Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cheers to 2012

Sayonara 2011. You were sort of a crazy year. You watched my kids turn 5, 4 and 1. You watched me turn 35. You watched us lose one dog and gain another. You saw my baby sister get married and buy a house. You saw my oldest start kindergarten. You saw some massive family strife. You saw me take a realistic stab at becoming a writer. You watched me start to earn a little money as a freelance writer. You saw the baby learn to walk and talk. You saw the middle one move up to preschool. You saw my husband work his ass of everyday for us. You saw us love each other (I'm hoping you didn't take pictures) and have the occasional squabble, but mostly you saw us muddle through to the best of our abilities.

I'm not sorry to see you go, 2011. I try not to spend too much time looking backward. It's fun to reminisce sometimes, but if all you do is look back, you're bound to crack your head walking into something.

Are you ready for me 2012? I don't know much about this Mayan calendar thing, but I'm pretty sure the year will make a strong showing. I hope you'll see me becoming healthier, both mentally and physically. I hope you'll watch me mend a relationship or two, to the best of my ability. I know you'll see me spend plenty of time with the kids; I hope that time with be more about quality and less about quantity. You will see me read voraciously. You'll see me try out some new recipes. You'll see me work on my writing with a vigilance and a vengeance I've yet to exhibit. You'll watch me do mundane, stupid things like laundry, scrubbing toilets and emptying litter boxes. You'll watch me walk the kids to school, make lunches and pick them up. You'll see me drive them to swim lessons and feed them many, many, MANY times (in the same day). You'll see me start at least one new business venture, possibly 3.

I don't know where I stand on resolutions. I think they're a great idea, but I hate the idea of having to beat myself up because I said I was going to lose 10 pounds and went to McDonalds for lunch instead. Instead, I think I'll set myself some goals and do what I can with them, when I'm able.

Here goes:

1. I will be gentler with myself. I will not try to be perfect. On the days I'm crabby, I'll try not to take it out on other people, but if I do, I will be sure to apologize.

2. I will be more stringent in my eating and exercise habits. I do not need to be a size 2 and sometimes I will eat naughty foods, but I will try and keep that to a lesser degree and the exercising to a higher degree.

3. I will not worry so much about what people think of me. It's not up to me to change or control peoples' opinions.

4. I will love my family to the best of my ability. And if that means I can't love some of them anymore, so be it.

5. I will focus on my writing. I will keep blogging. I will work on story lines, time lines. I will study. I will make a concerted effort to do at least one writing related project per day.

6. I will concentrate on kicking procrastination's ass.

That seems like a good start for me. I'm sure some will be more important some days than others. And maybe I'll have to add some later in the year.

For you, my Chickens, I wish you a year filled with laughter that makes you wet your pants and possibly shit them too, love that makes you so tongue-tied we can literally see the knot, happiness that is so excessive whenever someone sees you they think, "What the hell's that idiot smiling about?"

And finally, darling Chickens, I wish you the best year of your lives. May your dreams come true, may your burdens be light, may love and happiness surround you and may you sleep soundly at night.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Addiction Makes Me Stabby

At this very moment, my uncle is in ICU. I won't go into too many graphic details, but the man likes his drink and his drugs and has for WAY too long. He's most definitely an addict. I think he knows this, but I don't believe he would ever admit it out loud. Thus my current level of stabbiness.

He went into the hospital Christmas Day. He's currently restrained (literally) to his hospital bed, is on a ventilator and has a feeding tube. He's a big guy and he's a pisser of the highest order. I love the man to death, but he's not a teddy bear by any stretch of the imagination. He went into the hospital with renal failure and is now in the throes of withdrawal. It makes him a mean son of a bitch and this is coming from someone who actually likes the guy. I'm amazed one of the hospital staff hasn't clocked him yet. Because I can assure you, at least one of them wants to. I bet a few of them have left his room feeling a little stabby.

Everyone has their issues. Lord knows I'm not perfect. And I sincerely believe addiction is a disease. And while it's not curable, per se, it is most definitely treatable. And this is the part that makes me stabby - the innate selfishness of the disease. It's ability to completely take over a family, no matter what issues anyone else may have. The fact that it can easily ruin a Christmas dinner or birthday or anniversary or a freaking Tuesday. The fact that you know the person could die, or kill someone else, at the drop of a hat. The fact that you can't let the person hold your baby because s/he might drop the kid. The fact that they smell...horrible. The fact that you have to question your own drinking habits on a habitual basis. The list of facts is endless.

My family has been bludgeoned by the addiction stick. Both sides have raging alcoholics and a plethora of other addictions. Some have been through treatment. Few were successful. And most have died from it. Some family members choose the denial route and make excuses for the addict. Some go to Al-Anon meeting when the addict is in treatment. Some just turn a blind eye and refuse to even admit there's an issue. Others join in the addiction party. Makes for very interesting holiday parties, let me tell you. (One year an uncle bought wine coolers for the kids...I was about 8) And the funerals? Well, those are something else. (Picture, if you will, a procession of nieces and nephews wearing beer t-shirts over funeral garb will walking down the aisle of a Catholic church. No, I'm not kidding even a little bit. And the t-shirts were not new. Shudder.)

I'm far too familiar with addiction. Not through my own choice, but because it's been thrust upon me from all sides. It's unfair, all-encompassing, irritating, humorous at times (because it has to be), obscene, ridiculous and stab-inducing. I've never actually stabbed anyone because of it, but it does tend to put my imagination in overdrive.

The New Year is fast approaching. I don't know if my uncle will have the chance to make any resolutions, or if he would choose to. That is so sad to me. And it makes me so angry.

I realize this post probably makes me sound self-obsessed, judgmental, mean-hearted, cold, unsympathetic. I can assure you I am none of those things, but I am angry and sad and I'm having a hard time getting through the day.

The anger part is easier to deal with though, so I'm going to stay stabby for a while longer.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ahh, the Holidays

I'm feeling far less muckity today. And I think everyone in my house is breathing a sigh of relief. I know I am. Oh yeah, and my husband's bringing me home some wine shortly.

Holidays are stressful. When I was young, I don't think I ever realized how stressful they can be. I just went where my parents told me and enjoyed the presents along the way. Now that I am the parent...holy hell! Here's an impromptu, albeit brief (I've been cleaning all damn day and I've still got some shopping to do) list of things parents (guardians, etc.) have to do for the holidays.

1. Figure out what the kids wants from Santa this year. And pray for no last minute changes. Because if there are, you're screwed.

2. Pray the kid doesn't want this year's hottest item(s). Because if they do, you'll be paying double...also known as getting screwed.

3. Negotiate the family arrangements. It's the holidays. And while the grandparents could care less about seeing you, the fruit of their loins, you can bet they'll pay in blood to spend time with the fruit of your loins. And if you're families live far away from each other...yep, screwed.

4. Keep the kids from getting too cranky. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That one's Screwed with a capital "S".

5. Keep the spouse from getting cranky. That one's easy...even if you do end up screwed 6 ways from Sunday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Muckity Muck Muck Muck

Now, take all those "M"s in the title, change them to "F"s and you'll get where my head is today.

Today is actually a better day. Yesterday, I was so uncontrollably crabby I didn't even want to be with myself. When you want to get away from your own self, you're having a bad damn day. I didn't get my post written (hand slap), nor did I do my 1000 words (another hand slap). I was so pissy, I couldn't have written a sentence if you paid me.

Why so cranky? I think there's a bunch of reasons (and none of them are pms, although I wouldn't be at all surprised if that little bitch decided to sneak in early). My Christmas shopping isn't done and I'm feeling uninspired this year. And I LOVE Christmas shopping, so this is totally out of left field for me. Bills are due and yet checks are not arriving. That's always a good way to up the stress level to Code Red. It's almost Christmas vacation for the kids and while I'm excited to have some more time to spend with them, I feel I already have enough gray hair and I'm not really looking to add to the current count. We had stomach flu palooza last week, and although I did lose about 10 lbs, I'm still trying to catch up on laundry from that freak show. There are a couple family issues (I'll save for another post), the ever present "should I go back to work or keep trying for this writing thing" debate. We need a new house. The children eat at least 12 hours a day. Husband works about that long too. The seasonal change is killer in our house, at least for the adults. We get all mopey and not so fun to be around. I think it's mostly just one of those weeks, but it's the end of the week and I've about had it.

So, somebody's either gonna have to come inhabit my body, so I can get a little holiday cheer going (I'm thinking the Lollipop Guild), or I'm going to have to spend the next 4 days watching Rescue Me non-stop (because that's always a feel good kind of show).

Sorry to bum you out. If you're not grinchy this year, more power to you. And if you feel like me, fake it till ya make it, right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Subtle Cabal

So, Mr. Morgan and I ( actually know each other. Crazy, right? We met through Early Childhood Family Education classes offered through our school district. Our oldest kids are the same age and were in several ECFE classes together. We've done the play dates, the "please god, can you watch the kids for me while I run somewhere", the Happy Meal meet-ups. So, if you ever wondered, he and I are real actual people and we even know where the other one lives! Crazy! Even crazier? Our sons have the same birthday! He likes to say I didn't like him when I first met him, but I just figured him out really fast. I knew he was an introvert and very quiet, so I just let him hang out before I trapped him in my own introverted, writer wannabe web. It's worked out well for me. I think he'd agree. And I've met his wife and they've both been to my house for kiddo birthday parties, so it's nothing weird.

So, last year, our oldests were in preschool together and we were out of the ECFE loop. This year, we scheduled the boys for the same ECFE class, so we'd have at least one friendly face in the crowd. You know how a new group can be, especially a new group of better have your game face on or you could get eaten. You're either in or you're out, and since I've never joined a Mom's Club kind of thing, and he's not allowed to, we've kind of both been out. We've made that decision, but I don't know if the other moms know that. Sometimes we get the pity eyes.

Well, we go to the first class of the session and there's definitely a certain "group" of moms. I tend to watch and listen to people before taking part in conversations. And I did a lot of watching and listening the first class. There was the first-time mom with the active, not-yet-speaking son, who was slightly overwhelmed. There was the mom with the newborn and the 2-year old daughter. The 2 year-old was a genius and could do not wrong...and yet she had a penchant for stealing my pen and writing on my papers during "parent time" which her mom though was just adorable. Then there was the mom of another daughter...this one is a genius. She knows all her colors, speaks fluent French and dresses herself every morning. Then there was the mom with her son, who really likes to talk, but for some reason, rarely rubbed me wrong. And then there was Mr. Morgan and I. Our boys don't talk much, but they play, have fun and understand what we tell them. My boy is my third (and last) kid and his is his second, so I think it's fair to say we have slightly different expectations of them than we did the first-borns.

After class, the group of moms with the perfect kids acquired a nickname. The Slut Cabal. I will say that I did not name them. That is all.

So, we continued to meet week after week, and gradually I started talking during parent time, and Mr. Morgan occasionally put in his two cents. I think I scared the other women when I spoke, but Morgan usually had something insightful and wonderful that made all the ladies nod in wonderment. Typical dude in a room full of ladies.

Well, the weeks went by, and we're drawing near to the end of the session, I've come to realize The Slut Cabal was pulling back a bit. During class they still accentuate the fact their kids know all the colors (and how to spell them), and pretend like their kid didn't just wipe a booger on the table or dump a load in his/her diaper. But during parent time, the walls have come down a bit. You can see the mom with the newborn is naturally upbeat (or on speed). You can see the mom of the genius is tired. Her husband works crazy hours to support the family and she's doing what she can to get by, even if it's obnoxious at times. And even though I sometimes scare the other parents, with my sassy and off-track comments, I think we've come to understand each other a little better. And with this understanding, and in case The Slut Cabal is in a different group next time, I've decided to rename them.

The Subtle Cabal.

Give them a few tries before you make your final decision. Everyone puts on a party face, right?

Game On Addendum

Per Mr. Morgan:

My goals are a bit different. I'm out to polish up some old blog posts, one a day, and get them fit to publish in a book. I'll be writing new stuff, too. But not a new one a day I don't think.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Game On!

A friend and I have been very, very lazy. And by lazy, I mean he's been in and out of the hospital with pancreatitis, while being a stay-at-home dad to a 5 year old and almost 2 year old. I, on the other hand, am rarely lazy, although one look at the state of my floors and the various pieces of crap all over them and you would mo' definitely beg to differ.

Anywho, my friend and I have been lazy in pursuing our dreams of achieving invitations to the Today Show for stellar publications. And so, we have decided to egg each other on and essentially kick each other's asses, because truth be told, we ain't gettin' any younger.

So, here's what you need to know.

My friend's blog: His blog is entitled Unconventional Wisdom and sometimes this smart ass guy named Smitty does an advice column of sorts. He has named his penis The Truth and due to his tendency to get a little loopy after taking his pancreatitis meds, he makes grand offers of kissing vaginas, due purely out of appreciation for the genital area and not out of some creepy need to see a plethora of pink tacos. He is a happily married man and the only woman who may make him slip is Princess Jasmine. But his wife knows all about it and we all know Jasmine's a super slut, so it's to be expected.

Mr. Morgan is painfully intelligent (card carrying Mensa member), has a wicked sense of humor, is a quiet man and I'm pretty sure he could easily cross over to the dark side and become some sort of evil genius, if Jasmine gets hold of him. He's a man who adores his family to a level not often seen outside a romance novel and it's the type of adoration one doesn't even think about not believing. What you see is mostly what you get with Mr. Morgan (like I said, there's that bitch Jasmine lurking.)

Mr. Morgan has agreed to work on a blog post per day and I believe he hopes to post a polished entry each day of the week. That is his challenge, should he choose to accept it.

And in the other corner, there's lil ole me.

I write the blog you're currently reading and hopefully will continue to keep reading. I feel like I'm at a crisis of crossroads kind of place in my life and at the moment, I don't like it at all. I'm cranky and depressed and pissy and all sorts of yuck. So, I'm hoping throwing myself into the blog will help me figure out some of this crap I call "Life."

As my part of the rumble, I have agreed to post to the blog Monday through Friday, as well as write at least 1000 words on another project that I hope to have published. Apparently, the only way you actually get anything written is by actually sitting down and making your fingers go tappity tap all over a damn keyboard, hoping that a few of the taps construct actual words. We'll see what happens.

So, the rumble in the jungle starts today. Mr. Morgan may have already started. I've given him fair warning I will be kicking his ass. We have a few fellow readers who are already placing money on The Truth, but we all know vaginas have much more staying power than those silly things winging around all over the place.

Game on, Mr. Morgan. Prepare to throw down.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Relationship Manifesto

I'm 35 years old (although the lady at my mom's party this weekend thought I was 18, so I like that idea much better). I've been married (once) for 7 years. We've been together for 9. Never broke up. I have three healthy, smart, goofy, crazy children. 2 girls and a boy. I have reached a point in my life where my relationship with these 4 people are the most important relationships in my world.

Of course, I have other relationships. Some are great. Some are not good. Some I'm not sure I want/need anymore. The ones that are not good and the ones I debate are the reason for this post, in a backhanded sort of way, because my Manifesto is based first and foremost upon my 4 most important people.

I think Marx broke his Manifesto down into particular points, so here are some of mine. I'm sure more will show up over the years, and maybe some will drop off, but as of today, here it is, in its thoroughly romanticized, yet well-meaning and hopeful bullet points:

The Parenting Relationship Manifesto

1. Parents will always have each other's backs, particularly in public. If something needs to be discussed in private later, so be it. But in general, parents will stand up for and support one another.

2. Parents will always stand up for their children. If someone wrongs the parent's child, said parent will show said child support up the ying yang. And if said parent needs to intervene with the wronging person, said parent will gladly and lovingly kick ass and take names.

3. The immediate family comes first. However the immediate family chooses to define "immediate" is up to them. For our house, it includes 5 people, 2 dogs and 2 cats. And the animals don't have much of a say...unless it's breakfast time.

4. Even if parents do not understand the immediate needs of a child, the parents will do all they can to make themselves understand. And if the parents do not agree with what the child needs, the parents and child will have an age appropriate discussion. And sometimes the parents will have to give in, because in their hearts, the parents know it's the best decision for the child in that moment.

5. Parents will truly, honestly and openly listen to their children. Parents will not always agree with their children, nor will children agree with their parents (approximately 80 percent of the time.) Regardless, parents will listen with respect and open hearts, so their children can learn to do the same.

6. Parents will use their roles as "heads" of the family for good. While there will be times for harsher forms of discipline, children are not army grunts or cheap labor. Parents will teach from a place of love and even when they blow their tops and lose control (which will happen often), parents will return to that place of love in the aftermath.

7. Parents will encourage their children. Parents will push their children to try new activities, to make new friends, to try a slimy, new vegetable. Parents will be silly, make animal noises, play on the ground, give piggy-back rides, make goofy voices when reading books and offer a willing lap at all times possible.

8. Parents will help shape, but never make their children. Children are born who they are. They come out with a personality and it's not a parent's job to change that personality. Parents will work on enhancing their children's natural abilities and provide ways for children to see themselves in a different light.

9. Parents will be parents, not friends. Children have plenty of friends. Parents will show children how to be polite, how to make friends, how to learn, how to exist in a world that can be plenty scary. Friends can teach them to make noises with their armpits.

10. Parents will let their children go. And they will always let them come back.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

5 Things

I'm stealing this idea from She stole it from someone else, so I think it's up for grabs.

Here's the background:

List 5 things we don’t know about you, 5 things you’re knowledgeable about, 5 things you know nothing about, and 5 things you believe.

So, 5 things you don't know about me:

1. I have a freckle in my left eye.

2. I played hockey in college. I'm a pretty good skater, decent on defense but can't score to save my life. I finally scored in my last game my senior year. I actually scored twice. I'm pretty sure something froze over that day.

3. All my kids are named after a family member, via their middle names. Elizabeth is for my sister and sister-in-law; Mackenzie is for my mom and step-father; Raymond is for my grandfather.

4. I have a really hard time falling asleep. I don't have insomnia, very often, but I have a horrible case of racing thoughts and they kick into full force as soon as I close my eyes.

5. I am working at improving my crocheting skills.

5 Things I'm Knowledgeable About:

1. I'm good at knowing people. I pay attention to people and am a really good listener. This comes in really handy when it comes to buying of my favorite things to do.

2. Through no effort on my part, I have become increasingly knowledgeable about interactions between human beings, particularly between family members. The older I get, the less patient I am with other peoples' crap and I am less willing to put my own energy into it, even when they try and drag me in.

3. I am knowledgeable about children. I have three of them. They are all very different. I have learned they've made me become more flexible and for that I'm appreciative.

4. I know how to swim really well. I love water. I love to be in it, around it, hear it, taste it. Water is my oasis. Always has been, always will be.

5. I know myself really well. I know when I'm crabby, I need to eat or take a nap or just get away from people for a while. I know that once and a while, I will laugh so hard that I will start to get hysterical, lose my breath and cry...and this will go on for at least 20 minutes. I know I love to cook and hate to bake. I know I'm a good writer, a voracious reader, a good cuddler and a fantastic procrastinator.

5 Things I Know Nothing About:

1. Directions. I don't know north from south, east from west. If someone gives me directions, it has to be "left" and "right". Don't draw me a map. I can't read them. And if you draw me one, you will succeed in pissing me off.

2. Homeschooling. It seems like a big trend lately and I don't get it. I think it's great that some people can do it, but I'm gonna just send mine to regular school.

3. Baking. I can't measure, I hate reading the directions and nothing turns out right. So, I just don't do it.

4. Drawing. I am horribly inartistic. I can't draw, cut a straight line or do any of that stuff. And if I try, I get supremely irritated.

5. Cars. I'm pretty sure I could change a flat if I had to and I can pump gas, refill the oil and wiper fluid, but that's about it. And I have zero interest in learning about it.

5 Things I Believe

1. I believe my husband loves me and knows, without a doubt, that I love him.

2. I believe my kids love me and know to the core of their beings that I love them.

3. I believe that although life is tough right now, we will see the light sooner than later.

4. I believe every house should have at least 2 bathrooms.

5. I believe I will never be more than a half-assed housekeeper...and I'm 70% ok with it.