Going Viral

I’ve been down with the flu for 3 days now. Vacillating between hot & cold, aches & chills. And the whole “regurgitating plumbing” issue.

It started on Sunday, completely ruining the “last weekend before school starts” plans I had for OnlySon & myself. Mother/son bonding time out the window. *sigh*

But, I’m lucky I have my EldestDaughter & OnlySon here. They’ve been helping out with all the little things I just can’t do. Taking care of the animals, running to the store, etc. 

Called in to work this morning, to let them know I’m still under the influence of the influenza… Influenza lasts from 2 to 5 days for the obvious (puking, diarrhea) symptoms, & up to 3 weeks for the fatigue, cough, & sniffles to disappear.

“Are you sure it’s not appendicitis or something?”
Considering the fact that my appendix hasn’t exploded & killed me in the 3 days I’ve been puking…yeah, I’d say that’s a “No”.

Yesterday was the worst of it, I think.  So I’m going to assume I’m on the downside of the virus, & will be able to resume our regularly scheduled programming shortly.

In the meantime, I’m sipping fruity cocktails & lounging… (flavored water & in my jammies under a blanket).
Ciao.

I Don’t Think That’s What They Meant

I’ve always known that reading to my kids was good for them.

Expanding their horizons, showing them different worlds, different people, cultures, ideas, crammed in the pages of a bound book.

And there are books on all sorts of topics for kids now.

Books just for the pleasure of reading an entertaining story, books for education.

There are books for potty-training, for bed-time, for learning to deal with siblings, leaning to cope with the death of a pet, learning how to be better at this or that, for learning everything from alphabets to zydeco music playing.

I know that reading – reading almost anything – broadens anyone’s mind, not just a child’s.

But – the other night, I added a twist.

OnlySon is 16.  And he and I both understand that he’s far more esoterically knowledgeable than most people think.  We talk to each other in a manner most wouldn’t expect a parent to talk to a 16 yr. old.

I talk to him more as I would another adult.  Well, at least, another adult who just so happens to be my 16 yr. old child.  There are still some subjects we both agree are not appropriate, not – ugh – comfortable for either of us.  And our agreement works.

He can handle it – and he respects me for respecting that about him.

So, the other night, I was reading a new book I’d picked up at the book store – Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking”.

It’s a hilarious set of stories about things that have happened to him in his own life.  And he freely admits that he’s “emotionally damaged goods”, so, even while I can feel bad about the fucked up things he’s had to experience growing up, and since, I can laugh along with him as he laughs at himself.

I sat and chuckled, snickered, and gut-busted laughed for 2 hours straight after bringing this home and immediately sitting down to enjoy it.

Of course, OnlySon had to know what was so funny.

So – I read a chapter – out loud – to him.

All about how Augusten had found a “rat/thing” in his bathroom, and proceeded to destroy it, then to go on to practically destroy his bathroom in order to rid himself of the taint of the rat/thing’s infestation of his life.

It’s funnier in the book.

And, after hearing the story, my son proceeded to tell me about a story he’d read – about a man who’d chugged half a soda, only to find a ground up frog in the can…..

The things we do to one another for the sake of a good story. *urp*

Later than night, I was standing in the bathroom, contemplating the meaning of life (brushing my teeth, actually, but close enough), when I heard EldestDaughter downstairs.  The cadence and rhythm of her voice told me she was reading a new story to the ToddlerTornado.

And I was struck by the coincidence, and the slight difference of the subject matter we’d each chosen to read to our sons.

At least… well, leaning out of the bathroom, I was pretty sure my new book was still sitting by my chair.

I don’t think that’s what they meant when the “experts” said “Read to Your Children”.

mother_reading_to_children_-_read_aloud_page

The Shape of the Day

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. It’s my biggest (no pun intended) personal demon.Demon Wrestling

Chocolate makes for a good snuggle… but a bad case of eater’s remorse later.

My first memory of the issue is when my mom looked at me, getting ready to dig into dessert after supper one night – and her saying “Honey, maybe you shouldn’t have so much ice-cream.  You’re starting to get a spare tire.”

I think I was about 7 or 8 at the time.

Growing up, my mom made healthy meals -meat, potatoes, vegetables.  Dessert didn’t automatically follow every meal, and we lived out on a farm, so there was no store nearby to grab snacks all the time.  I worked hard on the farm, taking care of horses, helping with calves, chickens, running up and down the barn stairs from hayloft to ground with the cats and dogs.  I rode horses all the damn time.

In high school, I grew to be 5’7″, and weighed approximately 130-135 lbs.

And yet, I was considered the fat girl.

Sandy & Me

I’m the one on the left – my junior year

Does this girl on the left look fat to you?

And yet, I always felt that way.  Because of the way I was treated by classmates, among others.

And so the girl I saw in the mirror was, in my eyes, fat.

Objects in the mirror appear larger than they really are?

I have old pictures from my first wedding, too, that show me at that 130 lb. mark, at the age of 23… and I’ve been told that people thought I looked too thin in my dress.

But at the time… I still felt fat.

I’d had a baby, who was 3 yrs. old at the time of the wedding, and I’d lost most of the baby weight by that time, true, but I still had the “baby belly”, that little bump that… never… quite… goes… away.

So, I must be fat, right?

I had another baby at the age of 24, but lost the weight fairly quickly the year after, thanks to long walks & a good friend who I walked with every day. Back down to 130 lbs.  But still feeling fat.

And then… I got married for the 2nd time.  And slowly, over the next 10 years, I gained, and gained, and gained.  The first few years were good, and then the marriage started to go south.  My self-esteem crumbled like soggy graham crackers in milk, as my -at the time- husband slowly started pulling his love out of the marriage, and putting it all into our son.  Baby number 3.

I never lost that baby weight, not completely.

At the time of our divorce, I was at my heaviest.  I have no true idea what that weight was, as I refused, at that point, to even look at a scale.  Even when I went to the doctor, I would stand on it backward, and wouldn’t let the nurses tell me what the number was.  I told them that it was because the numbers made me neurotic.

In fact, it was because I was ashamed.  I was, truly and really, fat.

There are very few pictures of me at that weight – I refused to be in front of the camera most of the time, ducking out on one reason or another.  When it was unavoidable, I’d do my best to “hide” whatever of myself I could, tucking myself in behind others in the frame, or “sucking it in”… a meager attempt at best.

I would say that I was probably somewhere between 250-275 lbs.

After the divorce – I lost a good bit of that weight.  I started eating better, started exercising.  I felt better, inside and out, than I had in a long time.

And yet, I still struggle.  There’s more I want to lose, a better shape I want to be in.  Health concerns and just emotional well-being are the 2 things I want this for now.

It’s slow going.  I have multiple food allergies, which knocks out a fair bit of healthy foods I could be eating.  Some of the most favored diet foods – cucumbers, melons, bananas, pineapple – all of them could kill me due to my allergies.

But I work at it, in my own way.  Healthier foods, smaller portions, more exercise, no more soda – only flavored water.

The struggle is real – and it’s time people stop shaming others.

As a child, I might have been a little chubby – but that’s no reason to compare me to the Michelin Man.  Maybe there shouldn’t have been any ice cream in the house?  And who was supposed to teach me about healthy eating and self-control?

As a teen, I wasn’t heavy at all.  I was just the right weight for my height – and yet, because I wasn’t emaciated, and you couldn’t hang clothes from my collarbones, I was called fat in school, and shamed for it by my peers.

As an adult, I finally took back my self-esteem from others – and stopped letting people put me down in subtle ways like my ex-husband had, little by little.

Like the recent co-worker who told me that I “really look like a girl today” on the day I wore a dress to work.  The same co-worker who, upon being told that I’m actually 10 years older than her, remarked that it was my red-dyed hair that is the only thing that makes me look younger, even though she evinced surprise at my actual age.  And, upon being shown a picture of my sweetheart, looked up at me in total shock and said “Really?  But he’s so good looking.”  As if I weren’t good enough for someone she thought was that handsome.

Whether she realizes it or not, she’s a bully.  And I refuse to be ashamed and bullied anymore because of my shape.

So, I still work on my weight, but I’m not doing it for her.  I’m not doing it to “prove” anything to anyone.

I’m doing it for me.  I’m doing it for my sweetheart, and for my kids, and my grandson, so we’ll be able to have many more years as a family.

And that’s the shape of the day.

Just a Muggle

I’ve been taking care of other people since I was 20 years old.

Ever since EldestDaughter was born, I’ve been “in charge” of someone else’s happiness, comfort, security.

EldestDaughter, YoungerDaughter, OnlySon, the ex’es.  Always, it’s me who ends up being the caregiver in the situation.

And I don’t resent it, really, I don’t.  At least, not when it comes to my kids.  As their mom, it’s MY job to take care of things, so that they could grow up and become independent, capable, well-rounded human beings.

But…

Once in a while, it would be nice if someone would take care of me.

It would be nice to have someone to turn to, who would put their arms around me and say “Everything will be fine, let me take care of it.”

And I’m notoriously bad at asking for help when I need it.

My parents have been there in the past for me, helping a lot, throughout the years.  Recently, though, I decided that I had to stop asking them for help.  I won’t go there.

I have had help from friends when I’ve needed it, whether emotional support or actual things they’ve done for me.  I have some really good friends.  I try to help them as well, when I can, as I can.  But I hate asking.  I hate having to put an obligation, a burden, of that type, on them.  I don’t ever want to be an obligation to anyone.

But it would be nice to have someone in my life who would be there.  Yes, I want to get married again.  Yes, I want someone to belong to, who would belong to me as well.  Someone who I would know would be permanent in my life.  Someone I could take care of, who would also take care of me.  There is someone who has offered to take that position… but, it’s been a lot of talk, so far.  And I can’t live on “maybe”.  I can’t hang my hope on it.  Because it’s too painful when promises are broken.  When they disappear into a mist of silence, never to return.

This year has been extraordinarily difficult.

And I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore.

Not enough coming in, too much going out – as it were.

In previous tough times, I’ve always been able to make it through, somehow.  To pull the metaphorical rabbit out of the hat, sometimes, at the very last minute… and get us through the rough spots.

This time, however… all I’m finding are dust bunnies.

The magic has disappeared.

And I just wish…

Nothing up my sleeve... nothing in my hat...

Nothing up my sleeve… nothing in my hat…

In the Deep Dark

I’m having trouble sleeping again.

Even though it’s the weekend, and I know I don’t have to get up early… I’d still like to get a decent amount of sleep at night, and I’m not getting it.

Thanksgiving was – mostly – a good day.  We went to my parents’ house, and everyone ate too much, as is required.  And we had a lot of good talks.  EldestDaughter’s boyfriend came with her & the Toddler Tornado this year, and it was nice.  He’s very respectful, and fits in with the rest of us “black sheep”.  The Nephew drove down with OnlySon and myself, and he’s always good with the family.  And… YoungerDaughter drove down from college, I’ve missed the kid, she’s such a happy little light all the time.

It was very relaxed, eating, then talking, taking it easy.

Until it wasn’t.

Isn’t that always the way?

Everything’s going well, until someone makes a statement that shows they’ve got an axe to grind.

And then it’s all “passive aggressive guilt games” and “Let’s all eat our feelings”.

I don’t want to get into specifics.  Let’s just say that Thanksgiving is never going to be my favorite holiday.

Ever.

And next year, I might just schedule a vacation somewhere warm and sandy – with plenty of adult beverages.

So, ever since the angst rode home with me in my truck, I’ve been sitting in the deep dark of the night… awake…unable to sleep until I can barely keep my eyes open.  And then, when I dream… I’m awakened periodically throughout the hours with uncomfortable and fractured dreams.

I just wish I could understand – but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

And, I’m back to working things out for myself.

I knew there was a reason I hated asking anyone for help.

But it won’t happen again.

Additions and Subtractions

There have been a lot of additions and subtractions in my life lately.

Some positive, some… not so much.

But, I have to deal with all of them, get through them.  I must celebrate the good, and grieve for the bad.

The Good News:

I started OnlySon on blogging this last week.  He has been writing short, flash fiction for a little while now, and enjoys putting stories down.  I’ve read some of his stuff, and he has a promising future as a fiction writer.  He’s gifted in his storytelling, and can pull a reader in with the emotional and descriptive things he writes.  It’s all a little twisted and somewhat on the darker side, but – who am I to speak to that?  After all, I write a lot of monster stories, myself!

When we first set up his blog, he was sort of “meh” about it, nonchalant and noncommittal.  But… after he posted his first piece of flash fiction, he got a couple of almost instantaneous “likes” and was strutting like a fluffed-up peacock with pride.  He turned to me and said “You know, this IS going to go to my head.”

I said “Good, it should.  You need to know that other people enjoy your stories as much as I do.  You’re good at this.”

I want him to know that he has a definite talent, instead of always being told he’s not “good enough”, or “smart enough”.  He has a tough time in school, sometimes, and I know that his self-esteem isn’t always at the top end.  So this positive feedback from relative strangers is massively good for him.

Yes, there are things he could work on, and I’ve told him that I will help him with editing anytime he wants, but that I will NOT restrain him from writing whatever he wants.  This is HIS outlet, and I won’t squash that.

The Bad News:

I am on my own again.  There was a man I was in a relationship with, long distance, but I could handle that.  He hurt me emotionally, and I don’t know if there’s a glue that can fix that..

So.

I am left to find my own way once more.

It hurts – immensely.  I’ve cared about him for a long time, and was really hoping it would become something more.  But you can’t change the weather, you can’t fix someone else’s problems for them, and you can’t change their mind when they refuse to talk to you, hear you, or give you a chance to prove them wrong.

I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.  I want someone I can share my life with, that I can share his too.  I want someone who will touch me like he means it, who will be there through the happy and the sad.  I want a partner I can stand beside and walk through life with.

I want someone who is not going to disappear on me, as others have.

I am an eternal romantic optimist, but this is a blow.  And it will take time to trust anyone else enough to believe that they won’t simply take off.

Additions and Subtractions.

And me, with my allergy to math.

math

The Quiet One

OnlySon is now 16, and proud of the fact that he’s taller than all the women in his life.OnlySon

Brat.

He’s smart, hilariously funny, and a seriously talented writer.  He wrote a short story for school last year, that stunned me with its intensity and intelligence.  Not that I don’t know the kid’s smart, but that I didn’t know he had that kind of story in him to write!

My son – also likes games.  Online, virtual, xbox, playstation and wii – he delves into these virtual worlds, and masters them.  Oh yeah, there have been plenty of “rage quits” as he calls them *snickering to myself as I write*, but he always goes back, doggedly, until he fixes the problem, solves the puzzle, or defeats the Boss monster.

And yet…

The school says that he is “lacking”.

Because he doesn’t like crowds.

He doesn’t have tons of friends.

He isn’t a “joiner” or much of a “team player”.

And?dare-to-be-different

Does my smart, funny, talented boy have to be a conformist to make it in this world?

Since when has a conformist STOOD OUT or MADE A STATEMENT?

It’s not in the sheep’s nature to veer off from the herd and be different…

And OnlySon is not a sheep.

I refuse to let the “professionals” pigeonhole my son into a category where he does not belong.

My son will break molds, forge his own paths, and he will NOT conform.

And I don’t have a problem with that.

Personally, I’ve always felt that to be normal – is to be boring.  Everyone has something about them that makes them unique, one of a kind, and they should celebrate that – not hide it.

I, too, am a purple alligator in a world full of sheep.

And there’s not a DAMNTHING wrong with that.

imagesKJRG9I1Y

The Value of A Thing

I was born and lived in a small town in Iowa until I was 11.  My parents both worked, Dad was a plumber, Mom – worked at my school as the principal’s secretary.

It wasn’t a life of luxury, but I never knew that.

My folks had a decent two-story house, that my father had built additions onto.  And we also had a half acre of land, right on the north edge of town – only a couple of blocks from green, growing, countryside.  We were actually able to keep a couple of horses on our property, even though we technically lived “in town”, so I did feel like we were rich.  I mean, not every kid gets to have their very own pony and cart, right?

imagesIt looked a lot like this, only my pony was a brown and white Shetland named “King”.

Horses are a sign of money, right?

Not exactly.

My parents were just that good at budgeting.

My brother and I never went without the necessities – food, clothing, a roof over our heads, and lots of love and laughter in our lives.

But, looking back now, as an adult… I realize that we really didn’t have “all that”.

And, I’m ok with that.

My parents struggled to make ends meet, and the summer I turned 11, they moved us – all of us, kids, dog, cat, and horses – to North Dakota.  I hated them for it for a while, ah hell, for a long while.  I was moved away from all of my friends, all I’d ever known, to hell-and-beyond-North-Dakota.  It was the back end of no where, right?  With tumbleweeds rolling down the streets, and those streets weren’t even paved, amiright?

Well, not exactly.

New horizons, new opportunities.  North Dakota was all that for my parents.  And the house in Iowa?  Went back to the bank.

I didn’t know, as a kid, what that meant.  I do now.

And so, we moved.

They owned a hardware store in the little town we moved to, for a while, but there just wasn’t enough business to justify keeping it open. But that wasn’t so bad, as Dad was in high demand as a plumber.  And Mom worked at the local Cenex gas station/convenience/farmer’s coffee shop/garage, then moved on to work for the town doctor for many years.

Once again, we always had everything we needed, if not necessarily everything we wanted.  I even had a pet goat for a while, till she ate my Mom’s raspberry plants down to the ground.

heidiHeidi and the tomcats.  Hmm, sounds like a rock band.  And in a way, she was a rock band all on her own.

Couldn’t keep her room clean worth a damn, but she was cute as hell.

Needless to say, by this time, I was a little more aware of the fact that we weren’t exactly rollin’ in the dough.

But, when you’re a young, teenage girl, you have horses, a goat, tons of barn cats, and a couple dogs… what more do you really need?

Right?

I was fairly happy with my lot in life, financially.  Didn’t need much, because I had all the important things.

My parents, my brother, my friends (the very few that I had as a kid – keep the circle small), my books and my animals.  That’s what was important.

The value of a thing, comes from your own valueing of it.  You set the worth, because it’s only as valuable as long as you set store by it.  Once you no longer care, it ceases to be worth anything.

I don’t need much in this life to make me happy.

As a matter of fact, I’d rather have someone spend time and thought on me, than money.  Why?

Because money comes and goes – but time is something you can never get back.

And it really is the thought that matters.

That’s the true value of a thing.

Luck of the Irish

OnlySon broke his arm a few weeks ago.

While out walking our dog, Jack, he decided to run across a busy street to try to beat a motorcycle that was headed his way, slipped on some gravel, and slammed his left forearm into a curb, snapping the radius, and also causing a small “greenstick” break in the ulna. 

In other words, thoroughly messing up his left arm for the summer.

He’s been in a cast now for the last few weeks, and today is our last x-ray to decide whether or not the doctor wants him to have surgery to straighten it out, or let it heal, slightly crooked.  The doc assured me that when a child breaks a bone like this, often times they will heal better if they just let it grow back together at a small bent angle, than to do major surgery and try to correct something that won’t make much difference in the end.

But.

OnlySon and I went in for his x-ray appointment last week, and the doc wasn’t entirely happy with the way the films looked. 

Crap.

So, today, we find out whether OnlySon has to go under the knife, and ends up with his whole summer bound up in plaster.

Luckily, OnlySon is part Irish, on his father’s side.  He’s a lucky kid most of the time, as witnessed by the fact that whenever I take him out somewhere – grocery store, restaurants, parks, etc… he finds money on the floor.  No kidding.  He found a $20 bill on the ground once at a park here in town.  Just randomly laying on the ground.  The kid’s got it, whatever it is.

So here’s hoping the Luck o’ the Irish is with him, and me, today. 

Official update:  NO SURGERY REQUIRED!!  Found out yesterday afternoon that OnlySon is a mutant self-healer lucky-charmed kid, and is healing faster than the doctor expected. 

In 2 weeks, we go back, they’ll take the current cast off, and x-ray again.  If everything looks good then… OnlySon can finally have his summer!