Sunday, July 7, 2013

For Realz

Anyone who knows me knows I obviously did not make my 40 by 40 list. Things being what they are, life intervened. To be honest, that 40 by 40 "challenge" really seems self-centered to me as I look back on it. It may not be, but to me--since everything I do is so embedded in my family life--listing things that I want for me that are so exorbitant is, well, selfish. Even my time spent away from tasks, people, is exorbitant at times.

So, here is a more realistic list of things that I want to do by the time I'm 45. 45 sounds good, right? Truthfully, I picked the age arbitrarily. These things are real goals of mine and I make this list because it is doable, difficult, and I'll be proud of myself for accomplishing them. Some are like resolutions and most are not bizarre and "out there" things, but so what:

1. Get back in my goal weight range. Dr. J would like me in the 120's. I'm in the 130's now, but keeping yourself inside your goal weight range is easier on your joints.

2. Start walking for exercise. The running was fun, but the knees they built me 20 years ago definitely do not like the running.

3. Hike the entire Lone Star trail. I've wanted to do this for years. I believe this was on my 40 by 40 list. It's still a good goal and lots of fun. So why not?

4. Take the kayak out on the lake regularly. This requires me to be able to turn it upside down and put it over the truck. It's inflatable and unwieldy, so I need to get the hang of that so I can do that myself. Not to mention how susceptible it is to wind. Talk about a spongy ride. But fun!

5. Get certified in secondary 8-12 science, then secondary 8-12 mathematics. I'm definitely working at something that isn't what my target when I was in college, but considering the family issues and the major employers in town, Teaching here is a good fit. And I really enjoy teaching and meeting the kids.

6. Finish all the unfinished remodeling jobs in the house. This includes light fixtures instead of dangling light bulbs.

7. Write that stupid book that's been nagging me for so long. I've started it and am working on it, but need to make some hard decisions about characters and where to start.

8. Work with Squib to develop some of his art skills. He goes to "art" at school, but it's nothing like what he's truly ready for. He's already building sculpture and only lacking technique.

9. Write more. This is separate from the book. I'd like to blog more. I'd like my journal to be more consistent. I'm in an unusual situation where I can record four generations of our family and I want to record it for later generations.

10. Learn more. I'm 41. Buddy is 64. We're the two that "do stuff" and he does a lot of things that I don't know how to do. Not because I can't. It's because I haven't ever done it. So, I need to tag along and make sure I can do the things he does with various stuff around the property in case he can't do it. It's not morbid. When you live together like this, it's just what you do.

11. Have more lunch and dinner parties. Life is short. You should share life with everyone you can.

12. Sing more. Think less.

13. Get rid of all the things I don't need or haven't touched for the last six years.

14. Listen to more music.

15. Get into a regular routine so that I feel better.

16. Encourage, support, enjoy, and be in awe of my boys more.

17. Talk to my grandmother more. She's a saint and there's so much she's been through so much. Someone should carry the family history.

18. Teach my children to enjoy the outdoors. They've been inside so much due to medical issues, but that's not an issue now. It's time to explore! It's time to slide on our butts down into the gully!!

19. Get comfortable being me. As is. And for crying out loud--pitch the make up!!!!

20. Keep an even keel and laugh as often as possible.

So there. My 20 by 45. More realistic and refreshing. I can do this!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Whump Whump Whump

There's a wheel missing off my metaphorical buggy. I know for certain that the brakes are toast. The only way to stop is to run into a large stand of brush and then pick my way out. Again...metaphorically speaking. It gets me where I want to go. It carries what I need to carry. However, lately it's been "whumping" a lot and I fear the left rear tire is...well...missing.

I knew something was off. I felt the odd bumping when I got in the buggy this morning, but it was early. I wasn't inspired to investigate. I had to get up, get out, and get going. I thought maybe I could have a slow, clingy, huggy Saturday morning with Beanstalk.

But no.

Beanstalk turned a viewing of Despicable Me into a national sporting event. His whole body was hopping up and down in my lap, swinging his long arms as wide and strong as he could. He delivered every line, some of the soundtrack, and added his own emphasis vocally when he thought it was needed. When something good happened, he cheered like it was the Super Bowl. I love it when he is so excited. It requires all your strength and muscles you never thought you had just to sit with him in your lap.

It never fails that the day before we have a big Beanstalk day, Buddy has a big outdoor project that has to be done That. Very. Day. So we attacked some brush that was surrounding some bushes and trees on the south side of our lots.

OFF TOPIC: I hate defoliating our land. However, it makes my Dad happy. I have no idea what we're going to do when we run out of "brush" to clear (yes, by hand) but if we start felling trees again I may loose my marbles and the remaining wheels on my buggy altogether.

Mostly what we try to do is clear vines (trumpet vine!!!!! ack!!). That's the company line. Personally, I think Dad likes to use his electric chain saw. Nevertheless, gathering it all up, putting it in the truck, and putting it on the fire while it's burning is some serious work. When I quit for the day, I did my buggy check and all I got was a light that said "engine check." Right.

So this morning, Beanstalk wanted to watch movies. He wanted to watch movies like someone who is a died in the wool fan of some sort of football team and if you are not participating in the joyous frivolity, then he will take your arms in his and swing them for you.

We went outside to play and he walked around behind me and hugged me around the neck and climbed me like a long, noodle-shaped monkey. Without any other available option, I carried him around on my back. It was like Mutt riding piggy-back on Jeff. Arms and legs everywhere. Not to mention my buggy phoned in with "check engine" again and "check oil" and every other light it could possibly throw out.

We got on the swing which means Mutt sits on Jeff's lap and he Never. Holds. On. So, I hold on to his waist by wrapping my arm around his waist and hanging on to the chain on the other side. Then I hang on the the swing with the remaining hand. He totally eclipses me. After a minute or two, the buggy up and quit. My legs cramped, my hand was locked in a grip around him. I was stuck. He was perfectly happy. So we stopped, he ran off alone and I was stuck. He couldn't step down over the rail that keeps the little wood chips in the swing area, so I got the famous call:


Mom dragged her carcass to the edge of the swing area, helped him over the rail and attempted to keep up with him when he took off running (yay! he runs now! This is actually good, but you know, now so do we. All. The. Time.) Finally, he wore himself out and we could cave in on our blanket for a few minutes.

With the ants.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lists Are Good For People

10 Things I No Longer Give a Flying Rat's Ass About

1. Separating laundry loads by white versus colored (blue or red). Suffice it to say that I don't wear red or blue and even if I did, my general theory is that if it can't be washed in the same load, on the same temperature, at the same agitation speed, and dried on the same setting....then forget about it. I'll give it to Squib and he'll make something out of it. Dry clean fabric included.

2. Beauty products. Any of them. This is not to say that I don't have them because I do. It's just that preening yourself for thirty minutes (or more) in a mirror everyday is primarily a waste of time and secondarily...fake. Also, all the shampoos and conditioners and crap has never really done much for me except for Phomollient from Aveda. So I have shampoo (I forget what kind), Dawn, and my Phomollient. Oh, and Lubriderm and a razor. Dawn because I get very, very, very dirty. Drain the tub and start over dirty. Lubriderm because I'm in the sun a lot. I don't want to look like a prune by the end of the year. There was a time in my life when I actually shopped at a makeup counter instead of the shampoo and cleaning products aisles at Walmart. However, things change.

3. Schedules. Over the last ten years, the lives of my children have rocked everything I ever knew, thought, wanted, and didn't want down to the bedrock and beyond. But with t18p and nf1 kids comes a life of total chaos. You can be IN the shower with the soap on your body and the shampoo in your hair and have to get out RIGHT. THEN. PERIOD. Yes, I've rinsed my hair in the sink in the ER at Texas Children's Hospital. Then, my life expanded to include my mother (Lupus and Crohn's disease) and my grandparents (Cancer x6. Seriously. Six different kinds between them. Or was it five? They all run together.) Point is, about all you can try to do is sketch out a rough diagram of who should drive which car the next day. Dad and I manage that rather well. The last time we scheduled anything was the winter of 2012 and the night before we were to leave I spent the night on my bathroom floor with the worst stomach virus of my life. We had been trying desperately to plan all sorts of things. After Dad dragged me (literally) into the Big Red House to stay, we pretty much resolved to forget the planning stuff. When friends plan things, I say "sure, I'd love to come" and enter it into my calendar and then laugh like a hyena.

4. This one is hard to find a name for. People expect you to believe a certain way in certain situations. I just came to a place in life where I no longer really care what's expected if a better option is available that is just as good. For example, no I didn't report some kids for introducing a local student as recently immigrated from Russia. I just assigned a writing assignment that was due at the end of the hour and told him he could write in Cyrillic. At least this way I got to enjoy the class period, too. I also got them situated with a laptop so they could talk via Google translate. They were squirming. It was the best day I've ever had in a classroom (non-educationally speaking).

5. Language. When everyone else stops saying, "Gosh darn it my stupid elbow freaking hurts," then I'll stop saying, "My fucking elbow hurts, dammit!" The physicist--who argues against profanity--cannot logically argue that "crap" and "shit" are any different at all when you get right down to it...biblically I guess. You should refrain from the action (anger, loss of self control, etc.) more so than the word itself. However, there are times to avoid certain profanity as "fuck" is not so acceptable in public as, say, "darn." Of course I know all that and I'm not standing on the roof of the high school screaming profanities. I'm just bumping my elbow in my own house when there are no kids around. Beanstalk knows the "F word" only because they told us there was no really good way to know if he was completely deaf. We thought employing a little Murphy's Law would be advantageous. Well....he hears just fine with his one good ear.

6. "The Way Things Are Done." You know, if you've got a bee in your bonnet to take on the laundry room and wash everything and clean it up? More power to ya. Or tackle the hall/guest bathroom? More power to ya. Want to clear out some clutter? You do not need my permission. I will hunt happily in peace for whatever gooferdangle was so darn important that I don't even know where it is now. People are always asking, "Where do you want this?" I simply have no answer other than "down" or "away." And we are always having to adapt our ways of doing things. So, there is no such thing around here as "the way things are done." When I help out in the kitchen at church they're always taking things away from me or bodily shoving me away from the sink or the stove with wide eyes. "She doesn't know how we do things!" "Just get a plate and take a seat, honey. Enjoy!" You know it's bad when they start handling you. LOL.

7. The toilet seat being left up. Frankly, if any woman in her right mind gave it one iota of thought, leaving the seat up is your best defense to what is truly the nastiest thing on earth and that's sitting down on a seat that hasn't been wiped clean after your 7-yr-old has been playing target practice with something that wasn't even inside the toilet. Srsly. It's pretty easy to train them to leave it up. If you put it up when you are done, then....viola! They just have to do their thing and wipe up (most of the time).

8. That stupid concept that I will A). become independently wealthy and move into my own monstrous home again and B). that prince charming will find me. Finally. The slow poke. I'm not giving up on the bare bones of these concepts, but when I say bare bones I'm talking about making enough money to get by and maybe getting involved with someone I (and my family) won't kill inside six months. The job thing I am actively working on. Actually making money again is surprising after so long. Just some hoops to clear still. Defined, doable hoops. Step one, two, three, etc. kind of thing. The other thing? Attrition may actually shoot him first just to see his exact level of commitment. I was thinking a first date cleaning out the chicken coop would be less traumatic. Well, unless dad is his date. Either way, that's labeled "B" for "back burner." It's going to have to fall out of the sky. As for the monstrous house? No thank you. Just forget that. I don't want to clean it.

9. Hairdresser, fingernail, toenail people/places......mani/pedi haircut stuff. The people are all very nice. It's really the whole idea that the weekly ritual is necessary that I just can't chew on. No, I do not have my hair professionally cut by anyone. So far, I get lots of compliments. Always have. I used to get my nails done regularly and besides the money (and OUCH there) it was a huge waste of time. Where we live now, I don't understand how people that have the financial worries we do and they do can even afford to do all that. Besides, I'd give my manicure about five minutes of outdoor work and I'd need another one. If I was trying to repair something, I might clip the darn things off because they were in my way.

10. Fear. Yeah! Surprise! A meaningful entry in this litany of mostly useless crap. Fear just up and ruined my life. Yes, I allowed it to. And that was my fault. I thought if I just told someone that I needed help that they'd help me and I'd be fine. That isn't how it works. You eventually have to fight your own battles. I didn't know how to fight. I'd never been taught. I was unequipped. I tried anyway. I didn't know what that thing I was battling was. I was definitely fighting. I just didn't know what with. So yes, I'm done with fear, TYVM. Don't let the door hit ya on the way out.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013


"Oh, for fuck sake!"

Probably not the best thing to say out loud in my grandmother's living room the one day all the deaf people had their ears on and were really listening.

But no one commented. This requires more testing. ;)


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Day In The Life

6:00 am

I wake up. I'm in the Big Red House sleeping in the guest bedroom b/c the AC is out in my house. Again. Again in the same month. Brain declares this to be an unholy hour of the morning despite the crashing and other noises that indicate total destruction and I desperately attempt to go back to my dreams that would cause the romance novel genre readers to pale should they ever see them.

7:00 am

The noise from the kitchen is escalating. Resistance is futile. I get up and get ready. I think I got lost flossing. Morning is not good for me. Especially when there are no littles running about. I must have flossed for a good fifteen minutes. Shuffled laundry. Everyone's laundry is now done together b/c we are somewhat wiped out after the hospital stint w/gma. I am more of a multitasker and I'm short on undies so I pay better attention and all that rot. I fold all the clean clothes and vow to eat breakfast, like, in the morning so I grab a banana to remind myself.

8:00 am

More laundry arrives from the depths of my father's room. I shall save the description of his laundry. Suffice it to say he gets very, very dirty. And sweaty. Handle with tongs. 'Nuff said. I shuffle loads again and fold more. There are enough people here to create a million loads a day. Baba mentions that she needs to talk to me privately some time this morning. I don't know about you, but if you have had my upbringing that sort of request can still strike fear in your heart even if you're 41. I know I haven't done anything. My brain asks me what horrific violation I've committed now. I don't answer. It's still before noon. I have no thoughts before noon. Strike that. Of late, I've had to think a smidgen in order to make sure gma takes the right medicine at the right time. So I check that out and perform other nursely duties including moving the broken hip hazard out of the middle of her bathroom. I feel I'm constantly looking for things to trip over.

9:00 am

I get dressed. You know, the kind of dressed that people outside the family can see...which means I put on a bra. I changed clothes, too (you're welcome), but often I don't mind filing things and doing paperwork in my jammies. I've earned the right to file and do all of our records and financial business in my PJ's I think. I carry all the file boxes I'd generated in the office into the Big Red House. There's just more room in here. I got a "holy cow" from Buddy who was just sitting there reading the news on his Samsung Note. #geethanksforthehelpdad :) I put away all the laundry I'd cleaned. This is quite an exercise on a compound. It's not like you can just stay in one house, you know. I also get everything read to work on the bank books and continue the frontal attack on the "files." The files are a whole other entry. Files/taxes. Not even funny. Or maybe hysterical.

10:00 am

I started working on the books. Reconciling the ledger versus the bank statement, etc. Then I remembered the "private talk" gma wanted to have. So...I went and had it. I was not in trouble. That was the most important part. Maybe. However, her portable DVD player that she takes to chemo was/is broken, so she wanted me to lay hands on it. (Contrary to popular opinion, I cannot fix everything). It proved to have a "take apart" problem. In all likelihood I'll kill it trying to fix it. I ended up groveling around for a CD player and cord, etc. so she could listen to a book on CD. Somewhere in there, she mentioned (after SIX YEARS) that she can't unbutton her shirts or jeans that I've folded or hung. So I went through the whole lot and had a mass unbuttoning party. Then, of course, there was more laundry to shuffle and a load to fold.

11:00 am

While I'm still standing, I make gma's bed. She likes it made. The rest of us are slobs. I like mine made, too, actually, but with everything going on I rarely get that far down on the totem pole. Usually people are already talking to me and requesting things before I get out of the darn thing. Finally, I sit down and open up all the software and crap to work on the bank books. AND I get to eat my banana/breakfast. I log onto the online banking to find that the gerbils and squirrels they have employed to maintain the thing have been fast at work. Yesterday the bank statement ended with 6/28 and today it ends with 6/27. Then on one view they show a slough of transactions that I have receipts for, but on the statement view, they aren't shown at all. A good .22 can fix this problem. However, the buzz from the dryer made me put my keys down and fold laundry instead. This would suck more if there were no gerbils and squirrels running the place at all. Don't laugh. It's literally a stand alone bank in the middle of nowhere. I'm certain they make them use the back entrance, but it's gerbils and squirrels...the new alternative to child labor, people!

I do the best I can to rearrange things and finish out my month using the rodent version of online banking. I didn't do too badly. I can right things when the statement arrives. IN TWO WEEKS. More laundry. More things to fiddle with before gma goes to chemo. Some sort of brain alarm goes off at 11:50 and I remember that Dad wanted me to go get him at 11:45 so he could shower and eat lunch before the chemo jaunt, so I dropped the laundry I was passing into the dryer and lit out for the front acre hollering his name like a lunatic. NOTE: He is totally deaf. Almost. For example, him deaf and me wearing headphones at decent volume are relatively equivalent. So I figure if he won't go to get his (FREE) hearing aids, then I won't take out my headphones and we'll just scream at each other. This is how we get along when working outside together.

12:00 pm

It is noon. You must eat. This is a family belief. Somewhere in there with Adam and Even and baby Jesus. Breakfast by 7:30, lunch at noon, dinner at 6:00 (it used to be 5:00, but...whatever). I tend to eat when I'm hungry. You when your car needs gas you fill up. You wouldn't fill up a full car. Anyway. I was asked no less than four times what I wanted. My last answer was "anesthesia" and that ended that. I did settle down for my ten minutes help on the family crossword puzzle as I'm the regular-to-funky science fact/ pop culture authority. When done with that, I snagged a Dr. Pepper and slinked back to my roost in the living room and continue reconciling ledgers like a regular accountant. I put my headphones in both ears this time, though. Even though I can hear everyone clearly, they look at me and assume that I can't hear for beans and go about their merry way. Don't think I haven't perfected this art.

1:00 pm

No idea where this hour went. I was working, though. I meant to start this falderal around 8:00 a.m. so a bit of lag on today's schedule. I had to have music to put a little zip in my step. Mimi must not have approved b/c she chose suffering in the stuffiness of her (not the greatest circulation) room over the possibility she might hear my music. It's campy '80's throwbacks! What's not to love? I am ignoring the laundry.

2:00 pm

Still ignoring the laundry despite my chronic need to move around. I'm [] this close to being done with the monthly ugly bank funk. Next is attacking all the filing that needs to be done. Yay. I'll have to fold something...anything...or my brains will leak out my ears. There are all kinds of things to work on outside and the weather is just gorgeous. I feel the pull.....

3:00 pm

When I say I'm handling money junk, I mean I'm handling money junk for the whole compound. If it were just my money this would all end in two minutes flat. What really happens is they spend it and I take the receipts and online bank statements and iron it all out. I also get handed the bills. Paying the bills is like spinning plates. No one in Barnum&Bailey's has anything on me for plate spinning. Sometimes, though, I have to do quite a bit of extortion to make sure I know what everyone else has been doing with the family pot. Which brings me to...

4:00 pm

I must fold something or my tail end is never going to come to life again. Not to mention the callouses on my wrists. Have I filed anything? The dryer has saw fit not to dry anything, so I grabbed envelopes and such to get rid of the checks that I wrote and prepared for....wait for it...filing!!! Dad texted me (texted...I can't believe that's even a word) to ask if I was asleep. I'd love nothing more, but I'm actually awake. Not wide awake, but awake. Side note: Everyone around here is always asking me if I'm awake. Or, they say something like, "You're awake!" with great astonishment. W.T.H. already? I get up with Squib who likes to rise pre-dawn and go to sleep when everyone else has already sacked out. Sheesh. Anyway, folded, filed, and generally got down to the business of being a boring houseperson. I'm not a housewife, so...they call me the houseperson.

5:00 pm

Would you believe I was still doing laundry? Ack! Then I got hungry and laid waste to some macaroni casserole. Then all the chemo sojourners came back from their travels and occupied my time with things I can't even remember.

6:00 pm

Laundry. Filing.

7:00 pm

Thus endeth the formal portion of today with a phone call from Squib to tell me that he is doing nothing. Nothing at all. Not reading, watching movies, or playing with any toys according to my prompts. What he was doing was hiding out in his room with his dad's cell phone. 7 years of age.