The world as seen through the eyes of an exhausted, caffiene addicted, homeschooling, atheist mama.

Archive for the ‘Family Stuff’ Category

A Very Long Night and a Very Exhausted Mom

When Hubby is out of town, I sleep terribly.

It’s not so much that I’m afraid something will happen and I won’t have anyone to protect us.  I’m pretty sure that our two big dogs would do a fine job of chasing off an invader. Mostly it’s just that I miss him and I can’t seem to get my brain to slow down and rest if he’s not around. I guess I better get over that crap sometime soon. I have weeks to go before he comes back!

So last night I stayed up way too late watching crappy shows from Netflix and eating way too much chips and salsa. When I finally did hit the sack, it was about 1am. I’m a 10pm kinda gal, and I’ve even been known to go to bed at 9, so one o’clock in the morning is friggin’ late for me.

I did a door and window check, I turned off the lights, and I  looked at Tippee:

Look at her! She’s so cute and asleep.

and wondered if I should make he get off the couch and go to her crate or if I could trust her all night. The last time we tried leaving her out, she ended up leaving smelly brown pools of watery poo in the laundry room.

Well, she must have been sick last time. She does’t normally need to poop at night, much less have diarrhea . I’ll give her a chance.

I woke her up, sent her to her crate, shut the door, but didn’t lock it. I just made a show of shutting it. Then I went to bed and hoped to fall asleep sometime in the near future.

A couple of hours later, I feel hot breath on my face and there’s little Tippee, happy as can be. But something feels wrong, so I get up for a drink of water and a quick poo check.  And yep. She did. At least this time she wasn’t sick, but boy was it smelly. Out come the plastic bags, out come the paper towels and the heavy duty cleaners I never use because I don’t like chemicals, and I get to work. I double bagged the mess and put it in the garage for later disposal. Tippee  got sent to bed and I made a huge show of locking her leaky butt up for the night.

I went back to bed and chased sleep for about 45 minutes before I fell back into a deep sleep.

At 6:30 Harvey:

Actually, this is a pretty common look for him. He’s the biggest goof ball ever.

Starts whining. And barking. Because he’s a responsible doggie who doesn’t poo all over the house, he gets the privilege of sleeping where ever the hell he wants. When he started to cry and bark, he happened to be on the floor right next to me. If you’ve never heard a barrel-chested, 120lb dog bark at 6:30 in the  morning, you’re missing quite the adrenaline rush. It’s a deep, window rattling, floor shaking WOOOF of a bark. I thought for sure he’d wake BB.

I toss the covers off and follow Harvey to the back door where he starts scratching. I let Tippee out of her crate and let them both out to pee.

Have I told you that Tippee is a freak? Have I mentioned that she is afraid of absolutely everything? I mean really, everything. Well last night the wind blew a plastic bag into her usual potty spot and she stood on the porch growling and barking at it like it was Bigfoot or The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  I’m standing there in pajamas shushing  her, soothing her, trying to get her to shut the hell up already. But she’s too afraid of The Zombie Bag From Hell (it turned out to be a Wal Mart bag, so she was kind of right–it did come from hell).

Jeez, Tippee. Fine…I’ll go get the bag so you can go potty.

So out I go, across the dirt and gravel in my back yard to get a bag out of her potty spot so she’ll shut the heck up and pee.  On my way back the porch, where said freakish dog stands cowering and growling, I realize I had left the back door open and Sofe:

This cat is the dumbest cat ever. Tippee is Mensa worthy compared to this cat.

decides that it’s the perfect time to go on the lam. Awesome.

She runs around the side of the house  and hops the fence while I hobble and limp, barefoot, across the gravel so I can get back to the house and hopefully catch her in the front yard.

I don’t even stop for shoes, I just rush out the front, pick a direction, and run. Fortunately, I find her by the trash can.

But seeing the trash can reminds me that it’s garbage day and I had failed to put out the trash and recycling because it was so windy when I went to bed.

I pick up the world’s dumbest cat, toss her inside, quickly look for my shoes, which I can’t find, and grab the recycling. Then I remember the poop in the garage and I grab it too. And, still barefoot, I haul the trash and recycling to the curb.  At this point, my feet are throbbing, I’m relatively pissed off and extremely tired.

I bring the dogs back inside and fall into bed without even bothering to lock Tippee up.

Harvey hops right into to bed with me. Tippee follows his lead and curls up on my feet, and we all three fall into a deep sleep.

Two  hours later, BB:

Coolest kid ever!

comes in with a smile on his face and a mug of coffee in his hand. A wonderfully dark, perfectly sweetened mug of coffee that he made just for me. He ground the beans, he added the water, he made a pot of coffee just for me…because he loves me and saw that I was really tired.

Luckiest mom ever!

Yeah, he absolutely made the whole not-getting-any-sleep thing worth it.

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Attack of the Yard Sale Zombies!

We had a yard sale last weekend. Partially to distract me from my grief, partially to make some extra money, but mostly to just clear out a bunch of our crap so we wouldn’t have to haul it across the country. The less there is to pack, move and unpack, the better. Especially unnecessary shit.

The problem is, I couldn’t tell what was necessary and what wasn’t necessary. What’s good to keep and what isn’t? How do you decide those things? Fortunately I have a handsome husband who can talk me off the ledge and convince me that selling the china that was given to me by an ex’s mother is fine; selling our bed and couch isn’t.

So after a few days of sorting and cleaning, we were ready to sell our shit to the highest bidder.

God, I hate yard sales. I hate giving them and I hate going to them. No offense to anyone who thinks they’re great fun (I’m looking at you, dear Rust Magnet!). I hate trying to figure out how much my crap is worth, I hate trying to convince others what my crap is worth, I hate telling people that, no, my laptop is not for sale, it’s just there so we can listen to Pandora. I hate telling people that no, what you see is what you get; we don’t have any back-stock of jewelry or cell phones or fishing equipment. I hate when parents bring their toddlers and then totally ignore them. I hate the mess I have to clean up after the unsupervised toddlers leave. I hate having to smile and say I’m  having a great day when, in fact, my brother is dead and I have to move from my house and I have to sell my stuff and  I just want to sit in a bath and cry.

And don’t even get me started on the behavior of avid Yard Sale Zombies. They come tearing down the street at 45 miles per hour, then they slam on their brakes and park diagonally in the street. From here they do one of a couple of things: They survey your stuff from their car and try to decide if your stuff is worth getting out for, or they leave their car parked all screwy and (often leaving the driver side door open) come up to have a look.

But mostly, I hate the feeling of someone else judging my worth based on the crap I have to sell:

Oh, look at this! It’s a pie pan! How much? Three dollars…Okay it does have a lid and it is stoneware, but I don’t like the color. I’ll give you fifty cents for it and the set of measuring spoons. No? Okay, 75 cents for just the pie pan and lid.  No? Well then I don’t need anything.

How much do you want for the huge set of china? Fifty? I’ll give you fifteen. Hmmm…Forty and you’ll throw in the VCR? I’ll give you $10 for both.

Maybe I hate haggling so much because people go the wrong  fucking way! Say it with me: The seller goes down the buyer goes up. . .(I don’t mean that as dirty as it sounds. Sheesh. You people are animals!)

It’s so amazing to me the things that people won’t buy– the really nice stuff that is useful and quite reasonably priced, and the things people will–the rusty, warped cookie sheet for ten cents; the Pur Water Filter Pitcher with a cracked lid and mineral deposits around the spout for three dollars. What in the world do these people do with this stuff?

You're judging my by my crap, but you're the one paying for it!

In the end, we did sell almost all of our stuff and we made quite a haul on it, so I comfort myself with the thought that although I may have felt judged by the crap I had to sell, at least I was getting rid of it. There were people out there who actually paid for the crap that my family didn’t want anymore.

I win.

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Picking up the Pieces

I laid my little brother to rest on Saturday; what a horrible fucking day that was. Hell, this whole week has been among the worst of my life.

It feels like it happened a lifetime ago, but at the same time, it feels like it was only moments ago. Things happened at warp speed and in slow motion at the same time. I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced that sensation before.

The trip itself was exhausting. A friend took BB and another friend took the dogs so Hubby and I could go to Arkansas alone. It was a long and boring drive, and I think I cried more tears during that drive than I’d ever cried  in my life. And I’ve cried a helluva lot of tears in my time.  I passed the time, between crying jags, making plans with the funeral home, getting cost details, and passing information on to other family members. It was somehow surreal and appropriate to make funerary arrangements in the same desert landscape that my brother and I drove through as kids. Talking to a funeral director on a cell phone with no reception in the middle of the desert is probably a situation that rarely happens, so at least I experienced something that few people have.

While we were there, I got to meet and hang out with some of my brother’s friends. It felt good to listen to stories about him and it was nice to know that he wasn’t alone; he had a network of people who loved and supported him. I’m so thankful to his friends for all they did for him while he was alive and for helping me in his death.

Now we are home and it’s time to pick up the pieces of my life and move on. In about a month we are moving out of state, so on top of the grief for my brother, I have to get us packed and ready to go. I have to help BB say goodbye to all of his friends. I have to say goodbye to mine, too. I have to go through our stuff and have a yard sale, I have to help Hubby figure out where we’re going to live, and I have to figure out how the hell I’m supposed to make friends as an atheist homeschooler in the bible belt.

There is so much to do. Too much to do to leave room for grief. Somehow I need to find a way to set it aside for now so I can focus on the tasks at hand. That’s what got me through the funeral. One task at a time, one hug after another, one foot in front of the other. Forward momentum keep me going and allowed me to keep the tears at bay. It was only in the hotel, when there wasn’t someone to comfort or a paper to sign that my grief seeped out. When it was just me and Hubby, I cried. And cried. And cried. At night, when the lights were out and I was floating in the unfamiliar darkness of the hotel room, I had vivid flashbacks of my childhood. The memories played in my head so vividly that it was like watching a movie. I laid there in the dark, crying and watching memories until I passed out from exhaustion. Then I dreamed that my brother was dead and I was planning his funeral.

My brother was almost like a son in a lot of ways. Even though we were less than two years apart, it fell to me to be his parent. When he had asthma attacks, I fixed his nebulizer treatments; when he had bad dreams, I was the one who nurtured him back to sleep. When he needed food, I figured out how to cook for him. I beat people up when they called him a sissy or hurt him. I raised him.

And now he is dead.

The sorrow, the regret, the depth of the anguish I’m feeling is unimaginable. It’s like I’m stuck in a black hole. I can’t think. I can’t breathe. I can’t move.  How do I keep going when I can’t breathe? How do I move forward when I can’t think clearly? My words don’t even come out right when I’m talking.  The book I’m reading doesn’t make sense. I can’t find meaning in the symbols on the page. And when I do find the meaning, I can’t hold it in my head long enough to understand the context. I go back and re-read a paragraph and I think: I didn’t read this…I don’t remember reading this…

How do you pick up the pieces when they are shattered into dust? How do you keep putting one foot in front of the other when you can’t even pick up  your leg? How do you do this?

Goodbye, Little Brother

My little brother died yesterday.

He wasn’t really little. He was less than two years younger than me, but I practically raised him. We went through hell together when we were kids. My parents would disappear for a day or two at a time when we were little and I had to figure out how to scramble him an egg when he was hungry. When he had a bad dream, he woke me up and I helped him go back to sleep. When I was about ten, he developed a fear of the boogey man after we had been  home alone for a couple of days. I was afraid of the boogey man too, but I didn’t tell him that. I told him that the boogey man was called the boogey man because he carried a boom box into kids’ rooms and boogied the night away.

He said I helped him be brave and strong. The truth is, he made me  brave. I couldn’t have faced the demons of our life if I hadn’t had him to help him face them.

He gave me a nickname around that time: Little Mama. He said I was more a mother to him than our mother was. The nickname stuck and eventually our parents started using it. At the time, I took it as a badge of honor. I was a good person. I was helpful. I was responsible and I was grown up. Looking back, it breaks my heart that I had to take on that role. And it breaks my heart that the only kind of mothering he got was from a sister a couple years older than him.

Don’t get me wrong. We fought. A lot. Siblings do that. But we also depended on each other. Siblings do that, too.

As we hit puberty, we started to get on each other’s nerves, but we were still really close. All the moving, all the uncertainty, all the fear bonded us in a way that seemed unbreakable.

When I went away for college, I cried for the entire first year. I felt so much guilt for leaving him behind, but I knew I had to get out of there. I knew I’d die if I stayed where I was. We started to drift apart. Bad shit happened to him and I wasn’t there to help him through it.

He told me he resented me for abandoning him.

How could he not? I was the only mother figure he had, and I left him with a strung out mother who dragged him half way across the country to live with her drug smuggling boyfriend.

I had BB and we tried to reconnect, but I think he was too far broken to ever let me back in all the way. We fought. A lot.

Apparently grown siblings do that.

I abandoned him again. He was so angry with me and we couldn’t have a conversation without fighting, so I just stopped contacting him. He stopped contacting me. We just let each other slip away.

I didn’t expect him to die. In the back of my mind, I always thought we’d come around again. I always thought that’d he be there for me to bounce my memories off of. I thought he’d be there to help me make sense of everything we went through together. I thought he’d always be a witness to our childhood.

But the only person who could attest to what we went through together is gone. The only other person who has the same memories as me, the only other person who can validate my past, had a seizure and died.

My brother is dead and I’m alone with my memories. The good ones and the bad. I’m alone with nobody to understand-nobody to laugh when I sing “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. There is an entire lifetime of memories that are only half-memories now.

Jer, I’m so sorry for all you went through. I’m so sorry you felt I left you, and I’m so sorry I didn’t get to tell you goodbye. No matter what you may have felt or thought, I always loved you, I always worried about you, and now I’ll always miss you.

Love,
your sis.

You oughtta be in pictures…

So BB was cast as an extra in a movie.  Two winters ago he was in a play at a community theater and was bitten pretty hard by the acting bug.  I wouldn’t let him audition for anything else for a while because it was just too much for a six year old.  But he has been a part of three student produced/written operas with performances at pretty big venue, and he’s performed in every variety show he hears about.  Since his play he’s chattered almost constantly about being in a movie, so when a call for extras came up, Hubby and I took him and he was cast.

We went in at 5am about a week ago and were there for something like 4 hours.  Two to get checked in and costumed, two more for shooting the one minute long scene.  Over and over again, from every possible angle.  I thought for sure he’d be bored witless, but I was wrong.  I saw a part of my kid that I’ve never seen before.  He’s usually a great kid, but yesterday he was glowing.  He said he loved being there and he wants to do more, and maybe get a speaking role next time.
So here I am, the mom of an eight year old who is begging to act.  I think we’ll let him, as long as he’s enjoying it.  All the money he makes will be put into a trust fund so he can go to college or backpack through Europe or invest in something when he’s older.  I’m looking around for an agency, for photographers, and for a second car.  I never thought my life would lead me here.
*********************************************************************************************************
Full disclosure:  the above was written a few days ago, but life has been busy and I wasn’t able to come back to finish this post.  One of the reasons is that BB was called back for a second scene yesterday.
This time he had to be there at 5:45, and we were on the clock until 2:15.   It was about 102 yesterday and he was playing a homeless kid, outside, in Utah…in the winter.  He was dressed in sweaters and a vest and had a blanket wrapped around him, and like the first day, they shot the same scene a million times.  Every time they yelled “Cut” I ran out to him to give him water and wipe the sweat off his face.  His “movie mom” did a great job of helping him take his costume off and put it back on between takes, and everyone was very good about keeping the kids hydrated and understanding that they had to take breaks to cool off.  It was tedious.  It was dirty.  It was hot, long, and tiresome. And he still loved it.
I have to confess, a part of me hoped he’d see how hard this was and that he’d decided he didn’t want to move forward, but if anything, it’s stoked his fire even more.  He was amazing, and funny and kind.  He was receptive, responsive, and good natured.  He dealt with exhaustion and heat in a way that made me feel nothing short of awe.  I, on the other hand, was more exhausted than I’ve ever felt in my life.  Okay, maybe not as exhausted as right after BB was born…but still, my whole body was wiped out.  Apparently, even if I had the desire, I’d be a piss poor actress.  I’m too much of a wuss!
A  friend told me that she admires that I was able to experience yesterday and still be willing to let him move forward. I told her that if she had the opportunity to see into the deepest parts of her own child’s soul and watch as he discovered what very well may be a passion, that she’d do the same thing.  Watching BB yesterday and last week was like watching a rare night-blooming flower open up to the moon.  It is not something I could ever describe with words. There are no words… I am just humbled that I am fortunate enough to be able to see the flower.Ethan's first "test" head shot...taken by a good friend.

Rehearsals

Miracle on 34th Street opens up the night after Thanksgiving and there is a preview show on the day before Thanksgiving.  Only four more days until there is a real audience and six more days until there’s a real paying audience.  It’s been a long time in the works with rehearsals nearly every night for the last three weeks and at least 2x a week since Oct. 1, but I think it will be well worth the effort and time. 

Althought BB has been in front of an audience before, this is his first play and his first experience with having rehearsals every night (and staying up way past his bed time).  To be honest, he’s handled all of this so much better than I would have expected.  When he was cast and I saw 6:30 rehearsal times, I was worried that he’d quickly fizzle and act out.  But he hasn’t complained about going to one single rehearsal and he seems to really be in his element.  I’m still worried about the 8pm shows, but I think it’ll be okay.  At this point he’s used to staying up till 10:00 or 10:30 (I fear the 7:00 bedtime will never return after this) and I think the adrenaline and excitement of being in front of a crowd will pull him through, but that worried mom in me is still a little apprehensive.  Should I have not encouraged his interest in doing the play when I know how early he usually goes to bed?  Am I asking too much of a little guy? 

He doesn’t seem to be at all nervous, but good lord, I am!  I was talking to a friend whose daughter is also in the show and I told her that I know I’m going to bawl like a baby.  Heck, I’m in tears just sitting here thinking about it!  I wonder, what is it about seeing our children perform that makes moms world wide well up?  Pride?  Sure.  Amazement?  Yeah.  But there’s more.  It’s a jumbled up, confused tangle of so many raw and big emotions that I can’t even begin to name them all.  What I do know is that I’ll have to load my purse full of tissues.

One thing I really wish is that he could have family out there supporting him in his first foray into theatre.  Yes, he’ll have me in the audience, and some friends are likely to come, but I wish he could have aunts and uncles and grandparents like all the other kids.  People who will also tear up and scream and cheer long and loud for him. 

Today is our one day of the week where he doesn’t have to go to rehearsal.  Hubby does, but BB doesn’t, so we are going to spend the morning together hanging out.  I will try to post pictures of some of the rehearsals. 

The final product

 Good morning my four loyal readers!

I finished the costume, and took pictures of what I did.  Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to get pics before I started the process so you’ll just have to use your imaginations for the early stages.  It turned out quite well, if I do say so myself, and BB loves it. 

 [singlepic=71,320,240,,center] Okay, this picture is titled Step 1, but really the first step was to take all billion yards of fabric (I think it was about 2.5 yards, actually) and fold in in half length wise.  Then cut a slit for the head and neck line.

[singlepic=70,320,240,,center] This is a sewing challenged person’s best friend.  I can’t sew a stitch, but I can glue like a maniac!

 [singlepic=68,320,240,,center] Since you’ve already folded the long piece of fabric length wise, and have cut the head slot, you can now go ahead and hem up the two long sides to prevent fraying.  Let dry.

[singlepic=73,320,240,,center] Of course your little magician will need sleeves, so find a way to mark where the bottom of the sleeves will end.  I used my handy dandy wooden clothes pins.

[singlepic=69,320,240,,center] Now open up your folded robe and hem (glue) the front to the back, all the way up to your clothes pin sleeve markers.

 [singlepic=72,320,240,,center] Now use more of those wonderful clothes clip front to back to help the glue attach.  Let dry overnight.

[singlepic=64,320,240,,center] Slip robe over your wizard’s head, finish off with a piece of gold curtain cord (Sorry, no pic of the cord) around the waist.  His hat is a purple witch hat we found at the dollar store.  It’s turned inside out because there are silver spider webs on the outside, which is not wizardy at all!

[singlepic=65,320,240,,center] Of course when you’re a powerful wizard fighting off evil doers, you cast spells with a serious expression.

Well darn!  These last two pics are sideways!  I’ll come back and fix that later.  In the mean time,

TAAA DAAA!  A complete wizard robe without a singel stitch!

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