Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Update

I didn’t sleep well. I awake long past midnight and up long before five. I have a lot on my mind and was anxious to just get through this with LM this morning so we would know how bad it really was and stop WORRYING about it all. It’s so hard as a mother to know how to help your child be courageous. And I knew this would take a sheer act of bravery to sit and allow the orthodontist to put these things in your mouth when you know they are going to hurt.

I took the dog out around 7:45. LM was coming from his dad’s and he was late and I was pacing. My neighbor came out and saw me and laid into me. Let me give you the history (I was going to link to past posts about my neighbor, but I'm too tired to find them):

I have had problems with this neighbor for quite sometime. She lives below me with her two boys, one is in high school, one is in middle school. I have endured rocks being thrown on my patio and at LM’s bedroom window. I have dealt with little plastic pellets being shot at the door and all over the yard. I have had to ask for their music to be turned down on more than half a dozen occasions. As recently as last week, the boys smeared some green paint-like stuff all over my front door. Each and every time I have had an issue I have gone directly to them. I have spoken with the boys or their mom. I have been polite and mature and dealt with it as a neighbor. For the most part, they comply. They just come up with something new the next week.

On Monday, Memorial Day, I was watching a movie and heard a strange sound out on my deck. I knew at least one of the boys and some other neighbor kid were downstairs on their patio so I muted the tv and waited to see what they were up to. About five minutes later I heard the noise again and this time identified it as a pellet from a pellet gun. The boys were shooting pellets at the birds on my birdfeeders. The birds weren’t 10 feet from the gun. I was pissed.

I stewed about for awhile trying to decide if this was truly criminal or if it was just personally upsetting. I had been out on my deck earlier watering the plants and I realized that if I had been hit by a passing pellet it could break the skin. I decided to call the non-emergency police number and ask for their opinion. The dispatcher told me she was sending out an officer immediately, that this was not okay and to stay inside until it was cleared up.

The officer came and saw the boys on the patio. He went directly to them and spoke with them at length. They tried to deny it, but the pellet gun was lying at their feet. After some time their mom came out but I don’t know all that was said. The officer eventually came to my door and came inside and I explained how there was a history here and I’m not one to just call the police over nothing but this seemed more destructive than normal. He completely agreed and told me I had a right to press charges if I wanted to. I declined, saying I just wanted them to stop. He let me his card and told me to call if I had any further incidents.

Back to this morning. My neighbor is now standing in the parking lot reading me the riot act for calling the police instead of just coming to her to deal with the problem. I explained that I HAVE come to her on numerous occasions. She said, “You’ve never complained about the pellet gun before!” I explained that it was a whole new level of destruction and I thought it was more serious this time. She freaked out. She went on and on and on but the gist of it was that if I so much as sneeze from now on, she’ll call and report me for noise violation. She has issues with my dog and threatened to call the humane society (she thinks he’s too big to be in a condo). I told her that if she felt that way to please feel free to make the necessary calls. She told me that she’d have me down to clean up any mess from bird seed falling on her patio. I told her that if she felt she had concerns there to contact the condo association. She assured me she would do just that.


After this heartwarming dialogue, I rushed LM off to the orthodontist to have them tell me that they wrote the appointment down for 10am, whereas I had it down for 8am. I gave her that “we’re not leaving without expanders” look and they took us in.

The expanders are in. The orthodontist has a healthy sense of humor and kept LM entertained while he was being tortured. They are uncomfortable and he doesn’t talk well currently but he wasn’t in agony. He headed off to school with a notebook ready to write messages instead of speaking. I packed him a lunch full of soft things that he was looking forward to. I’m sure he’ll have more discomfort tomorrow when it really takes hold in his sinuses and his head but for now, we’re through what is the roughest part to me.

As for my neighbor, I called my association this morning and gave them the rundown. She encouraged me to write a letter with the history on it so that it would be on file should this neighbor file any complaint. She was outspoken about her support of my actions and stated that this woman is renting her condo and she doesn’t have nearly the leg to stand on that I do anyway.

All of this is to say that my nerves are officially SHOT today. I wish I could move out tomorrow for a hundred reasons (my neighbor is just steadily moving herself up to the top of that list). If nothing else, I expect that the police will be called the next time my dog barks and that I’ll have many more exciting stories to tell as time goes on.

Thanks for all your well-wishes for LM.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Prepared (Sort of)

Grocery List:

Potatoes
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese
Bananas
Blueberries
Yogurt
Gogurt
American cheese
Peaches
Alphabet soup
Ice cream sandwiches
Chocolate pudding
Orajel
Children’s Tylenol
Mangoes
Milk
Eggs
Baked beans
Mandarin Oranges
2 bags of anxiety


Yes, tomorrow is “Expander Day”. This time tomorrow we’ll at least know what we’re dealing with.

Updates to come.

(Prayers welcome!)

Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

Twice this morning we saw turtles in the middle of the road. For one, we were able to stop and get out and move it to the sidewalk.



We had to make a trip to the orthodontist this morning. Last Thursday night LM flossed out a spacer. Office was closed on Friday followed by a holiday weekend and he NEEDS that space in order to get the expanders on tomorrow. And by God we have to put those expanders on tomorrow.

LM is a nervous wreck. Anticipation is so often worse than the actual event and he is anxious about getting this done. I have planned fun things to do each night including seeing “Over the Hedge”, swimming and a Nascar race (not really planned this way, but a distraction nonetheless).



When LM got out of the car this morning to move the turtle he said he could tell the turtle was nervous as he started to pull his head into his shell. When LM picked him up, his little feet kicked and kicked with all the ferociousness a turtle can muster. I know the shelled man had no idea of the imminent danger of being in the middle of the road, nor of the unselfish kindness that LM demonstrated in moving him to safety but in the end, the fear the turtle felt was unfounded and he found himself in a much happier place.

Why did the turtle cross the road? Perhaps to show a little boy that we're all afraid sometimes. And sometimes, there's nothing at all to be afraid of.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Go Danica!



Quote of the day, in response to Richard Petty’s continued belief that woman shouldn’t be race car drivers: “You don’t need to wear a jock strap to make left turns all afternoon.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Price of a Walk

Have I mentioned we’re in dog training- again? This is method number, um…four…for dealing with leash aggression. I’ve now officially paid through my nose (that might account for its size and shape) in an effort to make my dog happy to see other dogs when we’re out on a leash. So far? Not working. This latest round of training is GUARANTEED!! They will work with my dog for years if necessary to solve this or any other problem. And no, it’s not the people who wanted me to just bark at my dog. The trainer is coming to visit us at our house tonight since Gabe does GREAT with them at their house but really, really LOUSY at home with me (despite me doing supposedly all the right things). We.Shall.See.

Last night we went to the dog park. I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going there anymore but it just calls to me and I feel the need to go let my dog run free for an hour. We went. I tried to practice training while we were there (good place to work with distractions) and he basically ignored me until he got too tired to play with the puppies and then he just followed me around reluctantly.

Why do I obsess about this dog? Why do I care if he eats a rottie when we go for a walk? Does it matter if my neighbors, whom I never see anyways, think I have the meanest dog on the block even when he’s a silly little pussy cat? Um, apparently that’s a ‘yes’.

Before we got Gabe I did a LOT of research on dogs. I had originally had my heart set on a golden retriever but when I ended up in a condo without my own yard I just didn’t think that was fair to a retriever. I didn’t whimsically pick out a mastiff. I didn’t just get him because he’s a novelty or because I wanted a big, scary dog. Quite the contrary. I picked him because the breed matched many of the things we wanted from a dog: they are generally lazy, they don’t need a tremendous amount of exercise. They are quiet, usually non-barkers, using their size to intimidate, not their voice. They are great with kids and cats and other dogs. They are trainable. They are low-maintenance dogs (not a lot of grooming). If you can put up with a little slobber (there’s always a downside) what’s not to love?

If you saw us walking around the block, you would see an owner walking her ginormous dog. He doesn’t walk me. He doesn’t pull on the leash. He will sit when I tell him to. He sits before we cross the street. He will stay and I can walk away and after some time call him to come and he’ll run over to me and sit down again. I can even have him lay down in the grass if necessary and he’ll just relax and roll around and wait for us to move again. My neighbors are all being pulled along by their dogs (big or small), their dogs are barking and yipping all the time and if you go to pet their dog, it will jump on you. In comparison, I have a GREAT, well-trained, well-behaved dog. But if you happen to be walking a dog, GOD HELP US ALL.

Somehow, with this leash aggression, I feel like I was sold a lemon. I feel like I was duped. NO WHERE in any of the reading that I did, did anyone mention leash aggression. Now, let me say, leash aggression is not limited to one breed or another. Many dogs are aggressive towards other dogs on a leash, but when they only weigh 20 pounds, you give a little pull on the leash and drag them along behind you if necessary. With 200 pounds of force, I don’t have that option. He HAS to get over this aggression.

So, I feel like I’ve somehow failed in the pet ownership department. My very cool, perfect-for-us dog, well, isn’t perfect for us right now. I have to be able to walk him on a leash. There is no other option.

So the trainer is coming tonight. I’m hoping some of the neighbors are out with their dogs so we can truly practice and not just go through the motions. I need the trainer to see exactly how Gabe reacts to the dogs and to teach me exactly how to make him STOP.

Plan B is to move out to the country.

I have to admit, it’s sounding better and better all the time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

18 (5 + 13)

Today I have been divorced for officially five years. Here are the top five things I enjoy about being single again.

1. I never have to compromise.
2. The sense of accomplishment that comes with being a working parent, owning a home, making a car payment, paying the bills, saving for college and retirement, etc.
3. All the quality one-on-one time I have with LM.
4. Exclusively visiting my family on holidays.
5. My dog. (my ex doesn’t like dogs, doesn’t like big dogs, doesn’t like big drooly dogs!!)

Today also marks thirteen years since I graduated from college. If I could go back, here are thirteen things I would do differently:

1. Let my freshman year roommate date my ex husband instead of me (ooh, this idea just makes me laugh and smile!!)
2. Spend more time cultivating a social life and less time studying (it’s okay Dad, the 4.0 in my major hasn’t gotten me anywhere).
3. Choose a different major. (Mine was Elementary Education.)
4. Join a sorority.
5. Taken advantage of the opportunity to study abroad for a trimester.
6. Never sign up for Econ, Stats and Accounting all in the same trimester.
7. Make more 3am runs to Five Points Bakery.
8. Gone to a state school (read that: no student loans to pay off for years and years.)
9. Asked out the one guy I had a crush on during that time.
10. Spent my summers and breaks working in jobs/internships that would introduce me to potential career options instead of just trying to make as much money as possible.
11. Spend more weekends (and summers) at home with my mom.
12. I loved being an R.A., but I missed having roommates.
13. Not been such a goodie-two-shoes.

Monday, May 22, 2006

13

In honor of what would have been my thirteenth wedding anniversary today, I give to you my list of the 13 best things about being married:

1. Even when we had no plans, I still had someone to do nothing with.
2. Grocery shopping, carrying in the bags and putting away the food was a group effort.
3. Sometimes, if I didn’t take out the trash, he would.
4. Adult conversation on a daily basis.
5. His family lived in England which meant they paid for us to visit!
6. Riding in the passenger seat.
7. He cleaned out the cat box.
8. Cooking for three.
9. Silly little acts of kindness. J would buy a body wash that he thought I’d like, or my favorite snack food, ‘just cause’.
10. At church, at the movies, or out to eat, there was always someone sitting next to me.
11. Having someone who took my side when I thought my friends/family/co-workers were being unfair.
12. Being a stay at home mom.
13. Sharing cute LM moments together.

The Job


I’ve wanted a ceiling fan in my bedroom for well over a year now. I kept holding out, telling myself I would buy one when I knew that family was coming for a visit (read that: suckers!) and could help me hang it. Turns out, they caught drift of this memo and have put off trips to my house until they are certain all household “honey-do” projects are done. I succumbed. I bought a fan on sale a week ago and vowed that LM and I would hang it together. Somehow. With lots of help from the directions.

And I did. I got it out of the box on Sunday morning and started working through it piece by piece. The wiring was already present in the ceiling or I would never have attempted to hang a fan, but that didn’t make the task any less daunting to me. The directions were fairly easy to follow and all the parts seemed to be present. I did have to make a run to Sears hardware for a different screw than the one that came with the fan, however, as the posts that were already in place in my ceiling had a different thread width than the ones that came with the fan. My conversation with the strange old man at Sears went like this:

Me: Hi. I am hanging a ceiling fan and the screws that came with the fan…
Old Sears Guy: we don’t sell ceiling fans anymore.
Me: No, I know, I have the fan. What I need are these screws. See, the ones that came with the fan…
OSG: we don’t sell the fans and we don’t sell the fan parts anymore, either.
Me: No, I know, I don’t need a fan or a fan part. It’s just that these screws…
OSG: Nope, we don’t have the replacement parts for any fan.
Me: I know. You don’t sell fans, and you don’t sell parts for fans, but do you indeed sell SCREWS?!
OSG: why, yes, of course we sell screws…


Yeah, it got worse from there, too. But I did get the screws that I needed and made them work.

LM came in just in time to help with the parts that required three hands. We both balanced on the foot of my bed as I tried to hold 40 pounds above my head with my left hand and position a tiny screw in a tiny hole that I could not see with my right (a task I did not master during my brief stint in the circus. I jest.) There was cursing, there was sweating there were moments when I wanted to throw the fan out the window, but I prevailed.

The entire unit was hung, all pieces were used and it even looks like the picture on the box.

We turned the electricity back on, flipped the light switch, pulled the chains and voila! The fan works. The light, however, does not. The wiring for the fan portion was actually rather involved (read that: I had to call Bear for advice on a couple of the green colored wires). The wiring for the light portion was simple: plug two plug halves together matching the letters and colors on each side of the plug. We did. We double checked. But it doesn’t work. We even tested the bulbs. Fixing the light will have to wait for another day when my patience has been restored.

I learned several things during this process but I will share the most important learning lesson: As a parent, I have failed to teach my child of his Most Important Role when I am tackling household projects: to get me an ice cold Pepsi-Cola in a glass with several cubes of ice.

In the midst of cursing and sweating and fighting back the urge to stomp the fan I realized I.WAS.THIRSTY. As a child, when Dad was in the woodshop or when he was mowing the yard or when he was sleeping through, I mean watching, a baseball game, it was my duty to get him an ice-cold Pepsi-Cola in a glass with several ice cubes. This was MY JOB.

Somehow I have failed to teach this Very.Important.Job to LM. He didn’t know that he was supposed to get me a Pepsi. He didn’t know to put some ice in a glass and bring me a drink. He didn’t know that when I started to use words like “hell” and “damn” that he should calmly go get me a refill and offer me a refreshing drink while I tried to figure out how to hang the blasted fan. It’s what we did growing up. He just didn’t know. Because I had failed to teach him.

Forgive me for overlooking this important lesson, Dad. Before I send LM to your house for a month this summer I will teach him the importance of an ice cold Pepsi. I will teach him that it must be poured in a glass. And that he should not underestimate the amount of ice that is necessary for the job. I will stress the importance of rushing a Pepsi to anyone who is currently swearing or slamming materials or shouting at no one in particular. We will practice until his pouring technique is perfected. I still have several projects to go before summer. He might not get it mastered when I try to fix the vertical blinds that will.not.turn. But surely by the time we get to painting the stairwell he will have the skill mastered and will be better prepared for his time at your house!

Next in the series of Life Lessons to Teach Your Children (according to my dad) will be: How to Easily Manage Everyday Tasks with the Use of One Notecard in Your Front Shirt Pocket.

Stay Tuned!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Turn at the Wheel

Centering

Diving In

Bringing Up the Walls

A Baker's Dozen


Glazing

(notice the glaze doesn't look anything like the finished colors -

makes it more interesting that way!)



Finished Pots








(One of my favorites)










This is how NOT to make a pot. It started to torque and wreck and I just decided to fire and glaze it anyways. A "creative mistake" perhaps.

My Little Piece of Eden


The Birthday Party


A Perfect "10"
The Boys

What Form!

The Band Concert

LM and his Best Friend "W"

The Trumpet Player


Concentrating

Looking for Mom and Dad

(It was a great first concert!!)





Glazed Over

Last night I went to pottery class to pick up my finished pots. Charlie and his daughter were both there and as we waited for our instructor to arrive we both gazed anxiously into the kiln. It was evident that a pot had melted (which struck us as odd at this point in the firings) and we both prayed that it didn’t affect any of our other pieces. (I should say, Charlie prayed and paced and worried and stressed and I just casually hoped it hadn’t hurt anything but for all I knew it was my pot that had melted!) As it turns out, for all the times Charlie came in on his own, one of those times he used a low-fire clay and it melted during the high-fire firing. I was much relieved that it wasn’t one of mine because it had adhered to one of his nicer pots and run over onto three of his others. WHEW!!

Charlie had 12 pieces that he had made. By my standards they were beautiful. Some of the bowls were truly amazing to me. From big to small he really showed his abilities. The glaze on several of them was particularly stunning as well. Charlie, however, was so struck by the melted pot and the glaze on a few of his pieces that didn’t fire well that he was solemn and quiet and withdrawn while we excitedly looked over the pieces and I packed mine up to take home. Charlie went on and on about how this or that one was supposed to be a gift, or about how he had created that one on a particularly bad day (he’s going through a divorce) and had wanted it to be symbolic of his recovery. He was really emotionally tied to these pieces and heartbroken when they weren’t what he had imagined them to be.

I stopped packing and told Charlie how envious I was of his abilities. How beautiful his bowls were. I picked up a couple and made specific comments on each. I told him how proud he should be of the pieces he was taking home. That part of the enjoying each piece is knowing the risks that you take when you create and fire them. When they turn out well, it’s almost as much out of your control as anything. Although one of his deep plates wasn’t useable for food (because of cracked glazing) it would make a beautiful bowl to force bulbs in. I told him so. He gave me the plate. I gave it back. I complimented him on it’s beauty even if it wasn’t useable in the way he had intentioned.

He would hear none of this.

We finally just tried to change the subject. Charlie asked if I would be taking the class again. I (again) reiterated that it was too costly for me to repeat at this time and that if I chose to spend money on a hobby, I’d probably invest it in a class of a different theme. Photography, perhaps. Maybe sketching. Something new to try. He was forlorn. Truly. Our instructor shared that she wasn’t sure when another class would be offered. This studio really needs a class of at least 5 or 6 to make it worthwhile and so far they just don’t have that interest.

Charlie was devastated. He NEEDS this, he said. He just finally got back to doing pottery after 29 years and with all that’s going on in his life he NEEDS this. Our teacher tried to suggest other ways to enjoy the hobby without having to be at this studio – ways to create at home and just pay for firing time in the kiln. He was broke, he said, as it is he’s scrounging for food money. He went on and on as if someone had just told him his own mother was dying.

The entire time this is going on, his daughter sat at the table right next to her dad. She is LM’s age and attends the same school. She had made a cookie-jar bear that had turned out very well. My heart just went out to her as she listened with a burdened heart to all that her dad was laying out on the table.

Charlie spent hours and hours in the studio. He molded pot after pot after pot. He threw away more forms than he kept. He worked them for hours at a time until he was as satisfied as he could get. In glazing even, he was meticulous about what and where and how much and just which color balance he wanted. All this time, his heavy heart has been pouring itself into clay when his daughter is sitting right next to him. She needs his time, his attention and his love. She needs to be molded and formed, taught and guided. She is going through a transition as well and needs to know that she is safe and beautiful and adored. At some point, I hope Charlie will lift his eyes from the pottery wheel and see the beautiful, freckled face of his daughter standing there, waiting to love him.

I learned a lot during this class. A little bit was even about clay.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Moved

If you have not yet seen Sarah Maclachlan’s video for “World on Fire” do so as soon as you possibly can. It says more than I can convey. There is a part in all of this that we can choose to play.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Looking Out for Mom

I’m not such a good sport about Mother’s Day. I admit it. I send cards. I make a couple phone calls, but all in all I’d rather the day just pass right by. Despite being a mother myself, or maybe even more because of it, Mother’s Day is a day that points out the absence of my mom.

My brother, G, called from Georgia earlier in the weekend to ask what my plans were for the day. Truth was, I had no plans. LM was at his dad’s and despite my ability to have him home with me, I didn’t see the point. Any celebration for the day would be instigated by me. Any meal cooked or eaten out would be prepared or paid for by me. Any shopping for gifts would be done by me. Any activities at all that we wished to do, I would have to drive, plan, feed, decide and execute. You’ll forgive me for taking a raincheck on the whole celebration. A low-key, quiet day at home alone seemed like a better option.

Today, just a short while ago, I went to pick up LM for his ortho appointment. He came running out of his classroom with his lunch and money in his hand. He says, “We’re going to Olive Garden tonight!” Caught completely off guard, I said, “What? Says who?” He said, “I do!” I said, “Okay, who’s paying for dinner out?!” He said, “I am!” I said, “You don’t have money to spend on dinner!” He smiled a knowing smile and said, “Uncle G sent it to me so I could take you out to dinner for Mother’s Day!”

G had not only conjured up this plan with LM but had gone so far as to call my sister to get my ex husband’s phone number to get J to give LM the money (while G sends a check to reimburse him) so LM could take me to dinner tonight.

Thanks, G. You made my Mother’s Day special. Mom would be so proud.

Grossed Out

Looking across the living room at the beige tint to the carpet I realized an important fact: my carpets used to be blue. These very same carpets had been vacuumed and steam cleaned a week ago now resembled the sandy beaches of the jersey shore more than my living room. One vacuum bag full of fur and dirt, three thorough cleanings with the steam cleaner and dirt is still coming out of the carpet.

The bark park is henceforth off limits.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The First Time

He came out of his room in khaki’s and a red plaid short-sleeved button down.

“Do I look okay, Mom?”

“LM, you have never ever asked me that before.”

“Mom, I have never played in front of a room full of adults before.”

I have played in band concerts from fifth grade through high school. This was my first time to be the parent. My little fourth-grade trumpet player smiled when he saw us in the audience. He waved before they started playing. He mouthed the words, “this is my favorite song” before “Resolution”. He smiled when I gave him a thumbs up. Later, when the band was done and we watched LM’s bestest friend, W, sing in the chorus, LM pointed out the girl that W likes. He smiled and gave W the thumbs-up sign. W got the giggles.

Afterwards I went over to say “hi” to W’s parents. They laughed at how close W and LM are. We took pictures of the two of them together. LM told W he “totally ROCKED!” W just laughed.

Keeping up with a tradition my dad started, “every good band concert deserves DQ ice cream” we headed off for blizzards. Not missing a moment to extend my list of compliments on the evening’s concert, LM and I decided the best adjective for the event was “galactic”. (In sci-fi terms, I guess that means “incredible!”)

Before heading to bed, I reiterated how wonderful the concert was, how proud I was of my little trumpeter and how great he sounded tonight. LM gave me a hug and said, “thanks for being such a great support, Mom.”

Thanks for making me so proud, LM. I will never forget tonight.

Legalized Torture (to LM and My Bank Account)

And thus begins the slow but continuous drain on my bank account that will only in a very small way prepare me for the quick and thorough drain that I like to call “college”. LM officially had his first orthodontics appointment this morning. They start out small, tiny little spacers in his molars to make room for the metal rings they’ll install on Monday. Within two weeks, LM will officially proclaim me The Meanest Mother on Earth when the inevitable torturous expanders are put in place.

To summarize, I chose Orthodontist #1. To be honest, I had no clue how to choose between the two. It was like comparing apples to a VW beetle. In order to choose what I felt was the best “method” I would have had to have been an orthodontist. This idea was dismissed only when I realized that med school will in fact cost more than this procedure, if only by $1.99. I chose instead based on how the doc reached his verdict on his preferred method. Doc #1 took molds and x-rays, took them home with him and spent time looking at them. He drew very mathematical looking lines and figures and angles on them and then discussed his overall thoughts in a half hour consultation. Doc #2 looked at the x-rays and molds that Doc #1 had taken, looked into LM’s mouth for a few moments, wrote a few things down and asked both of us what was our overall goal for orthodontics (straight teeth? Isn’t that the right answer?!) He didn’t draw anything mathematical, although Doc #2 did have a clever computer program that showed us visualizations of what was amok in LM’s mouth. So, due to the perception that Doc #1 put actual time and energy into his plan I chose him. Well that and he costs perhaps $800 less. There is that. And Doc #2 kept us waiting for over a half hour for our consultation. There is that, too.

LM has been in the loop from the get-go. He is well aware of what the process will entail and exactly what will happen at each appointment. He knows that May 31st is going to be a very.bad.day.indeed and that for the next 3-5 days after that he will want to strangle me in my sleep. He has also been made aware that this is costing me my left arm and an unborn child to be determined at a later date and that if he does not wear his retainer after all is said and done I will indeed strangle HIM in his sleep. I think we’ve reached an agreement.

I have also kept the ex apprised of all options and decisions. While he hasn’t offered any worthwhile input and certainly I shouldn’t have expected (nor did I receive) any sort of opinion from his camp he did declare himself in “sticker shock” still yet today and wasn’t sure how he would come up with his share of the down payment due on the 31st. Considering this portion is the cheaper of the two processes LM will go through (the actual braces could total three times what these expanders are costing us) I didn’t realize this would be such a problem. I offered to cover the down payment and he offered to then cover the monthly charges. His part will come out to being more than mine (which he knows) so I readily agreed. I hope that this is not an indicator of how ill-prepared he will be for college expenses when that time comes, but I should begin to brace myself for that eventual reality I’m sure.

For now, wish us straight teeth in record time and pray to the Tylenol gods that LM doesn’t have to suffer much. If you think about it, remind me on the 31st that I do this out of love for LM and his beautiful smile as I’m sure I’ll be feeling extremely bad about the pain I’m causing him. I am, after all, the one responsible for turning the expanders each night and causing him great pain. Maybe we should have gone with the Volkswagen.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Perfect Night

Shhh…the red sox are playing the Yankees. They crushed them last night, I’m hoping for a similar game tonight. Even better, Chris Berman is announcing the game!! Ahhh…Amazing Race and Lost are just going to have to wait until the game is over.

People Watching

From where I sat on the park bench under the old oak tree, she was stunning. Taller than I am and half the size she stood with her legs crossed one over the other in a perfect sense of balance and poise. She smiled and laughed, comfortably talking with the strangers around her. Nothing artificial about her looks, she was an advertisement for natural beauty. Hair pulled back in a rough pony tail, little make-up, an old beige corduroy fitted jacket over jeans. Nothing external could claim ownership of the elegance and grace she exuded. She asked a question with genuine interest and listened with intent at the reply. When she called to her husband, pulling him away from the group he was talking with, he came over and shared a laugh at something only they understood. He touched her arm before walking away.

I wonder, when she closes her eyes at night, what do her demons say?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

How Not To Win Mother of The Year

Last night after getting LM off to bed, I turned on a Comedy Central special with Bill Engvall that I had DVR’ed over the weekend. (If you don’t recognize the name, he’s the guy on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour that does the “Here’s Your Sign” skits.) 45 minutes into the show I hit pause to make a bathroom run, still chuckling over Bill’s jokes about understanding women, topless steakhouses and his son’s first “hands-on” exam by a doctor when I hear laughter rolling out of LM’s room.

“I thought you were asleep!!”

“Oh my gosh, Mom, that is some funny stuff!!”

Again, in case you missed it the first time, my mail can be forwarded to “Amy, c/o The Devil Himself, Burning Hell, 66666.”

Monday, May 08, 2006

Just Not Feeling the Love

I am in such a sour mood today. I just honestly do not want to be the grown-up right now. I do not want to be at work today. I hate that because of LM’s troubles at school and an ortho appointment last week, I have to work four extra hours this week. I hate that I had to wash the dog, the car and the carpets this weekend. That it costs me more to hand-wash the car than it does to run it through the automatic because I don’t have a “system” for it. I hate that having done all three, Gabe chose to roll in the dirt at the bark park nullifying all efforts. I hate that as much as I love the bark park and how much it helps our leash-issues, I seem to only meet married couples there. I hate that while trying to get the dirt off of Gabe before getting in the car, he took off after a husky and ripped half of my thumb nail nearly off. I hate that it is all black and gross looking and still hurts today. I hate that I spent half a day on Saturday testing out vacuum cleaners and I still don’t know if I should have spent the extra money to ensure the ultimate in sucking-power or not. I hate that I had to put new tires on my car – that always feels like money that went nowhere. I hate that out of all the fun LM had at his birthday party and all the giggles and laughs that came from the three boys during the evening that what I noticed most was how bossy my son can be. I hate that due to circumstances with my ex husband I have obsessed in my own mind the last two days about a comment one of the boys made to LM, referring to his hug as “gay”. I hate that I even have to give that a single thought. I hate that I think about it for LM’s sake. I hate that in an effort to have a birthday cake that my son would actually enjoy (he hates regular icing) I bought him a $25 ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery with his favorite flavor of ice cream and he decided he really doesn’t like that either. I hate that my neighbor’s alarm went off at 4:30 on Sunday morning and woke me up. I hate that I woke up this morning to her school-day yells to get her son out of bed. I hate that after getting the second ortho opinion requested by my ex husband he is absolutely void of opinion on how to proceed and is offering little help deciding the best option. I hate that after working hard to lose ten pounds I gained five back by eating two pieces of pizza and one piece of birthday cake this weekend. I hate that I’m going to have to transfer money out of savings to balance the checkbook this week. I hate that as a nation we seem to be more interested in what Tom Cruise is up to than what is going on in Iraq.

I’ll try to feel the love tomorrow.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sale!

Fact:

In order to offer the Kenmore Progressive vacuum “on sale” 365 days a year, Sears manufactures two exact replicas of each make and model of their Kenmore line. The sale then alternates between the two models, legalizing the use of the word “sale price”. The only difference in the two models? One has a two-foot longer cord than the other.

Seriously.

Don’t blame Sears for this ridiculous practice, we, as consumers, have dictated the need for everything to appear to be “on sale” before we are willing to purchase it. They have just catered to that demand.

P.S. I will let you know how I feel about the new vacuum purchase shortly. The change of command ceremony that will officially retire the old Hoover will be held this afternoon.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

Despite my love (Adoration? Obsession?) with margaritas, I have never truly celebrated Cinco de Mayo properly. I came cleverly close one year when I went to Houston to visit my friend, Suzan. Being in Texas for a Mexican holiday was as close as I was going to get for an “authentic celebration” it would seem.

We went out to dinner that night and had all the necessary Mexican favorites. There were chips, salsa, tequila and a lot of food that took cheese, beans, some sort of sauce and rolled, mixed, fried, or otherwise stuffed them into a tortilla.

The most interesting part of the evening, however was the couple sitting at the next table. Suzan and I were playing that ever-popular game where you try to create the “story” of other people around you. Trouble was, while we were having so much fun inventing reasons for why this particular couple were out together, whether it was a first date or they were steady partners, the girl started to cry. She really tried to hide it and certainly didn’t make any sort of a scene, but we could tell that something had seriously upset her. The man with her tried to reach out and hold her hand, but she pulled away and wanted nothing to do with him. He looked around furtively, trying to see how many eyes were on their table, but no one else took pause enough to noticed. The waiter brought their order to the table and girl wouldn’t even up. The man finally just asked the waiter to box it up to go.

That night I wanted to leave my celebratory mood and hug a stranger. I could feel how hurt she was and how badly she just wanted to escape the moment she was in. I thought for certain this was not a night she would soon forget, either. Whatever had upset her seemed to do so on a level that no simple apology would heal. I truly felt guilty for having so much fun myself. It didn’t seem fair that anyone should be that upset in the midst of a drunken party atmosphere.

Every now and then, when I’m at a restaurant playing that game, I still think about her. I’m sure in the five or more years that have passed, she is long over whatever upset her that night. I hope tonight she is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with laughter instead of tears.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Carpe Diem

Thursday. My favorite day of the week. (Write that down, it’s on the quiz*.) I’m leaving work early today to meet with Orthodontist #2 to find out if the first quote was reasonable and typical. At first I was resentful that I had to take off a half day of work to spend with an orthodontist (my ex is pushing for the second opinion but he doesn’t arrange or attend any of the consultations) but now today the sun is shining, high of 80 degrees and beautiful blue skies, so the appeal of leaving work early is greatly rising! Who needs to save vacation time for an actual vacation anyway?!

LM is coming to the consultation with me (since they’ll need to see his teeth and all, and thus far I haven’t found them to be portable outside of his body). I think we’ll both enjoy playing hooky for the rest of the day then.

I hope that you are all having a great Thursday. Do something wonderful today!

P.S. Anyone out there who watches “Lost” did you not absolutely freak over last night’s episode? Amazing Race wasn’t half bad, either! (How ancient am I that I just used the word “freak” as a verb?)

*Other answers you'll need to know for the quiz include: The Beatles, Fort Polk, D) All the above, a lop-eared bunny, false, "fossil fuel", and tomatoes on the vine.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Day Such As This

My previous post had not been published an hour when my cell phone rang at work. In the moment it took to identify herself I realized that the principal of LM's school, calling me at work is not a good sign. I was certain she wasn’t calling to wish LM a very Happy Birthday.

LM had another altercation at school. I'm not sure if I wrote about the first incident, but it involved being kicked on the playground and in response, yelling down the crowded school hallway that he was going KILL that person. (Didn't fare well with the "zero tolerance for violence" policy at school.) Today, a girl took his bag of birthday cookies at lunch (the ones he brought for the class) and even after she admitted guilt to the lunch aide, LM socked her in the back. LM found himself at in-school suspension. Again. On his 10th birthday. I listened to the principal. I agreed that he made a bad choice. We both agreed that the girl had provoked him, but still. I said I was coming to get him, I didn’t see the sense in him sitting in the counselor’s office all afternoon.

Upon arriving at the school, I had a nice conversation with the counselor. LM was there, too. None of us feel that he has underlying issues that are surfacing at these moments. He really does seem okay with the divorce and such according to the counselor. He just has trouble in those first ten seconds after someone really gets to him of using good judgment. The moment it is over, LM admits he did wrong. He takes full responsibility for losing control and knows that he made a bad decision. All those things are encouraging signs. He doesn’t mean to be malicious, and it isn’t that he doesn’t know right from wrong. He just has a temper that erupts every now and again that he needs to control better.

The thing of it that gets me is that I NEVER see this side of him. Neither his father nor myself are “yellers” nor do we strike out or throw things in anger. At home, if LM loses his temper, he tends to sulk, to give you the “death glare” but he never yells or hits or in any way erupts like he has at school.

The counselor and I both reminded LM that he had every right to be angry when the girl took his cookies. Every right. What she did was wrong. But the reaction was wrong. He knew that. He was incredibly remorseful.

We came home and I just sat for awhile. LM went to his room on his own. I finally told him that I wasn’t done talking about the incident, I just wasn’t sure what to say right now and I needed a little time. He said he understood and apologized for “ruining my day”. His dad came to the house about an hour or so later and we talked for quite awhile about what to do now. None of the typical consequences would truly address the problem. How does taking away his PlayStation change those 10 seconds of reaction time? It was obvious that LM understood what he had done wrong and truly felt horrible about it. He hated that it happened on his birthday, too.

We decided to talk about it again in a few days, after the birthday parties are over. Honestly, I don’t think at this point we’ll do too much in terms of a punishment. I think his heart hurt plenty today. I do think I’ll talk with a child psychologist at some point before too long. While none of us think there’s something underneath the surface, maybe there is and we just don’t know. I certainly don’t want to see this problem escalate and Lord knows the issues between kids is going to get far more personal that someone taking your cookies.

After LM left with his dad to have their birthday celebration together, I talked with my dad and then my sister. Afterwards I loaded Gabe up in the car and we went off to play with the puppies. Nothing like an evening at the park to clear your mind. As I write this, I’m sitting out on my deck, surrounded by beautiful plants, finding peace in my little flower garden.

10 years ago, on the night that LM was born, when all was said and done, J asked me who I wanted to call first. I said, with eyes full of tears, “I want to call my mom.” My mom had passed away, unfortunately, three years before LM was born. Tonight, just like the night I became LM’s mother, I wish beyond all wishes that I could talk with my mom.

My Favorite Things About My Little Man


1. He is a voracious reader. Everyday I see him reading a different book. When asked how many times he’s read that particular book, the answer might range from “twice” to “five or six”. His favorites are Star Wars books (from the adult science fiction section of the bookstore) but he will also indulge in classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

2. Despite being a Star Wars FREAK (I use this term lovingly!) he pronounces “Han Solo” like the word “Hand” without the ‘d’.

3. Because of his love for reading, LM’s vocabulary far exceeds his age. In an everyday discussion, he might use a phrase like “je ne sais quoi” or use words like “cache”. The only evidence of his age comes when he mispronounces such words, mainly because he has only read them and never heard them used.

4. LM has never met a stranger. For good or for bad, he makes a new friend every single time he goes to the park. He is never shy about approaching other kids nor about speaking with adults.

5. He loves to snuggle up on the couch with me as much as I like to snuggle up on the couch with him. On a quiet evening at home, LM will grab his favorite blanket and pillow and come snuggle up on the couch with a book, or watch a movie with me.

6. At least once a week, LM will pop some popcorn for me. Knowing how much I love popcorn, he’ll not only pop the corn, but he’ll also pour me a soda and bring it right over to the couch for me.

7. His soft heart. LM can truly sympathize and demonstrates such a loving heart. Having only known his gifted teacher a week or two at the start of the year before she left on medical leave, LM was truly saddened and struck when he learned that she has passed away from cancer this past weekend. “She was young, Mom.”

8. Should LM ever go missing, I will never have to think twice about what he is wearing. 90% of the time, he is wearing a red sweatshirt and jeans. He owns about 10 red sweatshirts (several are exactly the same) and would choose 10 more if given the chance.

9. His imagination. With a bucket of K’nex (the cool version of Legos) he creates more spaceships, rockets, and warcraft with more components and ingenuity than you can fathom. It would take him a half hour to explain to you each and every part of any single creation.

10. His sense of humor. He not only understands sarcasm, he uses it. He enjoys everything from the typical fourth-grade knock-knock joke to jokes involving much more subtle types of humor. He has written over 35 episodes of his self-designed comic strip “Smiley Man Adventures” and still laughs out loud when he re-reads some of his own writing.

11. That he will still use the hand signal for “I love you” when he gets out of the car at school each morning and I can hug and kiss him (at home) and he still enjoys it!

12. His courage. It isn’t that he has had to suffer great pains or hospitalizations, but whether it’s having his spots lasered, or having 3 teeth pulled, he courageously faces the pain and fights through it. Similarly, the first time he went tubing behind Papa’s boat, he showed no fear or anxiety. He simply gave us the thumbs up sign and begged to go faster!

13. He is helpful. In addition to his one mandatory chore that he does each day, LM will willingly fetch items at the grocery store, help pack up necessities to go to the park, assist in cleaning efforts when company is coming, take out recycling and trash, and unload the dishwasher if I’m running behind. Rarely, if ever, does he complain about helping out, often times he will offer before I even have to ask.

14. LM is passionate. Just like his mother, LM will stand firmly in his opinion (even if it might be wrong.) He believes things with fierce conviction and he loves people with fierce loyalty. Along with that comes a vulnerable, sensitive side where his feelings can easily be hurt and his pride injured.

15. He is charitable. Each week, LM earns $2 in “allowance”. He is required to put 50 cents into savings (only to be used for college), 50 cents in a charity fund and 50 cents is his own. The remaining 50 cents can be put in any of the three categories. Every single week, LM selflessly puts the extra money into his charity fund.

16. He is mature and responsible. Whether it is completing his homework, chore and trumpet practice first thing when he gets home from school, or being home alone occasionally for an hour or two, LM handles the situation with grace and maturity. Being a child of divorced parents, he has handled the shuffling and the different sets of rules extremely well.

17. He is a Christian. LM has the innocent belief in God and Christ that most children do but he is unafraid to publicly give God credit or to stand on his Christian beliefs. Seeing a beautiful sunset, LM will always declare, “Isn’t God an incredible artist?”

18. He is a willing and enthusiastic participant in KICK’N (Kid In Charge of the Kitchen Night). He has learned how to plan a menu, read and follow directions and to enjoy creating a meal for the family.

19. On LM’s short list of “best friends” he includes his cousin (Little Bird) despite only seeing her once or twice a year.

20. LM loves with his whole heart. He loves being with his family, his friends, neighbors, the pets… He has a big heart and allows everyone in.

Happy 10th Birthday, Jacob!!