Monthly Archives: July 2008

Keri’s survey, answered

I've been tagged–I think that means I'm supposed to answer this questionnaire and then tag someone else–like an invitation? So, feel free to accept this invite–if you're reading this–tag, you're it. Here's the questionnaire I was tagged with.

3 Joys-
Teaching–when they are absolutely riveted and so am I. Reading a really good book.  A clean house. I'm serious about this one–it has to be about the best feeling in the world to walk in and not cringe away from something that needs doing.

3 Fears-
(Keri, seriously, you're afraid of grasshoppers?) Never really accomplishing anything momentous. Um. Judging from my nightmares–physically losing a child, usually one of my youngest.  And third, having any of my children grow up and realizing I failed to instill in them something essential for their happiness or success.

3 Goals
Finish this house–inside and out! Every phone jack, every faucet, doorknob and floorcovering . . . Get in shape–stop laughing–really good shape (okay, so I'm defining "goals" loosely here, more like wishes) Third. Someday find myself teaching, really teaching on a regular basis, successfully. And not to belittle mothers, but I'm not talking about teaching anyone to button their jeans or fold socks, either.

3 Current Obsessions/Collections-
Yeah, I'm not much of a collector. I think it stems from my childhood–we moved alot, and I regularly have nightmares about trying to pack everything up, trying to sort out what's important to take and what I can leave [shudder]. So I tend to live like I might have to leave on short notice. Don't get real attached to things. Can I say I collect children?  Obsessions–numbers. I think I obsess over numbers, whether it's time or money or whatever it is–how many minutes/days/year will it take me to accomplish this thing? What if I do it this way? I'm constantly running numbers in my head, trying to outsmart the bank account balance, the clock on the wall, or the years of my own life. Third–if you want to go real current, I was obsessing all day over this really weird smell in my house. I think I finally found and irradicated it. I think. Swim towel. (And we're talking lake water swim towel, not chlorinated pool swim towel) 

3 Random/Surprising Facts
Hmm. Aren't all the above random facts? If not, here are some more. I think it's part of a different questionaire, but Keri, or someone before her, has lumped them all together.

A = ADVOCATE FOR: Honesty, for Pete's sake! Is it really that hard to just TELL THE TRUTH?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!

B = BEST FEATURE: I'm going to really stretch the definition of feature here.  . . .One you can watch without someone answering their phone, laughing loudly at unfunny moments, or asking you for a drink/pottybreak/kleenex.

C = COULDN'T DO WITHOUT: Hope

D = DREAMS AND DESIRES:  See 3 goals, above.

E = ESSENTIAL ITEM: Clorox.

F= FAVORITE PAST TIME: I'll have to agree with Keri here: Sleeping. Or maybe reading an entire novel while everyone else is sleeping. No matter how much I'll regret staying up all night, you just have to do it sometimes.

G = GOOD AT: Teaching

H = HAVE NEVER TRIED: Lobsters/oysters/anything else in that class

I = IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS: I'd probably only get to keep like $400K after Uncle Sam got his hands in it, but that might still be enough to survive on without working the equivalent of three fulltime jobs at once.  

J = JUNKIE FOR: Salty snacks and a good story–in either book or movie form.

K = KINDRED SPIRIT: You know, I looked this up in the good old Wikipedia database, just to be sure it means what I think it means, and all I came up with was a Chinese soap opera. Because I don't have any kindred spirits in the Anne of Green Gables sense of kindred spirits–bosom buddies of the same sex that never argue except maybe occasionally over Gilbert Blythe. But in spite of all my moanings a few posts back about the genetic disparity between men and women I'd have to say I married someone pretty close to what I'm like, as close as an XY and an XX can get, anyway. We agree on some pretty major issues, and I guess that's why we're still together 15 years later, despite all the differences–we're the same at the core.

L = LITTLE KNOWN FACT: A surprising majority of children ages 2-14 actually eat their own boogers. Which is better than eating someone else's, I guess.  I didn't believe it myself, but I have seen it with my own eyes. 

M = MEMORABLE MOMENT: giving birth

N = NEVER AGAIN WILL I: give birth. Which is sad, but not, too.

O = OCCASIONAL INDULGENCE: Mmmm. Sleeping in.

Q = QUOTE: "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind."

R = REASON TO SMILE: My new dining table/chairs.

S = SORRY ABOUT: Every time I was ever grouchy/short/snappish to my kids.

T = TAG SOME FRIENDS: If you're reading this, you're IT.

U = UNINTERESTED IN: Anything that comes with a contoller and rhymes with ideo games.

V = VERY SCARED OF: You know, I can't think of anything. Besides maybe giving birth, but what's with that obsession today?

W = WORST HABIT: Reading/Blogging when I should be sleeping.

X = X MARKS MY IDEAL VACATION SPOT: Really? Like you could put an ideal vacation spot on a map of this earth? Kidding, kidding, I'm not that cynical. Not really. But I don't know. Somewhere nobody knows me or my number?

Y = YESTERYEAR DECADE OF CHOICE: Pretty much anything but the 80's

Z = ZODIAC SIGN: Not as far as I know.  But they might name one after me yet. . . 

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Hale-Bopp and incremental bm’s

I just read portions of the most bizarre website ever built. Remember that cult-suicide thing that happened when Hale-Bopp came around about ten years ago? Yeah. Their website is still available. How or why, I don't know–doesn't someone have to maintain a website somehow, or do they all just exist forever?

Anyway. Weird stuff. I get it that religions differ–but who would fall for this stuff? 38 people did, obviously, but what kind of people were they? Were their lives and minds that skewed, or did somebody drug them? Weird, weird, weird. How did I come across it? I don't even remember what I was looking for originally. I think it had to do with civil rights.  Or maybe a recipe for cheesecake.

I find myself in a restless, black sort of funk for no real apparent reason today so I've resorted to counting my blessings, and what do you know, I have a pretty great life. I live in a great place, healthy, etc, etc, etc. That a person in my position has any reason to be less than gleeful is ridiculous, so I'm going with chemical imbalance/sleep deprivation as cause. 

And why do some children poop incrementally? What's wrong with one or two really thorough colon cleansing episodes a day?  Maybe it's a sign of training readiness–they start, realize how disgusting it is to do it in their pants, and come ask for a new nappy. Then when they can't withold one more second, repeat the process. I could wish…

 

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The light goes on . . .

Ha!

I remember what I had to say.

I was released from my primary calling. For those of you who don't know, it's kind of like being fired from a volunteer position. Kind of. :o)

In our church, all positions are filled by unpaid people–there are no paid clergy or teachers. You get this "call" to serve in a position for an undetermined period of time. The person before you hands over the keys to the doors or closets and all their manuals and various paraphanlia–and you get to learn lots of new things.

For example, when I was a kid, I had, I think, two piano lessons and several years of violin lessons; I could pick out a tune reasonably well. So when I was asked to play the piano, I said, hey, I don't play. The bishop said, hey, you'd better learn. So I did, and it was a real blessing in my life to not only learn to play the piano, but to overcome my terror at playing in front of people.

Then I was called to teach in RS once a month–most of the women were three times my age, and I was terrified of that. Public speaking pretty much dissolved me into something shapeless and incoherent. But I learned to love it. I really did.

Almost three years ago I was called to serve in the children's Primary organization as second counsellor. That meant I was in charge of cub scouting, and once a month, teaching about 140 children ages 3-11.  It got tough this last year or so–just all the meetings etc–when do you hold meetings when you've got twelve+ kids on hand? Our president was also a working mom with seven kids, and the first counsellor was a single, working mom also. So I wasn't really sad to get released, though I will miss the kids (and being on hand to whip my own into shape when they are horsing around.)

But it got me thinking–illuminated something for me. I loved teaching in RS, and I loved teaching Sharing time–when you are prepared, not teaching from a book, just whatever comes out and it's just right–they are spellbound, interacting appropriately, I loved that. And I had this thought–this is what I should be doing with my life. I'm a teacher, not a babysitter–this is what I'm good at, what I love. I couldn't teach at an elementary, surely. But college level maybe? I don't know where to go with this, but for the first time in my life, I understand that I could get up every day and LOVE my job.

So what do I need to do? Get my masters so I can teach at the college? What would I teach? Not something that's the same every day, not math or english even. The thing is, I loved teaching at church, because it's all about the story–you teach from the scriptures, and they are spellbound. What happens next, and how does that affect me and the world I live in? If I extend that into the secular world, I think the closest thing is history, isn't it? Which I know next to nothing about. But I could learn . . . And I know I could teach it.

Politics? History? I'm going to have to do some research into online degrees, me thinks. . .

 

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Dust and Hope

I have had three families call/come over today wanting childcare for three children in each family–all three families have a year old, a four-year old, and a nine year old. How bizarre is that? By the time I got the third phone call, I was beginning to think someone was playing a joke on me. But no, the children were real children; I met them.  Still not sure who, if any, to accept.

Seems like I had something to say.

I've decided I'm a little like this mysterious houseplant someone gave me years ago. I can't kill it, no matter how cruel the treatment.  It was even stuck behind a pile of lumber in my psuedo kitchen/family room for six months without water. It got dusty and stopped growing, but it didn't die. Didn't even drop very many leaves, actually. And as soon as the barricades came down and I watered it, lo and behold–tiny little green leaves appear, all over the thing. How is that possible?

Let me just here thank God for blessing me with hope like that plant. Throughout my life, circumstances or my own choices have at times conspired to starve my spirit for weeks, months at a stretch. I get dusty and stop growing, but I'm still here. And the moment I pick myself up and shake off the dust, I feel hope and life renewed, right where I left off and I grow again, little bits, throughout my life. I don't understand why I should be so blessed, but such is my nature–undeserved, unearned, but proved, over and over.

I realize that I have expected other people (read: husband, children, etc) to be like me–to survive adversity, no matter how much dust accumulates, no matter how fierce the unabated thirst, and to respond immediately to the first hint of hope. Maybe not so realistic–maybe they are more like those flowering houseplants you have to water twice a week or they wilt to nothing. It isn't that they are genetically defective–just different.

I'll probably never produce anything equivalent to their blooms–but I'll still be here, accumulated dust and all, and hey, there's something to that, isn't there?

Oh, and p.s. Still no idea what CPU stands for. Had three apointments and kept on the lookout for anything that might fit, but nothing cropped up.  I think I'm in the clear at this point.

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Mysterious Acronyms

I distinctly remember writing the appointment down yesterday. I was on the phone, and I picked up the marker and uncapped it, and wrote down "10:00" on Tuesday of next week. This morning, I noticed that right under "10:00" it says "CPU" Or maybe CPV.  By no stretch of the imagination can I figure out what CPU stands for.  Nothing. Nada.

The question is, did I schedule two things for the same time, or does the acronym have something to do with the 10 o'clock appointment? Something I am supposed to take to the appointment? Do beforehand? Be prepared for? Best case scenario: someone else is playing with me–forging my handwriting, just trying to make me think  I'm nuts. Unfortunately, I don't believe that's the case. . .

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Prophetic Flamingos and Coveted Dinosaurs

So guess who hasn't shown up now for an entire week? Yes Flamingo, you were right. The woman who lies to me constantly–should I really be surprised that she has disappeared off the face of the earth? I asked another woman who works with her if she'd seen her lately.

"Not since she was fired. Why?"

Fired. Hm. I find it sad, but not surprising. Compulsive lying can't be a good quality on the job. Those poor (literally now) kids. Quel dommage. Tax write-off, and lesson learned. Trust not, that ye be not robbed.

I borrowed a "theme box" from Catholic Child and Family this week–they actually bring it by and pick it up when you're done. This week it was dinosaurs. The kids take the little plastic dinos outside and soon my seven year old comes in with a shirt full, bawling his eyes out. "Mom, I want all the dinosaurs."

Boo hoo.

We talk about why, all the things he could do if he had them all, etc. So I suggest he lets the other kids have them today, and he can have them tomorrow. No, he doesn't like that idea. He says they can have them the day after tomorrow.

"They have twenty nine, and I only have nine!"

"Yesterday you didn't have any, and you were happy, right?"

"Yeah."

"If there were only nine in the box, and you had all nine, would you be happy?"

Sniffle. "Yeah."

"So if I go outside and take all their dinos and put them away in the cupboard, you'll be happy with your nine?"

He brightens a little. "Yeah."

What??????!!! What sort of child have I raised????? Just to be sure I understand him, I take a rhetorical approach.

"If I gave you ten dollars, would you be happy?"

"Yeah!"

"If I gave you ten and Jo eleven, would you be happy?"

"No!"

At least he's honest.

"But you still have the ten, why would you be sad?"

"Because he has more!"

Sigh.

Did I mention that he has, in his shirt, nine of the coolest dinos? The ones that you can see their skeletons? His cache is, pound for pound, three times as big as what the other kids have, combined.  How do you talk reason to this mentality? He's sobbing, heartbroken over plastic dinosaurs, and I am having a panic attack over the prospect of the next sixty years, if he grows into this type of adult.

 

 

 

 

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Pulling the trigger

So.

It's been a week since I had this great idea. I caught up on all my sleep before last Sunday–I did everything I could possibly do so that I wouldn't be wiped out on my one day with my kids. And not only that, but I had this great plan for how I was going to keep my life in balance permanently.

I would get up early, go walking, and on my way out the door, take the old laptop with me (I even had my son delete every program, every file from the thing so that there was enough disk space to run a decent word processor) and stashed it in the van. AND found a flash drive with enough room on it for my files. So when I returned from my walk an hour later, I got into the back of the van (tinted windows,blinds down) and worked furiously for an hour. Got out, came inside, woke the stragglers up and we had some scripture study. God made the world, all that good stuff, and left my kids writing in their journals while I took a shower. Woke Marty up on my way into the bathroom in case someone showed up early. Came down feeling like no matter what else happened that day, I had done the important things, right? I was good.

The plan was to then get everyone calmed down by eight or so, and reading or sleeping being the only options, I could get to sleep early enough to repeat the process the next day. Or even have an adult conversation with my spouse, imagine that.

Only.

Life is what happens while you're making other plans, right? So Cousins come into town, my daughter wants to have them spend the night, fine, I'm a little later than I should be getting in bed, but we're still doing okay, it's only ten, and then . . . well . . .  I'm laying there thinking I should go to sleep, but I'm also thinking the spouse has seemed really quiet, today. I can spare a few minutes to just make sure everythings on an even keel, right?

I should have went to sleep.

Have you ever asked a simple question, and gotten an answer that blew a crater in your consciousness? Like going in for a pedicure and coming out with a double amputation and prosthetics instead?

I'd tell you about it, but I wouldn't know where to begin. Lets just leave it that I didn't get to sleep until three am, and then was wide awake, staring at the ceiling at four thirty in the morning, trying to figure out what in the world WHAT??? You know those conversations? Tell me you've had them. They consist of like a dozen calmly stated sentences, tops. But that's all you need to realize that men and women really share so very little genetic material it's frightening.The worst part of all of it is that my whole walk/van/shower thing in the morning–that's what triggered his funk. Indirectly, but still, it pulled the trigger. So now, I'm laying there, thinking, there goes my balance. Do I just go tomorrow anyway, because he really doesn't care, directly, that I'm doing these things, but it seems really insensitive to just go right out after he's been brutally honest with me, and pull the trigger again–even if now the gun isn't loaded any more, you know?    

So no walk? No clandestine meetings with my laptop in the van? I was like a lovesick teen, thinking about my one, wonderful morning, now lost forever. Mostly I was so speechless with  . . . astonishment  that I think I was in some kind of trance. I literally stood at our bedroom window for two and a half hours staring across the lake in the middle of the night. Then laid there in bed staring at the clock thinking, I can do this for one more minute. Then one more. Speechless. Because if I left the room, then he'd think I was mad at him, and I wasn't, and I didn't want him to think so. I really didn't want him to think I was upset–he wasn't wrong, he hadn't done wrong, he'd just been honest, and his way of thinking just blows me out of the water sometimes. Was I upset? No . . . maybe? No. I was  . . . I don't agree with him, but I want to hear his version of the universe–and if I reject him when he tells me, then he's going to clam up for a really long time again.  

I couldn't do anything.  Nothing. I could only stand there and ask God, over and over, "What? What–where–how–how do I, what do I do with this?" God being God, and faithful has a way of helping us sort these things out, I see that we had to have this conversation, I suppose. We're better for it. I really could have kept up my routine if I'd had the heart to. But I was letting this kid have this cousin over, and that kid do this, and making allowances everywhere until I've parceled out our entire life this week into the power of everyone else in town, and nobody in bed until eleven.

Needless to say, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday now have passed, and I'm really just trying to stay awake. And every night something comes up and I'm up late and every morning it would be suicide to get up before I absolutely have to, so I have done nothing. Less than nothing. And now I'm on here, instead of sleeping. Thus perpetuating the cycle. I have read six novels in three days, just trying to stay awake, and not lose my mind. I read them while I rock babies, while I stir soup, while I eat. I think I've done with that though–it's my usual method of dealing with things. I get good and saturated with prose, and then I can function again. Back to life, soon, I think. 

And trigger or no trigger. I've got a date with my laptop, and the pavement. And the shower.

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