Category Archives: Family

Costco and Post-Apocolyptic Syrup

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Dog Named Bob.”

The following is 100% true.  Except I don’t really know the dog’s name.  So The Daily Post made it up for me.

I live in the country on the edge of a big city.  In my yard there is an abundance of wildlife and land.  The back of our house overlooks a ravine with a sometimes dry creek bed running through the bottom of it and in the summer we can see no houses through the woods.  The Husband (who is a wonderful, yet occasionally obsessive man) has looked at said ravine and discussed its potential for putting in one of those weird survival things that you bury underground and stock with everything you may ever want or need.  He is a handy kind of guy, having installed a new and upright mailbox at the end of our lane that is perfectly level, anchored in concrete and just the right height that I don’t have to get out of my car to get the mail.  Sometimes, I see blue jays or cardinals sitting on it (we have both and they are spectacularly colorful) and find their poop later when I get the mail.  And a big hairy spider lives inside.  I can’t rightly ask for him to leave since his is outside of my house.  Bummer.

The Husband loves to go to Costco without me and buys things – weird things – in bulk quantities.  One of the things we do go through at an amazing frequency is paper plates, so we buy those in mass quantity, along with laundry detergent and K-cups for the Keurig machine.  I am telling you, in case of a Zombie-pocolypse, there had better be coffee in my underground bunker!  One weekday while I was not gainfully employed, he called from Costco to verify what we needed – milk, coffee creamer, protein bars, eggs, the usual.  While we were on the phone, I was looking East out of the back window of the house and saw our dog, Butter, sitting next to the shed.  I said to the husband “I have to go, Butter is out of her kennel!”  Then I turned around and faced West where the kennel is and there was Butter, laying happily in her house in her kennel.  “Never mind, Butter is in her kennel.  She must have a doppelganger!”  The Husband said, “Oh, that’s *Bob* a neighborhood stray.”  And the conversation about shopping went on.  Guess what he came home with?  No protein bars, no coffee (I know where his priorities lie!), but a gallon of pancake syrup and ink for the printer we had two years ago.  No lie.  A gallon of pancake syrup.  And two gallons of orange juice.  He loves Costco.  So after the Zombie-pocolypse, if you’re craving pancakes with lots of syrup, but no coffee – head on over to my bunker.  It’s right behind the 4th tree to the right.

Photo of Trees
The Woods are Deep
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Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home!

Ladybug!  Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that’s little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

Okay – maybe that’s a little more morbid than I want to be.  But my baby (A2) has gone away for 2 weeks.  She is with family and close friends, doing some work and having some fun.  When we lived in the same town the Husband was raised in, A1 had the opportunity to work for our former daycare provider in the summer.  She earned a little money and got a lot of training on how to take care of small kids.  A2 had been lamenting the lack of that opportunity in our new home earlier in spring.  So we told her she could certainly contact the daycare provider to see if she could do the same work for 2 weeks.  The daycare provider welcomed her happily for 3 days each week that she is in town.  A2 then contacted friends, grandparents, and an aunt and made arrangements for food, lodging, and transportation to and from work on working days.

So now she is gone.  Last summer, she and her older sister went to summer camp for a week and I barely missed them.  But now, it is just the baby flown away.  I want to call her every few hours to check on her.  I never checked on them last year.  Do you suppose it’s because I knew her older sister would watch out for her?  I guess I am not very trusting of her grandparents and I know that she has already been in a fight with the friend with whom she is to spend some of the weekend.  She is old enough to handle those things herself.  And she is a strong little girl.  I guess I need to be strong to and let her go and have her own experiences.  And having her out of the house means I can (hopefully) finish her quilt while she is away.  That would be amazing.

Today’s art is, as usual, from tanglepatterns.com, String 035 – http://tanglepatterns.com/2013/01/tanglepatterns-string-035.html  I think I told you at the beginning of this blog-venture that part of the goal is to document my arts and crafts and one of my goals is to go through, in order, each string from tanglepatterns.  Good or bad, they show up here.

String 35
2015-02-25; tanglepatterns.com, String 035

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Disgusting really.  My office is on the 11th floor overlooking downtown.  Most days, the view is amazing.  Today, it is truly frightful.  I can barely make out any of the buildings, the sky is gray, gray, gray, and it looks like rain is coming down again.  Soon, the Husband will be requesting tools and wood to build an ark.  We have 2 cats and one dog, but they have been appropriately spayed or neutered (in case you are listening, Bob Barker).  I am not really an animal person, so will I have to take other animals on my ark?  God has not, that I know of, told the Husband to start gathering the animals 2 by 2.  But the rain just will not stop in the middle of the country.  And California?  Horrifying drought.  The 100 year weather extremes now seem to be on a 5 year cycle.  I don’t want to see the Missouri and Mississippi flooding again and the people getting killed in Texas from rising waters.  I feel like I have seen enough of these tragedies to last for the rest of my life.  And I have a lot more living to do.

On the bright side: I did do two of the things I said yesterday that needed to get done.  The trash bill?  I don’t even know where that one is.  But I do have a brand new shiny license plate for my car and the Boy is confirmed for Driving School (thank goodness).  The Boy really needs to get his driver’s license.  He works today at a time when both the Husband and I are supposed to be at work.  Luckily I have a very understanding boss, and usually I would leave early.  But today I went to the DMV (barf!) and can’t leave early.  The husband can’t leave early.  So, here we are… What to do?  The Boy is going to see if one of his friends can take him, but if not, I will have to go.  And risk losing my job because I am not reliable.  Honestly, sometimes being an adult sucks.

Art for today, because that is always nice, isn’t it?  And I really, really love this one.  It is one of my personal favorites!  Tanglepatterns.com, String 034 – http://tanglepatterns.com/2013/01/tanglepatterns-string-034.html

String 34
2015-02-18; tanglepatterns.com, String 034

Personal Irresponsibility

I have an issue.  Maybe several.  I forget to do things.  Not just the little things like picking up my shoes, but big stuff.  Things that are on my list right now include paying the trash bill which is probably overdue and leaves me hoping that the trash and recycling get picked up today, registering and getting a license plate for a new car we bought in May whose temporary plate has expired, and confirming my son’s registration for Driver’s Ed for this Saturday.  I don’t know why I do this.  These are things that should be easy to get done and I just don’t do them.  The husband gets so angry at me.  I understand why.  But it just doesn’t help.  I don’t do the things I should.  I even make lists of things to do and don’t do those I don’t want to.

I do it with little things too.  Food burns while I am spinning or knitting because I have completely forgotten about it.  Laundry goes sour in the washer because I feel like I am done with laundry.  Then next time I feel like doing laundry, I have to start by rewashing the load in the washer.  I start a bunch of things I never finish.  My kids don’t think I am reliable all of the time.  This is the part of my personal irresponsibility that hurts the most.  They don’t see me as a mother who keeps her promises.

A lot of this has to do with Fibromyalgia.  I hate to make excuses, but when it comes to my kids and my husband, I forget what we talked about yesterday.  I have horrible pain one day that prevents me from going to the store.  All I can do some nights after I get home from work is crawl into my bed and sleep until the next day.  Right now, I am in one of these phases.  Work is taking all of my energy to get through.  My pain levels are very high and I am unable to concentrate.  I don’t know what to do or where to go.  I know I have an appointment with my rheumatologist coming up.  The thing is, that before I started this job, I was sleeping well, had good energy, and my pain levels were very low.  Do we blame the weather pattern we are stuck in, me drinking a couple of beers over the weekend, the job?  All of it?  It’s hell, you know.  And I can’t fix it.

Today’s drawing is tanglepatterns.com String 033 – http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/12/tanglepatterns-string-033.html

String 33
2015-02-05; tanglepatterns.com, String 033

A Trinity of Growth: The State of My Year

If you asked me to define myself, my greatest role and self-definition is that of being a mother.  Once, someone told me that when you die, it will not say on your tombstone “She was a good employee.”  I have tried to separate how I define what I do to make money and what I do with my life.  And so the State of My Year (in response to the Daily Prompt  “State of Your Year.” ) will include only this about my employment status:  I got a job which I started in March.  It is a job and I do feel I will be helping people.  But mostly the State of my Year is about my kids.

The Boy has grown so much in the first 5 months of the year.  Today is the last day of his junior year of high school.  This past weekend, some of his best friends graduated.  He is rapidly approaching adulthood and is really seeing for the first time how the choices that he is making now may affect him for the rest of his life.  Visiting colleges with him, he finally understands what the Husband and I have been telling him – his grade point average equals money for college.  And college then turns into his path for adulthood.  He has been much more aware of his grades this semester and has been working very hard.  I am very proud of this.  There have been some areas of pain and sadness for me – he has decided he is an atheist and does not believe we should force him to attend church with us.  He still does not want to participate in family activities.  I hope and pray for a future with this child coming around at some point and wanting to be a part of the family.

A1 has blossomed into a beautiful young woman.  She is as successful in high school as we wanted and hoped her to be.  She has made new friends and is participating in new and different activities.  Last night, we had the end of the season banquet for her swimming season where she was recognized for being a leader on the team.  She received a varsity letter and was recognized as being part of 3 relay teams that broke school records.  As she is only a freshman, there are great things in her future.  I feel like I was such a better parent to her than the Boy, though I don’t know what I did differently.  Maybe it is just that they are, in the end, two different people.

A2 just finished 5th grade and will be moving on to middle school.  She is a funny, lively, amazing girl.  She has grown up, up, up since the beginning of the year.  Probably close to five inches.  This age is such a time of growth and learning.  Somewhere between childhood and teenager – so difficult.  And to have two siblings in high school who want nothing to do with her, I feel for her.  She is so active, always outside working on cars, in the garden, or inside cooking, crafting or building something.  She is a bit of an enigma to me.  At this age, with the Boy and A1, I could see into their futures and I was pretty accurate.  But I don’t know what the next few years hold for this one.  I will just have to watch and be there for her.

As for my state of the year – I am watching my children grow.  I am making plans for my future, thinking about starting a crafting business on the side of my technical job.  I am also looking forward at the aging of my parents and my in-laws.  I am trying to prepare myself for their declines in health and what that will mean for the Husband and I.  And my own brother I have somehow become a counselor for and because of his lack of maturity, I have taken over parenting his daughter and grand-parenting his granddaughter.  Thus far, I will give 2015 a thumb’s up.  But we’re not even half way through!

Today’s drawing: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/12/tanglepatterns-string-030.html  This gets a ‘meh’. Not the worst, not the best.

String 30
2015-01-20; tanglepatterns.com, String 030

‘It’s a Musical Journey’

Over the weekend, the Daily Post prompt was to blog regarding a journey you have taken.  Whenever someone asks about a journey, I think of the movie/album Rattle and Hum by U2.  There is a section where the band was interviewed about what had changed from The Joshua Tree to this tour.  After much hemming and hawing by all, Larry Mullen, Jr. says “It’s been a musical journey” and then repeats “It’s a musical journey”  Then they all crack up and taping stops.

So when I saw the prompt for a journey coupled with the recent posts I have written regarding how music is the backdrop of my life, I had to start today with that quote.  Because it is a musical journey even if I am not musical myself.  Specific songs take me to a time and place in my life.  Back on the Chain Gang by the Pretenders takes me to the bedroom of my high school years – I can smell the quilt, I remember reading on that quilt and hearing that song on the radio.  Garth Brooks Friends in Low Places takes me to the summer after I graduated from college and specifically when Bill died.  Bill was the Husband’s best friend.  They were renting a house together and I practically lived with them.  But after he died, the house was full of friends, all of us in shock, alternately staring into space and crying.  No one talking, but Friends in Low Places on replay in the CD player.  I still can’t listen to that song.

The Husband and I danced at our wedding to True Companion by Marc Cohn long before it was in whatever movie it was that made it popular.  That song and my love for my husband are inextricable.  Marcy Playground’s Sex and Candy was in constant play on VH1 in the middle of the night when I was pregnant with and then feeding the Boy and nothing was on TV.  Bad Things by Jace Everett is the theme song from True Blood.  While I didn’t like that show, I loved the theme song.  The husband would watch it and I would stay awake through the opening segment to hear the song, sleep through the show, and wake up to hear the song again at the closing segment of the show.

These are just some of the songs that make up the soundtrack of my life. There are so many more that are tied to moments in time.    Right now, my girls get in the car and change the radio from the ‘Classic Rock’ to ‘Pop’.  I hate Pop.  But I know that in the future Katy Perry will be in the soundtrack for them at this age.  And for early childhood – the Doors and the Grateful Dead feature prominently.  My life is, and always will be, a musical journey.

And now for some art for you.  This is a small oil pastel I did a couple weeks ago.  I rather like it.

Color Play
Color Play, 5×7, April 2015

Journey

8 Days Left

After today, there are only 8 school days left in the school year.  What that means is A2, who is in 5th grade, is done learning anything.  They will be having field trips and doing fun stuff for the rest of the year.  They are no longer allowed to check books out of the library.  The Boy and A1 are in high school and are gearing up for finals.  I am not too worried about A1 – she is doing well.  Except for Civics.  I can see the possibility of her failing the class completely and having to retake it.

The Boy?  Well, he is a junior.  We have been doing the college tour, take the ACT, discuss funding thing since the first of the year.  He did well on the ACT so he’s got that going for him.  But his grades/ grade point average?  These reflect his laziness.  He just doesn’t do his homework.  Or he is insolent because the teacher insults something in his 17 year old sensibilities.  At the end of the first semester, his GPA was sitting at 3.0.  That is an okay GPA, but if you want any kind of scholarship money from the state run schools, it has to be higher than that.  He really needs to get straight A’s from here on out.  My expectations are low.  I don’t expect him to get any scholarships.

Summer is coming soon and luckily we have farmed all of the kids out to have some kind of job.  The Boy works at the Subway and has talked to his manager about upping his hours.  I’d love to see him working almost full time.  A1 is going to work for her cousin babysitting to save the cousin some money on daycare.  She will work two or three days a week when the cousin has her daughter.  And A2 is going to go to Iowa to stay with family where she will help babysit and stuff for about 2 weeks.  I’m a pretty proud parent that all of the kids will be doing something to earn money for themselves.  And get them out of the house for a while.

Today’s drawing is tanglepatterns.com, String 28.  Link: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/11/tanglepatterns-string-028.html  I am really not fond of this one.  I like the sides, but not the zigzag middle part.  (Otto:  What was that middle part again?)

String 28
1/9/2015; tanglepatterns.com, String 028

Looking Ahead

How many times do I spend my days wishing the time away – wishing it was 5 o’clock, wishing today was Friday, wishing it was spring or summer or autumn?  Is it human nature to do that – to look forward to what we know is ahead and we perceive to be better than what we are doing today, right now?  Today I am looking ahead and looking forward to several things – again, wishing today away.

Tomorrow night, the Boy will be celebrating his 17th birthday by having 7 of his friends over to have a draft for Magic the Gathering.  His main gift from us is a new box of cards, chosen by him for this draft.  I don’t pretend to understand what any of this means, other than a home full of hungry teenage boys.  We are ordering pizza.  Lots of pizza.  And A1 will be making a double batch of Tollhouse bars.  A1 is a fabulous baker and we have pretty much turned all of the baking in the house over to her.  Then all of these boys will be spending the night.  Where and how they are all going to fit into the Boy’s room, I have no idea.  Nor do I really care.  They are 17.  They can figure it out.  They will then be getting up bright and early (ha!) and heading off to Record Store Day.  I hear there are some special records being released that are ‘must haves’ in the Boy’s world.

While the testosterone festival is leaving the building, A1 has a swim meet.  It will be her third one this week.  As a freshman, she is on the high school team for the first time and is still getting used to it.  But I have to say that her swimming has progressed beautifully and she looks amazingly poised and confident at the meets.  Her birthday is Monday and she has asked for it to be mostly ignored.  She does want a hair straightener.  Ok.  I can do that.  After that, there is a high school band performance on Wednesday.  Both the Boy and A1 will participate in that.  Their high school band is a joy to watch, so I am looking forward to everything about that except sitting on the bleachers.

In spite of having two birthday’s in the upcoming week, the one thing I am so much looking forward to is Yarn School.  Yarn School.  Friends, booze, spinning, knitting, dyeing, booze… How can I possibly wait!  I leave in one week and drive for a couple hours to check in to an old high school building in a field in the middle of nowhere until Sunday night.  There is something about this annual trek (this is my 3rd year) that makes me so happy in such unexplainable ways.  There are so many things about it to not recommend it and yet, I keep putting my money down and keep going.  I am pretty sure there will be an upcoming post titles Yarn School.  Keep your eyes open for that!

Today’s drawing is String # 024 – Oh! I like this one!  Link to the string page: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/10/tanglepatterns-string-024.html

String 024
11-14-2014; tanglepatterns.com, String 024

16, Going on 17

The Boy, that is.  Now, I am not sure how it happened that I have a child who will  be 17 within a week, but that is not my story.  My tale today is about being 16, going on 17.  Do you remember 17?  The Boy is going through what seems to be normal teenage angst, but it is causing me middle-aged mother angst.  He isn’t drinking or doing drugs or skipping school – for that I am so grateful.  He doesn’t yet have a driver’s license and can’t go anywhere without the Husband or I taking him or one of his friends picking him up.  He doesn’t have a girlfriend.  He took the ACT and did well enough to get into college.  He is passing all of his classes (some of them just by a hair, though).

What’s the problem with this angel, you ask?  Attitude.  100% Attitude.  A couple of weeks ago he got in trouble for missing his curfew.  The consequence was that he could not go to his favorite activity – Friday Night Magic.  The level to which he got upset about this was, in our minds as parents, completely out of proportion.  And it was during this conversation about consequences that he let us know that he does not believe in God and should not be forced to attend church with our family any longer.

I have spent a lot of time since that conversation thinking about when I was that age.  He is very much like me when I was that age.  All of the first paragraph describing him could have been used to describe me at that age.   The major difference is that I had parents who were mostly not present during my teenage years.  My dad worked and then ignored us and then went to bed early.  My mom was an alcoholic.  I had to put her to bed when I came home on weekend nights.  I could tell her anything I wanted about what time I came home.  I never got in any curfew trouble.  And I certainly never had the balls to tell them I was suffering mentally, trying to work out God, evolution, where we come from, why are we here.  But I had all of the same thoughts about going to church as the Boy.  But I went to church with the family.  As soon as I moved out, that was over.

I want to tell him that it gets easier.  That high school sucks, college is better, and after college when you really get to be an adult – that’s when life really gets going.  But I know he won’t believe me or he won’t listen to me.  I know that the Husband and I are the biggest idiots on the face of the earth and our sole purpose is to torture him.  So, I am trying to tell him I love him, that he is a good kid, that I am so happy to have him in my life.  So that one day, when he is out on his own, he will remember that.  And then he will believe it.

Today’s art from tanglepatterns.com is based on String 23.  Here is the link to that specific string: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/10/tanglepatterns-string-023.html  About this time, I was starting to get less busy and more into having a background.  I hope you like it!

String 023
10-13-2014; tanglepatterns.com, String 023

Motorcycle Madness

You know how sometimes themes just present themselves?  Today is about motorcycles.  I think we’ll start with a little back story though.  I have a niece who is an adult.  In the lottery of parents, she lost big time.  Her dad is my brother and was the non-custodial parent for much of her childhood and her mother brings a lot of issues to the table.  My brother does, too, but at least his issues are not drug and child molesting boyfriend related.  I have always tried to be present in my niece’s life and be a stable adult role model.  About this time last year, she and her husband decided that being married to each other was not a good idea.  The husband and I knew that St. Louis was not a good place for her to stay – she had no family, no support system, and a set of in-laws who would run over her if she let them.  So we took her in along with their 3 year old daughter.  I am happy to say that she is doing well now – divorced, with shared custody of the baby, fully employed, living on her own and she has a new boyfriend who is much more stable and deserving of her than her ex.

As I was leaving work last night, the Niece calls and says that the Boyfriend has been in a motorcycle accident on the freeway and she is on her way to pick him up.  Oh, dear God.  He can talk, he is refusing an ambulance, he is alive.  I call the husband and arrange for him to pick up the baby at daycare (we are listed as the only people besides the Niece who can pick her up).  I go to pick up new clothing for the boyfriend as he would not fit into anything at my house and they will be coming to pick up the baby and we will feed them.  It’s what we do – feed wayfaring strangers. Or relatives.  In the end, his motorcycle is totaled, but he just has a major case of road rash on his hind end.  He will be feeling the pain of that one for a while.  He is very, very lucky.  And I am grateful.  I cannot go through another motorcycle related funeral.

This morning, to bring this full circle, I am about 2 stoplights before my parking garage for work and there is what can only be described as a motorcycle gang in the parking lot to my left.  One man is going from stopped car to stopped car handing out a flyer. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and they represent B.A.C.A. – Bikers Against Child Abuse.  This organization is amazing.  Please look them up at www.bacaworld.org. If you know of any child who is or has been abused and needs an advocate, contact this organization.  I wish they had been around when the Niece was living with her mother and her child-molesting boyfriend.

Today’s picture is tanglepatterns.com string #021 link – http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/10/tanglepatterns-string-021.html  Again, I hope you like it!

String 021
11/12/2014; tanglepatterns.com, String 021