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.