathan suddenly says, "Andy! What's the opposite of sour?"

Then he lifts his palm to me and to Nick. "Don't tell him! Don't tell him!"

It's as if he and Andy were just studying for the opposite test.

Andrew gives a little knowing, smirk and says, "The opposite of sour is: Not Sour."

Well... he's kind of right...


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Once in a Timeline

Nicholas has a timeline project to do.

He had to pick out 7 events in his life and place them on a timeline. It's a pretty great project, as it teaches kids how to read a timeline graph, how to measure out even spaces for each year, how to find out where an event would land on the graph, and it also give them a chance to go through their own lives and tall a little bit about themselves. They can begin to have a different grasp of time, which is so difficult for younger children.

The problem is, Nick is only 9. His teacher's example timeline had her birth, her graduation, her wedding, and the births of her children. Nick hasn't had any kids yet.

I let Nick pick the events he used, and hung around as he plotted everything on his timeline, just to avoid one of those impulsive yet catastrophic "I think I'll draw a cat right here" moments. He was speaking out loud as he wrote down years. Nate and Andrew, captivated by the fact that Nick's project included baby photos of THEM, hung over his shoulders.

"1794?" Nate said, repeating something he heard Nick say.

"No!" Nick said. "Not 1794! 2004! If I was born in 1794 I'd be almost as old as Mom!"

And suddenly the timeline project seems much less effective.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Long Weekend

We had a long weekend.

I swear, they invent these things just to torture me. Three-day weekends SEEM like a good idea, especially when you're on the other side of them. In the future, they sound like a GREAT idea. Three days instead of two? Three days of hanging out, skipping all of our classes and practices and just, you know, doing nothing?

Great!

Except then instead of Monday you wake up and it's Tuesday. You didn't have Monday to ease you into the week, and now we're almost in the middle of it, and nothing, NOTHING has been done. There's a huge scrabble to get homework done and things sent in. You miss Monday.

Or maybe it's just me.

I had a great weekend. My family came up for my Birthday weekend. I skipped working out, I went out for Margaritas, and I stayed up really really late.I slept in, too. Only last night I couldn't make myself fall asleep before eleven, and then this morning I didn't want to wake up before 6am. I need to remember how to make meals out of something besides leftover pizza and wonderful bite-sized cupcakes.

It was totally worth it.

And I'm hitting the ground running.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day Refection

On Friday the 3rd grade had its annual Veterans Day Concert.

I sat in a school gym with about 700 other parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and younger siblings. We sat in the dark so they could project a waving American Flag onto a screen. It was noisy and crowded and uncomfortably warm.

I have issues with Veterans Day. It's hard to tackle this because usually my point of view comes across as anti patriotic and un-American, and these days that can be downright dangerous.

The concert was cute, and a little frightening in a "Look! We're brainwashing your children!" kind of way. Not that anyone seemed to notice. The boys and girls sang Yankee Doodle and America the beautiful. They sang You're A Grand Old Flag. Nick's class sang a medley of all the military songs - Off we go, into the wild blue yonder / Anchors away, my boys! /  Over hill, over dale / From the Halls of Montezuma.... There were a lot of class statements about America being #1! In fact, to me, the entire crowd could have been shouting "We're #1! We're #1!" We could have been at a hockey game.

The concert ended with a recording of that song, "I'm proud to be an American!" The whole crowd stood and sang and pumped their fists in the air.

And I thought, Really?

I consider myself a patriot. I really do. In my heart and my soul, I feel that I stand for American values like Freedom of speech and the right to vote and select our leaders. I value the right to speak out and the right to a fair trial.

But I'm not always proud to be an American.

Especially when I try and see us from the viewpoint of other countries.

We're cutting food stamps to hungry people. We made it so corporations are legally people. Banks get away with robbing people blind, and cops who spray unarmed, seated students in the face with pepper spray are awarded large amounts of cash for the trauma endured. Seriously, sometimes this country is so twisted it drives me crazy.

And the last line of the song? "God bless the USA!" Well, I'm an atheist. But if I did believe in God, I think that it would be a God who didn't bless the USA over any of the other countries in the world. USA would not, you know, get more presents than the other kids. Why not bless Peru or Namibia?

Am I the only one who thinks this way, I wonder? I mean, probably not in the world, not. Maybe not even the only one in the country. But in that gym, I sure felt like it. I suddenly felt like a subversive person. Like a spy. Like the Russians from The Americans.

As I mentioned, I do consider myself to be patriotic. I love my country. I love the land we live on and the measures we've taken so far in our shaky history to gain equality for all who live here. I wish we could apply the same rights to other peoples and countries, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what we have.

How could I reconcile my discomfort with certain things sanctioned by my government with what I felt was my patriotism? How could I explain to my nine-year-old that I loved seeing him sing, but that the last song left a bitter, chemical, GMO filled taste in my mouth?

During the concert, there were veterans in the audience. Some of them were in uniform, but not all. Some of them were parents, sitting next to their young children. Some of them were grandparents and uncles, looking as out of shape and thrown together as the rest of us. Some of them were older men with walkers. During the medley that Nick's class sang, these people - mostly men - stood up at different places. When they sang Over Hill Over Dale, a few men in the front stood up. When they sand From The Halls Of Montezuma others stood up - the veterans were standing when the children sang the song from their branch of the military. Anchors Away, and another wave of people stood up...

It was really very touching. Because these people that are standing up, they are not a country. They are not the government. They are people. They ARE people. They are parents and uncles and aunts.

Veterans day is not about the government. And despite the songs the children were singing, I don't feel as though it's really about America. It's about the veteran. It's about the individual person who might disagree with everything I think and everything I say, but who took his or her life and dedicated part of it, maybe even risked his or her life, to help keep safe my right to think my own thoughts and speak them aloud. They should be honored. The veteran. Not my thoughts.

I don't recall where I heard this. I didn't come up with it on my own. But I'd forgotten it until just this weekend. I'm gad I remembered it.


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Birthday - Adult Version


It sounds racy, doesn't it?

It's not.

When you're a kid, you wait all year long for your birthday, and when it comes, when it finally, Finally gets there, it's all about you. Your age goes up. People sing to you. You get cards from elderly relatives, sometimes with cash. You get cake. You get a party. Maybe the party isn't even on your actual birthday, so you stretch the celebration over a number of days, like a large wedding, with overnight guests and a breakfast the next morning.

As you get older, you realize life doesn't stop for a birthday. Not even yours. You still have to go to school - oh, you might get to bring in treats to share, and that's special. But you still have to take the science test. You still have to go to gym.

As an adult, it's all turned around. You have to go to work and no one there cares that it's your birthday. There was a cake for it a week earlier, but no one knew it was for you because it was lumped in with all the other November birthdays. Maybe some co-workers are excited and take you out to lunch, or for drinks after. Maybe you even have a Margarita! That's special.

I wasn't looking forward to this birthday. As the only adult in the house, I was picturing a lot of what I usually do. You don't get to choose, when you're a mom. Kids need to get to violin at 7:30am. They still can't find their shoes. And even if you want eggs, they all want waffles. Cut up into little strips. Usually I could defer a lot of these requests to my spouse, who would also make some effort to recognize this special day.

Well, this was the first birthday since Steve moved out. 

I woke up to an empty house. Steve had the boys the night before. I knew he'd drop them off at 7:15 (remember, violin at 7:30, and I forgot to bring the violin when I dropped the boys off...) but I still had the morning to run. I played music while I make lunches (including a bag lunch for a field trip) and got school folders ready.

And then I hopped into the shower, thinking I'd have a couple of extra minutes to relax and soak. 

A few moments after seven, I head shouting. I had enough time to turn off the water and step onto the mat when the door burst open and in flew Andy, grinning, clutching a large gift bag. 

"Happy Birthday, Mom! You got presents!"

I stood on the bath mat, dripping wet, clutching a towel to my naked body.

"Thanks, Sweetie! I'm so happy! Can I have a minute to get dressed?"

It was a pretty good birthday, all things considered. I'll post later about what I got and the 3rd grade Veteran's Day concert. All you need to know for today is that all is wonderful.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

We've Got To Get Organized

Everyone has this kind of a conversation: you're talking to a friend you haven't see in awhile, either on the phone or in person. You realize you're having a good time. "We should do this more often!" you say. Or if you're on the phone you say (or type) We should get together for coffee / drinks / a movie.

You both agree.

Then you try to set a date.

"What are you doing Tuesday?"

"Tuesday's no good. I have a class. How about Wednesday?"

"Oh, no, I can't! I have a work thing. Friday?"

"We're out of town until Sunday. What about Wednesday next week?"

"I can't. Starting that month I'm working nights. The next weekend?"

"Hmm... I can fit you in on Saturday Afternoon?"

"Great! No - wait, shoot! That's the afternoon my cousin is in town! I told her I'd take her to see a show."

And so it goes. One thing, then another, until you just table the discussion and hope you run into each other before a space opens up in your schedule.

Now imagine you have four people to schedule. Yes, they are small and short, but they do karate and piano and violin. They have doctor's appointments and dentist appointments and they get warts and need to see dermatologists. They join groups after school which you fully support until you realize you have to coach. But that's OK, you'd have to be there anyway to take them to and from the meetings.

I was trying to schedule an appointment for Nick. It's the kind of thing that may become recurring, so I was trying to get it after school. With someone who takes our insurance. While I was at it, I may as well have requested this water be turned into wine and for this loaf of bread to take us through Thanksgiving, because nobody seemed to be able to help us out. They were empathetic, but there was nothing they could do.

And then I found a place that was willing to work with me. It was farther than the other places - about 8 miles. But they said yes!

Could I do Wednesdays? Well, I could. But Wednesdays we had Karate at 4:15 and then Piano at 6:30, 7 miles away in the other direction. Thursdays? Well, Nate and Andy have DI on Thursdays, and it's over at 4pm. We could do after 4pm if we skipped the weapons karate class and the advances karate class... And Nick might have DI on Thursdays, or it might be on Fridays. We don't know yet.

Finally we settled on a Saturday. It would be after the morning karate class. But there was a catch. I was out of town for the weekend. I'd be on my way back, but still, I couldn't drive him the 8 miles. I had to get Steve to do it.

But I scheduled it anyway.

And then I asked Steve. And he said fine. No problem. He'd take him. The driving wasn't a big deal. But there was this birthday party for this kid we know and it was on that day.

I'm about to call and reschedule the appointment because of this birthday party. It makes sense on some level, I swear. Also, I've decided we do too much karate. It seems to be getting in the way of other things. Like cooking.

I feel a little bit Like This.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What's In A Name?

The other day, in the car, one of the kids asked a question about a teenage friend of theirs.

"Why does he have one last name and his mom have another last name?"


I explained that their friend's mom gave her son her last name when he was born, but then when she got married, she changed her name so that she and her new husband had the same last name.

"Last names are funny things," I said. "Some people change their names when they get married and some people don't. And some people change their names back when they get a divorce."

I glanced in the rear-view to see what kind of reaction the boys would have to that.

There was a moment of silence while the concept sank in.

"Are you gonna change your name?"

Now, I already had the answer to this one in my back pocket, but I thought I'd feel it out. just in case.

"I don't know, what do you think?" I asked.

"But then we wouldn't have the same last name as you?"

"No. I would have my old last name and you would keep yours. What do you think?"

Well, it turned out there were three different schools of thought, and none of them were from who you'd expect. I'm not saying which kid had which reaction, but here they were.

One kid didn't care at all, either way.

One kid clung to me, as if changing my name would sever the bond between us.

One kid said he thought I should change my name back to my maiden name. And, to take it a step further, the boys should also change THEIR last names. It's a cool last name. Can we do that? Let's do that. And it was very important, and should be done as soon as possible. And why are you laughing, Mom?

I thought that changing my name when I got married would be a piece of cake. I would sign an official document, slip something in the mail, sprinkle it with fairy dust, and everything would be changed. I didn't picture standing in lines, paying change fees, spending the next eight years pointing to the stapled-in sheet on my passport (which I paid money for) which showed that I had changed my name just so they would let me on the plane / into the country. It was such a pain, in fact, that there are a couple of things I never changed at all. I still have a credit card in my maiden name. My AAA card, too. This would make things easier for me. If I were going to change it back.

But I don't think I am.

Long, long ago, when I had a job and co-workers, one of them explained how her mother chose her last name. She had been married three times, and had children with her second husband. When she divorced her second husband, she actually went and changed her last name... back to her second husband's last name. My friend explained that her mother had just wanted to have the same last name as her kids.

There are advantages to my maiden name. It's easier to spell. It's already written in a lot of my books. And I know plenty of mothers who do not have the same last name as their children. But still... I think I'll keep the one I have now. I can understand why that mother would want to have the same last name as her child. It's symbolic, sure. But it can mean a lot. And that one kid that clung to me? I want to stay as close to him as possible.

Monday, November 04, 2013

A Page From Andy's Diary

Andy's Journal
Photo By Andy - 2013

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Over Medicated

Last week we went to the vet.

This was a special trip because I was taking not one, but two of the pets in. Puck - to get his T4 levels checked, and Gunther, because his hips have really been hurting him, he has a cut on his hind leg I wanted looked at, and to top it off we discovered that he'd been peeing in the basement. For some time. And while I took care of the issue by keeping the door to the basement closed at all times, I couldn't help but think there might be, you know, something wrong with the actual DOG.

I placed Puck in the carrier, but not before putting Gunther on the leash. This is because, as soon as Gunther saw the leash, Gunther started barking and moving his body around in that overly excited way.

Halfway to the vet I detected movement at my elbow. I thought it was Gunther, suddenly curious about what was in front of us. This would be strange because he's usually very good about staying down while we're in  motion.

Puck, however, is not. Especially when he somehow gets out of his carrier mid-ride. He stood there next to my elbow, meowing pathetically while I articulated threats of what I would do to him if he even tried jumping down by my feet, the ones involved with the gas and the brake pedals.

After the vet, I was left with a multitude of small blue medicine bottles.

As you might already know, Puck gets a shot of insulin 2 times a day. He also gets a methimazole pill twice a day.

And now Gunther has been handed a number of medications as well. He takes one pill twice a day, one half of another once a day, and has a salve he's supposed to apply to his cut twice a day. The pills are for his hip pain and an anitibiotic for a possible bladder infection. He'll take those if you put them in his food. The salve, however, he's not so thrilled about. I have to distract him with his food and step behind him, and then quickly put a drop on the cut while he's looking the other way. Even then he growls and tries to nip at me - he's afraid I'll hurt him. To keep this from happening I put the cone on him, so he's focused on trying to eat his food with this cone thing on. But it's very stressful for him.

And for me. I know what's happening, but I can't keep up with all these medications. It's not sustainable. Not physically, emotionally, or financially. The vet told me she thought Gunther might have cushing's disease, and I freaked out in my head a little before she told me they didn't usually treat it in dogs because it was so expensive and not fatal.

All I know if that the pets are getting to be A LOT.

And now, here's a reward for sticking with me. This link to the Alot.


Saturday, November 02, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

Schadenfreude

So, there is a lot of shame involved in getting a divorce.

There, I said it. I had to get it out there.

Maybe this isn't true for everyone. Maybe there are people out there who are secure enough, confident enough, self centered enough, to think all of the blame is on other people and that each decision they made was completely logical and 100% justified and correct. Maybe they are immune to blame. Maybe they don't even feel ashamed about anything.

I am not one of those people.

Because - and I'm going to speak in the 3rd person here because it is easier and also I'm generalizing - in many cases, when two people who love each other get married, there may be people - friends, family members, even acquaintances - who seem, well, less than thrilled with the chosen spouse. Maybe they have good reasons, but maybe they don't. In any case, the people getting married know it. It can't be hidden  from them, even if nothing is directly addressed. And for some reason - be it that they think the reasons are unjustified, or not important, or just plain surmountable - the couple get married anyway.

When the divorce happens, when you (switch to 2nd person) have to announce that you're getting a divorce, it's like a huge admission of failure. It's announcing to people who are close to you that you chose poorly, or that you failed in maintaining this relationship. In some cases it's a catch 22 - if you get a divorce too soon it's like you didn't try hard enough to save the marriage. But if you wait too long people wonder what you were thinking - get out!

In a lot of cases it might be letting people you know, people you've said "I'm fine, how are you?" to a few hundred times, know that you weren't fine. You were lying. You were pretending. You were doing what polite people do. And maybe the other person won't care, but it creates a sort of schism. Because now it's out on the open that you were being polite and insincere. And the other person either has to confront the fact that they were more invested in the interactions, or that they actually don't care about you enough to have it matter, which is awkward for them. So now it's just awkward.

What I fear most is people being mean about it. Not to my face, because most people are not cruel that way. I mean in their own minds. Human beings can be kind and compassionate. They can be generous and helpful. Most of the people I've spoken to have gone above and beyond to help me out. But humans also have that streak of nasty. We all do it. We all smirk when that celebrity gets arrested for DUI. And we all roll out eyes when That Person we know breaks up with his / her lover, again. It's horrible, just horrible, but it's not us. There's some thrill we get from gossip or misfortune that doesn't belong to us.

And we all have a need to be right, a need to have our beliefs justified. If you were against Obamacare, you were thrilled to hear the website was a mess. Because it makes you more right. It doesn't solve anything. And it doesn't really prove your point, but it might make you feel better.

Well, mixed in with all of this shame and disappointment I'm feeling, I think that, at least a few people, might be experiencing that slight feeling if I-was-right-ness. The told-ya-so instinct, you know? I have it. I've felt it. I have children. I experience this daily. Put on your jacket or you will be cold. If you play with sticks, someone will get hurt. Do your homework now or you'll have too much later. And when I turn out to be right I am frustrated, but there's always this zing of "Ha! I was right!"

It's such a petty thing to feel or think about. Most days I think I've put it behind me, but others I can't get it out of my head.