I am thankful I already lost my mind..

Things have been crazy busy around here. I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Or should I say turkey? Would that be more seasonal?

I am getting ready to have Thanksgiving at my house.

Tomorrow Angel is coming home from college. This has been the first time she has been home since August.

The guys just got back from deer hunting. My son Alex shot his first deer. He also played a trick on me. I asked him to send me a picture of his buck and he sent me a picture of a Bambi. Horrible thing to do. Then he told me it was too little to keep. He said he was going to throw it into the woods for the wolves. I was mortified.

He was just kidding. He found a picture of a Bambi online. Real funny! Not…He has my awful sense of humor…Oh deer..

I knew that they would get a deer because last month we got a quarter cow and this week we are getting a half a pig. The freezer is full…so of course the guys wouldn’t come home empty handed.

Alex wants his new girlfriend to come over for Thanksgiving. I feel like it is too soon since he just broke things off with Baylee. I wanted some explanation to why they broke up. Alex told me that Baylee was fake. He said that she was lying to us the whole time. He asked me if I really believed that Baylee didn’t drink at the underage drinking party at the cabin. She portrayed herself as a reluctant party goer…almost like a mother hen…or a nun. Paul and I wanted Alex to pay her share of the party damage fees. All this time he was covering for her lies..

The new girlfriend looks a little like Baylee…so the family we haven’t seen in months might think it is her..

Paul’s step-dad, Darryl, will be here. This year his wife passed away. Lately Darryl has become obsessed with online dating.

My uncle Rick will be in attendance as well. He is newly divorced for the holidays and has nowhere to go. On a side note, uncle Rick and his ex go to the same gym as I do…I have to budget an extra 20 minutes into my workout now to listen to them bitch about each other..

Then my mom will be here…my brother Matt…my brother Luke and his family. My antisocial dad will stay home and my brother Mark is not coming. This will be the first time that Matt is around Luke’s girls since he went off of his anti-psychotic meds and wanted to kill them.

Thanksgiving will be the test to see if Matt will be okay around Luke’s daughters again. I think things will be okay. His hallucinations are gone and so is his fixation with the girls since he is medicated again. We have been dealing with this for so many decades now, but it doesn’t make things easier.

So, I will be hosting Thanksgiving at my house.

Last month I had my daughter Arabella’s confirmation at my house.

Next month I will be hosting Christmas and New Year’s. Time to buy a bigger house if I have to do all of this party hosting..We are crammed in this cracker box house tighter than ten boxes of stuffing in a small turkey..

If you don’t hear from me for a few days…I am cleaning, I am cooking, I am party hosting…

Hopefully I am not prying my brother Matt off of my nieces, explaining how Alex’s girlfriend is not Baylee although she looks like her, wiping away tears for the first holiday without my MIL Martha, talking with Darryl for hours about online dating, or commiserating with Rick on how much his ex sucks..

Oh, did I mention that almost everyone has a special diet??

Have a happy Thanksgiving! Gotta love my crazy family! Thank God I already lost my mind or I wouldn’t be able to deal with all of this!! There is never a dull moment.

Maybe you are lucky to have a prim and proper boring family. That was never my lot in life…

You will hear from me in a few days, unless I have the nervous breakdown I so rightly deserve…or maybe a midlife crisis…I just can’t decide!

 

Parenting in a different language

I have been following quite a few parenting posts lately and wanted to share my thoughts..

Imagine if your child was born speaking a different language. Perhaps you would feel frustrated that you didn’t understand. In fact, the child you should be teaching ended up teaching you. They made you feel like a complete idiot that you don’t understand. When you do learn a few words, your pronunciation is all wrong.

When I was graduating from college, a new technology came out called the internet. Along with it came something called email. I really didn’t know how to use it, but it really didn’t matter. I would be graduating soon. Maybe it was a fad. I used articles I found online to write papers, but there really wasn’t a way to document the sources. No one really knew how.

This year I asked my kids what a gif was. I showed my husband how to take a selfie.

We get criticized as parents for everything we do. There is no guidance. No one knows. How much time should we allow our children to spend online?? Should there be a limit or will they end up being behind?

The people older than us have no advice to give. We never had to deal with this, they say.

So we stumble along. We have our children teach us how to set up parental controls that they can get around.

We should be watching everything they do online…but we are still living in the 1980’s where we would be mortified if our parents listened in to every phone conversation. Is it really necessary to invade their privacy?

They is a good ten year gap of us parents out there that have never grown up with the internet having to parent children that have never lived without the internet. It is incredibly difficult.

Most of my closest friends aren’t even on Facebook.

I tried to have a conversation with my daughter last night about sexting. Seriously mom, I learned about that in grade school. You are so out of touch.

I thought my parents were out of touch because they didn’t know anything about MTV.

I consider myself having average computer literacy for my age. I can’t keep up.

How am I supposed to be fluent in a language that I don’t speak with my native tongue?

I have hope that the next generation of parents will be so much better than we are. We are doing the best we can, yet are failing miserably. The gap is too wide to cross. We are judged harshly by others that don’t understand our struggle.

Thankfully the next generation of parents will be able to speak the same language.

Widows weekend at home

Is it sad that I would rather stay home and clean my house instead of going out with friends? Is something wrong with me? Or am I just getting old??

This is the traditional widows weekend in Wisconsin. Tomorrow is the opening day for deer hunting. Tonight is the night that the girls go out whether their husbands hunt or not.

Tonight I am staying home and cleaning my house.

Growing up I lived in isolation and most of the time I enjoyed that lifestyle. I grew up in a house filled with introverts.

Now I am surrounded by a family of extroverts. There are always people coming and going. My kids constantly ask if friends can come over for the weekend. It is busy, bustling, and loud.

Is it wrong to want silence??

The last couple of times out with friends, I was completely bored. I had to yell over the crappy music of an untalented band. People ran into me and spilled their drinks on me. I have a hard time dancing and having fun if the music sucks. I get hit on, grabbed, and groped by guys that I would have no interest in dating even if I was single.

Even the best of friends sober are annoying when they are drunk and the non-drinkers are a drag to hang out with.

Yesterday I ran into an old friend at the grocery store. I don’t know if she recognized me. I pretended that I didn’t know her. I was in a hurry and didn’t want to waste time talking about superficial things. I hate small talk.

If you are going to be my friend, you will be there in the good times and the bad times.

But frankly, I will probably push you away in the bad times because I don’t like to talk to anyone about my life. I am a very private person although you wouldn’t know it here. It seems safer talking to you folks, all complete strangers, that I have no chance of running into in real life.

Then during the good times, I will be upset that you weren’t there for me in the bad times even though I probably pushed you away.

It’s not that I have social anxiety or poor social skills. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Maybe I am not a good friend.

The nursery

A few days ago, I posted about trees. Sounds boring, I know. Sometimes I have an idea that scratches around my mind that I want to write about that leads to more ideas, and yet more until it takes root.

Today I am going to write about trees again and family roots.

I just want to be upfront with you right away…I do not have a green thumb. I’ve killed every house plant that I’ve ever had. Once I got a chia pet for Christmas. I ended up regifting it because it was too much pressure.

My grandpa had a nursery located on the edge of my parents property when I was growing up. Most of the trees in the photos that I posted the other day were of trees that came from my grandpa’s nursery. My grandma came to my house and helped me plant those trees. My grandpa passed away the year we bought our house. Even my grandma has been gone for almost a decade now.

We are thinking about moving in the next year. It seems silly to say that one of the things I will miss the most is my trees. It is one of the last connections I have left to my grandparents now. I remember painstakingly deciding where to plant the trees with my grandma.

Thinking about the trees again made me think about growing up. Oftentimes my grandpa would remove the trees that weren’t thriving. He would put them on a pile to discard. When I was a young girl, I decided I would rescue one of the dead trees. It was a little pine tree with brown needles. I planted it in my parents backyard. I watered the tree everyday, but it still looked dead.

Then one morning I went outside to check on my tree and it was alive with leaves of brilliant green. I did it! I saved my tree. Things went downhill after that with my green thumb. I don’t know who replaced the tree. It probably was my grandma, but I will never know for sure..

Then my memories started taking me down a darker path.

Strangers stopping by to buy trees. Grandpa coming over in his truck. The smell of fresh dirt. Fertilizer. The musty smelling plastic bags the trees were sent home in.

Strangers in our yard. We must be alert. We worry. Are there children? Are there little girls? I give my mother a report. Keep an eye on Matt while I walk over. We could prevent Matt from going places where he could hurt someone, but we could never warn the strangers that came into our yard unaware.

I never felt safe. It would probably shock you if you knew how many times we had to worry about the safety of outsiders. My brother Matt is violently autistic/schizophrenic. We couldn’t control Matt but we did our best to push other people away to protect them.

Today I sit in public places with my back to the wall…always watching. I notice when patterns are off. I do everything I can to be a protector although I am never needed anymore.

It is strange how thinking about something neutral like trees could take me back.

Out on a limb

A couple of weeks back I became strangely fascinated by the trees in my yard. It was well into fall and some of my trees were bare and some of the leaves were yet to change color. How could this be??

I decided to go out on a limb. I traipsed around my yard with my phone in hand to snap a couple pics of my trees as the neighbor came out of her house. I think that she thought I was coming over for a visit. How odd to be hanging around the property line. Awkward!

I wondered how all of these trees could exist in the same environment of my yard but be so different..How could it be possible that some of the trees lost all of their leaves right away and some didn’t even change colors?

I spent a little too much time thinking about it…I thought, and thought, and thought…until I thought I figured it out.

Maybe it was because some of the trees were in the front of the yard and some of the trees were in the back. Maybe they had more water or less sun.

But, no, that wasn’t it.

How could it make sense?

Then I thought some more…

Maybe the trees were like my kids..They all grew up in the same environment, but turned out differently.

I wonder why that is…

I can understand why different types of trees are different…But how do you explain variations in the same kind of trees?

How can siblings that grew up with the same parents in the same environment be so different from each other??

 

 

What to expect when you’re not expecting…

This weekend didn’t go the way I expected it would.

Arabella came home from school early on Friday sick. She had a fever all weekend and has one still. I ended up calling the doctor’s office Saturday night. By the time her Tylenol wore off in the evening, her temp was at 104.1. An hour after I gave her medicine, her temp was still rising and peaked at 104.5. The nurse said she probably has the flu. Thankfully, Paul and I got flu shots for our trip over a week ago. I am hoping that being coughed on, and taking care of a sick child in general, will have no effect on me.

The nurse told me that I should give Arabella a lukewarm bath. I prepared a bath for her and let her get in the tub herself. A 14 year old is too old to be bathed. I felt frustrated when I felt the water after she got out. The water that I added was too cold for her so she added hot water. Eventually her temperature decreased despite being in hot water. I finally felt like I could go to bed without worrying too much, but still got up during the night to check on her..

I am not surprised that Arabella got sick. She gets sick literally every time that she is planning on going somewhere, Paul and I are going away, or if we take a family vacation. This time she was planning on spending the weekend away on a church youth group trip.

My plans really didn’t change much because she was sick. I still blew off that party I wasn’t planning on going to. I finished my fall cleaning. I spent around 6 hours creating the perfect 2018 calendar of all my favorite photos and memories of 2017.

But that is not all that happened this past weekend. I noticed that Alex was acting a little strange. His patterns were off. I asked what his plans were with Baylee for Thanksgiving. He told me that they broke up. What??!??!? They were dating for almost a year and a half. They just went on the same college campus tour last week. I may have mentioned the word marriage last week. I even gave Baylee a fake name on my blog. We really liked her.

Alex seems to be doing well. So this holiday season, both Alex and Angel are single. It will make things a lot easier as far as holiday parties go. Last year they left our Thanksgiving party early to go to the family of their significant others. I could almost understand how the family of divorce feels. My kids shared how much fun they were having with the other family when I just wanted them to be home with me.

Then some other strange things happened. I found a permission slip on the table to join the math club. I automatically asked Arabella about her interest. She said that it wasn’t hers. What?? We both agreed that the Alex couldn’t be joining the math club. Could he??

Alex used to be the grade school math whiz. I had to ask his teachers for more challenging material. Then middle school hit and he barely passed math. The early high school years weren’t much better. My son fell into a rough crowd that was headed down a dark road until he met Baylee. Then he turned his life around, not without a few mistakes. His grades didn’t improve until this school year. Right now he has a B+ average up from a D average. He joined the chess club and now he is joining the math club. Wow! What??

Maybe he is finally growing up!

Then this past week I received a postcard in the mail from Arabella’s biology teacher. It read: Arabela *name misspelled* is putting little effort into biology class. With a bit more effort, she could be doing much, much better. Time management, writing down deadlines and studying outside of class will make all the difference in this class.

I felt rather irritated by the teacher’s form of communication. Seriously, a postcard?? Anyone could read that….her brother…For crying out loud, the postal carrier. Arabella is typically a high achiever. The postcard announced to everyone in bright colors that she was a slacker. How humiliating. She just told us a few days before that this teacher doesn’t like her. Should we be concerned? I wasn’t expecting this about her. She is getting a B in the class…so it must be frivolous??..Right?!??

Change is inevitable….what was I expecting??

 

A big problem

My daughter was 12 when I received the first comment about getting reduction surgery for her. It was from a well meaning relative. That was still during the days that I could shop for her in regular department stores..

When she turned 13, I started taking her to specialty stores for plus size girls. While there she grew tired of trying on garments and threw a fit about wanting to go play. I got several looks. My 13 year old daughter looked like she was 20. She always looked older than her age. This always created harsh judgment when she acted her age.

Although Arabella is my youngest child, she is often mistaken as my oldest child. The first time visiting a new dentist, Angel who is 5 years older was taken into the pediatric section and Arabella was taken to the adult side. People commonly mistake Arabella for college aged instead of Angel which drives Angel crazy. Recently while visiting Angel on campus, a guy offered Arabella a drink thinking she was older. These things happen all of the time.

About 9 months after our first visit to the specialty store, we had to visit again. Arabella said that her undergarments no longer fit. It has been impossible to buy clothing. Arabella wears the smallest plus size pants. She cannot buy fitted shirts because they don’t fit. She has to wear baggy shirts that make her look like she is wearing a mu mu. What teen would like that?

Swimming suits are impossible too. Arabella has been too embarrassed to wear a swimming suit without a shirt over it. Formal clothes are next to impossible. Finding a prom dress will be difficult. Arabella’s body is too disproportionate. She is all tummy and chest.

I get a lot of looks when I take her shopping. Am I really her mother…they must wonder. She doesn’t look anything like me or my side of the family. The largest women in my family have C cups, until now that is.

I think people stereotype me to be like the mom from the movie Spanglish…You know the type..the runner, thin, athletic, blonde always harping at her daughter to lose weight. I try to not be like that. I just have so much knowledge to share. Sometimes when she asks, I offer her advice which doesn’t end well for me. I just can’t win. Sometimes my daughter hates me. We are opposites. We clash. We don’t even look alike.

To make things worse, Arabella’s older sister Angel is just like me. When she was younger, people called her my clone. She looks exactly like me, has my mannerisms, has a similar personality, and we get along really great. This has been a struggle. I don’t want to play the favorites game. I don’t think parents ever what it to happen, but it does…

Last week Arabella told me that she will have to go back to the specialty store. Her undergarments no longer fit. I took her in for measurements again. She now fits into the largest size they have available. I’ve run out of options. This is the only store I know of in the area that has the larger sizes…I might have to start buying online if she continues growing. She is only 14.

I asked the clerk what would happen if she loses weight…That might not change her size. Plus Arabella told me she is having trouble in gym class…when she moves, she falls out. She can’t even exercise without issues. Plus she is terribly self conscience because there are hot guys in gym class.

If she loses weight, but not chest size, that would be just as horrible. Then my daughter would have the body of a porn star.

What am I supposed to do??

Apparently I haven’t even been washing the garments correctly. I am supposed to wash them in a garment bag and then hang them up to dry. What do I know? I have no guidance here.

Oh, and did I mention cost?? One garment costs $50.

I had to special order her garments. They don’t have any that they think is her size in stock.

What am I to do?? What am I to do?? I asked the store clerk. She suggested I make an appointment with Arabella’s pediatrician.

I refuse to let my daughter get reduction surgery until she is an adult. It just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. She doesn’t want surgery.

It is a big problem.

The (guilty) party

A couple of months ago, I shared with you the story of how my son was involved in an underage drinking party at a friend’s cabin. The problem was that his friend wasn’t there. She was supposed to go but got busted with alcohol by her parents before she even left the house. My son, the driver, was sitting with a car full of teens at a gas station waiting for her.

My son received a text stating that she could no longer go. It would have been reasonable to turn around at this point and head towards home. But she told them to go without her. Maybe she would show up later. She also texted them explaining how to get into the cabin if it was locked and where to find the alcohol.

My son, his friends, and a dozen other teens that he didn’t know showed up for the weekend to party. As you can imagine with a cabin full of teenagers without the owner there, there was a general lack of regard for the property. The problem was that the girl’s parents didn’t even own the property, her grandma did.

They left the cabin that weekend with cigarette burns and blood on the carpet, a broken water pump, broken glass, and vulgar images drawn on the wall.

We received a call from the girl’s dad, a friend of a mutual friend, a few days later. We were very upset and had a long conversation with our son about his misdeeds. We grounded him and cooperated with the parents.

This past weekend my husband, son, and a few of his friends had a meeting with this girl’s dad, uncle, and grandma. I did not attend as I was out of town with Angel for her singing competition. I was very anxious about the meeting. I waited by the phone in sheer panic…feeling excited for my daughter and feeling anxious about my son.

When Paul called, he said that the grandma was a very kind lady but spoke sternly about how she felt violated having strangers invade her cabin. She asked my son what happened that weekend and he told her.

They also wanted a total of $4,000 for damages incurred. Paul paid our son’s share. They wanted Alex to collect the money from everyone that was there, but he didn’t know some of the kids. So the group of friends that Alex had there said they would tell the others they knew were there and would have them send the money. So far no one is stepping up and taking responsibility for their kids.

The problem was that no one told their parents about the party except Baylee. One of the guys had a summer job and wanted to pay his share without telling his parents. Trunk boy told his mom and she thought it was some sort of scam. Trunk boy was the guy that rode in the trunk of my son’s car and his mom showed up at our door to complain that my son didn’t give her son enough rides. Trunk boy’s mom is psycho and I don’t want her at my door again.

My son’s girlfriend Baylee’s parents didn’t want to pay either. They said that Baylee didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t drink. She was simply there to babysit. I believe that is true. My son is such an adrenaline junkie with his cliff diving, motorcycle riding, and other risky things I know nothing about. He is a daredevil and leader. He would be the first to try something stupid or adventurous. He told me that he would tell me someday about everything that he has done, but I really don’t want to know. Baylee is his only voice of reason.

The other friends parents simply won’t be able to afford to pay, especially now during the holiday season. There are some that simply don’t care about doing the right thing.

I don’t think that this family will get the money they want. I would do things so differently. I would start with writing a persuasive letter addressed to the parents of so and so. I would say that I wanted x money by x date. I would include a copy of the police report. I would further state if the money is not received by x date, that they will be hearing from my lawyer which might include criminal charges.

Thankfully my child wasn’t dumb enough to throw a party at his grandma’s cabin. As far as I am concerned, this whole issue is resolved now. I don’t think they will ever get their money, but we paid for our share.

Notes on music

Things went well this past weekend with my daughter Angel’s singing competition. She made it to the semi-finals. Although she didn’t make it to the final round, she was satisfied with her performance. Being satisfied with her performance was big. She is like her mother and tends to cut herself down if she makes mistakes. Plus earlier in the week she told me that she wasn’t doing it. She had tonsillitis and was not able to practice much.

We didn’t run into any of her previous stalkers on campus which was a plus. The biggest problem she encountered was on her way there. Her map wasn’t working on her phone and she got lost. I had to find her on my phone’s map and give her directions from where I thought she was which was no easy task in the dark in a strange town.

I checked into the hotel a long time before she arrived. I checked in at the same time as her singing professor whom I greeted in a very friendly manner. He didn’t recognize me and I was hoping that he didn’t think I was a lady of the night.

 

We ended up eating supper after 9 PM. It was great watching Angel perform. I think the visit will tide her over until she comes home at Thanksgiving. This is the longest she has been away from home and she was starting to feel homesick.

Then Paul and I returned back to the same college yesterday with Alex for a campus tour. His girlfriend also attended the tour. Alex and Baylee have been dating for almost a year and a half. They have been talking about going to the same college. We think that if they go to the same school they might get married someday.. Time will tell. I thought that Angel and Mitch would marry, but they broke up this year.

Alex wants to go to school for saxophone performance or possibly jazz studies. My oldest two children want to or are going to school for music performance and don’t want to be educators.. There will always be a spot open for them in my basement.. Although very talented, the likelihood of them both having a successful career as performers is slim. I always like it when people ask me what their backup plan is…My basement, that is their backup plan.

I remember when I bought Alex his saxophone. I bought the instrument used for half the price of a new one. New saxophones are pricey and I didn’t want it to end up collecting dust on the shelf after high school ended.

I went to a stranger’s house to purchase the instrument. She kept all of the receipts. She told me that her son lost interest in band. A few months after I purchased the instrument for my son, her son committed suicide. It was a strange feeling. Was the selling of his instrument a warning sign that he was losing interest in his hobbies? It was very sad. My son asked me afterwards if I bought the instrument from the boy that died. I did not lie.

I was afraid that my son would find playing the instrument distasteful after that, but he brought the instrument to life. Many years later, my son wants to take this instrument with him far into his future. I want the previous owners to know that this instrument that once belonged to their only son did not end up on a shelf somewhere. But maybe through it a small piece of his life is carrying on…

 

What lies behind closed doors

What lies behind the door for us? Do we ever truly know? I thought about these things while going with my son today on his first college tour.

I think that as we near the completion of high school, we are faced with a lot of choices…paths…doors perhaps..Some of the doors seem obvious to open..They might have our name written all over it. Other doors are there, but we think some of those doors are locked because we have been told that they are so we never try to open them.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to listen to some of the best college level vocalists in our state. A few were so talented they almost brought ME to tears. As I was watching my daughter and other singers perform, I could no longer tell what the judges of the competition were looking for. I couldn’t find any fault with the performers…maybe a few little mistakes were made that I noticed from some of the freshman.

At college level, they are so far beyond the middle school and high school solo and ensemble level. In high school, and middle school especially, I could hear every missed beat and note that was slightly off. Back in those days, my daughter asked me for singing advice. I have had no professional singing training, just raw talent. Now I ask my daughter for singing advice. I can no longer tell when she makes a mistake. It was like listening to a language that I no longer recognize as my own.

Then I realized with regret that the singing path door was always there for me to choose. I was just told that the door was locked, so I never tried opening it.

When I was a child, I always loved water. I begged to take swimming lessons beyond the few months of basic lessons. But I got piano lessons instead and hated it because I didn’t have a passion for it. This year I competed in my first Half Ironman. I really struggled with the swimming because of my basic skill level. It was frustrating for me to try hard but not be able to compete against someone who has been swimming 30 years longer than I have at a proficient or experienced level.

Maybe if I was allowed to take lessons when I was young…I have this strong desire to be the first person to cross the finish line. I wanted to be the person that qualified for the Boston marathon on my first marathon. I long for it, but it will never be. I wish I was satisfied being the small percentage of the population that completed a marathon. I have to fight against the urge to berate myself for not being that great. Perhaps I opened the door too late.

Some doors are there all along, but we never open them. Some doors remain hidden in plain sight. Some doors we open and squeeze into before they are locked. Some doors simply no matter how hard we try to open them will remain locked.

Then there was a beautiful ornate door that once was hidden behind the roses and thorns. It was the writing door. I should have seen it all along…there were many years of scribbles in journals. There was a book written in grade school about a house full of troubled girls that were saved, torn up and thrown away.. There was this girl that wanted to share the story of her life..

That door has been opened and can no longer be kept shut.