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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Being Grateful, But Finding Time To Rant About Things I Have No Business Ranting About


It's.Getting.Hot.In.Here!
Ever see that Claritin commercial where they put a filter over the camera lens to blur and mute the colors and then take it away and everything looks brighter, clearer, sharper and more colorful than real life should?

That’s how this week has felt for me.  The hugs from the babies feel more poignant, the cuddles tighter, the sweetness of our time together thick like honey.

It’s partly because of the ’shift’ at the Yoga studio that’s doing it.  I’m happier, they’re happier.  Well, or they finally know what it’s like to not have me at their beck and call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  For the first time in Benji’s entire life, I am gone from his presence for more than an hour or two.  I think I feel…appreciated.  It’s nice.  I could get used to this.

In other news I shaved Toby down to eye-brow length all over his body.  It’s too hot in Texas for fur.  I’m fighting my itch to chop off all my hair again.  It’s.  Too.  Hot.  For.  Hair.  Probably I won't cut it to eye-brow length.

Don’t get me wrong I’d much rather blink away the sweat from my eyes while watering my plants at 6am than shovel snow in my work clothes before I can even leave the driveway.

For now.  Ask me again in another 3 years.

Alright - It’s that time again, time for me to rant on about things I really have no business talking about but here’s my opinion and take it how you like.  Or not at all.

There was another shooting at a high school near Galveston, about an hour or two away from me.  Form what I read the (alleged) child-gun-man used guns his dad legally purchased.  No previous history of mental illness as far as I can tell.  I feel like prayers aren’t enough?  That God’s like…Hey.  DO SOMETHING TOO.  My babies are dying here people.

Did I google bulletproof backpacks?  Yes I did.  Why aren’t we doing this?  Why aren’t we installing bulletproof desks in the classrooms?  I would pay anything to know they’re moderately safer.  

I feel like the mental health flags and safeguards are unreliable, subjective.  Gun laws clearly can be tightened.  I feel like we’re failing these kids all around.  Both the ones committing the crimes and the ones suffering from it.  It isn’t just bullying - that’s been around since Cain and Abel.

We need to look at schools who have thwarted potential attacks and see what they did that worked.  Clearly making guns less accessible to children would reduce if not the frequency at least the severity and scope of loss.  You just can’t kill as many people as quickly with a knife. 

That goes back to having laws that require you to store your guns in a locked case and the bullets in a separate, locked case.  And you don’t leave the keys in the lock, you know?  How would you feel if your kid, in a low moment, got into your guns and hurt themselves or someone else?  What is worth that risk?

I don’t know what is going on in that family, or in that community but I can guess that the parents both of the children who died and of the child-killer are in a world of pain.  Unimaginable.

It’s hard to say what could have prevented it.  It’s clear it needs to be addressed in more than one way.  Tighten gun laws.  Increase the amount of school counsellors.  Start learning about mental illness, about stress and coping and healthy ways to heal from trauma.  What else would help?  It seems like we need solutions, lots of them, just throw everything we can think of at the problem and see what sticks.  But do it now.  Document success.  Repeat.

Like everyone else I see these huge, seemingly insurmountable problems and I get discouraged. Problems don’t go away by ignoring them though, or debating the right way to handle it.  They go away when you face it, when you shut up, stand up and start banging away at it.

Alight, end of the rant here, for those who didn’t want to go down that rabbit-hole with me we’re back into safer territory.

But now I’m all ranted out and pleasantly tired and my bed seems like heaven right now.  My fellow Canadians, I hope the warm weather stays.  My fellow Texans…stay cool. And if you see a plucky little shaved head bobbing around the neighborhood, don’t be alarmed.  It’s probably just me, finally succumbing to the urge to get that icky, sticky hair off my neck.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dark Days and Eating Unicorn Cake


First, Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful momma’s out there.  And to all those who are moms to kids they didn’t give birth to.  

And a special Happy Mother’s Day to my mom - the most Christ-like Christian woman I have ever known, and the reason I find it necessary to turn the other cheek, and those sunglasses I forgot on my head and walked out of CVS with last week.  Honesty, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, all traits I’ve watched her embody and tried to exhibit myself.

Thanks mom.

Now, to darker matters.  

There are dark days ahead I said, in last week’s blog.  I’m foreshadowing my own life.

Something has happened to me this week, something worse than my phone dying and me losing 2 years worth of contacts and pictures.  Something that has made me a more compassionate, non-judgmental person.  Something that’s made me sad, and confused.  Something that’s making me put my ‘best to be kind’ money where my mouth is.

I’m ignoring my chattering monkey mind that’s speeding off into seventy possible futures, none of them rosy.  It’s made me re-evaluate what really matters to me.  My relationships to those I love.  My own ability to protect and care for my children.

First, my health is fine.  Everyone whom I adore and am bonded to are fine.  Jichaan is fine.

Benjji spiked a fever of a 104 last Sunday after Ellie’s birthday party and when I took him to the after hours clinic they diagnosed him with the dreaded hand and foot disease.  Highly contagious.  Very sick baby.  I kept Ellie home from school all week and nursed a cranky, sick baby back to health while striving to keep them apart.  He’s still covered in tiny red dots a week later but they’re slowly going away.  Ellie did not get it!  I did not go insane.

Swoops of joy!  

Sunday night when Bill handed me the thermometer and it said 104 my heart just dropped.  I texted mom on the way to the clinic and asked her to pray.  I didn’t even tell her what for until we got there and we were waiting to see the doctor.  He was lethargic and quiet all the way and I’ve never wanted him to start fussing about being in the car seat so bad.

Anyway, he’s fine now, Ellie’s fine, even little Toby is feeling frisky.

We also got attacked by my neighbors Rottweiler.  Just me and my two babies, watching helplessly as his dog, who he never keeps on a leash launches into a charge.  I hold Benji tightly and keep Ellie behind me as he bounds toward us, barking madly and frothing at the mouth.  I know enough not to run although I’m acting purely on instinct as I freeze and stare him down.  I think I’m yelling at him ‘no’.  He stops about 2 feet away, growling threateningly, and then reluctantly lopes back onto his own property after being called about a dozen times.

One of these days it’s going to be just me and him, and we’re going to see who’s boss at the end of that little tete-a-tete.  Grrrrrr.  I’m a dog lover people. But you threaten my babies and we’re gonna have words.

I start my Karma shift at a yoga studio near me tomorrow.  Basically I clean the studio for a few hours every week and I get free yoga.  Win.  Win.  There’s nothing I like better than getting out of my head and focusing on physical tasks.  I’m pretty excited to start - it’s been a long, hard week.  I feel a little like Rocky in that one where the Russian guy just totally smashes him down.  Rocky V?  Anyway.  This week chewed me up and spit me out.

But I’m still here.  How’s that song go?  I’m stilll standing…ya ya yaaa.

I’ll repeat a quote I had a couple weeks ago from Princess Diana.  “Family is everything.”

And don’t worry about me folks, there’s still Unicorn birthday cake after all.  And where there’s cake…there’s hope.  And there’s always cake.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Birthday Unicorns, Probabilities and the certainty of Professor Google


I can see changes in Benji daily - a stronger grasp of language, a steadier gait.  He seems to grow taller and more solid almost overnight.  He engages in new behavior daily and his new (terrible home-job) first haircut makes him seem less babyish, more toddler.

But Ellie?  Ellie is turning four years old today and suddenly she is a young girl.  

I blinked and my baby morphed into this young girl-toddler creature that’s half girl (Are you happy Mommy?) and half toddler (I want my milk NOW!).  She’s all tall and curious and wicked smart.  Perceptive, initiative, careful.  

She’s the best parts of me and Bill.  We’re having a Unicorn themed birthday party for her tomorrow because she’s my little unicorn.  Magical, rare, beautiful, shy.  Full of love and light.  There will be lots of food (Thank you Lorna D for the Unicorn cake, and Jessica of Hodge Podge Bakery for the unicorn cookie-cake!)

Alright enough of the smooshy clap-trap.  Can you tell me what is the probability of flipping 4 heads or more if you flipped a coin 6 times?  I’ll give you hint.  There are 64 chances to flip a head or a tail.  (Only two outcomes; heads, or tails, six times.  2x2x2x2x2x2=64.)

You’ve got about 120 seconds to figure this out.

Go!

No?

Nope, me either.  (She said glumly).

GRE test coming up in one month.  30 days away.   If I fail I will re-schedule a test for September and spend the summer wondering why math and I never got along well.  Where did I go wrong?  Did I offend him at our first meeting?  Was his negative first impression of me too much to overcome?

If nothing else this GRE test has taught me that I actually like math.  (I know, it’s kind of a life theme for me to like things that will never like me back).  I like the certainty of formulas.  No subjective conjecture or ambiguity.  No interpretation required.  Just plug in the right numbers in the right slots and presto!  Amazing answers will follow.

My biggest problem has been trying to overcome a lifetime of ‘I’m not a math person’ and my own attitude that I only needed basic math to survive in the world.

I wish someone had stopped me when I was six or seven and said, math is fun!  And you need it, it won’t matter if you’re a famous artist or a Nobel prize winning writer.  You will need this.  So soak it in.

Ellie and Benji will have this lesson learned for them.  They won’t make my mistakes.  They’ll make their own.  But they’ll make them with a head full of math and science I’ll tell you that.

On the bright side my phone died last night.  Kaput.  So, you know, I’m missing about half my brain right now.  We have to send it away and I won’t get it back for days.  DAYS PEOPLE!

I’m breathing into a paper bag right now.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.

I’ll have to use the geriatric GPS in the van.  

‘Go left here missy, never you mind about those new-fangled stores now.  Hey where are you going?  I don’t see a road here.  That’s a ‘new’ road.  Springing up all over the place acting like they have a right to be there.  What gives them right to spring up out of nowhere!?’

I’m mentally preparing myself for a life without my portable contact to everyone I know and everyplace I’ve ever been and to the classroom of professor Google.  Phew.

There are dark days ahead guys.  

But like my ancestors before me, I will struggle on and engage the world alone, without selfies and instagram updates of what we’re eating today.  And pray no one needs to know the odds of flipping heads 4 times in a row.   Or calculate how much yummy Unicorn cake is just enough for a four year old to eat, and how much will send her to bed early with a tummy ache.

Maybe I can look that up now while I have access to the internet…



Saturday, April 28, 2018

Living in Siberia, Taking Communal Showers and Other Things I'd Do to Stay Close to My Kids



So, I've had a few people ask me about Ojichaan.  Where is he?  Where did he go?  What happened?

And I haven’t been totally forthcoming because, it’s kind of sad and…it’s hard to explain because I’m having a hard time understanding myself.

Bottom line and short story is…we sacrificed our third bedroom (Benji’s room) to create an in-law suite for his dad to come live in when we built this house and…basically he has said ‘Thanks, but no thanks!’.

But without the thanks.

He went back with Bills’ sister Laurie to his home in NJ and I suspect he will never be back.  I suspect this because he has said…’I will never come back.’  

It’s like I’m psychic.

Why has he rejected our care and our home?

From what I can gather, it’s because we didn’t buy a house in Houston where he had access to Asian grocery stores within walking distance.  And we don’t have a fence in the front yard.  And the back yard is ‘wild’ and the side yard is ‘unmanaged’.

Basically everything that’s been driving me nuts about our house but haven’t been able to convince Bill to shell out the money for!  (Hmmm…it’s like we PLANNED THIS TOGETHER!)  

But we didn’t.  Trust me.  Ojichaan wouldn’t plan his own escape from Hades with me if he knew I was his only chance out.  It’s weird liking someone you know will never like you back.  But he’s all feisty and stubborn and I have to admire his steely resolve.  Even it’s directed against us.

Now that I think about it, it’s kind of nice he’s raising such a fuss about the yard.  Except he’s raising the fuss because he wants us to get the most out of our house, when we sell it to go live in Houston with him.

Which is not, ever, going to happen.  Our yard may need a lot of work but it’s in a good school district and we have no intention of moving until retirement or after.  This is pretty much it.

Why does that make me feel like throwing up in a corner somewhere?  I’ve never lived longer than 7 years (usually less) in any one place and I can’t even wrap my head around the idea of living anywhere for ten, twenty, thirty years?  My brain just goes….wha, wha, whaaat?  Stutter, stutter, stop.  OK, that’s a totally different issue.  One I should probably pay attention to sometime in the future.

In any case, throwing THAT under the rug for now, we have been thoroughly rejected by Ojichaan as not living up to his expectations, and he has gone home in, as they say, a ‘huff’.

Which makes me feel bad, of course, but also relieved, understandably.  And confused.  I mean, my kids are SO STINKING CUTE.  I'd live in a shed in Siberia if it meant I could see these kids every day.  Really.  I'd eat seal blubber every day and drink nothing but melted iceberg water and shower with 30 other women in a communal shower if it meant I could see these kids every day.

“Family is the most important thing in the world.”  Princess Diana

Family IS the most important thing in the world.  What do you do when your dad expects you to sell your dream home before he’ll let you take care of him?  

I guess you do what we do.  You love from a distance, and hope for reconciliation before it’s too late.  And, I'm sorry that sounds so sad.  

On the bright side, where there's cake there's hope, right?  And there's always cake.  (Thanks to Lorna D...Unicorn cake...)  A preview of Ellie's birthday cake next weekend!  Nothing chases the blues away like sugar and unicorns, am I right?  #highhopes #unicornmagic #sugarmakesmesaneagain



Friday, April 20, 2018

Why Not Achieving Your Dreams Can Be the Best Thing Ever


 Here is my case for being grateful when we fail:

I wrote a book about ten years ago. After I wrote it I thought, I’m done! Now to send it off and wait for the book offers to roll in. (Why are you laughing?)

So every few years I drag it out, dust it off, and try to polish it up before I send it out to be rejected by a new set of publishers and agents. It’s gone through about ten million ‘first drafts’.  

I finally bit the bullet a month or so ago and paid for a real editor (Joan Dempsey - thank you so much!) to take a look at the first 100 pages.

She didn’t cost as much as some of the other editors I researched and her feedback has been priceless. Not just on grammar slips and annoying writing tics but also character development and obstacles to the flow of the story. I have solid direction and focus (finally) on making my story a truly great one.  Baby steps. 

I was listening to a motivating speaker the other day and he was saying…find your passion and you will find your purpose! Find the thing that makes you forget about time and do that.  And I rolled my eyes. Right? How many times have we heard that? It’s an empty phrase.

I mean, yeah, ok, you should find that anyway, because it makes you HAPPY. And someday, if you work really, really hard, and you’re very focused, maybe you can make a few shiny coins from the thing that makes you forget about time passing. 

But in the meantime you’ve imbued your life with JOY and purpose and that spills out and blesses other people. It just does.  It’s like a universal law. When you’re happy, you infect others around you with happy too.  And space to find their own joy.

So what makes you forget about old man time? If you’re like me, it’s not just one thing. For me, it’s writing. And gardening. And reading. And yoga. But not meditating. (Am I done now?  Am I done now? How many minutes have passed? What’s that tickling feeling on my big toe? Is that a bug? Is it that giant spider we found last Saturday?)

And I’m not looking at the clock when I’m shoving a whole chocolate bunny in my mouth I’ll tell you that.

But do you know what really makes me feel like if I died tomorrow I won’t have regrets?  

Helping kids. Whether it’s sending a note to say I’m thinking of them (like Kaitlyn and Dylan) or finding that shy one that’s hiding in the back and bringing them out of their shell, helping kids makes me feel like…me. So does writing. And gardening.

I think the benefit of not finding success in the career you love is that it lets you be other things too. Would I still be working to apply to a masters program in school counseling if I had three bestselling books? 

No. 

Would I be Benji and Ellie’s mom? I don’t know.  Probably not. I wouldn’t have gone to work for Big Oil and wouldn’t have met my husband. My whole focus and being would be dedicated to writing another bestseller.  I wouldn’t be ‘distracted’ by my other joys, to my detriment.  My life wouldn’t be as rich and full as it is now.  I wouldn’t be a pretend-organic-farmer or a a mom to Benji and Ellie.  

So, thank you Universe.  Thank you for allowing my biggest, oldest dream to not come true, I am sincerely grateful.  I’m going to go hug my babies now.  My human babies.  Tomato plants don’t like to be squeezed.

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”  Saint Teresa of Avila.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Throwing Words Down Wells and Evolving The Babies. Or, Changing Diapers of Yellow Poo.


I’m going to be honest, I’m confused.  This blog, what is it anyway?  Is it a way to communicate with friends and family back home? (I love you Canada!).  

Is it a way to crystalize my experiences and distance myself from them in the writing of them?  A way to connect the dots and make sense of my life, week by week?  (For sure).

These words flip into cyber space and they may ring down into your head like coins flung into a wishing well, winking sunlight and pinging off the sides of your thoughts as they make their way down to your heart.

Or more likely they’re winnowing out there in the great black emptiness of cyberspace, meeting nothing but silence, continuing forever without the interruption and company of a reader.

I just finished reading ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki.  It was beautiful and terrible, and dealt with pretty timely issues like suicide and Japanese Zen monks, War, bullying, and family tragedies.  

Not a light read.  I finished reading it last night at 3am, because Benji was up most of the night.  I finished it sometime between the times I walked the floor with him and Bill’s turn, trying to get him back to sleep.

Anyway - this week my blog, whatever it is, is really hard to write because I’m struggling.  

And my quiet desperation and anxiety is only dwarfed by my guilt for feeling it.  Am I doing this mom thing right?  Am I scarring them for life?  Why is it so hard?

Will they be healthy?  Stable?  Kind?  Emotionally mature?  Resilient?  Why am I not enjoying them more?  Why does it feel like it’s 80% struggle and 20% heart-melty moments of sweetness and baby cuddles?  And 100% obliteration of me as a whole person, as anything other than ‘mom’.  We’re so much more than that, am I right?  We’re feisty, and smart, and we have so much more to offer the world besides being the primary bum/nose/chin-wiper.

Things will get better, I know that.  I’m just coming off a week where Bill was in another country, and when he got back, he was working late every night this week except one.  Jichaan left to go back home, which was good but it was also change, an adjustment for the kids to settle into.  Benji’s getting his two year molars early.  (Yah me!)

And then there’s the post-nursing hormones crashing down.  Maybe that’s too honest?  It isn’t fun.  I found my phone in the vegetable crispier drawer of the fridge yesterday.  I.  Am.  Losing.  My.  Mind.

Sometimes they’ll both be screaming and/or crying and I’m just like…I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing right now.  So I go to the one crying the loudest.  Inevitably the one I didn’t go to will crawl to me in hysterics and try to push the other one off my knee and climb onto my lap themselves.

And you want to hear something really crazy?  They’ve both been asleep about two hours and I miss them.  Their warm little cheeks.  Their sweet baby smell.  

The way they run to me and don’t stop until they’ve literally run INTO me, because they trust me to stop them, catch them before they fall, and make everything better.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  How many tantrums, how many baby rages, how many times I will question my own ability to reason logically.  (Or find my phone).  I do feel like if I can find the peace in my current situation, even when everyone is screaming about the yellow play-doh that Benji just ate, (yellow poop, yippie!) and I can forgive myself when I fail to live up to my own parenting goals (yellow poop=fail) and not beat myself up about it, I can evolve as a mom, as a person, but most importantly as a human being.

Mostly that involves me yelling at Ellie to stop kicking Benji, then me struggling with the guilt over yelling at all. Not to mention the guilt over the yellow poo. 

“Man must evolve from human conflict to a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.  The foundation of such a method is love.”  Martin Luther King Jr.

Yeah, ok.  That does sound better than:

ELLIE IF YOU TOUCH THAT BABY ONE MORE TIME IT’S TIME OUT UNTIL YOU’RE 25!!! 

I bet he wasn’t changing diapers full of yellow poo though.  Just sayin’.


Friday, April 06, 2018

My Old Man Hands and Other Beautiful Things


I’ve always enjoyed being outside.  The sun on my back, the earth between my fingers, the reward of seeing the budding shoots of a new plant taking off.  Every day I’m out there pulling weeds, tying plants to stakes, composting, sprinkling ground-up egg shells around my tomato plants.  Talking to my carrots.  (Are you in there?  Or are you just a weed?)  

Mulching, checking for bugs, watering, checking for blight.

I catch sight of my hands these days, pulling weeds, reaching for Benji or Ellie, and I don’t recognize them.  They’re a worker’s hands.  

Gone are the smooth pale fingers of my youth, where I wrote or typed or shuffled papers all day.

I’ve got old man hands now.  Callused from digging in the dirt, strong rope-like veins in my forearms from carrying around two babies, 40 pound bags of compost or soil from the truck to the garden.  

And I love it.  You couldn’t smoosh me back into a cubicle now if you tried.  I’m too big with the wind of the 200 foot pines in my ears and the whole earth beneath my giant feet.

It’s been warm enough to play outside but not so hot we’re melting.  March and April are the perfect months to visit Texas.  It’s rainy, sure, but the mosquitoes aren’t bad yet and the sun won’t fry you like an egg in 22 seconds.

Benji is finally old enough for me to have him in the garden and only have to keep one eye on him while I putter about.  He’s got his own dirt pile to play in and he’s learning to walk between the rows.  I may have had to sacrifice a few plants in the process but I want him to enjoy being outside with me.  

I wanted to raise kids who love nature, who know her well so when they grow up they’ll help protect her too.  We’ve got one planet and we all share it together people.

Turns out I didn’t need to worry.  Except for trips to the grocery store and eating we’ve pretty much been outside all day, every day for the last two weeks.  Getting them back inside has been the problem.  I literally have to drag Benji inside kicking and screaming when it’s time for naps or a diaper change.  

Kid is in touch with nature AND his natural baby rage that’s for sure.  

And that’s another beautiful thing.  Not the baby rage, no that's super annoying but once he starts to talk more that will subside.  I assume...  

No, it's because it’s peaceful out here, and calming.  There’s something about walking under the trees, even just kneeling in the garden pulling weeds that works healing on a persons soul.  Just, being out here will calm Benji down if he’s upset, pretty much instantly.  Better than Tylenol.  

I can see it in me, in my kids, and even in Bill’s sister Laurie who is staying with us for another few days.  Even Jichaan.  I see them sitting out there on the patio, looking out at the back yard, soaking up this…magic that is creation.

Anyway.  I wanted to share some beautiful things this weekend, something that has helped give my life meaning and purpose and peace.  

“I like gardening.  It’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.”  Alice Sebold.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Standing up to Bullies or No Cockroaches Here, Thanks or Happy Easter!


For a few hours Thursday morning we were without power.  The silence was so complete I could hear the crackling of the gas stove (which we lit by hand).

The Rice Krispies were snap-crackle-popping so loud I had to put in ear plugs.  

It was cold and calm.  I gave Benji breakfast by the light of four candles and a strategically placed flashlight.  We watched the sun come up through the trees, Ellie still asleep and Jichaan brooding quietly in his cave.

No internet.  No TV.  After Benji went down for his nap nothing but a hot mug of green tea and a blank page.

Ahhhhhhh.

I didn’t think I’d feel this kind of peace for some time to come.  Certainly not this morning, not after the night we had.  

There are a couple of verses from childhood running through my head ‘This too shall pass’ and (paraphrasing) ‘When you’ve done all, stand.’

So, let me lay this out for you.  I stood up to a bully yesterday.  A bully in my very own home.

Yes.  Jichaan didn’t approve of the cost of my sweet cleaning lady who comes twice a month and helps me remember what a clean house feels like.  For two minutes until my children systemically and gleefully tear it apart/spill apple juice on it/crush chips into the carpet again.

Life is too short.  And messy.  And…if it isn’t REALLY clean, like REALLY CLEAN, we get BUGS people.  Like, big ones.  Cockroaches and flying many-legged things that make my goosebumps have goosebumps.

I’m not a saint, or an angel.  I’m just me.  I’m a pacifist, and a turn-the-other-cheek-second-chances kind of person.  At least I try to be.  But something flares up hot and immediate when I’m being pushed around.  

And then it hardens and I will not be moved.

There are some who say - he’s 95.  Just let him have his way - just humor him a little longer he won’t be around much more.  

Reality?  Everyone caves to Jichaan.  The only question is how quickly.

Immediately so as to avoid suffering?  Or eventually, after he has relentlessly hounded you day and night until you throw up your hands and agree to anything to make it stop?  He is a minor tyrant.

To be honest, I’m kind of a pushover.  I’d rather have peace than my own way 95% of the time.  But when I feel like I’m being bullied?  It’s like a special super-power that surprises even me with it’s grit.  I wouldn't even have known it was there except, well, except for bullies.

Anyway, I said no.  I said cleaning lady stays.  Especially since Bill will be in China this weekend and won’t be available to help me scrub/vacuum/dust/Clorox and in general keep the nasties away.

He erupted into a very predictable (and loud) tantrum worthy of only maybe Shannon Doherty when she didn’t get the part of ‘Drama Queen Three - the Return of Highest Drama Over The Silliest Of Things’.  

Apparently I am dis-invited from his funeral.

I do have compassion for the idea of a proud older man, faced with end-of-life realities and decisions.  It isn’t easy being 95, physically, emotionally, spiritually.  There is no doubt he is suffering.  Actual pain in his body I am sure, and emotional pain from suddenly, and for the first time in probably decades, losing a power struggle.

I welcomed him into my home.  Nervously, admittedly, but with open arms and with the hope he and his grandchildren could form a special bond, fill that special spot only a grandparent can.

That might still happen or be happening.  

But, it is clear he doesn’t want to live here unless he is boss.  Which I just made it clear, he is not.  And that’s painful, yeah?  So I have compassion for the bully who, once someone stands up to him, begins to look diminished in everyone’s eyes.  Instead of fear there is pity.  

And the bully has the choice to change, to grow, to reach out and be vulnerable and loved.  Or he caves in on himself and becomes bitter and isolated, resentful and wretched.

It is my sincere desire that he reach out and accept the love and support he is being offered.  There is love here in my house, and warmth and forgiveness.  There’s crazy too, and nervous breakdowns on the horizon.  But love too.  

But no cockroaches.  And no bullies.

“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.”  Benjamin Disraeli.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Am I a Navy SEAL Yet? (And other questions from this side of Hell Week)


In the Navy Seals they have this thing called Hell Week.  It happens early on, in the third week of the first phase.  They want to weed out the weaklings before they make an expensive training investment. 

I didn’t sign up for Navy SEALS but I just had my hell week.  Let’s skim the highlights shall we?  Be warned.  There is GROSS stuff in here.  Vomit.  Poo.  Complaining.  

You were warned.

Benji projectile vomited Sunday morning.  Twice.  On me.  

Jichaan was angry we couldn’t take him to the Taiwanese society Sunday because afore mentioned projectile vomiting.  Apparently it never occurred to him we would be spending so much time and energy on the babies.  Because two children under four is a walk in the park and we’d have LOADS of time to, well, take him for walks in the park. 

I digress.

Monday Bill drives Ellie to school with minimal pain while I drive to an appointment in Houston.  During rush hour.  With a screamey baby.  I only took the wrong exit twice and between that, construction, and rush hour traffic, I was only 45 minutes late.  Right?

Tuesday everyone was off.  Ellie was extra screamy, I was extra head-achy and Benji was teething and up all night.  He’s getting his two year molars early.  And the fun never stops…

Wednesday Ellie gets dropped at school after crying all morning about going.

Then I began to vomit.  

Pulled the car over four times in the 15 minute drive to get her in the afternoon with dry heaves.  

The fourth time as I was looking for my gum my fingers grazed something wet and cold, soft and sticky.  I almost didn’t pull it out.  Do I really want to know?  

*Sigh.  

Yes.  I’m an adult.  I can do this.  I pull it out.  It’s a brown congealed mess of what smells like it used to be banana before the microbes began entering the space-age stage of their evolution.  

I brushed away the tiny microbe space-ships, chucked it out the window, then pulled over and chucked up the last of the water I had at breakfast.

Wednesday night - flu hits me hard and I text Bill to come home early.  I won’t tell you what time he finally came home because those who love me may want to murder him.  Suffice to say, he does not handle ‘unexpected situations’ well. 

If he has lots of time, and lots of notice, he can shift things around.  But if not, well, I’m laying on the couch heaving in a bucket while Benji smears his own poo on the windows.

I did not cook them supper.  I did not say hello to my husband.  I went immediately to bed.  I did not get up with Benji all night.  I crashed.  Hard.

When I woke up Bill was handing me a Benji who needed changing and when I checked on Ellie, she was crying on her bed, covered in her own puke.  

In Bill’s defense, he did not hear Ellie before he left and didn’t know she was in trouble.  At least, that’s what I tell myself.

He did offer to come home early THAT day.  But I was feeling better by then and had a nice day of bleaching sheets and feeding Ellie crackers.  Benji took a break from his teething.  He slept well Thursday night.

Friday. Ellie is feeling much better but still a little sick.  So basically she’s whiny and demanding and extra screamey but also hungry like usual and needing to eat every 1.25 hours.  I didn’t realize until she wasn’t hungry how much of my day is spent finding snacks, preparing snacks, cleaning up snacks, then preparing lunch/breakfast/dinner and cleaning…ugh, you get it.

Benji is extra teething.  His whole hand in his mouth, chewing on anything he can put in there and crying when he’s trying to eat anything harder than a cooked-to-death-piece-of-macaroni.  I’ve never given him Tylenol so early but he had it at 7am today and it barely helped.  Poor guy.

So when Jichaan pops out of his room around the time Bill normally gets home Friday night (late of course) and tells me he wants Bill to take him to the store to get a few things (even though I asked him earlier if he needed anything because I was going out and he said NO)…I almost twisted his ear and led him right back to his room. 

“NO!  I need him more.”  Is what I wanted to say, very calmly and firmly.  Instead I said…”He won’t be home for another half hour.”  
“I’ll wait outside.”
“Great.”

So he ‘waited’ outside, watering the plants I already watered this morning AND this afternoon, hitting them full spray from three feet away, bending the delicate….I can’t even…ugh.

Anyway - I know this blog entry is longish but I wanted to end on a grateful note.  Yep I had a crazy, crappy week where I lost my lunch, lost my cool, lost my focus and lost my perspective.  

But Holly, from ‘My Plant Based Family’ (myplantbasedfamily.com) finally told us why she hasn’t posted in a while.  Her son Steven has Leukemia.

And instantly I have gained my perspective back.  Everyone here is healthy.  

And it reminds me of something someone said to me once when I was taking treatments for Leukemia at Sick Kids when I was 16.  They said, “There’s always someone worse off than you.”  There’s no point in comparing or complaining.  No matter how bad things are and get, there is always, always someone going through more.  So there’s always something to be grateful for.

And always someone you can reach down and help out.  With a smile, a hug, prayers or dollah-bills.  If it moves you, you can help her family out at:

youcaring.com

Because as my own parents know, it’s hard to work full time when your baby is full-time fighting cancer.