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Monday, October 28, 2013

Give it away Give it away Give it away now...

Last Sunday we decided to stay home from church.  We had been out  late the night before and I can count on one thumb how many days a week I can sleep in.  This used to be a guilt free experience until my mom started going to the same church.   She is in the choir and like an air traffic controller she can see who flies in and out of the sanctuary.  One time she texted me to see if we went to church.  It was a busy Sunday.  I spent at least ten minutes trying to come up with an answer.  Why was her message so cryptic?  Finally my response was, " Did you go to church?" within seconds my phone chimed. "Yes, and if you were there you would have known that." Busted, and tested. Failed both.

This past Sunday we were challenged to bring in food for the food pantry.  Before we left Pastor Herb took a photo of us with our newly given canvas Clay Church totes that we were to fill and return the next week.  Now, not only did my mom have evidence, so did the entire congregation that Don and I had a tote and if we didn't return it, well, that would be really bad.  Although, I really wanted to add that tote to my already over flowing grocery tote collection that I have.

With the reminder text from my mom, I made sure to fill our tote and send it with her to deliver to the church.  By noon on Sunday our pastor posted the picture of the rows and rows of filled totes on Facebook. Yes, I'm friends with my Pastor on Facebook.  I'm not sure how that happened either, I suppose he provides a moral compass that could easily go South if he wasn't on there (if you know what I mean).    I am proud to be part of a church that can make such an impact in its community.  But just when I think that I have done my part they throw another challenge my way. This one, is to clean out my closet to donate clothes to local people who need them much more than the hangers they are hanging on, and have been hanging on for ten years.  I am very protective of my closet and this Challenge is harder than the last one.

I feel like we clutter our house with just too much stuff and in then end, who is it really for?  How much is enough? Especially when our "clutter" could make a huge different to a woman who is trying to enter the workforce but doesn't have any professional clothing. Or the child who needs a new pair of pants because his are too short.  Or the man whose can't stay warm because his coat is filled with holes. It gives a new perspective to the term challenge.  Whatever affection I have to my old clothing is nothing compared to the lasting feeling of affection this person will feel when they know that someone cared enough about them to give them something.  It takes all different sorts to make up the fabric that shapes a community.  The buttons are just as crucial as the button holes, and each have to work together to create the feeling of warmth.

I think I can hear Don rejoicing in the fact that I will be cleaning out my closet.  If you are local and you would like to a reason to clean out your closet, please drop off clothes to my house.  If you are not local, take the time to give to someone else.  The added space in your closet actually will make you feel lighter and leave more space for things that matter more.

If you want to clean out your closet for this Sunday's challenge message me or visit
www.claychurch.com for more info.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Gift for My Mom

Every night before I fall asleep I say the same prayer as I have said since becoming a mother.  It is pretty simple.

"Please bless the boys, keep them safe and guide them on their journey to live long happy lives"

That is all I want for them.  If being happy means, a less lucrative career but one that fulfills them that they love, then great. If it means loving whomever they want regardless or race or gender, then so be it.  I will do whatever I can.  Everything I have done, or do since the moment I knew they existed was to make this simple prayer possible.  While pregnant, I took the right vitamins, as they grew I took them to all of their doctor appointments.  All this in an effort to form a solid foundation for them to achieve whatever it is that they can. 

There are so many factors that have already been put in place for this prayer to become a reality.  First, they were born in a country that even if you live at poverty level you are still part of the worlds richest citizens.  Next, they were born to parents who wanted them.  As much as I wish that was the case with most babies, it simply isn't.  They will never face starvation, and if they face disease we have the resources to help them.  Even if something were to happen to me, or Don, my boys would have a list longer than the Mississippi of people who would step up to help them. 

Simply put, they should be happy just with this knowledge.  But I too struggle sometimes, complain, whine about how I'm not happy.  I have just the same amount of fortune as they do, maybe even more because I have been alive longer.  

Today is my Mom's birthday. As I thought about what it is I should get her, I thought about what I would want from my sons. Of course it is nothing that you can buy.  It would be the assurance that they are happy. 

So, for my Mom, I would like to offer you this for your birthday.

Thank you for all that you did for me to help me arrive in this place right now.  
Thank you for the sacrifice,  your patience and more than anything the confidence that you had in me before I had it in myself.  
Thank you for letting me fail.  Thank you for celebrating the little accomplishments more than the big ones.  
Thank you for finding the humor in everyday situations. 
I want you to know I am happy. So very very happy. 
My life as an adult is nothing like I pictured it would be, it is better.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  You raised me to be strong, physically and emotionally (although I'm still working on that one).   
There is nothing on this Earth that I want for. I feel loved. What makes my life even more grand is that you are here to share it with me.  

I celebrate another year with you, because behind every great child is a Mom who would give them her life.  Behind every great Mother, is her Mother who already has. 

Today I celebrate you.  

Happy Birthday. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blind Sided

This weekend we went to a corn maze and I lost my son.  We all went in together.  Even with my horrific sense of direction I came out the other side.  Ok, to be honest I was following my husband and 3 year old.  The older boys were off somewhere, but I could hear them.   Once Don emerged, he said he was going to take Oscar and get some hot cider while I waited for the other 3.  A few minutes past.  Jack came out.  Parker came out.  A few more minutest past, and we are still waiting for Fin. I sent Jack into get him.  After 5 more minutes I sent Parker in to get Jack.  It was getting very cold and starting to rain.  I felt the panic in my stomach but ignored it. Pretty soon Parker exits pulling Jack by the hood while Jack held on to a corn stalk hoping it would keep him in the maze.  Still not a sign of Fin.  By this time it was raining and my hands were ice chunks.  I called Fin's name over and over.  I eyeballed everyone exiting the corn maze, to see if they were smuggling a nine year old. I texted Don and I instructed the boys to go find their dad. . This isn't our first rodeo, we have lost a child before.  I decided to find him myself.  As I was blindly weaving inside the corn maze looking for a red jacket I began fearing the worst.  News crews. Helicopters.  My frantic soggy plea to help find my son who I lost in the corn.  My heart began to sink as it got darker and colder and now I was alone in the corn trying to find my way through on my own.  Then I imagined Don frantic and soggy talking to the news crew as he explained that he lost his wife and his son in the corn maze. Dateline running a story suggesting that he actually killed me and put me in the corn maze. Yes, I have a vivid imagination.

I managed to find my way out and ran to the barn to find Don.   As I found him I counted the bodies standing around him. One. Two. Three. Four.  I approached and he didn't seem to notice my soaked hair, pink frozen nose and fire in my eyes.  All I could say was. "Did you get my text? " He pulls his phone out of his pocket and decides to answer me. "Oh, Fin is with me."
Obviously, I can see that.   What I don't understand is why he thought I would be out in a corn maze by myself while he was in a warm barn drinking hot apple cider with all four of our boys.  Did he think I took this opportunity to take a stroll?  In addition to this conundrum, why didn't any of my son's mention that I thought we had lost their brother? Wasn't it Jack who suggested we call 911? How soon they forget when they are presented with something more interesting, like cider.

As you can imagine, on the ride home I was a little annoyed.   When I'm annoyed I want everyone else to know. Although Don is aware of this and choses to ignore my tantrum, my boys are oblivious. I began to wonder if anyone has ever listened to me in all the time I have been alive.  I'm pretty sure the answer is no.

When we got home I looked in the fridge and saw nothing.  When the boys are hungry I suddenly become the most popular person in the family.  "What is for dinner? I don't like that! I hate pizza!"  Even though we had been home for 3 minutes I picked up my purse and headed to the store.

As I angrily weaved through the aisles and I hear an old lady say "can someone help me?" I always get asked this, and I wanted to keep walking because I knew the wolves at home were hungry and they may eat the weakest one if they don't get food soon.

Apparently I was the only one in a mile radius that could hear her.  I approached the woman and asked what she needed.  She said she was looking for the cinnamon apple sauce.  I looked and I couldn't find it either.  I asked what brand, and she said she didn't care she just wanted the cinnamon kind.  I was about to give her the regular kind and direct her to the spice aisle, when I found it buried way back on the shelf.  I handed it to her and she thanked me and then told me  that she was diagnosed with macular degeneration and by Christmas she will be blind.  She went on to say that she battled liver cancer and overcame that, but this diagnosis has crushed her.  Her husband is gone, and her kids live far away. She said she didn't know if she would ever be able to actually see them again.   As she began to cry, so did I. Maybe it was my frustration from earlier, or that suddenly it felt so trivial, but there we stood in the applesauce section hugging and crying.  She said she had to hand in her resignation as a special needs teacher the next day because she didn't think she could do it without sight.

I was floored.  I wanted to take her around the store with me.  I asked her if she needed anything else and she said that I was a sweetheart and I had done more than enough. I dried my eyes and continued shopping.  I believe you walk into situations that you need.  When I got to the store I was feeling sorry for myself because I was lost in a corn maze and nobody cared, my husband didn't communicate with me and my kids ignore me until they are hungry.  All the things that I didn't appreciate about my day suddenly became irreplaceable.

She was the sweetheart, not me, little did she know I tried to ignore her. She she had done more than enough for me as well.  Karma gave me bitch slap.  Everything I have, the good, band and ugly is perfect, if I get over myself and take the time to look.  You never know when you might lose sight of the people you love most.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Broken Heart

I found a small duct tape ring next to my wine glass.  My oldest son had put it there for me. Apparently he knew that is where I would find it.  I try and pour a glass of wine after they go to bed to avoid them thinking their mother is lush, but obviously, they are on to me.   I thanked him in the morning and he told me that the girl he had made it for didn't want it.   I could tell he was sad so I didn't push the issue.  When he was out of ear shot I asked his younger brother what happened.  In a whirlwind week, Parker had a crush on a girl, made a girl a ring out of duct tape, tried to give it to the girl and she rejected it.  He then gave it to the only other girl he loves...me.

As much as it pains me to see his little heart hurting, I'm happy.  I want my son to have a broken heart. I hope he has his heart broken at least five more times before he is 25.   As we rode to school today Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball came on.  Despite the video of her swinging naked on a wrecking ball, it is actually a great song.  Until you have had your heart broken, you can't understand what 50% of all songs ever written are about.

I had my first heartbreak in high school.  My first official boyfriend was a junior and I was a freshman.  We dated for an entire year, which for a teen, is like a decade.  For our one year anniversary I convinced my mom to help me buy him a Polo rugby.  I wrapped it up and he came over in his red sports car and I excitedly gave it to him.  It was a Saturday night, and I think we ate pizza, and watched SNL.  All was good in my world, which at that point revolved around him.  I ate, drank, slept, breathed him. I was drinking the love kool-aid.  On Monday I arrived late to school because I had a dentist appointment.   A friend met me in the hallway and told me I should go home.  I remember thinking that was weird, but looking back she was trying to protect me.  Class let out and I could see my boyfriend getting out of his first class.  I could also see he wasn't wearing the rugby I had gotten him. However, a senior girl who was walking next to him was.  Oh and coincidentally, she was holding his hand.
I felt all my breath leave my body and it was replaced with fire.  I was so confused.  I thought they were "just friends". I approached him and asked him why she was wearing that.  He never let go of her hand when he simply said, "I don't love you anymore".  That is a wrecking ball moment.  I was stunned.  I did manage to call her a slut before I dove into the bathroom and cried for the next 2 hours.
By lunch everyone knew. My world as I knew it had ended and I took everything down with me.  I briefly quit soccer, I didn't do homework.  I didn't eat.   My heart was broken.  Friends told me that he dumped me because she actually was a slut, and that he would be back with me in a month. Well, a month turned into a year, and another, and another, and when I came home from college my first Christmas I got a call from him, letting me know they had broken up.
By that time, I had moved on and been through at least 2 more boyfriends, but just hearing his voice made me relive that anguish.  By the way, I still don't like that girl.
I liked hitting rock bottom.  Not at the time, but if I hadn't, been so hurt early on, I probably would have made stupid decisions regarding my life, like staying at home for college.  Which would have never gotten me to Arizona.  Close to California, where I met my future husband.
Little did I know that heartbreak number 2 was right around the corner.  I had a great boyfriend. He was sweet, nice, cute.  Yet I cheated on him and met Mr. Stiletto. I call him that because he may have looked great, but he hurt like a bitch, and despite that, I still tried to make it work, fought through the blisters and pain because on the outside he looked so good.  I tried my hardest to fill that killer stiletto.  I would have cut off a pinky toe to be an ideal fit for him.  But in the back of my mind I knew he was not a good fit for a marathon.  Just a fun crazy night out.
After six whirlwind months  he broke up with me by telling me he was going on a trip with another girl.  I'm sure she was a slut too.
This time, being older the pain was worse. Again, stopped eating, slept a lot. Listened to Alanis Morrisette and Led Zeppelin on repeat.  I expressed all my pain in a journal.  When it was all said and done, I had about 2 full journals double sided, trying to figure out what went wrong.  I recently read one.  My heart has muscle memory, and I although I can still feel a tinge of pain, I want to scream at myself for being that gullible.  I can credit that moment as the discovery of my solace, which is writing.   And most importantly, that influenced my decision to move to California.  Ever heard the song by Led Zeppelin,  Going to California?

"Spent my days with a woman unkind, Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine.
Made up my mind to make a new start, Going To California with an aching in my heart. "

Yes.  Obviously I was very impressionable. Thank goodness it was Led Zeppelin and not 2Pac that I clung to. That could resulted in a drive by shooting or jail time.

People ask me all the time how I ended up in California.  I don't mention that I was broken hearted.
I met the love of my life 3 years later.  And for the record, Mr. Stiletto came back too, but thankfully Don had put a ring on it and I was more than happy to show him my new accessory over lunch.

I had to get hit with a wrecking ball a few times. I had to be knocked down to rebuild myself with a stronger more solid foundation.   

For my dear son, if you ever read this. I love that your heart hurts.  (Even though I think that 10 year old girl must be crazy for not wanting your duct tape ring.) I will wear it with pride.  The pain is short lived to the comparison of the time you will spend with the right one for you.   When this happens again (and it will), I will be ready to help you tape back the pieces, making you even stronger than before. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mom Goggles

Just like my house, my kids show better in the dark.   This morning as I gave my 6 year old son his 5th stalling kiss goodbye at the drop off line, I noticed a red substance encrusted on his cheek.  "What did you have for breakfast?" I asked. "Mini Wheats" he responded.  Then I remembered that he had a dinner of ketchup the night before.  I swear he took a bath last night, or was that the night before?
My next son approached and looked like his clothes had been in the bottom of a silo for the past decade.  The only one who was not crusty, stained and wrinkled was my oldest.
He was breathing in my face to show me how minty fresh his breath was. According to the grapevine, he has his first crush. This news slapped me in the face the other day and woke me up to the fact that he is no longer a baby but a tween.
I think I view my sons with Mom goggles.  I see what I want, until the light shines and exposes imperfections.   There are times I choose to ignore things.  Like the fact that Jack, despite being in first grade, likes to discuss boobies.  Or that none of the boys are stellar athletes (at least not yet).  Or that they all like Selena Gomez.
I had a weird ass day yesterday.  It began with my alarm not going off, which caused me to sleep "in" until 6.  This simple malfunction caused confusion and delay.   I kept asking Don what day it was.  What are we doing today? It was Thursday, obviously, the same thing we do every day. Work. School. Eat.
That extra hour slipped me into a coma and when I woke up, I was shocked to have a husband, kids and a job. I was looking at my house with non-mom goggles and it was not pretty.
I had about 3 minutest to get ready for work. I looked in the mirror.  Oh. My. Gawd.  Why do I have a big huge zit on my chin?  Oh that's right, I heard that putting avocado oil on my face was better than any store bought moisturizer according to some 23 year old organic goddess I watched on YouTube.  Maybe I will have my monster zit take a selfie of itself and send it to her, to thank her for that.
Once I dropped off everyone I felt like a robot with my zit operating as my North Star as it navigated me to my office.  Within moments I felt something bite me.  I looked to the source of the pain, and nothing is there but a small red dot.  As I tried for the next 5 minutes to itch and type I glanced down again and it was the size of a quarter.   At the copier I told my boss that I had been bit by a bug.  "On your chin?" he asks.  Damn zit.
No, right here. I show him and he immediately sends me to the wellness center.  An hour later, I am back in my office with an ice pack, a mountain of paperwork and an incident report to fill out and fax back.

I felt like Forrest Gump. "Something BIT ME?!" Not only that, I was given strict orders to be on "light duty".  But I had to wonder, how is that different than any other day?

The upside of this was that I was given benedryl which has a similar effect as marijuana on me. Not that I would know of course.  So the rest of the day was spent stoned.   The good news, is that I know Arabesque is my favorite screen saver. And has a much deeper meaning than most would expect.

In an effort to not get brainwashed by my screen saver I opted for some office coffee. Usually I would walk 100 feet to the campus Starbucks, but because I was on strict doctor's orders, I walked across the hall with my new mug. A fabulous friend gave it to me. 
I like to twerk. Don't hate.
 I settled back in to staring at my Arabesque screen saver and drinking my Folgers. I was awakened by a distinguished professor who came in to asked me a few questions. Ugh, work.   I was answering yes to everything until she asked me what a twerk was.   That woke me up.   She isn't exactly up on current events obviously.
I tried to dodge the question, with something along the lines of "What?"And secondly, why was she asking me this, did word of my twerking get out?  She pointed to my mug.
I explained that it was a kind of dance. (Pole optional)  Being an academic, she was seeking a concrete answer and was not going to let this go.
"Is it done as a couple?" 
"No, well, it could, it is a trend right now."
"I read something in the NYT about it. but I can't picture it"
In an effort to end this conversation I asked her,
"Do you know who Miley Cyrus is?"
At this point I just want to get back to my light duty screen saver monitoring.
"She kind of made it popular recently"
"Is it sexual in nature?"
Why can't she just let it die?  She is twerk pusher.  I like to twerk in the privacy of my own kitchen. Please don't push me to show you, especially since I am stoned and on light duty.
 "Yes, but I am not going to show you". 
"Well, ok, I guess I could always google it.".

Finally, a good idea!  I wish I was there to witness her reaction when she googled twerk. I'm sure she thinks differently of me now.

The scary thing is, to get her out of my office, I was just about to show her. God working miracles right there.

At the end of the day I discovered that I was viewing myself through the very mom-goggles that I see the boys.  I kind of liked what I saw.  
I wasn't judging myself, I was taking each moment as it came.  I was relaxed and confident in my convictions.   Granted, I wasn't doing anything, but it felt good for a change.  I may even try it again, this time Benedryl optional.