April 28, 2010

It's Okay - #2

This is my second shot at It's Okay. I stole this idea from Whispering Writer, over at Airing My Dirty Laundry, who stole it from Glamour Magazine. They have a section called "Hey, It’s Okay" - a list of a bunch of things to be okay about. I really like this, because I'm working so hard on trying to be OKAY with everything in my life/head/heart and to stop judging myself for everything I say/do/feel.

When your kid is pitching and his best friend slams a double off him, it's okay to stick your tongue out at his mom across the bleachers.

It's okay to eat sushi and teriyaki in the same day, even if both included tempura side dishes.

It's okay to enjoy teaching kids who want to be in school, and not so much, the ones who don't.

It's okay to sit on Expedia for an hour, planning trips you can't remotely afford, because hope is a really powerful thing.

It's okay to cheat on Sudoku if it's late at night and you won't be able to sleep unless you finish the puzzle.  Only one number, though.

It's okay to be insanely happy that your teenager chose to have dinner with the family, over his friends, even if it was a free dinner out.

April 25, 2010

I'm at a Loss for Words...almost!

A year or so ago, the folks at John's office gave us a gift certificate to a mountain spa resort about an hour and a half from here.  We kept it tacked to the bulletin board, not noticing that months after month, we found reason not to take two days out of our "busy" life to enjoy it.  On the spur of the moment (almost - it was only about five days in advance) we decided to go this weekend.

Normally, I would write a big, long, too-detailed account of our little getaway, but I thought I'd just tell you about it in pictures (with a caption or two.)

We pulled up to our new home Friday evening...

which really took our breath away as we entered.

The we thought we'd go find a good place to have dinner, and we found this. 

We had some amazing beef stew with homemade bread here, washed down with good beer and local wine.


On Saturday we headed up to Mt. Rainier National Park, and saw a little of this

and some of these

 and hiked through this

to get to this old homestead built in the 1800s.

 We drove further up into the park, and the temperature started to drop. It was pretty cold by the time we got here...

then it was freezing by the time we reached this one...  

 ...see the snow?...

...and this is where the whining started...as in, we're not hiking up here, right?

At this point, we were starving, so we headed back down, out of the park, and stopped here for dinner.  Mmmm....veal picatta and cabernet !

 When we got back "home" we John built this...

and the crackling serenaded us (in harmony with the frogs and crickets outside)
while we sat in the jacuzzi
...for two hours....


at which point we were hungry again.

As I'm sure you can imagine, after all that, we were exhausted!

I hope your weekend was even half as good as mine!!

April 23, 2010

Why Teenagers Hate Us

I just got back from taking Matt to the airport for a redeye flight to Mississipi. This weekend, he will join his dad's extended family for another memorial service.

These past few weeks in our home have been good, but not really normal, if that makes any sense.  We have managed to get along with each other famously, as if we had never had issues before. But because of the grieving and the weirdness of his being back here so suddenly, we haven't really talked about anything. In fact, we talk very little. I am so hyper aware of not rocking the boat that I hardly say more than "How was your day?" and "I love you".  Still, it is calm, and good.

On our drive to SeaTac tonight, just Matt and me, we had a nice chat, though. He asked me to help him look into some pre-college work he can do. (He asked me for help!). We had to stop by his dad's house to pick up the urn - his dad's ashes - so that he could carry them on the plane.  For whatever insane reason, CFIL (cantankerous father-in-law) didn't want them shipped or mailed, so Matt had to carry them on the plane.  This was fine; we had them all sealed up properly for the airlines and TSA, and the box fit perfectly in an old backpack that Matt's dad used to carry around.

As we were leaving the house, I asked him if he was ok.  I mean, how weird is that, to be carrying your dad's ashes around in a wooden box in a backpack? I'm good, he said.

Then, walking through the airport, out of the blue, he says,

"This is weird."
"What's that?" I ask.
"Carrying this backpack.  With my dad in it. He used to carry this backpack around everywhere, all the time. I bet he never thought he'd be going to Mississippi riding in his own backpack."

I think my burst of laughter was appropriate, because he smiled. He was trying to be funny. I squeezed his hand and said,

"Yep, it's weird. But you still have your sense of humor.  Your dad would like that."

I stuck around while he was going through security, just to make sure he got through ok, with the box of ashes and all.  There are actually regulations for carrying human remains on an airplane, in case you didn't know.  I watched him take his shoes off and then he disappeared behind a pillar while getting all checked through.

The next thing I hear is some guy yelling,


I rush down to where I can see Matt from around the wall, and I realize the guy is yelling at him

Some idiot at TSA, is yelling at a teenager, at midnight, in the airport, carrying his dad's freakin' ashes in a box, to pull up his pants.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

I thought I was going to come unglued. Had I not been afraid of being arrested for some other heinous crime, like standing up for my kid, I'd have blown a gasket all over the guy.

As it was, I just stood there and started to cry.  Another TSA guy came over to me and nicely handed me a screwdriver and told me that Matt had it in the backpack and he coudn't carry it on the plane. I wanted to stab his eyes out with it, but I just said, thanks.

Then I asked him if he was a supervisor. He could see I was crying, and he said he wasn't one, but he'd get me one if I needed him to.

"No," I said, sniffing, "it's just that that guy over there is yelling at my kid to pull his pants up. Is there some breach of security that his boxers are showing?"

"No, ma'am, no, it's just that it's not real appropriate for the airport."  (Evidently school, the general public and everywhere else on earth is ok)

"Yea," I said, starting to cry harder, "he's 17. He's carrying his dad's ashes in that backpack. Maybe that guy could lighten up a little."

The nice TSA man looked over at the asshole TSA man and nodded his head, and he looked like he might say he was sorry, but I walked away.

I cried all the way to my car; people must have thought I had just bid farewell to one of the many soldiers in the airport tonight.  I sat in my car and cried until all my makeup was gone and I thought I could drive home without a major accident.

I made it ok, and I realized that the tears weren't so much about the mean TSA man. I had my little breakdown because my kid was leaving. Again. Already. I can hardly bear saying goodbye every morning when he goes to school, and here is, leaving for four whole days, when I only just got him back.

I know he's coming back, I know I'm being silly and dramatic.


The guy at TSA? 

No wonder teenagers hate us.

April 8, 2010

Shit. I Knew This Would Happen.

Can you hear that? That wind-like sound, getting louder and louder?

It's me.

Getting sucked into Facebook.

I tried to stay away, I really did.

I said it was too hard.

I said it was too time consuming.

I said I didn't care what 213 of my most intimate "friends" were doing at any given time of the day or night.

I said, when hell freezes over.

Damn, it's cold in here.

April 7, 2010

Take a Minute...

In the midst of our own personal traumas, sometimes it seems overwhelming to attend to the needs of others, too. Like, for instance, if your ex-husband dies and your estranged son comes home, you might not have the energy to comfort your good friend, whose baby niece is in the hospital with an undiagnosed blood disorder.  Or the friend whose son was killed in a car crash, or the one whose Dad finally gave in to the long months of cancer. 

We've been racking up the trauma over here in our circle of friends, I'll tell ya.  But not once have we been so consumed with our own pain that we haven't reached out to each other.  Maybe it's that misery loves company, maybe it's that we're grateful for the things we do have, maybe it's just that, underneath all the daily grind, we're all just really good people who care about each other, no matter what.

I read a post this morning that made me step back and remind myself that no matter what challenges are thrown our way, someone else can always use our love and support.

Check it out.

Here's my challenge to you today:

Find someone who needs a hug, and give it, with all your heart.

April 5, 2010

~ ~ ~ Happy Belated Easter, everyone ~ ~ ~

All three of my kids 
Easter, 2010

Although Easter Sunday itself was really quite nice, it's been a long, long week here. 

As a writer, I always aim to be articulate; on a good day I might strive for eloquent; on my game, I hope to be profound. Today, however, I'm just going for informative.

A week ago today, my ex-husband, Matthew's dad, died unexpectedly.  Apart from all the anger and turmoil and pain and confusion my son is feeling, he is suddenly without a father and is completely displaced from his home.  So, as would be normal in most other families, he has moved in with us again.  If you remember, this is as far from normal as our family could get.

I'd love to be able to say that I, too, am sad for the loss of this man, but I can't get there yet.  Too many years of garbage between being in love with him and today.  As you can imagine, we're all upside down, in our own ways. But I'm not grieving a loss so much as I'm in a state of weird, subdued panic/anxiety/hope.  Wish I could explain it better...as I said, I wasn't even hoping to be articulate.

A week ago, my son and I were barely speaking to each other.  He lived in another town and we had no contact at all for over 10 months.  Today, he is back in our house, eating at our table, getting up and going to school with Jack -  whether any of us was ready for this or not.  Talk about immersion learning.

So we're getting through this day by day.  It's been ok, I guess. He's grieving, of course, and probably still a little in shock, too, but felt ready to go back to school today.  He has a new, supportive group of friends.  He's been really, really nice to all of us since he got here. We've hugged and said "I love you" more than I can ever remember. It almost seemed normal, when the five of us sat down and played Uno after dinner last night.

It's not permanent, at least not yet.  It's logical, of course, that he moves back in and stays here, but I know from past experience that making that happen will be a bit like making mercury stay in the thermometer when the glass has been broken.  I'm not sure where else he'd go - the girlfriend's, a friend's, there's no telling. He can't go back to the house his dad lived in and he's in a position to keep it for himself, even if he will be 18 in just six months.  I'm sure we'll figure it out, as we navigate through these next few weeks getting our new life in order. I'm just hoping that whatever it is that we decide, it will be the right thing for all of us and not cause a whole new rift.

So I'm trying to balance hope with realism, and blessings with curses. I can't tell you how many times over the years I've wished his father dead, and now I'm the poster child for Careful What You Wish For. The nightmare of managing the estate in Matt's best interest (with the cantankerous ex-father in law) is already causing me angina, and it's hardly even started.  The logistics of moving him back into our home when we never expected - ever - that he would return, are a bit tricky. We no loner have a bedroom for him; we must create one out of Jack's playroom and figure out what to do with a boatload of stuff, old and new.  But then, I think, who cares? He's back! Which is great, right? It's what I wanted, right?

But it wasn't supposed to happen like this. Not out of the blue, not without preparation and healing and a plan, not because of some horrible tragedy, not because he has to.

It will all be ok, right? In the end, everything will work itself out. We will get through this like we've gotten through the past two years: trial and error, ups and downs, living and learning.  Today, I was just happy to get up and make breakfast for both my boys, and watch them walk to the bustop, like in the old days.

I'll take that, for now.

Jack finds an egg - the hiding places are getting a little more challenging these days...

Why is this ok, when usually, we don't eat off the floor?

My Easter present: Matt and Elle hanging out with us at home.