Frustration abounds these days. We got news that we were unexpectedly going to be closing on the house; not unexpected in the sense that we did not know we were buying it, but in that it was sooner than we thought. So we finished getting all of the paperwork gathered together and got ready for the appraiser to come in and then we waited. And waited. Finally talked to the Realtor yesterday and the appraisal came back low. Like, significantly lower than we had anticipated and much lower than the asking price of the house. This would be good for us, obviously, except….yes. Except. There are also a couple of cosmetic issues with the house that need addressed before we can close.

Now we are waiting again, to see if the seller is willing to come down in price. Which we believe she is, but what we are not sure of is whether her bank will be okay with it. Don’t know how much she still owes on it, you see, and for some reason she didn’t know either. We are supposed to hear by tomorrow, which really means by next week sometime, so it’s more waiting. A flurry of activity, followed by waiting, isn’t that always how it works?

The good thing is that we are already approved for a loan in the amount of the asking price of this house. So, worst case scenario  we start looking for another one.  The thing is, I want this house. We chose this house, have been leasing it with an intent to purchase agreement, and I would be so sad if we have to find a different one. We have made this our home, you know? Besides the fact that we love it, I will be pissed as hell if we basically lose all of the money we have invested in it already. Not in terms of things we have done, we have been prohibited from doing anything permanent until we close, but just in living here. We have been making the seller’s house payment, with a percentage going toward the down payment, which  we have down to less than $1,000 now, and all that will be gone and we would have to start over somewhere else. Yes, it can be done. We have made a lot of sacrifices to get this far and we can continue to do it in a different place, but of course that isn’t the point.

So I am trying to keep busy with work, which I had put on hold because there was all this stuff to take care of, and with the garden (that I hope I will get to see come to fruition!), and the lawn, and I sit and wait. And hope.

It’s only Saturday but I can already say it has been a good weekend. We had Steve’s parents over for dinner tonight, which we have never done. Oh, they have been here for birthday parties and such, but never just for dinner with us-it was really nice. His mom and I were in the kitchen washing the dishes after dinner, talking away, and I was struck by how much things have changed in the years since I first met her. I can say with certainty that a lot of the changes have come about since Steve and I got married; because of their religious beliefs, it almost didn’t count until we actually had the ceremony, and while I can still get all butt hurt about the lack of support I got prior to the wedding, it was what it was.

However, it is much more than that. So much of it has to do with the fact that I have changed in the past years. We all know I have problems-MAJOR problems-getting close to people or allowing them to get close to me, and the simple fact that I have been making a conscious effort with her has probably made the most difference. I think back to different times in the past where I felt like they were not being very helpful or supportive, and at times that burden is theirs to carry. Other times, though, I realize that help would have been there had I simply asked. Wow. Novel idea, and one this recovering alcoholic should know by now! I think we are finally getting to the point where we are friends. She had a small emergency of a personal nature a couple of weeks ago, and felt like she could call me for help; it might seem silly, but it meant the world to me. Tonight, I was able to be honest with her about something personal I have been struggling with, and she totally GOT it. This is huge, and something to be grateful for.

It wasn’t just their visit for dinner that was good, though. Last night I got to talk to someone I haven’t spoken to for any length of time in months. I was thinking about her and instead of just thinking about her, I called her; such a small thing, but not. It was so great to touch bases with someone I love, and know that even though months have gone by, we are still friends. No bullshit, no drama, just like we spoke yesterday.

We worked like mad around the house today, not because we were having company but because it was time. Steve had today AND has tomorrow off, so we did all these projects that we have been putting off. Including the first lawn mowing of the season, and finally getting the downstairs bathroom shower working again. This is heaven-I have gotten used to not sharing a bathroom with the boys, so to have the adult bathroom back again is going to be great. It felt like we got a lot accomplished, and I love that feeling.

And now I am up working, with everyone else all nestled into bed. I prefer getting up early, but it was so nice to sleep in with Steve this morning! We have more projects tomorrow-tilling the garden spot and getting my raspberries planted, and whatever else might come up. It’s a good day, and I feel happy.

There really isn’t anything I can say about the explosions at the Boston Marathon that hasn’t already been said, and better, by thousands of other people. I am not ashamed to admit that we haven’t even been following the news coverage beyond the initial reports; it is too horrible and graphic a subject for me to comfortable allow my children to see, or at least Owen and Josie. Sam is on Facebook-he already saw the carnage wrought. Me, well. I saw a couple of pictures, read a couple of stories, and that was that. Not because I don’t care-the opposite is true. It just gets to be too much.

The last little while has been full of heartbreak. A young man in our small little town hung himself in his garage last week, a seventeen year old who had just…had enough. I did not know him personally, although I know his dad. A couple of years ago his mom died after a non-complicated knee surgery; she worked at the elementary school as long as my kids have gone to school here. The boy’s father was the principal of the alternative high school and was instrumental in getting Hannah into school and graduated after she got pregnant and had Aubry. There is also another son who is Hannah’s age, and really, all I can think is that in the span of less than three years, their family has been diminished by half. Sam says he was a really good kid, a nice kid. A good, nice kid who was picked on and bullied every.single.day. I sometimes kind of roll my eyes mentally about all of the anti-bullying stuff on the news and whatnot, but then I think of my own high school years, of my children, of this young man, and I think that whether we roll our eyes on occasion or not, this kind of stuff has to stop.

The thing about it is this: kids don’t care. The only people who really care are the adults, and there is so little we can do. I say this because the day after this boy died, Sam was being picked on horribly by someone for wanting to try out for the cheer-leading team. I believe the words faggot and pussy both were thrown around, and it just infuriates me. Of course because he is my son, but on a much larger scale. Hmm, let’s see, let’s go to this assembly where the topic is suicide and bullying, and let’s listen to the counselors talk about how important it is to respect other people simply because they are people….and then let’s see if we can tear someone ELSE down.

I cannot say, and surely no one can, whether or not bullying was the CAUSE of the suicide. He had a lot of horrible things happen in a relatively short period of time, but being bullied surely did not help.

And now this in Boston, and the headlines in our local paper about three different people who were just convicted of horrible sex crimes against children, and the newborn baby that was found floating in a pond wherever that was, and the little boy I saw slapped by his mother…all of these things large and small just serve to break my heart today.

 

astonishment

Sam and I were confirmed in the Episcopal Church yesterday morning. It was quite the occasion-it coincided with the Bishop of Idaho’s annual visit, so we were able to be confirmed by him directly. It would have been just valid had the priest done the confirmation, but it added something extra special to it to have Bishop Brian do it. Sam is an Acolyte as well, so he had the extra privilege of helping the Bishop with Communion-pretty amazing for a 13-year-old boy.

It has been a journey for both of use, getting to this place where we both wanted to make a commitment to this church, or any church. Our past experiences have made us a little hesitant to ascribe to any particular religion. Also, for Sam, the desire to please Steve and make him proud has created an additional struggle for him; Steve is Mormon, and I think Sam has worried that Steve would be happier if Sam chose to embrace the LDS religion. Maybe that is true, inasmuch as we all want our children to believe in the same things we do, but still-I think Sam was worried needlessly.

Not that it matters in the long run. I am so grateful that each one of my children gets to have their own experience with religion. We talk about God, and each of them has experienced different religions, and each, in time, has come to their own decisions. I have a non-believer, a believer who doesn’t at this time identify with ANY religion, and an Episcopalian. My husband is a Mormon who believes very strongly in his own church, but is willing to acknowledge that it is not right for everyone. What an amazing, wonderful mix we have!

For me, though, this is intensely personal, this decision. I have been attending this church and doing some studying on my own and what it all boils down to for me is love. We are commanded to love one another, period. Regardless of race, religion, economic status, sexuality, ANYTHING, we are supposed to love. Although it is a struggle sometimes, because I like to judge my neighbor just as much as the next person, I know that I am supposed to love people in the way that Christ loves me-that is, wholly and completely, simply because they ARE.

You have to love a Bishop who quotes Mary Oliver. After our brunch yesterday (where he had all of the children-coincidentally, most of them are mine or have some connection to me, which I think is a big part of why we have been so embraced and loved here-fresh blood, you know?-climbing all over him and shrieking during the meal and he would just smile indulgently), he gave a little speech and then said that all of Christianity can be summed up in these words by Mary Oliver: Pay attention.Be astonished.Tell about it.

So I will tell you this. I am astonished every day, by the beauty that shines through no matter how horrible things can feel. I know that when I pay attention to everything that is around me, I am astonished by how often grace is bestowed me, how merciful my God is. And I am trying to learn how to tell about it, without fear. this is my life, and I AM astonished.

The months have flown past and my baby isn’t a baby anymore, suddenly turning into a full-fledged toddler. She did not walk forever, content to scoot around on her butt and then, finally, crawl, until last month-when she walked, finally. She whirls around like a drunken dervish, still not steady on those pins, but a bona fide toddler indeed. It makes me crazy with joy and sadness to watch how much she grows and changes every day. I should have been writing every day, if only to chronicle the changes; after having four other children, I know I won’t remember. I won’t remember the silly little things she does like climb upstairs and pop into the bathroom saying, “Hi!” as if she hasn’t seen me for weeks and weeks. I won’t remember the nights where she still cries for me to come nurse her, regressing to infancy in her half sleep. Some of the memory loss is good; I won’t remember how she drives me to distraction by screaming at the top of her lungs simply because she can, nor will I remember how hard she still is sometimes to be with all of the time. The nights where we both cry from exhaustion will be forgotten, and all I will remember is the sweetness.

Funny how everything changes in the blink of an eye, or at least that is how it seems. A month ago Owen cried because we kind of MADE him try to ride his bike without the training wheels, and yesterday he and Sam took a long bike ride together like they had been doing it for years. Three seconds ago Sam was peeping his head up the laundry chute hollering,”Let me love you!” and now he disappears into his room and closes the door.

It’s a strange time here, with one of my adult children struggling mightily and the other one just beginning to thrive, and yet I have these small little creatures who still depend on me for so much. I feel crazy sometimes, going from dealing with very serious issues with one child to convincing another that these shoes are just fine, she does not need the black church shoes. It’s like living a double life in a lot of ways, and requires so much more of me than I thought. For many reasons.

So I sneak up early before anyone is up and I have started to write. I have been blessed with a couple of good paying jobs that make me feel useful and I have fun, but I need to write more. Here, for eventual publication, for my sanity. My children keep me grounded and happy, but the writing makes me fly. Strange times indeed, and I am not sure what I even did before all this.

Snow and Sickness

We have been a sickly house all week, one after another being felled by this virus. It is quick, relatively, with high fevers for a couple of days (and let me add that there is nothing quite like that panicky feeling of seeing 104.1 on the baby) and then a lingering soreness and coughing and the flotsam and jetsam of a bad cold. The house is littered with used tissues and five different kinds of medicine and the smell of Vick’s and today I finally started a load of laundry after god knows how long. This is problematic in the sense that hey, we have a household of six right now but no one is complaining; we have stayed in jammies the better part of the week.

We are somewhat snowed in as well; Aubry had to stay with her other granny last night because I did not want Hannah driving to pick her up, and because I just could not bear the idea of getting into the car and going to get her and bringing her into our house of contagion. Eli stayed in town with friends, and Steve had to stay all night in Utah because the roads were closed. I could leave if I wanted to; I have a four-wheel drive so would be able to get out of the driveway, but why? There is nothing I need.

So it snows and blows and I wait to hear that my husband has made it through safely, and even though they are not 100% better yet the little boys are bundled up and playing in the snow. They would not have been able to go back to school today anyway because of illness, but the schools are closed so I am letting them have their snow day. They will come in cold and coughing like mad and there will be alphabet soup and hot chocolate. The baby and I still have the fever so she has been snuggling and nursing like a newborn again and I drink cups and cups of herbal tea and orange juice and oh has water ever tasted this good? So there will be naps later, I am sure, and the day will pass. There are things to be done, a package waiting to be mailed and laundry to be done and dishes, dishes, dishes, but they will all be there tomorrow, too.

So many times I have been grateful for being given the chance to stay home, and now to work from home, and this week is a perfect example; I could not have gone in to work at all this week both because of the kids and myself. Such a blessing to simply be able to be here and take care of my babies, myself. I am looking at the snow through the windows and I can’t see the driveway and I don’t have to worry about being fired for being sick, for having sick kids. It doesn’t make illness any more fun, but it is certainly less stressful, and that is no small thing.

A funny thing about working from home is that it is, in fact, working. I am not sure why this fact might have escaped me when I was just thinking about it and rolling the idea around in my head, but there it is, glaring me in the face. Please understand, I am not complaining. I am extremely happy to be getting paid work, however minimal an amount it might be to start out with. I am so grateful to be able to be home with my kids, to be able to watch Josie grow and change, to be here to get the boys off to school AND be home when they get back. I love being able to shuffle around in my slippers all day long and stop to do a load of dishes or nurse the baby or play a game.

However, I am having a hard time with this thing called time-management. Oh, and another thing called obsession. Actually the two go together in this instance rather perfectly. See, I have to watch myself pretty closely or I definitely have workaholic tendencies;it is so easy for me to get in the mindset that because I am doing it from home, it isn’t really hurting anything/anyone if I am working all day. Several times already I have had to remind myself that the point of being home is actually to BE here, to be present for my kids and my husband in a way I wasn’t able to before. I have had to remember that it is okay for me to not accept work if I don’t truly want to do it, and to try to set aside specific blocks of time in which to work. Right now, this has often meant staying up long past everyone else at night, but I do know that can’t continue; I miss going to bed with my husband, for one thing, and ever since I quit drinking I am NOT a night owl.

But let me tell you, even though it is a big change (especially for someone who abhors change), even though there is no real workable routine in place as of yet, even though it is requiring more flexibility than is necessarily comfortable for me, well, I am enjoying the hell out of it all. Being at home with the kids has been lovely in thousands of ways, but now that Josie is getting bigger and so much more mellow than she has been for the past, oh, 14 months (thank you jebus!), it feels really good and important to be taking steps toward my non-kid life. And I am ever aware of how lucky I am to be able to finally begin to do wha I love AND get paid for it.