Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I thought people might notice, and start asking me where I’ve been.  No one did.   Really, not a single, “Where are you?”.  Not even from my Mom.  I’m working through it.  Kinda painful.

Guess it doesn’t matter.  I’m like an addict.  When I can’t find time to blog, I miss it.  I miss it so badly.  I long for it.  So, that’s my secret.  But, they say it’s better to get that stuff out in the open. So, there it is.

Every Mom knows that the Holiday season is just like having another part time job.  On top of your full time job.  On top of being a mother and wife.  Much is required.

At work, things are cranking up.  The boys’  wrestling season has begun, and Olivia is (was) playing basketball.  Plus, I’ve been developing a plot line for our “Teenage Elf”, and posting updates on Facebook.  It’s not like these posts happen by themselves.  And, I mean, if I don’t do them, who will?  That’s the question you have to ask yourself.  I think the answer is: no one I’ve ever known who is an adult, and not on psychotropic drugs.

teenage elf and barbie

All that beautiful stuff in my life is happening at the same time.  This leaves me very little time to breath, think, or write blogs.   That’s the order of my priorities.  I like to breath, think, write blogs, and then everything else.  You’re right. I’m a little off.

At any rate, I would never complain.  Because I feel like the luckiest, most blessed darn girl to be able to do all this stuff.  I might be having more fun right now than I’ve ever had.  And, Eddie is feeling good. So, there’s just nothing in the world to complain about.  Except people are designed to complain, so I still can find ways.

Last weekend, from Friday to Sunday evening, every moment was filled with athletic events.  Literally, every minute of the weekend was spoken for.  No one has ever accused me of being a neat freak.  (Which is unfair, because I really would like to be called that.  And, I do make my bed every day.) But, I do have some standards.  I almost always spend a few hours cleaning on the weekends.  I never really realized what a difference this cleaning made, until I couldn’t do it, and we were slowly buried in filth.

I knew this filth was getting to me.  But I wasn’t complaining out loud.  I just kept telling myself how fortunate I was to be able to have a great job, and to have kids who are healthy, and doing what they love to do.  All the while I’m telling myself these things, my eye is starting to twitch, and my nerves are fraying, because I’m walking out of the door every morning leaving the house in chaos.

Then, one morning I cracked.

Our dishwasher was broken.  Again.  I came back from walking Reggie, and Scott was packing his lunch.  There were dirty dishes on the counter, and the kitchen was an ugly landscape.  Scott patted me on the arm and asked me how I was doing.  I swore.  I did.  It wasn’t a lady like swear word either.  It was the worst kind of swear word.  I told Scott that I was going to be late for work, because I had to clean the bleepin kitchen.  Then I slammed the dog food bowl on the ground and walked out.

What the?

Yeah.  Just because I’m telling you that now, doesn’t mean I’m proud of myself.  I’m not.  I know you’re disappointed in me.  I get it.  I didn’t know that word was in my vocabulary.  I can’t remember ever saying it before.  Scott says I dropped the “f’ bomb one time when he threw a squeaky toy at me while I was sleeping.  I really didn’t.  He heard me wrong.  He just enjoys holding that over me.

That whole kitchen explosion was a total temper tantrum.  I sounded as ugly as my kitchen looked.  Scott was sorta speechless.  I surprised myself.  I had no idea that was brewing.

When I came back in the kitchen after getting dressed, guess what?  The kitchen was pretty clean.  I guess that’s what it takes.  Swearing.  I had no idea about this.  I’m going to pin what I learned on Pinterest.  How to clean your kitchen:  vinegar, baking soda, and “F” Bombs.

No.  I’m not going to do that.  Because swearing is bad.  It’s not a real strategy. But, I have to tell you, it does work better than gentle reminders.

But, no!  Of course, I won’t pin it.  That isn’t right, right?  You don’t think I should.  Do you?  I guess I’m a little torn, because it really did work.

I just have to think about it.  I’m always thinking.

The other day, I was on my way to work and I was thinking about blood sugar.  I was trying to remember the mechanics of how your body keeps blood sugar stabilized.  I’ve read a lot about this stuff.  I really should know this.  I’m really interested in these things.  And strangely, for how much I have read, I know very little.  I can’t seem to retain any of the facts I learn.   And, it occurred to me then, that the reason I get side tracked is because I get busy with things like Teenage Elf photo shoots.

I was arranging Teenage Elf on our buffet one morning, and taking a dozen or so pictures.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Scott shake his head at me.  He does that sometimes.  I’m not sure I like it.  I want to believe that he’s shaking his head like, “Oh, my wife.  She’s so cute.  Who else would dedicate this much time to the plot line of an imaginary Teenage Elf?”

I feel like that might not be what he’s really thinking though.

I don’t get it either.  I wish it would occur to me to act more appropriately.  It never does.

But, then again, Scott can get kinda boring.  Maybe I’m good for him?  I mean,  he puts really almost no effort into Christmas.  He doesn’t even like Christmas music.  Yeah.  I know.  His soul is dark.

The bad thing is, after all these years he’s begun to influence me.  I used to LOVE Christmas music.  Now, I like it less.  The other day I was hanging out with some hilarious friends.  I told them I heard the world’s WORST Christmas song on the radio.  I told them that I for real have to turn the radio dial so fast when it comes on the radio.  The song brings violent images to my mind.  When this song comes on,  I see myself stuffing a sock in the singer’s mouth.

I sang a line from this horrid song to my friend.  She said, “What?  That’s the Carpenters.  That’s a great song.”

So, that’s surprising.  I learned something new.  You can be a totally awesome person, and still like really terrible songs.  Here is the song.  What do YOU  think? It’s terrible, right?

I’ve decided I don’t need to go to the gym any more.  I’ve discovered YouTube.  After my walks in the morning, I plug in whatever I have time to do into the YouTube search bar.  I pick workouts that are as short as 5, 10 or 15 minutes, because it’s like I’ve always said, “go hard, or go home.”

I’m excited. These workouts have cool names that help me understand why I’m doing them: “Bikini Butt” and “5 Minute Crop Top Workout” are a couple of my favorites.  I’ve never worn a bikini, or a crop top, but I have a feeling that’s about to change.

Crop tops are THE COOLEST!  (Literally, I guess.) I saw a young woman at Costco the other day wearing one of these shirts.  It was around 20 degrees outside, and she and I crossed paths in the parking lot as I was running to my car to get out of the cold.  I saw her belly button, and her rock hard abs. I thought, good for her.  She’s not gonna let the negative wind chill tell her what to do.  I know it’s only a matter of time before I too can wear crop tops to Costco, or work, or my kids athletic events. I guess it’s just something everyone can look forward to seeing.  Especially my kids.

Do you have an, “Elf on a Shelf”?  I’m so sad we missed this tradition.  My friends at work have young children, and they have the best stories about this guy.  Olivia’s gotten wind of these stories, and it’s not good.  Olivia is holding a grudge against me.  I have totally failed in the holiday tradition department as a Mom, and I’m sorry for it.

The other night, Olivia was particularly bitter about our lack of traditions.  She made quite a speech about it.  She said, “When I’m a Mom, I’m going to do Santa Clause, Elf on a Shelf, Saint Nick, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Leprechauns!”

Leprechauns, Olivia?  Really?  Leprechauns are a tradition Moms do? I feel pretty doubtful about that.  I think Leprechaun traditions are just bad form.  I told Olivia that the only reason a Mom would do a Leprechaun tradition is if she was drunk.  Because, that’s just like the Irish.  I told Olivia she should be pretty darn thankful her Mom is sober.  How about being sober for a tradition, Olivia?  Why don’t the Leprechaun Moms try that?

I really do feel guilty about all this. The lack of traditions part.  Not the part about calling moms who do Leprechaun traditions drunks.  I stand by that.

I love the Holidays.  I never tried to make my kids NOT believe in stuff.  I just never thought of it.  Ever.

I have loads of happy holiday memories from when I was little, but they’re not centered around any one tradition, or character – well, other than the Christ Child, who we happen to think is real, and not a character.

I was trying to think about why I associate Christmas with joy and happiness as an adult, since I can’t remember any specific family traditions.  The only thing I consistently came up with was this: family, faith, food, music and laughter.  Those were our family’s traditions.  I’m not saying that’s the right way go, and, really, given a redo, I’d try harder with my kids.  But, in my family, that’s how it was done.

I don’t know what memories I’m helping build for my kids.  Hard to tell at this point, really.  It’s not like Scott offers me any help.  He’s not one to play his pan flute, while we gather around the piano for a merry holiday sing-a-long.  I’m kind of on my own with this stuff.

Here’s a picture I love.  This is after the Christmas eve service when I was young.  My older sister, Gail, and I are laughing about something.  I wish I knew what.  I’m drinking out of a fancy little mug.  I bet it was egg nog.  YES!  We did have a tradition.  Egg nog was a tradition.  Way to keep it simple, Mom:

christmas egg nog

Another tradition my family had growing up was this little elf my Mom brought out every year.  Believe it or not, I’ve blogged about this guy around Christmas last year.  That’s how special he is to me.  My sisters and I LOVED him.  Let it be known, this guy was around 40 years before anyone ever thought of “Elf on a Shelf”.  I don’t know how I was lucky enough to inherit him, but I did.

This year, we’re in the process of refinishing our basement.  That means all the Christmas decorations are buried somewhere in the garage.   I’m smart enough to take a pass on entering that house of horrors. The only decorating I’m doing this year is our little tree, and our little elf.  I did find the elf.  He gave me a really good idea.

The night Olivia was mourning the traditions that never were, I thought that I could start a new one.  My kids are too old for the real Elf on a Shelf, but how about “Teenage Elf”?  He looks like he could get into some Christmas trouble, right?
Here’s day one:

teenage elf

Oh, Olivia, I sure hope you didn’t want the rest of that sparkling cider. I was thirsty…..Your Friend, Teen age Elf.

Oh, that naughty little guy drank the last of the sparkling cider Olivia and her friends bought.  Looks like a lot of mischief to me.

I went to great lengths to get Olivia to discover Teenage Elf’s antics before school.  Scott did too.  Olivia woke up, and walked into the kitchen for breakfast.  Naughty Teenage Elf was laying on the counter by the coffee pot.  Scott told Olivia she looked like she needed a cup of coffee.  She looked at us real grouchy, and said, “What?”, and turned around to walk out of the kitchen.

I said, “Olivia, please.  Just get some coffee.”

She turned towards the coffee pot, and then she saw him.  She kind of laughed a little.

I expected more.

I said, “Oh, would you look at that Teenage Elf?  Boy, was he up to no good last night.  Tell me he didn’t drink the last of your sparkling cider?  That’s so mischievous! Who knows what kind of antics he’ll be into before Christmas?”

Nothing.

She just smiled again, and walked out of the kitchen to get ready for school.  Well, I’m not a quitter.  I’m certain this guy can bring happy memories of Christmas traditions to my teenagers,even if I have to ram the little sucker down their ungrateful throats.

When Zeke came in to the kitchen, I tried again.  “Zeke,  look who visited last night, Teenage Elf.  And, look at what he did.”  I pointed to the cider guzzling elf.

Zeke said, “What do you mean?”

I Explained, “You know, TEENAGE ELF!  He’s like Elf on a Shelf, only he’s Teenage Elf, because you guys are all teenagers, and Olivia wanted a Christmas tradition.  So, I’m starting a fun Christmas tradition with Teenage Elf?”

“What’s Elf on a Shelf?”

Holiday traditions can suck it.

I went out for dinner with some girlfriends last week.  While we were eating, I got a call from Zeke.  He wanted to know when his appointment was to get his hair cut.  I couldn’t remember.  I made the appointment that morning.  I had to call the hair stylist to confirm the time during dinner. I called Zeke back to let him know.

After that conversation with Zeke, I must have had a bad look on my face.  My friends looked a little worried.  I told them that there was a tiny chance I was experiencing some disease related memory loss.  Jumping to conclusions always seems like the best course of action.  I’m good at it.

I do worry.  Lately, I’ve become weary of my brain’s shortcomings.  It’s hard being me.  I just don’t know any other adult women who lose mittens daily, forget the names of common objects with such annoying regularity, and more often than not have the wrong time and date.  For everything.  I’m really not trying to be cute when this stuff happens.  I just haven’t figured out how to correct myself.

I must have looked genuinely nervous (I was) after my call with Zeke, because my friends jumped in to comfort me.  I told them that I was just forgetting so many things lately.  I was kind of losing trust in myself.

My friends all said, of course, they forget things all the time too.  I have so much on my mind, I couldn’t possibly be expected to remember every hair cut appointment.  They’re the best lying friends a girl could have.

I was worrying about this fading memory of mine some more on my way to work the next morning.  By the time I got to work I was thinking this:  my brain might be losing power, but it is still serviceable.  You know why I thought that?  Because I made a list.  I wrote down everything my brain had permitted me to do by the time I sat down at my desk at 8:10 that morning.  Here it is:

1. Made a Doctor appointment for Zeke

2. Arranged for a friend to take Zeke to that Doctor’s appt

3. Arranged a ride for Olivia to her basketball tournament the next day

4. Arranged for someone to feed and walk Reggie when we were all gone on Saturday

5. Called my parents to make sure they know that if they’d like to watch the kids participate in athletics, and the weather turns bad, they’re welcome to stay in our newly refinished basement

6. Sent a group text to some friends with a message I thought was funny

7. Put some nonsense on Facebook

That’s not terrible.  And, I didn’t include  getting ready, making my bed, packing a lunch and walking Reggie. I think I could do that stuff without brain power, right? So, I thought maybe that stuff didn’t deserve to make the list.  Believe me.  I wanted to put it on there.  That’s why I told you about it any way.

I had to make this list.  I had to reassure myself that my brain still works, because I really need my brain.  My clients and family need it too.

The list made me feel a little better.  But, not much.

The other thing that’s on my mind is awesome people.  I love awesome people.  Awesome people should be celebrated.  Here’s today’s awesome people list:

Ellie and Austin

Ellie and Austin are sweet and funny kids.  Their family is involved in the wrestling program, and that’s lucky for us.  I’ve posted Facebook messages about Ellie’s little brother, Austin.    Austin is one of Scott’s good friends.  Austin told  Scott to PLEASE keep coaching until Austin was done with high school.  Austin’s convincing argument was, “You can’t just wet me westle for a stwanger.”  Which, of course, is true.

Scott gave Austin the business this summer, because Austin was going to miss a summer school wrestling class for some kind of event at the fair. This event included cake, which Austin said was the best part.  Scott made sure to let Austin know that the least Austin could do was bring Scott back a piece of cake.  Austin didn’t.  Instead, he brought Scott an entire cake.  Austin delivered this cake to our front door.  He made it himself. From scratch.

Ellie is Austin’s sister, and she is my friend.  Sometimes I sit by Ellie at wrestling meets, and she makes me laugh.  Not like, “Oh.  I’m laughing to be nice, because you’re a kid and you’re supposed to be nice to kids,” type of laughing.

Real laughing.

Ellie is smart and sharp as a cute little tack.  I love hanging out with her.

One wrestling match last year, Ellie came with her crochet needles.   She was learning to crochet.  She had a little stretch of something that she had started.  It was about as long as a ruler, but she thought it might eventually be a scarf.  I told her she should make me a scarf some time, and then I laughed.  I never thought about it again

The wrestling season has started again.  Ellie was at the first match.  She walked up to me, and gave me a beautiful blue and green infinity scarf.  She told me she thinks it took her two months to make it, or maybe one, she thought.

scarf

So, I guess the point of this story is never tell these sweet kids that you want something.  They’ll feel obligated to provide it for you. And,  if you want to know how to make sweet kids, you should probably ask Ellie and Austin’s parents.  They have two other sweet boys too.  These parents know what they’re doing.

Some more awesomeness I have been considering is the Wood family.  The Woods have four kids too.  Maybe that’s all it takes to be awesome.  Ben Wood is the son of one of the finest couples I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.  We don’t see this couple much anymore, but they’ve been mentors to Scott and me in our lives.  This couple focuses on all the right things, and they’ve shown Scott and me that long marriages can be fun and full of adventures.

The Woods have two great kids.  Ben is their son.  He is a Pastor in Wisconsin.  Ben and his wife, Jen, and their four kids will be headed for Thailand soon.  They have decided that they are going to join a ministry dedicated to preventing child trafficking.

Ben, Jen and their children are God’s answer to my prayers.  When I’m out walking, I pray for children and pets who have no protection from evil.   I’m haunted by these thoughts; I try to turn those haunted thoughts in to prayers.  I think God hears me.

Our family is going to financially support the Woods.  I can’t think of a better use of our resources:

woods

Yes. That shiny head in the back ground IS Grandpa Wood.

The last person of distinguished awesomeness, is Scott’s Dad, Marcus Smith.  Scott inherited all sorts of admirable qualities from his Dad.  One of my favorites is gentleness.  Marc is incapable of being overbearing and in your business.  He just quietly loves you to pieces.  Marc and Scott’s Mom, Gail, came to Scott and the boys’ first wrestling meet.

Scott and Marc gave each other the best spontaneous hug before we said goodbye.  I was mad I missed it, so I asked for a redo.  Marc loved that.  He made a little joke, and pretended like he and Scott had to keep posing for the picture, because he really just didn’t want to stop hugging his son.  It’s hard for me to believe that my husband, and the father of my children, was this guy’s baby.  But, he was.   Parental love is so fierce.  It never stops. Adult children should try to remember that.

Scott Marc hug

 

That’s it.  This was my Awesomeness Hall-of-Fame.  I liked doing that, and you deserve to be on the list of awesomeness list for reading it.

 

 

 

Chicago, I love you!!!   At least what I’ve seen of you, which admittedly is only your bright and shiny parts.

chicago sign

I had the opportunity to spend the day in Chicago this week with many of the lovely people I work with every day.  We lit it up, baby! I blogged about this same trip last year too. Just in case anyone remembers that, I’ll try not to repeat myself.

No one in the group I was with in Chicago cared about stuff like Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.  We cared about seeing new things, and having fun. So, that’s what we did.  My friend/co-worker/and former Chicago area resident had a full itinerary for us to follow. We were busy.

At one point, we did take a shortcut through one fine store.   A flashy silver and purple bracelet caught my eye there.  I think I told my friend, “Oh, I love this!” The bracelet was sitting right on the jewelry counter with a bunch of other pieces I assumed were costume jewelry (the only kind I wear). The bracelet wasn’t costume jewelry.  It was the kind of bracelet that costs one-thousand-dollars.  I apologized to the salesperson for even looking at it.   I need to get out more, and meet more people.  I really didn’t know people bought thousand dollar bracelets.

Here’s how we started our day.  We arrived in Chicago around lunch.  We ate at the “Signature Room” on the top of the John Hancock building.  Here’s the view:

signature room

I’d definitely recommend this experience.  The view was crazy, and lunch was only $20.  By Chicago standards that means it was free. Of course, if you were one of the unlucky suckers who ordered a glass of wine, the cost of your meal doubled.   I guess that’s just another rich person thing I don’t understand.

After the John Hancock building we plowed down Michigan Avenue.  We did have to stop in one store, because (you’re about to be shocked), I lost one of my mittens on the bus ride.  I had to buy another pair.  The sun was out, but it was cold.

I found a super cool hat at this store, and what I thought were awesome mittens too.  Here they are:

mittens

I know what you’re thinking.  These are the stupidest mittens ever invented (But, what about the manicure?  I’m fancy now.).  Your thumbs are meant to be exposed when you wear mittens, right?  I guess they think thumbs don’t get cold in Chicago.

I didn’t try these mittens on before I bought them, because why would I do something silly like that?  I came out of the store, and pulled the mittens out of the bag.  Right away, my friend said, “Are your thumbs covered in those mittens?”

I hadn’t noticed before that.  But see, my friend was a Valedictorian.  She’s highly intelligent, and can spot tiny flaws right away.  Average people couldn’t be expected to see this thing.  Really, I think I was swindled.

I put my thumb-less mittens on and we kept walking.  We visited Macy’s, and saw their giant Christmas Tree.  This year’s theme at Macy’s is “Believe”.  Macy’s always has a theme at Christmas.  The Christmas tree is in the middle of a famous restaurant called, “The Walnut Room”.  There was an insanely long line of people waiting to get into “The Walnut Room” to eat.  Maybe all those people were waiting, because the waitresses were dressed like princesses.  The princesses were waving magic wands over the guests’ heads.   Or, maybe all those people just really wanted to eat some of the delicious walnuts served at “The Walnut Room”.   I don’t know.  I’m new here, so quit asking.   I just know I was glad I wasn’t waiting in that line. I wouldn’t do it.  Not even for great walnuts.

After the Christmas Tree viewing we grabbed Latte’s and went to buy me more mittens.

Our group consisted of four women and one man.  The man in our group had to go into a store for something. It took him longer than we thought it would.  We made a joke about how maybe he was just trying to shake us.  Maybe he wanted to hang out by himself.

lattes

When he finally got out of the store, we headed down the street towards Millennial park.  One of my friends wanted to make a joke about our guy friend trying to shake us.  Only she mistakenly said (yelled) to him, “We won’t let you shag US, buddy.”  Which, of course, is true, but certainly goes without saying.  Turns out that even worldly Chicago people turn their heads when they hear a lady yell that on the street.  I sped up a little then, and tried to put some distance between my friend and me.

At Millennial Park we took our picture at the silver bean again.  Then, we went ice skating.  This was the part of the day that I was most looking forward to doing.  I tried keeping it on the down low, but what I was excited for my work friends to see is that I have skills.  When I was young, we were poor, but we did live across the street from a lake.  In the winter we skated a lot.  Had I decided to go on to the Olympics, let’s just say a gold wouldn’t have been out of the question.

The way I pictured this ice skating thing happening, is  that we’d all get out on the ice, and then I’d do my triple Salchow to a double toe loop, and everybody’s jaws would drop open.  They’d be like, “Miki, oh my Gosh!  You didn’t even tell us what an incredible skater you are.”

Then, I’d be kind of shy, and say, “Oh, I’m not.  It’s just that we were poor, but we had some old skates around, and I taught myself some tricks.”

Then, they’d all be like, who knew Miki has so many hidden talents?  She’s so awesome and great.  Plus, she’s so modest.

Then, I’d be all like, “Can I make more money?”

Only, that didn’t happen.  Because, guess what?  Defective equipment.  The ice skates were ridiculous.  I felt like the inside of my ankle was being rubbed raw, and that’s just a shame.  I was gonna have a big moment.   I shuffled around the rink a couple of times while my skinny boss showed off her respectable skills instead.  That really made me mad:

ice skating

When we were done skating we headed back towards the John Hancock Building.  We finished the day in a warm restaurant, eating delicious food.  That’s a fun day.

I loved this outing.  I liked being silly with my friends from work.  I thought about my family while I was in Chicago too.  When I got home from Chicago, my whole family was sleeping.

Before school the next morning, I noticed the package of beef stew I told Scott to have while I was gone was still in the refrigerator.  Before I left for Chicago, I had a really clear conversation with Scott about what to have for dinner.  I think I told him twice for sure, maybe three times.  I even said, “I feel like you’re not listening to me.”

I saw that unopened package of stew, and I asked Olivia what Dad made for supper.  Then she remembered she was disgusted and said, “Dad fed us Reggie’s food.”

He really did.

Of course, Reggie eats real people food, so it’s not the worst thing that ever happened, but still.  You wouldn’t eat it on purpose.  There was a crock pot full of Reggie’s weekly mix on the counter; I guess Scott thought that stuff looked too good to pass up.

The lesson for me here is: seriously, why bother?  Most of us moms have learned this lesson before, but a lot of us can’t stop ourselves from bothering any way.

How was your Thanksgiving? We enjoyed ours.  I can’t really remember what we did, but I definitely remember there was something fun about it.

Thanksgiving is a lot about food.  I remember when I was a stay-at-home mom.  I was so much better at food then.  I had actual recipes with fairly long lists of ingredients I liked to make.  I remember a pumpkin torte that involved multiple layers.  I also made this fruit salad that Scott liked.  The fruit was covered in a homemade custard sauce that involved tempering egg yolks.   I tempered eggs?  I did. Or, maybe that was just a dream.

This year, I worked late the night before Thanksgiving.  Scott came through for me, and bought a cheese tray, hard salami and a veggie platter for his side of the family’s celebration.  I did manage to make some cookies Thanksgiving morning, but that’s it.  That’s all I got.

For my side of the family, I brought nothing.  You’re welcome guys.  Hope you liked it.

Olivia had her heart set on Black Friday shopping this year.  My mom and two sisters and niece and I all decided we’d spend a few hours joining the fun on Friday morning.  And, it definitely was fun.  Especially, if you think fun is like jumping off the high dive into a pool of sharp knives.  It was definitely THAT kind of fun.

I don’t know why people do it.

I felt so overwhelmed.  I just kept giving myself small goals.  Like,  looking for the closest open chair.  One time I just sat right down on the carpeting while Olivia sorted through a giant trash heap of items on sale.  Another time, I sat on a pile of jeans.

My mom wandered off on her own. She told us she got side tracked picking up after a tornado that must have gone through the Boston Store’s shoe department.  She couldn’t help herself.  It looked like those workers needed some disaster relief volunteers.   My mom also found an empty beer bottle in one of the dressing rooms, among all the other wrappers, discarded clothing and empty soda cups.  Black Friday is just a classy thing.

Olivia found a couple of good deals during our shopping trip, and she probably could have shopped all day, but she knew the rest of us were getting weak.  We lasted until lunch.

black friday

Eddie, Zeke and their cousin, Caleb, went out for Black Friday shopping on Thursday night.  Caleb asked my boys to do this with him. Caleb thought it might be fun.  I told Caleb his cousins are really bad shoppers, and I couldn’t really remember Eddie ever shopping on purpose before.  Caleb had confidence they would have fun. So, I believed him.  I gave my boys money, and I told them to pick up some Christmas presents.

They didn’t.

Their first stop was McDonald’s.  Eddie asked the McDonald’s employee if they had any Black Friday specials on chicken.  The guy said he was sorry, but everything was just regularly priced.  He did offer Eddie this special grocery bag.  So, that’s really nice.

blackfriday bag

Here’s a Black Friday Special…Sorry, Eddie got to it first.

Friday night, the cousins played “Pit”.  Do you remember that game?  We used to love playing it when I was a teenager, now my kids do too. “3,3,3”, “2,2,2”!!!

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Saturday, Zeke and Eddie and the other wrestlers on their team, scrimmaged some other wrestling teams.  Some of us parents went and watched, because we’re sick like that.  Zeke, Eddie and Scott are all on the same team now. This has never happened before. I’m excited to watch these boys I love do what they love this winter.

After the scrimmage, we went to see a dog at the humane society. This dog was a precious little thing that someone posted a picture of on my Facebook timeline.  We loved this dog right away.  We’ve never been to the humane society.  Olivia, Zeke and I were super excited to go, because we just love dogs about more than anything else I can think of.  But, guess what?  The humane society isn’t a happy place.  We couldn’t get the dog we saw, because Reggie needs to be neutered.  I know. I know.  You’re going to tell me we should have done that already.  Let’s talk about that later.

Right now, I want to tell you that if you think going to the humane society sounds like a neat thing to do some time, you need to know it isn’t.  I’m not sure why I didn’t know that.  The humane society, by definition, is a place for dogs without homes.  Each dog is contained in a little pen, and they bark and bark and bark.  Olivia and I made the mistake of going back and seeing these dogs.  We couldn’t talk for an hour after we saw these dogs.  We were both so sad.

Olivia’s channeling her sadness by making plans for a her future.  She’s going to start her own shelter where the dogs have much more comfortable accommodations.  She said she is going to also provide care and activities for kids with special needs to interact with these dogs.  She seems really passionate and certain.  I asked her if I could come work for her, and she said she was already planning on it.  Maybe that trip to the humane society wasn’t wasted after all.

Saturday night, the boys were gone, and Scott built a fire for Olivia and me.  Do you know how lazy I am in the evenings?  Really, really lazy.  I have a lot of friends who get very productive in the late evenings.  I don’t.

We sat by the fire and watched, “Nebraska”.  Have you seen that movie?  The whole thing is in black and white.  I thought it would annoy me, but it didn’t.  We really liked this movie.  Even Scott said it was very good.  I don’t remember the last time Scott gave a movie a favorable review.  The main character in “Nebraska” was a nice guy, and he did nice things without expecting anything nice in return.  What’s not to like about that?  It was really nice.

I was thinking that after the movie I should probably try to be productive, but then I decided I’d better lay on the couch some more.  I read my book, and I watched Olivia and Scott perform.  They were dancing to, and singing “Fancy”, by Ziggy Azalea.  They wouldn’t stop, even when I asked them to, and that’s why I think they deserve to have me post part of their performance. I wish you could have seen the whole thing.

I know you’re going to tell me you didn’t know Scott was such a good singer.  Well, he is. He’s thought about pursuing a singing career.  It’s just that we kind of need his insurance.

Sunday we went to church, watched Olivia play basketball, and Zeke and Olivia decorated the tree.  Eddie and Scott are the world’s worst at celebrating holidays.  I don’t know how to make them care, because the really just don’t.  I’m not sure if that’s something they can take medicine for, or if they just are going to live the rest of their lives like that, but they seem happy enough.

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So, I guess that’s that.  You know Christmas is coming at us like a freakin’ freight train.   I think someone should embroider THAT saying on a holiday pillow.  I’d totally buy one of those.

Tires and Dating my Husband

I think it’s high time we talked about tires.  I’ve been neglecting this subject for far too long.  It’s almost as if I can hear readers asking, “How long must we wait?  When can we talk tires?”

I hear you.  And, I’m answering your call.

Snow tires.  Crazy, right?  Crazy good.  I thought I needed a new car, because for the last two years, any time there was more than three flakes of snow,  my car would handle as well as if it were on a banana peel highway.

Right here is where I need to make an important announcement: Banana peel jokes are classic.  They never fail to kill me. My high school friends and I used to make jokes about leaving banana peels on the floor of the school’s hallway. We always wanted to do that, and then sit back and watch all the people try to catch their balance, and fall. We laughed so hard at this plan.  Mainly, because does anyone really know if banana peels are slippery?  And, if you walk across a banana peel, will your feet slip out from under you like you’re on a slippery patch of ice.  Because that’s what happens in cartoons, and I don’t think they’d make that stuff up.   I think you should try it, and then let me know. I’m almost 43, and that’s still funny.

But, those are just my thoughts on banana peels, and that’s not what you came here for, is it?  You were hoping for more of my auto mechanical expertise.  I will deliver. I bought these four beautiful snow tires. Snow tires are expensive, which is the main reason I’ve never had them before.

tire

Wisconsin had its first of what I’m sure will be the next 600 snow storms this winter (except it’s still fall, technically).  When I heard the weather report, I felt my usual weather related anxiety start to percolate.  I’m not a very brave bad weather driver.   I did feel a little curious about whether the the snow tires would work.

They do.

I could tell immediately.  Anyone who has a fuel efficient vehicle like mine, a vehicle that weighs as much as  a lady bug, needs snow tires.  I’m telling you now.  These things are beautiful.  Maybe my favorite purchase ever.  After driving a while, and gaining confidence with these things,  I just started getting cocky.  I started thinking there was a pretty good chance other drivers were noticing how easily I stopped and started in the snow, and some jealousy was happening.

I got a little mean, and started rubbing it in to the other drivers.  I’d speed faster than normal to a stop sign, and then I stopped hard. No slipping.  I’d look at the other drivers, and shrug my shoulders, smile and wave.  Like, you know, what are ya gonna do?  Blessed.

I used to be jealous of semi drivers on the highway with their big, fat heavy, show offy tires. Braggers. Now, I speed by those semis, and use my little tin can on wheels to kick up snow in their windshield.  Pay backs stink, right?

I’m lying again.  And, if you’ve ever seen me drive in the snow, you’d know it.  You thought your Grandma was cautious.  Drive with me some time.  Grandma will look like a race car driver.  Not even snow tires will make me take chances.

That’s my review on snow tires. The other thing I’m thinking about is dating my husband.  I was in the Doctor’s office the other day, and by Doctor’s office, I mean, getting a manicure.  (It’s just for the holidays.  I promise. People are starving in this world, so I don’t know WHY I am getting a manicure.  I just prefer to lie about it for now).

So, AT the Doctor’s office, where I was having a pretty serious medical procedure, there was a talk show playing on TV.  The subject of the show was, “Dating your Husband”. There was this cute couple being interviewed. The couple had been married for 14-years.  The wife was crying, because she thought her husband took her for granted. She said she missed the days when he pursued her with romance.  The husband was really sweet.  He explained that between their children and his career, he just felt tired.  He said he really loved his wife, but didn’t know how to bring back the magic.

Do you realize how AWESOME daytime TV is?  I forgot.   All of us day time workers are being TOTALLY robbed.  I’m telling you that right now,   amazing things happen when you get to watch daytime TV.

So, this husband was on this show, because he wanted to woo his wife.  I was excited to watch more.  If the Doctor wouldn’t have been filing my nails, I would have taken notes.  I thought I could tell Scott about whatever I learned, and then maybe he would want to woo me.

The first thing this man did was send his wife a giant box with a bow.  The wife opened the box and the box was filled with Monarch butterflies.  Which, of course, didn’t just sit there.  The Monarchs all started flying out of the box.  There was a note in the box that said something  beautiful about the magic of flying butterflies and the couple’s love.

What do you think?

Frightening.  That  is what I thought.  I think if  a herd of monarchs came flying at me, that would be kind of an emergency in my book.  The kind of emergency where I run away screaming.  Plus, right away I was wondering if this whole butterflies in a box thing was in the butterflies best interest.  Do butterflies want to be in a box, and now flying around your house?  Is that their natural habitat?  Seems a little selfish to use butterflies as a love note.

That’s the part of the story where I realized I’m not very good at romance. I prefer the type of romance that makes sense.

Beneath the Monarchs is a lovely green dress the husband has chosen for his wife.  And, again, I’m ruining the fun for this couple, because I’m thinking husbands picking out clothes for their wives sounds like a disaster to me.

The last time Scott bought me clothes was 25 years ago.  Please do NOT ask him about this, because that guy can beat a dead horse.  He still laments about how he spent hours (or was it days) looking for just the right sweater.  He finally found it, and then spent a LOT of money on it (which I think is the part that makes him the most sorry) and then I never wore it.  This story is so old, and been told so many times, I leave the room when it starts.

Scott tells this sad tale, and he always builds up to the part of his greatest offense.  He says that after not wearing the sweater, I then ruined it with bleach.  He says I did it on purpose. I’ll always deny it.  Because, I didn’t.  At least not consciously.  Scott knows I ruin tons of things in the laundry.  It’s just that the sweater kinda looked like a team uniform.  Which I would guess now is exactly why Scott liked it.  He wanted me on his team.   And, again, I’m not good at romance.

After the dress giving from this romantic husband, there was a picnic in a theater, and then a boat ride where the couple (of course) reenacted the famous scene from “The Titanic”.  After that,  the husband got down on one knee and asked his wife to marry him…again. A big fat, shiny ring was involved, as if we thought there wouldn’t be.  The husband had then arranged for the ship’s captain to conduct a vow renewal ceremony, where these two crazy kids professed their love to each other.  There were lots of tears, and lots of loud-smacking, cringe-worthy kissing scenes.  I don’t need to see that.

What do you think?  Do you love it?

I thought I would love it, but this thing made me miserable.  I thought this show would teach me  about how husbands bring  popcorn and a movie home for their wives on a Friday night.  Or, how they go get milk so their wives don’t have to do it on the way home from work. Or, how a husband will start the car, and scrape the windshield of their wive’s car in the early morning.

That’s not what I learned.

Now, none of that stuff will even make me happy.  Not now that I know there are wives out there prancing in fields of Monarchs, to the delight of their husbands.  Wives who are hanging off the front of boats with their arms spread wide, as their husbands hold them, and romantic music plays.  Wives who are being surprised with big shiny rings, and romantic,  surprise proposals.

All I was hoping for was a crappy gallon of milk.

Maybe daytime TV isn’t as helpful as I thought.

 titanic-scene

Do you remember when I blogged about marijuana?  I told a story that only I could tell.  I told a story about what I have learned about marijuana from the people in my life who have used marijuana.  I didn’t pretend to know the right laws to pass, and how to proceed in the  bigger world.  I just said that what I have witnessed is the destruction of bright, talented teenage boys who have decided they love marijuana enough to marry it.  Or, at least, trade it for their future.

I said that maybe legalizing marijuana will do what some folks say.  Maybe all sorts of problems will be solved when legalizing marijuana happens.  That’s how I’ve heard the story spun.  So be it. Maybe those pro-legalization folks are right.  But, I can’t change what I have seen.

I will continue to tell my kids that even if they see marijuana Twinkies on the shelves at Wal Mart, don’t be fooled.  (And, really, you shouldn’t be eating Twinkies anyway.)  Marijuana puts exciting, adventurous, productive young lives at risk.  I’ve seen it.

My viewpoint on immigration is also colored by my own experience.  Really, do we have anything else?  I’m not impartial.

It’s interesting to me that my thoughts on immigration have also been formed by taking part in the lives, and building friendships with teenage boys.  I should thank my husband for bringing these kids into our lives.  I’ve learned a lot from them.

I’ve been trying to listen to the larger immigration debate.  I’ll tell you straight up, I don’t have a handle on it.  I don’t know all the issues, and I don’t know who is right and who is wrong.  I can’t imagine being in a position of having to sort it all out.  It’s a lot.

My personal stance on immigrants is that I love them.  Or, at least, I love the immigrants I know.  I never realized these kids I know are immigrants.  I just thought they were awesome kids.  They are just kids I like with fewer privileges than most, and  kids who work really hard.

One day , Scott asked me if I could give one of these young guys a ride home from wrestling practice.  This boy usually rode his bike to practice in the early morning, and home at night.  I assumed he lived in town.  He didn’t.  He lived eight miles away.  Morning practices start at 6:30.  Wrestling is in the winter.  In Wisconsin.

When I dropped this boy off, I could see that our modest house was luxurious in comparison with where this boy lived.  After I dropped this boy off, I  had a rare experience.  I had no words.

Later, when I was freaking out and telling Scott how amazing this kid was for riding his bike to practice, Scott said he knew.  He also told me that the gears on this guy’s bike weren’t even working properly.  The bike was stuck in a high gear, making the hills on this boy’s route even harder.

We found that boy a better bike after that,  and made sure he had rides (in a car) as often as possible.  Because really, how many Americans don’t have extra bikes in the garage? Not many.

My kids were young,  and in the car with me when I gave that boy a ride home.  On the way home,  after my words came back, I started wishing I could make that boy understand that my kids were better people for knowing him.  I was grateful to him for teaching my kids and me about how to work harder and be more appreciative.  I was hoping I could some how pay him back for that.

This boy is just one of Scott’s many friends who came from, or who had parents who came from Mexico.  We’re lucky to know these people.

Most of these guys we know through wrestling.  Many times, these boys end up having to quit the team before their senior year.  These boys apologize, and tell Scott they wish they could stay on the team, because they love it.  But, sadly,  they can’t.  These boys have jobs, and families who need whatever income these boys can provide.

Some of these boys have made it to their senior year.  Some how their families were able to sacrifice the boys’ earning potential, and allow the boys to have this American wrestling experience.  I’d like to get to know the parents of these boys better, and hopefully be friends.  But, I don’t know most of these parents, because I never see them.  These parents work 7 days a week cleaning offices and hotels, and working in factories.

We have received thank you gifts from one single mom, for helping her boys.  Jeesh.  I’m embarrassed to even write that. Can you believe it?  I want to tell that Mom this, “I know you are as fiercely devoted to your children as I am to mine.  I know that you would do anything to protect your kids and help them succeed in life.  I know that you would love to watch your kids wrestle, if you could.  But, you have to make a choice to feed and shelter your boys over watching them wrestle.   I’m sorry that I get to watch our kids while you work.  That isn’t fair.  I hate to ask anything of you, but could I ask you to PLEASE just let me be the one who is grateful?

I’m grateful to you,  because you inspire me.  I hope that if I was in your situation I would have the grit and determination to do everything within my power to give my kids a good life.  I hope I wouldn’t feel sorry for myself, but I think that maybe I would  I see what you are doing, and I love you for it.  We are the ones who owe YOU a gift.  We owe you a gift for the lessons you’ve brought into our lives.  Valuable lessons are worth more than any possessions.”

I like living in my world.  I like a world where my kids get to be friends with people who speak a different language, and who can teach them about another culture.  It would be excellent if our family had the resources and time to travel to other countries and see families living in other cultures in person.  That’s NOT our life.   Our life is here, in a small town in Wisconsin.  So, I thank God for finding another way for us.

One boy from Mexico brought this home to Scott from his last trip to Mexico.

Hello! I’m El Chavo

This is a popular cartoon character in Mexico.  His name is El Chavo.  A large plastic version of this guy sat proudly in our living room all summer.  Scott, finally took him to his classroom.  I’m not gonna lie and say I was sad to see him go.  He was a little out of place with our current decor.  But, he was fun, and we loved that our friend shared part of his world with us.

I heard an American politician on the radio this week say that he was only in favor of keeping immigrants who were highly skilled.  He thought the rest should be sent back.  I heard and a I listened to this politician.  He certainly has a right to believe what he believes, and he has the right to express himself.  He’s probably a good guy.  But, he is NOT speaking for me.  There isn’t anything about his statement that fits my experience.  Truthfully, I am repelled by his sentiments.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like him as person, but there it is.

I was thinking I’d better speak for myself.

I know there should be laws to organize immigration, but, if you ask me what my opinion is, I will tell you ALL are welcome.  If it were up to me, I would tell immigrants that of course you can live in the  United States, if you’d like.   We gotta be organized about it, but we’re glad you came.  And, honestly,  I didn’t realize the permission was mine to grant.  The United States isn’t really mine, you know.  I don’t own it.  This is just the country where God decided I should be born.

One of the boys  from Mexico that we know is becoming an adult now.  He’s going to a trade school full time, and working full time too.  He is working and going to school 7 days a week,  trying to make a better life for him and his little brothers.  I’m not sure if that politician I mentioned would consider this young man a “highly skilled” person,  or not.  But, this young man is my friend.  We watched him grow up, and helped him understand all the things you could do in the United States to make a better life for yourself.  He’s doing everything Scott suggested he do, and more.

I would like to embrace opportunity, and work as hard as this young friend of ours.  I don’t think he’s been given anything that he hasn’t returned with interest. I want to live in a world with guys like this, and in a world that welcomes them.  And that’s just what my life has taught me about immigration.

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