Friday Fragments, Saturday Edition

Mommy's Idea

For more of the Saturday Edition of Friday Fragments, visit Mrs.4444 at Half Past Kissin’ Time!

***A helpful tip for next Christmas: When there is a family member who already thinks you are slightly lower than a piece of dogshit on her shoe, do NOT attempt to parent her child when he rips a toy out of your own child’s hand and then pushes him down.  Never mind that said parent was not just not paying attention but flat ignoring the fact that her child is, well, mean, it still is not at all beneficial to attempt to protect your own child from being hurt.

***The holiday ended none too soon.  Our poor tree is dropping needles all over the floor, and we are in the process right now (meaning Steve is in the process of) of undecorating.

***Another helpful tip for next year: do not let all four kids sleep in one big bed on Christmas Eve unless they are going to sleep in a room that does not have an alarm clock.  The rule has always been that we do not get up before 6:00, and I have to have coffee ready and in a cup before anything can even be looked at.  Eli set his alarm for 5:45, so that when my clock flipped over to 6:00, they were all giggling outside the door with coffee in hand.

***We went to church at R. and J’s church on Christmas Eve; I was very emotional anyway, but when, during the Prayers of  The People, a lovely woman called B. specifically prayed for all single mothers, I wept unashamedly.  I know it’s all about the ritual, the whole church thing on Christmas Eve, but when Sam and I knelt for communion, it felt very profound and spiritual and peaceful.

***Dinner with a Priest, a deacon, and an openly and flamboyantly gay man (along with the rest of us) is more fun than you can imagine.  The priest, R. said (jokingly) that he was a little loopy because he had to finish off the communion wine, and it just took off from there.  I had no idea.  It was so lovely to be with these people who really like me and my family, and who all also share the same rather odd sense of humor.  The woman who does NOT like us was not there (the I-Cook-Better-Than-You woman) and it really made all the difference in the world.

***As soon as I finish off the caramel Chex mix and the orange-chocolate and the leftover rolls and the rest of the pie, I am not eating another sweet, junky, happy thing.  I swear.

***As hard as the holidays tend to be for me, this one was better than usual, and I feel really glad today.  It was all I had hoped for, the kids were all well-pleased with their gifts and mostly, the being together was the best.  I was slightly annoyed yesterday morning after we got done opening presents-everyone either went back to bed or disappeared downstairs, and I felt a little negelcted.  But then I remembered that it was their holiday, too, and not really about me at all, and I enjoyed the rest of the day.

Well, I think that is really all I have for the week.  Now if you want to read more fragments, go see Mrs.4444, the amazing host of Friday Fragments.

Can I get any sappier?

The snow started to fall while I was on my way to work, no one on the streets yet and the Christmas lights of the town burning brightly.  It is supposed to snow most of the day, although I don’t hold my breath; the last time it was supposed to snow, it rained hard for two days, melting all of the snow we previously had.  Still, in this moment, with the snow falling softly and just beginning to cover the bare streets, it is beautiful; I will take it, this moment, and simply enjoy. 

I am remarkably calm and, dare I say it, centered, with Christmas just a few days away.  Due to the unexpected largess of my father (we can always  tell how his stocks are doing by the amount he sends us for Christmas every year; clearly he is doing well, the NYSE news notwithstanding) and my-would it be okay to call her my mother-in-law even though Steve and I aren’t married?-we will have some presents under the tree for the kids, and that makes me very happy.  Nothing extravagant, but then we are not typically extravagant people even when money isn’t an issue.  The usual assortment of books (I had, actually, $45 in Barnes and Noble gift cards from various occasions to spend), and clothes (J. and her husband R. always get the kids an outfit each), and a few other things, and all will be well.  I may have written this very thing before, but I came to the conclusion in an angst-filled email to April that I am never going to have enough money to get the kids what I think they deserve; they have been through so much, and have had it pretty hard at times, and yet are so full of life and love and happiness that I think they deserve the world wrapped up and tied with all manner of ribbons.  So in that respect, well, it is never going to be enough, and they are always happy no matter what they get.  Truly.

So easy this time of year to look around and see all that is lacking on a material level.  And I will never say that it doesn’t matter; when you have kids, it matters, whether it should or not.  Yet there is, at least in my life, the abiding feeling that in spite of our dearth of material gain, we are well and truly rich.  Trite?  Of course; I know how smarmy and sanctimonious that sounds.  I just don’t know how else to describe how deeply I really do feel that.  There is something sweet in knowing that each gift my children open will be loved, not because it is something they saw on TV or is something that everyone else has but because each gift was carefully chosen to reflect that which I see in them.  We will go to R. and J’s house after church on Christmas Eve and be fed and embraced and welcomed, as we are over and over again, into love.  How can that not be enough?

I don’t know about the whole controversy about whether or not to call it Christmas or Winter Holiday or The Holiday of Conspicuous Consumption; frankly, I think the people of various factions who pitch a bitch about what it is called have far deeper problems than what the name of the holiday should be, but whatever.  We call it Christmas because that’s just what it is called.  I don’t know so much about the whole baby in a manger thing so far as actual events go, but it makes a great story-as does Santa Claus and his flying reindeer.  Who wouldn’t love the idea of a man who sneaks into your house in the middle of the night and leaves presents?  Well, lots of people, but again, whatever.  All I know is that when I am thinking clearly, which for me means not thinking at all but simply feeling, the holiday season is one of love and more love.  I might wish I could prove my love to my kids and my partner and my friends by buying them their hearts’ desires, but the reality for me is that I don’t have to prove my love, and if I did?  Well.  It’s all about getting up and showing up every single day, being willing to walk through the really hard stuff together, and making the decision to stick it out.  

I spend too much time wondering if my views and ideas are too simplistic; seeing those jewelry commercials I am baffled, because a rock, however pretty, doesn’t mean love to me.  Having my grown children lavish gifts on me to somehow repay me for all the hard work I have done (yes, complete with dramatic hand to the brow) seems, well, stupid to me.  Isn’t that what we as parents DO?  Isn’t that by nature our job?  But then I wonder if everyone else gets it but me.  I don’t know.  But I do know that the people who love me the most are the ones who walk along with me on this sometimes very rocky path of life; they are the ones who don’t use past help or support (financial or otherwise) as something to hang over my head or use to control my behavior.  The ones who love me-my truest and most real friends-simply love me.  And vice versa.  We all show up together to participate in life-and when one falls, twenty hands are there to hold us up.

That is what love is to me.  That is what Christmas is to me.  And this morning, with the snow still falling and the ground all covered, I feel like I remembered it just in time.  I don’t want to look around and see what is lacking-because all of us can do that, regardless how blessed we are.  I want to look around and see the wonder that lies in front of me, want to sit back and watch the snow and remember what it all means to me.  Tomorrow night, I think I will make cookies, and this time I will let the kids help, not caring what mess they might make.  We will set cookies out for Santa and we will talk about Baby Jebus and of course we have to talk about how if they don’t go to sleep, Santa won’t come but Jebus is always here, and life will be sweet.

Merry Christmas to all of you who have touched my life.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS ! ! ! ! to April in particular (I would have made it bigger if I could have, believe me), and I hope that every single one of you has the holiday you wish for, whatever that means.  From opening presents to feeding people in a homeless shelter, from worshipping in a church to going ice skating, I wish for you everything you deserve and want.

Friday Fragments

 Mommy's Idea

Clearly I should be grateful for Mrs.4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time for hosting Friday Fragments every week; otherwise I would not have a single reason whatsoever to post!

***Ms. Moon has posted more than once about her middle-of-the-night Chex Mix feasts.  Well.  I have found something even worse (or better, depending on your perspective): caramel Chex Mix.  I won’t tell you how much I ate, but I will tell you that my justification was, well, that it is cereal.  How bad can that possibly be for you?

*** A couple of nights ago I had just barely fallen to sleep after having tossed and turned until midnight, and Owen woke up sick.  I pretended to be asleep so that Steve had to get up and deal with it.  I am not sure I truly got away with it, as it would be atypical of me to sleep through vomiting, but he never did say anything about it. I did feel a tiny bit bad, but then I remembered another time not too long ago when Owen barfed all over the bed, over my shoulder and down my back, and even hit the closet door with his puke-and Steve slept through the entire episode.  I stopped feeling bad then.

***Speaking of Owen, he has just recently begun saying his prayers by himself.  We always start out with “Heavenly Father,” except he says,”Hemmingly Daughters,” which conjures up images of little girls in white pinafores doing needlepoint.  It never fails to make me smile.

***I love music.  A lot.  I can’t sing well, don’t know how to read music, and have no idea even what I sing, other than NOT soprano.  Regardless, I am going to join the choir for my friend J.’s church this spring, because there is a community-wide “Songs of Faith” concert that performs in the Fine Arts Center over the 4th of July.  What the hell, right?

***I went Christmas shopping with J. last night (at her work, instead of doing a gift exchange, each person in the office picked someone from the Women and Children’s Shelter to buy for); I asked her (in context) whether or not my family is weird, and she said, with no hesitation, “Absolutely; but in a good way!”  Hmm.  Ask a stupid question….

***The future business leaders I posted about last week finally arrived with the poinsettia, after having unearthed the name of the correct “head guy” who ordered it.  It arrived half dead, but hey, at least it GOT here.

***The big snow we were supposed to get earlier this week arrived-in the form of torrential rain.  Therefore, what snow we had left is also gone.  So much for a white Christmas.  Just when I thought I might be feeling the very slightest glimmerings of the Christmas spirit…..gone, just like that.

Okay, now you can head over to see Mrs. 4444 and read some of her other participants. It will be worth your time!

Friday Fragments 12/11/09

 Mommy's Idea

 Time for another rousing rendition of Friday Fragments, brought to you by Mrs.4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time.  I haven’t taken part myself in a little while, so I wasn’t aware that she had a new button (which also tells you how many blogs I have been reading, too); isn’t it pretty?  Don’t you want one for yourself? 

***There is a weather woman on our local news who looks like she stumbled in to work after a hard night out on the town, wearing the same clothes she wore the day before.  She has this very odd hair that also perpetuates this image I have of her-it looks like bed head, all the time-only just in the very back, so it appears as if she was doing a couple of things in bed before work that didn’t involve sleeping.  But the kicker is that she really cannot speak; during the weather report last night, I heard her say more than once, “I seen…” and “We seen….” and I thought I was going to have to storm the newsroom and give her some much needed grammar lessons.  Not that I am in any way a grammar expert-but, you know, I am not on TV.

***Two girls came into the office to deliver a poinsetta  that someone had ordered.  They were sullen and pierced, and didn’t actually know who ordered the plant. “It was a guy,” they said hopefully, as if that would help, but we have three “guys” in the office.  “I think he was one of the head guys,” they said,” but all three of the guys are “head guys.”  I named the names-blank looks.  So finally I said, “So, you took an order and a re delivering a plant but you don’t know who ordered it?  What organization are you with?”  “Oh,” they said, relieved to have been asked a question they could answer, “We are from the Future Business Leaders of America!” 

***We are supposed to have a heat wave here today; it might get all the way up to 20 degrees!  Which is actually a 30 degree jump.  Where did I put that bikini?

***Had parent-teacher conferences for Hannah on Wednesday.  Her dance teacher was so excited to meet me that I really just thought she was going to pick me up and kiss me (she is about a foot taller than me).  Not only is Hannah doing well in her class, but she is going to be the lead dancer for the performance.  How cool is that?  This teacher is hilarious, too; she said,”This class is the best one in terms of ability.  The last class was very passionate….I think three or four pregnancies resulted from that class.”  I was talking (again) about this teacher to everyone who would listen yesterday morning (I really liked her), and Eli said,”Mom, if I didn’t know any better, I would think you have a crush on her!”

***Speaking of girl-crushes, perhaps Eli is right; how else would I ever end up being a stage mom for their two performances? Now that you have picked yourself up off the floor from laughing at the idea, I gotta tell you, I really like this teacher.  Otherwise I would not have been so easily convinced that I actually wanted to be a stage mom.

***I did a little reconnoiter of the route I took the day I got pulled over and ticketed; he wrote me a ticket for going 23 in a school zone (15), and two things pop out:  1. I wasn’t in fact in a school zone (which is why I was reconnoitering), it had ended about three blocks prior to pulling me over, and 2. his first estimate was that I was going 20 mph but he ticketed me for going 23-therefore, even IF I was going 23, I was still going under the speed limit.  I am actually looking forward to going to court to fight this, as I have every possible defense lined up in my head. 

So, now that you are done scrolling through MY head, there are some other interesting brain dumps to check out at Half Past Kissin’ Time!

It's beginning to look a lot like….

Frostbite.  See, for a minute there I had you thinking I was getting all into the holiday spirit and singing and shit, right?  Nope, it looks like cold and sluggish mornings and stiff finger joints.  On the news this morning they were talking about how we are *this* close to beating the record low temperatures, and I was sitting there thinking, “Are we are excited about this WHY?”  Still, it makes me laugh when people (including myself) complain about the cold; after all, it IS winter in Idaho, I don’t know why we are so surprised every year when it gets, you know, cold.

Moving on (albeit slowly), Sam had his first orchestra performance last night, and what a difference a year makes!  While I would not venture to say that they were GREAT, in comparison with last year they are appreciably better.  They played about six songs, and this year they were recognizably songs, which was really neat.  Underneath the sour notes and the awkward screeches, there is a hint of real music shining through, and I think that some of these kids could become quite good.  I don’t know yet if Sam is one of them; he hasn’t been practicing like he should, for one thing, and for another, I couldn’t pick him out of the other 20 kids playing.  For all I know he is terrible, sounding like two cats fucking, and the other kids are encouraged to play loud enough to mask him out.  *shrugs* He seems to really enjoy it, and that is what matters to me.  The Student Teacher they had for the orchestra last year was (ahem) not invited to come back this year, and instead these kids get to have the REAL orchestra/band/choir teacher, and she?  Is good.  If she is still around when I turn 40 and give myself those violin lessons I have promised myself, I will ask her to teach me.

It has already been a busy week-the party on Monday night (which was okay; ONE family member talked to me, yay!), Sam’s concert last night, and then I have Parent-Teacher conferences at Hannah’s school tonight.  Tomorrow night is blessedly empty of plans or obligations, and then Friday is the AA Christmas party (The last two years we have had a canned food and Toys for Tots drive as part of the Christmas party; last year it took two pickups to get all the stuff to where it needed dropped off.  How cool is THAT?).  And then on Saturday is the Sadie Hawkins Dance for Eli and his girlfriend, as well as the party for my office.  In one sense, it has been a hard week for someone as unsociable as I, but at the same time, at least everything is over with all at once.

Oh, and remember when Sam wrote to President Obama?  He got a letter back from the White House on Monday.  It was a form letter, of course, but the stamp they use for the President’s name looks very, very realistic, AND someone with lovely handwriting wrote the name and address; I could see the marks where whomever picked up the pen and began a new letter.  Very cool; he took it to show his classroom yesterday, and wanted me to be sure and “put that on your blog, mom.  They need to know that he really does listen.”  So-you HAVE been told.

Last night was a lovely night.  We got home late (for us) and ate a hurried, thrown together dinner, and then it was time for the little boys to head to bed.  This is always a half-hour ordeal, because first I have to go in and sing “Twinkle Twinkle Star” and say prayers, and then Steve has to go in and sing “Okie Donald” (Old MacDonald) and one other song of Owen’s choosing, then Eli has to….you get the idea.  It sometimes annoys the shit out of me; can we just be honest and say out loud that sometimes we just want to sit down and watch TV or read and NOT have to drag ourselves into the room?  Last night, like he ALWAYS does, Owen said,”You come into my room?” and I found myself getting exasperated; I said, “I don’t know, Owen, I have only been coming into your room every night for the last three and a half years!” but of course he didn’t get it and just said, “Okay!”  Talk about making me feel like I was acting like the three year old!  Still, no matter how annoyed I get, it is always good to have that bit of time, in the quiet dark, and just BE with the little boys.  Sometimes Sam will want to talk, and if something has been bothering him this is when I hear about it most of the time.  Always, Owen wants to kiss me on each cheek twice and then kiss my mouth and hug me, and I always leave the room feeling peaceful; I don’t know why I don’t remember that before I get all huffy.

After everyone else was asleep, Steve and I were all snuggled up under the electric blanket and just talked, which we don’t get a chance to do as much as I would like.  I mean, we TALK, all of the time, but rarely do we have the chance to just talk.  Last night it was about God, and what do we think some after this, after we are done here, and why ARE we here-and maybe everyone has these deep kinds of discussions on a regular basis but WE don’t.  I can’t explain it, really, and it wasn’t even so much what we talked about as how good it felt to simply be laying in bed with someone you love and talking; not about the kids, the jobs, the parents, just-talking.

So-this is my day, my week, my life-and I simply cannot believe how much better a place I am in as compared to last week.  Instead of feeling beat down and despiring that this is my life, I feel like I have been given a lot of different things over the last year and I need to simply hold them in my hands and cherish them.  Yes- this is my life, and I am grateful.

On a lighter note (yes, thank you, I AM posting twice!)

And on a lighter note, I am over my annoyance-not at the cop, I am actually more annoyed at THAT whole situation as the day goes on, and am thinking of going to fight the ticket, but the potential problem with THAT is that this is a small town, and I worry about the likelihood of being pulled over even more if I do fight it.  We shall see.  Asshats anyway. 

However, I found a ride for Sam to the rehearsal, and here is the thing.  Here I am kind of stuck in my little hole at the moment, and I call this woman, S.  She is one of the most kind-hearted, sweet women I know, she really is, and she has offered at least a dozen times in the last few years to give Sam rides places if needed, but I have never taken her up on it.  Today, however, I thought I would at least call-her son is also in orchestra, so has to be there as well, so-you know.  What the hell.  And I am talking to this woman and explaining to her what the issue is and can she give Sam a ride there because I can go pick him up, and she said,”Oh, sure, he can just ride the bus home with X and I can make sure they have snacks before we go, and if it is any consolation, this is all very short notice for me, too,” and it hit me that I am asking help from this woman who has CANCER.  God.  She was already a cancer survivor, and two or three months ago was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts.  Also, and it IS very odd from what I understand, she has a different type of cancer in each breast-so the problem is finding a treatment that will work on both kinds, and she had a radical double mastectomy, and here I am complaining about a speeding ticket.  This woman has five kids, and a husband, and even now remains one of the most cheerful and content people I know-and she has cancer, and is more than willing to make sure MY son gets a snack and to the rehearsal on time.  I am so humbled, and a little (lot) ashamed of myself for getting all caught up in the fluff.

And that’s the thing about money.  Yes, it is important; boy, is it important.  And no, it doesn’t buy happiness, but when you don’t have enough to have basic needs met on a consistent basis, it is terrible.  Truly terrible.  BUT: in the long run, it really is just fluff.  I don’t mean that in a “I suddenly don’t care about money because I am above that!” kind of way, because that would be a flat lie, and I am also not going to fall into the “you can’t take it with you” trip.  But what I mean is that no amount of money in the world is going to guarantee that life isn’t going to suck ass.  It doesn’t mean that you are immune to any of the problems that could hit any one of us, at any given time.

I am reading this book that a friend of mine gave me in 2000; I know that is when she gave it to me, because she wrote the date in it, and told me that the main character reminded her of me, in the best of ways.  The thing is, this woman, this lovely friend of mine who had it all-the husband, she could stay home with her four absolutely lovely children and her husband adored her and they were happy, well, this woman died at 33 of brain cancer.  And all the money and comfort in the world did not change the outcome for her in any way, shape or form.

Talk about humility.  My problems are so slight in comparison.  Really.  Do things suck right now?  Yep, sure do.  Are they going to suck forever?  Well, I sure hope not.  But in the meantime, they do and I am going to be just fine.  You see, I am not alone anymore.  And in part I mean Steve, because were it not for him I would have been SUNK three months ago, but in myriad other ways, too. I have these people in my life who will listen and not judge, or who will give me a jolt when I need it (thank you, Liz, by the way!) and who simply love me.  Love my kids.  And maybe it isn’t enough on some days, but mostly?  Yeah.  It really is. 

I know that I had a point when I started this, but it seems to have escaped me for the moment.  I just know that I am a million times better that I was, and I know that I am humbled and grateful again, and there you go.  We have that party tonight and I am in a good place to go, too.  Because I know that Steve is a little nervous and uncertain, for a variety of reasons not mine to tell, and my job tonight is to be there for him.  And isn’t that humbling in and of itself?  To get out of self and put your own petty insecurities and worries aside and be the person for someone else to lean on?  Yeah; I can do that.

Monday Morning annoyances-read at your own risk

I  genuinely respect and admire SAHM’s, I really do.  Because I couldn’t do it, or rather could, if I started indulging again in the merest hint of Valium and a Yukon Jack chaser.  Not a lot, you understand, just enough to get me through the day. Now, I wouldn’t say I am so devoted to  my career that I wouldn’t quit in a heartbeat were I to suddenly become independently wealthy; I would have to find something else to do, though, at least part time.  Anyway, there are women who actually thrive on and excel at staying home with their kids, and I admire the hell out of them. However, I do have to say right out loud here that you SAHM’s are fucking it up for those of us who have to work.  Sam has a rehearsal for his evening of hell orchestra concert today.  At 4:00.  You know, 4:00 when people who have to work are, you know, working. The reasoning behind this?  The three people who are volunteers thought this would work out best for them.  I wish I were kidding, too.  Oh, and here is a great one: “Oh, if you would like to have a say about the times that are best for everyone, you could volunteer like WE do.  We have been meeting during the orchestra classes; if you could be there from 8:30-9:30, that would be so great!”  Umm-hmm, yep, it would.  Of course, I don’t see any of these volunteers offering to provide rides for those kids whose parents DO have to work; maybe that would be inconvenient?  The worst part?  Part of Sam’s grade in orchestra is contingent upon his attendance at all of the classes/rehearsals/performances, so when I can’t leave work and hour early to get him to rehearsal, HE is punished for it.  This isn’t a new thing, but it is still fucking annoying.

Speaking of annoying, I got pulled over again this morning, and this time I actually got a ticket.  I get pulled over a lot; I think once or twice I might have even deserved a ticket but didn’t get one.  This time, I was NOT speeding (for fuck’s sake it is snowing and the roads are slick; I wasn’t even going the speed limit!), he did not have his radar on, and he initially said, twice, “I estimated your speed at 20 MPH in a 15,” but then when I got the ticket it says, “23 in a 15 and accelerating.”  WTF?  I am pissed, I really am.  If I am speeding, I deserve a ticket-period.  I am not above the law, and don’t expect special favors or anything like that.  But this same cop has pulled me over three or four times for bullshit things that he actually can’t write me a ticket for (once he pulled me over for dropping Hannah off in front of her school; he said that it was illegal to do so.  I asked him,”Why isn’t there a sign, then, that says “No loading/unloading?” and I think that pissed him off), and for whatever reasons, he seems intent on ticketing me.  Now, keep in mind that this is the first ticket I have gotten since Eli was a baby, so in almost 16 years; it isn’t as if I am recklessly speeding through life hoping I don’t get caught.  He said, “I am going to give you until Christmas Eve to take care of this ticket, too, but be aware that the fine is double for a school-zone violation.”  Wasn’t that fucking generous of him?  So yeah, I can either take time off work to fight the ticket, which just isn’t going to happen (I can’t afford it), or I can bend over and take it up the ass and pay the ticket.  Which I can’t do, which means my license will be suspended.  Isn’t life just lovely sometimes?  And by the by, Steve was with me this morning, and when I said,”Oh, great, what the fuck am I being pulled over for?” he glanced at the speedometer at the same time as I did and we both said,”I am not speeding!”

So.  I am still trying to make it a good day, but it is sometimes pretty hard.  The party for Steve’s side of the family is tonight, and sometime between now and 4:00 I have to figure out how to get Sam to his rehearsal, and then I have to figure out which is more important, paying the gas bill or paying the ticket, and if this happened to someone else, I would probably think it was funny.  It isn’t.  But what do you do, right?  Lube up and bend over, and hope it’s over quickly.