Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hey Universe? Quit crapping on my head!

You know how sometimes in life, it just feels like the universe is taking a big, fat, smelly, crap all over your head? And, sometimes, it feels like it's been crapping on your head for, say.....the last four years? Just one thing after another? Now I know that other people have WAY bigger piles of crap on their heads than mine. But, this is my blog, so I get to vent about my own little pile. 'Cuz it still stinks!

First pile of crap:  Hubby gets laid off. A week after Christmas.

Second pile of crap: Surgery resulting in 7 months on crutches or in a wheelchair. (While hubby is now working weekends and evenings, so you are left to single parent a 2 and 3-year old by yourself. In a wheelchair.)

Third pile of crap: Hot water heater literally explodes, while you are home alone, on crutches, with the two little boys. Floods kitchen.

Fourth pile of crap: Surgery doesn't work, resulting in second surgery the following year. 3 more months on crutches. At least the boys are a year older now. Hubby still working weekends and evenings. Oh, and most holidays as well.

Fifth pile of crap:  You escape a round of education layoffs, only to have a disgruntled co-worker try to get you fired from a job you love and for which you work your butt off every day. Big, stressful, horrible investigation. Of course, you keep your job, but it really wasn't extra stress you needed.

Sixth pile of crap: Good friend dies after battling breast cancer for 3 years. She had just turned 40.

Seventh pile of crap: Heart-attack-like symptoms at work result in a rush to the hospital. You think you might finally get some rest, being in the hospital for that long, but they wake you up every hour or so to monitor your heart and other vitals. No sleep for two full days and nights. Turns out to be infection of the pericardium. (Have I mentioned that hubby still has that job that guarantees I am alone with my boys, without help, every weekend, after working a full-time job all week? I am a hermit. With two little hermits trailing behind me.) Cardiologist strongly recommends that I minimize my stress. I'll get right on that!

Eighth pile of crap: Hubby gets a lead on a great job, Monday through Friday. He's really perfect for it. Even has connections at the company. He makes it through the first round. I start to fantasize about what it would be like to be able to do things as a family again. He makes it through the second round. I start to fantasize about actually being able to make plans with friends and occasionally get a little time by myself to re-charge my battery. A week goes by. An email comes, letting him know the decision still hasn't been made. Then the call yesterday. Yes, of course, the universe crapped again. Someone else got the job.

So, while I know I have many wonderful things in my life, including two amazing little boys, and while I know that I have it so, so, SO much better than millions (probably billions) of other people in the world...I'm feeling sorry for myself. And, I'd like the universe to crap somewhere else for a while. Is that too much to ask?

By the way, if you're ever feeling like the universe is crapping all over your head, I highly recommend saying lots of bad words in the company of good friends. It helps immensely. Especially, if there's alcohol involved.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Real Situation

Ohhhhh noooooo.....Everyone weep. Everyone mourn. Everyone feel pity and empathy for "The Situation", because he's going into rehab for drug addiction. Geez, I know I've been sounding incredibly cynical lately (more so than usual), but are we seriously supposed to feel SORRY for this guy? He made a fortune by being a party guy on Jersey Shore, flaunting his abs, making out with hot girls, being paid to show up at parties and behave badly, and basically being the kind of smarmy, classless, disgusting guy our mothers warned us about. No, I haven't actually seen Jersey Shore, but I've seen enough little clips on Entertainment Tonight and other shows to have a pretty good feel for it. So, now, shockingly, this guy is heading to rehab. Didn't see that one coming. And, today, on Good Morning America, which actually used to be a show that had real news on it, they were saying how sorry they felt for this guy, how it's so hard for reality stars to live up to the characters they create on the screen, the pressures of it all, blah, blah, blah..... Are you kidding me? You want pressure? Work for a living. At a real job. Like teaching a class of 34 8th graders, all crammed into one room, because we keep cutting funding to education, while paying millions of dollars to idiots like this guy.

Sorry, dude, not feeling sorry for you. Not. One. Bit.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Marriage Equality in MY STATE!! Woo hoo!!!

I'm so excited to live in a state where it's now legal for EVERYBODY of legal age to get married! It's about damn time!!! Of course, it was just signed into law, and there will be a huge effort to overturn it by people who are apparently so insecure in their own belief systems and fragile unions that they find a loving marriage between two committed gay people somehow threatening or undermining...BUT, I am optimistic that the people in my state are far too accepting, progressive, compassionate, and yes, even logical (there is, afterall, a huge financial boon to the state economy that comes along with supporting marriage equality as well) to allow any sort of repeal of this wonderful, long-overdue legislation to occur.

I suddenly feel very proud to be a Washingtonian! (Now, if we can just get the legislature to fully fund education in our state, we'd really be off and running...)

Congratulations to all of the beautiful couples who are now planning to wed openly, in their home state, surrounded by the people who love them and secure in the knowledge that their marriage is finally considered legitimate in the eyes of the law, as it has always been in their hearts and in the hearts of open-minded and loving people everywhere.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are celebrities more worthy than the rest of us? Really?

Whitney Houston has died. You can't help but know this, because it's everywhere you look right now. On the news, on the entertainment shows, on the political shows, in the magazines, in the newspaper, all over the internet...Another incredibly talented, incredibly wealthy, incredibly famous (and infamous), celebrity, whose life was cut prematurely short due to using drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the stresses and challenges of the very fame and fortune she coveted. Something many people, celebrity and non-celebrity, choose to do. Turn to drugs or alcohol or sex or bulimia or gambling or "sex addiction" (whatever!) or some other unhealthy coping mechanism to deal with life.

Only, when you're a massive celebrity, like Ms. Houston, you are somehow held in higher regard than others. Your death is blamed on the pressures of fame and fortune, not the choices you have made in your life. People say things like, "Let's just remember the legacy of this incredible singer, the incomprable voice, and not dwell on her demons." Demons? Why aren't we talking more about the choices, not "demons", that led to her death and the deaths of so many other rich, famous people. There are plenty of ordinary people, all over the world, facing challenges like poverty, disease, broken marriages, hunger, illiteracy, harassment and abuse, grief, you-name-it, without turning to drugs and alcohol and blaming it on their circumstances. Where is the news coverage of these people? And, why is that so many "ordinary" people are blamed and reviled when drug use leads to tragedy, but we let celebrities off the hook?

Don't get me wrong. I know that addiction is a very real, very daunting, and very difficult obstacle to overcome. I have seen genuine addiction tear apart families and ruin lives. (Although I have some healthy cynicism every time I hear some male politician or cheating celebrity claim that "sex addiction" was the reason for their infidelity....)  And, I feel no joy or satisfaction that Ms. Houston has died. It's a senseless waste. I still hold memories of her soaring rendition of "I Will Always Love You" in my heart. Her voice was amazing. Her smile, infectious. Her choices, terrible. But, it bothers me that tributes and fanfare and passionate emoting about the wonder of Whitney are flooding the airwaves, everywhere you look, with very little discussion of the decisions she made that led to her death.

This kind of thing happens all the time. We are celebrity-obsessed in the United States. We seem to hold famous people in higher-regard, no matter how eroded their morality, how horrible their decisions, or how reprehensible or foolish their behavior. So, why is this bothering me so much today?

Because, just a few days ago, two little boys were blown up by their deranged father. Charlie and Braden Powell, two completely innocent young boys, were murdered in an act so selfish, so horrific, so unbelievable, that it should be at the top of the discussion boards. It should be everywhere we look in the media, because it should be the kind of thing we are mobilized as a society to combat. Instead of massive, ongoing tributes to a woman who had every advantage life had to offer -- beauty, talent, wealth, recognition... Where are the tributes in support of children like Charlie and Braden? Where is the media coverage of  the masses clamoring for more funding for programs like Child Protective Services? Was there media coverage of this horrible event and the funeral of these two little boys? A little. A drop in the bucket, compared to what we've already seen about Whitney Houston.

That's not right. It's just not right.

Friday, January 20, 2012

McDonalds Rescue Heroes!!!

First of all, I have to admit that the boys and I spend a lot of time at McDonalds. A lot. Before you judge, keep in mind that I've been primarily single-parenting my two little guys for the past 3 1/2 years, given hubby's work schedule. Every weekend. By myself. In an area of the country where it rains pretty much all the time. With two little boys, who are only 1 year and 2 1/2 weeks apart and no involved family anywhere nearby to give me a break. Ever. OK, I'm done justifying, because here's the thing about McDonalds restaurants...

They have TUBES! Bright-colored, loopy tubes and slides and climby-ramps. Bouncy tunnels and little rooms with soft mats where kids can wrestle and jump around. See-through bubble compartments that look like spaceships with steering wheels.

In other words, McD's provides a space where two little boys can completely exhaust themselves, while their always-exhausted mother can drink coffee and restore her sanity.

Yes, they're disgustingly dirty. I've seen the T.V. shows. And, there are far too few parents who enforce the sock rule, which sometimes makes me gag a little bit. But, I pack around the hand sanitizer, insist that we always take a bath or shower on the days we hit a McD's, and cross my fingers. Besides, isn't exposure to germs supposed to help kids build up their immune systems? I read that somewhere, and I'm going with that one.

So, my little guys have been coming to McDonalds since the first one started walking. At the ripe old age of 9 months. Sigh. We even have nicknames for the different McD's around town. There's "The Wet McDonalds", because the roof used to leak when it rained. Then, there's "The Mall McDonalds", which has the coolest rope net to climb on, but is usually way too busy to provide any sort of Mommy recovery time. This brings us to "The Ferndale McDonalds", which is just up the highway a bit, and has the best ramp tower. Finally, The Dirty McDonalds", because once we went there, and every single table was dirty. I swore I'd never go back, but the boys talked me into it, and everything was clean that time. Must've been under new management. Plus, it has the coolest tubes, bar none. I know how cool they are, because I once had to climb up in there to save my 3-year-old, who had gotten lost and stuck and was crying to be rescued.

Which brings me to the "Rescue Heroes" topic. Finally. Any parent, who has spent as much time as I have at McDonalds, has probably had to climb up the tubes to rescue her child at one time or another. I have had to perform 3 rescues over the years. The afore-mentioned one, which occurred at "The Dirty McDonalds", as well as 2 rescues at "The Mall McDonalds." Which is why, until my boys reached the ages at which they would no longer need rescuing, I always wore comfortable clothes for our McD's visits.

Today at McDonalds, it all came full circle. My boys were playing like maniacs, as usual, when I heard a pathetic little voice calling out, "Mama? Mama? Can't find you, Mama!" I looked up and saw a cute little boy, about 3 years old, waaaaay up on one of the ramps, tears streaming down his cheeks. About a minute later, a harried-looking Mom showed up, looking up anxiously and calling to her little boy, "Come on down, honey. Can't you come down?" "I can't, Mama. I lost up here." (By the way, this Mom must've been a McD's newbie, because she was NOT wearing comfortable clothes. Not even close. There was no way she was going to be climbing up those tubes in her cute little skirt. No way.)

At that, I hollered for Spencer and Foster and told the worried Mom that my boys would climb up and help her little guy find his way back down. (I actually had no idea if they'd do it or not, at least not without some complaining about it first, but I hoped they'd grab onto the opportunity to do something heroic. Fingers crossed.) As it turned out, they were incredibly excited to help out the little guy. My heart was bursting with pride as they grinned at me and said, "Sure, Mom. We'll get him down!" and streaked up the tubes to the rescue. They were awesome. They led him through the tubes, helping him climb up the ramps by pulling on one end and pushing on the other, and they even slid down the slide with him, saying encouraging things all along the way. I'd like to say that the grateful Mom squatted down to thank my boys for their kindness, but she just stalked away with her kid. Sigh. It didn't seem to faze either of my boys, though. They were so proud and excited, in fact, that they led a second little lost kid out of the maze of tubes about 30 minutes later. And, that little boy's worried grandparents thanked them effusively. I just beamed.

My boys. Rescue heroes, indeed!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life is fleeting. Don't forget to live it.

Last week, an amazing, creative, charismatic little 10-year-old boy in my community suffered a critical injury while practicing acrobatics in his bedroom. He lived for only 2 days, before his family had to make the impossible decision to shut off the machines which were keeping him alive. I can't even imagine the depths of the grief his parents must be feeling...I just can't even go there.

So, when we woke up to the first real snow of the season, yesterday, and my boys wanted to go sledding, we dropped everything and went. I whooped it up with those little guys for 2 1/2 straight hours. My bad ankle throbbed so badly it had its own heartbeat, but I didn't care. We must have made 40 trips up that hill! Ouch.

And, when my little guys wanted to build a snow alien, we made an awesome snow alien, with crazy sticks for hair and pine cones for eyes. A little creepy, actually, but quite cool.

Then, when they wanted to gang up against me in a snowball fight, even though I had pulled some sort of tendon in my wrist snowshovelling the driveway, I was all over it. Tired and in pain, but nothing could have stopped me. (By the way, I can still take them both in a snowball fight, even with a messed-up wrist. Two against one....doesn't matter. Oh, yeah.)

And, when we woke up to even more snow and a bonus day off from school, today, we did it all over again. This time, hubby was able to join us on our adventure. With his work schedule, our family days are few and far between, so it made the hours we all spent together that much more precious. And, since we spent most of those hours flying down a hill, covered in snow, laughing our asses off, it was time spent well. Living life to the fullest. Appreciating every moment. My cheeks still hurt from laughing. (As for my wrist and ankle...that's a whole different kind of hurt. But, I wouldn't take it back for a moment.)

So now, as my little ones are drifting off to sleep, I will sip my glass of cabernet, elevate my throbbing, swollen ankle, put a brace on my throbbing, swollen wrist, and snuggle into bed next to my hubby to watch something silly on T.V. And, I will thank my lucky stars that I was able to spend such glorious days with the people I love most in the world, and that I can wake up tomorrow and hug them and kiss them and appreciate them and continue to make beautiful memories with them.

Because, heartbreakingly, some people aren't able to do that with the ones they love...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The cure for a crying fit is...math?

It's almost 9pm on a Tuesday. Normally, both of my boys would be sound asleep in their own rooms right now, and I would be: 1) Passed out from exhaustion, or 2) Enjoying a nice glass of cabernet while watching something brain-numbing on T.V. As it turns out, I was planning on option #2 this evening, because the hubster went over to his buddy's house for a little male bonding, and the new season of The Biggest Loser started tonite. But, as I relaxed on the couch, sipping some red and munching on Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop popcorn, I heard little footsteps and sniffling noises approaching down the hall. There was Foster. He looked up at me, miserably, bottom lip trembling, and then burst into tears and flung himself onto my lap.

"Mommy, I feel so, so sad." (sob, sob)

"What's wrong, honey? Why do you feel sad?"

"Because you gave away some of our stuffed animals! I love ALL of my stuffed animals, and you gave some awaaaaay......" (louder sobbing)

"Well, honey, we gave away some of our stuffed animals at Christmastime, so that kids who don't have any can have some animals to snuggle up with at night. You have a lot of stuffed animals to snuggle up with. You're really lucky."

"I know, but I really, really miss my stuffed animals." (renewed fits of sobbing)

Now, before you think I'm a terrible mother who cruelly snatched beloved toys from the arms of my devastated little boys...I donated maybe 10 stuffed animals that neither boy ever even looks at any more, let alone plays with. I doubt that Foster could even come up the identities of any of these donated stuffed animals that are now the cause of so much drama... Still, I felt a twinge of guilt at his sadness, I'll admit.

Then, the sound of new footsteps came down the hallway.....Spencer, of course.

"What's wrong with Fos? Why is he crying?"


"Well, sweetie, I know that you're sad, but it's a school night and time for bed. So, let's go snuggle up with some of your other stuffed animals, OK? Spence, it's sweet that you're thinking about Fos, but time for bed for you too."

Off we went down the hallway...

By the time I got Fos to his bed, he was crying even harder than before.

"Now I'm really, really sad about TWO things. I'm sad about my stuffed animals AND I'm sad about Cosmo dying last Christmas. I'm SO SAD!!!" (bwaaaaaaaaaaaaa.....)


So, we went through some deep breaths to calm things down, but he had himself really worked up, and I just didn't feel right walking out and leaving him in such a state. Was I being manipulated? Highly likely. I'm sure it happens every day. However, this is really unusual behavior from him, especially at bedtime, so I just wasn't sure what was really going on with my little guy.

Next thing I knew, Spence appeared at my side.

"Mom? I know I'm supposed to be sleeping, but I'm really, really worried about Foster, and I think he needs me." (How precious is that, I ask you? I almost pee'd my pants with joy at big brother being so sweet to little brother, especially since that's pretty unusual behavior around here as well.)

"Honey, that's really nice of you, but I think you need to head back to bed." (louder wailing from Fos)

"Well, you see Mom, I really think you should let me sleep in here with Foster for a little bit. I think I can make him feel better. You know we used to share a room." At this, Fos sits up and hugs his brother, and, for a change, his brother hugs him back.

"Mommy," said Fos through his sobs, "You always say that the most important and wonderful thing is our family, right? Please let Spence sleep with me."

So, I let Spence grab his blanket and pillow, and I said he could stay in there for a little while to cheer up Fos.

"Can we do quiet talking, Mommy? PLEEEEEASE?????"

"OK, but if it sounds like you guys are getting crazy in there, I'm going to send Spence back to his own bed right away. And, only 10 minutes of talking. Then, it's sleepy time for you both."

"Thank you so much, Mommy. You're the best Mommy in the universe!!!" (accompanied by more sniffing and sobbing from my youngest, of course)

"Yeah," I thought to myself, "I don't think your teachers are going to be thinking I'm such a terrific Mommy tomorrow, when you're both so tired that you lose your minds all day at school..."

Anyhoo...I headed back to the living room to finish my glass of wine, and I immediately heard giggling from the room. So, I did what any self-respecting parent would do...I tippy toed down the hallway and eavesdropped outside the door.

What was making my little guy, who had been sobbing his heart out only moments before, giggle with happiness, you ask?  Math. Yes, math. Spencer was firing addition problems at him, and Fos was adding them as quickly as he could, laughing like crazy every time he got them wrong. Which was a lot. He's only a first grader, afterall.

So, Fos didn't need Mommy hugs and deep breathing to get over his bout of sadness. He just needed his big brother to do some math with him. Who knew?

Now, I need to go get Spence and tuck him into his own bed, with extra kisses for his kindness to Fos. And maybe I should write a nice little note to the boys' teachers for tomorrow, just in case...