Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

A New Year wish for someone I hold in high regard
As usual I am at my house with the kids and my husband, but we are in a new neighborhood. There are a few neighbors two streets over who take NYE seriously and to them I am grateful. A few minutes ago we were all up against the window, but I came over to my computer to write so the kids have more space. I love the laughter and the ooo's and ahhhh's as they watch them.

This has been a rebuilding year for us. I don't rememebr last NYE-- we were at the rental house and I don't rememebr very much. I don't think I cried, but I was sad quite a bit. This year when I unpacked the Christmas decorations, I remembered only buying the birds for the tree, but I know I bought all of it because I had joked with my husband that I'd saved an exorbitant amount of money at the store and he paused and asked me, "And how much did you have to spend to save so much?" This was the second year in the 14 that my husband and I have been married that I didn't have to put the tree into a play-pen.

Anyway, all is well at the Crumpet House.

I think that I have always been overwhelmed and the fire woke me up to the fact that I have been overwhelmed for the last 14 years (then it was 13 years) of my life. At the time, I thought it was the fire and surely the after the fire it was, but there are a lot of kids and I have had no family to depend on unless literally, someone in my family was dying or I was giving birth. I needed an extreme emergency for help!

The last 3 months have been about us settling. My kids are at different schools that I drive them to in the mornings. I have to fill up my SUV tank every forth day. How do I manage to put 65 miles on it every day, four days a week? The furthest I drive is 18 miles away, but times everything by at least 2 and they add up. I have realized with all the driving that I am always tired, always trying to catch up on more sleep and always running behind.

Today I realized that I wake up late and run out of the house late for everything. We are late to at least one of the kids' schools every day. I have asked my husband to please get to bed early, as in before 9:30 because he doesn't seem to need as much sleep as I do and I can't sleep until he gets to bed, but he doesn't like to. I am not sure how to handle it, but I would ultimately like to be up and dressed before the kids are so that they can wake up to a mom who is on top of things in 2011. I think that if I am on top of things (I feel like I've been body surfing through life-- and I am learning to go from dog paddle to hopefully a stead crawl stroke.)

Anyway, it has been a good year as far as rebuilding. I don't know if I can call it "good" because I am starting to get a sense that I can breathe now. The kids are getting older and while they need me with them more than ever (my sons' brotherly love is more "Cain and Able" than "Orville and Wilbur") I am really in a position to do more creatively.

My husband has been truly amazing. He has his faults-- but he has really done his best when not trying --with the kids-- to drive me out of my mind. He, not me, got us into the house we are now in. And he keeps us afloat. I realized a few days ago that my dream of doing something for pay and working around other adults will most likely not happen and he is the one who works, whether he likes ot or not. (He loves his job and he is quite fortunate.)

I think that what has helped me most through this year (besides the obvious, my husband) has been that I started making Shabbat dinners every Friday. I am not Jewish, but I have always leaned that way-- probably since I was 15. I may convert one day, but I fear that once what I like doing becomes an obligation, I may resent it. I don't want to resent it and I always want to enjoy it's beauty. About 2 years ago I decided to try getting my house as clean as I could and then have a nice dinner and except for dishes, relax for one day. Certainly there were places to take the kids, but I wouldn't bother with nagging at myself to get more done. There is always more to do, so when I gave myself permission to say, "It is done for now and like G-d, I, too, shall rest." I got more done when I resumed.

After the fire, I stopped for 10 months and resumed in July of this year. I started with just observing with tea and cookies! Within a month I was back baking challah bread and kosher grape juice. The baking of challah is spiritual for me because I feel like the making of the bread is like putting my family and friends together. At the rental house, I felt like my postage stamp kitchen was suddenly big enough for me. We have done things backward-- to my Jewish friends, the candles, wine and blessings are the biggest deal, but to me it has been the making of the nice dinner where we would all sit down to eat that has been the biggest issue. At that tiny rental house, the kitchen seemed just right as I cooked even though making burritos in the microwave for four people was usually too much!

I must add here that when I tried having a family night any other night of the week and tried to make it just any night, it was not the same. For me, Shabbat is only on Friday evening to Saturday at sundown. I am slowly starting to not knit of Friday nights and Saturdays. This is hard, but I need the break for my mind. More ideas come to me while I can't create. I'd not drawn for a while and as soon as I decided that I would not draw on Fridays, my mind flooded with ideas. (I did my first drawing in months of a golden lab puppy last Sunday-- she'd been in my mind for a month or two and I finally got her on paper!)

So we are looking forward to the new year. Starshine will be a whole half year into kindergarten, God willing that all goes as planned, and the kids will be a year older and I will be close to turning 43. I hope that I will have cherished this coming year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Greetings and a Commitment

As of late I have just been busy. Moving and raising children are hard work! I have been writing letters to a friend who has been away but he is returning and not needing me to keep writing and entertaining him, and I am coming back to my writing of my blog. It has been hard to write post inferno, but I am ready to resume.

About a year ago, probably a little over a year ago, I started knitting. When life has stressed me out, I have turned to it. What is it about fiber that is good for a person who is mourning? We couldn't afford presents but I was able to knit them and while I am late getting them out, they are bags in which I am putting Alaskan jams and jellies for friends and relatives. It is known that I will knit regardless and so people like my mom know that I have the yarn, and who can't use a good, roomy, farmer's market bag? Hemp is my favorite material for farmer's market bags, but I am making all kinds of things. I love that I can create something useful! My mother loves that she gets dishcloths from me on a regular basis-- and it is embarrassing, but she isn't framing my pictures and having to find space, so she either uses them or gives them to friends. In this picture here, I am finishing a little bag. I prefer pictures of my hands to my face.

I have returned to drawing. This past weekend, I was making time to draw when I got some terrible news and while no one had died, it kind of killed me. I tried to draw (which I hadn't done in almost a year) and my arms were numb. Most of this week I have been depressed over it and have decided that I want to draw regardless of my mood. So my husband came to bed early and he was greatly annoyed with me as I began sketching him. Specifically, his feet. He did not know that I was drawing his feet, but his feet are sensitive and as I drew he kept yelling, "Don't touch my feet!" I told him that I was drawing his shoulders. He got up and looked and I had, indeed, been drawing his feet. Am I that good that he could feel my stylus on his toes? (I must be a Ninja Artist!) I was really drawing on the pad, probably six feet away from him, not drawing on his body.

Winter break is almost over. My kids are busy this time and it isn't overwhelming as it has been in the past. I hardly remember anything from last year. Last year we were at the rental house and my kids tried to play the World Series with Christmas wrapping paper tubes and ornaments. My husband yelled at me for refusing to put up the tree or decorations until break began, but I didn't feel like fetching fallen or pulled off ornaments. So far, so good, no problems with ornaments or decorations being misused. If they are good this year until January 1, I will put them up a week earlier next year. It wasn't the little kids who messed with the ornaments, it was my three middle sons who were then ages 11, 10 and 9. Does having them be a whole year older make any difference in maturity? (No. My husband actually got mad at them for why I'd not put up the ornaments and told them that he shops more when he has more decorations up and to not screw themselves next year! He shopped the same as always, but they seem to be getting a clue!)

I sometimes wish winter break was shorter, but I think of when I was fighting a custody battle with my ex husband and I don't want it shorter. My daughters wanted to be home as much as they were able to be, so I won't bug anyone on the school board about this.

I will soon start sharing pictures of what I draw. I am going to start drawing for at least ten minutes each evening and take pictures. I want to draw awesome hands and feet. I did massage therapy and I think that hands and feet are amazing. We often see what artists render and they will put anything in from of hands to hide them. Feet reside in shoes much of the time. Since we don't notice them as much, they are not as easily recognized or appreciated.

We are getting ready for Christmas and I am ready for it. As we started to do last year, I am making traditional meals. The kids like traditional now where before, turkey was not the norm and we'd have other things that we liked and at regularly.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The car game

When my children were tiny, I used to play a game with myself when the day came to a close. I would carry them around the living room and sing to them or we would dance to fast mucic while counting cars. SURELY Daddy would be home within 100 cars! If he wasn't home within 100 cars, he'd SURELY be home within the next 100 cars! As soon as he came in, I'd either hand the babies off to him and go paint or draw, or I would talk his ear off. How we had nine kids, I do not know.

Now we have teenagers. When he is late, I have no baby to swing and dance with, but I have teens fighting with each other and evading chores and nothing getting done without threats to take things away.

I still play the car game.

My muses are starting to dance again

For several years, drawing was to me like speaking. To better artists or people who just knew art, I probably "sounded" like a hill folk with my artwork, but drawing and painting was a form that I spoke in. I got shaken up and the place in my brain that draws and paints got cut off for a while.

I have hardly drawn 09-09. The only things that I cared about to rescue after the catastrophe were my paint brushes that my mom and dad gave me as a high school sophomore, some head scarves, and letters from a former friend. The scarves got tossed. The former friend was as shallow as a bird bath. But the paint brushes have been at my bedside from the rental house to the new house. My husband wanted a desk for our room and as I looked at them, I was drawn to a large wood table with drawers. When I say large, it is not a large table like the one that we having in our dining room that seats 14. But it is large for a desk, and is has drawers. It is plain but I started thinking about putting my water color blocks on it and setting my chalks out on it near my bedroom window that over looks a patio and a lovely yard. That was the first time that I felt like drawing again.

I have drawn since the fire, but it was forced. My drawing was OK, but it was like, "I think I will draw. . . a giraffe and a butterfly." So I got out my art supplies, put them around my bed, and, sitting on my bed, I forced a drawing. I had to get up many times and walk away from it and not let my husband sit on our bed for several hours. Something that is so intertwined with my emotions had me in an emotional tweak. I had no place to draw or paint, and thinking that I needed to because I hasn't done it in a while, I made myself execute them. (With as many issues as I have with my husband at times, he understands that I am connected to my work like this and he said he just wanted to watch TV, anyway.)

At our other house, I drew at the bar in my kitchen. I drew at that bar rather happily for as long as we lived there-- 10, 11 years? On those nights I would often dress up in a beautiful outfit and draw. I don't know what was with my fancy outfits, as I would take them off later and put on jeans and a t-shirt to finish them, but I had to get spiffy first. It was like my muses wanted some fun. (I blame my muses. While my husband isn't one to go to places, I wanted to go out and with so many young children, I couldn't. I was stimulated by nice things. Let's blame it on the muses because the muses are being muses and a mother of so many is being frivolous.)

In our rental, I had the supplies which I had asked my husband to get for me. The expense was great but I really needed to draw and paint. But I was never inspired. I did a couple of drawings, including one of a baby dragon and a Chinese princess, and I struggled to do them. It was like my muses were too crowded in there and found a corner to sleep and didn't want to get up. (Cranky muses are not nice.)

Here in our new place, it is almost like the house partially dictates where I will draw and paint. We have a much nicer island/bar for painting, but I took my supplies out and set things up and even had what I wanted to draw (more dragons!) and I couldn't do it. The muses had room to dance, yet they didn't come out. I worried that I couldn't draw again, then at the furniture store, the muses started getting excited.

I have also started knitting. Last year I started knitting and it gave me a sense of accomplishment, but while I could so it in closed spaces, it quickly became an art form and also shut off. I find that if I take a basic shape with something like say, a purse, the yarn tells me what it wants to do. As I work with yarn and I squeeze it and play with it, it gives me ideas. I don't get get an idea to say, bead it-- an idea comes to me on how to do it. I call my knitting teacher and describe what I am thinking and she comes up for the word. I look it up on YouTube and do it. I like how that works.

Fantasy vs. Reality

I am finally settling.

So much of my life is spent in chaos and I am thinking, 'I will be happy when _____ happens.' Well, ______ happens and I then feel at peace, then I panic awaiting the next jolt. I read a lot of Jewish on line stories and inspiration. There are several rabbis who I think G-d appointed to write for me. One of them is Rabbi Shishler. He wrote a great piece that you can see I responded to here. Since reading that, I am doing my best to enjoy the present moment. Inevitably chaos will resume. It always does and let's face it, it is what I write about and it makes me laugh. After I yank out my hair.

Fortunately G-d doesn't care when I curse people and things. He just says, "Kaylee is ranting again." He sends me a fascinating article by some rockin' rabbi at and I am calm for a bit.

(I'm not presently Jewish but so many of the articles resonate with me.)

If my life went as I wanted it to, I would write like this:

"This morning I awoke to my dear husband bringing me my favorite loose-leaf tea. We talked for a few minutes, then he took a shower. I got up and made him his favorite coffee and had it waiting for him on the counter in the kitchen. I went around the house and woke up the children. They loved the stone ground oatmeal with the side of fresh fruit that I had prepared for them.

"While I dressed, the children made their beds and got dressed. My eldest of the elementary school kids had made school lunches the night before.

"We left for their schools on time and I paused and admired the flowers in the principal's office that his wife had sent to him.

"I got home and did my housework. I do the big things. My children are good about keeping up with their chores so I just vacuum, do the laundry, cook and keep the little kids' room organized.

"I really don't know why some women are so frazzled all the time."

Instead, I write my reality:

I awoke to my husband saying, "Oy! I don' feel so hot." I asked what was wrong and if I could get him something. I was seriously congested and had headache that I'd gotten an ice pack a few hours earlier and asked if I could get one. He kept muttering, "I don' feel so hot." After he said that nine or a million times I snapped at him, "Don'T drop your T's!"

He wanted some tea, I got up to make him some and realized that the kids assigned to kitchen duty had not put the honey away. It seemed like one of the younger kids got into it because it had been knocked over and the lid was loose. I zapped some water and heard yelling down stairs. My sons were arguing over who was going to walk the dogs. It was only 4AM so I told them to go back to sleep. As I was leaving their room, the older one tackled the next younger one on his bed. I flipped on the lights. "What did you do that for?"

"He flipped me off!"

The attacked one denied it.

I was incredulous. "It was pitch black in here! How could you even see it?" I made him do 10 push ups for me in the hall while he complained how it was a terrible way to start the day.

I went up stairs and made my husband some tea, cleaned the honey mess and took the tea up to my husband who was back asleep so I put the tea on his night stand.

I decided that I couldn't go back to sleep so I cleaned up the kitchen. When it was time for him to wake up, I came out and my husband was annoyed with me because the tea was not hot and he'd not realized the time lapse. It was time to wake up for him and his tea was luke-warm.

I went down to zap it again. I couldn't wake up the kids who are in high school so I announced that I was turning on their lights on the count of three. There was screaming, "Moooooom!" My husband wanted to know where his work badge was. It was next to the tea I'd made.

My husband and older kids got out the door with some yelling and snapping. I got the younger kids up. I went back into my room and the tea was not touched.

While I showered, I heard lots of yelling. Apparently the dogs hadn't been taken out and there was a mess on the floor. I came out in , assigned dogs to kids and cleaned the mess up. I got dressed and couldn't find matching stockings. I wear skirts and stockings with garters-- it is old fashioned but I love them. I went in to my eldest daughter's bedroom. She had borrowed them as well as some of my stilettos. "Why did cloud have THESE?" I said, to no one in particular. My grade schooler daughter was standing in the doorway and explained, "She and Heather were trying them on. They were dressing up like hookers."

I gasped at her language and then asked, "Do you know what a hooker is, sweetheart?"

She didn't.

I told her that hookers wear hip waders and fish and that hooking is illegal. I made a comparison to snagging. She said "Oh" and left the room. She really didn't care. I threw on some sweats. My preschooler was charminingly mismatched. The rest of the kids had changed and were ready for school.

Some how, we were still on time. I told the kids to grab their lunches and realized that none were made the night before. I quickly threw them together and they had a lot of candy.

Trying to get out of the house, I had one of the dogs who had been taken on a walk want to come with us, so I put her on a leash and I walked out the door and she pulled when I wasn't ready and I fell on the ice in my driveway and split open the back of my head. I was bleeding bad but I angled the mirror to check it out in my bathroom and I was OK, it was just a flesh wound and not that big of a gash. I didn't have any gauze but I had a box of panty liners which I did a fast operation on with scissors and tape and parted my hair and taped it to my head and put a scarf on over my head.

I got in the car a few minutes alter and school was ready to start for one set of kids. We drove to the school and I had to sign them in. The principal saw me, "Mrs. Crumpet? May I see you for a minute?"

I knew it, I was in trouble. Did I realize that I was running late again? I started to explain it and how my mornings go and how I tried-- I stopped. A wise man once said to me, "There is no try. There is only do. Or fail." I took the scarf off my head, "Sir, do you know what this is?" I ripped off my bandage and handed him the fraction of the panty liner. He started laughing. I told him about my morning and that I'd gotten up early. By the time I was done, he had tears of mirth in his eyes. While he is Catholic, he and his wife only had two kids and he didn't know how I did it. He had some pretty flowers in his office and I knocked over the vase with my purse as I stood up to leave. He laughed harder and told me to exhale and take my time getting to the next school and to be safe.


Ahh! I think I am settling! I sure hope nothing comes up to throw my sense of calm out of order!

What I know as normal is probably not calm.

I have started getting all the kids to bed by nine o'clock in the last couple of days and I think I may move it back to 8 o'clock. One of my college friends had been a medic in the Vietnam war and he told me about helping a field nurse do an appendectomy on a soldier in the middle of a fight. There were bullets whizzing over their heads as they operated on the guy. It was a seemingly otherwise normal operation. . . this is how I sometimes feel!

Of course not all mornings are THIS crazy. When mornings like this happen, I get more into my chore charts and discussing how we treat each other and  going to bed on time. I am happy thinking about this. On the calm days I brace myself for days like this. It makes no sense, does it?

And if I ever achieve calm, what will I write about?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cleaning house, doing homework

My job is not to be the friend or a coach to my kids. Coaches only have the kids for two hours and they send them home!

For years, I was constantly trying to stay on top of getting the house clean. It was something that eluded me. First because I had no mommy mentors to speak of-- my mom had four kids but my older sisters only had 2 and 3 each and are in their 50's and we have nothing in common. Second because people would give us things and I felt bad not using them even though they were just cast-offs. Sometimes people dropped stuff by in the middle of the night and my kids hauled the stuff in. I hated it then and I am not interested in it now!

The rental house was too small for us and again, we had a problem post fire that everyone wanted to give us stuff that we didn't need. I literally felt like I was drowning. I got good at turning people down by simply saying thank you, but that we didn't need anything but if they didn't need it, I'd be happy to help them get it over to the local thrift store.

In our new house, order is paramount to me. The former owners did a terrific job painting this house that we now own. (I think the former lady of the house was an interior designer.) I love having space and energy flows well.

The epiphany that I had the other day has really opened my eyes. I have a few kids struggling in school and I realized that if I can't knit simple lace or stay focused in knitting entrelac, they can't study. (Tea pauses for everyone to nod their approval, then she runs when they want to slap her for not figuring this out before.) But now it isn't about Mom make the miscreants behave so she can stay sane. This is far bigger than my sanity: the kids have to behave in a manner that doesn't take away from their siblings being able to learn, and they have to exhibit study skills that their younger siblings should emulate.

As I have shed junk I am also having the kids shed attitudes that I believe inhibbit their abilities to learn. I made the mistake of letting Cloud have a friend over a couple of weeks ago and she let her chores go saying as she was getting ready for her friend to come over that she couldn't do them and they didn't get done. Well, she had time to do them between coming home and her friend coming over. Another son went to a friends' house and again it was, "Sorry! I'm getting ready to go! I am going to Mike's house!" No, he still had to do his chores! So they have to give me six weeks of chores and homework done consistently well so that they are habits before friends come over or they join friends. I am not being a jerk about this as much as they seem to think I am being one!

When my two eldest children were in high school, by the way they cried when my husband made them study chemistry and math, you'd think he was physically torturing them. I saw a clip on youtube of that mother with 8 kids on DWTS ans how she whined the whole time and my eldest daughters made her look tame by how they said that their step father was not thinking about how they learned-- my husband's brain is wired like theirs and knew how to teach them, it is part of his job to teach complete idiots how to operate their computers. I'd run out of my bedroom begging my husband to stop and to let them fail. Seriously, they had the whine down better than a new baby that legitimately needed Mommy. (My husband fortunately ignored me.) I should have stopped them in their tracks on the whining and said, "This is not how you are to respond to your step father or how you behave in this family. You may leave the table after you understand what you are learning."

We just had parent teacher conferences and found out more about what the kids are learning. PTC's are always informative. My kids are doing well, but they could do A work if they just put in a little more effort. Habits make people, so they have to learn now.

I believe that with a clean environment, you can focus on what you need to do with school work. My parents had a cleaning lady come over a few times a week, but I had to fold a load of laundry every day when I got home and I was making amazing dinners from the time I was 14 onwards. (OK, I didn't learn to vacuum till I was 18, but that's another story!) It is a headache to chase after kids with chores. I hate nagging. . .  but it's not nagging; it is called parenting. I am having to make lists of what everyone does and I hate doing this. What I am realizing is that with one or two kids, you probably don't need lists. You know if the work is done or not and who with was assigned to. I need a list to keep me on track, and with seven independent variables, they need it just as bad as a group! I will be putting ours into a book with page protectors in th kitchen. Each kid will have a list and dates and then in the back of the binder will be room specific information.

On room specific information, it is almost funny why it is needed. I know that as a teenager, my mom had to ride me on what cleaning the bathroom meant. With my own kids, they are the same. If I tell Cloud that she is to clean the bathroom, she cleans the vanity, the mirror and the toilet seat (not the lid or the rim.) If I tell Guy to clean the bathroom, he put's Cloud's make-up in her room and he sometimes cleans the rim of the toilet. They ignore trash and toys on the floor and toys left by the younger kids that are in the tub, they don't change out the trash. If there is toothpaste in the sink, they don't even wipe it up. They are not lazy! These kids are happy to help neighbors with their fences and unload groceries for friends parents. They have to be taught and they have to be reminded.

My husband and I have fought over him staying up watching Power Rangers at 10:30 at night on a school night because the kids stay up. (I am winning.) By having a set time for bed and the kids seeing that I am strict with it, they are already managing their time better.

Last night my husband took the kids to a harvest festival and I stayed home to clean. I didn't mind it. I changed the little kids' sheets and today the older ones will have me standing in their rooms while they change sheets and pick up under their beds.

This will all come togther, but this isn't easy. The beauty of it is that it isn't supposed to be easy but that as parents, this is what we do.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My last 20 years represented on a dishcloth

I am still talking about the fire, but I have realized that as I return to a base that I don’t want the old one that I had. For 15 years, I had wanted to finish college, I wanted to get out and do something, almost anything, just as long as I could get out. I think my biggest problem was that I did not have a consistent outing to go on. This was not my husband’s fault, but just our life circumstances. My friends had left state and all I had was church and my children, and a poor husband who was worn out but needed to pay attention to his bright but dimmed wife, begging for conversation and telling him of the ridiculous aspects of her day. Every time I was about to get my tubes tied, my dad stupidly called the day before and in a nasally passive aggressive way would try to be funny and ask when I was getting fixed. I’d tell him that I didn’t appreciate that and instruct him to f-off. I love all of my children and don’t want to send any back, but if I could so it over again, I’d finish college, then have kids.

Going back to normal is a concept I don’t understand. I suppose that when I was having children constantly and I was one of three stages, either post partum, pre-partum, or partum for 12 years, me returning to college was normal for me. But in college, I had two young children and we got around Anchorage by bus! I still miss college, but it’s a lot to do. Right now with having kids in college, high school, junior high, and elementary school, it is everything I can do to keep dog paddling and getting through my day. What is normal? It has never existed. Right now I want peace and quiet and order to my day. If I manage to get the kids out to school with no one having lost shoes, misplaced coats or missing the bus and the ones who need rides get to school with 10 minutes to spare, I am over the moon with happiness!

I have been knitting and it is knitting that has made me aware of certain things. I have failed many classes in college because I just couldn’t put the time in. I didn’t know why formulas for statistics just didn’t stay in my head. The other day I went to see my knitting teacher and I was doing well on a new method and then her son decided to turn on retard-TV. It was a really lame show about two rich white kids doing stupid stuff. At the time I didn’t see a link, but I was losing my counts. I came home and was doing fine until the kids ran up stairs and started to bicker. I had to frog an entire base for something that I had been making. I switched to a dishcloth because I need to make a bunch and the same thing happened. Sequences of stitches are easy to memorize and if you look at your work, you can decide what you need to do with just a little foresight. I was losing it all and getting upset until it hit me that this has been my entire life for the last 20 years! People have tried to tell me but I wasn’t listening. I may sound like a bad mommy, but the kids went to bed early that night. ALL of them were in bed by 9 and I took Cloud’s cell phone so she would have to do something else!

The fire shook me up. It erased everything that I knew, and put me and my family in a hotel, then into a rental house for just under a year. I didn’t really think of college for that year as it seemed so unimportant.

A few weeks ago, Eldest Child called me and asked if I could “cook a pig on a spit” for her and her friends when she came up in January. I was annoyed because I don’t eat pork and whatever I cooked in that manner would cost upwards for $400 and I wasn’t throwing a wedding. Later, I read her FaceBook page and realized that she must have found it funny to say that as she had posted it to her friends. To me, it was more work, more money to spend.

Earlier this evening she called me and asked about a strange theme to family photos, and family pictures are not on my agenda. She has been gone for six months and I just don’t want to plunk the cash down or get new outfits for this occasion. She is also up here two months earlier than planned for a friend who is getting married. She wants to borrow a spare vehicle with has some issues and I don’t want her driving it. I am worn out and don’t want her here during the week. Call me terrible, but her timing during autumn flu season is terrible and I don’t want her here mid-week. I was happy to have her here right after Christmas break because I’d be winding down. Now I am still settling in and her being here gets all the kids going 90 miles an hour and they turn into hyper brats. She is a typical eldest child and we have two chiefs here.

I feel like I am getting old, but I think that next year at this time, change won’t terrify me. I had changes in plans and unannounced visitors annoy me. I want to get to what I am happy doing and then invite people in as I can handle it. I think I am mentally making a foundation for myself.

It is not that this is hard, but it is not easy, either.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blogging, cancer and knitting

I have been found though a friend of a friend and I am doing some Hospice-type volunteering. Many years ago I did Hospice officially and I loved it. People wondered why I did it with six little kids and the truth was, I loved it because I would do things like laundry or make my clients dinner (sometimes feeding them) and it would get done and I could enjoy it being done. With my size family, it takes me two days to do our wash if I don't do it every day. It was nice, and my clients would THANK me and the warm feeling stayed with me for a whole week or until I would next see them. Moms are expected to do their work and it is how it is; I might get thanked, but it was (is) always while the person was (is) undoing what I just did and in spite of the compliment, I felt (feel) futile.

So, this friend of a friend knows that I will be blogging about her and is happy for what I can do. I am NOT raising money for her and she does not want me to raise money for her. You will never get her real name from my blog, She is a lady in her late 50's who has a stealthy cancer. She may have six months to live or she may have a year, depending on how she responds to palliative treatment. The doctors are not expecting to cure her. I am not serving her in an official capacity with a Hospice-- through the grapevine it was discovered that I knit and that I have told loving stories of death. Seriously, I am not scared of it and I have happy stories of the work I have done, unofficial as it has been.

I am making "Natasha" a shawl that she will wear to keep warm for one last season of winter, that she will give to her daughter to wear for her wedding and perhaps wrap her eventual grand baby in. Her daughter was going to move her wedding back, but Natasha didn't want that. She doesn't know how she will feel from day to day and her daughter always wanted a June wedding. Of course she also imagined her mother there which was more important, but Natasha has her own agenda. Things may change, but she wants a shawl to give her to wear, so this is my job.

Why am I, a busy mother of 7 still at home even considering this? Well, this time of a person's life is an honor to spend with them and it is nice, but this kind of work is altruistic and I don't feel guilty stepping out to hang out with this lady and do what I love best, to knit!

I'll be updating from time to time in choosing a pattern and yarns because it is fun.

Am I back? Yes, I think I am back.

I don't know where to start. My life for the past year has been hectic, to say the least.

We are moved in to our new home. We will have candles to light on the dining room table because I want the kids to not be afraid of them and my husband will show the kids how to be safe with a gas grill which also terrifies me due to being at a party where there was a problem with one 15 years ago. Each time we go over safety. Do we have a stable table? (I always say, "Stable and table rhyme! Cool, huh?") Is there clutter around? Is there anything above the candle than can catch fire?

My house is a bit bigger and the mortgage is larger than the old one, but we are managing. The kitchen is huge-- on the kitchen level it is only the kitchen, dining room and living room. There are four levels where we are more spread out. Of course only a few days being here, I decided that I needed a second refrigerator and a second dishwasher! My husband was shocked, but what can one do? We have a huge family. He asked how I could say that when I did so well with the postage stamp kitchen we had and I could only laugh. I complained and whined every time I made dinner in that kitchen! It is nice to not be eating off paper plates any more-- we didn't have a dishwasher and for our size family, the time to wash by hand wasn't worth saving the environment most of the time. (I got good at making sandwiches!)

My husband was gone for a week and I felt lonely in spite of all the kids. I went to the pound to look for a friends' cat and walked out with a chow chow. She and our dawg who was in the fire with us barely get along. He urinated on the stairs after he tried to turn her into dinner, but now they are OK together. The other day they were curled up asleep and the chow woke up and was silent and then Wag woke up and growled at her and she barked and he had a mouthfull of hair that he was gagging up and she sauntered away.. He likes to lie places and growl whenever she tries to go past him, something that he did in the old house with the cat.

The chow needs her hair combed every day and I often wonder what I was thinking when I got her, but it is nice to sit and comb her. She is low key except for when we have our walking time and she wants to run. There is a dog who lives up the road from us and she has never met it, but when she goes past his house, she puts her paws on "his" lawn and he goes crazy at the window. When he comes here, he does the same thing past our place! Her former owner was leaving state and took her to the pound. I had no idea what a chow chow was like, and what I thought was odd is normal. They are truly unique animals; when the lady at the pound said that Pouf liked me, I had no idea how she could tell because she ignored me. Apparently if she didn't like me she would have growled and barked at me. Pouf was no weak dog who would love anyone, and she let people know if she didn't like them! My husband came home from his trip and was aghast by all her fur and thought she was bigger than she is. She looks like a giant cloud that looks like a lion! She is older, but if I were to say my dog breed, I would have to say I am a chow chow person. This being said, I will probably always adopt pound rescues and when I am ready for a new dog, the right one will be there at the animal shelter waiting for me.

My windows in this house are great! Through the dining room window-- there is an arch on top, you can see the mountains through the arched window. We live in a neighborhood in Mat-Su that looks like Anchorage and I always think I will pull out on Diamond when we get out, but we are, alas, in the middle of Wasilla!

Since the fire I am an organizational freak. About three months before the old house burned down, I started getting rid of junk. I had lots of it. Much had to be secretly tossed because the kids and my husband hated to see me throw things out. Most of the clutter was clothes that I had no idea how they got there. (What had been happening was probably that well-meaning people, perhaps neighbors and friends, dropped bags of stuff off in the middle of the night and after I got mad a few times, I think the kids took them in and put them in the laundry area to be washed. I have had a few friends start giving us stuff and I just take it to the thrift store rather than get mad or insulted.) This house is getting organized.

The kids have problems with me now. I hold the line and expect them to fold towels a certain way, and stairs have to be vacuumed, including the "crease" of the stairs where the next stair goes up. I have been told that I have gotten demanding and mean, as I also expect the older kids to put away their laundry! I check it every day and until they organize it reasonably well, I will check every day. While cleaning the rental home, I found almost new stuff under dressers and behind beds. We spend money on these things! Yes, I like them to be clean and organized and be able to know where their stuff is!

So life is happening again. I am worn out, but I feel like I am settling.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Moving moving moving!

For the past several months, we have been up in the air. To rebuild or not to rebuild. We have gone back and forth and forth and back. For a while I didn't want to rebuild and I dragged my husband around to look at homes that were for sale and he wanted to rebuild. My former neighbor bothered me and I kind of didn't want to go back, especially after the fire where she was more needy for assurance than I was (with the house burning) while shock took over my senses. Every week over the summer, my husband told me that we were going to rebuild "next week!" He told me about me having my own space and about redesigning my own kitchen and I started to like the idea.

About six weeks ago, he came home and said we were buying a house. I cried and said unprintable words. After a few days, I got past it (but not over it!) and we looked for a house. One day I was looking through a neighborhood and an agent was having an open house for other agents to see his house. I made eye contact with him and he yelled, "Come on in and check it out!" My five kids in the car scrambled out and tripped over each other on the lawn as he laughed and said, "Welcome home, Mom! Don't worry, there is nothing here they can break!" My kids were like a heard of elephants running through. There was a house across the street that we went to go look at that we liked better-- it was painted inside various colors and it was more "me--" the colors made me happy and solved the problem that I had of wanting color on my walls. It was a little smaller but it had more storage space. Lots of green. Toile drapes on the French doors that went to a tiny balcony that is just big enough to hold a telescope and my husband who likes telescopes and small balaconies, a rec room, a huge kitchen open to the living room, nice bedrooms with closets with closet organizers.

I was still blue. It is hard to explain-- I don't know if I could have been happy. The anniversary of the fire was on Friday of last week and I was just glum. Don't get me wrong, I was not depressed-- just sad. Moving was a Hurculean task that I had to do with some family members being not so good about helping to get their things together and another one who plays on his computer when I ask for help in cleaning the garage to get boxes out.

Today my best friend from elementary school came out. She lives out of state but came up on business. In all honesty, I wanted to just pack, but she needed me to help with her ten year old daughter while she worked and her daughter is sweet and fun. The two of them met me at my new house where we have not signed and I got measurements for drapes. My best friend was running through the house with the agent when I got there late and bubbling over with excitement. She knows me-- she had IDEAS where I could put things if I still liked them. It was like my "sadness glasses" were replaced with hope and I had something to look forward to.

Then one of my other friends came over in the evening. He grew up across the street from me. Before we ate dinner, I showed him my old house foundation and we marveled that I had 11 people there. Then we went to my new house and he was excited about my yard and kept saying, "This is a blank slate! At your old house, you had a problem with wilderness encroaching on your doorstep, but this is a nice yard begging for you to plant it with grapes and apple trees! If my wife were here, she'd be tripping over herself!" Again, I was looking at it with new eyes. Then I took him to the botanical gardens and he asked me what I loved and told me to start planning because I could plant them next year!

It was a funny thing because the last thing I wanted was to visit with my friends-- I cannot tell you how ticked I'd be if my husband wanted to go see his pals so close to moving. Part if me was irritated that they were coming as I was moving, but what can you do with business for two people? You take what you can and if it meant I had extra on the weekend or the week, so be it. I'd not seen one friend in 16 years and other other in 7. Now I feel like G-d himself planned it so that I would see them so close to moving in. I needed to see them today when I am reasonably certain that we are signing on the house and to have them be happy for me so that I would pick up on it. My guy friend was telling me how the sun will be and where to plant things-- suddenly it makes sense. I won't be spending $500 every summer only to not get anything planted. I know what to do.

Even with a great landlord, we have had a hard time putting emotional energy into our rental property. We could plant things, but we didn't know how long we'd be here.

For the past few months, my husband and I have not been getting along. I have had nothing happy to say about him (nor would he have anything good to say about me were he asked, but he is nicer than me and probably wouldn't say anything.) The stability factor in my life had been shaken-- my old house, everything that I knew, that was all thrown up in the air and even a nice new house was more unfamiliarity for me. I feel like having two friends who were my foundation for years while I was growing up have helped me take my eyes off the tightrope I have been on for so long to see the good.

Starshine, my tiniest one, is in preschool and she is my helper. I look forward to planting with her next year.

Now we just have to get things worked out with the bank and we will be in by the end of the week!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

School is about to resume! My life is about to resume!

I used to hate mothers who gushed about school starting and how they couldn't wait to get their kids out of the house, but it is for the sakes of the mothers as well as the children. Summer is fun for a few weeks and then it gets old and the kids like to have things to do. (Three months is really too long for a break, but having been in a custody battle in the past, I know that when judges split it between parents, the six weeks can be a great break to egt away from a parent that the kids can't stand.) This summer has been wetter than usual so there has been a lot of time spent indoors. As this to me feeling stagnant and a bit depressed and yes, I want them back in school. I can't wait to resume normal life with a routine and no fighting. They don't fight much when they can come home and gush about school and everyone has things to talk about.

This past summer has been pretty boring with Basil getting a broken arm. He is gaining full use of it and doing well since he got his cast of a couple of weeks ago. I got him a physical therapist, with no thanks to his bone doctor. I was galled because I used to be in sports medicine wrapping injuries on the field and helping athletes and asked for my son to get a recomendation to see a PT. The doctor refused saying that my son would be fine. What I saw in my work had been that athletes of all levels would get injured when they were not fully healed because they didn't know how to get back into shape, so I pressed on and got another doctor to write a prescription for it. Keep in mind that this is for several visits for rehabilitation of his arm before school resumes, not a prescrition for Rx! He didn't hurt, but he was very weak with that arm. I tried showing him some exercises, but Mom telling him to do some hand exercises is not the same as the uber cool PT. His PT is also a fox-- one of those athletic chicks who perspires "I have it together" and he likes working with her. (She could demonstrate wearing moose antlers and it would look cool!)

Because of Basil's injury, we have done very little-- his cast went up far on his arm and he had a hard time staying clean.

My older kids are officially at their new high school and middle school. Just knowing that we are probably moving to the neighborhood has changed my perspective. I feel like I can engage in life now and start to leave the fire behind. This is no longer temporary since we are not moving back to our old property: Cloud will most likely graduate from her high school and so, probably will Guy. I assume that they rest of the kids will, also from this area. They are in charter schools across town though so this will be "fun."

So now I don't have to be sorry about writing about the fire! It will soon become part of my past. I so much didn't want it to define me, but where you live is a big deal and I found myself talking about why I wasn't where I should be quite often.

We've not heard back from a bid that we placed on a house last night, but we are hopeful. My husband bid a little lower, but not much. Cloud kept talking about the house in particular and crying, "When will Dad bid on it? Someone else might take it!!!" The anxiety in her voice was causing my blood pressure to shoot up as I could feel her worry as I have also felt like this. When we were talking to he academic adviser at school she suddenly got sad-- she didn't know if she'd graduate from there and got really sad because she was excited about some academic programs that they have at her new high school. I wound up telling her and she shot up straight into the air and screamed and started jumping up and down hearing that we really placed a bid on the house that she likes. I swore her to secrecy that she not tell her brothers because I don't want them all worrying and asking. She felt better and in fact she hugged her adviser telling her, "I can ride my bike to school in good weather! OMG, this is the best day of my LIFE so far!" Then she paused as she remembered that the fire took her bike and then she resumed her joy, "I can walk to school in a half an hour or less!" She was so happy that when we went outside, she saw her younger brother who has Aspberger's (high functioning, but clueless half the time and we don't know what his him being a guy and his condition!) and she ran up to him and hugged him. He screamed and thought she wanted to give him a noogie!

This new area is great-- Cloud also explained to me that from the house we want that we can walk to church which is something I had envied people at my husband's church who lived near by. We even do it from our present location.

In the 12 hours since I last wrote of my frustration I am feeling better. We were at my church today for a children's function and I found myself thinking who I wanted to be friends with now that I know we won't be changing churches if we move because we won't move.

I am scared of a fire in the new house even though it is extremely unlikely. We will be buying escape ladders and learning to use them, as well as fire extinguishers and talking to the kids about grease fires (smother them with baking soda or salt, not water) and other ways to avoid a fire.

I adore my real estate agent and have entertained ideas on becoming a real estate agent because I can think of nothing as vital as selling someone a home.

My husband is going to give me a little dog for my stress over the past 11 months. Our real estate lady has a cute, cold nosed dog and I carried it around our marathon house hunting and decided that I liked it. It is a toy dog and he says that if I take it for walks that I will be trolling for eagles! I really like bigger dogs, too, but we will probably get a rescue for a bigger dog. We have one who came with us from the fire and he is great, but we want a couple more as our house will be bigger and I like not being alone.

Going though my rental house is a headache. How have we amassed so much stuff? What is worth driving across the neighborhood and putting some place?

I just want to get into this house soon. I will be more happy when we move in. I am not happy. I have not spent the last year being wistful, but I have never felt stable. I have become pals with a local artist who has a shop and with an art store owner  and this has been nice, but I would stay friends with them anyway. If we get this one house, we will have a TV room and a living room and rooms for the kids, areas for PC's and laptops so the kids can work on school work and we know they are not playing games. There is a bar in the kitchen that stands alone that I can put taco or burrito fixings on, or maybe have potato night and put things on it, then we can sit down in the ample dining room. We can have my husband's sister's big family over. My husband says he will make a room for me in the garage-- nothing permanent, but I will be able to have space for my art supplies.

I got my kids into knitting and now Cloud has signed up for an art class. I so much didn't like my kids doing "my" stuff with me-- I didn't know how to share it and a cringed when I let them try. My eldest two daughters love to draw and paint in spite of how I was over my things and they are both very good, but I was over protective which is sad. I am buying good tools for the kids to use and showing them how to take care of them. I think part of me being OK with them using my stuff is that I have had an artistic friend show them how to do some things and they listen to her on taking care of brushes and use of materials where they won't listen to me.

I was getting sad a few days ago and Mudd had been given some plastic animals at a birthday party and he wanted to play with me and he held an elephant and I held a mercat and he had his elephant tell me how much it made him sad to see the mercat cry. I think I am getting better.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The fire fall-out

I am still tlaking about it. I am more sorry that anyone can imagine.

All summer we had planned to build. In May I got sick of waiting and got my husband to look at real estate with me. He insisted that we build but thinsg were not happening. Our housing market is glutted and the bank was making it easier to buy an existing structure rather than rebuild.

In a nutshell, two weeks ago today my husband came home and told me that we needed to buy or size down out house. I am not proud of the new swear words that came out of my mouth. I adjusted, put 300 miles on the SUV and found houses for sale-- lots of them!

A few days later I had calmed down and I called an agent and that day my husband came home and said we could build. I was seriously furious and I topped the previous spree.

Over the last two weeks he has gathered information and we went back and forth and forth and back. Three days ago we met with the bank and it was confimed that borrowing for an existing dwelling would have a lower interest than borrowing for the house of the same amount. We palced a bid last night.

I like the house-- it isn't as big as the one we wanted to build, but it's lay out is decent and clever. The people who own it have loved it and taken good care of it. The kids love it, too and they like the neighborhood. We parked a ways away from it and walked through it about a week ago and Basil knows everyone now-- he is such a young politician in that regard! The neighborhood is full of pretty houses. Tiny front yards and bigger back yards, but as a whole it is pretty to look at. Some of the houses are tastefully bright, many have elegant rock gardens. (I want a pretty rock garden with a wroght iron table and chair duo for mine. I will sit and drink tea and look elegant! LOL)

Of course we made the bid and my nightmares began again-- several bedrooms overlook the garage and are quite high. The local fire department is very happy to come over when I am ready and show me and the kids how to safely use an emergancy ladder to get out of a 2.5 story window and show us how to use fire extinguishers, although I worry that my three middle sons will turn into pyromaniacs trying to find an excuse to use the ladders and the fire extinguishers! The chief told me that few have emergency equipment and fewer still know how to use them.

It is not the fire-- it is the year of transition that we have had that has been hard on me, personally. The kids love the adventure so I am doing well with it for them, but it was different for my husband vs. me. I am glad that he wasn't the one to light the candle that got knocked over. I think I am more careful than he is and I would have been angry at him. The kids could have been hurt, but once I got Starshine out of harm's way, I think she and Dmitri would have been fine. I took some very stupid risks as I had no idea what I was up against when I went into that room to put it out. What scares me more than anything was how close I came to being hurt-- a person running into a room that is on fire is likely to get hurt. They could have seen their mother ignite and the only thing Dmitri could have done was get out and get help and he'd be shouldering the what-ifs. I know better now and I am very blessed.

Anyway, I have been told by a professional that I am stage-specific where I need to by and I can put this behind me once we settle. I really wish we'd moved before school resumed, but now it looks like we will be moving int he first few weeks and this is a mega drag as the kids are in advanced programs with lots of schoolwork that they cannot get behind on. Transition is never fun, but we will make it through this, too.

Monday, July 26, 2010

And things get better. . .

Fortunately my sadness abated today as I took my 14 yo daughter out looking. By the end of the second hour, she was guessing prices accurately on houses and thier number of bedrooms and how big the acerage was. To say that I was impressesed is an understatement. At one point she said, "Four and three quarter acres. Lake view. Five bedrooms. $715,000. They will take $685,000." I split hairs-- what was 4 and 3/4 acres over 5? She said to me, "Look at the hill. It cuts off over there and I saw a lake on the other side."

She explained to me some other things that she saw at a glance, how other homes were being priced. She is turning into my mother with her eye for detail in the blink of an eye. I always thought my mom was psychic but her sixth sense probably has more to do with observation and mental figuring than anything else.

She was the same with places more in our price range and was calculating other factors. Could this girl become a real estate ace? I have to say that I'd not trade the day for anything, really-- my daughter showed a head for business. I will call my mom and tell her and she will be thrilled.
Basil got his cast off-- he broke his arm 6 weeks ago and he'd wanted to take it off on his own a few times (he is 11, my skateboarder.) He got it off today and felt terrible-- all those nerves that were quieted on his arm were not liking the new sensations. He asked the doctor for a brace (no way, he needed to start using it) and he came home and took a shower and got the dead skin off. Now he is pretty used to it. "Mom, may I go to the skateboard park?
"What would your doctor say?
"Never mind."

Lingering in Limbo

I have a very frusterated post about building-- the house is not going up as we cannot afford it. I am shocked as I only suggested it in the beginning and after a summer of hearing how it will start "next week" and keeping me in the dark, I know it will not go up.

My original post was derogratory about my husband and while I mean it. I probably should wait a few days and think about it first. It was not written in anger.

I had hoped to be writing about rebuilding or finding a happy new house. I am not. Now I am sadder than I was right after the fire.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The irrational overcame the rational

There were things about the house-fire that I don't know if I blocked or if the situation was so far moved from reality and traumatic that it took a similar weather day to bring them back. Today I went to voter registration to change my address and they said that I had changed it in September. I was blank-- I did? Later on in the day I would remember it, I'd gone down to vote early to make sure I voted for my friends in the election. I know Erick Cordero was in it for school board, but I forget who else.

It was like my rational side hid during the fire and my non-thinking, only reacting side took over. It's a good thing because had the rational side taken over, I'd have panicked. Whatever I did wrong, I did right by always keeping a clear path (no matter how small!) between me, the fire and an exit.

A few weeks after the fire, Mudd started getting hystrical in the suburban and not wanting to get out or leave me alone. I didn't know what to do and he demanded that I take him to the house and he led me by the hand pointing things out then he asked me, "Were you stupid to go back inside the burning house? Will you do it again?" He was cute, he wanted the assurance that Mom wasn't going to do anything stupid again. I promised him that yes, I was stupid and that I'd nver run back into a burning building. I say he was acting hysterical, but he wasn't. If my mom ran inside a burning building, I'd have issues!

(I told my husband about remembering the smoke over dinner and he countered with a story about work and his colleague who is a former jet fighter who is now bored out of his brilliant gourd and I was floored that he mentioned him when he did. I really don't chatter about this all the time!)

Anyway, I had a major problem that I didn't recall if the house was smoky when I went back in. The fire marshal said it was smoky and there was no reason for him to joke about that and said to me, "Trust me, it was smoky." OK, but I didn't think it was. (He said, "I'm right. You'll remember it later." He likes to be right which is good because well, he is right. Always.) All today I have been feeling just out of sorts and realized that the weather is similar to that day. That day is was overcast and a little sunny-- it was a perfect autumn day, really. Not warm, not cold. There was a breeze, but it was a nice breeze where you get the wind blowing through your house and it gets rid of the stale air. I have a window cracked most of the time-- so many people in a small house makes the moisture an issue, but I never thought about it until we moved into another small house that had fine ventilation before we came in!

So today I felt weird, then I called a few people who know about these things and they all said I was grieving. Maybe it is because I am home and not running around and I have time on my hands, or maybe it is because this is reminding me of the weeks before the fire in the old house that I have time to think contemplatively.

I let Cloud deal with the dinner and she was messing with her phone and let them start smoking and there was a haze and the fire alarm went off. I looked up and I just remembered the smoke. It was nothing bad or freaky at that point, I was just like, "There was smoke in there." Only the back bedroom beyond the dining room was on fire and I saw an orange glow emitting from it and there were flames coming out from the top of the door. There was lots of smoke in the dining room. I saw flames outside the sliding glass door on the other side of the dining room. I am surprised that I ran to get my computer which was not far from it. It would wind up being shot when I got it, but it worked for a few weeks off and on. I wouldn't have tried to leave from the sliding glass door if it was my only way out because it didn't work on it's good days.

I got my purse and looked at the vase that my bff from high school gave me and remembered that I had fallen earlier. I am glad that I did think to rescue it, but not glad at my logic in that I thought that it would be safer to have the firefighters rescue it than for me to risk falling with it! LOL (This is from the girl who had realized the bedroom was on fire while putting out the fire and knew that she had to leave the house, so she ran to the other room to blow out the other candle!)

I remember intense heat in the house. Think about how hot a fireplace is when you are standing 3' in front of it, then think of a 12' X 10' bedroom most likely all ablaze and how much heat that would send out! I knew it was hot in the room on Thanksgiving when I took out the turkey, but I forgot about the house.

Now I remember driving the kids in the rusty suburban up the road to where they didn't have to see the house burning. Starshine was in her underwear as she had been changing her clothes which started the whole thing and that surprised me momentarily and it reminded me why the house was burning-- she'd had clothes in the dresser, on top of which had sat the burning candle. I was confused because the fire had been across the room. Later I'd realize that the whole closet was on fire and I walked past it. In a long skirt. (I don't dress like that any more-- except on hot days. Long, light skirts are cool on hot days!)

I need to go back to where I was getting emotionally before the fire. Fridays meant the house had to be reasonably clean for the Shabbat candles to be lit (privately, by me.) I had been feeling a marked improvement every week. I was sneaking excess stuff out of the house and purging. I feel like it was for naught, but had the clutter been there, it could have had me killed as I’d have tripped over it trying to leave! Seriously-- the tiny hallway between bedrooms housed the washer/dryer but had been 3' deep with clothes. You could not walk through it and most of the stuff was from people knowing that we had a huge family and DUMPING stuff on our porch in the middle of the night. I'd sneak things out to the trashcans on Thursday mornings before trash collection or a bag in each one right after it was collected so my husband or kids wouldn't try to get it out. "Hey, this still has some use!" Bah!

I'm not Jewish, but knowing that my Jewish friends who are Orthodox were crazily cleaning house made me feel a part of it and I was in with them, even though it meant nothing to Jews world-wide. Mudd called challah bread, "bready-cake". I served it at sundown on Friday night and would have a small feast. The kids were like, "Late night snack! Woo-hoo!"

So, this is what has been going on. The only time it got surreal was when I was reflecting to my husband and he responded with something about this one guy from work and said we were having a conversation. It's like talking about school and your convo partner responding with something about the price of coffee. THIS IS MY CONSTANCY!!!

Anyway. . . I don't know if I will ever return to normal or what I knew as normal. Everyone is a year older. Three seasons have passed. I'm not keen on candles even though the investigator told me that I should light them just to show safety. Since he also said that if I don't, at least some may marry candle freaks or have roommates who are into candles and they need to be able to know what is safe and what isn't, I will do as he says.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More Ink for Tea!

Probably nothing is wrong, but I just got a letter from the imaging center asking for previous images. Probably nothing is wrong. If there was something wrong, I'd have gotten a phone call that would be overly assuring and sugary sweet, assuring me that everything was OK, but that they wanted me to come in to talk, and to bring my husband. Of course I can't call the first place for my images today and we are at the start of a long weekend. (sigh)

The only reason I am worried is because I started having problems after the fire and then I saw my GYN's nurse at a restaurant which I feel were sigh-ns. Whenever I die (and it's probably not soon) and my guardian angel and I are able to communicate directly, if this is important to bring up, it will say, "Da--, Tea! I [insert things that I missed here], then I let your house burn down so you'd start having problems and take notice, then I had you run into that nurse-- geez, you were dense at times!"

I hate this waiting period. Dr. Seuss wrote about The Waiting Place in his book Oh, the Places You'll Go! If something is wrong, I am hooked up with the best organized church on the planet and I know that if I need help in getting to appointments that they may help arrange it. Since my husband's little church helped us post fire so much, I worry about overtaxing them. In the mean time, I volunteer and help out at the church I attend as much as I can and put in time to help.

Nothing is wrong, nothing is wrong. God, I hope nothing is wrong-- but if it is, it is probably early. The last scans were three years ago right before I went to see my dad when he died.

I told my husband and he was cool about it—his insurance is changing over for the coming year and this is just in time to get results back to see how much money we can ask to be taken from his paycheck and put into his medical account.

You of course know what this means, right? If something is wrong, I am getting a tattoo! If something isn’t wrong, I am getting a tattoo! Right quad, the strongest muscle in the body.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First week of school being out. . .

I have been running children to the dentist since last week. How many trips does it take a mother with 7 at home to get their teeth fixed?

Eldest daughter is leaving for another state soon. I am sad and seeing her for the last time before she leaves this Thursday. She is 12 hours away from the ocean and said, "I am next door to the ocean!" She thinks she will go every weekend!

I had to get a mammogram today. I can't talk medical stuff face to face and I want to crawl on the floor and stay in a fetal position, but saying it in a blog is OK. The lady who did it was great-- I chose the place because it is not my local hospital that I dislike. I in fact drove past the local hospital en route to going there and blew a raspberry at it in my rear view mirror. That made getting it done pretty darned fun. I will go back because the woman who did the scan was nice. She also spells her mane like I do, T-E-A LOL   I got through it.

I also took my Giraffe with me. My giraffe is my protector-- he came through the house fire with me. I like to say that I ran in for my purse because of him. (But it was really for my driver's license!)

I sat in the wait room for a short time and knitted a prayer shawl for a friend. It comforted me as much as the friend comforts me.

Shock is a funny thing. . .

Since the fire, my shock with things has worn off, but ever so often, I go back into it. This is not a bad thing because I am still coherent and fully functional, I just slip into a partial reality where I deny that I lost everything. The other night it happened again.

I was looking for something and couldn't find it. Cloud asked what I was looking for and I said I needed a pair of shorts and a tank top-- I knew they were around here somewhere. She said, "They burned up."

I smiled at her, no I had seen them just the other day. I told her which pair of shorts they were. She laughed and asked if I knew where my red sandals were to go with them. Yes, they were in my closet. She knows better than to make gutteral noises or to make fun of me and just said, "I hope you find them!"

My husband said, "They burned up. Here's my card. Go to Fred Meyer and buy yourself a new outfit." So intent was I that they were in my room or downstairs that I shoo'd him off, they were here!

After 20 minutes of rumaging I came upstairs, "You know, I think they burned up! May I have your card so I can run up to Fred Meyer and pick up a couple of things?"

No one thinks anything of this. (I did the same with Christmas decorations.) Before the fire struck, I had boxed up my summer clothes in RubberMaid boxes and they of course melted, so with many of our new things in similar boxes, my association seemed recent. It was thought that I was in serious shock because I seldom turn down an offer to buy new clothes, but I really just wanted to get to my yard work (haha-- and that was another casualty of the fire!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Middle school is a drag

Today a young person came home from a dance, very much devastated. At an age when sports should be prevalant, her hormones are running. The boy she asked to dance with her told her that he didn't dance with other guys. At 16 a response of this nature will get blown off as the guy being immature, but today there was something wrong, in this person's mind, with herself. No one would slow dance with this attractive young woman; she wants to be held by one of the immature boys who seem so cool and so detatched and above it all. The young woman is not immature, but she is very smart and very sensitive.

Middle School dances are really a snake pit.

My own 14 year old will not be happy when I announce that no one under 16 gets to go out on dates or to dances, but I am backed up on this by my 21 and 20 year old daughters who always went to the movies or to friends houses instead of dances.

Building a house

I been showing signs of PTSD. Nothing bad, but I feel like a study for psych students of minor PTSD symptoms.

So I wanted to just buy a house that already existed. The first one was a friends' house, but it was $100,000 more than we could afford. As time went on, I became more interested in smaller houses. Oh, it wouldn't be hard to add on! Finally a real estate agent told me that if I could get a loan to either buy or build a bigger house, that with four kids rappidly becoming adults, that I'd be nuts to not either buy or build what we need or at least get something bigger if we could afford it. Adding on is OK if you are stuck with something. We are not. I didn't know why I took a shower and cried for 45 minutes after she told me that.

It took a couple more weeks, but I realized that me wanting a house that was too small was me wanting to go back to what I knew. It was upsetting to realize that in some way, I was reaching backward to grab what I knew.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Latest Hobbies

A month after the fire, I couldn't sleep, so I was surfing around aimlessly on the 'net and click n' paid for a knitting class. I stared at the computer. WTF was I thinking? In high school, dateless girls knitted on Friday nights and virgin aunts of old would while away their spinster years discussing their latest knitting projects. Knitting was for women who had too much time on their hands! Certainly knitting helped a group of women in Scandinavia earn money during the Depression, but this was 2010, not 1938! I emailed the instructor and told her that I'd paid for the class but didn't know why, explaining that my mind wasn't right, and could I please get a refund. She was very sweet and said I could, but if it wasn't a scheduling conflict, why wouldn't I try it out? If I still wanted my money back, given my circumstamces, she'd be happy to consider it.

Dare I joke about a needle addiction?

I went and discovered that I have no time left as it is all spent on knitting! Instead of me getting a refund, I gave her more money so I could learn to cable and do lace, and then there were so many patterns!Spinster aunts of old retained their spinsterhood so they could knit! I should have taken up the kntting gir;s invitation to join them on Fridy nights!

Right now I am working on a Tree shawl that my teacher is helping me modify. It's a prayer shawl for my mum in London (don't confuse her with my mom in Tombstone, both who are fabulous women!)

I am also taking yoga teacher training. It is three times a week. My awesome teacher informed me that I am not trying as hard as I can and I was told that I am not allowed to say anything negative about my form. I cannot say anything she doesn't know. I am not mad in the least-- you don't pay a good teacher to tell her what you think, so you take their words seriously.

Today on Mother's Day I have been hit with allergies. My husband gave me a gift card to a local yarn store which is burning up in my purse, but I am savoring it for when I can buy a really nice hank of yarn. I am working on several shawls, all prayer shawls, of the same pattern. I am working on both ends so I will, by the end of the week, have six pair of needles with work on them. I am slow at getting this and the pattern is complicated in places, so I learn a technique, come home, work it out on each set, and return to my teacher. While it is tedious, I am retaining it and I remind myself that I like to knit so it's not terrible. (I wish I had six bodies for yoga so my evil little woman of a teacher could kill me and kill me again of different nights! PAH!) Knitting has probably staved off a depression for me-- after the fire, I wanted niceness around me. I was hiding in bed and just touching the sheets or holding a soft, plush blanket that Starshine was given-- I was never bad because I gave myself limits, but with the knitting, I have something to do and hold! I spend about 2 hours a day with it on non-yoga days.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Just another Crumpet Clan outing!

The other night I took the kids to Saturday evening Mass. My husband was was out of town on business. I’d wanted to try for Mass for Sunday morning but as chaos built up here, I realized that getting out the door the next morning would just not happen. I told Cloud to get the little girls ready and the boys to get ready. Cloud put the little girls into flip-flops and tank top dresses. The boys were in t-shirts, as in, undershirts. They wore hoodies over them. I wouldn’t notice Cloud or her sisters until it was too late and we were taking off in the car. . . or the boys until they were in church and simultaneously removing said hoodies. I am in no way a prude, but for church, my boys need to wear something more substantial than undershirts even if they are clean, and no one in my family should bare their shoulders in a church unless it is a bride or her bridesmaids. Sandals are OK, but I don’t like my kids in flip-flops at church; they are way too casual and they don't pay attention.

At church, I parked the car with a few minutes to spare and felt proud of myself. Other people were arriving. Do my kids do what I have tried to train them to do, the same that I was trained to do without my parents ever telling me, did they wait around the car while everyone got out so we could walk in together? If I am asking you this, you know that the answer is no. My automatic locks on my newer suburban don’t work. It was like a trap set up to slow Batman down when they all hopped out of the suburban and sprawled across the parking lot and I had to simultaneously yell at them to slow down and wait of me while leaning over to lock doors manually. Cloud was loudly scolding her brothers over going too fast, 12 year old Guy was elbowing Calamity Jane over something. Starshine and Mudd were racing each other for a Darwin Award* and proving why we must walk with parents or older siblings to cross driveways. Dmitri had taken a seat, fortunately in the back of the church, but I’d have to look for him.

Going inside I realized that the door to the church was open, with the seated people clearly able to hear the havoc that Clan Crumpet was causing. The priest and his retinue were waiting and he was smiling at me, “Which of your kids get Communion?” I assured him that I’d spoken to them—all of them would. He suppressed a laugh, I wasn’t fooling him, I could talk to my crew all I wanted but I don’t think he thought they’d listen and if he did think this, he was probably correct.

Calamity Jane would complain that the music was too Protestant, she didn’t like the hymns and they “are not Godly.” She sings Gregorian chant at the Orthodox church and wouldn’t sing with us, “But I will do everything else with your people.” Guy was singing but grunting, drawing attention to his special needs. Cloud, in addition to being casual, had chipped nails and toe nails and that bugged me—if you want nail polish, fine, but keep them polished. (I’d later ask her if she would tape scraps of clothing to herself. Even in high school, my nails were perfect-- it was the bargain I did with my mom if I grew my nails out and got to paint them red. My spearing of olives with them drove my dad nuts, but she laughed in private over that.) Joey made loud comparisons to his fathers’ church and to the Catholics. Bash didn’t want to be touched so he sat on the far side of Dmitri. Dmitri was Dmitri and cute and sweet as ever, rebuffed by his brothers as he tried to show them things in the hymnal. At one point Starshine blew a whistle that I would confiscate, and she occasionally screeched because I wouldn’t allow her to pull down the kneeler or get up and sit with different family members. They handled Communion OK—the Most Precious Blood wasn’t spilled, but I think Bash may have gulped it.

Upon leaving, my crew separated yet again, but Father did get out with his escorts before we did, inspite of Bash trying to take off. Guy wandered away and went out another door when we got into the foyer. Twice I passed Father and said, “Good morning!” (It was aer 6pm.) I came back in to look for Guy and one of the deacons told me to bring them all back again, assuring me that we were OK. What was I thinking in having so many independent variables?!?!?!

I am allergic to booze because God knows that I would drink it often and this is an act of God that I cannot drink it. We came home and I put in a movie for them and sat in my room and listened to Bach and drank tea and ate Almond Roca.

Next time we get into the car, we will go over how I expect them to act when they get out of the car. When I spoke to them in the car on Saturday, they blamed each other which drove me to the brink of quietly pulling out my hair. We will talk about how to act in church and what to do if someone bothers you. It's complicated. I stopped making ugly faces and I don't even get mad at the kids beyond a short lecture. Restriction, reading a chapter on manners, none of it works. Maybe talking before church next time will help and maybe it won't. My children will most likely have children of their own and they may be as I often am with them!

*I sound like I am joking here. I am not. Parking lots scare the sh-- out of me be I driving in them where there are people, kids or adults, running around, and they scare the sh-- out of me when it's my kids or hsuabnd running around in them. In theory, my children watch out for the little ones with me!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The accumulation of stuff

Yesterday, Own the Sidewalk talked of the accumulation of stuff and of her finacee, MLB, asking her to use up ten products before she buys more. Never has this weighed more heavily on me than as Darin and I wrap up our list for what we lost after the fire. Where was Maia as I was accumulating junk over the previous 13 years? Had we taken everything of my house and put it on the lawn, how much of it could we have put back in? What astounds me is how much I was cleaning out in the month before the fire since school had started and just how much junk was still in there.

I wonder if this will change my shopping habits in the future. Had the fire not taken all that junk and rendered it useless, I'd have purged it in the coming year as I cleaned and it would have wound up at a thrift store or at the dump.


My human garbage disposals have eaten all the food that I'd bought for school lunches for the next week. We have our makeshift pantry in my bedroom which has a lock on it, but with time, they have been allowed to come in to get things to make school lunches and they left things as they come in, taking an extra energy bar that was meant for the younger ones, or other snacks, an extra juice packet. It adds up fast. I tried to accomodate them and buy several days worth of extras, but they seemed to have lifted even more, having seen an abundance. Next week they are going to budget time and take turns baking snacks. I'll save money and it's better for them in the long run.

My pantry at the old house had a lock on it, as did the freezer. I hated this because there have been a few big families who have been in the paper for abuse and who had padlocks on fridges and pantries-- I of course realized that this all had to do with worse problems. I am constantly amazed by how much even Calamity Jane eats and she is only 7 and eats more than I do, but is quite slender. (I didn't breast feed her, either.) Her brothers are the same. Where do they manage to put all of it?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Build-a-house. . . create-a-bear of a mother!

I am doing the insurance list and it is a BEAR! Why wait seven months? I couldn't do it. It made me sad. Today some friends had rented a public venue and the whole family was invited, but I sat down after church with the list and started ploughing through it. I was laying things to rest. It was sad at first, but an hour into it and I was just getting it done.

I am floored that the demo crew tossed things like jewelry. A cross pendant was tossed. It couldn't be cleaned? Really? I am only a size larger than I was in high school and I still had coats, jackets and blazers that still fit and those were all gone. I saw them-- I think that at least a few of them could have been saved.

Building a house is a hassle. I was in over my head with redoing our bathroom before the blaze. My husband and I would argue over colors or whatever. Building a house is not easy when you WANT to and have all the money you can stand. When you HAVE to build a house and you are limitted on resources, it feels pretty futile. (Or feudal. I am a flipping SERF and my husband thinks he is a lord who, because his name is on the loan, can decide what will happen.) We have a little game that I don't want to play where my husband and the builder ask me what I want. I say that I have my kitchen and my office and I want for nothing. They insist for my input. I ask for a budget to which they say, "Just say what you want!" I pitch forth an idea. I get told that I must think we are rich, we cannot afford that. So. . . I go on the cheap and get blasted because they say I am not telling them what I really want.

So. . . I have started hitting up real estate agents. We have seen some houses that we like but in our price range, they are out beyond the boondocks. My husband said that we have to be near our original house or closer to a certain road. I agreed. . . and then a house went up for sale in our size a couple of minutes away. I really hope we like it and can get it. Meimploding is NOT pretty.

A couple of weeks ago I started belly dancing and doing yoga. We can't afford it, but I have to move my body. After the fire I should have kept up with the yoga and started dancing. Belly dancing is really shoulder dancing-- I love it. I am not sore, but my muscles are having a party and screaming, "We're ALIVE!" It's great. I cannot explain how good this feels. The only thing-- I can't wear the costumes. I need the more conservative costumes. A lot of women don't have an issue with it, but I can't be showing off cleavage. I have children. Even for a fun performance, I don't feel right about showing as much as Westernized belly dance performers show. I will probably wear a version of an Indian sari.

Stephen Crewes Wylder of the Slow Train blog normally doesn't like my music, but he has turned me on to his. I've started listening to folk music. I'd love to belly dance to it.  

The kids are being kids. I am finding that aspects of parenting that I hate are just signs of the kids getting older and needing other responsibilities. Unfortunately, as their mother I have to make them master their chores at home first. The bigger they get, the more mess they make and I do not like getting served it!

PS: I know what homeowners insurance is. I am not complaining about it nor do I want links sent to me telling me about insurance companies. This is about building a house. I am not complaining about my insurance company.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

True Stress Management Techniques

When I first started writing about stress management, it was for a class onthe same subject, where I could decompress. Over the years I have been updating on the family and my fire and as of yesterday, I got back to what it was all about. My yoga teacher decided that I will start teacher training with her, period. So, in May I will begine the first 9 week course with her of practicing three times a week. I am really happy about this.

How can I do yoga three times a week while building a house and maintaining a busy household of 7 kids still at home? Since resuming yoga just once a week two weeks ago, I don't know why I didn't force myself to go right after the fire. Two classes have my body working on things and the time I spent away has my body hungry for more yoga and body work.

I am getting more body awareness. There comes moments of release with it to where I sink more in to it and get better. I was pigeon toed* as a little girl and they made me wear special shoes to bed. When I was in college taking dance classes, I told my teacher that I couldn't imagine my body past my knees as I went down in a mental exercise. I was the class klutz and a light went on in my teacher's eyes and she was so happy that I told her that-- I'd really been a hinderance to her class and drove her nuts! She sent me to a kinesiologist who asked if I wore braces on my legs as a child. I didn't, but the shoes were buckled together and I was not happy one bit with them. She said that that had a lot to do with how I related to my body. She massaged my who body and told me how connected everything was and that my legs were fine in the now that we were at, that I was strong and capable and that my body was an instrument to play with the music as I danced. After that, my dance picked up and I was invited to try out for the University of Utah's dance program in Provo two semesters later. I couldn't, but I was good!

Then there have been other things since, like the violent situation that happened to me, child birth, the fire, things that imprint on me that have been stored in my body. Yesterday I let a lot go. My instructor prays and had us have mantras that she may or may not realize came from the Old Church. We talk to our bodies as we do the yoga-- it is an odd thing, but I felt things leave me yesterday that I have carried for periods of time. My body and I are a "we"-- it serves me well and I take care of it. There is much work to be done in me yet, but yesterday was a huge purging. No one saw it, but it happened. As I worked, images came into my head. The fire stress has sat over my kidneys in my lower back and I realized this as I was doing some leg lifts on the floor-- why it sat there I don't know (because there was no room anyplace else?) and I told my body to release it, it was scary, but it took care of us and we were safe, it ws time to build more muscle. Toxins came out in my breath, I felt a snappy-sensation, and it was the same all over as I stretched and breathed and exhaled.

So now I am going back to the movement study which is critical to my very existence. I look foreward to passing what I will learn on to my own students.

*What was a problem 40 years ago is thankfully not a problem today. An orthopedist told me that they find that in most cases, the body compensates and this is unique to each person. In some cases there are problems. It's worth getting checked out.