Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

May you all be merry and bright. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Warm and Toasty

So - as you probably already know, I work as a substitute in our former school district.  Some of the jobs I am called for require outside time.  Lots of outside time.  Outside in the winter is not my friend - nor the friend of anyone with a titanium rod in their spine.  Once I get cold, you can literally *feel* the radiating cold spot in my back.  So working outside?  Not all that fun for me but I do it because it's a job and a job pays money.

I have long underwear type things that help but not a lot.  I have recently learned, though, that Tourmaster Synergy has a line of heated apparel!  Now we're talking!  Can you just picture climbing into clothes that will stay warm and toasty when you are outside?  Talk about amazing!

Sure - we all know about the hand warmer packs and the shoe warmer things but clothes that are heated?!?!?!  HEAVENLY!  Especially for me!

Not that I would, or could, rush out and buy any but the fact that they exist make me happy.  Happy is good.

More Ramblings from Someone Who Has Had No Sleep Lately

I made my special peppermint Christmas candy treats today.  After all these years, I have it down to a science so I was in and out within an hour.  Of course, it takes two hours for them to back and cool but the messy part was over and done quickly.  I am going to bag some up and have the kids give some to their teachers tomorrow.  I know it's not as crafty as some parents but they are tasty and it's something I can do.  Last year the kids went to the dollar store and picked out gifts but honestly, I don't have the extra cash for that this year (yes I know, woe is me) and plus, I don't have the energy.  Everything is so far from here - no longer a hop, skip and a jump from things.

I did most of my shopping online this year.  I actually prefer that if I know what I'm looking for.  I don't have to wade through Sunday ads full of useless (to me) things like air compressor deals. I just go to my ipad, pull up my Amazon app, plug in what I'm looking for and hit order.

I can't remember when I moved to online shopping for Christmas but I think it was the second year of Dakota being in law school.  With two little kids and no virtually no help, I found it easier to shop online and have it all sent to  my doorstep.  Besides, I kinda like the UPS man showing up.  It's like a mini-Christmas every time.

My brother, bless his heart, added me to his Amazon Prime Shipping account.  LOVE IT!  Free shipping.  If I could ask for only one thing for Christmas (and honestly, I haven't asked for anything from anyone), it would be to continue to the Prime membership.  It is a God-send and I am so grateful for it.

Anyway - time to check on my peppermint candies.  Wish I felt like I wanted to snack on them....but I don't.  :/

Misc Rambling

All the stocking stuffers have been purchased and wrapped.  I don't know about you, but I find the stockings kind of daunting....and expensive.  I tend to go for bathroom items....toothbrushes, tooth paste, deodorant, shower soaps, etc.  and then add in a couple small toys (trading cards, etc) and then toss in candy.  And yet - because bathroom items are so costly - I end up spending way too much.  The thing is though, I'd have to buy all this stuff anyway.  I'm just pre-buying and stocking up.

Kelton is too old to have bath foam and bath crayons but, thankfully, too young to need to worry about things like razors and shaving brushes.  Kaylen is too old for Dora bubble bath and just right for the kid make up kits. 

I found myself feeling sad as I passed things that would have been perfect for them in years gone by.  Of course, I have been feeling overwhelmingly sad and missing the small kids that they used to be.  Oh how I love them as they are right now but some times my heart aches for their tiny little selves.  I long to hear their baby voices and laughter.

Days were simple back then.  My entire existence revolved around them and their needs and their routines.  Simple.

I want that back.  And yet - you can't go home again.

Oh how I know that one too well.

Slow Go

My laptop is slow.  PAINFULLY slow.  As in "turtles can run faster".  But then, so is my desk top computer.  I wish there was an easy, free way to speed up my computer but the truth is, they are old.  Antiquated.  The CPU for my desktop dates back to when Kelton was an infant.  I had one inbetween but it blue screened on me and so this one was brought back to life.  Sorta.  My laptop dates back about 5 or 6 years.  My brother has kept that one limping along but it takes forever to load.  But...ironically, it's faster than the desk top.

First world, shallow problems.  I get that.  But right now my brain is over filled with too much hurt and heartache so shallow probems just seem easier to focus on.

Fa La La La La.  And all that.


I think I'm beginning to sink into depression.  There is a small voice in my head telling me to go see the doctor but I just can't bring myself to do it.  I am still functioning.  I get up, take care of my children, log in and find work for the day, pay bills, grocery shop, etc. but something is missing.

Maybe it's the gray skies that won't quit this time of year.  Maybe it's the drama that unfolds around me constantly.  Maybe it's the exclusion.  Maybe it's just me.  Maybe it's the holiday.  Maybe I just need a freaking break.

I could tell you this is new...within the past few days.  That would make sense.  But no - it's been going on for weeks now.  I have made it a point to get out of the house and into the world as much as I can.  Working around people.  Faking it until I make it.  But I wonder.

There is so many little things around here that drive me crazy.  Moulding that needs to be replaced because they haven't yet been from when we put in the new flooring.  A master bath that is "in progress" of being renovated.  The closet floor in Kaylen's room that needs to be finished.  I have curtain rods that still need to be put up.  Etc.  It's slowly getting done...well...some of it.  I'm sure, in time, it will be done.  But it does add to my stress.

Over all, I am not confident that I am adjusting well.  Everything seems so.....big. 

I figure I will hold on until the first of the year and if I'm still feeling this way, I should get myself to the doctor.  But that might mean finding a new one first.  I'm not crazy about the PA I have.  We'll see.

Time will tell.  It always does.

The Monday After.....

This morning brought many challenges for me.  The biggest was pulling off a routine morning with the kids and taking them to school.  As we drove, I gently reminded them that they would probably hear talk about what happened at the school on Friday.  I told them that it was far away from here and they were safe at school...all the while knowing I was lying.  Safe?  What is safe anyway?  Our school doesn't lock doors.  There are signs to remind you to check in at the offices but honestly?  There is nothing that would give anyone even the slightest bit of reassurance that they are safe at school.

But then - my grandmother's words replay in my head:  "Locks are only for honest people.  If evil wants in, it will find a way."

Sandy Hook had locked doors.  A security system.  But evil found its way in anyway.  Through a broken window.  If evil wants in, it will find a way.  Indeed.

As I drove up into the drop off lane, I noticed people I have never before seen.  There are always adults out waiting to help kids get safely from cars to the sidewalk but today there were men in uniforms, official patches on their jackets.  The fire department for our small town was out in force, circle the buildings and greeting children.  Usually I kiss Kaylen from inside the car, today I was compelled to get out, wrap my arms around her, kiss her and hold her for just a moment.  I found my cheeriest voice and told her to have a good day and that I loved her.  I watched her walk away from me, towards the uniformed med on the sidewalk.  They greeted her, offered her a sticker and off she went.  I watched her small little body growing smaller as she walked towards her classroom door.  The terror rising inside me.  Be safe, little one.  Oh please be safe.

I took a deep breath, climbed back in the car and headed next door to Kelton's school.  I repeated the scene with him and off he went, avoiding the firemen.  Into the building he walked and, with tears in my eyes, I drove to the far end of the parking lot to exit. 

I was greeted at the far end of the parking lot with fire trucks, ambulances, the fancy truck the fire chief drives, and other vehicles.  Nothing as simple as activity buses for sale were parked there.  No - all first responder vehicles.  All there to try to reassure parents that their children are safe.

It was both stunning and reassuring.  When did it come to this?  Oh right.  Friday morning when evil visited an elementary school.

And we will never again be the same.

Post Birthday

So.  It's Monday.  A Monday after a week of shootings.  Also the Monday after my birthday.  Which was Saturday.

I was very conflicted with my emotions this weekend - birthdays, to me, always mean a happy day full of doing things that make me happy.  Except, I was feeling anything but happy.  Call me funny but the images of what took place in Newtown CT on Friday morning made me feel many, many things.  Happy was definitely not among those feelings.

But it was, after all, my birthday.  Which comes but once a year.  And is often looked over because of the holiday season.  So I wanted to do *something* to feel special.  The kids were with Dakota - which was incredibly hard (made harder still Friday) since it was the first time in 10 years I didn't feel little arms around my neck on my birthday.

Stephanie saw to it that I had a good day.  First there was coffee in bed, then she made me breakfast and then we got ready and went out into the world.  In and out of stores we went all afternoon...buying precious little (and definitely not pandora charms though they are pretty darn nice!) but having fun none the less.

We ended our day with dinner at the Spaghetti Factory.  It's a favorite place of mine and somewhere I rarely go.  I think the last time I was there was well over a year ago.  It was nice but I was in such an emotional state, I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.  That - and because I was all topsy turvy inside, I wasn't very hungry.

After dinner, we headed back to the house and brought in the bins of Christmas gifts and we wrapped gifts while watching a Christmas movie. 

Before I knew it, the evening was over and it was bedtime.  My birthday over for another year.  I'm 48 now.  I can't quite wrap my head around it.  Forty eight.  Where did all the years go?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Rough Few Days

Like so many others, I have had a rough couple of days. The Sandy Hook tragedy has shook me to my very core. I have always had trouble letting my babies be in the world without me but slowly, over the years, I have learned to let go and trust the schools and teachers with the most precious parts of me.

I had started taking their safety, while at school, for granted. Don't get me wrong, I have never been 100% trusting when it comes to other people and my children.....which is a key reason as to why I chose to get involved in their school. I want...and have my finger on the pulse of their day to day lives but I could drop them off and leave them without the constant sense of dread.

But Friday, evil made itself known in an elementary school. In first grade classrooms. With children the same age as my daughter. My mind could not wrap around it. My mind tortures me with visions of my daughter, her friends, their teachers lying dead on the floor of their classroom. Their brightly colored art projects and the stacks of easy reader books all around their room. Desks, crayons, tiny chairs.

I see myself in the faces of the grieving parents. I cry for them, and with them. Their babies gone forever.

Those families woke up, ate breakfast, got ready for their days, kissed their children goodbye with promises to see each other at the end of the day. Maybe talked about the plans for the weekend. Of trips to see Santa, picking out trees, wrapping gifts. And the blink of an eye, the beat of a heart....their children are ripped from their lives in an act so violent that I can barely breathe when I think of it.

There, but for the grace of God, go I. Go all of us. It could have been our school, your school, the school down the road.

As it turns out, I have a (tenuous) tie to Sandy Hook. The school superintendent is the mother of a friend of mine. Until Friday, I didn't know that. Until Friday, I wouldn't have been able to tell you where Holly's mom worked or what she did...or heck, what she looked like. I know now. I watched the interview with her, saw the pain in her face and heard the tears in her voice. I can't begin in imagine the heartache going on in Newtown, CT. I can barely handle the heartache going on inside me.

Those sweet babies. It could have been your sweet babies. It could have been my sweet babies.

I, along with so many others, have been changed and our sense of security when it comes to having our children outside the protective circle of our arms will never be the same.

But the trick in all of this will be to give the message to our precious children that they are safe in the world. That we will be there to protect them and keep them safe from harm...all the while knowing we can only do our best. The rest is completely out of our control. A tomorrow, I will put on a happy face and kiss my babies goodbye in the drop off line. I will say "have a great day. I love you and I will see you after school." And I will drive away from them, praying with all my might that they will be safe.

Onward we go. Changed once more.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Nothing Goes As Planned. Ever.

So...this weekend, so far, resembles nothing like I thought it would.  There was no holiday treat baking today.  No Christmas movie, as I thought there would be.

My Friday was filled with working a few hours, getting Maddie to the vet because she ripped her dewclaw and it was clearly painful for her (Thankfully no surgery was required.  They removed the broken part and I need to watch it for increased swelling and redness.) and taking care of Kaylen who was a mess because she had had a couple of difficult days at school.  Boys being mean, a friend being mean.  Hating her life.  Wanting to move home.  Wanting to go back to Crestline.  Wanting her real friends.  It's hard to see her struggle and because I am also struggling - it makes it doubly painful.  I think it was good that we were planning to attend WinterFest at our old school.

The kids and I did make it to the Crestline WinterFest and had a great time!  They both saw friends (more so for Kaylen since 5th graders were suspiciously missing in numbers.  Maybe they feel they are too old at that age...I don't know) and teachers and we were all treated like royalty.  It was nice to "go home" again as the three of us are terribly homesick.  I got many much needed hugs from people.  Lined up a few lunch dates and even had the principal ask me if I was interested in jobs at the school.  Ummm YES!  She said she would put me at the top of the list because it is hard to find good people and I am a good person for any job.  (well yes.....always have been.  But apparently I am being missed big time.  I will admit - that feels good but a big part of me wants to turn back the clock and still be there.  Change is hard.  I'm struggling.  No new news there.)

I admit to finding it ironic that I could end up working at the school we just left - meaning driving back and forth from here to there which is the reverse of what I had been doing for the past two years.

Anyway.......last night was great and so, so, so needed.  For all three of us.

Kaylen and her some of her friends: Devon, Kyle and Anisa
Kelton with Mr. Daniels
Kelton with his friend, and our former neighbor, Josh
Kaylen with Devo, Anisa and Ms. Miller
Kaylen and Anisa

Today Kaylen had a play date with Ella, Andrew had a party to attend, and Stephanie had work which meant Kelton and I had a day together.  We hemmed and hawed over what to do with him finally choosing Chuck E. Cheese (for the arcade games - not the atmosphere).  He had a blast and I had a good time following him around, watching him play, and soaking up his happiness.

After we were done at CEC, we headed over to the area where Ella lives so we could pick Kaylen up at the appointed time.  We were early so Kelton suggested we run my *ahem* dirty car through the car wash.  I plead country life on a dirt road as my defense.  :)  We went through the car wash - which is always a good time - and then I decided vacuuming out the inside would be a good use of time.  Kelton was in HEAVEN!  He had such a good time with the vacuum and I will say - the car feels much more organized and clean now.  I've been amazed, and kinda grossed out, how much crap accumulates in the car now that we are in it so much.  Again - I am going to use the country life defense.  It wasn't nasty or anything - just some trash the kids leave behind from granola bars, receipts that I leave behind, dog leashes, etc.  And tons and tons of pine needles.  Ugh.

And you know - I kinda like knowing that Kelton likes to vacuum out the car.  I'll be stashing quarters for the next time we are buy the car wash.  Might as well hone his skill.  :)

Friday, December 07, 2012

Finally Friday

It's my weekend with the kids and I've really been looking forward to this day.  They have been with Dakota for the past two weekends due to the Thanksgiving weekend (it was her year) and needing to get the schedule back in sync with Andrew's weekend schedule away.  It's important that we have the kids on the same alternating weekends or it leaves zero kid-free time for Stephanie and me.  Not ideal, that's for sure.  True, they all have Tuesdays and Thursdays with their other parent but Dakota picks the kids up at 5pm and has them back home in time for bedtime routines by 7:45pm.  Andrew's other parent doesn't pick Andrew up until 7:15pm and then has him overnight.  It's kind of crazy but it is what it is.

Anyhoo.....tonight the kids are with me and the three of us are going to go back to our old school for WinterFest.  This morning, on the way to school, they were both talking about what friends they hope will be there tonight.  Oh how I hope they have a good time.  Personally, for my part, I'm hoping to see some of MY old friends, too.  The three of us really miss our old stomping grounds and familiar faces.  Me, probably most of all.

Tomorrow I am planning to have Kaylen (and Kelton if he wants to, though something tells me he will opt out, preferring to play on ToonTown)  help me make some Christmas treats.  I'm looking forward to that.  And then on Sunday, weather and people permitting, we will go to the tree farm and cut down the non-artificial tree for the family room.  I think they kids will enjoy the experience.

I think I am all but done Christmas shopping.  We still need to get a few things off Andrew's list but I'm going to leave that in the hands of Stephanie.  Kelton and Kaylen are done though and I'm pretty happy with the result.  I'm looking forward to wrapping everything and making it all pretty but that will need to wait until next weekend when the kids are gone. 
I've had a good time shopping for what I needed.  A good chunk, once I knew what I was searching for,  I did online.  The rest had me in the store admiring one store display after another.  I admit that I love being in the stores this time of year (well - any time of year, really) because everything is all festive and happy.  I need that feeling....festive and happy.

I'm trying hard to make this a good Christmas for Kelton and Kaylen.  They are so darn excited and since they are still big believers in the magic, I want to make it as magical as possible.  I have a feeling I am getting to the end of my magic believing time with them.  Which makes me more sad than I could possible explain.

Anyway - I need to wrap this up since I have a job to get to at a local elementary school.  Today, for the second time this week, I get to play the role of Lunchroom Monitor.  WoooHoooo!  Hey - at least it's something.  :)

Monday, December 03, 2012


How in the world is it December already?  Wasn't it just June?  July?  Maybe August?  It must be winter though because it gets dark early, is still dark when I pour my first cup of coffee, and is downright cold and wet most days.

Yep - sure sign that winter, if not *actually* here (you know...that whole winter solstice is December 21st thing) is darn close.

And since I brought up December 21st.....what are your thoughts?  Do you think life, as we know it, will end?  Kelton mentioned something about how cool it would be if the Zombie Apocalypse happened that day.  Me?  I don't think that part would be so great but if the world has to end, then I hope we all just go quickly.  And whose December 21st date do we use?  Is it a rolling end of the world......we just watch it happen from the far side of the world as it get closer and closer to the United States?  I remember Y2K and all the predictions that never came to light but still...I watched in relief as the year changed from 1999 to 2000 across the world, knowing that we were among the last to experience it so by then, we'd already know what was what.

Maybe that will be the case on the 21st.  Or maybe we will all still be standing on the 22nd.  Kinda like that May date two years ago when the redemption was supposed to happen.  All I know is I'm ok either way.  Because, you know, I have no control over it anyway.

That's one thing I've learned quite well:  control is an illusion.  I don't know who has it but it certainly isn't me.  In any way, shape, or form.

But on a happier note:  the tree is up.  Well, the first tree is up.  The kids and I LOVE our fake tree and the fact that we can have it up for weeks and weeks.  Stephanie and Andrew prefer a real tree.  So, the fake tree is in the living room and the real one will go in the family room.  Somewhere along the line, we will take ornaments from both collections and mix them on the trees.  Somewhere along the line, we will decide which tree we will use for the Christmas presents.  Somewhere along the line, all this won't cause panic for me.  And anxiety.  And tears.  And and and.........

It's hard.  How hard?  As hard as a metal hose.  To bend it all into a different shape will take great effort.  Blending families is not for the weak.  This is hard shit.  Some days I wonder how I can find my way through it.  Some days I would probably tell you that I can't.  Some days it seems doable.  Some days feel good, others feel anything but.

Change.  Never been a fan of it.  That hasn't changed at all.

Kelton and Kaylen are thrilled that their favorite month is here.  I love seeing how excited they are and I try, with everything I am, to soak it up and let it pull me through.  They are both BIG BIG believers in the magic of the season and I am so thankful for that.  I have been mentally preparing lists of holiday things I want to do with them when they are on break.  This year though, there doesn't seem to be much time between the end of school and Christmas.  It is going to go too fast but I am hopeful we will trek out to look at lights, made Christmas goodies, read more stories by the light of the Christmas tree.  Just be together.

Time goes fast and I want to have a good holiday season with them.  They are growing so fast and I so much want to keep them little.

My babies.  My angels.  Every birthday and Christmas gift I have ever wanted.