Monday, July 16, 2018

This and That

So. Not a perfect family. So what?

Honestly... my family of origin is pretty great, and I love them. Just hadda get that off my chest I guess. In a strange way I see that what I wrote in my last post could be taken to mean that there was some abuse going on in my family, by comparing some of my sibs fighting styles to a stone cold abuser. I don't think that... I was just surprised to find myself back in some old emotional places, and I was finally able to see some things I hadn't before.

Not great, but hey, I'm an adult now, and I'm better equipped to deal with what's coming my way. Mostly.

Speaking of being an adult... I didn't start having babies until I was in my 30's, so I think I might have been under the impression that I was gonna skip the identity crisis once the kids grow up and move out. Ya know, the empty nester crisis of "who am I now?"

I'm no where near the empty-nest stage, but the Bird has a real jobby-job at the nearby movie theater and will be a licensed driver by the end of the week (assuming it all goes as planned) and I can see that eventually this is really gonna happen.  She's sixteen and I can see it.  The end of raising children.

...and I don't recognize myself anymore.

In some ways I am pretty all right, but in other ways I look at myself and feel like, "Really? I'm really still dealing with this crap?"

Better spend a little time this summer and see if I can dig out from underneath the mommy-identity and figure out some of who I've become over here. To that end, I'm grateful for a goofy little disaster we had at the beginning of summer.

When our house was being built it looks like there was a mix-up with where our water main was to come into the house. For some reason (prolly water main) there was a 3-4 inch hole either drilled or left in our foundation that got "patched" by someone shoving in a glob of tar and then covering the whole mess with insulation. This spring the "fix" failed at the same time as we had sprinkler leak right on top of the hole.




Water... in a carpeted closet in the basement for at least a week before it was found.

The carpet and padding had started to mold, the baseboards were swollen and ruined, as was a goodly section of drywall. I dug the mess out and cut away the drywall till I discovered what had caused it, then promptly called the builders.

They informed me that the house was well out of it's one year "workmanship warranty," and I informed them that if a foundation cannot hold up for more than a year, that ain't "workmanship." The foundation is actually covered for ten years... but I guess builders want to pay up about as much as a health insurance company.

Eventually they agreed that a giant hole in the foundation does constitute a "problem" that they ought to fix... and with some back and forth they even agreed to fix everything but the flooring. They, right or wrong, want us to take on some of the damage fix because of the sprinkler leak. SO, the upshot is that by the end of this month the (rather large) closet will be refinished only with no flooring and that will be the PERFECT place to paint. Year round!

On an interesting note, a painting I had done of Calvary's Hill is going up at a local Christian Ministry homeless outreach center. I am sooooo stoked!


Monday, July 09, 2018

Outliers

In the first part of January I wrote the following post and never published it because I was afraid of starting family drama. Now, a half a year, and not one single post later.... I find that I don't care anymore. 

I. Just. Can't. Even.

I've made some sort of nasty trade-off that I wasn't aware of. I'm stoppered up. Can't write, can't draw, and can't paint. I have sat down time and time again and the following post glares at me from my "drafts." It mocks me every time. I sit down to write and see it there, then I have to re-read it and discover that it's still killing me.

Honestly, I hope my family no longer checks this blog, because I still don't want to start drama, but my sanity comes first.... and the following rings true.

Christmas was lovely in many ways this year. 

Saw the movie White Christmas for the first time and had a few very welcome gut laughs... an activity that was made all the more delightful since I could hear my kids laughing along with me.  We had Gingerbread cookies and gluten free Ninjabread cookies, fudge, and english toffee, and endless amounts of popcorn. Did a fun activity where we dipped red plastic spoons in chocolate and then rolled them in teensy marshmallow bits and wrapped them up in cellophane bags, so we could have extra fancy hot chocolate at our big Christmas Eve party.

Birdie's Aunt T'amy bought her a ticket to go see the Foo Fighters in SLC as an early sweet sixteen birthday gift, but then couldn't take her because of a mandatory rehearsal that night (T'amy is in the Mo-Tab) and so I haaaaaad to take her using T'amy's ticket. Woe is me. They played three long hours of awesome.

Caroling, an amazing party for our church congregation, lights and just enough snow in the wee hours of Christmas morning to qualify as a White Christmas here in Newtown, Utah.

There were some amazing take-aways from the season... but there was also this one thing.

At one of the gatherings, I had a conversation with a sibling about how things are now so very different from how they used to be in our family. She talked about how peaceful (relatively speaking) our family gatherings are, how our interactions are so much kinder than one would guess from how we grew up. She reminisced about the toxic sarcasm and viscous jibes that we used to deal out to each other. We loved each other, but it was a biting and rasping sort of a love.  Without pointing too may fingers, lets just say that we were a family of six smart-ass kids being raised by a very high functioning autistic woman and an emotionally absent father.

That conversation, and a few family interactions really opened my eyes.

You see, I think I have this strangely idealized vision of my family of origin. Like we all get along so famously and well.  Like all of that pain and viscousness is in the past.

Sweet fiction.

***

In my mid twenties I met and married a guy, I hesitate to call him a man. I see now that he was mostly a hurt child in a man's body... let's just say that he was abusive in nearly every way a man can be abusive to a woman. I'm not going to list it out right now, that's not really the point. 

The point is, until recently I have viewed this person and the relationship as an outlier in my life.

There was that one conversation that I will never forget, because it so perfectly encapsulates the mess that was he, and I, and that messed up marriage.

   "Themama," he said one day after a particularly bad fight. A fight where he hadn't laid a hand or a boot on me, but managed maximum damage nonetheless.  Anyone who has been through a violently abusive relationship can tell you, the real damage is rarely done with fists. It's the words that landed that you're trying to slip decades later. "Themama, we just argue very differently." He wasn't being unkind at that moment, he actually was explaining like you would to a little child. "You see, you argue because you think you are "right" about whatever it is we're fighting about. So you try to explain to me why you are right. But when I argue, whoever hurts the worst at the end, loses. You'll always lose to me. Always."

Really sucks, and I'm not saying my family was some horrible or abusive mess.... 

           ... but I AM saying he was not the outlier I thought he was. As a matter of fact, in some ways- he made perfect sense. The whole idea of "whoever hurts the most at the end is the loser" was not some new experience for me. I had just never heard it said out loud before.

The thing is, I really am that thick. When I engage in an argument, I really do think that I'm right, and I tend to be pretty good at explaining why I think so. Later in life I have even made a bit of a study of the logical fallacies of argument, and I try to remain balanced and rational... but I realize now,  I never did have a freaking clue about the rules of engagement when it comes to my family of origin. 

I'll always lose. Always.





Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Older

Getting older is interesting. On the one hand, there is all the suck involved with my body starting to break down in earnest. My day is bracketed with pills I take immediately upon arising, the pills I take an hour to an hour and a half after that, the pills I take with dinner, and then that last pill directly before laying down at night.

Seriously. The conversations I have with the geriatrics in my neighborhood.

One bonus of age, is that my ability to do and to serve has been increased. My comprehension of what needs doing to run a home and a homeschool, and the organization to make it happen has been supercharged.

And that's great. It really is. But now I have reached the end of everything. The end of my abilities and the end of my spiritual and emotional stamina, along with the meager physical stamina of a body on the wane.

I am staring down the barrel of my 50's, and I have a niggling fear that I have made a grave error. I suspect that raising teenagers is a younger woman's game. 

I have more thoughts. But it's time to go and stir the beast. Time to start the day.

I miss coffee.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Gratitude

Tonight was a gathering of the ladies in my church congregation the theme was gratitude.



In my gift bag I took:
Tube of Orange Mango Blistex
Pack of Minty Gum
Small Bottle of Scented Lotion
Travel Size Spritzer of Poo-Pourri
                                 ...and a poem.




Gratitude

I am grateful for mortality,
I give thanks, I really do!
But some "smells" come with bodies
Like…. Take for instance “poo.”

Sometimes bodies can be bummers
Like with headaches
And chapped lips,
Stomach flu and colds and such
That cause unhealthy drips.

Bad breath, B.O.
The list goes on and on,
But eight bucks was the limit
So a line had to be drawn.

Fruity Blistex and some lotion
Gum and Poo-Pourri
Enjoy this little gift of scents
Just for you,

From me!



Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Happy Freaking Halloween



I don't know what happened.

This is the day after Halloween and I have a costume hangover. I swear off the fancy stuff, the elaborate and the time-consuming. 

The time I spent helping kids and actually making the costumery this past month and a half was unreal.  It was fun and the results were cool... but I will never do it again. 

Check it out....


Pearl

Lala



Y'all... those kids designed their own costumes. I made those lace up aviator boots with steam punk detailing by hand. We tracked down all of the pre-made bits from second hand stores and cos-play eBay sites. I learned how to make armor from EVA foam and a heat gun and paint. 

Even with all the DIY and the second hand, I can't bring myself to think about how much money was spent.


Henry is wearing the same mask and carrying a knife just like Dadguy did last year. Birdie is wearing most of the elements from her last years Death Eater costume.

Do you know how much more the above two loved their costumes than the other two who just used these bits from other costumes?

Henry



Birdie



I'll give you a hint... the Steampunk Angel? Took off her costume (including the aviator boot-toppers) and dug around in the costume box last night when it came time to go trick or treating. She put on a black cloak and accessorized with a hot pink hair bow and a hot pink belt. She called herself a "vampire" and that was that. 

We had spent so much time getting it "right" that she was bored with the stupid thing by the time it mattered.

I. Am. So. Done.


*Edited to add: Really? I was showing these pictures to a group of women at my church, and an older woman just informed me that LaLa's outfit is too sexy. After I had explained how long it TOOK ME TO MAKE IT. Too sexy? Not! Sorry. Whatever. Shut up. Who says crap like that?


Monday, October 23, 2017

This

What's messy?

Life is messy.

What's messier than life?

Life with kids.

What's messier than that? 

Life with artistic kids.

Super.

Duper.

Mess-mania.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Questions

   I have been struggling with questions. 

   Lots of questions. Grundles and truckloads of them. Things that had never bothered me before, festering and confusing. Mostly centering around my eternal identity as a woman, and the veiled nature of my Heavenly Mother. 

   I am an LDS woman, and we believe that as a counterpart to our Father in Heaven, we have a Divine Mother. She was Mother to our Savior before Mary. She is Mother to us all. So, while all of the visible Priesthood responsibility in mortality falls to the men, giving the church the aspect of Ultimate Patriarchy, the eternal reality of our existence must be something different. It has to be. 

   If the organization of the family here on earth is a type and a shadow of Family in Heaven... well. Just think! What must our Mother be?! 

  But here is where I get confused, women need each other. In so many ways we need each other in a way that men do not need each other. We need the support of other women, and we need to watch older women and see how things are done.  When it comes to being a mother, ourselves, having an example of what to do and how is so very vital.

   Any woman who has ever attempted breastfeeding, can I get an amen? 
  
   It makes no sense then,  that we have all the appearance of having been ditched, here on earth, by the one source of strength that we need the most. 

   Really? What gives?

   Right. I know. You don't have the answer.

   I had been studying, and studying it out. Praying and pondering. During my personal prayers the week before last, I felt very strongly that I needed to go and speak to my Bishop. 
   
 "Really," I thought? "What can he possibly tell me that I haven't already found?" 

   Took me a week call and make the appointment, but then last Tuesday finally rolled around, and I went in and talked the man's ear off.  Two hours of download. Poor guy.

   The next morning he dropped two books off at my door and texted me to let me know they were there. He also informed me that he felt that my questions were inspired questions from Heavenly Father, that He wanted me to search and ponder for answers. For some reason, I had simply assumed that the questions were from my faithless and restless brain. 

  Well. Changes everything!

   One of the books he lent me is Patricia T. Holland's "A Quiet Heart." Not yet done with it, but I see that this is a book that I need a copy of my own. This is exactly the book I needed, and I see that I am only just scraping the surface of this.  I also see that this book is gonna make a superior gift for every LDS woman I know.

  Funny... the book itself  is a pretty little journal thing with a photo of a white rose on the cover and roses printed on the side of each page like some sort of nicey-nice bit of fluff.  I will admit to some skepticism as I flipped through it and saw that it came complete with a cream colored ribbon attached to mark your place. 

   Y'all. This is no nicey-nice fluff. It addresses my more serious questions head on, and I am adoring this woman, this wife of an Apostle of Christ.

   Today when Dadguy walked past the table where I was sitting and reading, I told him that I was going to need my own copy of this book for highlighting and writing in the margins. He seemed surprised, did I mention that the thing looks like an overly flowery book of cheesy poetry? I told him that Sister Holland was directly speaking so many of my concerns. 

   Birdie was standing nearby, listening like a hawk. I'm not 100% sure what all of this means to her, but I hope at least she will learn that God has room for the honest questions of a seeker.  I hope she will understand that the concerns of a daughter matter.

   "Wow, really?" says Dadguy, "should I read it too, then?"

   "Well," I reply, "it's written specifically for women, but yeah.... you should totally read it."

   "Whatever," scoffs Dadguy, "I've read Twilight, you know!"

   Bwahahahaaaaa! That's my guy. My sweet, sweet Dadguy!