Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cleaning Out My Closet

In yesterday's post, I talked about how I am ready to let go of my past and accept that there are things in my life that I can't change, and I'm done with beating myself up over them. Today's subject is one of those things.

Other than my husband and my best friend, I've never told anyone about this. I never told my mom. I feel conflicted about that, too. I guess I shouldn't say I've never told *anyone*. I did write an article anonymously over at The Women's Colony, and received a tremendous amount of support. I could have left it at that, but it's time for me to stare this demon down and not let it rule my life anymore. I'm talking about it on my blog not because I want pity or even praise for being so open and honest, but because I have to exorcise this demon from my life once and for all. So here goes.

As a child, I was sexually abused. From the time I was five years old, until I was seven, by my baby sitter's husband. I'm not going to go in to the sordid details, but suffice to say, I knew way too much about things of a sexual nature sooner than any child should ever have to. I know that there were girls before me, because he told me so, and I'm sure there were girls after me. My heart breaks for them.

I never told my mom when it was happening, because he told me that she wouldn't believe me. Looking back, I don't know if I know that to be true, but I do know that I recall feeling like I couldn't tell her because I was afraid it would make her mad. As a parent now, I can't help but wonder, did she have any suspicions? Were there any red flags? I remember being terrified when I got to the sitters house every morning, praying that he would have already left for work. I remember the dread of going back there every day when I got out of school, knowing that there was a chance I would be left alone with him, as he would watch me after my sitter left for her job, until my mom picked me up after she got off of work.

I stopped going to that baby sitter at the end of my first grade school year. That summer, my mom and I moved with my Aunt Judy to Arizona. I tried every day to forget about what all he had done to me, but you never really forget. And those experiences shaped me and molded me in ways that to this day, I'm still trying to undo. I had a deep-seated mistrust and a lot of rage towards boys then boys in high school and then men, but at the same time, maybe because my own father was absent, a desperate desire for their attention. I was more promiscuous than I should have been, I made a lot of foolish choices based on my early experiences with men.

At some point in early adulthood, though, I had had enough. I finally realized and understood that what he did to me was NOT my fault. It didn't happen because I was bad, it happened because he was a sick person. Deep down, I think his wife knew, and I think she turned a blind eye to the whole situation, which is tragic for all the children she watched. I would love to have asked her, but she died when gas line in her home exploded back in 2004. As for her husband, I found out that he died of a massive heart attack in the mid-80s. Karma indeed.

As a parent myself now, it has made me very alert to who Chickenhead is around. I preached the evils of stranger danger and good touch/bad touch early and often. He probably thinks I'm a bit crazy, and he might be right, but he knows that I've got his back. He knows that he can tell either myself or the Husband anything, and we will support him and we are always there for him.

As a survivor (that sounds kind of silly, but I guess I did survive and now I have that diso song in my head!) of sexual abuse, all I can tell you is talk with your children. Let them know that they should never be afraid to discuss anything with you. I'm not saying to run a background check on every adult your child comes in contact with, but if they're spending a lot of time around other adults and you're not there with them, just keep an eye and an ear open. Make un-announced visits if you can. Look for changes in your child's behavior, sleep pattern, appetite. If they express dread or displeasure about going around someone, talk to them. I think the hardest thing for me was that because my abuser was an adult, I believed him when he said that my mom, another adult, wouldn't take my word over his. We teach our children to mind adults, and they're taught to learn that adults don't lie. It's an ugly trap that children end up in.

So. There. I've written it all down, I've said all I need to say about it. You are done here, demon, and you won't rule my life anymore. Thanks for listening, y'all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's Move On, Shall We?

I can honestly say that I will be quite happy to see 2009 leave already. This has not been the best year of this decade. There was the summer of death, when everyone in Hollywood died (ok, almost everyone), and then my mom died, and people were losing their houses, their jobs, dogs and cats were living hasn't been good.

But this decade, this decade has been rather remarkable for me. At the beginning of the New Millenium, I had Chickenhead, the best and brightest Y2K baby ever. From then on, my world has been forever changed, and for the better. No matter how crappy this past year has been, I wouldn't change the past decade for anything, no sir.

For me, part of moving on is letting go of the past. My mother's passing has allowed me to see that there are things that I can never change no matter what. There are things that have happened that I had no control over, that weren't my fault, and so it's time to stop beating myself up about it. It's a realization that some things can hold us back whether we realize it or not, and in order to move forward, I need to acknowledge them and let them go. So once in a while, you might see a more serious post here, but rest assured that I'm doing fine. I feel like the 'old' me (but I ain't old, got it?!), I feel like I am ready for new challenges, new adventures, more good times with my old, also not old friends, and much more time with my home team, The Husband and Chickenhead. I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a VERY good year, and I'm looking forward to it!

May all of you have the best New Year ever!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

T.G.I.O- Thank God It's Over!!

First, I would like to say that I really hate having this attitude about the holidays; that looking forward to them ending is a bigger part of my life than looking forward to them arriving. Maybe next year, I'll get more excited about it. This year, Mother Nature and other mysterious forces were at work to not only make me crave an IV of Cuervo, but to also run screaming in to the night like a character from a Stephen King novel. Here's the quick run down...

My BIL, who's divorce was finalized in September, wanted everyone to come out to his new girlfriend's house for Christmas Eve dinner. The Husband and I have been hosting the dinner in our home since Chickenhead was just a little hatchling. I've always enjoyed hosting it, and having the house filled with the laughter of kids and adults alike. I told BIL that I knew that this year had brought a lot of changes to his life, and that he wanted to make new traditions with his kids. This year, having everyone come over for dinner also meant a lot more to me because of my mom's passing. She hated the holidays in general, but I really do think she kind of liked hanging out with my in-laws for a bit.

My MIL, who has a big heart and means well, offered to spend the night at our house the night before Christmas Eve so that she could cook during the day while I was at work. I was fine with that, even though my eyes got a little twitchy in the corners at the thought of someone else in my kitchen, going through cabinets and drawers, putting stuff away wrong, etc. I was trying to let it go, and just go with the flow. When I came home that night, there was a sign on the front door that said, 'Caution- the floor in the hallway is slick. REAL SLICK'. I went in and sure enough, the floor was slicker than snot, but luckily, I didn't fall. The Husband and my MIL, however, were not so lucky, as both of them fell on their butts. I asked what had caused all this slickery. Turns out she was trying to marinate some aspeargus in Italian dressing, and when she was bringing it in, it spilled. Even though they cleaned up and mopped, the floor was still a danger zone. Again, my eyes got twitchy, but I just pasted a smile on my face and whipped out my Swiffer Wet Jet and had a good scrubbing session.

Christmas Eve, at last! I got off of work early, and the Husband picked me up. By this time, weather here was turning nasty quickly, and we were getting the required layer of ice that preceeds all snow storms in the Kansas City area. We got home and went inside, still stepping carefully on the hallway floor. I went in to the kitchen and my eyes started twitching immediately, so I just turned around and went back out. My FIL and Grand-FIL came over for dinner and we actually had a nice time eating and talking. MIL forgot to serve the aspeargus, but nobody noticed. It was one of the many dishes she makes and never serves, or serves but nobody eats. FIL then announced that they had to hurry along the gift opening, so that they could head out in what was now a blizzard, to BIL's dinner over an hour away. There was a flurry of wrapping paper, and before I knew it, they were out the door. I spent two hours cleaning my kitchen, and just as I finished, MIL comes in and says, 'Oh I stayed away long enough to get out of cleaning!'. Yeah, ha-ha! You funny! Actually, I didn't mind cleaning because she had spent all day cooking/decimating my kitchen, so all's fair I suppose.

I had Chickenhead take his shower and get ready for bed so that Santa could come. Actually, Santa had taken a tylenol PM, and was ready for some serious sleep. But alas, sleep was not to be. Chickenhead was bunking down in the Manhole, the Husband's TV room down in the basement. They were going to watch a movie and then crash. Nope, didn't happen. Chickenhead woke me up from my medicated slumber at 1 AM sobbing hysterically. It took me a couple of seconds to figure out if it was a dream or for real. 'Santa didn't come, he doesn't love me!!', he sobbed. I spent a good 20 minutes both trying to wake myself up, and get Chickenhead calmed down. I finally told him that hey, Santa won't come as long as he knows that you're awake. I had Chickenhead get his pillow and crawl in to bed with me. The Husband had crashed down in the Manhole, so Chickenhead got in bed and finally, mercifully, went to sleep. I did, too, and woke in the pre-dawn hours to smuggle the presents from their hiding places out to under the tree.

Christmas moring came and we watched Chickenhead open his gifts. He proclaimed it the best Christmas ever. Yeah, that didn't last long. I took the cover off of our parakeet, (re)Pete (the first Pete died)'s cage, and he was all fat and puffy and weir looking. I remembered that was how Pete I looked right before he died. The Husband and I moved his cage to a warmer spot in the room and got a heater going on his cage to keep him warm. For the rest of the day, I was afraid to go in to the dining room, for fear that (re)Pete would be lying there in his cage. Luckily, he's alive!! He's just fine, thank God.

My MIL spent Christmas Day and the weekend crashed out on the sofa in the family room. She ate an entire pumpkin pie during that time, claiming that her blood sugar was too low. I know that pie does have some restorative powers, I sure feel better after some pie, but dang. I don't think pie is a cure for diabetes. Finally, FINALLY, the MIL went home on Sunday. By then we had six inches of snow and I had a raging case of cabin fever. But it was over! My long holiday nightmare was OVER!

Even though the entire holiday weekend made me slightly crazy, I cherish the good moments. Watching Chickenhead playing with his new toys, checking out his new clothes, fixing our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of pancakes and sausage, and just spending time together. These people may make me nuts, but there's a lot of love mixed in with all the insanity. That being said, I'm really glad I don't have to do all of this again until next year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lost and Found

Yes, it's me again. I found my way back here. I've been meaning to write for some time now, but you know, the holidays and all? And am I the only one that is kind of over the whole thing? Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, the 'magic' of it. I love the look in Chickenhead's eyes when he opens up presents. I love houses that are all lit up like the runway at the airport. I love cookies and hot cocoa, yadda, yadda, yadda. What I don't love is the insane race that we always seem to end up in starting after Thanksgiving. You've got one month to decorate, do cards, take pictures, attend school programs, bake (actually I like this part), buy presents, obsess over whether or not you got the 'right' present, on and on and on. It's no wonder everyone is on edge by now. The most common phrase I've heard this week? 'I am SO over this!' Yeah, me too. It's very easy to get so consumed by all the other nonsense that we forget the real reason for this holiday, and what our family means to us. I'm going to try this weekend to find my way back to the things I really enjoy about the holidays and forget the rest.

Last week, I found a cousin of mine on Facebook. We haven't seen each other in almost 30 years. How did that happen? His father was my uncle, my mom's brother. When my uncle died in 1981, my mom stopped talking to his wife, and so I haven't seen my cousins since then. I'm always kind of taken back when I see or talk to someone from my past. My cousin is almost 40, has a 19-yr old daughter, how can that be? His sisters are in their 30s now and have kids of their own. I feel bad that we've all missed so much of each others lives.

I started going through my mom's pictures. My cousin was only 10 when my uncle died, and he has a lot of questions about his dad. I told him I would do what I could to answer them. Going through mom's photos, I found a lot of pictures of my uncle as a little boy, in high school, then in the Navy. I've scanned them, and am giving the originals to my cousin. I even found a letter that my uncle wrote to my grandparents back in '68. I'll be giving that to my cousin as well, because he told me he didn't even know what his father's handwriting looked like. For some reason, that touched me deeply and filled me with sadness. I want him to have these things, and I think my mom would want him to have them, as well.

Going through the photos also somehow led me to spending a lot of time on Boy, is that site addicting! Maybe it's kind of nerdy, but I get a real kick out of looking at old census records, and marriage records, and trying to figure out who's who in my family tree.

In a lot of ways, I'm starting to feel like myself again. I don't know who I was for a while, but I feel like the old me. Does that make sense? Probably not, but I feel like a fog has been lifted, and I can breathe again. I think I was a little lost for a while, but I've found my way.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some Thoughts on Vegetarianism

Lately I've been thinking more and more about cutting back on meat consumption. I don't know if I could ever commit to a vegetarian lifestyle, but several things are making me consider some serious dietary changes.

The first thing that made me seriously consider less meat was watching the documentary, 'Food, Inc.'. Even in you have zero interest in stopping your consumption of meat, I encourage you to see this film. Educate yourself about where the food you put in to your body comes from. The realization that the meat that we eat, either from the supermarket or the fast-food joint is essentially 'factory food', was a real eye-opener for me. Can I give up the tasty bacon? I don't know. I don't know if I can live a life without bacon or a burger or a bacon-cheeseburger. But I think I can live a life with lessbacon, or at least bacon that comes from a more ethical source.

Second was former Vice President Al Gore's appearance on Larry King Live in which he stated, "the impact of meat-intensive diet is a significant factor" in warming the planet, that "the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is bad for the planet," and that "the more meals I've substituted with more fruits and vegetables, the better I feel about it..." Reducing one's intake of meat is the single most significant thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint if you're in to that sort of thing.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the realization that heart disease is very prevalent on both sides of my family. My father died from heart disease in 2005, and my mother's sudden death last month was most certainly a result from heart disease and high blood pressure. Diets filled with lots of tasty meat are also filled with lots of saturated fat. I like to imagine that at 42, I am much too young to be thinking about hardened and clogged arteries, but that's not my reality.

So, what do I plan on doing? Well, like I said, I don't see myself joining PETA anytime soon. I can't get with any organization that wants to rename fish 'Sea Kittens' in an effort to get people to stop eating fish. The folks at PETA, while I'm sure are well-intentioned, are plainly put, freaks. They are what makes me hesitant to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle, because Lord knows I don't need to be any freakier than I already am. But I do plan on reducing the amount of meat that I eat. My goal is to have two or three meatless days a week, and when I do eat meat, to try to eat only meat that was raised and slaughtered ethically. It won't be easy, and I'm sure I'll fall off the meat wagon (HA!) more than once, but I feel like I owe it to myself and to my family to try.

What about you? Could you give up meat? Could your family go meatless for one or two days a week?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here

I'm still kind of waiting to see how Christmas will affect me this year. It was not my mom's favorite holiday, although I'm not sure why. I find myself with a lot of questions about her and her life that I may never get answers to. At any rate, I'm looking forward to the holiday, the decorations, and the cards.

I love getting Christmas cards! I like cards that come with photos or without. Especially in this era of emails, e-cards, IMs and texting, it's nice to get something tangible in the mail. Something with handwriting on it that someone took the time to address and mail to you. I like making cards, too. I've made my Christmas cards for the past few years, and it's something that I really enjoy.

This year, I mixed it up and made all different kinds of cards. Most of them are very non-traditional as far as colors go. I love red and green, but I also love different, unexpected color combinations.

For example, take a look at this-

(ok, I don't know why that picture is standing on it's side. It was oriented the right way when I went to upload it.) I love the combination of pink and black. It looks kind of funky and retro and maybe even a little elegant. I've wanted to do a black Christmas card for a while, just because I like the idea of being different. Here's another one-


Some of my other favorites this year feature blues, greens and purples-

And yeah, there's some red and green, too-

(Sorry about your necks! Looks like that one's all wonky, too)

No matter what the holidays mean to you, I hope that they bring you much happiness and peace! Happy Holidays!

OK, So I've Been A Little Busy...

We're still in a midst of a holiday hurricane here at the Casa. Things will calm down soon, I'm sure, but for now, I'm going in about 60 different directions.

The tree is half-way up, and may not get finished until tomorrow. I don't know about you, but when I put the tree up, I have to put the lights on a certain way. I wrap each branch in lights as I put it on the pole. Thanks to my OCD lighting issues, my new strand of 300 white lights did only the bottom three tiers of branches. And guess who doesn't have more white lights? Mmm-hmm... So tomorrow I will send the Husband out to pick up more lights and we can get that beast finished already.

I have got one thing accomplished- I got all of my Christmas cards made and all but five of them in the mail. I need to go get more stamps and I'm sure by then, I'll think of about ten more people I should send a card to. I'll post pictures of the cards later tonight.

Christmas shopping still needs to be done. I bought Chickenhead three things from He loves a series of children's books called 'The 39 Clues', so I bought him the latest book, a card game and a calendar. If you ask him specifically what he wants this year, he'll rattle off a few video game titles and the always popular Nerf dart gun. Have you ever been attacked by a 9-year old with a round of 100 Nerf darts in his semi-automatic Nerf gun? I have, and it's not pretty.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. My girlfriends are coming over for the annual cookie exchange! We had so much fun last year, sitting around talking and nibbling on tasty treats! I've got two recipes up my sleeve and I'll share them with you this weekend, along with pictures. It should be a blast.

So, that's what's been going on around here. I'm looking forward to the new year, and the new possibilities that it brings. And the opportunity to take it easy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ready Or Not- Here It Comes!

Well, the flurry of holiday events begins unoficially tonight at the Casa. Tonight is the 4th Grade Recorder concert at Chickenhead's school. I hope he's been doing a better job practicing the recorder than he has the cello. The program is called 'Recorder Karate'. Does this mean I will want someone to bash me over the head with a recorder so I don't have to be subjected to an hour of the screeching, out of tune din that can only come from 60 9-year olds with plastic whistles?

I was excited to find out last night at 9:45 that the one pair of dress pants that Chickenhead has are not only too tight, but they're too short as well. So guess who gets to make a timed sprint through the Walmarts to procure new pants and a dress shirt before 7:00 PM tonight? Me,that's who! Yes, you're jealous, I can tell. But wait there's more, because after the concert, we get to go to the grocery store and buy everything we need for Thanksgiving dinner, which our family is having on this coming Saturday.

Our excitement doesn't end there, though. Tomorrow night is the Space Derby at Chickenhead's Cub Scout pack meeting. The Space Derby is a lot like the annual Pinewood Derby, only this time, all the Scout dads are making rockets and not wooden cars. How is it that an adult man can not balance a checkbook, but can rattle off the physics and aerodynamics of a little fake rocket?

Friday night, I've got a fun (and possibly tequila)filled evening planned in the kitchen. I'm going to be getting as many dishes prepped ahead of time as I possibly can. For those of you interested in this sort of thing, here's what we will be eating-

The Casa DeChaos Thanksgiving Family Freak-Fest 2009 Menu-

Turkey (soaked in gin and stuffed with prozac){Sorry, that would be me!}
Mashed potatoes
Gravy (gluten free)
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Beans
Broccoli Rice Casserole
Veggies n dip
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
Babybel Cheese (I could live on those little cheese things!)

My MIL has been sick with bronchitis and the flu, which is a blessing in disguise. Now don't get me wrong, I want her to get better, and to be able to join us. It's just not a holiday without the hurricane that is my MIL tearing though the Casa with a van-load of food, dripping ham glaze though my house and all over my freshly mopped floors. Nothing says 'Thanksgiving' like finding one of her press-on nails in my ice bin. But with her being sick, there's a greater chance that she won't feel like baking, and that's a good thing. Over the years, many of us have gotten sick from eating her pumpkin pie, but we're too afraid of upsetting her to say anything.

I'm hoping to take a breather on Sunday. And, I've got three days off next week as I took two vacation days before Thanksgiving. I'll be spending that time dragging all the Christmas decorations upstairs and cursing while putting up the tree and the lights, etc. Because nothing reminds me of the holiday season my like unleashing a constant stream of curse words and random screams of frustration. Good times! Hope the upcoming holidays are as special and as memorable for you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obladi, Oblada

Yes, life goes on. I spent the past week making final plans for my mom, going back to work, trying to remember and trying to forget. It was a busy week!

I'm able to honor my mom's wishes for a simple cremation, with no services of any kind. At first I worried that this was not enough, that it was not 'right' somehow. But then I got to thinking about the woman that my mom was. She was self-conscious and private; she would have hated the idea of a visitation, or a big funeral. She hated going to them, and made it clear to both me and her sister that she never wanted anything like that for herself. It's such a small, simple thing that I can do to honor her wishes, and I'm glad to do it. It occurred to me that funerals and memorials and such are means of closure for those of us who are living. I thought of many ways I can honor my mom's memory with much more than a service or a house full of people who normally don't speak to each other.

Going back to work on Thursday was much easier than I thought it would be. I was dreading it a bit, to be honest. I happen to work with many people who knew and used to work with my mom. I just knew there would be stupid questions or well-meaning inquiries as to how I was doing that would push me to becoming a sobbing, blubbering mess. Luckily, although I teared up a couple of times, it was nothing earth-shattering. I was able to focus on work, and on the routine. I was able to actually enjoy getting back to business. Some people worried that I went back too soon, but really, it was just what I needed.

Having that time away from home each day also gave me time to remember all of the good things about my mom, and to forget, at least a little bit, the terror of last Sunday. Being at work and focused on the task at hand allowed me to stop replaying the events over and over in my head.

Now, I'm plunging in to holiday plans. I'm looking forward to the holidays this year, not dreading them because Mom won't be with us. I'm sad that she's not here of course. Thanksgiving was one of her favorite holidays, she loved all the food and getting together with people. But I know in my heart, that she's at peace now. She has at last found the peace that she could not have here on earth. Mom was tired, and in so many ways, she had given up on her health, and on living. But, she would never want me to stop day to day living, or to cancel the holidays. It would hurt her deeply to think that I was not having Thanksgiving or Christmas and taking that away from Chickenhead.

So we'll gather together, and be thankful for the time that we had Mom with us. We'll be thankful for all of the wonderful memories we have of her, and we'll be thankful that we still have each other. Life truly does go on.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Every New Beginning Is Some Other Beginning's End...

The title is part of a song lyric, 'Closing Time', by Semisonic. But I chose that as the title for this entry, because yesterday, a part of my life ended, and I began a new chapter. Yesterday, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, my mom died.

It was a lovely, warm day here, and around 12:30, my mom went to the kitchen to fix herself some lunch. I remember thinking that I was glad that she felt well enough to get out of her room and move about. I was in my room, getting ready to go do some much needed yard work, and Chickenhead was with me, talking and watching cartoons.

Suddenly, we heard a loud crash. Chickenhead and I looked at each other and ran to the kitchen. We found my mom, lying on the floor and holding her head. I asked her if she hit her head and she said yes. I asked her if she knew what happened, as she's had some history of blackouts and falling. She said she thought she passed out. As I got ready to call 911, I sent Chickenhead down to the manhole to get the Husband.

I was on the phone with the paramedics when she began to have trouble breathing. I don't think there is any way I can ever forget that sound, or the feeling of utter helplessness that I felt. The Husband ran up the stairs and began trying to talk to her to get her to respond, and he was trying to get her pulse. The paramedics came quickly, less than four minutes, I think. It was a swarm of people that descended upon the Casa, and they began working on her immediately. Everyone was asking questions at once. I was running around, trying to find mom's purse, her list of medications, giving out her name, date of birth, our phone number and anything else they could think to ask. They were just doing their job, and they did it remarkably well.

The paramedics gave her meds to try to get her heart rate back, they even shocked her. They got a heart rate, but it was weak. Once they got her to the hospital, they worked on her there too, but they just could not get her back. From the time she fell in the kitchen, to the time they pronounced her death, it was a little over an hour. The ER doctor believes it was either a massive heart attack or a pulmonary embolism that caused her to go in to cardiac arrest.

The rest of yesterday and last night, I was numb and in shock. Telling Chickenhead (who was over at my FIL's house while we were at the hospital) was the hardest thing I've ever done as a parent. My son has never had anyone close to him die, unless you count Pete the Parakeet las year. We hugged and had a good cry together, and we reminded each other that the love you have for someone never goes away.

The Husband, his family and my friends have all been wonderfully supportive. I don't know what I would have done without any of them there. My family is very small, and I'm grateful to my cousin Brenda, for meeting us up at the hospital, and for coming in to the room with me to say goodbye to my mom. There were a couple of other family members who were shall we say, less than stellar, but that is their issue, not mine.

In so many ways, this end is a new beginning. Even though my mom would at times frustrate me, I will miss her desperately. I will miss sharing 'Maxine' cartoons with her, I will miss hearing her talk about this or that, even if she had told me the story already. Our relationship was sometimes strained, but there was never any doubt that we loved each other. My little family here at the Casa now has to reset itself. We will adapt and we will learn to go on, not only because we have to, but because it's also what my mom would have wanted.

Much as I lost my Aunt Judy last year to heart disease, it also played a huge part in my mom's health issues and ultimately her death yesterday. I'm telling you, as much as I'm telling myself right now, take care of your heart! I'm going to renew my commitment to myself to get healthy, thanks to my mom. There's a history of heart disease in both my mother's and my father's family, and now more than ever, that scares me. It's time for me to take good care of myself, so that I hopefully never have to put Chickenhead through anything like this. Be good to yourself!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Men I Like- The Reluctant Honkytonk Edition

Let me start off by saying that I have never been much of a fan of modern country music, or of most country music in general. I've been exposed to country music for most of my life though, and can remember my great-grandma listening to folks like Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, etc., on the radio in her kitchen.

By the time I grew up (was 19), I was too cool for country music. I was in to L.A. hair bands, and the new wave and goth bands from the U.K. Country music simply was not on my radar. But then my friend Beth introduced me to this guy-

Yep, Dwight Yoakam. His music was not only a throwback to the country music that I remembered hearing in my grandma's kitchen, it was also firmly rooted in modern rockabilly, so it wasn't the cliched, easy listening type country music that was so popular in the late 80s. Beth and I went with her mom to see him in concert, and it was more like a rock concert than anything else. He has wonderful stage presence, and I'm still trying to figure out how he gets in to those jeans of his.

Dwight is a deceptive fellow, though. His album covers always tend to focus on his long, skinny legs with the painted on denim, or Dwight giving you some 'come hither' side eye from underneath his cowboy hat.

And about that cowboy hat of his...Now I don't have a problem with men who are bald, hell the Husband is follically challenged himself. But Dwight Yoakam seems to undergo some sort of transformation when his hat is removed. What was once brooding and mysteriously sexy is now this-

I loved Dwight's acting in 'Slingblade', I have to admit. He could not have played that role with his cowboy hat on. But I just don't know. I think I need for him to keep the hat on.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Irrational Fears Run Amuck

Time to tighten your tinfoil helmets, because today I'm going to discuss more of my irrational fears. These are things that statistically will probably never happen, but none the less keep me awake at night.

My biggest fear lately is that some big, scary disease will descend upon Chickenhead. I know that most moms always worry a little about their kids getting sick. No. This is different. I am terrified of the prospect of Chickenhead getting some sort of incurable cancer or some wasting disease or something. Whenever I see bruises on his legs (which is a lot since he's been playing football), a little voice in the back of my head pipes up- 'Oh noes! He's got the leukemia!' (yes, the little voice in my head speaks like a lolcat) Now the bigger(hopefully)more rational part of my brain knows that this is highly unlikely, but LolKel just won't shut up sometimes. So I desperately fight the urge to wrap him in bubblewrap before he leaves the house each day, and I pray nightly that he doesn't get anything incurable.

I also fear that when Chickenhead grows up, he will end up scruffy, dirty and homeless, panhandling on the streets of Downtown. Writing this and reading it back, I can fully see how ridiculous this sounds. Chickenhead is a bright boy, and I seriously doubt he will ever be homeless or panhandling. If you've ever seen his room, you would know that I can't make any promises about scruffy or dirty. I think I've been watching too much 'Intervention'. All those poor folks were semi-normal kids once, too.

A while back I read a story about a racoon hiding in a Coke machine. Whenever someone would buy a drink, the racoon would attack their hand as they reached in for their bottle. Obviously, this had to have been some soda machine that was outdoors somewhere, but do you think that stops me from hesitating just a little whenever I go to grab that bottle of Diet Coke? Even though our soda machine is safely indoors on the 4th floor of the building no less, I still always hesitate. Be careful when you buy a Coke from a machine is what I'm trying to tell you.

I noticed that I still have a fear of falling down an escalator. Would this be potentially worse than falling down a regular flight of stairs? What if I fell, and say, my pant leg got caught between the steps, and it just pulled me down and ripped my pants? Good Lord, the humanity! This terrifies me almost more than the thought of a snake under the kitchen sink, a bat in the basement, H1N1 or alien abduction. I will hold my breath as I take that first step on to a down elevator and breathe a slight sigh of relief about halfway down.

Hopefully now that I've written all this nonsense down, it will help to diminish the fear. Maybe if I can keep re-reading and realize how nuts I sound, I can overcome these irrational thoughts. Somehow I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random Ramblings

So, I was gone for a while. I hadn't really planned on being gone this long! I had a week of vacation, and I decided to take a break from blogging, too. I needed to recharge my batteries and clear my head and all that good stuff.

So what's been going on in my life? Well first, there's this-

Chickenhead is in the final week of football season. Believe me, it can't come a moment too soon! The team has a losing streak of epic proportions- they haven't won a single game. In fact, they've had to call three games in the third quarter because the point spread was too big. It's very hard to get a boy excited about football when most games end with a score of 44-0. It's hard for me to get excited about, too. On the plus side, he's learned a lot about the game, and about teamwork, and about how sometimes adults can put their own petty feelings and desires ahead of what's best for their child. I have witnessed parents in the stands and on the sidelines behaving in ways that are appalling. I'm glad it's almost over.

Let's see... I had a birthday in there, too. No big whoop. I'm at the age where birthdays are no longer dreaded or anticipated. It was a day. It was during the week that I was on vacation, so after I got Chickenhead up and off to school, I made myself breakfast, and extra large cup of latte and then headed back to bed. I was happy with that. I was able to spend my day with the Husband and Chickenhead and it was good.

Not so good- my momma. Her health is quickly declining, and boy do I feel helpless. While I was on vacation, she had an appointment with a neuro-psychologist to help determine if she has dementia. After a full day of tests, she declared the entire thing 'stupid' and 'a waste of time'. But there is definately something going on. She can barely walk, she's just mentally not with it, she's sick a lot. She came to me this past Friday and said she wanted to see what she had to do to get in to an assisted living facilty. So I've been working with her caseworker and social worker to get the ball rolling. I had to discuss life insurance with her; a conversation I didn't want to have. I don't want to face the fact that my mom is nearing the end of her life. I also don't want to face the fact that she has never made any kind of plans for any of this. When I asked her if she had insurance and she told me no, I asked her what will I do when she dies? She said, 'well, just do whatever other people do'. I patiently explained that we needed to get her at least a small policy to cover the most basic of expenses. So now I need to look in to that. And maybe contact a funeral home to see if I can work on pre-paying for services? I don't know. A part of me wants to take this on, but another part wants desperately to ignore it and hope it all goes away. But I know it doesn't work like that.

That's what I've been up to. Oh, and a little crafting, too. I made an altered paint can for Chickenhead's teacher for her birthday, had my girlfriends over for some scrapping, and am working on birthday cards for the office. I'm mentally gearing up for Thanksgiving, too. Can it really be time to be thinking about that already?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Opportunity Wasn't Knocking, It Ding-Dong-Ditched Me

A couple of weeks ago, I got all happy and thought that come next summer, we would be moving to a new Casa.

Well, I was wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong. My brother in law called last night and long story short, he's having to move out of the house immediately because his now ex-wife pretty much hosed him on their divorce. I had a bad feeling when he told us that she hadn't signed the quit claim deed yet, so he hadn't gotten the re-finance on the house done. Princess Sneaky-pants decided to hold off until the eleventh hour before she would sign the papers, and then decided to slam my BIL with more demands.

The Husband and I weren't sure who to be mad at, and at first, we were mad. But having slept on it (I didn't really sleep, I'm taking some Tylenon PM tonight), I realize now that this happened for a reason. I truly believe that our lives unfold as they were meant to. That's not to say that we're powerless over our lives, not at all. But in this situation, I think the cosmic universe is making a hard left and taking us down a different path. And I'm ok with that.

We can live where we are now until next summer. In that time, we will have plenty of opportunity to find a house that's right for us. We'll have plenty of time to investigate schools and neighborhoods and all those good things. One neighborhood is already a possibility because it's where Chickenhead's Cub Scout pack is, and he could go to school with kids that he already knows.

It would be really easy to be mad at my ex-SIL for her selfish actions, becuase more than hurting us, she hurt my BIL and their kids, too. It would be easy to be mad at my BIL because he got our hopes up before he had everything signed by the Princess. But what would my anger with either of them solve? Nothing, really. All it would really do is stop me from living my life right now, and I can't do that. I won't do that.

So. We'll keep on believing that there's no place like home, and that home isn't just a location. 'Home' is where you are loved, where you laugh, where you share good times and bad. No matter where we live, as long as we're together, we're truly home.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Dreamed I Went Postal In My Maidenform Bra (and other random musings)

Can I just vent right here about underwear? Am I the only woman who doesn't like those boy-short type undies? Did I get the wrong brand or something? They don't fit right. The ride up in the back, and then they have all this extra fabric in the crotch, which is like a mile wide, and dangit, they just aren't comfortable. I'm kind of ticked about it because I bought the economy pack of these stupid things at Hellmart and now I can't take them back. I don't get the whole thong craze, either. Good lord, you can get an infection of some sort wearing that crap. What happened to just normal, nice underwear? I think I need to find that section in the lingerie department. If you can go to the department store and get a bra fitting, why can't they tell you what size knickers to get, too?

Speaking of underwear, I'm starting to think that some of the parents on the football team have theirs in a wad. We finally got the Great Pant Incident of 2009 behind us, and now, we're playing. And losing. In fact, last Saturday night, the boys lost, 38-0. I don't think it was entirely their fault, the other team was good, but our coach seems to have a lot of love in his heart for a couple of the less motivated boys; they are content to stand on the field and let the oposition run right through them, which is exactly what they did for four quarters. I know that at this age, the idea of the game is for the boys to learn the basics of the game along with teamwork, good sportsmanship, etc. Winning isn't everything. But. Let's please not sugarcoat it, OK? During the entire game, one enthusiastic father kept yelling for the boys to 'GET IN THERE!', 'BREAK SOME HEADS!!' and 'LET'S DO SOME DAMAGE!'. After the game, he calmly stated, 'well we didn't lose, the other team just scored more points than we did'. Really? Because I kind of thought we got our butts handed to us on a silver platter. It's my own personal opinion that kids need to learn that there are winners and losers, not winners and 2nd place winners. It's not going to damage their psyches to know that sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don't always work out like we want them to.

I have a co-worker who seems hellbent on making sure everyone sees her undies lately. She lost a lot of weight, which is commendable. She's feeling better and looks great, but heaven help her, sometimes she dresses less than appropriately. I work in a bank, which is a fairly conservative environment, fashion-wise. Skinny Minnie, though, likes to push the envelope with skirts short enough to cause the crew from Wild Kingdom to go on standby in case there's a wild beaver on the loose, or she wears pants that ride so low that you can't help but see the top of her thong when she clomps by. She's still learning to walk in heels, bless her heart, but sometimes she plunders around the office like Sasquatch in drag. She needs finishing school, that's what she needs.

*photo from Plan 59, click over there on the right if you want to visit them!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

25 Things I Stole From Another Blog

Again with the blog-lifting! This time from my pal, LurkerGirl. I will post original, non-stolen thoughts of my very own soon. I promise! In the mean time-

1. Who was your first prom date? My first and only prom date was Randy. He was younger than me and I asked him to go and we had a blast. Dinner at Red Lobster and freaking out trying not to get shrimp scampi sauce on the ruffles of my dress. He wore a white tux with a baby blue bow tie and cumberbund to match my dress. He was my BFF's brother and a total sweetheart.

2. Do you still talk to your first love? I don't even really know who my first love was. I lusted after a lot of guys but I don't talk to any of them.

3. What was your first alcoholic drink? Probably beer or wine coolers, but I recall a very bad early incident with Jack Daniels.

4. What was your first job? Orange Julius. Despite the nasty double-knit uniform, I loved that job because I had free 1/4lb hot dogs and pina-colada Julius' whenever the boss wasn't around.

5. What was your first car? Never had one.

6. Who was the first person to text you today? Nobody.

7. Who was the first person you thought of this morning? Probably Chickenhead because I was trying to remember if his jeans were in the dryer or needed to be washed. Luckily they were clean, as it is too cool to be wearing shorts today.

8. Who was your first grade teacher? Mrs. Langley. That's really all I remember about her.

9. Where did you go on your first flight in a plane? Chicago

10. Who was your first best friend and do you still talk? Rhonda and I have been BFF since 1983. That's 26 years, people! We talk every day.

11. Where was your first sleepover? Some girl when I was in 2nd grade. I don't remember her name, but her dad ran the projector at the drive-in theater, so we got to get freebies at the concession stand and sit up in the projection tower with him.

12. Who was the first person you talked to today? Chickenhead

13. Whose wedding were you in for the first time? My cousin Robert's wedding to his wife, Sophie. I was the candle-lighter. I had a long pink dress with lace sleeves. The dress had a square neckline that was not low cut AT ALL, but my mom insisted that it was so she made me a lace cape. Yes, a lace cape. It was more like a lace poncho. I hated that thing. All photos taken of me on their wedding day show me pissed off beyond belief. I was fantasizing about ripping that cape off, stomping on it and using one of the candles to set it aflame.

14. What was the first thing you did this morning? Pondered calling in sick, but then deciding to go ahead and go to work, already.
15. What was the first concert you went to? Rick Springfield--Do you know he is now 60! And he's STILL freaking HAWT! (LurkerGirl, me too!!) Ok, well no. The first concert I went to was the Osmonds at the Missouri state fair in 1976. I got to meet them. It was awesome. But yes, Rick Springfield is still hot!

16. First tattoo? I don't have it yet, but I want it.

17. First piercing? My ears when I was in junior high.

18. First foreign country you went to? Mexico

19. First movie you remember seeing? I vaguely remember seeing Disney's 'Song of the South' when I was really young, but the first movie I really recall the whole experience of seeing was 'Jaws'.

20. What state (province) did you first live in? Kansas

21. Who was your first room mate? The Husband.

22. When was your first detention? High school.

23. When was your first kiss? I don't even recall who or when. Must not have been a good kisser!

24. What is one thing you would learn, given the chance? Yeah, salsa dancing! With Antonio Banderas!

25. Who will be the next person to post this? No clue. But if you post it on your blog, leave a comment here so I can check it out! :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

50 Questions I Stole From Lola's Blog

Sorry, Lola! I'm feeling lazy today, and since it looks like this has been around the blog-world a time or two, I don't feel too terrible about blog-lifting!

1. Where were you three hours ago? I was on the bus, on my way to work
2. Who are you in love with? The Husband.
3. Have you ever eaten a crayon? No.
4. Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you? Yes, a pink highlighter
5. When was the last time you went to the mall? I couldn’t even tell you
6. Are you wearing socks right now? No.
7. Do you have a car worth over $2000? Just barely.
8. When was the last time you drove out of town? So long ago, I don’t recall.
9. Have you been to the movies in the last 5 days? No, but I want to see ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ when it comes out.
10. Are you hot? You know it!!
11. What was the last thing you had to drink? Coke
12. What are you wearing right now? Gray trousers and a black sweater.
13. Do you wash your car or let the car wash do it? I usually let the rain do it. Otherwise, it's the car wash.
14. Last food you ate? A Krispy Kreme donut. Yum!!
15. Where were you last week at this time? Same place.
16. Have you bought any clothing items in the last week? Ha! I wish
17. When was the last time you ran? I’m not running unless there’s a fire or a sale.
18. What was the last sporting event you watched? Chickenhead’s football game Saturday night. It was ugly; we lost, 38-0.
19. Your favorite animal? Cat.
20. Your dream vacation? Touring the great art museums of the world, staying in the finest hotels along the way. Oh yeah, and I’m not paying for it!
21. Last person’s house you were in? The FIL’s house, Grump Manor
22. Worst injury you ever had? Not long after the Husband and I were married we were in a car accident, and I broke 2 bones in my hand.
23. Have you been in love? Yes, still am!
24. Do you miss anyone right now? I miss my Aunt Judy, and my friend Beth.
25. Last play you saw? Last spring, the 3rd graders put on a production called ‘We Has Jazz’, does that count?
26. What is your secret weapon to lure the opposite sex? Home cookin’!
27. What are your plans for tonight? Make cards while watching the DWTS results show.
28. Who is the last person to send you a Myspace message or comment? I don't do MySpace.
29. Next trip you are going to take? In November, my BFF and I are going to Pioneer Woman’s cookbook signing here in KC! I can’t wait!!
30. Ever go to camp? Day camp. Not sleep away camp.
31. Were you an honor student in school? Nope.
32. What do you want to know about the future? Nothing, just let it happen as it does.
33. Are you wearing perfume or cologne? Yes, some ‘clean cotton’ type thing.
34. Are you due sometime this year for a doctor’s visit? Need to go to the dentist, and probably the gyno, too.
35. Where is your best friend? She’s at her desk at work
36. How is your best friend? Probably tired.
37. Do you have a tan? I have some depressing tan lines.
38. What are you listening to right now? Some song on the radio.
39. Do you collect anything? Vintage cookbooks, preferably with bad photography.
40. Who is the biggest gossiper you know? Me.
41. Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over? Never!
42. Have you ever drank your soda from a straw? Ok, is this really a valid question?
43. What does your last text message say? “We need to buy a Powerball ticket”
44. Do you like hot sauce? Yes, on chili or fried chicken
45. Last time you took a shower? 4 hours ago.
46. Do you need to do laundry? When don’t I need to do laundry?
47. What is your heritage? Irish and English.
48. Are you someone’s best friend? Yes, and I’m very lucky to be so!
49. Are you rich? Not money wise, but thankfully, I'm rich in other ways.
50. What were you doing at 12 AM last night? Trying to fall asleep!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hear That Knocking? It's Opportunity, Baby!!

There has been a lot more chaos in the Casa lately, both good and bad. Opportunity is knocking on my door and just may break it down if I don’t answer it.

Chickenhead is loving football, which is good, but I’m excitedly counting down until the final game of the season (five! We only have five games left!!), which is bad. Bad, bad, mommy. Whatever. I’m over those phoney-baloney parents and coaches. If they want to be stupid, let them. All I know is, after five more weekends, we are done!

A couple of weeks ago, The Husband’s brother came to us with a proposal. Would we want to rent his house from him with option to purchase later on down the line? I had a lot of questions, as did the Husband. After getting the answers and talking it over, more and more, we are thinking that we would be fools not to do this. As with anything, there are pros and cons to moving. Here are some of the positives-

The current mortgage payment/rent is almost $300 less than what we’re paying now.
Loony Landlady fixes nothing where we currently live, so we’re paying a CRAZY amount in rent each month for a house that is slowly but surely falling apart around us.
We would have the opportunity to own the house, and quite frankly, with our credit what it is right now, we couldn’t finance a cup of ice at Quik Trip, let alone a house. Renting from the BIL for a couple of years would give us a chance to clean up our act and take it on down the road so to speak. The house is in a good neighborhood, and is a lovely 3-bedroom split-level. This good neighborhood, though, leads us to the negatives-

The new neighborhood is on the Missouri side of the KC Metro area, which means Chickenhead will have to go to an ENTIRELY new school. But. As I pointed out to him, he will be going in to fifth grade next year, and will know those kids much longer than he’s known the kids he goes to school with now. Sneaky, huh? The Husband threw in that we could get a dog AND a cat (named Curtis Martin), which may have sealed the deal as far as Chickenhead is concerned. The other big negative is what to do with my momma.

No, I currently have no plans to stick her on an ice floe and watch her sail off in to that long goodnight, or throw her from the train. I talked with her about the house yesterday. She said she doesn’t really want to move to Missouri (why, does she have an outstanding warrant, or something?), she doesn’t like the idea of a split-level house with it’s multitude of stairs, she doesn’t want to have to find new doctors, etc. She wants to live on her own, possibly get a car and start driving again (Lord help me). So, we will see.

Since opportunity is not playing Ding Dong Ditch here at the Casa, I also got news today that the head of our department at work wants me to make 50 cards for upcoming birthdays for the year. I’m excited and kind of nervous about this because really, do I have time to make 50 cards? Well yes, if I want some mad money, I do! So, I’ll begin designing and making them tonight. I’m stoked about getting crafty, and that hasn’t happened in a while. I’ll share the fruits of my labor with you soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Are You Ready For Some Football?! Yeah, Me Neither.

This Saturday is Chickenhead's first football game of the season. He's toughed it out through three practices a week since the end of July and now we're ready to roll. Except me. I'm just ready for the season to be over with, already.

Why so negative, you ask? Well, I have discovered that what's wrong with kids sports is the parents. Don't get me wrong, most of the parents on our team are great people, who care about not only their boys,but the other team members as well. But, as with any group of people, there are always one or two half-wits who have to make it miserable for everyone else.

The Husband is a coach on Chickenhead's team, and for the past two weeks, we have been dealing with the never ending Uniform Disaster of 2009. Let me tell you all about it. The way youth football works in our little neck of the woods is there are teams for 3rd through 6th grade that pull from all the schools in the area, and they play under the local high school's name. The high school's team is the Raiders, so we're all Raiders, too. Fun, huh? The high school's team colors are green and yellow/gold (depending on who you talk to), like the Green Bay Packers colors. Keep those two colors in your mind, visualize them if you will.

At the beginning of the season, a parent stepped forward and donated over $1000 to pay for uniforms for every boy on the team. This was incredibly generous and helped out a lot of families on our team, some of whom were really stressing over how they were going to come up with this money. The coaches ordered the green jerseys and chose the 'gold' pants over the 'yellow' pants because the gold ones were made from a fabric that was easier to clean. The league said that as long as the colors were 'similar to the high schools' it was fine. Great. Not!

Last Friday night, all the boys put on their jerseys and went to a pep rally at the high school. One of the moms on our team began to complain that 'our boys jerseys aren't the same color green as the high school boys! That's not right!' She even went so far as to compare her son's jersey to his sister's cheerleading uniform (the same league runs a youth cheerleading program as well), screeching, 'look! They don't MATCH!!!!' Oh boy. It does not stop there, oh no, it does not. Because the big controversy was the pants. The GOLD pants were not the same as the YELLOW pants the high school boys were wearing. This was a crime against society and all that was sacred. Screechy-mom began whispering to other parents and giving the coaches the side-eye. Fingers were flying in a texting frenzy.

I was not going to be the one to tell her to shut the hell up already, because she got the uniform for FREE for heaven's sake. I tried to remain above it. Oh, and side note- the pep rally was hosted by the cheerleaders, who invited all the boys teams. When the ivite was given, the cheerleaders also asked that each boys team bring two 12-packs of soda and 2 pizzas. I'm having a little get together for my birthday next month, please come! Oh yeah, and could you go ahead and bake me a cake and bring me some liquor? I mean, really.

This past Monday, the husband came home from practice looking like he was on the edge of an anyuersm. I asked what was wrong, and all he said was, 'the pants'. Seems Screechy-mom took it upon herself to call the league to find out what could be done about the evil, satanic, GOLD pants. Well, as they say, the screechy-mom gets the oil, because the league called the coaches and said, 'well it's kind of an unspoken rule that the colors of the youth team's uniforms match the high school team's uniforms.' Yes. While the league said 'colors similar to the high school team's', what they were really trying to say, in a secret football language, was 'exactly like the high school team's'. Which is why the Husband spent most of Tuesday driving all over town to pick up everyone's diabolic, forsaken GOLD pants, so that they could be returned and exhanged for YELLOW pants.

So this Saturday, bright and early, we'll be heading out to the football fields, ready to get this train wreck over with already. I'll be the one in the stands hanging out with the cool parents, trying to keep her mouth shut. Be sure to wave!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Health Care Discussion I Can Understand

With all the 'single payor' and 'public option' talk that's been bantered around all summer, it can get confusing. People are running around, screaming and waving signs and that's just in the House of Congress! But last night on Jimmy Fallon, he had a health care slow jam. And I think we can all dig that! Here's Jimmy and The Roots-

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Good Old Days (you know, the 80s?)

Being a child of the 80’s, some of my favorite recollections are of the times I spent at THE place to see and be seen, the mall. Specifically, Indian Springs Mall. I was a huge mall rat, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

In high school, my mom and I would go to the mall to buy school clothes. I got jeans at Dillard’s and one year, I got a pair of parachute pants at J.C. Penney. Tennis shoes were almost always purchased at Foot Locker. Dress shoes were bought at Kinney’s or Baker’s, but the really cool shoes were at The Wild Pair. To go with those cool Wild Pair shoes, you needed to head up to Merry Go-Round for some clothes, maybe a puffy Prince shirt or a Michael Jackson ‘Beat It’ jacket. Musicland had a better selection of records than Camelot did, and supposedly it was easier to shoplift from there.

The main places to hang at Indian Springs were at the arcade, Fun Factory, the movie theaters and locally owned Mexican restaurant, Taco Via. Man, I loved me some Taco Via! I could go for a sancho right about now…Oh! And Italian Delight. My friend Rhonda and I would go there to look at the cute Italian boys working behind the counter.

She got to work at Topsy’s Ice Cream and Popcorn shop next door. I bet she was checking out those guys all day!

I got my first job at the mall, working at Orange Julius. The uniforms were hideous- orange and brown double-knit polyester tops that were hot and itchy. Right after I quit, they switched to polo shirts. Figures. But that’s ok, because my next job at the mall was probably one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had. I worked at Spencer Gifts. Spencer’s had everything your parents didn’t want you to know about. I learned how to pierce ears there and seemed to spend most of my Saturdays ‘stapling’ people’s ears. The managers, Paula and Dave, were funny, and the other assistant manager, Yvonne and I would take total control of the store when they weren’t around. It was a blast.

I wish I could find more pictures of the mall back in its heyday, but I can’t. Sadly, malls are becoming a relic of the past. Indian Springs is facing the wrecking ball and then possible redevelopment. Three other malls in the Kansas City area have been torn down over the last few years. I get a little sad thinking that kids now won’t get to have that mall experience, although as a parent, the thought of my child spending all day at the mall doing God knows what is scary! I’m glad I got to experience it, though!

What about you, do you have any mall stories?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Things To Do Before I Die

Don’t worry, I’m not planning on going anywhere, not yet, anyway. But whenever I get the Facebook note asking you to list all the things you’ve done, I think to myself, ‘but what about the things I haven’t done yet?’

Since I’m about to turn forty-two (or is it my second 21st birthday?), it’s about time that I start thinking about all of the things I want to do in this life, and get on it. So while I may be shelfing that dream to hang out in a hash house in Amsterdam, there are still plenty of attainable goals I can meet. In no particular order, here are the things I want to do-

1. Go to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. I may as well go to the Met while I’m there, too.
2. Watch the sunrise from the shores of the Atlantic, preferably in New England.
3. Watch the sunset from the Pacific, maybe in Seattle. Do they get sunlight up there?
4. Spend a ‘Ferris Bueller’ type day roaming around Chicago. Only without the Ferrari.
5. Have a birthday party in Vegas with my closest friends. Hell, have any party with my closest friends, I love being around them!
6. Take Chickenhead to a rock concert.
7. Make a piecrust from scratch.
8. Go to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame for a day
9. Take a family vacation to the Grand Canyon.
10. Get a tattoo.

I’m sure as I think about it more, I’ll come up with more things I want to do. What about you? Are there things you want to do, but just haven’t done yet?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Life Is Too Short To Deal With Stupid People

This is my new motto. I am tired of worrying about what people think of me. I'm tried of always trying to measure up to other peoples' expectations.

A couple of things have brought about this new additude. First, my husband and I are for whatever reasons, 'that family' at Chickenhead's school. You know, the family that causes you to cringe whenever you see that they've signed up for activities? Yeah, that's us. I have my suspicions as to what started all of this, and in the simplest of explanations, things were said about us that were not true. And because some people chose to believe the things that were said, they avoid us like the plague. Last night, with the exception of two people and Chickenhead's teacher, none of the other parents at back to school night said a word to me. It was like I didn't even exist. I don't go to the school with the expectation that I will be Patty Popular, and that's not really what I want, but when you smile at someone standing in front of you and say 'hello', and they act like you aren't even there? It's disconcerting. I showered, my hair was clean, make up fresh, teeth brushed. So really, what gives?

Second, towards the end of the orientation, a parent asked if the teacher was going to allow the kids to watch President Obama's upcoming address to school children across America next week. The teacher acknowledged that as there was some controversy around the speech, the class would not be watching. This parent then said, 'Well thank goodness, because I don't want my son watching THAT!' What 'that'? It's wrong for our children to see the president? Or it's wrong for our children to see a black president? There has been some issue taken with the White House's suggestions for activities that kids can do that relate to President Obama's speech. Things like set goals for themselves and think of ways they can be better citizens in their communities. Here's a link to some of the activities for children in K-6: White House Media Resources

Chickenhead and I discussed this last night, and he wants to not only do one of the activities, but he wants to write a letter to President Obama as well. Go, Chickenhead!

All this to say that I'm tired of not being able to be me. I'm tired of allowing others to make me feel like I don't measure up to their unrealistic expectations. I know the truth about myself, my husband, my family. I know that we are good people. Not perfect, but we do our best and we try to look out for our fellow man. I will no longer allow anyone to make me feel inferior!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Musings, Rants, Ponderings, etc...

Happy September! The cool weather that we've had the past few days has got me all geared up for autumn. I was able to finally turn off the A/C and air the house out.

My mom may be coming home next week. I hope that she'll do OK once she gets home. I think she will. I'm having a bit of an issue with the psychiatrist at the nursing center she's at. He has told my mom that she does not have dementia at all. Nope, all of her problems were caused by swelling of the brain, which according to him, was caused by Zoloft. So as long as she doesn't take any more Zoloft, she'll be fine. Huh? OK, a couple of things here. First, her neurologist was the one who ordered the MRI, CT scans and doppler scans of her brain when she first went in to the hospital. His exact words to me was that there was not ANY kind of trauma to the brain, no sign of stroke, tumor, blood clot, swelling, anything. He hasn't steered my mom wrong yet, so I trust him. Second, don't you think if a drug caused something as serious as swelling of the brain, maybe it shouldn't be on the market?

I would love it if my mom's afflictions were the result of taking a medication she shouldn't have been prescribed. But I don't want her to cling to that, only to later find out it's not true. We'll be going to see a neuro-psychologist soon, and hopefully he can pin down an answer for sure.

Why, oh why is Michelle Duggar pregnant AGAIN? I am simply confounded and slightly repulsed at the way this family reproduces. We get it, you're fertile. As I said the other day, I fully expect her uterus to walk out and turn in it's letter of resignation after baby #19 is born.

Tomorrow night is Back To School night, not to be confused with the previously attended Back To School Bash. The bash was a pizza/ice cream party, the night is for parents only, a chance to meet the teacher, find out how her/his mind works, etc. I would say I'm looking forward to it, but that wouldn't be completely true, as I'll have to interact with the shallow, clique-ish bunch of parents at Chickenhead's school. Don't get me wrong, there are a few really nice, genuine people who have children in his class. But there are also some of the same shallow, petty types you probably recognize from the cliques back in your high school days. Frank Zappa was right- 'Life is like high school,except you get money'. The kids in the clique never change, they just grow up and have kids of their own. Anymore they don't bother me as much as they used to. I've discovered that one of the best things about being 40(ish) is that you no longer give a rat's rump what people think. If they want to be shallow and petty, that's their issue, it won't be mine.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Random Nonsense- It's What I Do Best

I've been trying for the past week to read "To Kill A Mockingbird", by Harper Lee. I decided to read it because it's one of the 'Great American Novels', a book that one 'should read in their lifetime'. I have not seen the movie yet, either. But Lord help me, half the time I'm ready to just throw the book down on the ground and stomp all over it. The three kids, Scout, Jem and Dill, annoy the hell out of me. Nosy little nitwits. Why can't they just leave Boo Radley alone? If I had been that much of a bother when I was a kid my mom would have beat the tar out of me. Never mind that she was the Gladys Kravitz of our neighborhood, and always watched and speculated about the neighbors. I don't get it. I don't know if I can finish the thing or not.

I am thoroughly sick to death of hearing about Michael Jackson. Whatever he was or was not, it's kind of late to speculate on that now. I was a huge fan of his music, and obviously, somewhere along the way, he got on the wrong path. But just bury the man and shut up already.

I have decided that starting September 1, I am going to make a commitment to walk for 30 minutes twice a day. I'm in a rut, and I need to make some positive changes in my life. Taking better care of myself might be a nice start, huh?

I'm making a list of all the crap I need to do around the Casa, and honestly, I could almost care less. Cobwebs? Let 'em keep multiplying. Stained carpet? Whatever. It will all get done, never fear, I'm just feeling pissy because I'm the one that always has to do it all. Dont' mind me, I'm just wearing my cranky-pants!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Silliness and Nonsense

As my family navigates its way though the world of school sports, I'm finding that more and more, the adults often act more childish than the children themselves do.

I started out writing out the entire story in this post, but six paragraphs later, I felt I just couldn't subject you to this much stupidity and immaturity. Long story short- the Husband is coaching, Chickenhead is playing. A couple of other coaches got their panties in a wad over petty crap, tried to get the Husband removed, told lies, and ended up quitting and pulling their boys off the team when the Husband rightfully called them out on their BS. So apparently it's ok to teach your children that it's perfectly acceptable to lie to try to get your way, and if that doesn't work, you just get your toys and stomp off the playground and go home.

In other school-related news, Chickenhead will be taking music lessons this year. In our district, at the 4th grade level the kids can take beginner strings. The instrument choices were violin, viola or cello. Chickenhead chose the cello. I am so excited! I always wanted to learn how to play the cello. I may have to take it out and play it when he's not around. No, maybe not. There's a very real possiblity that I could break it. I'll just keep it in the case and stay out of the front living room where it currently resides.

My mom is doing better. She's walking around the nursing center with her walker now, not using the wheelchair at all. We went to the neurologist on Monday, and he's not certain that she has dementia or not. He's referred her to another doctor for neuro-psych testing that should determine it once and for all. We think she'll be coming home within the next week or two as well. She's still wanting to live on her own, and maybe once she's released from physical therapy, she'll be able to. Everything is one step at a time.

So, that's what's going on. I'm contemplating a makeover- new hair, new makeup, new wardrobe. We'll see what happens!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just Plain Nuts

The past week or so has been hectic. So hectic in fact, that there are a few days that I don't really know for sure what all I've been up to. With that in mind, here's what I do know:

I've decided to do a bit of digging around on the baby that my mom gave up for adoption. Am I going to tell my mom? No. Not yet, anyway. If I can find this now grown baby girl, and IF she wants to meet us, then I will tell mom. If she doesn't want to know who her birth mother is, or have a relationship with me, I'm ok with that, and I'll simply tell mom that I know about the adoption, and that she shouldn't feel shame or guilt for what she did. Mostly, I want to know if my sister (that still sounds very strange) was fortunate enough to be adopted by a kind and loving family, and if she had a good childhood and was happy.

Mom is still in the nursing and rehab center. We're not sure when she'll be coming home, but she's doing much better attitude-wise, and is working hard at physical therapy. My heart breaks a little every time I go to see her, though. She's gotten so old so quickly. She's become frail and in some ways, childlike.

This past weekend, we finally got around to going back to school shopping for Chickenhead. Dear Lord. A piece of advice- Do NOT go to Wal-Mart the day before school starts. It is not pretty. There was lots of shouting and crying and screaming and fighting, and the kids weren't behaving themselves, either. Thankfully, though, we made it and Chickenhead started school Monday fully kitted out. He likes his teacher, and best of all, his best friend AJ is back at our school. Seth & McLovin are back!

Chickenhead is playing football, and has practice three nights a week. If you've never been in the presence of a sweaty, dirty 9-year old boy, it's quite an experience. I usually just march him in to the laundry room to get the equipment off and the clothes in the wash, and then straight in to the shower he goes. If there were a way to wash him and his clothes at once, I would love it. The gear, oy. The 'gear' consists of nylon/spandex blend pants, two pair, a padded shirt, and padded arm protectors and knee pads. This stuff is expensive and high maintenance. It must be cleaned much as one would clean say, and heirloom wedding gown. Everything must be washed in cold water on the delicate cycle with no fabric softener. The pads must not touch when they are wet. How am I supposed to stop that from happening? The gear must be tumbled dry on low and removed as soon as the dryer buzzes. Whatever. I wash the stuff and throw it in the dryer and go to bed.

So, that's what's going on around here. Laundry, work, home, laundry, the nursing home, laundry, yardwork and laundry. If anything else happens, there better not be a load of laundry involved.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

(Mad) Men I Like- Jon Hamm

This Sunday night is the season premier of AMC's 'Mad Men'. If you haven't watched this teriffic ensemble drama, get the first two seasons queued up on your Netflix.

Set in the early 1960's, 'Mad Men' follows the professional and personal lives of the employees of Sterling Cooper, a fictional ad agency. The women are beautiful and dressed to kill, with bullet bras and cinched waists. The men are cool, and everyone smokes. They smoke a lot. This show should come with a warning from the surgeon general, they smoke so much.

But all that smoking doesn't take away from the delicious-ness that is Don Draper, the cool, womanizing ad exec played by Jon Hamm. Let's take a look!

Yes, indeedy Mr. Draper, I will hold all calls and grab my steno pad right away!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Answers. And Questions.

I've been debating for most of the afternoon and this evening over whether or not to write about this. I've talked with a couple of close friends and the Husband about it, but I'm dealing with some info that is tugging at my heart, making my head pound and causing me to question much of what has gone on in my life. Before I get too far ahead of myself here, let's go back to the beginning.

It was the spring of 1977. I was a chubby 3rd grader with long pigtails and a crush on Donny Osmond. My mom and I lived in a small yet cozy house. I'm sure she struggled financially, as she received no child support from my father, but we managed. Throughout the end of winter and the early part of spring, my mom started gaining weight. I recall saying something in a joking way, and she just laughed it off. I really didn't think much about it, being nine years old and stuff like that just didn't stay on my radar for long.

One night, my mom woke me up saying that she was sick, and my aunt was coming over to take her to the hospital. It gets kind of weird here, because there are some random details that I recall very clearly, and other things that I should remember, I just don't. For example, I remember wanting to wear a green dress with white polka-dots, but my mom said no. But I couldn't tell you what month or day it was. Anyway. My aunt took my mom to the hospital, and I went to stay with my aunt's boyfriend. We'll call him 'James' because I think that might have been his name, but I'm not totally sure.

James let me drink coke and stay up late watching TV. He must have sensed that I was worried about my mom, because he said that she would be fine just as soon as she had the baby. What? What baby? Maybe somewhere in the back of my 9-year old mind I knew James was on to something, but I decided that maybe James had had a few too many beers and he probably just didn't know what he was talking about.

The next morning, my aunt came to pick me up, and she took me home. I asked her if my mom had a baby, and she simply said 'no'. The next day, my mom came home, no baby. So, there. There was no baby, so obviously James had been hitting the Schlitz a little too hard and didn't know what he was talking about. Sometime after that, I remember my mom tearfully explaining that she had a tumor that had to be cut out of her stomach, and that she had been really sick. I suppose the story could have ended here, but it doesn't. As I got older, I began to wonder why, if my mom had a tumor, they had sent her home with a diaper bag filled with nursing pads and those gargantuan sanitary napkins women used to wear. What was that all about?

As years went by, I would occasionally come back to this event and wonder, 'what if'? Surely though, if my mom had a baby, I would know. I often thought about asking my aunt, and last year decided that I would ask her, but unfortunately she died before I got that chance.

With my mom's recent diagnosis with dementia, I began to wonder about this again. Today my cousin emailed me to ask how my mom was doing. I replied, giving her the update, and said that I missed her mom, because there was so much I wanted to ask her, that I never got to ask. She replied that my aunt would have answered anything I would have asked her. So I asked my cousin- did my mom have a baby in 1977?

She replied. Yes, she did, and yes, she gave it up for adoption. Between my cousin and I, there's not a lot of information to go on. My cousin thinks my aunt said the baby was a girl. Not knowing the date of birth, though, really gums things up. And, the hospital where my mom had the baby was torn down years ago.

I feel terrible for my mom that she went through this. I think there were several reasons she gave the baby up. First, I'm pretty certain that the baby would have been bi-racial. If so, my mom's family would have written her off completely. For her to have a child with a black man would have been the ultimate transgression in their eyes. I don't think my mom was even dating this man for very long. And, there was just no way she could have afforded to raise two kids. She could barely afford to raise me.

I understand so much more about why my mom is so negative and so bitter. This changed her drastically. I never really knew why my mom was so sad all the time, but I think a lot of it comes from this event. It explains so much. And even though I think I've known this to be true on some level, it's still a shock to hear that I was right about it.

I don't know yet if I want to find this person. I don't think I have enough information to even start a search. Somewhere, there's someone who may look like me, or maybe my mom. There's a 32-year old woman somewhere out there, who may have questions about who she is. Is she married, does she have a family of her own? Was she fortunate enough to be adopted in to a loving family? Or did she grow up in the foster care system, bouncing from house to house?

For a long time, I have wanted a solid answer to this question, Did my mom give a baby up for adoption? And now, while I feel relief to have the answer, I have more questions than ever. And I have no idea how I will get the answers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Finding My Way

I'm going to start this post off with a disclaimer. I never intended this to be Kelley's Pity-Party Blog, and I will be trying very hard to keep it off of the road to that hoopla. Over the past week, whenever I would sit down to write, I couldn't do it. I don't want this to be just my woe is me, whine, whine, whine blog, you know?

So, first let's have a brief rundown of what's been going on with my mom. She's been diagnosed with dementia. But. I think this was more of a case of the drs at the hospital just wanting to move her along, already, so they could free up a bed at the hospital. We have not been told specifically what type of dementia, although I suspect it's more Lewy Bodies Dementia as opposed to Alzheimer's. I made an appointment with her neurologist for later this month so that we can discuss it in depth, and find out if she will be able to take the medications that will slow the progression.

On the other hand, though, I don't doubt that it is dementia. My mom's short term memory is bad, she has problems with finding words when she talks, and she has a lot of trouble with time, trying to figure out dates and times and when things happened, etc.

After a couple of really rough days, she's starting to adapt to the nursing center. She's got a routine there, and she's getting used to it. She still doesn't like it, she never will, but she's there, and she's willing to do the work she needs to do to get well enough to come home. Some of her complaints on day two of her stay were-

"This place is full of old people!" (really?)
"A bunch of foreigners work here, I can't tell what the hell they're saying!"
"The food is horrible, I refused to eat breakfast because it's so awful" (No. What really happened was she tried to go by herself to the dining room and got lost. Then when they got her to where she was supposed to go, she had New Kid Syndrome and none of the cool kids would let her sit at their table. I guess cliques never really go away.)

In other news around the Casa, school starts one week (!!) from today. I'm not ready, Chickenhead is not ready. Supplies? Nope, haven't bought them yet. Clothes? Well I heard that Old Navy has jeans for $10, so I guess we need to head over there. And the Foot Locker outlet store for some half price Nikes. Chickenhead might be ready for school by September if we're lucky. Just kidding! No. Really.

All in all though, we are all coping. Chickenhead misses his grandma, and doesn't like hanging out at the nursing center. All those old ladies are eyeballing his cheeks and he's afraid he's going to get pinched to death. The Husband has been incredibly supportive, and willing to head up to the center for a visit without me asking. I think we will all make it, in our own way.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Lost. That's what my mom seems to be right now. I haven't posted in about a week because things have been in semi-crisis mode here at the Casa.

This past Tuesday, my mom was in the kitchen with Chickenhead when she fell. She didn't hit her head, but when the Husband got to her, she did not know who she was, where she was, or even that she had fallen. She did not remember that she lived with us. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and my MIL came and picked me up from work. When I got to the ER, Mom still wasn't sure where she was, why she was there, what year it was, etc. Scans and tests were done, but none of them showed any sign of a mini-stroke.

The rest of the week has been a blur of hospital visits, making phone calls, copies of important papers, etc. On Wednesday when I went to see Mom, her physical therapist recommended a short-term stay at a nursing and rehab facility, to help Mom regain her strength. At first, I was in a panic. Growing up, my mom always said that she never wanted to be in a nursing home. Nursing homes were a place where you went to die, in her mind. But I knew that she would not get the care that she needs right now if she came back home. There was just no way we could do it.

Once I calmed down a bit, I spoke at length with the hospital social worker. She made everything so easy for us. She gave me a list of nursing/rehab centers that took Medicare, and got me in touch with someone who got Mom's application for Medicare taken care of.

The biggest issue in the past few days is Mom's increasing confusion. At times, she is unable to distinguish the difference between reality and her dreams or even a television show. One moment she will be completely lucid and coherent, fifteen minutes later, she doesn't know where she is, and is convinced that they are doing construction at the hospital in the middle of the night.

I can't begin to explain how troubling it is to see my mom, a once formidable woman, now at times child-like and unaware of her surroundings. Part of me wants to just sit down and cry, part of me wants to sit down and drink, and part of me wants her to just be the same woman who's driven me crazy for the past 41 years.

All I know right now, is that the woman I have always known as my mom, is not here. And I feel lost, too.