Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Anxiety Dream #870439

I woke up a bit ago from a strange dream. I was finally getting to visit a long time bloggy friend who has been in very ill health in recent years (don't get too excited, Emily. This one wasn't about you this time.) ๐Ÿ˜œ

I sat in her warm farmhouse kitchen talking about life and getting caught up. When her daughters arrived, she announced we'd be having a special dessert to celebrate my visit. It was an old and treasured family recipe and I was to have the honour of making it.

Oh! OK. So this IS an anxiety dream, just with a pleasant plot. Thanks, subconscious.

I was directed to an overstuffed recipe box and pulled out a yellowed newspaper article.  It was a reprint of a complex ice cream concoction from a noted and frequent contributor, Kas's great aunt.  It was also her obituary.  In addition to the recipe and acknowledgement of this great aunt's many submissions over the years, it also mentioned this aunt (I wish I could remember her name...it was something old fashioned and pretty like Magnolia) was survived by a daughter.

To forestall the inevitable cooking fiasco, I asked if this daughter the obit mentioned was still alive.  They all glanced at each other and Kas said "Why don't we take a ride over there and see?"

I hopped into the oldest daughter's car and we sped into town. Eventually, we stopped in front of a vacant lot. "Aww, they finally tore it down..." Suddenly the dream starts to feel familiar. Have I had this one before? OMG, did I blog about it?? In front of me I finally notice a young woman in a dated dress. "Oh! Hi? Are you..." (I wish I remembered her name too...it was something less pretty like Gertrude.) I had a short conversation with her where I figured out she was a ghost and had been murdered by her Beau.

Huh. That was depressing. We returned to the farm and got started on that dessert.  Thankfully, Kas had done the hardest part of it - a fried dough bowl coated in cinnamon sugar. Good foundation! In the bottom of the bowl the recipe called for chopped broccoli and shredded cheese. Um. What?! On top of that was 4 scoops of 4 different kinds of ice cream.

The general chatting had continued as I reluctantly added broccoli and cheese to those unfortunate bowls. The oldest daughter was telling her mom that I'd actually SPOKEN to someone at the lot where their relative's house used to be. Wait. You couldn't see her? She was right in front of us!

Nope. I was the only one who saw the ghost and oh, by the way, it was an unsolved family mystery who had killed her. No one suspected the loving and grief- struck boyfriend. Kas knew I'd seen ghosts before and was hoping I'd see something at that lot where she died. They hadn't said anything because they knew if I had any inkling, my anxiety would have closed me down. I have to happen in on these encounters in an open and welcoming mood.

OK then. Happy to help. I eyed the raw chopped broccoli and unmelted cheese and decided it should be warmed up. Kas directed me to a strange bottle of cooking oil to coat the cookie tray I was going to use. Fast forward through the dull cooking bit to where we all sit down to enjoy this mountainous ice cream concoction and... "Eww! It tastes like bad fish!"

Oh no! The oil must be rancid!

Then I woke up.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Key Fob does WHAT?!



Him: Did you know every window in your van is open (including the skylight) and probably has been for days?

Me: ๐Ÿคจ

Him: I'm serious. Max says he saw them all open at once a few days ago and insists he told me, but I don't remember that. How do you open all the windows and skylight at once anyway??

Me: ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜จ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜ฑ *finally capable of speech* How much water is in there? Is everything soaked?!?!

Him: The cup holders and side wells in the door are full, but the seats are dry. Max sat in all of them. The rugs feel dry to the touch too.

Me: ๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜• How is that even possible? The skylight was OPEN. With how hard it's been raining for the last week, how is the car not half full of water?!

Him: ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฏ

Me to Max: So how much wildlife and/or insects do you think have made a home in Mommy's van now? How does it smell in there?

Max: Oh millions, I expect. And it smells pretty dank.

Me: Dank like how you usually mean (awesome) or dank like the real meaning.

Max: The real one. Dank like a wet forest. Green is healthy.

Me: ๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜ง Mold isn't! and the spiders... ๐Ÿ˜จ๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿ˜ต



Anyone have any advice for a car that's been underwater? Turns out if you hold down the unlock button, all the windows in my van open. Every...single...one...๐Ÿ˜ฃ Someone (not me) has been pocket messing with my wheels. *points finger at husband and his tight pants*


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

A little bit Weeaboo

Max walked into the family room carrying a huge box and proceeds to open it. I say, "Hey, now. Is that addressed to you? Who said you could open it?" I have to assert my box-opening privilege all year long or Christmas would be ruined. ๐Ÿ˜… He says, "It's my Japanese snack box, Mom!" Whoa whoa whoa. I don't remember our monthly Skosh Box being THAT big.

Then I remember. Max has fallen in love with a super popular Japanese soda called Ramune. They have 2 flavors in our local supermarket - original and strawberry. If you know anything about Ramune, you know how sad that is. Only 2 flavors. Pathetic. So I jumped on my big screen portal to the rest of the world (aka my computer) and show him the rich and exciting world of Japanese sparkling beverages in funky bottles that are hard to open.

What do we find? One company makes a line of Naruto themed flavors. (Naruto is a Japanese cartoon - aka anime - in case you are unfamiliar.) Max LOVES that show and had to have one bottle in each flavor.

So I placed an order. Asian Food & Grocery Store out of CA. Nice selection of various popular Asian food items. I found my favorite fruit gummies and threw those in the cart too. It was like opening a Christmas gift! They threw in a packet of fizzy cola tablets, a bag of sour cherry chews and 2 full sized boxes of Pocky (matcha and chocolate banana)! FREE! *squee*

Max has tried the lychee flavor (featuring Kakashi) and raspberry (featuring Itachi). Yum! I got a taste too. We both love them. Only 70 calories in a whole bottle! Japan knows how to do soda without killing you with high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients. <3 span="">


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mother's Little Helper

I think, years ago, I did a post about all the many and weird jobs I've had. I don't think I tapped out many words on my very first job. My first job, outside of doing chores for my weekly allowance, was as a "Mother's Little Helper."  That's what our neighbor across the street called me. Her mother's little helper. She may have been Rolling Stones fan. *snort* I was about 10 or 11. Wow. I was Max's age when I started working. I think that is TOO young, but I was a pretty mature and responsible 10 year old.

The lady across the street worked part time and had a lot of activities she enjoyed. The problem was, she had two very active and demanding boys. One was about a year and a half younger than me and one was about 5 or so. He was a handful. Mrs. H would invite me over to keep her boys entertained and out of her hair. She did housework, laundry, typed stuff, talked on the phone...I guess whatever she wanted to, and I kept the kids out of her hair. My salary? She paid me in homemade cookies. Usually oatmeal raisin. She was big on healthy stuff. Sometimes chocolate chip. 2 cookies, no matter how many hours I was there.

Not gonna lie, I felt a little ripped off. The cookies were delish, but it was WORK keeping those boys engaged. Thankfully, back then I had a vivid imagination and could make up stories or games at the snap of a finger. My brain is more foggy and sluggish these days. It takes longer to find the right words and string them together. Even when my boys were small, I'd find it hard to sit on the floor and think of things for the Little People to say and do. I found myself wishing for a mother's little helper of my own.

I often wonder what my mother was thinking, allowing me to go watch kids at such a young age. She knew Mrs. H wasn't leaving us home alone (at least, not at first.)  Later, Mrs. H started running quick errands and would leave us to play. Not for a long stretch. Maybe 30-40 minutes. But I remember feeling really stressed about it. What if one of the boys got hurt? Ran out of the house? Broke something? It was nerve-wracking but ultimately a great experience. In my last days as a mother's little helper, Mrs. H finally started paying me cash money and she would take all of us to her swim and tennis club. She'd go play tennis and the boys and I would swim. Her older son was a good swimmer and went off to do his own thing and I just stayed with "the baby." He wasn't really a baby. Like most mothers, I think she wasn't ready for him to grow up.

Leaving a 12 year old to watch your kids at a pool. Alone. Yes, I was a good swimmer too and the pool had lifeguards, but still... *shivers*  Times were sure different back then. Even my own mom would take my brother and I to the pool at Hanscom AFB and just drop us off. We'd be there most of the day with just a little pocket money to get a treat from the ice cream man. Crazy. Free-range childhood at its best.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Twin Peaks

There are a few shows over the years that either premiered with spectacularly bad timing with events in my life or I just flat out missed them until everyone around me was talking about them. I have this thing where if I miss the first few episodes, then forget it. Especially a show like Twin Peaks. You miss an episode or two and you are hopelessly lost. (Lost is another show I watched long after it aired, funnily enough.)

I've seen enough tributes and references to Twin Peaks over the years (Psych!) that I suspected I would like the show and having Hulu recommend it to me yesterday was perfect timing. I'd just finished binge watching Agents of Shield and Grimm and needed something new to watch. I am now one episode in and, yep, I'm hooked. It's been SO long since the show aired that if I ever did know who killed Laura Palmer, I've totally forgotten. So...no spoilers there.

1990 was a rocky year, personally. A lot of loss and grief. Watching a show about a popular high school teen who was murdered did NOT sound appealing, quirky or no. And this show is certainly quirky. I do love off-beat and weird as a general rule.

So, episode one... Lot's of characters thrown at you. Some suspects. Loads of mystery. And that weird music playing behind it all!  Some of the acting is just awful. Laura Palmer's mother, for instance. Grace Zabriskie is a familiar face. When I see her, I picture a chain smoking and scary woman with a gravelly voice. That is her wheelhouse, in my mind. Character actor. Scary chain-smoking, gruff, maybe drunk, but never a sympathetic character. Seeing her as a grieving mother is just...jarring. I'm assuming the screaming and over-the-top swooning is a deliberate acting choice for this character but I just cringe whenever she appears on screen. That could be deliberate too. We shall see. For now, she is my least favorite character. On to episode 2. I may just leave this entry as a draft and come back to edit after I watch another episode or 2.

Episode 2: Laura and her shrink?! That was a weird shocker. He's the one who dug up the necklace that James and Donna buried. The whole Mill side story just has me scratching my head, so far. And log lady. Oh! And Agent Dale Cooper. Wow. He kinda has this whole goofy Columbo shtick going for him. Less bumbling and more air-headed tho.  But the local sheriff nailed him on day 2 by saying he felt like "Dr. Watson".  Yes. He does seem to have this hidden Sherlock genius. I'm still trying to figure him out. He's a lone wolf FBI agent? I thought those guys usually travel in pairs. And who is the chick he is making the recordings for? Maybe that is just the name of his tape recorder. With the weirdness of this show, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

Episode 3: Throwing rocks, dreams of dancing little people, unrelenting cheerfulness...Agent Cooper is crazy. There is a LOT of crazy in this town. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. And pie.

Episode 4: Laura's Dad is now losing it worse than his wife. Flinging yourself on top of the coffin? Yikes. Secret society and civilians trying to bust a drug ring? Yikes.

Episode 5: Is there ANYONE in this town NOT having an affair with someone else's boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse?! Yeesh.

Episode 6: Everyone is having fun at the local casino whorehouse. And Laura's look-alike cousin is helping her friends try to find Laura's killer. What is with the local shrink? He looks like a 70's disco hippy tragedy.

Episode 7: I really hate abusive men.  I love just desserts. But what a "Who Shot J.R.?" moment at the end. Good thing they got a season 2. *snort*

Season 2, Episode 1: Lying on the hotel room floor, dying, but the room service guy doesn't notice the blood? Just sign the check while you lie on the floor. Silly. Visions of giants. This season looks to be even more woo woo than the last one.

S2E2: Uh...everyone is in a coma.

S2E3:  Missing for 2 days and the dad isn't worried and the mother is nowhere to be seen. The brothel, meanwhile, is hooking the poor girl on heroin KNOWING who this girl is (the owner's daughter.)  Crazy!  Meanwhile, Donna is having a meltdown. Smoking? Acting wild? and pushing her new boyfriend away and into the arms of another girl...who looks like Laura. And is her cousin. So Donna runs to the strange shut-in she met delivering meals on wheels. What? The guy could be a total LOON. Ugh. I'm watching this with mom goggles now.

S2E4: A secret diary hidden in a secret bookcase! Intriguing. Laura's Dad confesses to killing the fluffy French Canadian fella. Will Cooper EVER see that note under his bed?

S2E5: Things are starting to run together. Is Nadine a superhero now? What is with the freakish strength? I know she worked out that one time and broke her ab rower... Cooper does yoga and finally sees the note under his bed! Which makes me wonder about the level of housekeeping at the Inn. Off to rescue...why can't I ever remember her name?! Audrey! Ya. Rescue mission! Go!

S2E6: Well, at least they got Audrey back. Multiple personalities or spirit possession...really guys?

S2E7: Uh...has that evil spirit been there the whole time???

S2E8: The one armed shoe salesman is a prophet? He was also a suspect and they kept him in a first floor hotel room with open windows? Yikes. I do not like Mr. Palmer's new golf clubs.

S2E9:  Uh oh. Bob is out and on the loose.

S2E10: Well, this is lasting much longer than Season 1. They figured out who the killer was. Where do we go from here? Is this just turning into a weird nighttime soap now?

S2E11: Yep. Very weird nighttime soap. OMG David Duchovny in drag?!  He actually makes a very attractive woman.

OK. I've lost track of what episode I'm on now. I've been watching non-stop for so many hours they are starting to blur together. Leo woke from his coma and went homicidal. No big surprise there. Running off into the woods in his bathroom only to run into the deranged ex-FBI agent/partner of Cooper squatting in a remote cabin? Yeah. I'm skipping the whole red headed seductress story line. It was just silly. The owner of the Great Northern hotel going bananas and thinking he's some Civil War general? Also silly. Busting the drug ring and killing the last of the Renault clan? Good. They still need to clear Cooper of wrongdoing. Again, David Duchovny in drag is just all kinds of awesome. I grin from ear to ear every time he appears on the show.

This show is really hard on local law enforcement. They make most of them look like total fools and sometimes borderline drooling idiots. I'm still trying to figure out the loony ex-FBI story line. Cooper's ex-partner went insane (supposedly), killed someone, his own wife (a witness) and is after Cooper for some crazy reason. I assume it's because Cooper was in love with his wife.

Skipping over Laura's old boyfriend the biker and his born-to-be-wild ride into the clutches of a black widow murder plot. Donna saved the day...again. She goes from annoyingly weepy and hysterical to cool, chain-smoking chick in stolen shades. It's a bit jarring.

Crazy dream sequences, white lodge/black lodge, possession, new love interests...and a rather cliffhanger ending with a lot of unanswered questions. I guess I'm glad I watched it before the revival/new season. I do plan to watch that too, at some point. I'm wrapping up this entry as it's sat in draft form for many months now. I enjoyed Twin Peaks, but I won't say I'm a "fan" exactly. It was certainly entertaining. Very weird, but entertaining.




Free Range Parenting

I don't know if that title is totally accurate, but it feels right. For the last year or so Max has been stretching his wings and wanting to push the boundaries of his independence. I feel like I've written on this subject before... Meh. Whatever. It's what I'm thinking about today. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Lately, Max will text with friends, make plans, let me know where he's going, and fly out the door (with cell phone and water) to ride off into the sunrise on his scooter. A bunch of the neighborhood boys got scooters. It's turned out to be a fab way for the soon to be 5th graders to get around town.

Max and his crew are like an adorable biker gang - roaming the streets, stopping in at various kids' houses for ice pops and frosty beverages. They are all good kids, so I haven't been worried about mischief. I'm just really happy that these boys all have awesome parents who take them in, feed and water them, let them hang out and even give them rides home when they are too tired to scoot. Us, included. We have bags of snacks, ice pops, bottles of water and have contributed rides here and there.

But there is still that core of helicopter mom worry I am battling. They are all good boys hanging around in homes with great parent friends...until you start thinking about the evils of this world. There have been incidents not that far from our quiet little town of strangers in vans trying to lure teens and kids. Our boys have all been thoroughly talked to about approaching people they don't know and circling the wagons (calling 911 or parents when they don't feel safe.) But you just never know what could happen.

And yes, I know I can't lock my social boy up here just to keep him safe. Fence in our yard, add security cameras, attack dogs...turn our homestead into a fort with motion sensing lights and loud sirens. Yes, I know I'm going down a ridiculously overly-secure fantasy road filled with over the top safety precautions. *snort*

*sigh*

I cheerful call "Bye! Love you! Bring your phone! And some water! Make good choices!!!" every time he heads out the door. I get "Love you too! and of course I will! I always do!" and he does. For 2 hours I am fine. I happily picture him scooting around town with his friends, having the time of his life. 2 hours. Then I have to call and see if he's ok. ๐Ÿ˜…

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Growing up is painful...

Many years ago, a miracle happened. A baby boy was soon to be born to end our lonely DINK lives and make us parents. Preparing for that day became the grandest undertaking of our lives. Our first baby was to having nothing but the very best we could manage. Shopping for furniture for the nursery was sheer joy. We found the perfect bedroom set and, later, a glider to match. But what theme? Every great baby nursery has a special theme! I spent a lot of time pouring over baby decor websites and other baby gear sources until I found THE theme that spoke to me. Rainbow Fish. It was based on a book (literary theme! Perfection!), it was beautiful shades of blue (baby boy!) and I could get bedding, curtains, and even a wallpaper border to match. No other room in our fairly new house had wallpaper (that is VERY hard work to install) but this room was special. Everything had to be perfect.

The husband loves colorful tropical fish and was pretty easy to convince. It's a border. How hard could that be? But just a border... no. I wanted the room to have a tranquil under-sea fantasy feel. From the border down had to feel like the bottom of the ocean. Above the border... initially I thought a pale blue sky with painted puffy white clouds. We had to paint the walls some color. Flat builder's white wasn't going to cut it. Eventually we came to our senses (and our artistic limitations) and went with beige. That was the sand on the shore! Get it? Just go with me on this.

It came together beautifully. You can see for yourself below.



The wallpaper on the lower half was a watercolor stripe with bubbles. We were so proud of our efforts. It was backbreaking work.

And our baby boy LOVED it. He loved it so much that, 13 years later when I asked our newly minted teenager if he was ready for a change to a more adult theme, he flat out told us NO. No one was touching his room.

OK then!  Fast forward 2 years and, in the middle of a late night argument, the no-longer-newly-minted-teen angrily complained he couldn't have friends over because his room was "embarrassing". *sigh* But you said...just a little while ago...has it been 2 whole years? OK! So what do you want instead? He had no idea. Just not sweet or tranquil.

The problem from then on was finding a time when A) the daddy wasn't busy with work, B) the teen wouldn't be home for many hours, C) the energy to rip out all that wallpaper.  Those 3 things converging, well, that doesn't happen very often. Until today.

The teen is at football camp all day. The dad was recently laid off and has had time to rest up since school has ended for the summer. So! He and the younger son have been working hard since mid-morning (it is now mid-afternoon) to strip off all that pretty paper.

We still have no idea what will be put on the walls to cover the shredded drywall, but...maybe the teen will like the look of plain shredded drywall. You never can tell.

Meanwhile, I am quietly mourning the loss of that beautiful, tranquil room. It was easily the best room in the house. *sniffles*  So painful.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It's a big one!

Anniversary, that is. I've spent 25 years married to the man of my dreams. We've been together as a couple for half my life. I've spent more time with him than I did living at home with my parents. That's so weird to think about! At this stage of life we have settled into a very comfortable camaraderie and focus most of our energy on the boys. (They take a LOT of energy.) I do sit back and think about just "us" now and then. We don't ever go out on our own. No date nights. No trips without the kids. Yes, we probably should do that. I feel the need pretty strongly at times to just be alone with my guy. We are best friends and parent well together but I miss some of the intimacy we've lost over the years.  Spontaneous weekend trips to romantic destinations, just us and fun. I miss that a lot.

Sadly, after 31 years, my husband's company decided to chuck him out (along with a large amount of other "surplus" employees.) Any of my plans to run away with my guy will have to wait a while, I guess. But I still want to. The desire to whisk him away and do very naughty things together is a good sign, I think. Life is routine and stressful, but somewhere, sometime, it will just be the two of us and I hope we get that chance to just be "us" again.

I love you, baby!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Football Dreams

Potentially momentous things have been happening lately. A previous attempt to join the high school football team was stymied by too many failing grades. Ty was crushed, but not defeated. I've never seen Tyler work so hard for something in his life. No, he hasn't turned into the perfect A student. He still won't do homework most of the time. But he IS trying. He has managed to raise some of his grades. Will it be enough? We aren't sure. But he has been working out with the team, working out at home with his home gym, going to practices, and following this weird diet to cut fat and muscle up. He still sees "man boobs and fat" when he looks at himself in the mirror. I see a Greek god. The boy is ripped!

Yesterday he was issued footballs pads and gear by the team. A good sign, I think. What I wasn't prepared for was seeing him walk into the room, wearing just his gear and pads. I welled up with tears! He isn't a boy anymore. He looks like a professional football player. It was startling, a little scary and awe inspiring.

I want to support his football aspirations. I want to be there for his games. But we need to work on our mother/son relationship. He chose, about a year ago, to direct all his anger and frustration over school and anything else wrong in his life at me. Everything is my fault, apparently. He told me I was no longer his mother (he fired me) and he wasn't going to speak to me ever again. And many other more horrible things. I was left shocked and reeling. And yes, he is THAT stubborn and has pretty much stuck to his threat to cut me out of his life entirely.

I've sat here helplessly trying to work some mom magic by continuing to quietly provide him with things he needs, support him when he isn't looking, and keep out of his way. When he's angry about something, the "never speak to you again" rule gets tossed out in favor of venting at me and trying to start a fight. He likes to take a far right political stance and goad me about our current president. *sigh* If being a punching bag and stress reliever is my only role, then so be it. At least I am helping in some small way.

I could use some wisdom on how to repair our relationship. He says he won't even consider respecting me until I've lost weight, dismantled my home office here in the family room (where it has been since long before he was born) and disappearing from his sight. Leaving the family or dying would also be good.

I plan to talk with his therapist and see if he can help. This has gone on too long. A year. A whole year of not being allowed to be his mother. No one told me being a parent would get THIS hard.

Meanwhile, I really hope and pray he makes the team. He looks like a football player. I just wish I could get a photo of him in his gear. Not being allowed to photograph him breaks my heart the most.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Remembering Kathleen

I find myself counting down the days, this month. Five more days and you would be turning 50. Oh boy, what a celebration I would have planned! Both your parents are, sadly, also gone, but your baby brother would have been welcome. I'm thinking a dinner cruise around our pretty lake.

You would have loved our cute little house out here in the 'burbs. My boys would have loved their Aunt Kathleen as much as I still do, of this I am certain.

I miss you. Happy Birthday, bestie! BFFs (oh, that's best friends forever. You missed the whole acronym and texting generation, thankfully, because I'm pretty sure you would hate it. You always loved a nice long phone call or letter.)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Something Fishy

I spent the past week playing single mom again. Darling husband went to Tennessee for a work thing. He missed soccer practice, the spring concert (Max played the flutophone and sang with his class), a soccer game (Max's team won and are currently undefeated!) and the Spring Carnival Dance. What's a carnival dance, you ask? Well... they combined a typical school dance (kids dressed up and dancing to music from our awesome local DJ) and carnival games. Max won a fish.

*groan*

Here we go again. Fish fever!

About 10 years ago, Tyler won a fish at a carnival. That precipitated a trip to PetSmart for a small desktop fish tank, chemicals (to dechlorinate the water), food, and decorations. Then came "my fish is lonely" followed by, "my fish died" followed by, "now that one needs a friend", followed by a large bag full of new fish, a larger tank, more decorations, guppies giving birth, fish cannibalism, fish segregation, an even larger tank, and so on.

Knuckles and Tails

Guppies

[deep breaths]

This lasted a few years until the last of the fish sadly passed on and the tanks were emptied, washed and retired. Until Friday night.

Enter Fishy the goldfish:
Max came home with fishy at 9:30pm, quite triumphantly, and shortly after that, the dad came home after a long day of travelling. He wasn't too happy to meet Fishy, but he also wasn't falling into bed (as he so desperately wanted to) until Fishy was happily ensconced in a sweet new home. Out came the middle sized tank and a slew of decorations. Water was dechlorinated and added to the tank, Fishy was carefully acclimated to his new environment then gently poured from his clear plastic bag into his swanky new digs. The dad fell into bed shortly after midnight. Max was THRILLED with Fishy's new setup and had a hard time settling into bed.

I prayed Fishy hadn't been through too much trauma and would survive the night. We are now on Day 3 and he is happily swimming. He's just a tad skittish. Took me ages to get that macro shot, but I was happy to have something interesting to shoot. Haven't taken out the good camera in a while and the macro lens had some cobwebs. I exaggerate only slightly. Ha!

We are a fishy family once more. "What, hun? You are headed to PetSmart?" *sigh*

Friday, April 07, 2017

Foodie

I love food. It's a passion, an addiction, and one of the few things I can still enjoy - albeit with a great deal of associated guilt since I need to lose weight.  This week was almost thrilling with all the culinary variety. But first, a funny story. A friend in England invited me to play a game on Facebook. I've pared down the number of games I play considerably over the last few years as it was getting way too time-consuming and nearing addictive levels. Pretty much, I was spending 10-15 minutes each day on Candy Crush (just long enough to burn through my 5 lives) and a couple other games that didn't take a great deal of time or concentration. I'd received other invitations to play different games...mostly card games or gambling type things. Meh.

Then came Margaret's invite to play Tasty Tale. I don't know what whim drove me to try it. Maybe because it was another puzzle game like Candy Crush and didn't require a significant time commitment. Maybe because it was another food themed game. Are you sensing a trend here? Yes. I breezed through the first few restaurant levels pretty quickly. Then came my job at a German restaurant. Each level is a restaurant that serves a certain type of food and each round is a recipe you need to complete. Now, I like German food...but there were recipes for dishes I'd NEVER heard of before. It got me really curious! Before I knew it, I was on Google looking up these foods and finding real recipes for things that sounded REALLY good. There is a German restaurant right around the corner from us here, and I was tempted to call and see if they made any of these dishes. In reading the recipes, it swiftly became apparent that some of the ingredients would be difficult to find and the dishes complex and hard to prepare.

Then came the Greek restaurant level. I also adore a fair number of Greek foods and was pleased when those dishes were popping up as I played. Then came recipes for things I'd never heard of, again. Google!!  One recipe was for a Greek soup that, based on the article I read along with the recipe, was sort of the Greek equivalent of Mom's chicken noodle soup or Mac n Cheese. Pure, simple comfort food. And the recipe was really easy. Fasolada! So I made it. Greek white bean soup. And it was amazing. A couple days later, Max and his Dad decided to stop and eat someplace that was new to Max after his soccer game - a Greek-run diner in Wharton. Would I like them to bring something home for me? Why, yes! Yes I would!  I swiftly ordered spanakopita (Greek spinach and feta pie.) Heaven.

Then, tonight, Max and I had the chance to eat Japanese food. Still high on my culinary adventures, I ordered crispy duck spring rolls. I also got the chance to try these little strawberry mochi cakes. My stomach is so happy, I'm giddy.  I'm so so happy to be eating things outside the rut we've been in. I don't know how it happened, but our kids are rather picky eaters. The teen is EXTREMELY picky. Max is less so, but still very particular. He has one bad experience with a restaurant and that's it. He never wants to try anything else from that place ever again. There aren't that many places around here we can talk both boys into eating from. It can get very frustrating. We get tired of making the same 2 kinds of eggs, 1 kind of pasta, fish sticks or chicken strips every single night.

So, for this moment, I am giddy. New taste sensations! I need more. I want MORE. I don't want to have to cook 4 different things to keep the peace and feed the people in this house. It's too exhausting. We eat out way more than we probably should, but oh how I want to use that opportunity more to my advantage. I wonder if I can convince the kids to try German food this weekend. The Black Forest Inn does take out! I checked! :)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Random thoughts...

Events of the day: a lengthy power outage, a trip to the pediatrician to confirm our suspicions that Max has a concussion (he does), trying to prep for Easter while keeping my boy resting and away from screens and/or reading (he is supposed to be resting his brain. RESTING! He doesn't know the meaning of the word.)

A scare with my left leg (chronic inflammation and a build up of scar tissue leads to a higher risk of infection and I had a large blister on my shin for over a week that I watched, swabbed with alcohol, and lightly coated in antibiotic ointment) but it seems to be ok for the moment.

And an inability to concentrate or focus my thoughts. This leads to disjointed blog entries that don't make for very entertaining reading. You'd think I was the one with the fresh traumatic brain injury. Bleh.

Oh! He got the concussion while playing with a friend after school. Got hit in the head with a swing. Yep. Just as I was getting comfortable with him hanging out on the playground after school to play with friends. I will try very hard not to turn into a smother. :)

Monday, January 30, 2017

A blast from the past...

A couple months ago, my darling husband decided it was time to REALLY clean out the garage. He was determined to get rid of at least half the junk we had stored in there to make room for our cars. (Really. Why have a garage if you can't fit your car in it, right?)  At one point during that weekend long cleaning spree, he brought me a box. "This has been in the garage since we moved here! Go through it please. I think it's gotten wet a time or two, so no telling if the contents survived..."  I held my breath and prepared for the stench of damp, rodent remains, and/or insect activity.

There was evidence of all three (plus a faint whiff of cat pee) but the contents of the box soon made me forget all that.  It was like opening a time capsule. This box had been packed in 1988 or so when I left home to move into my new apartment and hadn't been touched since.  It just moved with me every time I got my junk together to go to a new place. I probably peeked in there a time or two, saw it contained just random memories and never bother to put any of it away. Or throw any of it away.

It took me several days to sort through the contents. I posted a bunch of pictures on facebook, but here are some examples:





















These are some old, unfinished pencil sketches from my more artistic days. I used to draw all the time.

Menus from my time working at Friendly's as a waitress. (We were required to memorize the menus.)

There were cancelled checks from bank accounts I didn't even remember having, pay stubs from long forgotten jobs, misc. stationary, a pack of old photos - some from my college days that I'd all but forgotten.

The girl on the left was my first college roommate, Melissa, and the girl on the right was my last (and very best) college roommate, Jennifer. I am still in touch with Jenn. She's awesome!  Search my blog if you want to read the story I posted years ago about my first roomy. Ha! It's a good one.

The very last item in the box was a small white envelope with the address of a photography studio in Florida stamped on it. The envelope was in really rough shape, but I wish I'd taken a picture of it before throwing it out. I'm curious now about the photographer/studio.  The envelope contained fourteen 35mm slides. The first photo shoot for my modelling portfolio, from what I could see holding them up to a lamp.  Unfortunately, less than a month earlier, I'd disconnected and gotten rid of my old flatbed scanner (it had a transparency adapter.) It wasn't compatible with Windows 10 and was just collecting dust.  How was I going to scan those slides and digitize them for posterity?

I popped on to Amazon and almost immediately found a handy little device called the F2D Mighty from Wolverine. A film to digital converter. It was reasonable inexpensive and could not only handle my slides, but a bunch of other film types too. Sold!

I got it up and running this weekend and scanned all my slides in.

Hey! It's 80's me! Back when my mother was certain I'd be the next Cheryl Tiegs or Brooke Shields. Ha!  No. My modelling career never really got off the ground. I hated the entire process. I had no confidence or self-esteem at that time. I was tall, awkward, shy, and broken. One runway show and a catalog shoot and I was done. Except for the Miss Teen pageant my mother also pushed me into. Ugh. I think I already blogged about that too. Ah, 80's nostalgia. That was a great but horrible time.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Annual Christmas Anxiety

Funny, I seem to post all the funny and lighthearted stuff on Facebook and all the serious, thoughtful, or bitchy stuff here in my journal. Go figure. *snort*  Anyway, it's a few days until Christmas and I haven't started wrapping gifts yet. I do this every year. I look at the piles of things to be wrapped, get overwhelmed, and say "Nope. I'll do it tomorrow." At the same time, I look at all the boxes from Amazon and wonder... Did I get enough?

Does anyone else do this? Look at your piles of shopping and have that fearful moment of doubt? I'm sure people who stick with a strict budget and/or operate from a set list probably don't. I'm a mood shopper. I start with a thing here and there in September, maybe one or two in October, a bunch in November (particularly on cyber Monday) and then go a little nuts at the beginning of December. I mean, I kinda have a budget. I use the points I have saved all year on my Amazon credit card. But we always end up going over that. Usually one of the boys will suddenly say "Oh! I'd really like ___ for Christmas!" and I panic. I didn't get that! That's the first I am hearing about it! Is that the most important thing??? The TOP want?

So, here we are, just a couple days until Christmas and I look over these piles and feel anxious. Did I get that top want? The most requested items all year? Does a 10 year old really need a cell phone? Did I get way more for one kid than the other? Yes, they have both heard the line "Don't expect a lot, because you ask for expensive things. That means less for other stuff!" But that doesn't mean they won't be crushed if one kid has 10 things to open and the other only has 3.

I know, I know. Christmas isn't about just getting stuff. But this post isn't about the real "reason for the season." It's just about gift anxiety and my annual procrastination of the wrapping. I actually LIKE wrapping gifts, it just takes a lot of energy and I have to be in the right head space. It is backbreaking work and I can drive myself crazy with wanting everything just so.

At least this year I know I have plenty of paper and tape. Some smart person told me to get stuff on sale after the holidays and I actually listened, for once. Yay me! Now if only I could remember what we did will all the saved gift bags from last year...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Fog

A friend posted a series of photos to Facebook this morning of the fog banking around her home. I've always loved the fog. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time imagining what heaven would be like. In the movies, it was always puffy white clouds underfoot and people with little wings springing from cotton ball puff to cotton ball puff. Walking on clouds! How cool would that be?!

Then I took my first plane ride and realized that clouds were far from solid. We went up, the sky went away, and it was like being in dense fog. Sure, once you were ABOVE the clouds, you got that big screen heaven look. That trip through though...that was a thing. From that point on, every time fog rolled in, I would do a little dance. I was IN a cloud. INSIDE one! I wanted to shake people. Did they see it? Did they realize??

I took a lot of science classes over the years and learning the nitty gritty about cloud formation and how it was just water vapor...that took some of the magic out of it for me, but not all of it.

Seeing those photos made me remember a long ago trip we took to San Francisco. It was the beginning of July, but the city was completely fog-bound and chilly. We walked up the pedestrian walkway of the Golden Gate bridge on July 4th along with a ton of other folks and slowly rose up out of the clouds with the height of the bridge. Up there, the sun was shining (but setting) and the glow reflecting off the city skyline, shrouded in mist, was so stunning it made me cry.

Then the fireworks started.

That was pure magic! The low altitude bursts were IN the fog and it lit them up with this unearthly glow. I leaned against the rail and snuggled close to my guy just entranced with the show. Fog is amazing.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fall again

While I am eternally grateful to the inventor of modern air conditioning, I am so happy at the change in the weather. I have the window in my bedroom open and breathing crisp cool air is so much better than chilled and stale air. Plus I get to listen to all the activity in my backyard! The squirrel population has really rebounded this year. The past couple years I saw maybe one scrawny squirrel in my infrequent travels around town. Now there are 5 warring fiercely in my own back yard. They fight daily over territory and acorns. We have a metric ton of acorns out there, so they really don't need to squabble over every one, but I think they enjoy it.

The largest of the group (called a scurry, according to Google) has quite a personality. He runs to the edge of the grass and watches me when I pull into our driveway. I say "Hey, Ookla! How's it going?" and he will chitter at me. It sounds like "mok mok mok" to me, hence the obscure cartoon reference name. :)  He lets me get rather close before twitching his tail and scampering off.  I see him being kind of a jerk to the other members of his scurry, however. He's a bit of a bully and rather greedy. He's sure is cute tho, and bold. Very bold.

I'm hoping to get him to pose for a photo soon. Maybe with the lure of some cat food.

Back to enjoying the night air...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My boys

I read something recently that got me thinking. If I were to die suddenly and, years from now, my boys decided to read this dusty old blog (assuming it's still floating out here in the interwebs in years to come) what is the one thing I could write that would tell them how much I love them?

For my boys - When each of you were placed in my arms, I felt like the luckiest mother on the planet. I loved holding you, singing to you, reading to you, changing your diapers (well, maybe not the explosive ones), bathing you, dressing you up, making you feel better when ever you were sick, scared, or hurt, and taking you out to show you the world.

As you grew, I was so proud of the people you were becoming. One fiercely independent, brave, strong and opinionated. One gentle, wise, kind, and loving. My greatest wish for you both is that you find love and happiness in your life. Success is also nice, but I'll trust that you have the wisdom and strength to find something you are good at and that gives you a steady income.  Or a wealthy spouse. That works too. ;)

I love you boys. No matter how much you fight the rules or battle with me and your dad, we will both always love you and support you in the best way we know how.

Just remember this! Mommy loves you! Always!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bacteria!!!

People already think I'm weird (and I rather embrace my oddity) so...here goes.

I have IBS. Have struggled with it (and a host of other health problems) for many years. Several people have recommended I try a probiotic supplement to help alleviate symptoms. A month ago I finally bought one that came highly recommended - 6 strains of "good" bacteria for my gut health.

Yay?

...

I haven't been able to take it. Why? It's bac...ter...i...a... Bacteria! I am going to swallow bacteria on purpose. Deliberately.

*shudder*

I know they use it to make cheese and yogurt. I know this. But that bug makes tasty tasty food. Food that rips my guts apart (because lactose) but still...tasty tasty food. This is a little pearl of BACTERIA. 6 kinds!!!

Someone reassure me this isn't crazy and that people do this all the time? Thanks.


On an even lighter note, my baby turned 10 on the 3rd. TEN. He is double digits. *sniffle* Here he is being blown away by a suspiciously large birthday candle the teppanyaki chef stuck into his fried rice that turned into a fireworks show. That was awesome.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

When I was your age...

Remember our parents saying that? "When I was your age...we walked 5 miles, uphill, through the snow just to get to school!" or wherever. Us kids would laugh. Sure, sure you walked so much further than we have to.  But I did do a LOT of walking and bike riding when I was a kid. A ton! I found myself thinking have I ever used that line on my kids?

I spent today in bed nursing a stomach bug when Max (age 9, almost 10) came bouncing in. He'd had a full day of soccer fun with his dad (opening day ceremonies and events) but once they got home, the dad headed for a much needed nap in his office and Max said he was lonely. Why? Half the house was resting and big brother had gone for a walk (or bike ride) to the store.

My teen walking to the store is not a new thing. His therapist told him quite a while ago that if he was feeling bored or angry or frustrated, go take a walk!  I suggested he walk to the QuickChek in Netcong. It's not too far. We always make sure he has pocket money and having a destination in mind rather than wandering aimlessly is a good idea. (He does enjoy wandering aimless too, tho.)

I'm pretty sure my childhood home was a LOT further away from any convenience store than we are now. That got me thinking again. Just how much further did I have to ride my bike to get to my favorite country store than my teenager has to walk?  Can I use that "I had to bike 5 miles through the snow just to get a sack of Swedish Fish!" line?

Thankfully, we have Google Maps, Directions and Street View now. I hopped on my computer and plugged in my street address from my middle school years. That's about the age I got really independent and rode my bike anywhere I wanted to go. I wasn't supposed to leave the neighborhood, mind you. But I did, just the same. I didn't know the street address for the places I'd ride to when I was a kid, so I just used street view and virtually rode down the roads I remembered from my youth.  Memory is a funny thing. The shortcuts of my childhood were not easy to find! The landscape of my old home town and the surrounding towns has changed so much that one of the stores I used to ride to I can't even locate the general area. It's all industrial with large corporate buildings now. No farm stand and country store anywhere around.

So I rode my virtual bike in the opposite direction and went downtown looking for my second favorite country store. That ride was shorter, but much more hazardous at the time. The roads to get there were much more heavily traveled. I cruised through town following my old bike route (I stuck to back roads where ever I could in a effort to be safe) and finally located the side street where the store used to be. Gone. Torn down for a stretch of shops that looked "colonial" but were not actually 200 years old like the old converted house/store had been. I could go on a tangent here about tearing down history, but I won't.

3.5 miles from my old house to the spot where the Ye Olde Bedford Country Store used to be. That's 7 miles round trip. No wonder I was so fit back in those days, despite the asthma! But I probably undid a lot of that good by spending all my savings on penny candy. *snort*

Back to the teenager and Google. How far is it from our house to QuickChek? 1 mile. So that is a 2 mile, round trip, walk.

Kids! When I was your age, I had to bike 7 miles down sometimes dangerous roads to get to the store!

Heh. Yep, that will be quite satisfying.

1 mile from home to QuickChek

3.5 miles from childhood home to the country store

Sunday, September 04, 2016

MOPs? Where did it all go wrong?

For those readers with teenagers, first of all, my sympathies. Remember the good old days? When the kids were little and we were MoPs? Mothers of Preschoolers? There was a mom's group with that name that I always meant to join, but chasing after preschoolers is very time consuming. Then you blink and they are starting high school.

That adorable little boy who would hold my hand to cross the street and would run to me when he got hurt so I could make it all better is now in high school. How did that happen?

What's worse, I seem to have lost that deep connection we once shared. We went everywhere together. Did everything together. Mommy and her little buddy. He helped me shop (he just loved to grab things and put them in the cart. We totally needed 12 cucumbers and a jumbo pack of adult diapers!) He helped me unfold laundry. He helped me mess up the house. We watched hours of Bob the Builder, Maisy Mouse, and Little People. Over and over and over. Oh and Caillou. Gosh how he loved Caillou.

He got a wee bit older, but it was still the two of us. Now we loved Ninja Turtles and Pokemon! And any video game with Mario in the title. We'd network our Gameboys together and play mini-games and Mario Party for hours.

Even when the baby brother arrived, everything was great. The baby watched while we played. We looked forward to a time when he'd be able to play with us. It was going to be GREAT!

Then came the accident. The driveway was a sheet of ice...but it was February 14th and I would risk death rather than have my little man miss his big class party and exchanging all those Valentines we'd stayed up late to finish. I'd just strapped the boys into their car seats when my legs just went flying out from under me. I impacted the ledge of the minivan with my ribs, my head hit the car seat and my knees came crashing down onto the ice. I'd never felt pain that bad in my life. I blacked out, but not for long, I think. I came back to my senses and heard Tyler calling "Mommy? Mommy?!" and was able to get him to grab an extra blanket from between the car seats to put over Max. It was below freezing out and the sliding door on the van was wide open on the baby's side. I was on the ground, unable to move.

My brain raced from one scenario to the next. My husband was out of town. No way I could call him for help. I called him anyway, after Tyler was able to get my phone out of my purse. The daddy was in a meeting and I was barely able to talk, the pain was so bad. I couldn't convey the seriousness of the situation and he was impatient with me. I hung up. I could call my mother in law, but she was over 30 minutes away and who knew how long it would take her to get ready and get out the door. It was 7:45 in the morning! Neighbors? I wasn't thinking clearly enough to remember anyone's names, never mind phone numbers.

911? I probably needed to go to the hospital, but...what would happen to my babies? I knew they wouldn't leave them sitting alone in the driveway in a freezing cold vehicle. Would they be allowed in the ambulance? Probably not. The police or someone would probably take them away somewhere. The thought of how scared they would be by seeing me carted off in an ambulance and then put into the care of strangers just horrified me. I had to get up! I had to get off the ice!

I couldn't put any pressure on my knees. I just knew something was fractured. Same with my ribs. I grabbed what ever I could with my hands/arms and tried to drag myself upright, but the ice was too slick. 40 minutes I lay on the ice, struggling. It amazes me that no one saw me there or came to help. Finally, my cell began to ring. It was the school nurse looking for Tyler. I told her what had happened. She offered to drive over to the house and help! She also offered to call paramedics. I told her I was trying to get up but I would call her if I needed help, but that I didn't think we'd make it to school that day. I think I had a head injury too (AGAIN) so that could account for the epic levels of stupid mixed with my introverted "good god no, I don't want all those strangers showing up at my house" tendencies.

I did finally manage to get to my feet, free the boys from their car seats, and Tyler helped Max across the ice and into the house. I was moving very slowly and limping badly. The pain had me seeing large black spots in my vision. If I fell again on the way back into the house...well, we won't go there. Things were already bad enough.

The next two days are a blur until John got home from his trip. I honestly don't know how I managed. I could barely walk or move. I couldn't sleep, the pain was so bad. He pressed me to go see a doctor. The thought of trying to get back down those stairs, into a car, drive 30 minutes, and then walk across a lot all the way to my doctor's office...it was too much. Of course, my regular doctor wasn't available. The guy who saw me took a poke at my knees and ribs, saw the massive bruising and said "You need to go straight to the ER. There's nothing I can do for you here. You need x-rays!" He did give me some pain meds. But I just couldn't bear the thought of getting back to the car, going to the hospital and sitting around the ER for gosh knows how long. I was ready to drop dead as it was.

I just cried and cried. I wanted to get back home, take pain pills and finally get some sleep. So that's what we did. Stupid again.  2 years before I could put any pressure on my knees. Every cough/cold and I was separating a rib. They never healed properly. I ended up with a cane, then a walker. I couldn't do much of anything after that.

I keep coming back to that time. Was that when I lost my boy? Mommy couldn't keep up any more? Mommy wasn't as much fun? Mommy couldn't do as much around the house, so Daddy had to take up the slack which made Daddy cranky... He knew I fell and hurt myself. But I don't think he could process just how broken I was.  And the poor baby. He wasn't even 2 yet. He never got to have the Mommy who could get down on the floor and play. Who could sit in circle time at Gymboree and play. Who could play at the park, rather than just barely make it to the bench. Who could walk around the lake and skip stones into the water. The fun Mommy. The active Mommy.

Really. Who wants a broken Mommy?

He's just so angry with me all the time now. I know. Teenagers can be difficult. They can say things that are like a knife to the heart. We would argue. Debate endlessly. He'd say things he knew I would find offensive, horrifying and awful. He blames me for everything wrong in his life. Everything.

Today he tells me I am the only one he can't stand. The one person on the planet he acts this way with. He wants to hurt me. He won't listen to me any more. He says everything I say is a lie.

I just want him to stop picking on and hurting his brother. I ask nicely, at first. I say please (at his request.) He ignores me. He doesn't speak to me. I keep hoping I can get through to him. Remind him of what we had. We were so close. I am on his side. In his corner. Always advocating for him. Wanting the best for him. Wanting him to be happy and healthy.

He hates me. And I don't know what to do anymore.