Friday Fragments-Gratitude Edition

Friday Fragments?

Friday Fragments is proudly hosted by Mrs.4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time.  For a growing list of participants, head on over to check her out!

***Gratitude abounds in the knowledge that my tires are still under warranty, AND road hazard is covered.  It involves a certain amount of hassle for Steve in that his job is to call the company and jump through all the hoops (and by that I mean it really IS his job; he is in the service department at a Chevy dealership), but with any luck, I will have a brand new tire within a few weeks.  Whew-financial bullet dodged.

***Also in the dodging bullets category, while the washer isn’t fixed, per se, it is no longer leaking water all over the floor.  The trick is to run smaller loads (crap; six people = a buttload of laundry) AND to keep the clean litter box being used to catch the leaking water emptied out.    So it isn’t ideal; few things truly are.  However, I am so grateful that I don’t have to make a trip to the laundromat, which makes me feel dirty just walking in (and before anyone gets all up in arms about that, I have already paid my dues by having had to lug the three older kids to the laundry for about 4 years.  I have paid my dues).  And if it can be babied through until after the first of the year, I will be so happy.

***I am grateful to have a place-here in blogland-to write down all those icky feelings I was feeling yesterday.  Simply by articulating, ‘Hey, I am sad and upset and blah blah blah,” the power was taken out of those same feelings and I felt much better throughout the day.  It is a reminder to me to take my own advice and, “Feel however you feel and move on.” 

***We still haven’t carved our pumpkins for Halloween; too many other pressing needs in the evenings.  And in keeping with the gratitude thing, isn’t it nice that if we don’t end up carving them, I won’t have to go buy more pumpkin to can?  Really, that is a win-win situation for me.

***Hannah has apparently recovered from her heartbreak over her boyfriend breaking up with her.  There have already been several “new” boys calling her (she thinks of it as really neat and exciting, while I think of it as sharks smelling fresh blood in the water), and I am grateful that she appears to be learning that there are always other options and she certainly doesn’t need to settle for less than she deserves and wants.

***And tomorrow is Halloween; this brings gratitude in the form of Mounds and Almond Joy.  I get first dibs on these items, as no one else likes them. 

***feels good today to be over (for the moment) my feelings of frustration and worry yesterday.  Although I might not get what I want in many, many ways, I know that I have everything I need, and for that I really am glad.  It hasn’t always been the case, as most of you well know, so indeed, progress is being made even if it doesn’t feel like it some days.

For more fragments of thoughts from a variety of really neat people, click on over to see Mrs. 4444.  You can even choose to take part today and add your name to the list; if nothing else, you might get a few new blogs in your Reader!

You know?

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I don’t react to normal things in any semblance of a normal manner.  Last night I was rushing home to drop the kids off so that I could go pick up Steve and be back to town in time to go to Hannah’s Parent-Teacher Conference; as I was turning at the light about two blocks from home,  I ran over something that I clearly didn’t see-and immediately felt the tire puncture.  We made it home, but I could hear the air whooshing out as I drove, and as soon as I parked and got out, well, there you go-totally flat tire.  The thing I had run over was a chunk of some kind of metal, about the size of half my fist-and it totally ruined the tire.  You know, one of the still-not-even-a-year-old-tires I bought at the end of January.  Blah blah, cry me a fucking river, right?  I have a full sized-spare, so at least I can get around, but the tire is un-fixable and I don’t have $200 with which to buy a new one. 

Then I went in the house and Hannah informed me that she thinks there is something wrong with the washer.  Understatement of the year; there is water pouring out the bottom.  Same thing happened to my OLD washer, so I had to get this new used one, and have had it for only just over a year.  It costs $50 to have someone come look at it, and then of course finding a part for it (come on, I think the new used one I got was 40 years old already).  And no, it isn’t a hose loose, it is something to do with the motor.  It has been kind of limping along for about three or four months now, not wanting to spin correctly or not draining the water completely so that I have to re-spin the load-so it has only been a matter of time.  Still, it isn’t a great thing at all; we don’t have money to get a new one nor get this one fixed at this point in time.

So those two things, along with an email from child support services that said, “Hey, that case that we thought would be settled this month isn’t, in fact, going to settle, so check back in another month,” have just thrown me for a loop.  It isn’t like I was waiting on pins and needles every day for this huge amount of money to show up (and the reality is that it isn’t THAT huge an amount, we aren’t talking hundreds of thousands of dollars or anything), but sure, the thought was there.  And it wasn’t so much the money itself but the idea of having the burden of poverty lifted off me for a time, and also perhaps the opportunity to go away for at least  a weekend with Steve, and get the kids new clothes.  I know better than to have hope about things like that, but still, the thought was there, right?  How could it not be?

But anyway, this is what I mean when I say I don’t react to normal things in a normal way.  See, these are all just things that happen; I know that.  I GET that, I really do.  The thigns that happen aren’t spectacular, but I fall apart.  And I get disgusted with myself, and depressed, because money issues scare me.   Yes, things are way better than they were last year at this time, as most of you know.  Instead of paying out $700 a month in the ex’s bill, I am now down to paying $357.03; progress, right?  So I get that, too-but our budget does not stretch to fixing a tire AND a washer in the same day.  It really and truly doesn’t.

So I was up too late last night, having gnawed my fingernails down to the nub and tossed and turned, trying to figure out how this is all going to work itself out.  So what if we don’t get to go away, right?  Not a big deal.  More important to have clean clothes and a safe vehicle in which to drive.  So the kids won’t get new clothes; the thrift store clothes are fine for me, they should be fine for the kids as well.  Steve had called DirectTV to reschedule the installation for this coming Saturday, so we called and cancelled completely (and I had had enough time to resign myself to getting it that now I am actually a little disappointed), and really, in so many ways it just feels futile to EVEN hope or plan for anything to change.  And that’s where I am at today; I might feel better if I could cry, or be angry, or DO something-but instead I just feel dead and numb inside and just-fuck it.

Sigh…I know, I know.  Like I was telling April last night (and thank you for being so available to me whenever my life goes to shit; I love you!), I know I just need to put my big girl panties on and just DEAL-I know that.  I GET that.  I just can’t seem to DO it anymore, you know?

Because I can't DO Wordless Wednesday, you get this

I am feeling decidedly cold-y this afternoon, my nose running freely and my eyes sort of burning; you know that feeling that you get, where your head is all stuffed up and you just know that as soon as the couch starts, you are done for?  Yeah, THAT feeling.  So I haven’t been feeling especially inspired to write anything.  Well-not true; in my head I have these great posts all composed, you know the kind that will just knock people’s socks off, but alas, they just aren’t making it any further than my head.

I am annoyed because all that pumpkin I canned?  Spoiled.  For whatever reasons, the lids on the jars didn’t seal correctly; this is actually the first time that has ever happened to me, so I am not sure what I did wrong, or if perhaps the lids themselves were faulty.  Either way, I ended up dumping out every.single.jar.  I am hoping to be able to can another batch this weekend, though-the upside being that since Halloween is just around the corner, pumpkins are going to be cheap as dirt. 

More drama with the backyard neighbor, who suddenly reappeared this week.  She hasn’t pissed me off yet, just-I don’t know.  We were outside last night, Steve and I, and she came over the the gate and started talking to us.  Steve (chickenshit) quickly made some excuse and went and hid in the house while she was there, which I thought terribly unfair (he said, “I don’t want her thinking she is MY friend!”  Thanks a lot, buddy.  Really).  Anyway, kind of out of the blue she said, “You know, my husband just left me for another woman after 12 years, and I just now begged him to just please love me again.  How pathetic is that?”  Yep, pretty pathetic, and I know that because I did the very same thing with MY ex-husband; just begged him to please love me.  You can see how well that worked out, so I am pretty sure it is going to work out the same for her.  For some reason, now that I know that, I can understand the rage I witnessed last week or whenever that was; because I have been there, too.  Still and all, I don’t want her to think I am her friend; most of the neighbors have slowly come to the realization that we are not, in fact, friendly people, so with hope she will get the hint as well.

I just got off the phone with one of my sisters; it is funny, she says, “Have you talked to your mother lately?” and I say, “No, have you talked to yours?” and of course we have the same mother.  Neither of us have talked to her, either, in case any of you were wondering.  We have all made a pact of sorts-unspoken, but a pact nonetheless-that none of are going to get embroiled in the bullshit this year about the holidays.  She has her family (the bar buddies), we have our families (partners, husbands, kids, chosen families) and never the twain shall meet-at least NOT this year.  We are going guilt-free, too, kind of like sugar-free only ultimately more satisfying. 

I think-well, I don’t know.  It feels like I am a little less conflicted than usual about the relationship-or lack thereof-with my mom right now.  I don’t know how much of it has to do with acceptance of the reality of it all (which I have to do over and over again at different times of the year, I must admit) or how much is to do with simple lack of energy to deal with it or maybe I am just numb.  But see, I am the youngest of four, and my mom tells me that she is closest to me not because she IS, but because then she can use me as a sort of, I don’t know, wedge? between me and the others, and I just-I don’t know.  I get sucked in time and time again by that tiny little hope that maybe she really does love me, and I am making a pact to myself that I am not doing it anymore.  Not this year, anyway.

And as if this post hasn’t been quite random enough, I have recently rediscovered the delights of Butterfinger candy bars.  Are they not absolutely wonderful?  I haven’t eaten one in a coon’s age, and had forgotten the chocolatey, peanut-buttery deliciousness.  No wonder my pants aren’t fitting any longer!

So.  Parent-Teacher conference tonight for Hannah, which means a quick meal of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs; score for me.  With luck, Owen will actually get bathed tonight, and God help the dog who wakes me up at 4:00 in the morning like they both did this morning.  Believe me, I don’t care how cute they are, I will de-bark the little bastards permanently if I have to.

Weekend Recap Again

The sky is lowering and it looks like snow; I am not quite sure how it got so close to the end of the year without me noticing.  Steve spent a good part of the weekend puttering around the house, putting up new weather stripping around the front and back doors, installing new little thingies under both doors as well to stop the wind from coming in, and it looks like we might be trick-or-treating in the snow this year (if the forecast is to be trusted, that is).  Before we know it, Thanksgiving will be upon us, and for all intents and purposes, the year is sliding to a close.

The weekend was maybe not good in the sense of, “Damn, it was a good weekend,” but all in all I think it was just what I needed.  On Friday night, something happened that really, really hurt my feelings, as in I finished a conversation with a friend while trying not to cry and as soon as I  got into the car the tears just started falling.  I met with my friend P. on Saturday morning and we talked about the situation and while it didn’t resolve anything, she gave me a few tips, as well as helped me process things.  Why I felt the way I felt, what part I played in it, and what I need to do now.  We also talked at great length about the way I am as opposed the way I think I should be, and I tell you, some of the qualities I possess that I have always seen as liabilities may in fact be assets.  To ME, not to anyone else.  And part of the problem on Friday night was me thinking I wanted to “belong,” which is why my feelings got hurt.  The reality is that 90% of the time I am not a social person, I don’t care to spend my valuable time with anyone save a handful of people I really love, and the 10% of me who just wants to be liked is, well, only 10%.  So to say that I am all over it is not true, because there are some other things that I need to work through, but I DO feel better.  There is nothing wrong with not having twenty friends; there is nothing wrong with choosing carefully the people on whom I want to expend energy.  So in that respect, I did and do feel a lot better after having spoken with P.

On Sunday, I actually put makeup and a dress on, and we all went to church; a friend of Steve’s was giving a farewell, so we went in support of him.  It ended up being the same ward where Steve’s parents and company go, so that was kind of nice.  Afterward, we all went over to Steve’s parents for dinner, and for a change it was a really fun time.  Here is my theory: when we all get together for a specific occasion, I feel pressured, for whatever reasons, therefore I can’t really enjoy it.  When we get together like we did yesterday, just because, there is no pressure at all and I can just relax and have a good time.  There were the inevitable skirmishes between the four younger kids, but Sam did a great job of playing with them all and being a bit of a calming influence (which is actually a surprise, I wouldn’t ever have imagined calling Sam calming).  We all took turns playing games on the Wii, which I had never done before and rather enjoyed.  It cracked me up that after so long, a little message comes up that says, “You have been playing a long time; why not go outside and get some air?” or something like that.  A good idea, but also laughable that people might actually need a reminder.

Not much else of note happened over the weekend.  We got the kids’ Halloween costumes, picked up some more plaster screws to put the rails back up on the stairs, made a lovely pumpkin-pecan dessert, and cleaned the house up (I say we, but I didn’t do any of the cleaning; I came home from meeting with P. and Steve and the kids had cleaned!).  Lasagna and garlic bread for dinner on Saturday, and a family movie on the couch.  And now another week begins, again, and this week I think I am ready for it.

Friday Fragments 10/23/09

 Friday Fragments?

Yep, Friday Fragments time once again.  If you don’t know what to do, Mrs.4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time  will be more than happy to explain.

***One of the forty-bazillion reasons I love Sam is because he says things like this: “Hm.  I just saw a soda dispenser on that person’s front porch.”  NOT  “pop machine,” but soda dispenser.  How can you not love a kid who speaks like that?  It baffles the mind.

***This is how neurotic I really am: I bought a hair dryer off of Ebay about two weeks ago, and with one thing and another it just got here yesterday (and yes, I paid, I usually pay within 32 seconds of having won or purchased something).  So time came to leave feedback, and I gave her a neutral rating-and was nervous about leaving a less than positive rating.  Because, you know, it might make her mad, and she will retaliate by leaving me a less-than-positive rating, and-well.  I know, I know, I am nuts.

***At youth group this week, the girls were taught how to make dough for a variety of things.  I could be a little annoyed that they are teaching the girls only how to be good little housewives, cooking and such, but I was really quite glad; it meant I didn’t have to make pizza dough last night.

***I was right about the whole Ebay thing; I had a really, really nasty response to my neutral rating.  So now I am all worked up about the fact that someone I don’t even know and from whom I won’t buy again is mad at me.  Yeah-a little neurosis with a side of paranoia, anyone?

***Everyone at my house is finally if not healthy then at least functioning and back at school.  Whew; talk about a relief!

***My current obsession is those little packages Keebler peanut butter and cheese crackers, in case anyone is interested.  The only real problem is that I could eat an entire 8-pack in a day if I let myself.  I buy one about every two weeks to bring for snacks at work, and they are gone the first week.  I have no sense of moderation.

***Our backyard neighbor did not last long; the house has been dark and empty for the  last week.  This may possibly have something to do with the fact that she got arrested on Sunday for disturbing the peace, trespassing, vandalism, and domestic battery, with a little soupcon of resisting arrest to spice it up a little bit.  I am not sure where the kids are, and hope they are okay.  I DO know that one of them is and has been living with her not-quite-ex-husband, and for that I am grateful.

***My sister turned 40 yesterday; I look at her (or rather think of her, as I don’t see her all that often) and think, “well now, THAT’S just not possible!”  In my mind, we are all still quite young and unbearably lovely.

***I went to my friend J.’s office last night to pick up yet more books she had set aside for me, and had to laugh.  I roll my eyes a little about Steve’s compulsion to acquire yet one more cast iron pan/skillet/Dutch Oven, yet every time he comes home with one more pan, I come home with another stack of books.  I guess it evens out.

There you have it, a small glimpse of the inner workings of my convoluted mind; aren’t you glad you stopped by?  Now go check out some other Fragmenters over at Half Past Kissin’ Time!

In Which I Give In

After nearly 9 years (nine!) in a television-free household, sometime on Saturday the folks from DirectTV  will be coming over to install, well, TV.   Not just TV in the living room, but also in the basement where the kids can watch it.  Can you tell this was most likely NOT my idea?  I am a little bit disgusted, too, at how easily I caved when the subject was brought up, falling for the hip smooth guy with the checkbook who says, “But baby, I will pay for it!” (In all actuality, what I saidwas, “I don’t care what you want to do as long as I never.ever. have to talk to someone from DirectTV.”).

This whole TV thing, though, I don’t know.  Sometimes I miss the news (though I get my fill online and on the radio, and I suppose there are a few channels I wouldn’t mind having-PBS, and maybe CNN.  Still, we have been so long without it, by choice (mine, not the kids’), that it almost seems a matter of pride to NOT have TV.  I know people think we are strange-but I have kind of cultivated that strangeness, if I am honest.  Maybe a little bit of something to prove to the world that I am just a cut above, I don’t know.

The fact remains, however, that despite the fact that not all my TV-free motives have been pure, the benefits to my family have been great.  My kids love to eat oatmeal and cream of wheat because for many years they knew nothing else; no Trix or Lucky Charms advertisements to contend with.  Even now, they are equally happy with the Malt-O-Meal brand of sweetened cereals rather than insisting on the name brand, and I am proud to say that none of them have any idea who Tony the Tiger is (and no, thank you, he is NOT an icon; he is a cartoon character created to suck your kids into the vortex of blind consumerism.  Just sayin’).  Come Christmas time, I have not yet had to contend with the pleas for this or that toy as seen on television.  My kids are all avid readers, and they actually know how to play outside with sticks.  We have a lot of family time, maybe more than the kids would like, and I really believe that all of that is due to the fact that we aren’t glued in front of the television every evening.

I know that people watch TV and still manage to raise happy, healthy kids-they have this thing called balance, which allows them to set healthy limits on such things as TV and computer time and all of that.  The balance part is what worries me, especially now that winter hours are setting in and it gets dark early.  That itself cuts down on much-needed outdoor time, so what is there to do in an evening besides stay inside where it is warm?  And really, IS there harm in watching a television show rather than reading a book?  Maybe less so than I think.

Or maybe, just maybe, I, too, will get sucked in to the media choice of the masses and will soon start avidly scheduling my evenings by what is on television.  Maybe I will find those shows I hear about so irresistible that I, too, will be glassy-eyed and drooling, simply waiting for my next fix.   Just make me a promise, dear readers: if I start giving you recaps of shows I have seen, ones that you could see too if you wanted and therefore would not NEED a recap, well, just shoot me.  Please.

TV.  Can you believe it?  I think I need to invest in a new library card.

Insert Clever Title Here

It is cold today, cold enough to see my breath when I went on my walk at lunchtime.  It rained most of the day yesterday, beating the leaves off of the trees so the dark branches are etched against the sky like iron.  I love this time of year, the wind brisk and damp and the leaves skittering along the sidewalks and roadways like forgotten pieces of paper.  The smell of wood burning, the damp earth as potatoes are harvested, the drive to work just as the sun is coming up-I am hard pressed to say which season is my favorite.  This one, I think-the one I am in now, at this moment, in this place.

I have no words of wisdom today, no thoughtful reflections about the changing of the seasons, no cause to take up arms about-not just this minute.  What I have is this time,  this little window of time in which to look out the window and simply be grateful.   I know it won’t last-I am not nearly evolved enough to feel the constant gratitude that is most likely a tool for better living- but for some reason, that knowledge simply makes it feel that much sweeter.

Last night after the kids were all in bed, I was laying on the couch reading, both dogs piled on top of me like especially heavy blankets, and for some reason I though to simply look around.  The house was quiet save the tap-tap of Steve on the computer, the purring of the cats, and the occasional whumph sound of the heater firing up.  I was filled with this sense of well-being and comfort, of peace.  It has been a few months now that Steve has lived with us, and in those months I have become comfortable with his presence there.  It was such a huge change, and things were really hard (and just might be again) for me in the beginning; however, without me being aware of it, it has gotten easier for me.  I can lay on the couch and read and not really care what he is doing, yet am glad he is there.  This isn’t something I had hoped to find, or thought I wanted or needed or, let’s face it, deserved-yet here it is, some unexpected gift. 

But this peace isn’t only to do with Steve; he is part of it, but by no means the whole.  It is the whole panoply of my life, with all of it’s ups and downs and in betweens, that has me pretty much amazed and awed and humbled.  There have been times, just as I am sure there will be again, where I just really didn’t think I was going to make it.  Days when it took all I had to simply get out of bed and keep moving forward-and yet here I am.   Amazing, isn’t it?

The weather might signify an ending of sorts, the beginning of the dead season, but it feels like a beginning to me.  It is getting dark earlier, and I love to come home and see the lights shining through the chinks in the curtains, knowing that just behind the door there is warmth and peace.  This time is mine, I think-mine for love, and for healing, and for gratitude.  My time for rest, and for peace.  My beginning.  I don’t know what is in front of me, beyond this: I will go home tonight and make dinner, stroke fevered brows and dispense bitter medicine to my two ill boys.  I will read to Owen and cuddle on the couch with Hannah and will maybe then take a hot bath.  I will talk with Steve about this vacation that we are planning-like Ms. Moon says, we can still plan, and save a little at a time, and who knows?  And I will go to bed feeling like I am the luckiest, most blessed person in the world, and for today, that is enough.