Tuesday, October 9, 2018

busy as a Mexican paper wasp.

Y'know how when something kinda bad happens and you just have this sinking feeling that you are on the verge of a landslide of bad happenings?  Well, here we stand (we being my family).

Saturday hubby was cutting some trees down and he got stung by what we think are Mexican paper wasps.  His hand swelled up and he was in a fair bit of pain.  (Man-pain, though.  Which for comparison's sake:  a man being in a "fair bit of pain" = a woman being in labor with twins.)  This led to the frightening discovery of a wasp hive in some boxes of stuff that we have "in storage" next to our garage.  This led to a discussion about how to get rid of said hive.  (It's hard to tell how large the hive is or to scientifically estimate how many wasps could be in said hive.  Estimates range from three inches to three feet in length and anywhere from 20-2000 wasps.)

Hubby and I have been thinking about the hive quite a bit since Saturday.  He called some sort of wasp guru and she said hive removals can cost up to $800.  Currently we have about a $20 in checking, so we're thinking that won't work.  She also said that Mexican paper wasps can somehow sting through basically metal and so you are pretty much defenseless against them.

I had a nightmare in which giant bees were chasing Girl 3 and it was scary.  I told hubby I had a nightmare about the bees and he said, "Me too."  The fear this is unleashing is kinda a movement in our family right now.

So, today we got a notice that we are having bulky pick-up very soon in our neighborhood to which we all said excitedly, "Yay!  We can finally get rid of those boxes stacked by the garage."  Followed by a depressed, "But, how are we going to kill the wasps?"

This led to a terrifying dinner discussion which was disturbing yet typical of my family.  Here are some solutions that were proposed (most of them by hubby).

1.  Dress in multiple layers of clothing with our ski gear on top and modified BMX helmets for head protection and unleash several cans of whoop ass wasp spray on the hole in the box.  (Incidentally, when this first happened and we saw the hole in the box which is the opening of the hive, the 1. Cut a hole in the box jokes began.)  Boy child said to this idea, "That might work, but what if someone sees us?"  Point well taken.  Plus, we couldn't decide who would be the main person on this.  Hubby sweats a lot and it's still like 90 here, we don't really want to put the children at risk, and I don't have good aim.

2.  Get a second opinion.  This was Girl 1's idea.  If I had to pick a rational member of the family during this conversation, I pick her.  Hubby said he'd already as good as gotten one (see #6), and that pretty much shut her down.

3.  Put a lighted torch type/molotov cocktail on the end of a large (like 14 foot) pole that we have (why do we have that pole?) and somehow maneuver the pole into the hole in an attempt to burn them out.  To this I said, "Yeah, but then we have the same problem if they swarm us and we just go back to needing our suits and wasp spray."

4.  Burn down the entire garage (this was, surprisingly (?), Boy Child's suggestion).  We all kinda liked this one because we all hate cleaning the garage and we've been wanting to start over for a while.  But, y'know, laws and stuff.  And I said I'd feel really bad if we accidentally burned the neighbor's garage down, too.

5.  Somehow maneuver a tarp over the wasps (without them knowing) and then after the tarp was sealed (with rocks?) on all sides we would stick a fogger in there.  This seemed like a reasonable suggestion to us.  But, how could we get the tarp over them without getting stung?

6.  Ask our neighbor who "knows a guy" that can do it for $50 to give us that guy's number.  And call him.  The kids and I really liked this idea.  We pointed out that it kept our family safe and if we called the guy tonight, we could still get our wasp-free boxes to the curb (and possibly clean the garage) this weekend.  Hubby hated this idea.  He said $50 was still too much and we were up for a challenge.

In the end (I think it's the end?), hubby said the only way it's getting done is if we all take a job.  We've kinda decided (I guess?) that three of us will dress in suits (I'm not sure what kind, but I might be getting our ski clothes out of the attic), the youngest will man the phone (in case she needs to call 911), Girl 1 will drive the getaway car, and Girl 2 will be in her room on her phone and after we've exterminated the wasps, come out alive, and are wiping the sweat off of our brows will bounce downstairs and say, "What'd I miss?"

Friday, September 7, 2018

i teach prek. thank you?

i blinked and summer was over.  there are 54 more days until halloween.  this is my life currently:

in my prek class we go hard on manners the first couple weeks.  i eat lunch (and sometimes breakfast) with 18 four year olds five days a week.  a lot of times they don't like what i'm eating (or what their classmates are eating).  at the beginning of the year, they say things like, "that's disgusting!"  "that looks like throw-up!"  "is that poop?"  "your food is sick!"

so, i teach them that it's more polite to say, "i don't care for broccoli."  "i don't really like tomatoes."  "i am not a fan of humus."  "i've never seen food that looks like that before."

we also learn the "magic words."  ("please" and "thank you.")

so, the other day i was eating tomatoes for lunch and a little boy named J said, "DISGUSTING!  i HATE tomatoes!"

i said, "oh, J!  remember, manners!  what's more polite?"

to which J said, "i hate tomatoes................please?"

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Dental floss? Anyone?

As most of you know (all three of you reading my blog - half of whom are related to me), I have four kids.  When the three older ones (currently 16, 15, and 14) were, I think under say 10, I had a housecleaner who I loved dearly.  Even with said housecleaner, my house was rarely deep cleaned.  She did not:  clean windows, move furniture, or clean the insides of any cabinets or such (presumably, that was my responsibility).  With three small children and one smaller child, I just never really cleaned.

I can distinctly remember the last time every window in our home was cleaned.  I was going into labor with Girl 2 (so, 2004), and hubby insisted on continuing to clean the windows until he was done.  (Another blog post, entirely.)  Those windows eventually got filthy again and we decided just to get all new windows.  And, it's kinda gone like that.

The fridge rarely got cleaned (inside or out or underneath) and then finally we just got a new fridge.

So, since I'm a teacher, summer is my time to "relax" and get everything I put off all freaking year done.  Doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, eye appointments, purging, and cleaning.  On my summer list for the past few years has been:  Clean the entire house, top to bottom, and get rid of unnecessary items. This is a painstaking task and usually I end up drinking a lot of beer and blogging many times while completing it.

I'm about 1/8 of the way through and here's my list so far.

1.  We always end up with a lot of dental floss.  It's weird.  There are six of us and we all go to the dentist religiously every six months.

 (And just a side-note:  I have teeth I am proud of and my first memory of going to the dentist was in about late elementary when I threw up on the dentist after my mom warned him that I had a heightened gag reflex.  My next dentist memory is from college when the hygenist actually felt the need to show me how to brush my teeth.  I don't know if it's because I was the tenth child, but I do not recall my mom or dad ever asking me if I'd brushed my teeth or showing me how to brush my teeth.)

The dentist gives us dental floss every time any of us goes to the dentist (which is 12 times if you are doing the math).  We all floss, but no one ever uses this particular dental floss.  This time I checked we have 13 containers of floss from the dentist.  (Along with maybe 1000 hotel containers of toiletries.  I am thinking of googling a place to donate all of these items.  Oh, and old contacts, of which I have 7 boxes unopened.

2.  I clean my fridge now that I am able and it just gets dirty again.  It's ridiculous.  I mean, how rude. Fridge:  Have some decency and consideration.

3.  We never have band-aids.  My kids constantly make fun of me because I just don't believe in band-aids and so I don't buy them.  And when I do, the kids use them, damnit.  And then we don't have anymore.  Here is my logic (and if I could make flow-charts, now would be the most amazing time) - if you are cut and bleeding you might need a band-aid.  Can you stop the blood with a tissue?  Yes?  You don't need a band-aid.  No?  Then try a paper-towel.  Can you stop it with patience and a paper towel?  Yes?  You don't need a band-aid.  No?  Then you might need to go to the ER.  Can you see bone?  No?  You don't need to go to the ER.  Try pressure, a paper towel, and more patience.  Yes?  You need the ER.  And go ahead and take some ibuprofen because you're probably going to need it.

My kids make fun of me for numerous things and my extreme distaste for band-aids and my penchant for ibuprofen are defiantly one of their funniest and most honest observations.

Well, I actually found five sad band-aids while cleaning.  I screamed out to all my kids, "GUYS!  GUESS WHAT.  I FOUND FIVE BAND-AIDS.  DON'T SAY I NEVER GIVE YOU ANYTHING." Girl 1 was the most pitiful.  She came into my room where I was cleaning my bathroom and very sadly said, "Mom, can you please buy more band-aids.  I actually need them sometimes."  It was really pathetic and made me think what a horrible parent I am.  I think I'll consider buying more.

4.  Where do people put random stuff?  Consider this a survey and please let me know.  Where do you store safety pins?  Do you even have safety pins?  I mean, they're so confusing.  Are they an office supply or a toiletry?  A beauty product?  What about Scentsy bars?  Party supplies?  Wreaths?  We have a small junk drawer which I police religiously, but not only is it not really the place for safety pins or Scentsy bars, it's so junky they wouldn't fit.  We are not rich and we definitely live in a tiny house, but if I had a million dollars and could buy the house of my dreams I'd have a junk closet where I would just store random stuff.  For now, there is a snack bag of safety pins on my desk until further notice.

5.  Can we talk coffee cups?  Make no mistake, I love my parents and I get amazing teacher presents every single year.  But, it is fact that teachers get approximately 8000 coffee cups a year.  This year I got two with my name on them.  I'm embarrassed to Goodwill them because the horror if the parent that gave them to me saw them at Goodwill.  I love my coffee, but I use exactly three coffee cups (all the Starbucks large city ones) weekly.  Goodwill gets a lot of cups from me y'all.  Ditto for reusable water bottles.

6.  I've read every single article about cleaning ever published, I think.  Usually they just make me feel incredibly inadequate and dirty.  But, sometimes I just flat out think, who the hell?  And, also, when?  I just finished Mr. Clean sponge cleaning my restroom walls and door frames.  It honestly looks like I painted.  Good God.  Am I that filthy?  (And, now, by the way, I am enjoying a beer and blogging because damn was that hard work.  I do not think I'll be up to it for another 16 years.)

That's my list so far.  It's a work in progress, so there might be more later.  Meanwhile, if you're ever in the neighborhood, please don't hesitate to stop by for a coffee or beer.  I will try to wash the dog hair off the counter before I serve you.  (And you can take a sweet little bag of floss and toiletries with you when you leave.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

102 years later.

today my dad turns 102.  he was born in 1916, and here's a google link to what i found out about that.  i have the upmost respect and love for this man.  and when i wonder about "god" i can say that what i see in him is a light that i will equate with a god.

a list is not adequate, but it's all i have.

1.  he had me when he was as old as i am now.  he'd already had nine children.  i will allow myself to imagine that only for a short time because it sometimes brings me to tears.  i am an "older parent" and our youngest is nine.  (that almost brings me to tears.)  parenting is hard and having an infant right now, for me, would be really hard.  i admire the heck out of him for parenting me like he did.

2.  there are so many great stories when you have been on this earth 102 years.  here's one:  my husband and i had recently moved close to my parents and we went over to their house.  hubby who is an expensive bike enthusiast had a really expensive bike.  because we were living in an apartment without a garage, hubby asked dad to keep his bike in dad's garage.  dad hung it up and hubby, looking at the hook dad had hung it on, asked dad, "jesse, is that hook gonna hold my bike?"  and dad said, "well, if it doesn't, your bike will fall."  classic dad.  pragmatic.  funny.

3.  dad walked almost every single day of his retired life.  for exercise.  and he made a habit of collecting cans (which he traded in for "beer money") and picking up trash while walking.  i could honestly go on and on about this.  but i think the most incredible part about this to me now is that he stopped and picked up trash.  all of it.  because he did not like litter.  i used to be mildly embarrassed by this as a teen.  but now, i cannot stand litter.  i try to pick it up in my neighborhood every morning.  i hope if dad knew this, he would be proud of me.

4.  dad had an amazing green thumb.  he could grow anything.  my mom, when she was alive, used to try to get my dad to like use mulch or water more and dad would just say, "why?  it's growing isn't it?"  i use mulch and water and everything i plant dies.  i did not inherit his green thumb.

5.  my early memories of my dad are of him coloring with me.  and sitting by his feet while he read the newspaper every night.  another memory is that he weekly (?) would bring a vending machine snack home for me and my sister.  this was a rare treat for us.  my mom had these silver measuring cups and my sister would carefully divide the candy evenly into two cups.

6.  words i would use to describe my dad are:  humble, gentle, patient, kind, simple, wise, loving, content, and generous.

7.  my dad crossed the border when he was nine.  there are so many more details about this that i have learned and forgotten.  i hope to see my last living aunt on my dad's side this summer and refresh the details of this because i would like to be able to repeat this story accurately.  some details about dad i do know are that my dad knew no english when he crossed the border, he worked in the fields picking fruit, he served in WWII, he was injured in the Battle of the Bulge, he earned a purple heart, and he earned his high school diploma when I was about 12.

there was a period of time a few years ago when i helped to provide care-taking for my dad.  he still had most of his memory and there were days i would go to his house frazzled and stressed out for one reason or another.  being with him always calmed me down.  he has a way of just making you feel peaceful and purposeful.  for me, seeing dad daily like that was a great time in my life.

when i think about the amazing legacy my dad has, it's pretty cool.  this morning on my run i thought of all my siblings and their kids.  and their kids.  i thought about all the states we live in, the professions we have, the lives we've touched.  without dad, none of that would have been possible.   i thought about all the amazing things i've learned from my dad - way too many for one blog post or even one book.   it's pretty sappy, but it made me feel pretty good at a time when i've been feeling pretty crappy.  even when he doesn't know it and he's not physically with me, he still has the ability to cheer me up.

my dad is in an amazing memory care home now where they take incredible care of him.   his memory fades in and out.  on good days he knows me.  on not so good days i'd like to think he knows i love him.

today we will celebrate him and the great life he's had and i hope that he knows how special he is.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jesus Take The Wheel

To date my best parenting accomplishment has been potty training four children.  I remember consulting one book and it was called something like Potty Training in 24 Hours.  (That book was mostly a lot of voodoo, but there were some good pointers that I used.  I won't say they were potty trained in 24 hours, but I will claim a moderate to high level of success comparatively evidenced by the fact that more than one friend offered to have me potty train their children.)

When it came to potty training, my kids were quick learners (well, three of them), I managed to be consistent and set the bar high, there were few relapses, and they are all still going strong.

Now, I find myself faced with another difficult parenting challenge which I would like to go down as a Big Accomplishment just like potty training.  I will call this challenge:  Teaching Your Child To Drive (While Not Dying or Killing Others).

This begs the question:  Is there a parenting book dedicated to just this topic?  No?  Well, there should be.  God knows, I've already got enough material for a book.

So, when I knew my son would start to drive I thought hubby would be the frazzled, cursing, white knuckled parent and I would be the cool cucumber blasting the radio with the window down and my hand nonchalantly hanging out.  Hell.  To.  The.  No.  Already.

Hubby is remarkably calm and I am a complete basket case.  Honestly.

I think the best/only way to adequately describe the current situation is a list.

1.  Not only is being a helpless passenger completely nerve wracking for me, when I tried to explain to Boy 1 how I felt being a helpless passenger he said, "Jesus, mom.  How do you think I've felt for 16 years?"  *silence*

2.  The other day while we were waiting (him driving, me a passenger, three girls screaming in the back) in the turn lane to turn left from a four lane road to a six lane road bubba asked, "If an emergency vehicle were to pull up behind me with their siren on, what should I do?"  To which I replied, "Hmm.  Good question.  Ask dad."

Then I said, "I think you should just...I'm not sure...pull out of the way?"  Then bubba said, "Yeah, duh.  But, like where?"

I said, "Well, I'm not sure.  That's a good question.  I'm not sure in 35 years of driving that's ever happened to me.  I think just try to get out of the way and not get hit by another car the best you can.  It's not like that kind of thing happens regularly.  I'm sure by the time it happens to you, you will be far more experienced and just know what to do."

Then it happened yesterday.

And, of course, it was raining and dad wasn't in the car with us.  Just me and six kids.

We  were turning left from a highway access road to a six lane road.  The light was red and Boy 1 was the first person turning left.  An ambulance was suddenly right behind us with his siren on and honking.  My god.  Cursing ensued, Boy 1 was screaming, "*&%&$!!!  MOM, WHAT DO I DO?," the backseat driver (Girl 1) went into high gear screaming, "MOVE OUT OF THE WAY.  WE'RE GONNA DIE.", Girl 2 offered up her "advice" in the form of screaming and cursing, and I'm pretty sure Girl 3 (and possibly me) started crying.  The two friends that were being carted around turned white like ghosts.

It all came out fine, but I think all of our nerves were frayed.  As for myself, I don't even take Xanax, but I felt I needed 10 afterward.

3.  If we had a curse jar in the van, it would be full.  Everyone has started cursing.  I know you're probably snickering at this since I have been known to curse on occasion, but I'm serious.  All the kids (except, honestly, the nine year old) are cursing.  A lot.  You know those signs "Baby on Board"?  We need one.  Crazy Cursing People On Board.

4.  Everything I've known to be true has been called into question.  I'm constantly thinking of driving situations I do not want to be in with Boy 1 or really by myself (in case there's a teen driver near).  I mean, really.  The toddler years are paling in comparison to the fear I have now.  No matter your political affiliation:  Why do we as a society allow teens to drive?

5.  I have seen these signs that you put on your car that say "Student Driver" and some have other things added like "Be Patient" "Don't flip the bird," etc.  So, I thought that would be a great idea for when Boy 1 is driving.  I suggested this to him and he said, "&^%* no, mom.  That is crazy.  I don't want people being nice to me.  I want to experience driving for real.  If everyone is nice to me, I won't really know what real driving is like once that insane sign comes off."

I don't even know how I feel about that.

6.  Why don't people talk more about this?  Why are there not online forums dedicated to Parents of Teen Drivers?  I need a support group.  Or at the very least, more beer.

Boy 1 is working today.  So, no passengering.  I'm going to (happily) drive myself to the grocery store and try to avoid all other cars (in case there's a teen driving).

Happy, safe driving to all of you and just remember that in the next car could be a terrified, white knuckled mom passengering around while her cursing immature teen is learning to drive.  Be patient.  Be kind.  And please, try not to flip the bird.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The purge of summer 2017 in which the wii "disappeared."

As a mom of four, wife of one, I get blamed a lot.  It's my fault when someone doesn't eat breakfast or lunch and is starving and can't wait for dinner.  It's my fault when laundry (that's not mine) stays wet in the washer for 24+ hours.  It's my fault when there's a schedule "miscommunication" and someone has to walk (no one ever has had to walk, but we've done our fair share of unenforceable threatening).  It's my fault when someone doesn't get the item they needed from the grocery store (because I'm a mind reader and can predict everyone's needs and wants).  And on and on.  If we're all honest, it's rarely my fault.  But, sometimes it is.

So, last summer I committed possibly my worst "parenting" (and I say "parenting" because it mostly just affected my kids) mistake to date for which I am still occasionally blamed.

Summer 2017, my son became a minimalist.  He researched it, decided it was for him, and then decided that everything but his bed, desk, technology, and a few clothes were not essential.  Then he encouraged us to start getting rid of our nonessential items crap.  I sorted through things I hadn't seen since the 80's, made piles, put things in boxes, and made about 20 trips to Goodwill.  The minimalist thing worked for us since I like to throw everything away and hubby could stand to throw a lot away.  Also, we are six people living in a teeny, tiny house.

While all of this was happening, we were building a tiny (tinier) house in the back for said son and we were also remodeling our kitchen.  The entire kitchen was packed into boxes and moved into the living room and a fine layer of dust was on every.  thing.  (In case you are wondering, I am still married.)

We also went on two vacations (one out of state) and did all the normal things we do during the summer.  To say that this was stressful does not adequately describe the state of the chaos.  There were boxes for our boxes and in those boxes were more boxes.

We microwaved food  in the living room (where our microwave perched on three boxes) for so long that when we finally moved the microwave back into the kitchen on the brand new black granite countertops, we still headed into the living room to microwave food.  Our dog stopped barking at the workers, and we just got used to people being in our house from 7 to 7.

Anyway.  In the midst of all of this, we got a flat screen TV.  We had said goodbye to our beloved tube TV months before, and finally purchased a flat screen.  When we put our tube TV to the curb for bulky pick-up I had diligently separated out the VCR (yes, we had one), DVD player (because we got a new one of those, too), and what I thought was just a TV contraption thingie and put them all in a box to go to Goodwill.  I distinctly remember (although no one in my house verifies this) asking everyone to go through the box to make sure nothing of value was in the box before I took it to Goodwill.  My story is that this went ignored by all family members.  Their story is that I never asked anyone anything and that I just threw random things in boxes and took them to Goodwill.

Well, eventually the kitchen was finished, we had "minimalized" the house, and we were ready to set everything back in its place.  The kids decided to play a relaxing game of Super Mario to celebrate and they asked me where the Wii had gone.  I said I wasn't sure to look in the boxes that were left.  No one could find the Wii.  Eventually I asked what the Wii looked like.  I'm pretty sure they described the TV contraption thingie that I took to Goodwill.  And that's when the yelling, hysteria, crying, and blaming started.







I swear to God.  It's been almost a year and there is still hate about the Wii.  My 15 year old daughter (self-proclaimed Super Mario expert - I'm not sure what level, but she knows everything about Super Mario) is about to purchase a new/used Wii with her own money and my kids are crazy excited about the prospect of having a Wii again.

As you could guess, I haven't missed the Wii (God knows I couldn't even recognize the damn thing).  But I must say a part of me is looking forward to hearing that catchy Super Mario tune again and maybe practicing my dance moves with Just Dance.

It took a long time for the kids to forgive and forget not bring this up on a daily basis.  There was a little retribution a few weeks after the Wii was discovered missing.  I went to do my favorite ab/core workout video and all I could find was the DVD cover.  At that point all the boxes were unpacked so I could not imagine where it had gone.  Then it occurred to me.  It was in the old DVD player.

I was pissed.  I regretted putting the tube TV to the curb.  I regretted putting all the old crap in boxes.  Hell, at that point I considered going to all the 27 Goodwills in our city and hunting down our Wii and DVD player, and our VCR for that matter.  I thought about the great deal someone got on our Wii and the DVD player.  With my favorite DVD in it!  

I take responsibility.  I mistakingly gave a perfectly working Wii to Goodwill.  But, like many people, I have served my sentence.  Karma played her hand and there went my DVD that kept me in shape.  I now have no core muscles and no visible abs.  I tell my kids, "Mom has served her time."  I lift my shirt slightly to show my muffin top and silence ensues.  The kids shrink out of the kitchen mumbling indecipherable comments.  Sometimes the gods just put everything in place.

Case closed.  Score even.

The end.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

some of my more notable traits

years ago when the kids were little i read in some parenting book that to encourage your kids to appreciate and truly care for each other it is sometimes helpful to do activities to encourage love.  of course, i tried them all and experienced moderate success.  my kids are older now and they still fight like crazy people, but i'd like to think that somewhere in their hearts they do love each other.  (this is certainly questionable and up for debate.)

so, we used to do this activity where we said things we loved about each other.  a variation of this activity that the kids started doing lately is to say things about each other that they wish they had for themselves.  they are usually physical traits (three of my four kids are quite vain), but if i am within hearing distance i try to encourage more altruistic traits like, y'know, "i love your enthusiasm for life," "i love your calm nature in the face of extreme stress."  but, usually they just continue with, "i love your cheekbones.  i really wish i had them."  "i love the number of instagram followers you have."  (because, y'know, they're teenagers, not humanitarians.)

the other day, while the four of them were playing the "game," girl 2 said, "oh my god!  i know!  let's have mom play with us!  let's all think of traits of mom's we'd love!!!"


after a good two minutes of complete silence, girl 1 (the one child who is not vain and who is actually quite profound), said, "well, i'd have to say, and this might sound really shallow, if i had to have one of mom's traits, i'd really love her hairlessness."

happy mother's day!  i hope it was........waxed.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Can I get a sub?

School ends June 7th here and this teacher and my four kids (and hubby by default) are just trying to make it to then alive and fairly intact.

So, here's my list.  Maybe you can relate.

Things that have basically shut down since April and/or will have to wait until summer.

1.  My kids (both my classroom kids and my own kids) have basically lost all desire to go to class.  At calendar time in my Pre-school classroom invariably a student asks if we are done yet.  At first I thought this meant Are we done with calendar time yet?  but, reflecting more, I think it means Are we done with PreK yet?  I'm fairly certain that my nine year old (on a few occasions in April) has kept hot water in her mouth, taken her temp in the morning and told me she has a fever.  This is something the 16 year old might have taught her - and if it were September I would take more time to research.  My eighth grader told me Thursday as I was driving her to school (after missing the bus four days in a row) that she didn't have time to go to school.  Kids are done, y'all.

2.  There are no more family dinners happening in my home.  I started the year gung-ho.  Six to seven balanced dinners planned, prepped, and ready to be cooked each night promptly at 6:00 p.m. because we're "so busy" but not too busy to eat together as a family because that's what makes families bonded and mentally stable.  Yesterday, five of my six family members (and a friend) were gathered around the dinner table around 9:45 p.m. eating one freezer burnt egg roll from Costco (because I forgot to buy more), some clumpy, quickly made white rice, a salad, a slightly brown banana, cheese nachos, and bean and cheese tacos (prepared by the girl who is too busy to go to school).  It was kinda happy and normal until you saw that it was almost 10 p.m. and the food was like a sad buffet of What's Left in the Fridge.  And my nine year was saying, "Mom, I've had cheese nachos for about a week now.  Are you ever going to cook real food again?"  To which I replied, "Yes, we will eat real food again when summer is here."

3.  A well made up face that doesn't look tired is not a thing for this teacher now.  Each day I put on my "make-up" (a loose term that means powder and such from August of last year that still is spreadable to my face) and everyday I think, "On my first day off in June, I'm going to Ulta and buying more of everything in this bag."  I squeeze the tube of concealer to get just enough to smear under each harried and haggard eye, I vigorously brush the eye-shadow rectangle sides hoping that I'll get enough on the brush to actually look like I have shadow on, and I swipe the mostly bare mascara brush over my lashes.  I spritz myself with about one milliliter of cologne that I am refusing to throw away because when I tilt it all the way to the side I can still see an 1/8 of a drop in the bottle.

4.  Lesson planning (this may be a local thing) is kinda over.  My lesson plans in August were detailed.  I told my principal exactly what was supposed to happen down to who will take a breath, when, why, and how I will know they are breathing.  This week's lesson plans said, "Finish last week's work/Assess."

5.  I havne't even bothered to get my Personal Calendar (similar to my bible - you know how I love lists) out of my teacher bag in a week.  Up until last week, I diligently wrote every little thing I needed to do each and every day in my planner/calendar and religiously crossed it out every evening as it had been completed.  Now, I have no idea what needs to be done daily.  I am living minute to minute and hoping that we get through the day everyday until June without losing the house due to forgetting to pay the mortgage.

6.  The kids' clothes are tired and so are mine.  Several days this month one of the kids has told me something like, "Mom, I need new *shoes, jeans, t-shirts, bras* these just don't fit anymore.  Can we go shopping?"  And, I've said something vague but hopeful like, "Yes.  Make a list.  The first day of summer vacation, I promise, we are going shopping."

7.  My okay-ish cleaning has really taken a backseat.  There are so many prints on the windows it's hard to see out of them and the baseboards are grimy.  I keep looking at both thinking, "I really should clean those."  Followed by, "June 11.  I'm putting it on the list for June 11.  Where's my calendar?  Oh, in my bag.  Which is still in the trunk."

8.  I've got health issues to deal with that are just going to have to wait.  The doctor's office politely says, "Can you come in Monday morning at 8:00 a.m.?"  I want to scream, "DID YOU NOT HEAR ME WHEN I TOLD YOU I'M A TEACHER?  THERE ARE NO SUBS.  IT'S APRIL.  IF THERE WERE SUBS THEY WERE GONE BY DECEMBER.  I CANNOT LEAVE FOUR YEAR OLDS UNATTENDED.  THEY WILL EAT EACH OTHER.  JUNE 11TH.  I CAN COME IN JUNE 11TH."

There is a holding pattern that sets in about this time.  Absolutely urgent things get done (most of the time) and everything else kind of sits.

As I stare May down in the face, I have no doubt that the Grim Reaper could look at a teacher and say, "She's mine today."  The teacher, if she saw him, would just shrug and say, "Yeah.  It'll have to wait till summer or until I can get a sub."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How Many People Are Here For The Dog?

The past couple of years have been pretty heart wrenching for our family.

We've dealt with some stuff that I really hope no one ever has to go through and it is so personal and so private that I've shared it with few people.  The stigma, the embarrassment, the not being able to talk freely about it are often times as hard as the facts themselves.

 So, a few days ago a link showed up in my inbox from BlogHer "Reframing Mental Health In America" was the memo.  I'd been wondering how I might use my little blog to express some of what's been happening and in turn reach out to others who may be going through the same.  It was like some sort of weird fate.  I bookmarked the email to come back to later because I thought it might be interesting and helpful.  I just got back to it.  And, it's amazing.

If you love someone who is living with mental illness, please watch the video, "Be Vocal," linked below.  It is time well spent.

If you don't love anyone who is living with mental illness, please watch the video.  Because you may not know they are living with mental illness, or you will better understand those of us who are loving someone living with mental illness, or those of us that have mental illness.

Be the person that rides for the person that can't ride for themselves.

Here is the documentary.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Age Related Dementia

In November of 2009,  my mom passed away while my one year old daughter was in the hospital with a serious infection.  I vividly remember sitting on a hard hospital chair, holding a hospital phone, hearing my husband tell me that he had some bad news.  Minutes after he told me that my mom had had a stroke and passed away before she even got to the hospital, the nurse came in to take my daughter's vitals.  She said, "Is everything all right, honey?"  

I said, "No.  Not really.  Everything is not all right.  I just found out that my mom has passed away."

As my heart was breaking down, I tried to recall the last time we'd spoken by phone.  The last time I'd touched her face.  Had I known it would be the last time, I would have done it so differently.  

And this has stayed with me for nine years.

April 16, 2018

I said, "Do you know me?"

He said (definitively), "No.  I don't."

I read his face to see if he was teasing.  He was not.  There was no glimmer of recognition just behind his eyelids.  The corners of his mouth were not upturned ready to grin showing he'd fooled me.

So, I simply said my name.

Alarmingly, his expression became more confused.  He said, "No.  You couldn't be.  She's much younger."  

In another place and time hearing dad say this would have been funny to me.  But, I didn't laugh.  I have aged considerably.  And I knew this wasn't what dad meant, anyway.  I figured, in his mind, he was somewhere in 2010.

"Remember me?  I'm your daughter.  Your youngest daughter?"

I looked for any signs of memory on his face while trying to fight the lump that was welling up in my throat.

"I remember that I am always happy to see you," he said, taking care to enunciate remember.

We sat in silence for a little longer.  Suddenly a vision of dad riding his bike to work in the 80's came to me.  I think it must have been the sunshine and gentle breeze.  I'm not sure.

I said, "It's a great day for riding a bike."

He said, "Yes.  I suppose it is."

I said, "You used to ride your bike a lot."

"I did?"

I briefly wondered how he could forget that and then quickly regretted having brought it up.  "Yes, you did.  To work and back everyday.  A long time ago."

"Well," he said, "Your body changes and then you can't do the things you used to do.  My time is coming.  I'm going to die soon."

Sometimes the conversation with dad, halted and confused as it is, goes from topic to topic to death.

"Are you scared?

Emphatically, he said, "Nah.  Why would I be scared?  I'm going to see a lot of people that I've lost.  Your mom, and grandma and grandpa."

I couldn't talk for a few seconds.  Then I managed to say weakly, and not without my voice breaking, "Well...I'm going to miss you."

He said, "No.  You're not going to miss me.  You're going to be glad that I'm in a better place with people I've missed."

I seriously doubted this in my mind, but I tried to think of other things to keep from crying.

We stayed outside on the patio of The Memory Care Facility for about 20 more minutes.  I tried to soak in every second.  I held his hand tightly and tried to imprint his words, his face, his breath on my heart so that when he is gone I will have those memories to hold me steady.

Like every visit, I answered the same questions multiple times.  Where are we?  Who lives here?  Do I live here?  Will I be alone when you have to leave?  Where do you live?

Finally he said, "I'm ready to go inside now.  Can you wheel me inside?"

He rolled back inside with me pushing him just in time to start a game of bingo.

"Jesse!  You're just in time to play bingo!"  The staff quickly came over to wheel him up to the table.

He said, "No.  I don't want to play bingo."

"But, Jesse!  You love bingo!"  They said.

"I do?" he questioned.

With that I kissed him and held his face and told him that I had to leave, but that I would see him next time.  He said he loved me and thanked me for coming.

Walking out the doors I steeled myself.  If this is the last time, I am ready.  I will have the memory I need.  I will hold on to it until I can't remember it anymore.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

It's weird. But, here's a list to make it all better.

I haven't blogged in three years.  There are a few new things.  Like:  I own chickens now (yes, real, live chickens).  And, I'm kind of an expert on googling medical conditions and diagnosing and treating myself (and others).  And, I have a flat-screen TV in my house.

And, yet, things really haven't changed all that much.  Like:  I'll probably publish this and then realize there are cringeworthy grammatical errors.  And, my kids still don't listen to me.  And, I still procrastinate like a mother bear.  And, I'm still a notorious list-maker.  And, I have a $hit ton to do today, so naturally I decided to log into my blog (which I have not felt compelled to do in...at least two years) and write a blog post.

What's weird is Facebook (which I'm currently hating) sends me notifications when I get new likes to my blog.  And, I've gotten likes lately.  So, part of me (the big part...like my muffin top) says - Facebook is a god damned lying piece of crap.  But, another part of me (the small, saggy part - like my boobs) says - thank you?  Why would you like someone who hasn't done $hit in three years?  So confusing.

Anyway.  I wanted to give you guys (I'm not even sure who I'm talking to - a lot like real life) a list as a token of my appreciation (kind of like the old days):

1.  I didn't think I could love a chicken, but I do.  A lot.  Three of them.  They are good girls, and unlike our crazy a$$ dog, they give us things that we can eat.  I'm excited to start composting again to start a black soldier fly colony to feed them (who am I?).

2.  My kids are now adultish.  Almost.  Well, three of them at least.  I still feed them and water them, but they are so self-sufficient (and tall).  And, despite my really just okayish parenting, have turned out to be quite decent humans.

3.  I am officially post-menopausal.  Despite what you may have heard, this is in no way a vacation from peri-menopausal.  It has its own set of beasts to slay.  Enough said.

4.  Around early 2016 Google didn't let me into my blog because I couldn't remember my password.  I have no patience for technology, so (as I remember, and my memory is like a sieve) I tried for about 10 minutes to work it out and then I decided to clean the fridge (or drink a beer).  And then I got hacked (by the Russians?) and I had to pay bitcoin to recover my documents and basically everything on my laptop, and then I got a new laptop, and by then I was too tired to try again to recover my password.  And then three years had gone by.  That's all true.  The other part of the reality is that for about two years I've been mildly sad/not quite myself/in a life rut/or trying to enjoy the moments of happiness too much to be bothered to write stuff down.

5.  I still run (a lot slower now).  I still do not want to do a marathon.  Or even like a 5K.  I still compose multiple chapters of my book in my head while running.  And I am currently addicted to The Moth Radio Hour podcasts to listen to while I run.  I cry a lot while running.  My neighbors still think I'm weird.

So, yeah.  That's it.  I really miss my internet friends.  I miss reading blogs.  So, I'm making a new goal today to do more writing and reading.  If it lasts as long as most of my goals, don't miss it!

It's good to write this down.  Looking forward to writing my first comment in three years on someone's blog today.  "xoxo" seems appropriate, although I'm not quite sure why.  Have a great Sunday!