Monday, October 14, 2013

brain gum

my missionary son posted a page on his instagram a few days ago.  the words I can read on the page are...

"the second temptation is of a more sinister nature.  the temptation to hate yourself because you have not lived up to your ideal.  that is pride, and it is very dangerous.  it opens the door to much worse things."

I don't know where these words came from.  but I have been thinking about them a lot.


ok, so I came back to add...

I found out where these words come from.  a book called father Elijah: an apocalypse by Michael O'Brien.  it's one of six in a series.  I bought the first three for my guys to read.  catholic fiction?  ok.  we'll try it. 

also, I made a decision today.  I just have to let my guys know.  we're cutting back to one coop this semester.  the inclusive one I started.  we'd been doing the inclusive one since it started, but I also added a Christian coop this semester, so we've been attending Monday afternoons at the new one and Friday mornings at our old favorite.  and it's messing with my schedule.  and since I have such a slippery grasp on things this day, we're going to cut back to the old favorite next semester.  the new one will be an option, maybe next fall.  we'll see where we are.  but it is wearing me out....and I feel pretty worn.  it's a shorter semester at that coop, so we've only got four more weeks to go (whee!!!).  I think we can make it.  I feel so much better now that I've made this decision.  I just have to let everyone else know.  cross your fingers for me, please?

ok, that is all.

peace again

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I read this little prayer awhile back...

lord, help me to horizontally detach and vertically realign.

that's simple...elegant...makes the shapes of a cross...cute...I get it it...POW.  then I really got it.  detach horizontally...from the things that keep me rooted in the the stagnant...sometimes even in the past...and realign vertically...up....toward primary attachment...keep me moving forward and progressing and growing.

so I had my first migraine a month ago.  menstrual migraine, my husband has diagnosed...and I concur.  which left me with some dread.  because I don't know about you, but I menstruate about every four weeks or so.  and that meant this was probably not going to be a one time event, and that I would also know when it was coming (nice for the heads-up, but also cause for some dread).  so, last week, as I noticed I was feeling like everything sucked, and I was kind of hating people I don't normally hate, and I was entirely too focused on myself as the source and cause of everything wrong in the world....I was, as usual, glad to realize my period was probably coming and my attitude would adjust so I didn't have to feel like I really had to DO anything about all of these feelings, AND I also wanted to cry a little because I wondered if I would get another migraine.

I did have a hell of a headache...complete with a little dizziness and nausea and some pretty auras...on Friday afternoon.  so I slept a lot.  and then finally relented and took an Excedrin migraine.  and THAT was a little magical and fantastic.  I made it through Friday night, preparing my house for a huge party of teens and preteens and their families, complete with padded sword making and hot dogs and chili and s'mores.  and I woke up Saturday to no headache, but I had a pretty rough first day of my period with about thirty or so people here, half of them bashing each other with padded swords.  it was lovely and I made it through.  and that felt almost as good as my first half marathon, to tell the truth.  my head was only a little woozy at times, and my legs were only a little cramped this morning from walking so clamped together yesterday (insert dramatic eye roll here).

when I woke up this morning, I had a pretty big headache.  sigh.

I look back at yesterday, and I feel so grateful for such an amazing group of friends.  I start to wonder who I missed, who might be mad that I didn't invite them, and my brain stops working.  "i'm tired," it says, "and i'm not wasting my energy traveling down that stupid road."  uhm, ok.  so then I start thinking about all the funny stuff said, all the smiles...and then I start wondering if I offended anyone without realizing it.  and my brain shuts down again.  "really, I don't have the energy for this shit.  do you want to get a migraine from worrying?  seriously?  is it worth it?"  so I remember the laughing, the playing, the good stuff.

I have learned, in this short experience with migraines, not to depend so much on my own perception of things.  because my hindsight is a little fuzzy, and a lot weighed down at times with a fog of hurt, a fog of exhaustion, a fog of maybe a little confusion.  i'm  just not at the top of my game.  and it's okay.  because I am definitely detaching horizontally.  looking forward.  hoping people can see in my eyes, in my smile, how happy I am to see them.  how much I like them.  even if I can't remember if I actually said any of that to them.

yes, i'll probably end up making a doctor appt soon about these headaches.  just 'cuz.  but I think it's fairly typical and straightforward...especially given how screwed up the women's hormones in my family get around this stage of life.  I do not know how so many people live with migraines, though.  if this much of our population experiences pain like this so regularly, no wonder we're a pain-phobic, stressed out culture.  this is pretty bad. 

peace out

Thursday, October 3, 2013's good

I am better!  hurray!  no more pounding head.  no more aching sinuses.  no more hurty ears or throat.  I can breathe.  I don't have to shove Kleenex up my nose to keep it from dripping everywhere.  and i'm not on any drugs anymore.  unless you count coffee...

this is good.  life is good.

but I have a little detoxing to do in  my head.  like anyone who's been laid up for too long, I have overdosed on internet news.  which kind of sucks these days.  I had a hard time finding a neutral source to learn about the government shutdown.  wiki has become my go-to for that kind of info.  as much as I discouraged my kids from using wiki as a source, there I was, going there for my info.  but all the other sites have this tone of "here's what's going on and if you didn't know it and feel this way about it, you're an unconscionable idiot."  well, if I already KNEW everything, I wouldn't be looking for an article to TELL me what the hell's going on.  I don't need someone to tell me what to THINK...I just need someone to tell me what happened.

so here's the little bit of insight I broke through to while sick... 

we need to worry so much less about being right and think more about doing right.  because I've watched a number of arguments the past week where the facts were barely mentioned, but the insults about intelligence and ignorance were plentiful.  maybe  people are so worried about being right because there is such a blaring absence of facts...and it makes people insecure?  so in an effort to create a sense of security, they're just putting out their opinions and the whole birds of a feather thing is happening?  but to make a strong nation, people have to give up a little bit of personal security to work toward a greater whole?  right?  realize that not everyone in the nation is just like you and may have different needs from you?  I don't know.  I didn't come up with any grand solutions...just the insight that people seem awful focused on being right...even when they know what they're saying is wrong.  reminds me of when my mom kept sending me anti-Obama emails and I kept sending her back the snopes' links that debunked the emails.  she finally got kind of pissed at me and said, "whether or not my emails are true, can't you see the TRUTH?"  hmmm....i'll have to think on that some.

oh, i'll go ahead and go here for a minute...  because I see a lot of catholics struggling with truth lately, too.  pope francis is radically changing how Catholicism is lived.  I see catholics saying, "but he's not changing doctrine!!"  nope, he's not.  but he's certainly changing, by his actions, which doctrines are more important than others...which ones matter the most....what order that stuff is supposed to be lived.  I have more to say about all of that, but I just feel like my republican catholic friends have been having a tough couple of weeks.  and i'm praying for them.  there's this song that we've been rocking out to at church called, "build your kingdom here."  my guys say it sounds like a lumineers song.  there's a line that says, "win this nation back" or something like that.  I feel like so many of my friends are praying for Obama's sudden removal when they pray it.  but i'm hoping more people (and I know there already ARE people like this...I admire them tremendously) can get past whether or not they're right...and work toward a common good...what is right.  not just what supports their ego, but what supports their spirit, too.


Thursday, September 26, 2013


i'm sick.  like, for real.  wth?

I guess it's been awhile.  i'm a little out of practice.  I was so tired yesterday.  and then, when I went to bed, I just laid there.  I prayed.  yes, I do that.  a lot, actually.  it's weird.  like talking to someone with words who doesn't answer in words.  and you have to be still to understand the answer, or else you'll miss it.  and don't make grocery lists in your head, either...that makes it hard to get the answer, too (although, if you're like me, those grocery lists just make themselves sometimes).  last night I prayed for my oldest and his missionary team...for guidance, for courage, for humility.  I prayed for teens who commit suicide and their families and their communities...for healing, for strength, for peace.  I prayed for my nieces who don't really talk to us anymore...for love, for counsel, for wisdom.  I prayed for my husband, for my kids.  I like to say all of my oldest's team members' names, all of my small group of high schooler's names, and then all twenty-five of my middles schooler's names.  that usually wears my brain out.  I prayed for catholics distressed by the mainstream media's coverage of the pope's recent interview...I prayed for those encouraged by it...mostly, I pray for love and healing when it comes to the church.  I prayed for those who hate the president, and I prayed for the president and his family because that seems like a lot of hate to shoulder.  I prayed for a friend whose family has made the decision to put their grandmother in an assisted living place and no longer primarily provide her care because I think that's a brave and difficult and love-filled decision.  I prayed for all moms...because that's a hard job.  then I prayed for dads, because i'm ashamed at how they always come second in my mind, but at least I've got them in there somewhere consistently...  I prayed for my sister and her partner, on their anniversary, and their kids and the family they all make.  I prayed for all teens, because I just think that's such a hard time and I wish them to feel loved by someone who loves completely and perfectly and totally and without expectation.  then I prayed for young adults, because that's also a hard time and I wish them to find confidence in themselves and not get stuck trying to please others, because I believe we all have that voice inside of us that will take us where we're meant to be, if we can only ever find it.  I prayed for myself, too...for health, for selflessness, for trust and surrender.  I prayed for each of my kids...offering up whatever was on my heart for each of them...gratitude, concerns, requests to be open to their individual beauty, or just sitting there letting my perspective be guided or shaped or changed by the God I was praying to. 

last night, it took awhile to fall asleep, so there were lots of prayers.  I still feel pretty junky this morning.  I think a cold has settled itself pretty securely in my sinuses and head.  yesterday, all I wanted to eat were frozen fish filets (gag, right?) with lots of catsup.  today, I feel so hungry but don't want anything.  blah.  i'll try more coffee and a hot shower.  I probably shouldn't try to pop my ear drums to release this crazy, painful pressure in them, huh?  see, I haven't lost all sense.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

words can be powerful...or not

at book club last night, one of the mamas said she hated how when school started and the season changed, it was like everyone got sick and by the end of fall, she was hating all of her activities that get them out in the community that shares its germs and makes them sick.  (I paraphrased.)  she was laughing about it all, but I remember thinking that I never correlate illness with the season.  I think my last fleeting thought, as I got distracted by the next thing, was that my family really had not been sick much this summer.

then I woke up this morning.

I think that friend of mine sent me a little curse...or sick juju...or something.  I hit snooze and snooze and snooze.  I was really working on getting out of bed.   (baby girl's leotards made it in the wash yesterday, but had to be put in the dryer this morning...I had stuffs to do!)  but I could feel my throat swollen.  I kept trying to relax my neck...hoping it was just a muscle cramp I could work out.  but then i'd swallow, and I knew it was no neck cramp.  my head hurts so much this morning.  and i'm a little achy in the joints.  I am hoping Tylenol, ibuprofen, coffee, and some soup later can kick this.  we shall see.  I see an early bedtime in my future.

but...the fourteen year old made his cake yesterday.  with some help.  from all of us.  which is sometimes not as much help as you'd hope.  but he did it.  it was awesome.  we put it in a bundt pan and it ended up looking kind of like a rainbow.  it was super cool.  he was really excited.  I love that kid.

also, our book club book this past month was called the snow child.  and I really loved that book.  it did this incredible job of marrying the real worldliness and the mystical-ness of parenting in unlikely parents...who long so deeply, but find themselves clumsy.  and really, aren't we all clumsy as parents?  some of us just seem more at home because we have this delusion of knowing what we're doing that is ripped down in pieces as our kids grow.  but maybe this was just my experience.

an old friend of mine called last night.  (this line cracks me up...because my friend will be fifty-four next month and I think she'd make a big hassle about this statement and her age, but really, it's because we realized, as we were talking last night, that we've been friends for twenty-two that's why she's an old friend...but we're both a helluva lot older now, too...)  anyway...she is a special ed teacher.  which is how we met.  working at a camp for special needs kids.  she gave me a confidence in instincts I was discovering and was just someone I shared the joy of using those instincts with.  we both enjoy sitting and trying to figure out what a kid is perceiving, what their world is like, what they might be responding to, how to bring them a smile, give their world more meaning, create a bridge from their world to the world around them that they often have no idea is even there.  (i'm talking about working with kids who are deaf and blind here...those kids have always had a special place in my friend's heart)  anyway, she works on an indian reservation in Arizona.  in special ed.  actually, her kids are preschoolers...three and four years old.  there is not a lot of money out the families or in the school.  and people seem to have...attitudes.  and my friend...well, she's kind of weird in that culture.  I mean, a grown woman wearing a fish hat and a dinosaur shirt, with pumpkins on her shoelaces and whatever else she has on for the week....she sort of stands out.  (I know this because I got to go to work with her once.)  like, last night, she was telling a story where one of her four year olds told her "sit down" and she did.  and another adult said, "well, that kid has you trained, doesn't he?"  and my friend responded, "he talked!  if he'd have told me to take a shit, I would've, just to let him know I heard him!"  which almost made me have a wreck, I was laughing so hard.  well, last night, she called because she was writing her principal a note.  apparently a huge box came in through the office and was "claimed" by different teachers, making its way around the school, and my friend wanted it.  but the box ended up in a bitchy computer resource woman's room that my friend said she does not mess with.  so she asked the principal to please get her the box.  I don't think she expected the principal to succeed.  but, at the end of the day, the box ended up in my friend's classroom and my friend was all emotional about it.  so she wrote a note to the principal and called and shared it with me.  she wrote this note from a student's perspective.  the student she wanted the box for.  she had the student explain their disability and how my friend was going to make this sensory box to help this three year old student meet her goals and interact with the world around her...and world that is difficult for her to access and understand.  she thanked the principal.  it was a really sweet note. 

over the last few years, it has become so easy for me to see the world just from my perspective.  to define the world in categories of "this pleases me"/"this doesn't"/"this makes me feel good about myself"/"this makes me feel like crap"/"this is hard for me"/"this is easy for me"...and it's all about me.  I often forget, on my own, without being asked or drawn into a story, to try to see the world from another's perspective.  I've forgotten the magic of quietly watching and learning.  it was awesome that my friend called last night.

and now I must go retrieve leotards from the dryer.  and stand in a hot shower and let the water pour over my face and work some magic. 

have a good one in your neck...
(of the woods...but it sounded funnier just like that...)


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

another day in paradise

i'm sitting here, drinking my coffee....after hitting the snooze on my alarm for an hour...I've finished catching up on daughter just pointed out a pretty good sized "stick bug" on a window that she noticed as she was eating breakfast with the tarantula my guys caught in the garage and decided to home...the roadrunners just ran by....yes, there's two...they're a family....they like running all over our front yard, sometimes perching on our cars, eating hopgrassers and such.  last night, when we got home from my middle son's fourteenth birthday dinner, there was a fox in our driveway to greet us.  but he didn't run when we got out of the car...he just stood there, looking at us.  as he did run off, I noticed a deer sitting in the grass...her head just visible near the tree with the swing in it.

who's life is this?  really?  mine?  weird.

sometimes I wish for the shady, grassy, critter free days of living in a neighborhood.  yes, I had a few snakes in my backyard when I was in the "city."  but never a venomous one.  (did I mention we found a baby rattlesnake in my garden last week?  gag...yuck...grrr!)  I just miss how tidy things felt.  the house could be a mess, but mowing the yard took less than an hour and gave you a cool, shady spot to have a beer and feel so accomplished.  and we never had scorpions or giant centipedes IN.  OUR.  HOUSE.  but then the kids get all excited about keeping a tarantula for a little while.  and the little girl says something like, "can we feed him hopgrassers?"  and "look at that stick bug, mama!"  with such excitement and wonder and, yes, acceptance.  barely a trace of terror.  (in her Disney belle dress...she's amazing, let me tell ya...I mean my daughter...not belle.)  and I think maybe it's okay.  maybe i'm not crazy to love being here. 

things are settling down some around here.  we are getting the hang of our new schedules.  life is developing a rhythm.  we still miss the firstborn...and know he's doing great.  but it's a dull ache that we wouldn't give up for the world and is probably just part of growing up as a parent.  the rest of us are kind of rediscovering each other around his absence.  it's been good.  there has been time for talking, for laughing, for sharing.  I guess this way it'll hurt just as much when each of them it should. 

it's kind of a strange point in life as a parent when your middle child turns fourteen.  like...we're really growing up as parents.  no turning back.  no innocently pleading ignorance.  we're not TEN anymore...  we know better.  the funny thing is, somethings we DO know better...but we also know what's important.  it's the first time I can confidently make a decision I know may not be best in the continuum of choices for that decision.  but I know the continuum of my life and where i'm working to get pretty well.  and that gives me a boldness I didn't have back in the day when I was trying to make EACH.  DECISION.  PERFECT.  it doesn't crush me to have someone say I should've made a different choice.  it may challenge me.  but i'm a little more comfortable in challenge than I used to be.  funny how we start out as adults craving success and being knocked down by the smallest challenges.  and now i'm more comfortable with challenge...less focused on success.  weird.

ok, well, I've avoided being productive til almost ten o'clock this morning.  I mean, I've cut up watermelon for everyone to eat for breakfast and made coffee, swept...talked a few things through.  but that's it.  well, and worked with baby girl on her letters this morning.  but I still need to make a tie dye cake with the fourteen year old to share with his biology group, take two littles swimming while fourteen year old does biology, come home and cook, and go to book club.  in between there, I should work on schooling, check in with fifteen year old, throw baby girl's laundry in (to avoid tomorrow's dirty leotard/pre-dance argument), shower, and other things that will become apparent as I walk through my house.  it's a good thing it's mostly a line...i'd run circles all day if my house were shaped differently.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

a little breathing room

this is our schedule this semester... and pray for high schoolers at 4:30, mass at 5, high school youth ministry til 7:30 from 12:30 til 4ish, sometimes my almost 14 year old will go from there to meet with his biology class for an extra experiment each week, rock climbing from 5 to 8, and the almost 14 year old has choir from 6 to 7:30 (but thankfully his biology teacher has a daughter in choir, so she does that drop off and I just pick up)

Tuesday...pretty much blissfully empty.  sometimes I have book club.  there is a group of mamas that meets for coffee, but we're probably going to make that an every-other type deal just because we're all getting busy.  love Tuesdays! (but this will become the other "extra experiment day" soon...sigh)

Wednesday...try to make it to 8:30 mass, sweet girl has dance from 10:30 to 11:15, all the guys have piano from 2 to 3:30, cce is 6:15 to 7:30.

Thursday...just climbing from 5 to 8.  whew.  we'll also be going to praise and worship on the second Thursday of the month from 7 to 8:30, so they'll leave climbing early for that. from 9 to noon.  we usually eat lunch at the park afterward, but this week, we'll have a friend come over here and eat lunch (and cut my hair!).

Saturday...generally open, but filled in with competitions, training classes, any trips we'd like to take

add to that schedule different rock climbing competitions, planning dinners, a homecoming football game we're hoping to attend, the renaissance festival, birthdays (i'm so happy they only come once a year, but at the same time, couldn't we just designate a day of the week as birthday day?  that way you know there's always a birthday on, say, Thursdays, and no one gets forgotten!  it's not a bad idea....), and anything else we'd like to do besides run in the little hamster wheel...and I feel like my brain resembles a colander and things just keep falling right out of it.

cce was good last night.  my team teacher and I are teaching seventh and eighth graders this year.  yes.  we are sharing the gospels and the love of God with seventh and eighth graders.  i'm not sure why I signed up to do this.  it's not that there's anything wrong with seventh and eighth graders.  well, yes there is.  I don't remember a lot of specifics about seventh and eighth grade, but I can tell you that those years have ALWAYS been years I would not, for anything, redo.  anne lamott says she felt those two years were a giant game of farmer in the dell, and that this cheese stood alone.  I don't really remember much about my friends at that age (I do remember Tanya McDonald...she was my friend..), but I know I felt alone.  uck.  and here I am, hoping God uses me to share his love with these twenty kids.  who were absolutely hilarious, playing the name game last night.  it was surprisingly good times.  especially when you consider we had not planned to play the name game, but they suggested it, taught us how to do it, and it was really good fun.  plus, I think they learned each other's names while playing.  think we can just play games all semester? 

my fifteen year old said it was pretty much a zoo in the preschool/kindergarten room.  but they'll split that group next week, so maybe it'll be better.  it was so funny...he said the teacher talked so much, it would've made a good nap time for the kids.  he also had a boy eat a blue crayon.  I often tell my kids that the world is not "like us"....that everyone has different talents.  my almost fourteen year old (only a couple more weeks with that "almost" stuff) figured that out last night when he was explaining the game, and kept losing some of the kids because he was just talking too too much information.  my fifteen year old realized that as loud and crazy as his little sister seems in our house of pretty calm and quiet people, she's really pretty subdued in a group of her peers.  I think it's going to be good having him working with the youngest kids on cce night and me working with the oldest group.  we can trade stories and help each other appreciate where we're at. 

and life continues to plug along.  i'm not ready to reorganize my blog roll yet.  I've got way too much other work to catch up on before that job comes up on my to-do list.  but it was nice to look at my weekly schedule and write for just a few.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

when someone speaks your good idea before you put it to words...

there is so much tidying of things I need to do.  cleaning up my blog list is one of the things on my list.  I also need to organize my folders on my computer with all the different stuff I type up for homeschooling.  one day i'll sit down and do it.  and I think that day will come sooner than it would have had I not read a blog last night (it's not on my blog roll yet...).  but in this blog, they do a "seven quick takes" kind of thing every Friday.  and the one this past Friday was great...I read it last night...which was....Tuesday...but they keep well.  anyway, one of his quick takes was a resolution...a habit more arguing on the internet.  brilliant.  this is an idea I've been I was working to put to words.  but he said it just right.  no more arguing on the internet  it is a huge time suck and it doesn't change anything.  that's what he said.  and I agree.  I lost two days to arguing on the internet.  ok, I didn't argue on the internet, really.  but I read stuff on the internet that had me arguing in my head for two days straight.  total.  waste.  of.  time.  so no more arguing on the internet for me.  it's kind of freeing.

in other news...I got my fifteen year old to drive a car today.  around my driveway.  into a little parking space off of our driveway, then back up, then pull into the "spot" closest to the house.  he didn't even ding the garage door.  he did do that "first time you put your foot on a gas pedal and the car lurches" thing.  and was horrified by it.  I didn't laugh too hard.  because he's my second born.  and he's more sensitive.  he's not going to hop in and act like he knows what he's doing, whether or not he my first born.  but then my first born was asking people if he could drive their car in the neighborhood and move it out of the driveway from the time he was fourteen on.  (and they let him...can you believe it?)  anyway.  the second born needed a nap after all that excitement.  he's only a little mad at me.  (I also took a pic of him behind the wheel to send his older brother...I was extra on his nerves today...)  he also might be a little peeved that I signed him up to help out with the preschool at religious ed this semester.  but he needs volunteer hours for confirmation this year, and really, he has quite a bit of alone time at home during the week...I just didn't feel like it was too big of a stretch for him to come with the rest of us on Wednesday nights.  and he didn't either.  until the first class is tonight, after I made him drive.  now he's feeling a little stretched. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

life is moving along...can you let my heart know?

so I feel all dramatic and over-emotional and sensitive (or wimpy...whichever term you prefer...) and tender (my mom's word for this one is "fluff"...i'm sure I've blogged about it

our oldest left for a year of missionary work on the fifth of this month.  that's seventeen days ago for those playing along...


he's in Wisconsin right now.  he was in Minnesota until the eighteenth (which happened to be his nineteenth birthday...not that i'm looking for sympathy that my first child's nineteenth birthday was spent away...i'm really not...well, not a lot of sympathy...a little would be fine, I guess...if you insist).

he is spending a year growing in and witnessing to his faith in God. 

first of all, I never...may I repeat...NEVER thought i'd have a child who would do something like this.  one time, when my second born (who was a very good people kind of kid) was two years old, I made the comment, in the presence of a very catholic woman (just felt the need to let you know that) that I thought because he was so good with people, he may end up either a priest or a politician.  now, before I share her response, let me tell you, this was a pretty novel thing to fall out of my mouth.  I've never considered how priests became priests....what kind of families raised priests...i'd never even considered what kind of kids priests were as children because it just always seemed to me that priests were always they got there was a mystery.  the fact that most of them seem to come from other countries might've played a little into that.  anyway, this woman...this very catholic woman (did I mention that?) responded...rather emphatically..."don't EVER say that again.  you do not want your son to be a priest.  it is the loneliest life ever."  and I promptly left musings or jokes or whatever that comment was out of my conversation (and mind) from then on.

until now.  it crosses my mind occasionally.  like when my sons say, "mom, you realize we might not give you grandchildren."  and I say, "that's fine.  i'm not raising you for the grandkids.  seriously, it's ok.  i'm a kid magnet."  and then they say, "well, because we might be priests."  and I say, "oh, ok.  let me know if that's what you decide."  because really, I have no idea what the proper response is to that stuff. 

yes, i'm catholic.  yes, I've taken my kids to mass most sundays of their lives, made sure they took their sacraments.  frankly, I didn't even become catholic until 1998.  and I did it because my husband was catholic.  so when he told me, two years later that he wasn't sure if he believed in God, well, I was pissed.  really pissed.  I believe my response was something like, "I got on this bus because you were going to drive it.  what the hell do you mean you're thinking about getting off?!?!"  and at that point, I just took over making sure my kids had a spiritual life...of some sort.  because I wasn't raised particularly religious (most of my biblical knowledge came from the musical jesus Christ superstar and was later supplemented by joseph and the amazing Technicolor dreamcoat, which, by the way, made me the most knowledgeable kid in my youth group growing up about the life of jesus...just sayin).  but I have always believed in the good in the world, the good in people, and hope.  I don't know why, but I have always had hope.  silly, sentimental, tender, wishful, optimistic hope.

so I did things like take my kids in the yard, have them break a stick, then put a bunch of sticks together and see how hard that was to break compared to the single stick.  I told them to stick together...with family, with be strong.  I told them to let single sticks into their groups to be stronger.  I told them it was good to stand for what you believed in, but that seriously, if it was good, there were probably others to stand with and that I would always stand with them, even if they were wrong, because love is like that.  (of course, I've torn them a few new ones in private...but I guess that's just how I am...integrity and dignity and all that rot.)

so I fashioned together this sort of hippie, catholic, Christian, hope-centered spirituality for them.  and tried not to be mad at my husband.  (a priest actually helped me out with that...said my husband had to reject his parent's faith and find his own, yada yada yada...I was grateful)

and we moved along.  we moved out here and looked for a church, but didn't find one we felt like we fit at.  then my oldest (it's always that first born that takes the bull by the horns) chose our church.  because the music at the teen mass was good.  and we found our home.  I started working with the teens, he started singing in the choir, reading at mass, got confirmed, went to a catholic school, the second got involved, I started teaching cce...we are quite involved, to tell the truth.

and in that time, I've started examining my faith.  reading the writings of my church.  which are quite beautiful, despite what you hear come out of the mouths of some of its members.  I started getting comfortable.  I now have devout catholic friends, as well as the rest of my friends I've had my whole life.  and they've mixed a few times at various parties and things.  and enjoyed each others' company, as best I can tell.  (my sister's been a most excellent lesbian-ambassador for my sheltered catholic friends...they "just feel love from her"...which is kind of hard not to laugh out loud when they tell me that--given the reaction i'm pretty sure my sister would have if she knew that was what they were feeling from her--but I think God is pretty amazing and, well, it just makes sense even if it is kind of hilarious...have I mentioned how much I love my sister?)

and now my son is away.  being a missionary for the next year.  (it's really just til may, but that's practically a year, so since I've been honest here, let's just give me the right to call it a heart appreciates it)

he texted us pretty regularly the first two weeks.  very revealing texts like "good night :) I love you guys :)".  oh, was that too sarcastic?  I don't mean to be sarcastic.  it was hard getting such little texts, but it was also good.  it meant he was alive, able to text....these are good check points when your child leaves home and is so many states away and you really have no idea what they're doing.  we did get a call.  it was...weird.  his voice was funny.  he didn't seem to have a lot to say.  I really didn't know what all to say either.  he talked to all of his brothers and when he told me good-bye, I was pretty sure he was crying.  it was not the most uplifting moment.  but that same night, the musicians (which he is one of) live streamed individual performances, and he chose to perform "watershed" by the indigo girls.  which made his dad and I cry.  well, I bawled.  I won't say his dad bawled...but the tears were pretty free.  it made me feel like he was okay.  he looked at the camera a lot.  he said hi to us at the beginning.  and at the end, he said "I love you, mama."  it made me feel like he missed us, but he was glad to "see" us and he was okay.  so I made the brave decision not to call the missionary ministry and demand they send my homesick nineteen year old home.  see how brave I was?

we've spoken to him one other time.  he sounded much better.  tired.  emotional.  overwhelmed.  but good.  he's surrounded himself with this huge team of missionary-wannabes.  they're in training for five weeks to become real-life missionaries.  I know who he was when I sent him.  I know what he was doing before I sent him.  I don't imagine most missionaries spent hours on computer games or listening to music or gloving or at the movies or watching the walking dead (although he did mention that a lot of the missionary-wannabes were fans of the walking dead...which I suppose is appropriate...they're trying to revitalize and renew, right?  there's a connection there somewhere...). 

anyway, my point is that jesus calls us to die to pick up the cross and follow him.  I think most Christians approach this from different angles, gentle angles, as we live our regular lives.  I think my oldest (and all of the other missionaries-in-training) are hitting this work head on.  they are laying down all of their regular comforts...computers, friends, family, free time, social lives as most of us know them, as well as any identity they may have tied in to those things...and getting to the heart of who God is and who God calls them to be.  and this makes me proud, it makes me scared, it makes me grateful and anxious and awed and worn out.  and maybe a few others i'm not listing.

mothers don't like to see their kids hurt.  neither do fathers, as best I can tell.  and we know he is hurting.  we know he is confronting things in himself that are hard.  I could maybe even name a few I might wish i'd helped him through before he left.  but this is a test of our faith as much as it is a test of his.  I know he's affirmed it before he even began the test.  I know he had the prize in mind...a prize I hadn't even really considered, to be honest...before he even left.  I don't think it makes the journey any easier, but I do think he has a faith in the destination that will get him there.  and I have faith, too.  but what I am left with is wondering how to walk that faith now that this journey has begun.  I know he will come back changed.  but he has a program to guide him through his journey.  we, on the other hand...the parents, the brothers (oh, how his brothers miss him) and the sister (her, not so much)...we don't have a program.  but we will be changed.  there is no mistaking that.

and this is where the hippie, soul-ster, touchy-feely, instinctual mama flouders a bit.

I know this is not about me.  well, the my life part of my life is about me.  but I know this isn't ALL about me.  yet I do want to guide my kids, my family well.  i am still working through the feelings of all of this still...the realizations, the insights, the praying and the talking about it.  it's hard.  who can you talk to when you're working through this?  the jesus-y friends just smile and tell you it's in God's hands...which i know, but i still want to cry and cuss and drink a few (ten) beers and maybe wallow a minute.  and the non-jesus-y friends don't know what to say about all the jesus and God and dying to yourself stuff, although most of them are willing to drink lots of beer with me.

so I've been writing.  which means not a lot of blogging.  which apparently leads to marathon blogs.  i'm just struggling at doing this (which I suppose is the way it's meant to be done, but it doesn't lessen the struggle to know that, you know?).  because nothing in my life was consciously lived to prepare me for this part of the journey.  but, because i believe in God's kindness and wisdom and mercy, it would seem everything in my life was lived to prepare me for this part of the journey.  and that, dear friends, is where my work is...  now, let me go finish my beer...


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

be careful what you ask for

because you just might get it.  and it might not be what you wanted.  but maybe it's what you needed.

i called my mom today.  to talk to her.  about feelings i was having.  feelings i was uncomfortable with.  i won't go into detail because seriously, i blog about enough of my feelings that any of these posts could fill in the blank.  but i will offer it was about my oldest...about him leaving...about my fear of his negative feelings...about my fear that there are things i should've taught him, things i should've done differently, more of, less of...just stuff like that.

she said i sounded crazy.  she suggested i should talk to my therapist.  i told her i'd called my mom instead.  (but i will admit i was seriously wondering if that was the right choice at this point.)

she said i had control issues.  she said i had to stop trying to control him.  i told her that i didn't want to control what he did...but that i was becoming aware that i wanted to control how he felt.  more specifically, i just wanted everything to be fine...okay...maybe even good.  and that i was looking for my faith in this area...waiting for it to kick in...move these crazy feelings out of the way.  (but i wasn't exactly feeling "crazy"...just emotional...and sad...but we'll use her word.)   i mentioned that this fear of other people's negative feelings is what made me such a complacent child...what probably continues to make me a complacent adult.  i mean, i do have a sense of right and wrong that my father drilled a deep loyalty to in me, but if i can find a way to make it all okay without violating my sense of ethics or dismissing anyone, i'll take two of those, please.  and my sensitivity to others' feelings makes me a good parent to my kids...up to about age sixteen or so.  then i just lose my way...don't know where to go with the info i'm taking to act on it.

i know faith is a continuum.  i know life is a journey.  i know the journey is not always pleasant.  i know sometimes it sucks royally.  and i know god is present in it all.  i have faith in that.  it's not always a warm, secure feeling kind of faith.  sometimes it is desperate.  sometimes it is so shaky, i wonder if it's even real or just a figment of my imagination.  sometimes it is deep and solid and grounds me.  like i's a continuum.  i have yet to find a way to keep myself stuck in that place where it's good.  it always changes. 

my mom said i have to let go of control.  let whatever happens be what happens.  stop worrying.  she must've told me to stop worrying fifteen times.  as if repetition would make it happen.  i know i have to stop worrying.  i just don't know how to do that.  i tried doing dishes, reading a book, eating lunch.  it didn't work.  so i called my mom. 

i do feel more at peace.  the thing she said that i needed to hear was that whatever happened, whatever he chose, wherever he was, that i could be sure god was in the middle of it.  and that was what i needed to hear.  i'm trying to rest in that...and not in whether or not i have a control issue or if i'm crazy or why i chose to call my mom and who all she's going to tell i'm crazy and controlling to.  those things will not help me.  and i do know that if i want to teach my kids to focus on what's important, i have to be willing to do the same.

see what i mean?


Sunday, May 19, 2013

a little further thinking

when i was heading to bed last night (which was really this morning, but why am i telling you irrelevant things?), i was thinking about the day..about losing tallu, the people who'd shown up to help me process (and by show up i mean on the mom, my sister, my friend julie, my sil), and really just whether or not i'd sign up for this race again looking back, knowing what i know. 

i've been trying to live my christian tradition, my catholic faith.  and while there are many doctrines and dogmas people point to and fight about and bicker over, it seems pretty agreed upon that the most important, the most basic, the most identifying readings are the ones where jesus says to love god first...and second, to love your neighbors as love each other...that by giving we love as he has (which was pretty absolutely, there's just no way around it).  and i try to live like that.  but it's hard to trust people...and consequently, i guess it's hard to trust god.  which i think also means i don't really trust myself sometimes.

but last night, knowing that everything was ok, that it had all ended up better than fine...that tallu's death sucked--no way around that--but that we were different in a way we would never have been different without her life and love and yes, her death.  it gave me a little hope...strengthened my faith.

so here's what i thought last night...that i could condense what i'd written in my blog into these simple thoughts...

-love as best you can.  don't be afraid.  or be afraid, but don't hang onto it.  it has never served me as well as i'd hoped and it so gets in the way of love.  and when you've lost your way in fear, start by loving'll help. 
-give your heart to people, to animals, to ideas, to causes...because only when you give it do you really get it.  and that can be scary.  but holding on to it, because you're afraid of giving it and not getting anything back, only chokes it and keeps it small. 
-and one last thing...don't ever be too smug about the things you know.  we all know different things at different times...and there are so many things i used to know that i've forgotten or lost only to get them more deeply the next time.  respect the things others know.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

my dog died today

my husband and two middle boys are out of town.  they're at a robotics competition in detroit.  i stayed in town with our two littles and we attended my oldest's athletics banquet last night.  it's always weird for me to go to sleep without my husband here, especially when our oldest is on a date, but the two littles and i made it work, went to the park yesterday, watched tv and hung out.  i put the dogs in their kennels last night around eleven and they were fine when my oldest got home around one.

i woke up at 7:15ish to the sound of one of my dogs making a weird noise...kind of a cry/howl kind of noise.  but it had a pierce to it that woke me and i got up to see what was going on.  my youngest was also up...telling my chocolate lab, tallulah, to be quiet.  i don't know how long she'd been up with the dog.  but i could tell immediately something was very wrong.  tallu was on the bottom of her kennel and her legs were just wrong.  and she didn't open her eyes and look at me when i walked in.  she'd just make this sound every once in awhile.  she was laying in vomit.  i got on the internet to see when my vet's office 7:30.  i called them to see if they were in early and got routed to the emergency clinic.  i described what was going on, asked if there was anything i should do, and made a plan to get her into their clinic immediately, but then the woman i was on the phone with noticed the time and said it would probably be faster to take her to my regular vet's office when they opened in five minutes since they were closer.  i called my husband, i was a little hysterical at this point.  i got my oldest up to help me get her to the car, came back in, saw tallu move her head the tiniest bit, and then she breathed her last breath.  we all got a little hysterical at that point.  i called the regular vet, they already knew from the emergency clinic that i'd called (it had only been about five minutes), and talked to me about bringing her in to be cremated.  i told them i needed to talk to my husband, bla bla bla.

my oldest son and i took her outside, he hugged me tight, and said, "mama, please, just let me do this."  i asked him what he was going to do and he said he wanted to clean tallu up before the littles came out to say good-bye to her.  my heart had already broken when i realized i'd watched our dog breathe her last breath, but it went pretty wide open when he said that.  watching him lift his dog, wash her up with the was a pretty wet time all around.  my youngest son was inside still crying and our daughter, our youngest child, was pretty confused by all of the emotion.  it's been awhile since i tried to explain death to a toddler.  she seemed pretty understanding of it, looked a little said, decided that maybe her brother was so sad because tallu hadn't hugged him before she died.  i think it will take her a while to realize tallu isn't coming back.  i have no idea what her response will be when we bring tallu's ashes home from the vet.  we'll cross that one when we get there, i guess.

the vet's people were awesome.  the lady who came out to carry tallu in hugged me and then did the most amazing thing...i was outside petting my dead dog, and she came over and kissed my dead dog.  there are just some moments when you are so aware how crazy they are and how amazing they are at the same time.  they carried her in and i saw my dog, one of "my girls" for the last time.

the people at the vet's office think she must've had a seizure.  the only other time she's had one was a couple of months ago when i had her teeth cleaned and they put her under.  she came out of anaesthesia fine, but then had a big seizure out of nowhere.  i know most of them saw her seizure...she'd accrued quite a fan club in her time there that day...she is one of the friendliest, if not slobberiest dogs i'd known.  so i have to guess they saw her seizure, cleaned her up, and thought it sounded familiar when i described how she'd been when i found her this morning.  i left the vet's at 8:30.  in an hour and a little change, we'd lost a dog, cleaned her up and said our good-byes, and taken her to be cremated.  it was the most surreal and at the same time, most heartbreakingly normal mornings i've had in a long time.  animals die.  we know this.  we've experienced it several times.  with fish (which my oldest mused today was really just kind of annoying...but i remember his tears when he lost an oscar he'd had for four years...).  with rabbits...and those were heartbreaking.  but on a small scale.  this is definitely our first seventy pound loss.  and it was heavy.  but we did the things you do when half your family is in detroit and you go through something like this...we stayed together...we shopped...we bought movies and junk food and sodas for the kids and beer for the mom.  we watched our movies, rubbed each others' heads and backs, hugged lots, talked some, remembered tallu...the good and sweet parts...the annoying and funny parts.  i started out the day feeling a little upset that my husband wasn't here to help sort this mess out and ended the day feeling bad he and the other kids weren't here to heal with us.  i have said some lately, as our family prepares for my oldest to graduate and leave for a year of ministry at the end of the summer, that sometimes god has to break our hearts a little so we can get some light in there and they can get bigger and stronger.   the knowing doesn't necessarily make it less painful, but it changes my acceptance of the breaking, opens up my knowledge that the healing will come, no matter how scared or hurt i might be.

the light today was realizing that i spend too much time on the "what i want things to be one day" and not enough time appreciating what they are now.  i'm going to work on that.  a very sweet, very loyal, very beautiful chocolate lab gave me that lesson as gently as she could.  i love her.  i'm so glad she was a part of our journey.

tomorrow the rest of our family will get here and we'll attend mass and they'll honor the graduates for this year from our church.  and my oldest son will be up there.  i know the waterworks will be flowing for me...they really haven't stopped yet.  but they'll be peaceful tears.  i struggle sometimes being his mom...he and i are so very different.  but today left me with nothing but appreciation for my son...a man who asked to be the one to take care of his dog this morning and watched two movies with me today and is just an incredible kid.  i am done with thinking of what he will be one day.  i am proud of who he is...grateful for who he is.  i need him to be much as i need to let myself be me.  it is a gift.  i guess that's a little extra light.


Thursday, May 16, 2013


i wrote this long blog post in my head last night.  i was having some anxiety.  there were some big storms rolling in.  and usually i like big storms.  but after our last little hail storm, which was our first little hail storm in this house with all the windows, i started feeling a little vulnerable, i guess.  so i was anxious.  and here's what i was thinking about...

life has lots of metaphorical storms that roll through.  and like last night's storm, i know things will be fine, i know they will pass, i know some good will come from them and there will be some things to repair and fix and some things will probably just be lost.  but those are things.  and ultimately, life will go on and storms will keep happening and we will keep being changed by them and that's just how life is.

i thought about lots of "storms"....but for some reason, i don't have it in me to recall them in detail right now.  but illness, death, careers, family, children, sexuality, religion, school, pride, education....these were the uniting themes as i remember.  some were loooong.  some were mercifully short.  all of them change the landscape of the lives of those endured them.

so back to last night's anxiety.  we are in a new house...a new place.  i don't yet know where we're vulnerable, what to watch out for, where our defenses will be breached.  (yeah, my guys have been watching lord of the rings lately...)  and it makes me...well...super anxious.  after all the "storms" of the last few years, i find my enthusiasm for actual storms a little challenged.  but i did find peace in tying the two together.  in relaxing my muscles as i listened to the first wave of thunderstorms hit.  (i swear it rained in my front yard for almost five minutes before it actually rained on my house.  it is crazy the way storms work.)  there were at least two other waves that i heard.  and i was ok.  i prayed a lot.  because for me, that's really the solution to it all.  the faith or belief or whatever you wanna call it that what's damaged will either be fixable or something you can learn to live without, and the sun will come back out, and life will continue onward.  and there will be more storms.  and more sun. 

i posted this on my facebook yesterday...

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves ...
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

my friend jeanni was the first person to start teaching me this.  and even though it's been over two years since she died, i find myself understanding it more and more as time goes by.  last night, it was a beacon.  (one i planted myself earlier in the day.  that kind of stuff used to amaze me, but now i'm just grateful for the grace to be moved and respond.) 


Thursday, May 9, 2013

always stuff to work on

my oldest drove himself to school today.  in the car we bought him over the weekend after his wreck on friday.  i've asked him to text me when he gets to school.  he texted me at about two o'clock yesterday..."sorry.  i forgot to text.  i made it.  :)"  i texted back "THANK GOD!!  i was so worried..." 

i wasn't really scared.  not really.  mostly not really.

i got to see him drive up to the dentist yesterday (we met there...sweetness, huh?).  he looks pretty good behind the wheel...he pays attention, seems to know what he's doing, isn't looking all over the place like a little puppy, or headbanging or anything.

i'm just a little nervous.  the tiniest bit.  just about thirty seconds worth of nervous maybe two or three times (or five...maybe five) a day.  and yes, it grabs me at the bottom of the throat for that thirty seconds, but then it goes away.  mostly.

i've heard many times that children are our hearts walking around on the outside.  well, put them behind the wheel of a car and it's a whole new dimension, a whole new scope of that statement.  which is at it should be.  i know this life is not meant to be stagnant.  i know it is meant to be dynamic.  i cannot imagine how my life would have been a fraction of the challenge and complexity it is without children.  i was so focused on trying to please those around me (because it really felt like the best way to survive) that i kind of skated through so much of my life (that's kind of a funny...skating...i really took skating lessons as a one kid thing...i had the skirt and everything...) without really paying attention.  and let me tell you, my attention is sharp this time around...too sharp sometimes...gotta drink some wine to dull it some nights.  ok, i don't really gotta.  but i am alert this time around.  almost painfully so.  and i am learning lots.  oh holy smokes, i'm learning lots.  and the funny thing....i'm less and less concerned with pleasing people as i go.  partly because i'm really starting to believe we're all in this together and any good thing benefits us all...and partly because i just can't look back and study things the way i used time is limited and i'm allocating memory for different things.

an aside...i notice my last run i logged on here was in september of last year.  i haven't been running the way i wanted to be...i don't see myself in full marathon shape in time for my fortieth birthday next february...but i am still running.  doing what i call treadmill rosaries.  i was thinking maybe i'd come update later today.  i could use a perk up...i have to address and assemble graduation invitations today.  as excited as i am about being finished with the high school my oldest chose (it's not been a good year in the history of that high school), it's weird to be addressing his GRADUATION INVITATIONS.  partly because this is an emotional thing for me...and i don't really want lots of people coming.  (yes, i know it's not about's about him...and that's why i'm addressing the invitations....if i really thought it was about me, i'd invite my sister, my mom, and my friend lana...but i'm not just inviting devil's advocate in my own head, back off.)  anyway, maybe looking at how much running i've done in the last seven months will be a good distraction activity when the addressing gets hairy.


ps--blogger needs to get with the times...they're trying to spellcheck the word "texted"...get with it, baby.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

i just haven't decided on a title for this one yet

anne lamott has a story called "the carpet guy."  it's always been a favorite of mine...makes me laugh and gives me the ability to see grimy little parts of myself that doesn't hurt as bad as a regular mirror.  i have a similar story.  i'm going to try to tell it...

my son was in a car wreck friday morning at 7:30.  i had been up with my three year old a couple of times in the middle of the night, so i got up with him to write a note and sign a permission slip (yes, they still require those for eighteen year olds apparently...), but then i kissed him, explained my sleep deficit, and excused myself back to bed.  he came to kiss me good-bye, and (i am so glad for this), i told him i loved him.  and went back to bed.  and was awoken by a very scared sounding eighteen year old on my phone, telling me he'd just been in a wreck.  he sounded both very alive and present in the moment, but also very confused as to how this had happened.  i asked him where he was and if he was okay.  he was on the same (DAMNED) stretch of road we've seen at least five wrecks on while on his way to school since we've moved out here.  i could go into all the thoughts of "i can't believe i didn't tell him not to drive that way to school" and similar or progressive thoughts to that one, but i won't.  if you're a mom, i'm sure you can fill in those blanks.  i told him i'd be there in a minute.  (because frankly, i 've never had a wreck...yes, in over twenty years of driving, i had no experience to tell my son what to do next, and all i had to offer was "i'll be there in a minute...let me throw on clothes.  i love you.")

the rest of the day went fine.  my husband was able to coach us a bit on the phone, the police officer was very helpful, my son received a citation for failure to control his speed (which apparently is a common challenge for young drivers on that particular stretch of highway), and we all made it home fine.  i will mention, because it is relevant to a story i'm TRYING to make short, but i just don't think i'm going to succeed, that a wrecker (hired by the city police) picked up my son's totaled (for the second time, it was a hand-me-down from my stepfather who salvaged it at the collision center he manages) truck.  when i made my calls once we were home-insurance, police department, municipal court, and then the wrecker company-the wrecker man told me my car was totaled and that most people just sign over the titles to their cars to him.  i told him i'd get back to him.

fast forward some hours to that evening, and when my husband called the wrecker man to inquire about the cost of towing my son's car, the wrecker man told him that most people just title their cars to him and call it even.  my husband told him he'd get back to him.

now, we live five minutes from a pick and pull auto parts place.  we see the sign often, think places like that are awesome, use them ourselves when necessary, and my husband called that place.  they offered us $600 for the car, knowing it was totaled, site unseen, offering to pick the car up from the wrecker place for free.  so we went to bed last night, grateful the wreck wasn't any worse than it was, grateful our son and the driver of the other car were fine (it's texas...the other driver was a big truck with a big back bumper...she really just needed a broom to dust my son's car's debris off her back bumper), and just generally a little more appreciative of life.

now's where i realize this one's going to be long, but i'm committed to stick with it...i apologize.  :)

today we were going to look at cars.  i have made the radical decision that even though my son made a few mistakes his junior year, and even though we've struggled with regaining trust, that ultimately, he's a good, responsible kid.  also, i like life with another driver in the house.  and i like what the responsibility and independence of him driving does for our home and our relationship.  so i wanted that car replaced.  unapologetically.  so this morning, the first order of business was to get the totaled car's towing costs paid for and make arrangements for the pick and pull peeps to take ownership.  this sounds so easy, taking one sentence to express and all...but it was one awful experience.

i'm going to start the story with some realizations that may ruin it...because no one has every actually expressed them.  but i think it will be quicker and i'm just going to have some faith.  it turns out the wrecker man doesn't have business hours on saturday or sunday.  and when my husband said he'd be there soon to pay the towing fees, the wrecker man did not take that to mean two hours later, my husband and oldest son would show up to clean out the car and pay him.  this is just part of my life with my husband, but the wrecker man was a little put off by it, i think, although he never expressed this to my husband.  and i believe he decided to be a little jerky about that...well, the time thing on top of the fact that my husband refused to title the car to him to let the wrecker man make the money selling it to the pick and pull place.  so when the wrecker man told my husband that he only accepted cash on the weekends, and my husband left to get cash to pay him, the wrecker man left, and began a day of cat and mouse that would have any cat hungry and any mouse feeling pretty darned good about his evasion tactics.    my husband would drive out there again, at a prearranged time, and the wrecker man wouldn't be at his place of business.  yet, somehow, it would be my husband's fault that the meeting was another miss.  we drove out together, my husband and i, and our nephew who we were keeping for the day, and our three year old and our nine year old.  and again, another miss.  and again, it was our fault.  the wrecker man would tell my husband (both times) that he'd JUST been there and would come back if willing, but it would be such a hassle, set a time, and not be there.

meanwhile, our pick and pull guys were trying to get in the game and get through the jobs ahead of us so they could go get the car.  but we were not being successful at getting the car "released" and paid for.

so i called the police department that contracts with the wrecker man asking for some help.  the officer found it questionable that we'd been told to title the car to the guy three times and still had no price to work with, but he explained the wrecker man's interests (he didn't want to be stuck storing a car that no one would pay for the storage of) and suggested we try to coordinate all three of us (wrecker man, pick and pull, and us) being there at the same time so money could get exchanged, car removed, and business d.o.n.e.  he said he'd call wrecker man as well.

at this point, we arrange for pick and pull to be there, wrecker man says he'll be there, and after dropping my husband at a car dealership, i head back with three littles to be there.  well.

pick and pull got there early, wrecker man locks them in his yard, tells them they can't have car because i am not there to pay, everyone leaves, and i swear, i must've pulled up two minutes later.  i wait, thinking i'm there to finish business.  find out from pick and pull their story.  call wrecker man to see if he's going to meet me (and i should say that this is the first time i'd talked to any of them husband had been working with them and i really don't think wrecker man expected it to be the mrs. on the phone). 

wrecker man then begins to unleash the frustration and crappiness and anger of the day on me.  tells me how INCONVENIENT this has been for him, how he's looking out for his business, how my husband hasn't ACTUALLY PAID him yet, how he IS NOT going to release my car until i've paid...bla bla bla.  (and i don't mean to discount his feelings...the police officer had really helped me see this guy's perspective...but seriously...)  i tell him i'm sorry for the inconvenience, explain that i am outside of his place of business, have been there waiting for half an hour, have three little kids in my car and cash in my hand with no other intention than TO PAY HIM.  he talks about how he never knows when we'll be there or not.  i tell him that i heard him arrange the time on my husband's phone (which plays all over the car in his rental car...seriously, i GET that it's safer to talk on the phone and drive like that, but i don't think whoever had that idea had five kids...just sayin).  i tell him other things, but not angry things because i have these three little ones in my car...and i just don't want to ruin their days by going crazy on the phone.  so they kept me in line...and i apologized to this guy.  obviously, there was some miscommunication going on.  i finally just tell him that i see, on the front of his business, that he doesn't even have saturday business hours, so i'll meet pick and pull there on monday, when he's already going to have someone there and we don't have to try to coordinate this stuff.  he tells me about all the extra storage fees i'll have to pay, about a certified letter fee he's going to charge me if i'm not there FIRST THING monday morning (he was still pretty angry) and i tell him "fine."  (don't you have it when people answer "fine"?)  he tells me he IS GOING TO CHARGE me those fees, and i say "go ahead and charge me.  i don't care.  you obviously don't care that we're trying to avoid them and it appears that us being able to coordinate this depends on you caring.  and you don't have to care.  it's not your job.  so i'll see you monday."

now, let me add here, that while i'm shakey at this point from being unleashed upon by a grown man, and i'm also pretty sure my husband's going to be pissed at me for drawing a boundary that is probably going to cost us over a hundred extra dollars, i'm pretty resolved that this is the solution we've all been looking for.  maybe we can salvage the day.  and i'm thinking i should really go get some cool drinks for these children that have been in the car for over an hour, playing wonderfully...

five minutes later he calls me to try to get me to meet him there with the pick and pull RIGHT THEN.  i tell him no thanks, i've alredy told the pick and pull to put my car on monday's schedule, and i'll see him monday.  then i bawl...very silently, so as not to alarm the wonderfully playing children in the back seat.

ten minutes later he calls and offers to tow the car himself to the pick and pull tomorrow morning, FIRST THING, and to charge me a flat rate of $200.  (we'd had some words over the fact that he had not yet given us an amount that we owed him...i'm telling you, he really just wanted the title.)  i tell him that's  not necessary, i'd really jusr rather see him monday.  he says he wants this deal over with, i tell him ok, i'll see you there first thing tomorrow morning...and what time is that?  nine.  got it.

fifteen minutes later, he calls and tells me he's going to tow the car to the pick and pull and not charge me anything for any of his services.  i tell him that's not necessary.  that i'd really just rather meet him tomorrow morning, that i know it's been an inconvenient day for all involved.  he asks me to let him do this so he can "be a person or something."  and all of the fight drains right out of me.  while i wasn't arguing with him about money (which he was clearly up to arguing about), i couldn't argue for my boundary anymore.  i was angry that this guy was so rude and difficult and had drained my day away and then thought he was going to call and tell me what he was going to do now.  i was so fracking tired of being told what he was going to do.  but that fight drained out of me, i told him to do what he wanted to do, he reiterated his plan, and i thanked him.  we hung up.

two hours later, he called to say the car was at pick and pull with a zero balance invoice.  two minutes, pick and pull called to tell me the same.  i thanked wrecker man when he called.  i thanked pick and pull when they called and will meet them tomorrow morning to title the car to them and get paid.  i have never worked so hard for $600 in my life.  (and i used to get that much a MONTH for teaching preschoolers five days a week, three hours a day, plus two extra hours to watch ballerinas before their class...i thought that was WORK lemmetellya.)

so this was much longer than i wanted it to be.  and i left stuff out.  like when he was talking to me about the  money for car, and paying for the car, and releasing the car, and i mentioned that the car happened to be what my eighteen year old son was driving before it became fodder for pick and pull.  (i might have gotten the slightest bit teary when i said that...)

i'll come back and add any reflections or insights.  for now, i just know that not fighting back is sometimes a good thing.  it can give a person a chance to realize what they're saying or doing when i don't give them back as good as they're giving.  i also knowing that not fighting can become its own fight, and then i have to work to not fight that.  i have no idea how i would've handled today if i hadn't have had three little kids that i love and want to trust me in the car.  but i worked to handle a situation they weren't even aware of in a way that would be deserving of their trust.  and i totally get that sometimes, you have to fight to deserve some one's trust.  i'm not proposing every situation be handled the way i handled today.  i don't know that i could repeat today if i tried.  but today was a really good day.  it was tiring.  i'm full of tears i may or may not get to cry (and some of those may be yesterday's tears, i really don't know).  but it was a good day.


ps--back to anne lamott's story...i thought about it a lot today.  and i do believe i will send the guy some money.  he did tow a car we owned twice.  and his bad behavior doesn't negate the work he did.  at least, this is the hill i'm hoping to make it to the top of by monday or so.  i see it, i know i want to go there, but i'm pretty tired today.  :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013


i'm at a tired place...a damp, kind of mushy quiet place.  maybe that's why i'm suddenly seized with the need to make a worm bin...  (random connection?  not really...  i have some worms a bil brought over a month and a half ago, and those suckers are still i'm going to put it all to use...and this is how i want life to go....stuff seemingly forgotten and no long useful...a good time prepared for but that never really happened...put to good use...still going forward, albeit in a different incarnation of sorts...yep...that's my goal...and these little guys get to be my inspiration instead of some fish's


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

one of my favorites

yeah, i know, two in one day...wth?

that's my oldest and my youngest.  playing sidewalk chalk.  together.  it was a good day.  and while i'm not a very good photographer, i'm a pretty appreciative mother.



i got to see the sun come up this morning.

appreciating that, after the previous ten hours or so makes me feel like a better a person who opened up a little (ever notice how stress can SHUT. YOU. DOWN?)...let in some light and air and was better for it.  the clean air might've helped... 

what's that mean?, you ask.  well, let me 'splain.  that takes too long.  let me sum up...  (that's a horrible attempt to quote princess bride...)  anyway, i'm watching my nephew today.  which i agreed to awhile back, so of course i forgot, but then i got reminded, and it's all good.  it's my oldest son's spring break, so a day to stay home is good.  plus, we've got other family coming to stay with us wednesday thru saturday, and lots planned in there, so it really works out for one of my favorite kids to be here.  it's just his parents that make me crazy sometimes....  (and i love his parents....and i'm pretty sure they love me....although sometimes i'm afraid they might be just the teensiest bit busy judging me...but whatever...i could be wrong)  my bil showed up last night with three hepa air filters.  three big air filters.  (two of which match the one he insisted on buying when  my youngest was born, but i digress...)  he also changed the filter on my hepa filter and brought a filter for my air conditioner, but it was the wrong size, so my dh just changed it with one of the new ones he'd bought when we first moved in. 

now, this may not seem like a big deal.  to have someone just show up at 9:30 or 10 o'clock at night and balk at how disgusting your filters are and change everything, hooking up new equipment all over.  (it's kind of like being in a wind tunnel right lie)  but it really put me out of sorts...made me feel defensive...blindsided that by agreeing to watch his son, i'd agreed to this invasion and subsequent housekeeping by committee.  oh, and in the sake of fairness, let me explain that my nephew has asthma.  (as do two of my own children who live full time in this pig sty...roll eyes in an overly hurt, overly dramatic way)  my nephew has needed his inhaler the last couple of times he's been here.  his doc says he has a dust allergy.  (oh lord, seriously?  what is going on with human bodies and that one?  makes me think of those poor dogs allergic to grass...)  so i try to vacuum before he comes here.  and that's about the extent of the attention i can pay it.  so my bil decided to make my house hospitable for his kid.  i know it's not THAT big of a deal.  but i'm still a little sore from it.

see, i know my house is kind of dirty.  those of us who are home full-time with a big group of kids like to say that it's lived-in...doesn't look like a museum....shows proper priorities and what not.  and among my laid-back, lived-in-look mama friends, i'm probably at the top of the cleaning list...near the "cleans too much and just might should be kicked out" part of the list of club members.  but then i have an attack of busy or tired and my house goes right back down into the "comfortably lived-in" part of the list...maybe even toward the "might should be considered for hoarders and revoked in the club" section.  but i do it myself, see?  (like when my grandma would turn her hair green and when someone would ask about it, she'd get all proud..."i did it myself" though somehow that made it less green...)  it's a family project, really.  i'm trying to get my kids to not be so's a good goal...and i try to gently point out the areas they can improve ("you think you might could remember to RINSE the sink out after you spit your mouth goo in it?"..."how about we pick up this week's socks from next to the couch and take them to the hamper so they can become next week's sock pile?"...and we'll leave the toilet stuff out of's early...i'm not sure i have the stomach just yet).  it was a bit of a violation to have someone come in and take over this small section.  and it was kind of offensive that by agreeing to watch my nephew, my bil came in and only took over a part of housekeeping that he felt was in the interest of his, what about the other seven people who live in this house? 

but it's ok.  my husband said we know how his brother is.  and we do.  and this morning, my husband said i know his brother loves me.  and i said i wasn't too sure about that, how about we don't press it, what with his family coming up this week and me being so tired from all that wrestling with my pride and house cleaning...

peace out

Thursday, March 7, 2013

dipping a toe in

i keep feeling like i want to write.  but mostly, i think what i want to do is read.  i just don't read much these days.  and i've got some really good books sitting around gathering dust...

Monday, January 7, 2013

what was i thinking about?...

i had these two awesome ideas to write about today.  i can't remember them.  well, that's not true.  i remember the first one.  but then i remember i had another idea...and i liked it more than the first...and, well, i can't remember what it was....

damn it.

well, the first idea was about how i've had this sort of turtle posture for awhile.  like how a turtle draws its head into its shell when it's worried...or unsure...or a little freaked out...or scared...or some other little turtle-y feeling.  and i think i've been doing that for so long (like the last year or so) that i've figured out why my neck and throat and shoulders are always so freaking tight.  so relaxing those parts of me helps.  but i also need a mental reminder...something to focus my thoughts and not just change my physical stance (because i will go right back to what i was doing as soon as the thought "drop my shoulders" goes through my mind).  so on this vacation, i was listening to the indigo girls.  something i haven't done in a really long time.  and i listened to this song called 'hammer and nail.'  the chorus says...gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail, learn how to use my hands, not just my head, i'll think myself into jail, now i know a refuge never grows, from a chin in a hand and a thoughtful pose, gotta to tend the earth if you want a rose.  so instead of just thinking about all i have to do, all that's going on, getting overwhelmed, drowning, trying to tuck my head in my shell...i'm just going to use my hands and tend the earth.  gardening would be awesome, but that's not the only tending i'm talking about.  i'm just going to get up and do something.  and i won't get everything done.  i will forget some things.  this is what i already do.  i'm not looking to improve my productivity or memory or efficacy.  i am looking to improve my sense of spirit, i guess.  i think i still have one of those...somewhere around here...or down in here, whichever.

vacation was awesome.  it was so fun.  i can't remember the last time i just had fun for nine days straight.  well, there was one day when my husband lost our keys at a ski resort, in feet of snow, in a mountain that was being heavily snowed upon, with all of our kids freezing and waiting and his family waiting on us.  but it turned out fine.  (because stressed-out turtle girl brought an extra set of keys...just sayin.)  so maybe i can't count that whole day as fun.  but it was new year's eve, and i got my drink on when we got back to the cabin, hung out with the kids, watched the grown men play a game i'd brought for the little was good times.  and i'm glad to be home.  i even surprised myself by putting away christmas today.  in a whole new organized fashion...we're going to try to get the garage under control.  and it didn't even stress me out.  it was kind of pleasant.

my cyber tribe has asked for updates and pictures of the kiddos again.  because posting them on my blog is easier than figuring out how to do it on the forum, i'll try that tomorrow.