Sunday, July 28, 2013

Me and My Mower, My Mower and Me

I married a man's man.  He does all the stereotypical "man stuff" around here--the fixing, the building, the money-making, the coaching, the vehicle maintenance, all that fun stuff.  I do the laundry (and HATE it when he tries to help), the grocery shopping, the meals, most of the housework, and keep the paperwork organized and try to stay on top of appointments and school stuff for the kiddos.  I really like it this way, we both do.  It is what works best for us.

However, there is one task that I take on pretty much all the time, and have since the kids were born:  I cut the grass.

Yes, I wear Crocs--and socks--when I mow.
Yes, that is Spongebob and Mr. Krab on my Crocs.
Before the kids were born, I helped with the mowing.  Hubby and I sort of split the job.  We mow a LOT of space.  I bet it's a total of between 5 and 8 acres.  When it's a warm and wet summer, it needs to be done more than once a week, and it takes several hours.  After the kids were born, I started mowing the whole thing myself.  One of us needed to stay in with the offspring, and I decided it should be him--mostly because I needed the mental break.  I had no idea how much I needed it, and how much it has grown to mean to me.

In his ultimate wisdom, the hubby purchased a beautiful machine for me to get the job done.  It is a Scag Tiger Cub with a double cutter deck and control handles rather than a steering wheel for a zero radius turn.  It's seriously awesome.  And he got me this super cushy bouncy seat.  All I would need to make it actually perfect is a bright purple sparkly paint job, but he hasn't gotten around to that yet...

Anyway, he keeps it gassed up and sharpened for me, and the rest is up to me.  I climb on, put in my earbuds, clamp my big neon yellow earmuffs over the ears, put on my safety sunglasses, and I'm off.  Yet another reason I'm thankful that I live out here in the country?  Privacy.  Nobody needs to see what a fashion plate I am when I mow.  From the Crocs with socks, the hugely-oversized overalls (I need the pocket for my iPod), my gardening gloves, faded ball cap, and safety glasses and earmuffs, I am something to behold.  Plus, I am singing along to my iPod the entire time.  Quite possibly very loudly due to the ear protection, definitely very off key, and the bumpy ride does not help my voice.  I love the country.

While I mow, my brain wanders.  I've done the same route countless times, and I don't need much concentration for it.  I wander with the music, mostly.  Today I was already emotional, since earlier in the day we played our last little league game of the season.  Hubby coached A and J this year, and we had a team made up of some of the coolest 10- and 11-year olds I have ever met.  Our tournament was this weekend, and after a season with just one win, our team went in and placed sixth out of 12 teams.  I couldn't have been prouder of all the boys, and the lasting friendships we made with the other families and coaches make every sweltering evening, muddy field, angry (opposing team) coach worth every second.  I was almost teary saying goodbye to everyone today, even though I will undoubtedly see all of them soon.

So when the Brad Paisley song "It Did" came on, I actually did tear up.  On the mower.

While I'm out there, I can't help but be reminded how lucky I am to live the life I live.  My house is a mess.  My kitchen is not finished (yet).  My basement looks like something you'd see on "Hoarders".  It is certainly nothing fancy, but this is what I look at when I mow:

It doesn't suck.

I do a lot of reflecting on my mower.  The music reminds me of my past sometimes--songs from Michael Jackson, Journey, Billy Joel.  I think about where I've been, how far I've come.  People that have been in my life that I may not see much anymore but still love dearly.  It reminds me of people I have lost and ache for.

And then in the middle of that "Thriftshop" will come on and I'm all, "...your grammy, your auntie, your mama, your mammy, I'll take those flannel zebra jammies and I'll rock that motherf---er" while I'm doing my awesome gangsta moves.  On my mower.  In my Crocs.

Thank God for the country.

But then Pink comes on and I'm belting out "Just Give Me a Reason" while I'm making my fourth pass on the field by the corn rows.

I think about what's coming up in the next week, groceries I need, who has what appointment where, what hubby's work schedule is the next day, and the fact that I wish the kids would remember to gather up all their baseballs from the grass when they're done practicing pitching.

"God Only Knows" from the Beach Boys comes on and I'm daydreaming about the first motorcycle ride I took with hubby and how he took my breath away.

I become Taylor Swift or Miranda Lambert.  I try to figure out the words to "Sticks and Stones" by Jonsi.

"What a Wonderful World" comes on and I actually have to stop the mower and look around for a second, with a quiet word to God.

I can smell the cut grass.  I can feel the dirt and clippings blowing around out of the chute of the mower.  Sometimes it's terribly windy and I get covered in grime.  I get scratched up by low-hanging branches and pine needles.  I watch out for frogs, baseballs, garden hoses.  I move picnic tables back and forth.  I go between the swings on the swing set, belting out "Some Nights" by Fun.

And then, I'm done.  I drive the mower back into the pole building and shut her down.  I brush off the loose grass clippings stuck on my clothes and socks.  I take off my earmuffs and hang them on the mower.  I walk into the house, where the TV is too loud, the kids left dirty dishes on the counter, the dog needs water, and there's two baskets of laundry waiting for me to fold.  And I'm in bad need of a shower.

It's better than therapy.  It's better than jogging.  It is why I love my mower.  And the country.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Catching Up

I'm back.  I know, I've been gone a while.  Whatever.  I was going to make some big explanation about where I've been, but really--who cares?  I'm here now.

So it's the middle of the summer.  And it's damn hot today.  I'm not  complaining about it, though, since it seems like our winter didn't actually end until, well, last week.  Oh, I'm good at exaggerating.  

We've been remodeling our kitchen.  Ourselves.  And it has completely swallowed us for months.  We're still finishing it up, but I'll put out a big post about it when it's done.  You all better go visit it when I do, and then comment to me about how amazing it is.  I don't care what you actually think of it, I just need you to tell me how great it is, and then I might regain some of that "it will be worth it when it's done" feeling.  Seriously, though--do not take on a kitchen re-do by yourself unless you are made of some sturdy stuff.  It will break you.  Physically, financially, emotionally.  

But it will be worth it when it's done.

In the six months since we've begun this project, much has happened.  My husband is coaching the kids' baseball team.  He broke his foot.  He bought a Harley.  I bought a colorful metal owl.  I keep score at the baseball games.  Hubby broke a rib.  Then went on a 3-day motorcycle trip.  I have managed to keep a tomato plant alive.  

My 11-year old, A, pitched for the first time and rocked it!

 My 10-year old, J, started playing tuba, and he rocks!  

One of the crazy cats that lives in our yard had kittens.  Then another one did.  

We found a family for a kitten.  

Now she's knocked up again.  We adopted another kitten out.  Please, people, come get some more kittens!  

Freddy rolled in a dead deer.  Hubby bought me an AMAZING birthday present (I'm not going to tell you what it is yet because it's worth a post of it's own).  We put an above-ground pool in the yard.  

Our road has been completely torn up and is getting paved this summer.  We've had lots and lots and lots of rain.

I know.  My life is exciting beyond compare.  When I write it out like that, it's sort of depressing.  I felt really busy, honestly...

Mainly right now we're just trying to finish up the kitchen and keep the hubby from breaking himself anymore.  The kids have been having a fun, but what must seem to them uneventful, summer.  

I'm looking for a job.  Not aggressively, just kind of checking things out.  I have applied formally to four jobs, and got the polite "thanks but no thanks" form letters from them all.  Thank God I'm not in a position where I absolutely have to find a job, because man, it's ugly out there.  For a 42-year old woman who's been out of the workforce for 12 years, it's slim pickings.  So I have been counting my blessings that I'm only looking because I'm ready to get out there again, not because I have to.  I'll figure it all out.  I'm thinking of trying to find a way to get paid to write.  I'm playing around with writing a book, looking into writing columns, that kind of thing.  I don't know what I'm doing.  For now, I'm just irritated that I can't start learning how to ride a motorcycle until my road's paved.  

So thanks for catching up with me.  We have a ballgame tonight, so I better go figure out what to feed my family before the game.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Enough Already.

I  like Earth.

I happen to be a fan of our planet.  It's an amazing, life-supporting orb with lots of amazing stuff.  It's mostly very pretty.  Downright beautiful, sometimes.  So I'm all for celebrating it.  Earth Day!  Yahoo!  Remind people to recycle!  Teach the kids to respect the planet!

But you know what I also like?


I love people.  There's some creepy folks out there, for sure, but for the most part, we're a pretty cool species.  So this kind of stuff chaps my hide:

This is floating around Facebook in "celebration" of our Earth Day.  Along with other cutesie little memes mocking how evil and disrespectful we as humans are, how we're destroying our planet, how we are too stupid to notice that our resources are vanishing at the speed of light and it's all our fault for being so greedy and mean.  And the fish and the animals and the insects are so very much more important than we are and we are killing them all and how dare we drive our cars and use disposable cutlery and slaughter our powerless little planet.


I'm not going to get into the whole debate about global warming or the ozone layers or any of that.  I do not have the stomach for it, as I look out at my fresh blanket of snow on April 23.  I believe we all have a responsibility to clean up after ourselves, and to take care of our home and our space.  My motto is pretty much "don't be a dickhead", and it's pretty much as simple as that.  I believe that many of the world's ills could be resolved if more of us followed that mantra.  I'm sure there are people that think I don't know what I'm talking about.  You're welcome to your opinion, as I am mine.  Go ahead and post a hateful cartoon on Facebook about it.

But I have to counter that irritating self-hatred I see out there, the "I feel guilty for being a human--why couldn't I have been born a Sumatran Orangutan?  They are so much kinder than we people are!"

Here's a little food for thought:

We have our flaws, but I like us.  I'm happy I'm human.  And that doesn't mean I don't like our planet or don't do my part to take care of it.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Crawling Out From Under My Rock

Over the past six weeks, I cannot count the number of times I have come into my office and sat down at the computer, opened up this page and started a post.  Only to get pulled away by something else, sit here with a spinning head not knowing what to write about, or start writing and then realize I'm not making any sense and just pull the plug on the whole thing.

Today, it might be the same thing.  But hopefully I will finish this one.

The last six weeks of my life have flown by.  So much has happened in my little life in so little time.  Nothing too life altering, and I am very aware that these are first world problems, but it has been tricky lately.

First of all, I must say how profoundly sad I am for the loss of life, horrible injury, and loss of innocence in Boston.  My God.  And then the awful explosion in Texas.  Such devastation, and I am left feeling like a silly little girl from being affected by my little problems.

My children have had to see so much.  They have endured the loss of many close family members, and have had to suffer through watching three of them get sick, suffer, and eventually die.  They have had to learn about the horror at Sandy Hook.  They have now been faced with the reality of terrorist attacks here in our own country.  There is no way to prepare them for all this crud.  There is only the reality of it, only the hope that lots of hugs and a stable home will keep them safe and happy.  We have been watching them carefully, answering any questions they may have, and making sure they still go to the movies, play with their friends, look forward to spring and baseball, and once in a while have days where they stay in their PJ's all day watching movies and eating crappy food.

That's all I can do in times like these.  Make my world small.  Hold my family close and make sure we can still laugh.  Pray and pray and pray.  Remain thankful that I am an American and that we are resilient.

And in the middle of it all, live my own unpredictable life!

What seems like a very long time ago, in reality a couple months ago, the hubby decided to do a small repair in our entry room.  In 24 hours that small repair avalanched into busting down a wall, jackhammering out the tile in the entryway, and then into jackhammering the tile in the rest of the kitchen and hall, removing the tile countertops, disassembling all of our cabinets, and removing the ceilings form the breakfast nook and entry.

So we are remodeling.  By ourselves.  From ceilings to floors, without an inch left untouched.  I was not ready.  I am more than excited that we are changing things, I'm actually thrilled, but I had no idea we were jumping into it.  That's how we roll around here.

I had NO IDEA how much of an impact this would have.  My house was turned into a disaster/construction zone in a matter of days.  Every minute I was awake and not doing necessary things like laundry or peeing, I was sanding, priming, painting, deconstructing and constructing along with my handyman hubby.  In the process we lost track of our home.  Lost track of time.  I was starting to forget things like turning in various papers to the school or that I had to get birthday presents for a party we were supposed to attend or that we had to eat.  Somehow.

Since the beginning of all this, three of the four of us have come down with the flu--the real thing--and recovered.  We have finished the kids' bowling season.  We had all kinds of school stuff going on, including the 4th grader choosing to play the TUBA!  We had Easter, a post for another time, also known as THE DAY THE KIDS FOUND OUT THERE IS NO EASTER BUNNY AND SANTA IS NOT REAL.  Sweet baby Jesus.  We have been struggling with some issues with the 5th grader's learning troubles.  Again, a post for another time.

And then, horror of horror, the hubby dropped a piece of wood on his foot and broke his big toe.  Badly.  A broken toe should not make life be put on hold, but it sort of did around here.  We went from getting ready to put the beadboard up on the ceiling to taking him to the doctor and finding out he needed surgery.  He ended up discovering that pain pills make him violently sick, hobbling around with a broken toe and no pain management for a week, to a foot surgery.  They inserted a big pin from  the tip of his toe, through the toe, and into his foot.

AUGH!!!  He has to have it in there for four weeks, and is unable to use his foot normally.  Obviously.  And to add insult to injury, he then got spinal headaches, a condition where spinal fluid leaks from the hole from the spinal block during the surgery, and up into your brain.  Horrific.  We had to take him in for a blood patch, where they gave him another epidural--needle in the disk above the one with the previous hole.  They injected some of his blood in there to block the spinal fluid.  EW.  But he felt better right away.

So the poor hubby has been pretty much laid up.  He does not tolerate that well, folks.  He's not a guy that sits around much, so this has been challenging.  He has missed a ton of work.  Our project has come screeching to a halt.  And we are still living in a construction zone.  I have over time found ways to cope, getting at least a couple rooms cleaned up and livable, but it has sort of been nuts.

He is the coach this year for the kids' baseball team.  I had to go in his place to the coaches meeting recently. I was the only girl in the room.  But he's going to have to start the season with crutches.  Poor dude.  He has to go with the 5th grader to their 3-day camping trip in a couple weeks.  He has a big dad-kid day coming up with the 4th grader at school.  And we have a kitchen that needs a little (ahem) attention.  This toe thing could not have come at a worse time.

But we soldier on.  That's all we can do, right?  And when you hear about all the other tragedies in the country, it really puts things into perspective.  So I'm putting my big girl panties (I hate that word and I promise you I will never use it again) undies back on and taking my life back.  Now that y'all know where I've been, I hopefully will be back again MUCH, MUCH sooner.  Thanks for checking in.

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Friends

A couple weeks ago I went out with some old friends.  These are people I almost never see, but who mean more to me than they know.

I haven't written too much about my past before, and there are reasons for that.  There is so much in me that I'd like to express.  Events I feel a desperate need to purge out, but they are not only mine, and so I'm just not sure if it would be the right thing to do.  Suffice it to say that I have been through some dark, dark times in my life.

One of the darkest chapters in my personal life was my senior year in high school.  A time that should be filled with fun, friends, college prep, and excitement, for me was filled with instability, fear, and grief.  We had just moved from almost 900 miles away.  Away from my friends, my band, my big brother.  The summer before my senior year.  My parents were in no way financially prepared to start us in a new place, and from what I could see we were running away from something.  We arrived here the first week of July and lived in our tent camper in front of my grandparents' trailer house.  It was 1988, and our new hometown was experiencing a record heat wave and a drought.  We were dead broke.  I would ride my bike to the convenience store just to walk through the air conditioning.  It was as if we had moved to hell, in my opinion.

Just before the first day of school we found a duplex to rent, and unbeknownst to me at the time it was in one of the most affluent suburbs in the state.  And off to school I went, once again the new kid.  Only this time I was starting as a senior.  Terrifying.  And with a bunch of rich kids.

I soon found out that these "rich kids" were absolutely some of the best people I had ever met.  And not all rich, by the way.  I was welcomed openly in every class.  I got lots of curious looks, but not one person was unkind.  I made fast, close friends, and felt almost instantly at home with them.  I was certainly the most, well, "economically challenged" of the bunch, but I never felt like less of person.

As the school year went on, things went dramatically downhill in my home life.  We even had to move back into the camper in the trailer court before graduation.  There was not a moment when I felt judged by any of my new friends.  I told only a few what was really happening in my life, but even the people I didn't tell, never asked questions.  I only know now, as I look back, how amazing that was.

Anyway, back to my old friends from a couple weeks ago.  I've been thinking about my evening with them ever since we went out, and I just had to write about it.  There is an annual Pops Concert at the school, one that I was involved in during my year there.  It's an amazing event, and I felt honored to be a part of it 24 years ago.  This was the 60th year, so it was a big celebration.  There was an alumni reception, and one of my good old friends from my senior year invited me and a handful of our little group to go.  I have seen her relatively recently, as we went on to the University of Minnesota and were in the Marching Band together.  But I ADORE her.  To me, she has always seemed sparkly.  I don't mean she wears a bunch of sequins.  Her personality sparkles.  She is always smiling.  She has a remarkable memory and she's so sentimental.  And back in high school and college, she was always in my corner.  She is forever one of my favorite people.  My boyfriend from my senior year was there, and he is a doll.  He is a good, good man.  He is pure good.  He was a soft place for me to fall in the darkest time in my life, and a piece of my heart will always be his, so it is always wonderful to see him. I love how silly he still is.  One of my first Minnesota friends was there, who I hadn't seen in almost two decades, probably since her wedding.  Back in high school I thought she was one of the smartest people I had ever known.  She was tiny, but tough.  I felt like she was somebody I wanted on my side.  This little thing that looked like a little garden fairy, but who you could tell you wouldn't want to cross. She was creative and articulate, but could swear like a sailor.  I loved her instantly.  She has not aged.  Which ticks me off, but I still love her.  We were also joined by a friend I'd not seen in equally as long who I loved to torment back in high school.  By torment, I mean I loved to shock her.  She was sweet and innocent, but with a fiery personality tucked way down, and it was fun to peel back the walls she had built up and see that heat that she didn't let out very often.  It was fun to make her blush, and pull her out of her shell, sometimes forcefully.  Unfortunately, she had to go home earlier and didn't join us for the beers afterward, where it would have been fun to yank her out of her shell again!

Sorry I'm babbling.  I'm just trying to paint the picture here.  It was a small group of us a couple weeks ago.  I'd have loved to see more of my old friends, but we'll try for more next time.  What struck me as so amazing about the night is the way I felt.

My brain can be a crazy place.  I get worked up over stupid, small stuff, sometimes so much that the big picture passes me by.  I hate that I do this.  A few years back I headed up to a reunion of some of my college buddies.  These are people with whom I spent much more than a year.  They are people who were my family in college.  They knew me, knew everything about me.  And I had seen all of them within a few years before that reunion.  But driving up there, my stomach was in knots.  I felt awkward.  Old and ugly.  As if I didn't have anything to offer.  They were all more accomplished that me.  More interesting.  More fun.  Just more.  I felt ridiculous and self conscious.  And I felt stupid for feeling that way.  This vicious circle played in my head over and over the whole time I was there.  As lovely as it was to be with them all, I never quite got out of my head.  Sometimes I'm like that, and it's infuriating.  Because sometimes I'm not, and then I can be sort of fun to be around!

But when I was getting ready to see my old high school buddies, there was none of that.  I got dressed without obsessing over whether I looked fat or frumpy.  I drove there with nothing but excitement over seeing them.  And seeing them felt just good.  Warm and comfortable, as if no time had passed.

I don't know what any of this means.  It could have just been that I happened to be in a good place emotionally for the night.  It could be that my (unbeknownst to me at the time) diseased uterus was sending out all kinds of wacky hormones when I was headed up to see my college buddies a couple years ago.  It could be that I was too young and innocent in high school to have anything to hide, and my college friends maybe saw TOO MUCH of me back then.  ahem.

I'd like to think that the reality is that this handful of people who came into my life that fall of 1988 were just special.  God put me in their hands.  I was in for a wild ride, and I needed people who would make at least part of my life sweet, safe, and normal.  They did that for me.  They were my heroes, and they didn't even know it.  And in a way they still are.  Because without their light during that dark time, I don't know where I would have ended up.  So they have never been anything to me but love and light, and I'll never be able to thank them enough for that.

I want to be that for someone.  I hope that maybe I have been, even if I didn't know it.  And I will tell my kids about this time in my life, when they are ready to hear about it.  And I will tell them the story of my friends.  And how they meant everything to me, and how easy it is to be that person for somebody.  I pray they get the chance.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

We're Raising Big Babies

This week in my hometown we had a big scandal.  We don't get many of those here, thankfully, so this one blew up pretty big.

At a high school hockey game, the goaltender had a temper tantrum.  It was senior night, which I believe is where they celebrate the seniors and showcase them more, since they are nearing the end of their high school hockey career.  It should have been a fun time, with some bittersweet emotion and some memories made.  I guess some memories were made, just not the right kind.

Apparently, the young man tending the goal for our team was angry.  He felt he had not been given enough play time over the season, and the coach was putting out a lowly sophomore at his position instead of him all too often.  He decided prior to the game that he would certainly show him what's what by displaying his emotions for everyone to observe.  How generous of him.

The game was tied up, and I'm sure quite exciting, when a play left the puck behind his goal and the rest of the players on the ice hurried toward the other side of the ice to wait for the goalie to hit the puck away from his goal.  Instead, this young man at goal decided to casually skate around to the front of his goal and tap the puck in, scoring against his own team.  He then displayed his distaste for his coaches (and also his own team, the fans, and his community) by removing his gloves, flipping off his own bench, doing a big sarcastic salute, and then skating defiantly off the ice.  The word that keeps running through  my mind?  JACKASS.  Yes, he's just a kid acting out.  But he's a senior.  Pretty much a man, by definition, but obviously still just a child.

It caused quite the commotion.  It was all over the local news.  Radio programs talked about it.  It was all over Facebook.  I personally became a bit obsessed about it, for a number of reasons.  Primarily because I'm raising boys, and I was so disgusted that this kid acted out like that, and with what appeared to be SUPPORT from his parents.

Right now my feelings for this kid have shifted, and I was curious how everyone else was feeling about this.  This kid has been suspended from school and kicked off the hockey team, appropriately.  In that few seconds, with that one stupid tantrum, this kid changed his life.  His future has been altered--he will always be that kid.  And from the looks of the comments on the internet, and how everyone has been talking about it, the feelings about what he did are 99% negative.  He has a handful of supporters, but they really are few and far between.

My thoughts are this.  What he did was not a spur of the moment decision.  He had planned it.  He had told a buddy to be ready with his phone to film it, so the whole crappy thing was plastered on YouTube.  This was not just a temper tantrum.  We've all seen those in our kids.  They are hardly planned out.  So in his mind, he felt justified to act out this way.  Because this sophomore who obviously wasn't as good as him (in his mind) got to be the starter most of the time instead of him.  He felt entitled to be the starter, and this was NOT FAIR.  boo hoo.

Our culture is causing this.  Kids are being brought up in large part to believe they are entitled.  To trophies.  To awards.  To an equal amount of time on the field, the court, the ice, whatever.  They believe they are amazing, not just in the eyes of the parents, but in general.  We are telling them that they are!  But they're not.  The are our kids.  They are amazing to us.  But to the world, they are just another person who is going to have struggles.  Who is going to need to overcome them.  They don't deserve ANYTHING for just showing up, it should be their responsibility.  When did we stop caring about that?  There will always be a kid that is better than them.  There will always be a kid that is tougher than them, more popular, smarter, funnier.

I think our job is to teach them about this reality.  When our kid gets a bad grade at school, we need to help them deal with it.  Not by going to the teacher and telling them how ridiculous their grading system is, or calling the school and chewing them out, or by telling the kid it's okay, they're still amazing and smart and perfect.  We need to help them figure out what happened and find tools with them to do better next time.  When our kid doesn't get the lead in the play, we can't act like they should have, and that the people just didn't know what they were doing, or the kid who got the part must have a parent that made it happen.  How about there was a kid who fit the part better?  When our kid doesn't get to be the starter or make the top team in a sport, how about we teach them that this is life in competitive sports?  That the coaches job is to build a winning team, and sometimes that means other kids will get positions you wish were yours?  And how about teaching them good sportsmanship in the face of disappointment?

Here's an idea.  How about if kids are brought up to learn that we love them UNCONDITIONALLY.  We love them so much no matter what talents they have.  But not every one will, nor should they.  If they don't make the team, it's okay.  As long as they try their best.  If they don't get the part in the play? It's okay.  We are proud they were brave enough to help out.  (And painting sets is important too.)  If another kid starts as goalie more than you, well, son, maybe he's proven himself to the coaches.  And if you think that's unfair, maybe you should work harder to prove yourself.  And guess what?  If that doesn't work, maybe he's a better goaltender than you.  And that's okay.  It's life.  Congratulate him on his success and set an example as a senior on your team.

I mean, for God's sake, people.  What are these kids going to be like when they need to let go of our apron strings?  We need to think more about that.  Prepare your kids, don't coddle them.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Crazy Train

I have often thought my life is like a ride on a crazy train.  I've never taken a trip on an actual train, but if it's anything like my life, I would imagine it's a long trip, with mostly just prairies and fields outside the window, but once in awhile you pass a natural disaster in progress.  Or the train gets robbed by armed bandits on horses.  Or all of a sudden gymnasts from Cirque du Soleil are performing in the aisle.    Or the elephant from the animal car gets loose and starts running around all rabid-like through the cars.  But mostly it's just prairies and fields.

None of those things happen in my actual life, although I might like them to.  That's just how it feels sometimes.  Except the prairies and fields.  I grew up in Wyoming so I've seen my share of them.  Also, keep in mind that I have a fantastic talent for exaggerating, so you must take everything I read with a grain of salt.  (See?  I just used the word "fantastic", when I should have said "somewhat competent".)

Over all, my life is pretty darn quiet.  I am a stay-at-home mom, a "SAHM".  I don't know if that would be pronounced Sam, rhyming with BAM!, or Sam, rhyming with bomb.  I think of it as SAHM-I-Am, therefore it would be BAM!  But my day-to-day life usually consists of laundry, mundane errands, figuring out meals, loading a dishwasher, catching some TV, and wasting time on the internet.  I don't mean to belittle my job--I am an AMAZING (okay, "pretty good") mom, and I keep my household running.  I just mean that days seem to get sort of Groundhog Day-like sometimes.

But these days are punctuated with crazy days.  Like when the elephant came crashing through my house.  Ha!  Kidding.  But I do have a dog...  I actually mean like when you get in a car crash and end up in the hospital (seven years ago).  Or you go to a doctor's appointment with your parents and find out that one of them has cancer (both my mom-in-law and my dad).  Or your kid breaks his arm.  Or you bring your dog home for the first time.  Even when something happens like you make a major purchase or decide to go on a vacation.  These are all big deals.  They don't happen often, but they are the events life is made of.

I'm babbling on like this just because I sort of had a couple of those crazy days this week.  Keep in mind my supernatural ability for exaggerating as you read about my yesterday, by the way.  The story may not be as exciting as that group of acrobats that robbed my house that one time...

In case you aren't aware, we live in an old farm house.  It's charming, but a constant work-in-progress.  Hubby is very handy, so we VERY rarely hire anyone to do work here, as he is capable of doing most projects on his own or with a buddy (or occasionally with my inept help).  There are usually four or five projects going on, some stalled for years, some done from beginning to end without stall.  Over the years we have installed drain tile in the basement, re-done our hardwood floors, painted almost every room at least once, re-tiled a bathroom, put in new toilets, installed new ceilings, added a wood-burning fireplace, carpeted a couple rooms, finished a big basement room into a family room, removed old siding and replaced it with new, put in new windows, and I'm sure other projects I have missed.  Not to mention we have 8 outbuildings that need constant work.  And hubby does have a full time job.  It's sort of scary that we live here, actually.

Occasionally he has complained about our entry-way.  It's small, and it drives him batty.  It's always super congested with shoes and jackets and "hubby stuff"--my word for the random tools and implements and metal pieces or musical gadgets or whatever that I don't know what they are but I know he brought them in and they probably belong in a different building.  phew.  It is an annoying room.  Imagine all four of us coming home on a winter evening.  In coats and hats and stuff.  As we're unlocking the door, Freddy is whining and dancing RIGHT on the other side of the door, as if he'll DIE of he doesn't see us in three seconds.  We get the door open, and then we have to shove Freddy in, and each person needs to get all the way in and out of the entry, all the way into the kitchen, to fit the rest of us in.  It's ridiculous.  We have two giant cabinets in there to try to store all the crap that goes in that room, and it just doesn't work.

So the other day, out of the blue, he decides to change it.  This is very typical of the way projects begin in our house.  He just empties Every.  Single.  Item.  out of the cabinets and hooks in there, moving it all to the kitchen.  Rendering my kitchen almost useless, but hey--I'm all on board, since I love change and improving.  And then the banging starts.  He busted off the inside plaster wall, all the way down to the studs.  Then he started removing the ceiling boards.  And then he started chiseling the tiles up.  So this is no small job.  I should not be surprised, no job around here ever is, but still.  Our ceramic tile floor extends from the entry way, all the way through the kitchen, down the hall, and into the main bathroom.  I hate it.  It's white with gross dark gray grout.  Who the hell puts a white tile floor in the entry way and kitchen of an old farmhouse???  (Not us--it was here when we moved here.  FIFTEEN years ago.  I didn't say we do anything fast, mind you.)  So my entry way--well, actually my kitchen--is now a construction zone.  Good thing I don't have any big dinner parties planned.  Like I usually do.  You know, my weekly cocktail hour?  HA!

So in the middle of all this, the night before last the hubby had mentioned to me that he wanted to see Gangster Squad.  Ryan Gosling is in that, so of course I'm all for it.  I told him maybe we could go to a matinee the next day while the kids were in school.  So yesterday, I woke up, got the kids off to school, took a shower and made myself presentable, and then sat down with my iPad to wait for hubby to wake up, not sure if he still wanted to go to a movie.  I kind of thought he would change his mind and decide he should work on this craziness.  But he must have a soft spot for Emma Stone the way I do Ryan Gosling, because when he finally got up he wanted to go.  So we did.  We got home shortly before the kids got home from school.  Then he says, hey, I saw this mattress that's on sale, and I thought you might like to see it.

People, I have been telling him we need a new bed for years.  We have had the same bed for almost 17 years.  And to make it even worse, it is a soft-sided waterbed.  Does anyone even know what that is??? When I was dating my hubby, he had a waterbed.  The actual kind all the cool kids had in 1977.  With the stuffed vinyl padded frame.  Awesome.  It even had the blue paint-splatter printed sheets.  But after we got married, we needed a grown-up bed.  He was pretty attached to the waterbed, so we got this new fangled thing (new fangled for the mid-90's, at least) called a soft-sided waterbed.  It looks like a regular bed.  You can use regular sheets.  It's basically a really strong frame and box with a mattress on top of it that's made of a foam frame with a water mattress inside that's about 4 or 5 inches thick, and topped with basically a pillow-top mattress.  It was very comfortable when we got it.  But NOT ANY MORE.  The "pillow top" had flattened over the years, and the foam had broken down so it looked like a big inner tube.  But we are slow to change.  My back would hurt so much in the morning, it was hard to get out of bed!

So in the middle of all the craziness yesterday in the house, we just left the kids at home for a bit and took the truck and got a new bed.  Then we got home and had to hurry up and get ready to take the kids to a high school basketball game, where my 11-year old was singing the anthem with his class.  Darling!  And very fun.  But we didn't get home until pretty late, and we had the bed issue.  In our excitement, we had already stripped the old bed before we left.  So we get home and have to begin the nightmare of draining our bed.  That shouldn't be a thing.  But we had to.  It took forever.  Longer than watching our DVR'd episode of the Following.  CREEPY.  Then we gathered up all the pathetic old pieces of the old mattress and tossed them off the upstairs porch.  We're classy that way.

And then, near midnight, hubby is outside in the ultra-cold, lifting the queen sized mattress over his head, and handing in to me, standing like an idiot on the upstairs porch in my PJ's and old Crocs.  That's how we got it inside.  We have super-human strength when we're that cold and tired.

Anyway, we got the thing in.  And set up.  I got fresh bedding on it.  It's very tall, and I hoped I wouldn't stumble off of it and crash through my bedroom window in the middle of the night when I would surely have to get up to pee, but it's super awesome.  And I didn't have a sore back this morning.  Now today the kids bowl, and then it's back to work on the entry way.  I'll keep you posted.  Maybe I'll even post some pictures.

And this is how we roll.  I love this train.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's Never Lupus.

I think I'm going mad.  Like the old-fashioned, crazy-train mad.  My body has become a foreign thing to me lately.  I've been absent from my blog, and that's mostly because of how nutty things have been.

Those of you that know me or have stopped by here before are surely aware that I had a hysterectomy a couple months ago.  It was a big deal, made even bigger by my lack of pain tolerance or patience, and my general fraidy-pants type personality.  But I have emerged from the shadow of my former uterus-containing self, and am now a happily uterus-free woman no longer in need of tampons.  I cannot tell you how happy that makes me.  Sorry, Playtex, you've lost a loyal customer!

Anyway, since the surgery my body has completely gone awry.  The recovery from the surgery was longer than I anticipated, and lately I can't tell what's wrong with me.

After Thanksgiving, I was feeling pretty good.  I was four weeks post surgery, off the pain meds, and slowly getting some energy back.  That lasted about a week.  Then, during about the second week of December, I got smacked with a vicious fever.  It was pretty high, at one point I hit 103.  I had the fever for two days.  NO other symptoms.  No sniffles or sore throat.  Just that icky "holy shit fevers suck" feeling that you get with a fever.  Then it went away.  A couple days after that, all my muscles tightened up as if I had just completed an Ironman triathlon without stretching (which, I assure you, I did nothing of the sort--the triathlon, that is.  Not the lack of stretching.  But I didn't stretch either).  The sore muscles, from the tips of my fingers, my hands and feet, my arms and legs, lasted for I think more than a week, getting progressively worse.

I was starting to Google stuff, which is NEVER a good idea.  I had decided that I was at the beginning phases of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, some rare blood cancer, and possibly Lyme's disease.

And this is all while the hubby and I have been trying to plan a few days away for an extended date.

Then mom called me and invited my sister and I to an overnighter at a casino hotel up north.  Sounded like fun, and I hadn't let on to anybody the fact that I was slowly dying, so I figured I'd go.  Surprisingly, the morning we left my muscles felt a little less tight.  By the middle of the day, the pain was almost gone.  The swelling in my hands was better.  I felt looser.  Yay!

And then it was time to go to bed.  I went up to the room to go to bed around midnight.  As I was washing up, I noticed that my Entire.  Body.  Itched.  A burning, angry itch.  I chalked it up to the disgusting smoky air in the casino, and went to bed, scratching myself to sleep.

Woke up with a hideous rash.  It was on my neck, chest, arms, legs, belly.  Awesome.  So we went to breakfast and I got some Benadryl at the gift shop.  We decided maybe I ate something the night before that I was allergic to.

The Benadryl took the itch away, or maybe the fact that I won $200 playing penny machines took it away, but I felt a slight relief.  So we went home, and I was joking around that I must have Shingles.  But I was only acting like I was joking.  Because in my brain, I knew that this was just a symptom of the disease that was slowly killing me.

And then I got home.  The rash had spread up my neck, was burning my ears, and was creeping up my jawline.  So last night we went to Urgent Care.

Here's where it gets weird (ha!).  The doctor checks me out, and says it's an allergic reaction.  And that it's most likely from contact rather than food, but it definitely looked like an allergy.  He prescribed me Claritin, a steroid cream and a steroid pill (in case the rash continues to worsen).  I was so relieved!  Until we figured out what I'm most likely allergic to:

Christmas trees.

Folks, Christmas trees!  I LOVE Christmas, we always get a real tree.  And my tree was slowly killing me.  Crap!  But I was the one that put the lights in it.  Right before I got the fever.  And I was the one crawling under it to water it.  During the time I was getting the horrible muscle cramps.  And I was the one that took all the strings of lights off of it, undecorated it, and dragged it outside.  Right before we left for the casino.  So that definitely seems to be the culprit.  Augh!

So here I sit, all rashy and itchy, sticky from the gooey steroid cream, and wearing a scarf to hide my neck so I can go to the grocery store without people thinking I have leprosy.  Which I also considered that I might have for a while.  Hopefully stuff will start working.  Because if it doesn't, then I have to really get serious about finding out what kind of flesh-eating virus I have.  I'll let you all know.