Thoughtful moment of the day:  Seeing my ex’s facial expressions showing on my son’s face is not what I want to see first thing in the morning.  Or at all, really.  But I’m going to have to deal with it as it happens, and remember that OnlySon is not the ex.  OnlySon can learn.

A friend of mine told me a while back about seeing her ex’s facial expressions and mannerisms showing up in her boys’ faces occasionally, and how badly that upset her.  She had to take a step back, remember that her boys were not her ex, and try to figure out how to keep the ex’s old habits and inherited mannerisms from pushing her buttons through her sons.

And now I’m faced with that as well.

I had a date last night with… (I need to come up with a nickname here for him) the man I’ve been seeing.  Dinner and a movie, with some snuggling on the couch thrown in.  Got me out of the house, I got to some of that “me time” I talked about yesterday, and I got to spend it with someone who makes me feel good, both about myself and the world in general.  Very relaxing, a lot of laughter, and no stress.

OnlySon took offense.

Even though EldestDaughter was at home with him, and had told him where I was, and who I was with, he seemed to feel that I should have checked in and gotten his approval.



By the time I got home last night, he was in bed, sleeping, so I got to hear all about his feelings on the matter from ED.  She hadn’t realized that OnlySon had called me after she sent him to bed.

This morning, I decided he and I needed to have a little “discussion” about who’s the grown-up here.

Watching my ex’s facial expressions slide across his face as he tried to tell me that I “have to check in with him”…. and I told him in no uncertain terms that he had been informed where I was, but that he was in no way going to be the “date monitor”….

Yeah, it pushed buttons for me, and yeah I wanted to tell him to wipe that look off his face – but he can’t help it.  He does have some of the same facial expressions as his father.  He does look like him, to a certain extent, so he doesn’t have a choice in how his face shapes itself.


He will not be dictating to me when, where, who, how and why.  That was something his father tried to do, to control.  And I’m not letting a 13 year old boy run the house. 


I mean, it’s not like I ran away for the weekend, leaving him home alone with no one but the dog and cats, with no food in the house.

I went on a freaking date, and was home before midnight.



Yeah, I know there was no post for “Eighteen”.  I’m skipping that because of the blackout for opposition to SOPA/PIPA.

Straight to today.

Life has changed so much in the past year, it’s barely comprehensible to me that I could have had so much occur in so short a period of time.

I mean – really.

The beginning of the year of 2011 saw me in a failing marriage, struggling to figure out where I was going, if it was going to be salvageable.  With 2 kids still at home, and 1 semi-grown up, having issues and troubles of her own, it was a festival of drama, trauma, stress and pain.

A couple of months later, saw me divorced, living as a single mom again, and dealing with my EldestDaughter telling me she was pregnant at 20…. just like I had gotten pregnant for the first time at 20…. just like my mother had gotten pregnant for the first time – at 20.  History really does repeat itself, hunh?

The summer saw a multitude of things happen, as my city flooded for months on end, many lives were irrevocably changed forever.  My own life was changed already by the divorce, but I also started dating again.  Friends, family, co-workers, all have at some point come up to me and told me that I’ve changed immensely.  I’ve lost weight, starting to feel healthier again; I smile much more often, and I generally just seem “lighter” emotionally, physically, all around, really.

And the end of the year saw changes as well, as I started getting some of my own independence back.  Regaining a portion of who I was “before” I let myself get swept away by my ex’s overwhelming attitudes and personality.

And the beginning of 2012 has seen a continuance of that.  Little by little, I’m feeling stronger, more sure of myself and the solidity of the footing underneath me.  I have started putting my foot down more and more in my own, and my family’s, defense.  I’m figuring out more of What I want, Where I want to go with my life, and Who I choose to have surrounding me as I travel this path.

My children are, right now, all back in the roost.  And while it’s nice having them all close, I know too, that I’m going to have to schedule times where I get to be alone.  I still need that “me time” that so many people talk about.  Time to decompress and recharge my emotional batteries.  It may be that I actually go off somewhere, by myself, or I may choose to spend it with someone special.  Me time doesn’t always have to be “Me Have To Be All Alone” time.  It’s just a chosen escape from the constant flow of emotional demands…

My thoughtful moment of the day:  You can cram a lot of life into 12 short months.  After all, it only takes 9 months to make a new one.


Pretty sure this will be his face later

OnlySon claimed this morning that he was up all night last night. 

Due to sleeping in extremely late yesterday, and “napping” later in the afternoon… *sigh* after I told him that he needed to get up…

I was a little shocked, but I guess upon looking back, not really all that surprised.

He was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning when I opened his door.

And I’m almost positive that he’ll conk out at some time during the school day today. 


*bigger sigh*

I have been having small shocks delivered to me by this youngest child of mine lately.

Shocks that hit me and show me that he is growing up, becoming a teenager.

Signs that I’m pretty sure I’m not ready for yet, but will have to deal with anyway, because after the first 2 kids… I know that they don’t wait for you to be ready for them to grow up.  They just do it, and drag you, kicking and screaming, along for the ride.

But there are also signs that tell me that he’s going to be a pretty cool grown-up.  Quirky, yes.  Different, definitely.  Compassionate, caring, loving and respectful?  Yeah, I see it.  Under that crusty, I-don’t-give-a-crap, teenager shell, there’s still my soft-hearted, loving and laughing little boy.  I may not be ready for him to get taller than me, which he’s zooming in on pretty quickly…

But watching him become a man is going to be something.

If I can get him to go to bed on time, that is!



Reflections in the Dark

I was sitting out on my porch step tonight, in the half-light of the bug-repelling, yellow light above my front door.  Just reflecting on all the things that have been happening in my world lately. 

I haven’t told you the half of it.

***My EldestDaughter is almost half-way through her pregnancy, at 17 weeks, she’s started feeling the baby move, and has been able to hear the heartbeat.  She has an ultrasound in a couple of weeks, and is hoping to be able to find out whether she’s having a girl or a boy.  I’m 90% sure it’s going to be a boy… just a gut feeling, but that feeling is pretty strong.  We’ll see how right or wrong it is.  I’m still not sure I’m ready to be a grandma, but we’ll get there.

She’s also been dealing with quite a few dramatic changes in her life, back and forth with her fiance’.  But they’re both young, and this is going to change both of their lives forever, so I don’t blame them for going through a lot of the same ups and downs I went through when I was carrying Eldest.  It’s a hard thing, becoming a parent while you’re still struggling to figure out what it means to be an adult. 

*** Being a single parent at the age of 41 isn’t a picnic, either.  I was a single mom for many years when the girls were little, and now, here I am again.  At least I don’t have to get up at 2am anymore for feedings and diaper changes.  But, there are a different set of struggles being a single parent to teenagers.  Seeking balance is a never-ending thing. 

*** And the dating.  Well, the guy I met through the online dating site, “K”… doesn’t seem to be working out.  We talked on the phone at least once a week, if not twice, for a couple of months, and were finally able to get together for a date about 3 weeks ago.  I haven’t heard from him in over 2 weeks, now, though.  And I’m pretty sure that he’s decided that 400 miles is simply too much.  It is a lot, I’ll admit, but it kind of hurts that he couldn’t even bother to call me to say it out loud.  It’s not like I’d given my heart away, but he said he was such a strong believer in “honesty above all”, that I wonder…

*** Anyway, I’ve moved on.  I actually got back in touch with someone I was seeing before the last online dating site, and found out that “A” and I are much more alike than I originally thought.  He’s been thoughtful, sweet, and attentive.  He makes me feel like someone special, and I missed that.  I missed him.  He makes me laugh.  He makes me blush.  He makes me think, and smile.  I’m being careful with my heart, though.  I think I’m still afraid that things will fall apart, just when I get really attached, so I’m cautious.  Maybe even a little fearful.  I don’t want to be afraid of attachments, so it’s something I’m working on.

*** I had to do something in the last couple of weeks that I really didn’t want to.  I had to give away my Jilly.  She jumped the fence at the bottom of our yard one too many times, and the neighbors called Animal Control.  They told me that I either had to get rid of her, find her a new home, or put her to sleep.  I couldn’t bear to have her put to sleep.  I finally did find her a good home with a gentleman who’s going to have her with him all the time, and has a lot of grandkids for her to love on and play with.  It makes me sad to know that she won’t be here… but it’s also good that she doesn’t have to be locked up here all the time anymore.  She was never a menace to the neighborhood, but a sweet, loving, and playful dog who never would have hurt anybody.  She could barely bring herself to bark at strangers, but instead wanted to hop up into everybody’s laps and be their “bestest good friend”.  I hope she’s as happy in her new home as she was here before the neighbors threw their fit.

*** I’m still stalled on my novel.  I think it’s because I simply suck at endings, of all varieties.  I have trouble saying “goodbye” to anything, so I’m refusing to end the story.  I really do want to finish it, as I won’t feel like I’ve really accomplished my goal until I do, though.  I have to get back to it, maybe cut a huge chunk out, rearrange, and take it a different direction.  The “flow” got dammed up somewhere, and I need to clear away the debris.

*** Which is one of the reasons I started that last Flash Fiction piece, “The Timekeepers”.  This idea struck me one night, as I was fussing around on the computer.  It’s a really dark piece, and I’m going to start writing on that one, in the hopes that it will bring me back around to the novel again.  Once I get the creative muse back in my pocket, whispering the words to me, maybe I’ll find the outlet I need for the bigger work. 

*** I haven’t had any weddings this year to officiate at, but that’s ok with me.  I’ve had so many things happen this year, that I’m really alright with not “doing the wedding circuit”.  I do, however, have 3 seniors whose pictures I’m taking so far this year.  One of them, of course, is my own YoungerDaughter.  This creative photographic undertaking is going to take a lot of hours on the computer, between uploading, fixing, fiddling with, and embellishing photos.  I know that for at least 2 of them, possibly all 3, I’ll be not just reworking the pictures, but creating the invitations and announcements, as well.  It’s a lot of fun, and I really enjoy it, but it is time-consuming, so blog postings might be sporadic for a while yet. 

*** All in all, it’s been a busy few weeks, and I simply haven’t had a lot of energy to write about it, or the desire to rehash some of it so soon.  I went through a bout of strep throat last week, and was really sick for about 4-5 days.  I hated feeling so helpless, especially when I knew that my kids were depending on me for things, but I really had to lean on them for a while.  They both stepped up and made life a lot easier for me.  They really are great kids, and I’m lucky to have them.

Even with all the teenage drama floating like giant gas balloons around the house, just waiting for a match to be struck. 

Drama? Where??

I think I stashed a fire extinguisher around here… somewhere… right?

Just Bits and Pieces

*No stories in my head today.  I’m exhausted from a fairly serious allergy attack I had at work, and my brain’s all fuzzy and unfocused.  My voice is usually fairly low, but today, even hours after I left work, it’s growly like a young man going through adolescence.  Minus the cracking and squeaking.  Attractive.

*I’m really tired of feeling as though I have to apologize to people for my allergies.  I realize that it’s warm in the office when I have to shut the air off, but if I don’t, my lungs and throat lock up tighter than a Swiss vault.  If they’d be willing to foot the bill for my emergency room visit for an anaphylactic reaction… well, that might be a different story.  Nah.  I’ve grown rather fond of oxygen.  You know what they say… “Once you try it, you’re hooked for life.” 

*This is also preventing me from my walking workout tonight.  I really wanted to get back on the treadmill, but I’m afraid I’d have to have the kids haul my worn-out carcass up the stairs with a rope, and they might just decide I’d be more fun at the bottom of the stairs, than upstairs, hollering for them to go to bed, already!

*I’m really starting to get excited about my trip to South Dakota coming up soon.  I’m going there to meet “K”, and we’re going to go to a Celtic festival/fair type thing.  Something different, not your run-of-the-mill first date at all.  But I guess that’s part of the allure.  I feel like I’ve gotten to know a lot about him during our talks on the phone, and he’s a really nice guy.  I don’t know how it’ll all work out, or even if it will, but I can’t wait around forever for someone who doesn’t seem to want anything more than a “flirt-buddy”. 

*My habit of picking exactly the wrong guys really kind of wears on me.  Good thing my computer’s got my back on this one.  There was someone, once upon a time, that I thought maybe, just maybe it could work out this time, but I was wrong – again.  Everything goes sideways, and I’m left on the outside, looking in – again.  Maybe I should take my friend, Max’s words to heart “No reruns, girl.  Never do reruns.  They’ll only bring you heartache and pain.”  Spoken like a true pirate.  I just wish…..


*Some of the ladies at work have tried to talk me into doing karaoke here in town.  One of them heard me sing a snippet of a song the other day, and has been pushing me to go for it.  I’m actually thinking about it!  SCARY!  I have horrible stage-fright.  I can teach a Wicca 101 class in front of a large group of strangers, but singing?  In front of just friends, maybe, in front of a room full of strangers???  Gah, I get weak-kneed just thinking about it.  Yeah, I sang in high school, and in college in a choir – meaning it wasn’t just me up there by my lonesome!  But, this is something that I’ve been scared of for a long time – my stage-fright – and maybe it’s time I fight my way through it.  Ack.  We’ll see.

*The kids have started back up in school.  YoungerDaughter is awash in all the things she wants to do this year, all the things she won’t have time for – but still wants to do.  She is up, chirping with the birds at the crack of dawn, cheerfully singing out her good-byes to me as she leaves, while I grumble and wave her off.  Frigging morning people.  OnlySon couldn’t care less, and struggles just to get himself out of bed in the morning.  I told him that if he can’t get himself out of bed after 10 hours of sleep, maybe he can after 12 hours, and we’ll back his bedtime up to 7pm.  We’ll see who wins this race. 

I’d bet on MOM.

Mom – out.



Midweek Retread

Feeling a little worn out today.

It’s already been a long week, and I’m not even quite halfway done with it.

Between all the up-and-down at work, and my new work-out regimen at home, I’m whipped most nights, and ready to just fall in bed and collapse.  Of course, it feels pretty good to have a couple of the women at work tell me that they can see that I’ve lost some weight, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and work on getting stronger and in better shape.

YoungerDaughter had her first swim meet yesterday.  The link is to a short, 30-second video of one of her races, in which she came in 3rd.

It was just among their own squad, so it was a good start for the girls to get an idea of where they fit in the team, as well as determining baseline times, so they can watch themselves improve over the year. 

I love watching her swim, but I do have to admit, it’s hard being there… without my friend, Midnite.  She always used to go to the swim meets with me, and we’d cheer ourselves hoarse watching Younger kick her way down the lanes.  It was a bittersweet moment, sitting there alone, but I know that Midnite was there with me, cheering her on.

School for both kids is still about 2 weeks away.  And as it draws closer, OnlySon is getting almost desperate to hang on to his “vacation” state of mind.  I’ve told him that bedtime is going to be earlier, wake-up time is going to be earlier, and soon, he’s going to have to get himself out of bed using his alarm clock.  And that if he can’t get out of bed on his own, his bedtime will be backed up by half an hour – until he can.  He’s certainly old enough now to be responsible enough to get up on his own. 

And I’ll still be driving him to school, for now, as it’s on my way to work.  But soon enough, he’ll have to ride the city bus to school.  He cringes every time I mention it, but once he reaches his freshman year, he’ll be riding the bus every morning.  YoungerDaughter is going to take a few days, as soon as we get the bus route schedule figured for Only’s new school, and help him get used to the routine of riding.  At least this way, he’ll have someone he’s familiar with helping him, instead of getting thrown into it blind.

We’ll see how it goes.  Either it’ll be a huge success, with Only gaining another area where he’s able to be independent, or he’ll get scarred for life by the trauma of riding in a bus full of strangers.  I’m rooting for no psychological damage, and a huge grin when he gets to finally start doing some of these big steps on his own.

Independence – GOOD.  Emotional Trauma – BAD.

See?  Simple. 

un hunh.  Sure.

Teaching Teenagers

OnlySon, my baby. 

And in 6 more days, he will be a teenager.

My youngest child.

A teenager.


In a little less than a week, I will again have 2 teenagers in my house.  Not that it’ll be all that different, simply because of a birthday, because I’ve been seeing the “teen attitude” blossoming in my son for months now.

And in a way, it makes me proud of him.

OnlySon has always been a little hesitant, a little shy.  With family and close friends, he’s funny, quirky, sarcastic and talkative.  But with outsiders, he’s very tentative.  This is partly just who he is, who he’s always been.  But it is also partly because of the way he was raised.

You see, my ex, OnlySon’s father, has always been extremely protective and sheltering when it comes to our son.  If our child could have been wrapped in bubble wrap to prevent anything “bad” from happening, he would have done it.  And the lectures that my ex used to give him about “stranger danger” were long and windy and full of horror stories about kids being kidnapped or harmed.

I would try to temper these stories, by saying how seldom they actually happened, and that kids need to be shown how to be independent, or they never learn how to be adults. 

And there are times when I feel that I should’ve put my foot down harder, forced the issue.  But you can’t change someone’s mind when they know they’re right.  No matter what you say, it’s never going to switch their thinking. 

But, it’s quickly becoming a moot point, as OnlySon has begun to stretch his wings out, and take those first fledgling steps toward becoming less dependent on others to watch out for him all the time. 

Every time I hear my son say “I can do it myself” – I grin.

When I see him readily doing the things I ask of him, even if it means going all the way across the store, out of my sight, I am reassured. 

The first time I told him he could go to the toy area in a store without me, he looked at me with a gleam in his eyes, and a smile on his face, as he asked “Really? You’ll let me go by myself?”  I told him yes, as long as he stayed in that area, I would be there in a minute, and he could pick out a small thing (a reward for a job well-done on another day) on his own.  The utter joy on his face was beautiful as he took off towards the toys, and he was exactly where I told him to be, when I got there 5 minutes after he left.

And, even when OnlySon rebels, I am still – in a way – comforted.  Because rebellion in teenagers is their way of asserting their own opinions, their own ideas, and their own choices, into their lives.  They are learning that they can make choices of their own for their lives.  And that, to me, is a sure sign that he’s growing up.

So, when he argues with me, even if I’m irritated, I stop, and explain why I want him to do something.  Not just because I want him to do it, or just because “I’m the grown-up and I say so”.  Because those arguments are weak.  They’re about power, not about teaching your kids why they should do what you ask of them. 

And I want my son to grow up, knowing that he can think for himself.  That he can make his own choices, influence outcomes, and change his world.

OnlySon’s a brilliant, funny, compassionate child.  And I know that he’ll be a brilliant, funny, compassionate, independent man, someday.

And in 6 more days, he’ll be another step closer to that goal.

Go, OnlySon!  And yes, you still have to do what I say.

Oh, Snap!

I like taking pictures.

I’ve been taking the kids’ school pictures for years, and I’m always looking for interesting things to catch and keep digitally, either with my phone (which, of course, is much easier to carry around), or with my simple digital camera.

I’ve also taken pictures in the last couple of years for friends, and their kids, for senior pictures and invitation/announcements for graduations.

I never planned on “going pro”, or having any kind of business built around it. 

For me, it’s an enjoyable hobby.

But last week, I was stunned – when I received an email from an Assistant Editor at Oxford University Press… asking if they could get permission to publish a picture that I took and posted on this blog!

The gentleman asked me what I thought it would cost them to get the permission and the high resolution photo original for a book that they’re going to be putting together by an author that publishes books on architecture. 

uh……….. ?

That night, I came home, looked up the Oxford University Press, did my research on the author and the books that he creates.

I was dumbfounded.

I was flummoxed.

I was a little sick to my stomach.

What if this was just a hoax?

And why did they want my picture, and how did they find this simple little picture I took to test the light quality while I was taking pictures of my kids???

Well, after checking out everything I could….

I decided to take a chance.

After all, it’s not like they were asking to use a picture that was really personal. 

This was a simple “one-off” picture, that I happened to like because of the way the light fell.

So I wrote back to him, telling him that “honestly, I was stunned”. 

That he could have my permission to use the photo, and did he want anymore of that particular location, as it’s right here, in my city?  And as far as payment was concerned… put my name as the contributor of the photo, and… send me a copy of the published book?

Well, today, I got an email back from the same gentleman.

They’re going to publish my photo, and they’d be happy to send me a copy of the book! 

I think that he was surprised that I didn’t actually ask for any money.

Others that I told about this opportunity, asked me the same thing.

And I told them – I’m not concerned about any money I might get from one little picture.

This is my hobby, not my profession, and if I start telling people they can’t use my pictures unless they pay me?  It won’t be fun for me anymore.  It’ll be work. 

And I like this hobby.  I don’t want it to not be fun anymore.

So, I’ll not be asking for anything more than the recognition that I took the picture, and a copy of the book, so I can show my friends and family.

And I’ll be happy.  Because of a picture I took for the light…..


The Rockets Red…

I hadn’t planned on posting anything today, simply because I’ve been really lacking for postable materials going on in my life.  Or at least, anything I felt was “post-worthy”.

But, I received an email at work today, that shook me up.

I haven’t really cried over the awfulness of the flood since this whole mess started 2 months ago.  I guess I hadn’t had anything that had really affected me, personally, to the point where my stronger emotions were hit. 

Until today.

This, is a slideshow of OnlySon’s school, taken yesterday.  All 3 of my children attended this school, home of the Ramstad Rockets, and… well… I guess it was just that last drop of water that overflowed my cup.

***(the link has been removed, as it’s broken)***

There have been a lot of awful stories, as well as a lot of hopeful ones, here in my city.  The stories run the gamut between folks who’ve lost everything, like my boss; and people who are finally able to move back into homes that only sustained minimal damage; to the really fortunate ones, like myself, who only had a little ground water seep in, or didn’t get affected at all.

I’ve been listening to the stories, watching the news, viewing their personal pictures that they post on facebook and that they send through emails.  But watching the slideshow of my son’s school… somehow, for me, that tipped the scales. 

And so, for today, I’m pretty much done.  I’ll be back when the sun shines in my head again.

Just Another Day In The Life

I know it’s been a while since I posted, and the few I’ve put up have been farther between than normal.  But life’s been rather hectic here this summer, and I’ve been either too down, or too busy to really keep up here.  Hence, a small blog-cation.

And boy, has there been a lot going on!

Of course, the longest-lasting story, is, of course, the flooding in my city.  It’s still going on, but the water levels have begun to drop slightly.  People are being allowed back in their homes, to assess damage, try to begin cleanups, or… salvage anything they can before the demolition begins.  There are a lot of homes here that will have to be torn down, as the local government is going to have to “mitigate” a portion of the lands in town to offset the possibility of future flooding, and build new, or larger dikes.  I’m lucky in that my house is on top of one of the 2 hills of Minot, so my house is safe.  OnlySon will be attending next year’s school at the local auditorium, as his school was completely inundated, but he still has his home.  YoungerDaughter’s school is up high enough on the southern hill that it wasn’t affected, so she will graduate next spring from her own school.  We are blessed.

I’ve been… *gasp*… dating someone for a little over a month now.  I’m taking my time.  He’s funny, sarcastic, and makes me feel good about myself.   I’m not sure, though, if we’re really right together, so I’m keeping my options open.  Time will tell.

BUT, the biggest news of the summer…… is concerning EldestDaughter.


Due in March, EldestDaughter is now baking up my first GRANDCHILD.



This means I’m gonna be a…..



Wow.  I’m still rather processing this fact.

EldestDaughter is also going to be getting MARRIED next summer, and she and her fiance’ have started telling everyone their news.  I had to wait till now to be able to share our news, since she wanted to tell all the family members in our area herself.  It almost killed me to keep my mouth shut about this, but I did it.  Phew.

I’ll be blogging more about this later, but I wanted to fill everyone in out there in the blogosphere on the major news of the summer so far.  It’s been pretty wild!

Hopefully, this will be the last of the major life-changing events for a while, and I can get back to just laughing about some of the little things.  Like OnlySon’s and my conversation about monkeys, kittens, and opposable thumbs.

But that’s a story for another day.