Friday, September 29, 2006

Kids are Weird, ad nauseum

Yesterday, Levi went to school grumpy because I'm behind on laundry and all the t-shirts he had clean were "ugly". I didn't even ask in what way.

Today, he went to school grumpy because all of his old (too short) pants were dirty. All three pairs of NEW pants I bought him for back-to-school were clean. To get them long enough, we had to get the waist sizes a little big. He can wear a belt. HOWEVER, today he had to wear his cross country team t-shirt and the coach asks that they tuck them in. So, why was Levi grumpy? Because he had to wear the new, larger-waisted jeans and "Belts look stupid when you have your shirt tucked in!" Again, I didn't ask.

It will take a much cleverer mind than mine to discern the fashion logic of a middle schooler.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A not-so-random act ....

September is kicking my ass. It's been nuts. And this week has been one of the ass-kickingest of the month. And it ain't near over yet. I was gone from 8 a.m. till 4:30 this afternoon today. Had to take my mom over 2 hours away for a check-up with her lung doctor. Spending an hour with my mom can be exhausting. Spending a day is, well, ass-kicking. When I got home, I knew I only had about 15 minutes before I needed to leave again to pick Levi up, run some errands then come home and try to figure out what to make for dinner. Not really much time to rest up.

When I got home, I noticed a largish box that had been delivered today. It was sent to me from some company I'd never heard of. You would have laughed if you had seen me looking at the package. I didn’t remember ordering anything. Could it be something Steve ordered for me for my birthday so maybe I shouldn’t open it?? No, I don’t think he’d plan that far ahead. But, still … maybe I shouldn’t just in case. On the other hand, it would surely come in HIS name, right?? I swear I mulled this over, discussing it with Lane, for about 5 minutes before opening. It was a funny, little Halloween witch. It still took me a couple of minutes to see that it came from a friend in Las Vegas. I can't find words to describe how this made me feel. Especially on a day like today. This dear friend has been too busy lately to even keep in touch much. And yet she, knowing what a Halloween freak I am, took time to order this little witch and have her sent across the country to me. It just literally swept away all the grumpiness and fatigue I'd been feeling just mere minutes before.

I must remember this feeling. And I must remember to make someone else feel like this in turn.

Monday, September 25, 2006

[Brought to you by the weekly SS blog challenge.]

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The challenge:
"Happiness comes from the capacity to
feel deeply,
to enjoy simply,
to think freely,
to risk life,
to be needed."
-Storm Jameson

Your assignment is simple. Take all or part of this quote, and let it inspire you. Write about where you find happiness. What is your strongest capacity? Your weakest? Write about people you know who excel at each of the points mentioned in the quote. Tell about someone you know whose inability to live out any one of the points has kept them from happiness.
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I wouldn't say I consider myself to be a "happy" person. When I think of happy people, I think of the Jack Russell Terriers of the human world. You know the ones who are perpetually cheerful, always have a smile, always seem upbeat. This isn't me. On the other hand, I'm not a Basset Hound either.

I know both types of people. My aunt, who really isn't an aunt but who has been a family friend since long before my birth and so seems like one, is the always happy type. She's such a pleasure to be around. She's not bouncy, but she's always cheerful and positive. My mother, on the other hand, is the perpetually down type. She has occasional good days but, on the average, she's a drag. She can find the negative in any situation. There it is. I said it. Quite often, being with her brings me down.

Now, here's the thing. The aunt has had more than her share of tragedy in her life. She lost a daughter at age 17, a son at age 32, a grandson at age 12 (all from accidents) and her husband a few years ago. Mom has lost no one except her mother who was 85 at the time. You could say that the aunt has no reason to be happy, and yet she is. And mom has no reason to be unhappy, but she is. I have no idea why. Trust me, I wish I did. The aunt just has some internal fortitude that mom was born without.

Me? I'm somewhere in the middle. I can be moody. But at least I have the ups to go with the downs.

"Happiness comes from the capacity to
feel deeply,
... Sometimes this is what makes me unhappy. I feel the bad things, even the little bad things, too deeply at times. But I tend to feel the little good things deeply, too.

to enjoy simply,
... This, I do. Sometimes very basic things make my heart swell with happiness - a gorgeous sky, the sight of a little, red fox crossing the road in front of me, listening to my kids laugh.

to think freely,
... My tendency to do this probably brings unhappiness to others at time. Chiefly, my husband.

to risk life,
... I think I risked a lot when I chose to leave the stability of a 14-year job to become a stay-at-home-mom. And that has brought me much happiness.

to be needed."
... I'm a wife and mother. 'Nuff said.

I guess I'm content to be a middle grounder. I'll never know the ease of being always happy, but I may enjoy the happy times more for having been through the non-happy ones.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Remember that ending era? This confirms it.

My backyard is now naked. Steve had a mini-garage sale yesterday to get rid of some of the excess. Two things that went ... the trampoline and the kids' play fort. All the Little Tykes, Tonka and Playskool went long ago. These were the last remnants of little kids playthings. And now they're gone.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The end of an era?

It is fall. Fall means soccer here, as does spring. But, for the first time since the boys were five, I don't have a kid playing soccer. Lane, at high school, has too many other activities going. Levi, as a 7th grader, had new sports available to him through the school which conflict with soccer. So he's not playing. He probably won't play in the spring either as track will start then.

No soccer?? My world has been turned upside down.

So, now what will people call me? Can't really call me a Soccer Mom anymore. Debate Mom? Cross Country Mom? Drama/Orchestra/4-H/Track/Junior Leaders Mom? Doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it?

Maybe they can just call me Running Her Ass Ragged Mom. Now THAT fits!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sometimes, a mother's work IS done

Mothers spend the lives of their children molding them, shaping them, guiding their behavior. At times, the results of these efforts are seen almost immediately. Other times, it takes many years before we are successful. Persistence is the key. There is such wonder in looking over your offspring, knowing you have helped make them the people they are, beaming proudly. One of those moments for me is now.

Both boys are currently reading Stephen King books.

*sniff, sniff*

My work here is done.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Becoming Obsolete

The boys are growing up. That means I, as a parent, am becoming obsolete. Oh, not completely. Not for a while. But I'm noticing it happening more and more lately. Lane is becoming much more mature since he started high school. He's taking care of things on his own. He's taking initiative. He's being responsible. Not all of the time of course, but much more regularly than he did even a few months ago.

Levi, being younger, is still needing more reminders and help. But even he is becoming more independent every week.

After so long of being so needed, it feels a bit odd to find oneself needing to be less of a drill sergeant and more of a distant supervisor. I hope I'll never be completely uneeded. I hope they'll call from college to tell me they accidentally washed their red t-shirt with their whites and how can they get their unders un-pink? That they'll call one day to say they want to cook dinner for their girlfriend and can I send them my lasagna recipe? That the baby has been crying all afternoon and they can't figure out what's wrong and do I have any ideas?

Hopefully, I'll never become completely obsolete.
Maybe just a little redundant.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Diary of a Mad Orange Housecat
Day 46

I think it's safe now to begin reporting on my experiences here. My team and I were taken to a holding area that the humans called a "shelter" nearly two months ago. From there, we were to be distributed into the human world in various locations. Our mission was to infiltrate the human world, carefully studying their habits and reporting back. I felt it safest to give my humans time to become accustomed to me and lull them into a false sense of security before beginning my reports. They now believe that I belong to them and am nothing more than an amusing "pet".

I have now insinuated myself into every area of their lives. Their security is so lax as to be laughable. My superiors would be appalled if their troops were half so lackadaisical.

I have been able to spend the most time with the female subject. The males all leave the house for long periods most days but the female leaves and returns with much greater frequency. She has many habits that I have found to be very strange. I'm making careful notes but have not yet been able to discern the purpose of many of these rituals. For example, instead of fastidiously cleaning her face as those of our race do, she periodically slathers a paint-like substance onto it. She pushes a terrifyingly loud machine all over her home base which removes all of the bits of carpet I have so carefully scratched off the post they gave me for that very purpose.

The males have extremely odd customs as well. The two larger ones use a sharp instrument to scrape their whiskers off. I cannot fathom how they can hunt or sense things with no whiskers to guide them.

The youngest male insists that I sleep in his room every night. Perhaps he is beginning to suspect my true nature and elects to keep me close so that he can watch me for signs that I am a spy. I must be very careful around this one and continue to play the role of the silly pet.

All of them regularly subject themselves to liberal dousings of water. It makes my blood run cold to observe. The younger males have forced me to subject myself to such dousings on a few occasions. It took every ounce of nerve to pretend to meekly submit to this torture. I have to confess that I was not entirely successful and could not stop myself from struggling a bit. The oddest thing I have observed to date is that every one of them expels into a bowl of water rather than the more rational sand-like substance with which one can cover their leavings. Extremely odd.

This race is a most peculiar one. I will continue to study their habits, making careful notes so that, when the opportunity arises, I can report to my superiors. I do not know where the rest of my team members were disbursed to. I only hope they are making progress in deciphering this most baffling race. I do not know when I will be contacted for my reports. Until that time, I will assume my mission is the same as the original one ... infiltrate, observe and report.

Monday, September 11, 2006

[Brought to you by the weekly SS blog challenge.]
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The challenge:
In honor of Shuttle Atlantis, which finally blasted off yesterday, and because my friend Cara likes it when I make lists like this, this week's blog challenge is a Countdown List. 10...9... 8... 7....
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10 Things I Wanna Do Before I Die
* Have a clean house stay that way for 24 or more hours
* Sleep in on weekday mornings
* Make at least one meal that everyone likes
* Have a sock-free family room floor
* Have a toy-free family room floor
* Have someone else clean the "guy" bathroom
* Have someone else learn to cook
* Have a dog that doesn't shed
* Have a cat whose poop is odor-free
* Have a car that is NOT big enough to hold an upright bass, a cello, two golf bags, 2 backpacks, and sundry other kid items, including kids

9 Places I Last Spent Money
* Wal Mart
* Country Mart
* School for lunch tickets
* School for portraits
* Wal Mart
* Country Mart
* Hair salon
* Wal Mart
* Country Mart

8 Sounds I Routinely Hear Around My House
* Kids saying "Mom, I need ..."
* Kids saying "Mom, I want ..."
* Kids saying "Mom, can you ..."
* Kids saying, "Mom, can we ..."
* Kids saying, "Mom, come look at ..."
* Kids saying, "Mom, what's for supper?"
* Hubby saying, "Honey, can/will/would you ..."
* Silence when they're all gone to work and school

7 Real Restaurants Where I Last Ate Out
* Chili's last week when the kids were in school
* Gambino's a couple of weeks ago when the kids were out of school
Since McDonald's, Wendy's, Arby's and Sonic don't qualify as "real" restaurants, this is all I've got!

6 Things I've Recently Scratched Off My To-Do List
* Take the kids to their dentist appointments
* Take the kids to their hair cut appointments
* Take the kids to their photography judging contest
* Take one kid to his cross country meet
* Take the other kid to work
* Run errands for hubby
[Note: Still ON my to-do list is get one of the kids their license and a car so they can do this stuff!]

5 People I Don't Know by would Like to Hang Out With
* A massage therapist
* A manicurist
* A great stylist
* A wardrobe makeover specialist
* A psychotherapist

4 Songs That Make Me Happy
* Bells - Those ringing to signify that DS-1 is at his school
* Bells - Those ringing to signify that DS-2 is at his school
* That music hubby's car makes as it's leaving for work
* Any song the boys' orchestras are playing.
[Dang - just had to mess it up with one serious one!]

3 Things I Hate To Do
* Cook
* Laundry
* Clean

2 Things I'm Really Good At
* Finding ways to avoid cooking, laundry and cleaning
* Being stupid
[Hey, have you been reading this blog??]

1 Bad Habit
* Being stupid

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My greatest fear ....

Is discovering that there is no such thing as PMS and this is my real personality.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Raising kids is like having a flat tire

Things are just a'rolling along smoothly when ... BLAM! A big noise, things go all bumpy and wobbly, you check what's wrong and realize that something got broken.

Okay, so that wasn't the analogy I was thinking of when I started to write this but it came mid-stream and I liked it too, so decided to include it.

What I was originally thinking is ....

Steve and I thought were busy when we got married. We each had careers. I had a commute. We had family and friends and activities we enjoyed. Life was fine, but busy. Or was it?

We had kids. Now we had all of the above but we added two young ones that needed wrangling. Now we knew what busy really meant. Or did we?

The boys got bigger and got involved in activities of their own. At this point, I quit my job. We still had everything we'd always done, but now we also had two boys running in different directions to different things. Now we got it. NOW we really understood the meaning of the word busy. No, we didn't.

Both boys moved up to new levels this year. Lane started high school in which a whole new world of never before available options opened up to him. Now he has a job, is in debate, drama and AC Players (the drama club). This piled on top of the activities he had before. Levi started seventh grade and this, too, is a level where new things are available. He's running cross country this fall and will be running track in the spring. These in addition to his former activities as well.

It seems every new phase of our life jacks up the intensity. A friend e-mailed wanting to know when our gang could get together for another friend's birthday. I checked my calendar and realized that I have exactly two afternoons free this entire month. What will it be like when Levi also gets to high school and gets all those new options as well? I shudder to think.

And then, one day, they'll both be gone to college and I'll be sitting here feeling like someone just came along and kicked the jack out from under the car and things came crashing to a standstill. I may need therapy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Angels Unaware
[Brought to you by the weekly SS blog challenge.]

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The challenge:
Write about an event in your life that you were directly impacted by, whether you were on the receiving end, or on the giving end. Tell us about an act of selflessness, an act of bravery, an act of servitude...

Tell us about the woman who comforted your lost child at Walmart until you could be reunited. Tell us about the man who picked up your dinner tab and didn't stick around to be thanked. Tell about the time you scared a bunch of bullies away from a trembling puppy, or the kids you saw hanging out at the bus stop way after the school bell rang, and how you kept an eye on them until the bus finally arrived. Dig deep into your memory bank and recall the little miracles that have happened in your life at the hands of total strangers. Remember the little miracles you've been a part of, simply because you listened to your inner voice. We've all been touched. Share YOUR story.

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I'm going to deviate a bit from Stacy's probable intent with this challenge. And, as usual, I'm not going with the first idea I had in response to reading the challenge. That seems to happen every week.

I believe that the angels that have had the most influence in my life are my two boys, Lane and Levi. Now, before you go thinking I'm calling them angels in the precious, little cherubs sense of the word ... stop. Remember, Satan was an angel, too. No, my two angels are more of the tarnished halo, dirty robes and unkempt wings variety. Think John Travolta in the movie Michael.

What is an angel?
(Excerpts from some random website when doing a Google search "What is an angel?")

1. A spiritual being that is believed to be much more powerful than a human.
The boys definitely have super-human powers. The power to drive a mother mad beyond belief. The power to baffle and confuse. The power to amaze, amuse and aggravate. The power to melt a heart with a single hug.

2. Angels are composed of ethereal matter, thus allowing them to take on whichever physical form best suits their immediate needs.
Physical form? No. Behavioral form? Absolutely! Ever see a kid that wants something? Talk about taking on whatever form best suits his immediate needs!

3. In Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other theologies an angel can be one who acts as a messenger.
Hmmm. Ever see a boy whose brother has just committed some crime that's going to earn him a beating? Mercury the winged messenger couldn't make better time in delivering the news.

4. A fallen angel is often classed as a devil, like Satan himself.
There you go. They're not quite Satan, just a couple of his minions.

5. Although angels are generally divine, they have been shown to be fallible and prone to sin.
None of us has the time for me to cover all the ways in which this one fits!

In addition to the above, my two angels really have affected my life in more varied, and more profound, ways than all of the other angels who have touched me combined. Having them has changed the entire course of my life. If not for them, I'd still be plodding away in the corporate harness. If not for them, I'd never have learned the hundreds of things that I have in the last fourteen years. If not for them, I would have loved, laughed, cried and lived less. My house would be cleaner. I'd be richer, thinner and better rested. I probably wouldn't have any grey hair. But without them, I would have missed out on the most meaningful experiences of my life to date.