Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Sixteen years ago yesterday, I was married on a beautiful Saturday morning outside the chapel on the grounds of the college we would graduate from the following day. The birds sang, my mother and the people we loved dearly were all present. It was an inexpensive, gorgeous moment.

Eight years ago today, the judge officially declared our marriage over. I had moved out many months before that and someone new, a very male someone new, had moved in with my ex not long after that. It wasn't quite how I had envisioned things turning out, but it's how the story goes.

Tomorrow then marks the day I will start being divorced longer than I was married. It's like when you notice you've been driving for longer than you haven't. Or that you've had your married name for longer than your maiden. It's not really of significance other than being a reflecting point.

How do I feel about all these days bundled up together? Contemplative. But more importantly: forgiven.

And to celebrate that forgiveness, to realize the lessons I learned through some painful processes, to give recognition to God that while He does not bring turmoil into my life, He will use it to bring me closer to Him, I do believe I will celebrate this evening by dancing.

I thought my marriage would last forever. I thought I would never have a gay ex-husband. I thought I would have a few more children. I thought, even after my divorce that I would remarry within a few short years. I thought that by now I'd have someone to go dancing with me. But God's plan has certainly brought me much closer to Him. And I look forward to His plan for me in my future!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares The Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sex Ed: 403 - Apparently More Than Just the Basics

I realize Sex Ed can be intimidating for most parents. We worry that our children are going to learn too much, or hear things their innocent hearts shouldn't even think of yet. But once you've had to explain to your son the logistics of his father's gay partnership, everything else is cake. Or so I thought.

Over dinner tonight, Flash was venting yet again about how ridiculous he considers these classes to be. "Mom, here's what I don't get. Some kid actually asked out loud, 'What is oral sex exactly?' I mean, DUH, does it get any more obvious than that? He even followed that one up by asking the teacher to clarify what 'anal sex' was! Can you believe it? I mean, are they really just that stupid?"

I'm sure I had a deer-in-the-headlights look as I calculated just exactly how old I when I first learned what those two things were.

But if you'll pardon me for just a moment, I think I'll go stick a pillow over my head and scream at the thought that my 13 year old is that casually aware of these things already. I'm too scared to even ask how he knows these things. I'm praying it was just some really thorough sex ed classes last year. Something I never thought I would wish for. (He actually justified his knowledge as just being "the logical explanation" for the word. I'm going to go with that.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Gift

We don't get along well since we broke up, TB and I. Maybe that's not quite an accurate statement; TB is angry with me because I don't want to remain friends. He doesn't mean me harm, I am certain, he's just hurting and I am the source of some of that pain. But I have been through far too much of TB's drama in the past several months to even care about any of it any longer. Drawn in too many times to defend, to care, to argue, to respond, I've found my words twisted, turned, spit upon and thrown back at me. I'm worse than angry, I've become apathetic.

But I have to say how grateful I am for one small gift that perhaps he wishes he didn't give to me, or perhaps he wishes would do more than just warm my heart, but whatever the spirit, I appreciate it regardless.

Every other week, when TB has The Rentals, they come down to my pew in the sanctuary at church and say hello. They talk for just a moment and then they are back to their pew to sit with their dad, but it's that small moment when I get to see them again for which I am so grateful.

I love those kids. TB knows I do. And the hardest thing about realizing how wrong my relationship with TB was is to realize that means I have no relationship left with The Rentals.

And while I cannot be friends with TB, and I understand that my relationship with the kids had to change dramatically, too, I am still grateful for one small little moment every other week when I get to hug them and tell them that I love them and to hear about their latest joys and sorrows.

I am careful. I don't make promises I can't keep or agree to things I'm not willing to do. I won't go see him play ball and we aren't all going to lunch after church, our relationship is now simple an exchange of hugs and loves at church, but they seem to understand that things have changed and they seem just fine with that. They don't come to see me out of a sense of obligation, but they come with giggles and grins for just one extra dose of love.

And I give it freely.

And I remind myself of the 101 reasons why their father and I are not a good match, and why we cannot be friends, and why I believe God introduced us in the first place. And I say a prayer for all of them as I wipe a tear from my eye knowing that's the only time I'll see them for the next two weeks.

But for that moment, I am so grateful.

The Bucket List

He emerges from his room now when his computer kicks him off at 9pm. Working on Shakespeare, he came out last night hungry, as usual. He sat with me in the living room for a few minutes before asking sheepishly if he might cook a frozen pizza.

I had to laugh. It would be nearly 10 before he would eat, but the boy is constantly hungry and a frozen pizza seemed to delight him at that hour. I agreed.

We sat and talked while the pizza cooked. As we laughed, I started to smell the pepperoni and sausage and finally asked my sheepish question back, "Might I have one piece of your pizza when it comes out?"

So over pizza and tall glasses of milk, we talked and laughed and mad fun of the dog and the cats.

And it was then that Flash said it. It came out as unpretentious as the whole evening had been. "I just realized I have something to add to my bucket list, Mom."

"I didn't know you had a bucket list, Flash."

"Well, I do now, anyways. I think I just realized the first item that needs to be put on the list. Remind me later, Mom, to write it down."

"No, Flash. Go get your journal now, and write it down now, before you forget. You can't let these things slip through your fingers!"

So off he went to get his journal, returning to the living room and his abandonded pizza with a leather-bound book I had bought him a summer or two ago. One with not many pages filled in just yet, but still with love for knowing it was there when he needed it. Flash flipped to the back, to one of the last pages and began his Bucket List. I encouraged him to write the date next to the items as he adds them to his list.

In the back of Flash's journal, item #1 on his "Things To Do Before I Die" list, it reads:

1. Have frozen pizza in the middle of the night with my child.

I said, "Hey, Flash? I think I just came up with a new one for my bucket list, too."

"What's that, Mom?"

Have frozen pizza in the middle of the night with my grandchild.

We both laughed and then talked about a competitive race to see who would get to cross the item off their list first.

As we continued to talk into the night, and shared other ideas of what might someday be included on our bucket lists, as I mentioned how I hope to travel to Ireland, he added #2 to his list, "Travel to England". We think maybe we'll try to make that a combined trip at some point.

But I love how much he treasures the soft, sweet moments spent with someone you hold dear just as much as I do. That it isn't always about the big things, or the momentous occasions, but it's about the small, quiet moments, where you share laughter and thoughts and fears that bring you closer.

If it hadn't been on my bucket list already, I might have now added sharing frozen pizza in the middle of the night with my child. And next to it, I'd place a tear-stained check.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do You Yahoo?

Yahoo is requiring some updates for account information. Flash started by entering an alternate email address. Then Yahoo asked him to answer two security questions so he might verify his account if every he forgot his password.

Question #1: "Where did you spend your honeymoon?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #2: "Where did you meet your spouse?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #3: "What is your youngest child's nickname?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #4: "What is the first name of your oldest niece?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #5: "What is your oldest nephew's first name?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #6: "What is the last name of the best man at your wedding?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #7: "What was the last name of the maid of honor at your wedding?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #8: "What was the make of your first car?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #9: "What was the make of your first motorcycle?"
Flash's reply: "I'm 13."

Question #10: "What was the last name of your first boss?
Flash's reply: "Mom."

Well, at least he can finally get past the security questions.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Asked and Answered

It's so funny (not in a ha-ha sort of way) that just this weekend this person was sooo annoying me and tonight, in my "One Month to Live" book, I read a chapter all about the "sandpaper people" in our life. You know the kind, the ones who just rub you the wrong way? The ones that just annoy and frustrated and irritate you? The ones who want to argue with you on why you should be friends? Yeah, sandpaper people.

Well, this person is definitely a sandpaper person in my life. Wasn't always the case, but has certainly become it. But this chapter reminded me that God puts these people in our lives for a reason! This isn't just some earthly irritation, but it has a godly purpose! God wants these people to help refine us to become more like Christ. He puts them there to sometimes push us back towards God, or to remember who we should really turn to and listen to. He has intents and purposes for these people to help make us BETTER!

I don't mean that we will suddenly see these people as not so annoying, or that we'll stop being frustrated or irritated by them, these authors suggest that it is the fact that they do rub us the wrong way that is the affect God intends. He's not suggesting that we make nice with everyone we meet, but that we recognize these people as having a purpose. God uses these people to make us stronger and steadier in our faith. They help us to grow.

For example, when we have someone in our life that just force their ideas on us, God might be using them to make us strong enough to stand up for ourselves. Maybe we know someone who is always telling us we don't measure up. Maybe God wants to remind us we need to be looking to Him for approval and not this person. When we find ourselves irritated, aggitated or angry, He is reminding us that we need to stay humble and rely on God.

I was also reminded that I AM a "sandpaper person" to people. (Probably to the one that's currently aggitating me, in fact!) And that I need to remember that what God wants from me is for me to be constantly revealing Him. To demonstrate patience, mercy and love. I'm certain, with this person in particular, that they would not say I have demonstrated any of the above (even when that has been exactly my intent) and so that's a challenge for me. That while I'm not called by God to like everyone, I'm called to demonstrate His love to everyone. And so while God is not saying I have to like this person at all, He is asking me to act in a loving way towards this person.

It's amazing to me how God speaks to me. As I sit and pray about how to handle this sandpaper person in my life, He hands me this information and as clear as day I know He is answering my questions!

He Gets It From Me

Flash didn't go to the practice last night, the one we had 2 1/2 hours of notice for. Neither, apparently, did half the band - go figure. The band director decided today that they are no longer playing their "Phantom of the Opera" piece tonight. The ONE piece Flash was actually excited about playing. He's talked about it for months. This is also the piece that the band director had greatly offended Flash on, when he invited the high school band to come perform it with the middle schoolers for the concert. Flash took that as an insult, that his band wasn't good enough to play the piece on their own and had to call in the big dogs. The band director wasn't sympathetic to Flash's point of view.

And today he pulls the piece from the lineup.

Flash got a little angry.

After band, in private he told the director about his disappointment and the director told Flash that he was welcome to attend the high school concert next Wednesday and play Phantom then. Flash said the other songs they are playing tonight are too easy and don't demonstrate their talent. Flash told the director he wasn't going to play in the concert if this was all they were performing and the director told Flash that he would then receive an F for a grade.

I was lucky enough to have an email from Flash telling me all this during my wonderful day at work. The day that was striving to be better than yesterday.

So I put a call in to the principal and I explained to him my concerns. First, about the remarkably short notice on things. Secondly, on the high school being asked to perform. And last, on the lack of any consideration given to the musicians within the band (not just Flash) who CAN play. Couldn't the director have given them a small ensemble piece to perform at the concert? Couldn't they have gone to state contest this year? Couldn't something have been done to keep those students challenged and growing in their musical abilities? This year has been nothing but frustrating to Flash as his band director wants to hold him up as the symbol of great musical ability, but doesn't want to allow Flash any opportunity to play up to his ability.

The principal met with Flash and tried to explain. And Flash has agreed to go to the concert tonight. But he's still pissed. I mean, really pissed.

I suspect he will sit in his first chair spot. And he will hold his trumpet high. But I'm wondering if his trumpet is going to make a single sound tonight. I suspect it might be participating in a silent protest.

I can't blame the kid. I really can't.

It's exactly what I would have done.

Oh tonight will be so much fun.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Don't ask how Mother's Day was. With all good intentions by many people to make sure I had a good one, it's still a holiday I would like to wipe clean off the calendar. Let's just say, it wasn't a good day.

To boot, I had someone who wanted to argue with me about why we should be friends. I guess I just don't get it. I mean, if you're NOT friends with someone, is there a point to arguing the why? In any case, as par for the course, that exchange was full of unnecessary drama, information and explanations I don't even care the slightest bit about. I have many reasons for not feeling friendly towards this person and I think that's enough to let it go.

Today wasn't much better of a day. It started in Jacob's principal's office. Which I won't even go into all the details of except to say that I believe boys will sometimes be boys and sometimes they work their issues out physically and well, apparently I'm in the wrong.

But then at work, I got asked (or told) to cover lunch and recess duty and if that isn't just crazy enough on it's own, it meant that I didn't get a lunch. Which is fine, except that it really seemed to bother a LOT of other people that I didn't get time for lunch and so then I feel annoyed because isn't it my issue and not theirs?

I sat through a training session today that was 75% sales pitch on why we should have Macs in our schools (I'm all in favor, but I'm far from a deciding vote) and 25% on podcast training (which again, I'm all in favor of, but I'm lacking a bit of an idea of what we might podcast in a K-2 building).

And then I find out when I get home that Flash has band rehearsal tonight. That we just found out about today. In addition to a concert that is tomorrow. That the flyer only just went home today. I only happen to already know about it because I've nagged my child enough that he found out early for me. But really? 2 1/2 hours notice on a practice and 26 hours notice on a concert? Yeah, that doesn't sit well with me. I'd really like to give the band director 10 1/2 hours notice that his first chair trumpet player won't be there, but ya know, I'll try to be nice and play by the rules.

So, to say I'm grumpy would be an understatement, but I decided to put it aside and have some fun. Flash is all but printed for his homework (thanks to seven hours of work on it on Mother's Day - ahem) and so we were headed outside to play washers. Until he took the dog out and did a stupid thing with the dog wherein he knocked over my newly planted herb planter. Which might not have been such a big deal if it didn't have newly planted seeds in it. And I can't even make him clean it up because these plants are my babies and he won't handle them with the proper sense of care and so out I go to clean up dirt and hope the seeds somehow surface to the top.

Which is when the dog decided to escape and go running around the neighborhood. To which, I came inside, closed the door and said, "well, that's one less mouth to feed" but the boychild took offense and went out and brought the mutt home.

So, perhaps no washers at this point. Perhaps a glass of wine, a hot bath and an early bedtime and a fresh start tomorrow. A day filled with true, dear, sweet friends, not wanna-be's. A day filled with practical, important information and time well-spent at work. Perhaps a nutritious meal might even be squeezed into the game plan. And if all goes well, maybe I'll even enjoy the band concert. Well, that might be pushing it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Rollercoaster

I took part of my savings and paid off my car.

I emptied the house of the huge stack of boxes our custodian had given me.

I should have known.

I don't know anything of significance yet, and it could all still fall to pieces, but after the sellers walked away and declined our last offer, they came back a couple days ago and asked if we'd offer again. This time they are taking it to the bank with hopes of a short sale.

And so I offered. Lower than ever before. Because if it's bank money we're talking about, well, I'll jump on the savings bandwagon.

So now we have to wait and see if the bank will agree to the short sale.

Again, I'm not sure of God's plan in all of this, but I chose faith over fear the last time and walked away knowing that could be the end of it all and it has come back into our laps with a chance to save a chunk of money on the deal.

So we shall see.

In the meantime, I'm going to work on replenishing the savings account from what I took to pay off the car. And I'm not going to collect any boxes until we know something definitive. Most of all, I'm going to try from letting my heart even hope.

But that's the hardest part of all.


As I approached T in the lab today, he was shaking his head at his computer. I had come to help the student next to him and heard T mumble, "verrrry mysterrrious...." as I helped his classmate navigate the website.

"What's so mysterious, T?" I had to ask, not seeing anything on his screen that warranted the comment.

"Puberty," came the unexpected response.

I stood there looking at T for a moment, again, not seeing anything on his screen that would warrant his comment. I started to chuckle and then said, "Well, yes, T, it is."

Before I walked away, wondering where a second grader comes up with such a thought in his head while working in the computer lab, he added, "and the wind!"

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


I smell onions, peppers, sausage...I hear the pasta boiling on the stove...if I peek into the kitchen I see garlic bread on the counter...

It's Mom's Night Off and there dinner cooking in the kitchen! Goulash will be ready in a half hour, mom's night of relaxing has already begun!

Play Ball!

It was a perfect night for baseball. We'd had a busy weekend, so relaxing in lawn chairs watching George and his team play ball was a great way to cap it all off.

George at bat. Great stance, great grip on the bat!

Ready to field the ball!

With a little coaching from dad (Bear), George was ready to take a turn behind the plate.

He did awesome!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Preach Faster

George, along with the rest of his family and my father, attended church with us this morning. Bearing witness to our baptism as well as our acceptance as members of the church, it was nice to have family in the pew two Sundays this month.

George, however, had missed out on the Easter services as he had been sick that morning. So today was his first experience with our church. He had asked my sister ahead of time the all-important eight-year old question, "How long is the service?" To which my sister had responded, "about an hour."

This morning, sitting in the pew ahead of the service, listening to the Praise Team (including Flash on trumpet) warming up, George leaned over to my sister and asked, "Is this part of the hour?"

I guess it just couldn't get over fast enough for George.

Gillette's New Motto

When my dad was up for Easter I asked if maybe he wanted to be the one to teach Flash how to shave. I thought it might be a special moment between a grandfather and his eldest grandson. He asked if we had a razor and I assured him that since Bear had bought it all for Flash for Christmas, we had every wonderful variety of shaving accoutrement a boy might need.

As it turned out, we didn't get to it over Easter.

So, waiting on dinner the other evening, with my dad back up for another weekend of fun-filled activities with his children and grandchildren, I asked him again, if he wanted to teach Flash how to shave, thinking if we planned ahead for the next day or two, we might remember to squeeze it in.

"Electric or blade?" he asked.

"I think it's best if we just start with electric for now," I responded.

"Well, there isn't much to teach, really, he replied. You just turn it on and use your tongue."

And here I thought I was creating this wonderful memory that they both might share for a lifetime and my dad boiled it right down to the nitty gritty. "Turn it on and use your tongue."

I would like to caution you on using the motto for anything else in life. It doesn't apply to any other situation nearly as easily or appropriately. (Let's remember, this is a family blog!)

Which is Probably Not a Good Thing

My sister and Bear had an "animated discussion" about how to waterproof the camper. My sister believed you did it from the inside out. Bear thought they should do it from the outside in. In any case, the discussion turned to enough of an argument that my father, visiting for the weekend sought out another task to accomplish while the two held court in the back yard.

George came out after awhile to see what everyone was up to. When he popped his head into the camper, he said, "I see Mom won," a statement to which his father adamantly replied that she had not won, he was simply tired of arguing. George then asked where Papa was.

My sister chuckled and explained that Papa wasn't so used to such discussions and probably had gone seeking shelter from World War III.

George calmly replied, "I'm used to it. I'm way used to it!"

In The Name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit

Flash and I were baptized today.

It was a day of serving, learning and obeying.
I hope we both have a lifetime of this.

For anyone who understands the significance, after we returned to our pew, I noticed a mother in front of me directing her daughter's attention to the windows. When I looked, there was a beautiful red cardinal sitting outside the church window looking in. In all the months of attending Haven, I have never seen a bird perch on the window like that. And today, of all days, the day of our baptism, to have a cardinal sitting there. Well, God, I got the message.

And Mom? I love you too.

Can You Pass the Peanuts and Bring Me Another Beer?

We attend a contemporary service at a Reformed Church in town. George and family joined us for our baptism service and got to enjoy the incredible praise music that we sing and enjoy. With Flash playing trumpet with the band, George noticed the words to the songs up on the big screen for everyone to join in.

"I didn't know they sang karaoke at church, Mom!" was his reply.

Oh, George.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

How Time Flies

I remember this day like it was yesterday.
This is Flash at 2 years old, on our sidewalk in Illinois.
My favorite part of this picture (If you could see it in detail) is the dirt on the bottom of his foot.
Happy 13th Birthday, Flash!!!

Friday, May 01, 2009

In a Blink

At this time all those years ago, I wasn't even on my way to the hospital yet.

Today I've already been to Blockbuster (Wii games and movies) and the grocery store (homemade pizza - birthday boy's dinner choice).

At this time 13 years ago, I was trying to convince my dad it didn't matter what their original plans were for coming down to see the baby, I was five days past due, I was having contractions and there was going to be a baby SOON.

Today, I am trying to convince Flash that even though it IS time for the guests to arrive, they might not be right on time and his pacing isn't helping matters.

13 years ago I had a bag packed for the hospital with neutral -colored newborn clothes and some comfortable post-delivery clothes for me.

Today, Flash has chips, soda, pizza, ice cream, games, movies and and a laptop. I have 2 movies, a laptop and a book all waiting in my room (for when the boys deem me too "uncool" to hang with them in the living room.)

This time thirteen years ago I was a nervous wreck about the next 12 hours of labor (which turned out to be about 5 hours of labor - and no, that's not always better.)

Today I'm a nervous wreck about the next 15 hours of PARTAY in this small apartment.

13 years ago I hadn't slept well in months, I was achey and tired and really grouchy and I just wanted a good night's sleep.

Today, I feel like the past couple of weeks have lasted a year, that I've aged and stressed and worried enough for a lifetime and that all I want is a good night's sleep.

13 years ago, at 12:31 on May 2nd, the doctor handed me a beautiful, healthy boy, my little Mr. Wrinkles (he's had a lot of nicknames in his lifetime).

Today, I look UP to talk to Flash, laughing about the antics of our days and sharing his excitement over a party with friends, gifts and celebrating the life that has brought me the most joy during mine.

Let the ParTAY begin!! (and may it never end - metaphorically, of course. At some point, I really DO want some sleep!)