Tuesday, December 9, 2008

All the Whos Down in Whoville Liked Christmas A Lot

But the HALEY, who lived just north of Suffolk, DID NOT.

At church on Sunday, Preacher Bob (yes, that is his official name) gave a sermon about "Those who do not welcome Christmas." I think, perhaps, my father-in-law had called Preacher Bob ahead of time and tipped him off that I would be attending Main Street United Methodist that Sunday and he had better write a nice little sermon aimed directly at me. Or maybe the stress is making me even more paranoid than usual.

The point of the sermon (if I absorbed everything correctly) was to remind us that even if, for whatever reason--illness, finances, time constraints--we think Christmas sucks, we are wrong. We should embrace Christmas because it celebrates the birth of our Lord, and the thought of that blessing alone should be enough to put us in the holiday spirit.

Now, theoretically, that makes sense. Emotionally, not so much. (I would try to blame it all on the fact that I am not a Methodist and thus don't understand their beliefs, but since I'm technically Presbyterian and Methodists are pretty similar, I can't really get away with that excuse. I also considered that, according to the changes made in the calendar over hundreds of years, scholars claim that Christ was most likely actually born in what is now our October, which really screws with my head if I think about it. Jesus and Halloween just don't match up to me. But if true, that would mean that Christmas was, in fact, over in all ways but symbolically, and not in need of celebration. But, I digress.) Emotionally, Christmas makes me queasy this year. Trees and songs and wrapping paper and Gingerbread Lattes all make me want to vomit. Literally. I can't handle celebration while my Dad is so sick. It's hard to watch the kids be so excited, understanding that they don't "get it," but even so. It's painful.

I'm hoping next year, as sad as it may be, I'll feel less awful. But this year....well, this year, is like the line from "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." We'll just have to muddle through somehow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

If I perfomed my own lobotomy, would it cure my Writer's Block?

One has to wonder.

One has to be temped.

Motherfucking cancer has made me sad enough to give me Writer's Block.

Motherfucking cancer.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Motherfucking cancer

I've worked hard now for nearly six months to keep the cancer out of my blog. It's much more fun to write when you're writing about funny, silly things. Every now and then I wander a little too far over to the serious side, but for the most part, the stuff I write about is brain candy. Just for fun. But now I can't get away from the motherfucking cancer.

We've had cancer galore in the family. My Grandpa and Grandma, great aunts and uncles, then my Mom and sister-in-law. Some of them made it through, some of them didn't. Luckily, Mom and Shawna were two of the ones that are still with us. Now, it's Dad's turn.

My parents are young--they married young, at 19 and 17. They've been married for 35 years; Mom is 53, Dad is 55. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 47. Dad was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in June. We were told from the beginning with Mom that she probably wouldn't survive. She did. She's 5 years cancer free. We were told in the beginning that Dad's was beatable. (At least, this is the impression my parents were under. My information was all secondhand from them.) Two rounds of chemo and a long bout with radiation later, we find that apparently it's not. It's also not surgically treatable. There's not much else we can do.

I've gone through some pretty difficult things in my life. I've never felt anything like this. I hate to see suffering and pain in anyone, but it's particularly hard in someone that I love as much as I love my Dad. I'm so far away--602 miles, to be precise. I miss him so much already, just living 10 hours away. What will I do when not even 10 hours and 602 miles will get me to him when I need him?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Thanksgiving Blog Comes Early This Year

Every year at Thanksgiving, I write a blog about things for which I am thankful. (Okay, so this is probably only the second or third year I've been a blogger, so it's not like the list is a time honored tradition or anything, but hey, it's becoming one.) This year, I'll be on the road for Thanksgiving--10+ long hours in the car with the kids on the way to TN for a week--so I decided to write the blog early, just in case I either get busy or forget to do it later. If any of you are "Haley's Annual Thanksgiving List Virgins," keep in mind that I like to use my list to recognize the little things in life that I'm grateful for, but that often get overlooked or taken for granted.

THE OFFICIAL LIST OF THINGS FOR WHICH I, HALEY STARR MCCOY MCPHAIL, AM GRATEFUL--THANKSGIVING 2008 EDITION (yep, still a fan of the wordy titles)

1. Cream of mushroom soup. It's great for using on meat in the slow cooker. It's essential to green bean casserole. It reminds me of my Dad, because he used to eat it when I was little. Sure, it's gray and lumpy, but so is my favorite sweater.

2. Jessica Simpson. I have no idea how involved Jess is with her shoe designs, but my new black shoes (see "Try Walking in My Shoes" blog) from her line are awesome. I can wear them for hours in total comfort and sans blisters. Jessica Simpson may be vastly annoying and under the completely misguided impression that she can sing well, but girlfriend knows her shoes.

3. Trader Joe's. Wine. Gourmet cheese. Pastry. Affordable. Enough said.

4. British words. We say "colored lights" or "clear lights," they say "fairy lights." We say "cupcakes," they say "fairy cakes." (Are you detecting a pattern here? Well, don't. I'm not obsessed with fairies. Those just happen to be the first two examples.) We say, "That's a bad idea," they say, "That's a rubbish idea." We say "bathroom," they say "loo." Also, the use of "bloody" all the time for adjective emphasis is just bloody fantastic. Now, don't get your knickers in a twist, I'm not going to pull a Madonna and start speaking with an accent and using all their words. I just love to hear them spoken by true Brits (or my friend Morgan, who is half British and currently living outside of London).

5. Go Fug Yourself. It's a website that spends most of its time critiquing the fashion sense of the Hollywood set. Depending on my mood, it can be enormously funny. Particularly if it's late at night and I'm drinking.

6. My pink Cheshire Cat Pajamas and Johnny Depp. To many of you, this sounds like an odd combination. HOWEVER, for those who know me well, you should be able to put all this together in your head and have it make perfect sense. I'll explain in Haley Shorthand. My pajamas are PINK and COMFY and covered in Cheshire Cats (he's my favorite). Cheshire Cat is from "Alice in Wonderland." Tim Burton is remaking "Alice in Wonderland" starring Johnny Depp (he's also my favorite) as the Mad Hatter. I love the Mad Hatter. I love Tim Burton. And I love Johnny Depp. And now, my favorite pajamas remind me of him, because I am eagerly awaiting the movie. See, it's like "Six Degrees of the Cheshire Cat Pajamas."

7. Digital Cameras. I recently had a disposable camera left over from a rafting trip (it was waterproof, while my Canon is not) that needed to be developed. I had to take it to Walgreens, fill out the information, pick it up a couple of days later, and it cost like $10 AND the photo quality was terrible. Since we have children, I am eternally grateful for the digital camera that I can snap away with, then delete the photos where the child has already run out of the frame, as well as email everything I want to share with others. And all for free.

8. Kindergarten. At first I was really sad that Bellamy started school. Then, after like two hours, I realized two things: 1) Doing ANYTHING with only one kid in tow is WAY easier than doing things with two; and 2) When Sutton takes a nap, I have the first free time I've had in five years. Praise you, Lord, for kindergarten.

9. "My Big Redneck Wedding." It's a reality show that comes on CMT. A camera crew follows a couple as they plan and execute the wedding of their dreams, trailer-park style. One day, I was feeling a bit depressed and ran across this show as I folded laundry. Two episodes later, my blues were gone. I saw a couple get married in their yard (no problem here, I did the same) with seats taken out of their and their friends' minivans as guest seating (they ran out of folding metal chairs), a cake with the tiers supported by cans of Natural Light, and a bride and groom who drove away in a real, live General Lee, chased by the bride's Daddy driving a Boss Hogg police cruiser, right after the groom gave a toast at the reception saying to his new bride, "I'm gonna drive you up to that there hill in the General Lee, park for a while, and get you pregnant." Priceless.

10. Body pillows. I can't sleep without Blaker tucked on one side of me, and my body pillow tucked on the other. It doesn't matter how tired I am or how comfortable the bed may be, without B and the pillow, I just can't sleep.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Holiday Mindfreak

Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been two of my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving because: a) the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade comes on; b) we always used to decorate for Christmas that weekend; and c) I get to have my great-grandmother's sweet potato casserole. Christmas because: a) I love "How the Grinch Stole Christmas;" b) I'm a huge fan of colored lights; and c) it's my second chance that year to have the sweet potato casserole. I've always been a very festive person, filled with Christmas spirit, and a firm believer that Christmas IS the happiest season of all.

Growing up, we had a lot of Christmas traditions. We went to my Memaw's house on Christmas Eve, ate finger foods (L'il Smokies, anyone?), and drank terrible punch made with ice cream and Ginger Ale. My Mom's whole side of the family was there, making no attempt to hide the crazy, warming themselves by Memaw's decorative fireplace (it used lightbulbs, plugged into the wall, and had tissue paper flames--no joke) and barking "Jingle Bells." Present time was a mad dash amongst the passle of grandkids. Most people wore their pajamas. Believe it or not, there was no alcohol consumed. Around 8pm, we'd go home, watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and go to bed so Santa could come.

Christmas morning was presents, and a trip to my Grandmama and Papaw's house, which was the MUCH tamer side of the family, for breakfast casserole and country ham. My Grandparents lived in this big, beautiful house with tons of extra bedrooms to play in, and an in-ground swimming pool in the basement. Papaw always bought jewelry for the ladies in the family, and that was our "surprise" gift every year. Sometimes it was a bracelet, sometimes it was earrings, but we usually all had either the same thing or very similar gifts that he had shopped for and bought all by himself. Papaw spoiled the girls, especially me. We were very close.

Papaw died unexpectedly on January 24th, 2002. I was living in Chapel Hill going to grad school when I got the call one night from my Dad who was at the hospital, telling me that they "had lost Papaw." It took a minute to sink in. I couldn't figure out where they had lost him. I had seen him for the last time on December 27th, when I stopped at their house to spend an hour or so on my way back to Chapel Hill. He was good then, they were happy, and I will never stop being thankful that I decided to go over there that day before I left.

I've only been home for one Christmas since then. I have my own kids now, and it seems unfair to take them from their own home at Christmas. Plus, little kids don't travel well (at least mine don't). The one time we were home, everything had changed--both Grandmothers had sold their houses, for one thing, so family gatherings had to be shifted around. After 25 years of the same happy traditions, suddenly we were traditionless.

Being a parent, I see that Christmas is still magical for the kids, but try as I might, I just can't feel it. I want, this year, to try to start new traditions, to see if perhaps we can create that sense of wonder to some extent for ourselves or at least see it through the kids' eyes. I'm tired of bittersweet. I just want sweet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reflections on a Pregnancy


Sutton will be 3 on Saturday, which seems so grown-up to me. I've been thinking a lot about how much he's grown and what our lives were like before he got here, and realized that it's difficult to think that we ever felt complete without him. I know we did. In fact, I even remember worrying on several occasions that I couldn't love him as much as I loved Bellamy or that it would feel like a little intruder was trying to butt in on our family once he arrived. But, of course, the second I saw him, I fell madly, dazzlingly in love with him and couldn't imagine life without him another second.

My pregnancy with Sutton was easier than my pregnancy with Bellamy. I was more prepared and knew what to expect. I think I was even a little less tired, although it was exhausting taking care of a toddler and being ENORMOUSLY pregnant. I remember feeling more protective of him while he was in my womb, and more like he was mine, and mine alone, rather than a little person I shared with Blaker. I don't know why. Maybe because Blaker focused more on Bellamy in utero, but didn't have as much of an opportunity to do so with Sutt because Bellamy demanded so much of his attention. I also remember that I constantly craved steamed broccoli doused in Tabasco sauce, and that I cried for two days when I found out I was having a boy because I thought I wanted another girl so badly. (I was ridiculously stupid to feel that way. Boys are wonderful, I've learned.)

Sutton was due on December 11th, 2005. We all knew he would never make it that long because of my diabetes, so the doctors scheduled a c-section early in the pregnancy for November 29th. I was always at one doctor or another, between seeing the OB, the high-risk OB, the endocrinologist, and an assortment of others. On November 15th, I went to a regularly scheduled appointment with the neonatologist, and found out from the non-stress test that I was actually having a lot of contractions. (I didn't feel any of them. I have a high-tolerance for pain. Even when they gave me Pitocin with Bellamy and put me into hard labor I wasn't in a whole lot of pain, and I recovered from the eventual c-section in absolutely no time and with no pain medication. I'm lucky that way.) I mentioned that the little guy hadn't really been moving around much and so the neonatologist sent me over to my regular OB for an impromptu appointment. I walked in, sat down, and Dr. Weatheford walked in and said, "Do you want to have a baby today or tomorrow? Let's do today. See you in an hour," and left.

Um. Okay.

I didn't know what the date was. I had Bellamy with me, chilling out in her stroller, and no babysitters available. Blaker was at work. My family was nine hours away. I had a pot roast in the slow cooker at home. Geez.

I called Blaker at work and caught him on his way out to lunch. He headed to the hospital (stopping at McDonald's on the way for lunch for him and Bellamy) with Scott, his best friend and, coincidentally, also his boss to babysit Bellamy for us during the surgery. I walked over to the hospital, went to the desk at the Women's Pavillion, and told them I was there for my c-section. Their response was, "What are you going to do with the baby?" I stood there dumbfounded for a minute before answering, "Have it?"

It turns out that they meant Bellamy, as she was still with me.

Soon after, Blaker and Scott showed up and Scott took Bellamy over to the park across the street. Blaker hung out and ate lunch and watched them give me a spinal block AND an epidural (during which time they had trouble finding the right spot in my back and were just probing around with the giant needle-- I thought Blaker might keel over right then and there). I was rolled back and presto! I have a baby.

Despite being a month early, Sutt was declared ready and able by the NICU people who were on standby to examine him. He was beautiful and perfect, albeit a bit bruised from my ribs and tailbone because he was packed in there so tightly. Blaker got to hold him while they tied my tubes and stitched me up. And for the first time, I got to have my baby stay in the room with me while I recovered. (Note: I was so excited about this that the nurses pretty much had to wrestle him away from at night to put him in the nursery so that I could sleep. I wanted him to sleep with me. I was not afraid to throw down with medical personnel 6 hours after major surgery.)

Now, nearly three years later, I can still remember Sutt's newborn smell and how soft his hair felt. I remember changing his first diaper, and how unbelievably tiny he seemed despite being a pound and a half bigger than Bellamy had been when she was born.

Sutt will always be my baby.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Try Walking In My Shoes


Being a Mommy is not always the sunshine and rainbows that it's made out to be. As a matter of fact, most of the time, it's difficult and exhausting and endlessly frustrating, with those sweet Mommy moments scattered few and far between, but so overwhelmingly amazing that when they DO come, it makes up for all the hard parts. Sort of.

And then you have days like I had yesterday.

Wednesday mornings are always total chaos in my house. I'm trying to get Bellamy and Sutton dressed and fed and ready to leave the house, myself ready to go to the Bible Study group, make sure that the dogs have been taken out and put back up, and that nothing is left in any sort of situation that would contribute to the house being burned down while we're gone. All in a time frame of about thirty minutes, because I'm too damn lazy to get up any earlier.

This Wednesday, I had everything ready to go, and we were walking out the door when I noticed that Bellamy looked a little flushed. I pulled the ancient Mommy move--putting my hand on her forehead--before just giving up and digging out the thermometer. (I can never tell by touch if the kids have a fever. I don't know why I even try.) After much difficulty ("Keep your mouth closed! You have to put it under your tongue! Blah Blah Blah") we determined that Belly Bug had a temperature of at least 100. No school today. So we repeated the entire morning in reverse--take off the clothes, put back on the pajamas.... you get the idea. Just about the time we were finished, Sutt informed me that he had pottied in his "big boy pants." Of course he did. And it was not pee. And he had somehow squished it down his legs inside his pants and gotten some on the rug.

Once he had been stripped, sponge bathed from the waist down, and diapered (because he argued that he WOULD NOT use the potty, he was too "widdle" and because I was too frazzled to care if he's still in diapers when he's 14) I got out the carpet cleaner and started scrubbing the rug. As I was de-pooping the rug, Bellamy walked over and asked for juice. I looked up at her just as she coughed and, as she does about 30% of the time, forgot to cover her mouth. Mucus to the cheek, cough germs in the hair. I already had poop on my hands, so I just went and took another shower.

It was not yet 9am.

Later, after the day had continued to progress much as I had expected based on the morning's shenanigans, I was feeling pretty bad for myself. Now, I say "bad," not to be confused with "sorry." I wasn't feeling sorry for myself, it was more of a feeling of wanting to give the finger to the universe, kick fate in the proverbial nuts, shake my fist at the heavens. Sick kids (yeah, Sutt had a fever now too) on a Wednesday with a little Murphy's Law thrown in? What would make me feel better? Hmmmm....obviously, shoes. Shoes always make everything feel better.

So I went out and bought a new pair. They are awesome.

And then I wore them the rest of the day to clean the house and make dinner. My day improved exponentially after that.

Take that, Universe.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote for me!

I dread tomorrow. Election Day is always kind of a pain. Schools are out, streets are busy, and I get to wait in line at the middle school with the two midgets until it's my turn to cast my ballot for The Lesser of the Evils. I know I should just be happy that I live in a democratic nation where I am allowed to vote, but damnit, it's just hard to look forward to the process this time.

I am not going to assail you with my political views that go on and on and on. Basic idea here: I hate Palin with a passion matched by nothing else, but Obama skeeves me out a bit. I don't know what's true and what's not, due to all the negative campaigning, and when I visit the websites that sort it all out, my eyes start to glaze over after a minute and my brain goes numb because it's so freaking boring. I can actually FEEL my IQ drop, and frankly, after having two kids, it isn't like there's much room to plummet. Since I have to vote (not voting is worse than voting for the wrong person, to me) I usually base my decision on the fact that, generally, I am a Democrat. Being diabetic, the sister of a diabetic, and someone who has had both parents diagnosed with cancer, I am a huge advocate of stem cell research and often base my vote on that if I can't make up my mind otherwise. But dude, these candidates just suck.

Which is why the midgets and I will need a large cup of coffee (perhaps with a shot of whiskey in it) before we begin the voting process tomorrow. And maybe some donuts, with Xanax sprinkles.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ghost of Halloweens Past


I figured I'd better get my slack butt in gear and write something, since I've gotten a bit lazy on the blogging since our Charlottesville trip. (We had an incredibly awesome time, by the way. More on that another day.) So, in honor of Halloween, here's a lovely little collection of tidbits about Halloween experiences in my past.

Halloween 1979:
My Mother snags the Raggedy Ann outfit off of my life-size doll and dresses me up, complete with giant lipstick-circle cheeks. I am terrified of Raggedy Ann with her fiery hair and souless black eyes. My Mother does not believe in trick-or-treating because she is convinced that bad people will put needles and razor blades in all the candy. I am allowed to trick-or-treat at one house, my Grandmama's, which is actually pretty okay because my Grandpa buys king-size chocolate bars to give to the kids. I have no idea why I am given candy or dressed like a giant doll because I am only two. I still have not recovered from my fear of Raggedy Ann.

Halloween 1984:
I want to be a Princess for Halloween. My Mother refuses to buy me a costume, and we have no appropriate princess gear. Mom takes an old white sheet and makes me a toga out of it, calls it a "Princess dress," and hands me a roll of aluminum foil and suggests I make a crown while she goes and locates Dad's old flannel shirt so that my brother can be a hobo. (Note that 4-year-old Zach had probably never even heard of a hobo at the time. Mom was a firm believer in costumes made of things you already had around the house. Until the Grandkids came along, and then nothing short of the Disney Store official issue costumes were good enough. No ghetto Halloweens for my kids.) The parents do not feel like driving us across town to trick-or-treat at Grandma's, so we are allowed only to go to the neighbors who live behind us and whom my parents know extremely well. They give us popcorn balls, cupcakes, and giant lollipops shaped like pumpkins. The follow us home. We give them Skittles.

Halloween 1996:
I dress up as a black cat to go to the block party with my LOSER boyfriend, who has dressed like a greaser from the '50s. He abandons me at said block party to sell weed to some teenage trick-or-treaters. Luckily, I run into people I know who agree to give me a ride home. I don't see LOSER boyfriend for a week, at which point I find out he thinks he has impregnanted one of my ex-best friends after failing the Air Force's drug test and running off to live in Florida.

Halloween 2001:
Halloween on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. TOTAL MADNESS. At Ray's suggestion, I borrow her clothes and dress as a Dominatrix, complete with whip (you'd have to know Ray). Blaker borrows MY clothes, and goes as a Princess, complete with curly auburn wig. Rebecca wears her OWN clothes, including her red underwear on the outside of her costume, and goes as Super Ray. Unfortunately, Ray has to stay at Hinton James and do Resident Advisor duties, so Blaker and I, along with Madame Ovary (Robert) and his friend the pimp (Gil) go to Franklin Street without her. My whip is confiscated by the police. Princess refers to himself in third person all night. We meet someone named Twig whom, to this day, I want to kill with my bare hands. We drink a lot of beer and barely make it home. My whip is never recovered from the police.

Halloween 2007:
I host a Halloween brunch for the neighborhood kids. We eat monster toes and incredibly awesome cupcakes (thank you, Kara) with frosting ghosts on top. We watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. My children are Tinkerbelle and a Devil. I realize that I have forgotten to buy candy about ten minutes before the first trick-or-treater arrives. Kara saves the day with candy her sons collected at the previous Sunday's church "trunk or treat." She doesn't give out candy. Trick-or-treaters annoy her. I realize Mom has passed her candy paranoia along to me, so I only allow my children to trick-or-treat at two houses, both of which are occupied by people I have gotten to know well enough that they feel like family, which means they most likely are not razor-blading the candy they will give my kids. The two-house trick-or-treating expedition takes approximately 3 minutes. I spend the rest of the evening giving out candy to children I have never seen before, and wondering why their parents don't seem to be worried that I am secretly slipping lancets in the Snickers bars.

If I ever get re-motivated, stay tuned for news of Halloween 2008.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Till Death Do Us Part



I think it's about time I blogged a little bit about my husband. (Oh, he's just going to love this.)

Blaker is potentially the most awesome dude on the planet. Maybe even in the solar system. Times infinity. Times a billion. Plus ten. He's my favorite. Which is why I am about to combine *him* with another one of my favorite things in the entire world (nope, not alcohol or chocolate). List making.

Behold: THE SLIGHTLY UNUSUAL BUT CURIOUSLY INTRIGUING LIST OF REASONS WHY I ADORE AND REVERE MY HUSBAND

(I love giving my lists pretentious titles. My last grocery list was entitled "A Random Assortment of Foodstuffs I Need to Procure From the Market." No, not really. That would be funny though, wouldn't it?)

1. I once saw Blaker kill a snake with a bar stool. Since I hate nothing more than a snake, I found it very comforting to know that Blaker could probably rescue me from a serpent in any situation. Like ones involving bar stools.

2. As soon as the doctor hacked me open and pulled Sutt out of my womb and handed him to the NICU to check out (he was a month early), Blaker scooted his chair from the position near my head down to where he could see what was going on, and demanded the doctor tie my tubes in front of him (we were taking NO chances that she might forget or get distracted and only do one...you know, whatever). None of that trying to talk me into more babies stuff that the husbands of some of my friends have pulled. Likewise, if I ever become pregnant again and subsequently throw myself off of a bridge, he will mourn my loss, but totally understand.

3. Last year, Blaker allowed me to drag him in the pouring rain to a synagogue in D.C. for a book reading by one of my favorite authors ON OUR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY and never complained once, despite the fact that he was one of only a few guys in a room full of man-bashing, hardcore feminist Jewesses. (I was not one of them--feminists or Jewesses.)

4. He has his pilot's license. So if I ever decide to take up wing-walking or want to join the Mile High Club, I have an inside connection. Oh, and it's sexy. (For the record, my Dad and my Father-in-Law both also have their pilot's licenses, but I do not want to join the Mile High Club with either of them nearby.)

5. Blaker has been known to call me from work, hear that I'm having a bad day, and encourage me to start drinking right away. Before 10am. And I rarely get out of the shower and don't find a glass of wine sitting on the countertop waiting for me. He loves me sober and crazy, he loves me boozed-up and crazy. Guess he has a penchance for crazy.

6. Once as a Christmas gift, Blaker bought a book I wanted, then tracked down the author and persuaded her to let him ship her the book so she could sign it, then send it back for him to wrap up for me. She probably thought he was a stalker, but she agreed. Now every time I see the book at the library, I do a little mental dance because I know that I have that book at home but it's all signed and personalized and not a silly generic library-like copy.

7. Blaker puts up with my family, despite the fact that they are all completely nutso and soooo not afraid to show it. The first time he met my favorite Aunt, she asked him (in all seriousness) why he had such a bad perm. (Blaker has very naturally curly hair.) When we announced to my family that we were expecting a baby, half the family wanted to know who the father was because they were all under the impression that Blaker was gay (we still don't know why they thought that). My Dad has been known to gift Blaker with jump boots, an authentic reproduction World War II trench coat, and, I believe, a gas mask. (If he hasn't actually given Blaker the mask, I know he has picked one up for him to go with the ones he has for the rest of the family in the fallout shelter. Yeah.....I'm not joking this time.)

8. He can roll sushi, makes amazing Thai Peanut Shrimp, fantastic stir-fry, and kick-ass enchiladas. And enjoys doing it.

9. Blaker taught MimiPants (my porky Yorkie) how to sit. I had been trying to teach her for two years, and it only took him, like, two months or so. (Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with my dog-teaching skills. I have known of inanimate objects more intelligent and less stubborn than Mimi. Blaker just has some mad Dog Whispering skills or something.)

10. Although he may not always agree, he rarely tries to sway my beliefs towards something closer to his (i.e. stickers on produce are germ hubs, there is nothing trashier than a girl who plays pool, math should never be done without a calculator, corn dogs and frosting should each have their own important place on the food pyramid, etc.)

This weekend we are going away for our wedding anniversary, sans kids, during which I am sure I will be reminded of many other fabulous things about my husband. Expect an update when we return.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Twenty Years Later, And I Still Have All My Toes!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. That includes ten years of injections (between two and five shots a day), ten years of an insulin pump, and between four to twelve finger pricks a day for TWENTY FREAKIN YEARS. Not to mention weighing my food for years, denying myself sugar for years, carrying Sweet-Tarts or juice boxes or whatever in case of a low, several weeks of hospitalization to get educated on this whole diabetes scene, etc., etc. And what do I have to say about all that?

Hell, yeah. Look at me go.

Well, I mean, how upset can I really be? I COULD mope around feeling all sorry for myself that I have this stupid disease OR I could do what I DID do, which is be HAPPY. I have all my limbs. I have two kids. I have my eyesight. I have functioning kidneys. I have minimal nerve damage. Twenty years ago when I was diagnosed, I was told I would have NONE of those things at this point. Nobody even knew if I would be ALIVE. Diabetes care has come a long way in twenty years. Sure, I could not have diabetes, but I do. And since I do, I COULD have all sorts of complications from the disease. Or I COULD live in a third world country where I didn't have the option of shots/blood sugar testing/endocrinologists. It's all about the perspective, right?

I feel pretty damn lucky.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Blog Needs a T-Shirt


I was at the mall a couple of weeks ago and saw a very skinny, morose-looking teenage girl, who had clearly spent too much time with the kohl liner and the flatiron, wearing a t-shirt that said "Nobody Cares About Your Blog."

WHAT?!?!?!

Of course they do. (If you beg to differ, I would just like to take a second to point out that you ARE reading it right now....)

My first instinct was to run up and push her 14-year-old, 90 lb. self down and kick her. She's lucky I was carrying a toddler. We all know I'm rather prone to violence. Probably just pulling a handful of that long, stringy hair out would have been somewhat satisfying. Alas, I fought the urge to put the smack down and stayed on course towards Macy's.

Even so, I couldn't help but wonder: Why would anyone wear such a shirt? I mean, I have shirts that say things--a pink one that spells "Princess" in sequins (Blaker has been known to borrow that one for Halloween), my awesome "Gimme Some Sugar" diabetes shirt, great T's from different bars I've been known to haunt in my day, and my most recent favorite, my Halloween shirt that says "Bad Witch"--but none of my shirts say mean things about other people or other people's things. No "Your Ass Looks Giant in Those Jeans" or "Ever Considered Invisiline?" or "My Yorkie's IQ is 20 Points Higher Than Yours Which Isn't A Good Thing Because It Took Her Two Freakin' Years To Learn How To Sit." Nothing.

What's wrong with the world today, that one finds it necessary to insult others in the name of fashion?

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Sad State Of Affairs

You know your life has reached a low point of mythic proportions when you do any of the following:

1. Find yourself sitting at home with your best friend on a Friday night at 9:30, relatively sober because you quit drinking an hour and a half ago, discussing which of the Imagination Movers you would have sex with if you HAD to sleep with one of them.
(For you who are of the childless variety, the Imagination Movers are these really annoying guys who host a kids' show on the Disney Channel. They wear blue and red jump suits and break into song and dance every few minutes. They also have this little Asian chick as their sidekick. She wears too much blush and has an eclectic yet strangely appealing fashion sense.)

2. Write a strongly worded letter to the USPS because you're so damn pissed off that the mail doesn't run on Columbus Day. (I hate stupid, useless holidays with no decorations or special food!)

3. Hope that your stalker does something weird and creepy to entertain/frighten you because you're so bored the thought of potentially being kidnapped and tortured is becoming oddly appealing.

4. Plead with the political tele-bastards who keep calling the house asking you to go door-to-door for Obama to please come and babysit your children, just for an hour or two, so that you CAN interrupt total strangers during dinner and harass them about a candidate you aren't even thrilled about voting for.

5. Stand in front of the mirror in a sleep-deprived stupor holding your makeup bag and thinking "brown eyeliner or gray?" for at least 5 minutes before you finally flip a coin and allow fate to decide for you.

6. Start counting vodka as the most important food group, and working multiple servings into your daily food pyramid.

7. Go to the YMCA at certain times because that's when there are a lot of military men there and your motivation is so low you're hoping their discipline will rub off on you when you're next to them on the treadmill. Otherwise, you'd just stay home and eat chocolate.

8. Are horribly homesick for your family in TN, despite the fact that your Mom bought an RV and some chickens off of Ebay, blares Law & Order from the giant television 24/7, and believes it's perfectly okay to pull out her fake breast (aka "chicken cutlet") in public for the kids to play with; your Dad tends to go commando and accidentally flash the family on a fairly regular basis, disappears for hours at a time only to be found standing in the yard staring at the sky, and spends a great deal of time working out his governmental conspiracy theories; and your Aunt keeps threatening to pull up in front of the house and put your senile Grandma and all her stuff out on the curb and drive away because she thinks it's sombody else's turn to take care of her.

9. Start to wonder how badly it would hurt if you repierced your nose ring hole yourself and how likely it is that you would get blood on something important. Blood is difficult to clean up, specifically from carpet and clothing. (I know this from experience. I'm accident prone. I bleed a lot.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ain't No Party Like A Tennessee Party



A few days ago, an article caught my eye on People.com that contained a headline saying Ashlee Simpson had had a White Trash Party to celebrate her 28th birthday. I was intrigued. I am no Ashlee Simpson fan (although I do think she's much prettier since the plastic surgery, and feel that someone should encourage Jessica to have the bump removed from her nose as well) so I normally would not care about an article concerning her, but the "White Trash" part had my attention. Apparently, I learned as I read the article, guests dined on chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, Ashlee wore cutoffs and a bikini top, her husband sported a mullet wig, and Jessica showed up in a leopard print dress.

Well, hell. It's just like the parties we've been having for years in Tennessee. We just think of them as regular old birthday parties (and weddings, and baby showers, and bar mitzvahs--psych! We don't have Jewish people in Tennessee!)

I remember the last birthday party I attended in Tennessee. It was a combination birthday party for Bellamy and me, as we happened to be visiting the folks during the first week of June. (I would like to note that even though we held the party on my actual birthday--June 5--nobody outside of my parents seemed to remember my birthday, and instead focused the party on my parents' wedding anniversary--June 2--and Bellamy's 3rd birthday--June 13.) It was held in the backyard, on the carport. We ate hot dogs (chicken fingers and mac and cheese is WAY too fancy, and requires silverware) on paper plates and used paper towels as napkins. It's possible that my ex-Uncle played the Banjo, although I don't remember that for sure. (I don't attend family functions without drinking heavily, hence the memory loss.) Someone might have barked "Jingle Bells" (oh, wait--that was Christmas. Sorry). There was potentially impromptu clogging and hay rides (it ain't a party unless there's clogging and hay rides). We had a giant sheet cake from Wal-Mart with Elmo on top. I know that I wore cutoffs (I've seen photos) and somebody in my endlessly giant family probably had on some animal print and a bikini top, and maybe even an animal-print bikini. Those are fairly standard in June in Tennessee, particularly when you're going to a party at a house with a blow-up pool in the yard. I don't believe anyone at the party had a mullet, but my Mom does wear a big, curly, fake, clip-on ponytail from time to time. She calls it her "white girl weave."

Ah, yes. Now I'm feeling homesick.

Eat your heart out, Ashlee Simpson. You'll never know how to party like we do in Cleveland.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Favorite Pair of Genes


I love my brother, Zach. When God made Zach, I'm pretty sure he took a good, long look at everything about me, then took all the opposites to create my brother. We have nothing in common besides a set of parents, an intense love of coffee, and a similar sense of humor. He's awesome. And then to add to his awesomeness, he's been married for five and a half years to Shawna, with whom I have probably even less in common with than I do Zach, but who is hands down one of my favorite people on the planet. Together, they are quite a pair.

Here are a few reasons why:

Example #1:
A couple of weeks ago I went to the mailbox to bring in the mail. Among the usual assortment of bills and junk (mostly junk--dude, whatever happened to saving trees? I DO NOT NEED a sunroom added to my house or a coupon for bathfitters. LEAVE ME ALONE, junk mailers of the world!) I had a postcard. On one side, there was a picture of a rooster. Beneath the rooster, was the Japanese character (do they call them "characters" in Japanese, or is that Chinese?) for rooster. Beneath that, was the English translation, "cock." When I flipped it over to the address side, all it said was "hee hee." It was from Shawna.

Example #2:
Last time I was in Cleveland, I was very sad. It was my first visit home in a year, the first time seeing my Dad since his cancer diagnosis, and I wasn't prepared for it all. I missed Blaker. I'm kind of a homebody anyway, and a neat freak, so having our stuff scattered ALL OVER THE FARM and living out of a suitcase for two weeks was tough. One day when I woke up, all I could do was cry. No reason, no explanation. I absolutely couldn't do anything except sit on the porch swing and cry. Zach called to see if I wanted to hang out with him and Shawna and Mom told him I couldn't seem to do much but sit and cry. So what did they do? They showed up ten minutes later with a Red Bull and vodka already mixed, which Shawna shoved into my hand and told me to start drinking as she headed into the house to mix a pitcher of margaritas (pre-mixed, but she added an entire BOTTLE of Jose Cuervo for extra ooomph). The best part? It was 10am.

Example #3:
My children LOVE Uncle Zach and Aunt Shawna. One night when Bellamy was at "Camp Yaya," I called the farm at about 11pm to say goodnight to Mom. Zach and Shawna had just stopped by and gotten Bellamy out of bed to take her for a midnight snack to IHOP. (Bellamy ADORES IHOP. The child would live off of pancakes if you let her.) They take the kids out for milkshakes, on trips to the park, down for sleepovers and pizza parties--they are Bellamy and Sutt's idea of the MOST FUN EVER. Oh, and when they party with the kids, I get a break.

Example #4:
Not an important one, but Shawna and I are the same size and she has great taste in clothes and an affinity for Banana Republic. She lets me borrow things a lot :)

Example #5
Zach has a wicked (and dry) sense of humor, and not one iota of guilt about using it. One of he and Mom's favorite games is to see who can get Shawna the most riled up and offended. They are both extremely good at it, and poor Shawna can't seem to resist falling into their trap because she's so passionate about so many things that they like to bring up, particuarly being respectful of the nationalities of others. It's great fun to watch. Until Shawna gets mad and stops speaking to everybody. Because of his sense of humor, Zach is also the first person I call when I'm sad, because he NEVER fails to cheer me up. He also knows me well enough to know when I need cheering without my having to ask.

There have been many times in my life that I've wished to live closer to my family. Right now, it's harder than it's ever been with Dad being sick. I hate having the kids away from my parents, and not being there to see what's really going on with Dad. But I think the thing I wish for most of all is to be able to spend time with my brother and my "sister" whenever I want. It's hard being away from the people I love most.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shane's Life History and Disney On Ice







Last night I took Bellamy to Disney on Ice, and met one of the biggest freaks I've met since we moved to Hampton Roads. Shane.

But let me back up.

Disney on Ice was "Girls' Night," just me and the Bug, because we figured that though Sutton, who is scared of pretty much everything, would enjoy parts of it, there would be much more screaming and ear-covering than enjoyment if we took him along. Bellamy had requested that we both dress like Princesses for the show, which was fine, except that my princess wardrobe is slightly lacking these days. (Unless you count the dress from my first wedding, which is exceptionally princess-like due to all the pouf and tulle. However, with pouf comes inconvenience, as it is terribly hard to maneuver about while wearing said dress.) Also, despite the fact that there are no fewer than twenty tiaras at our house, we were somehow only able to locate one that was not damaged in some way, thus rendering them unsuitable for Princess Me. The end result was that Bellamy was head-to-toe the Pink of Perfection, and I was my regular old self.

We left early to get to the Hampton Coliseum. I figured traffic would suck (it did) and wanted to get there early to make sure that we could get parked and find our seats and all that jazz before the show started. Once we got there and purchased the prerequisite Little Mermaid Magic Wand, which both lights up AND plays music and cost pretty much the equivalent of a compact car, we found our seats and got settled in. And that's when we met Shane.

Shane was sitting one (empty) seat away from Bellamy, along with his brother, his brother's kid, and Shane's son, Shae. (Confusing, I know--Shane, Shae-- too much similarity there for me. It's like this girl I knew once who had two daughters named Isabella and Anabella. That's just a "bella" overload, in my opinion.) As soon as we sat down, Shane introduced himself, and launched into what I like to now think of as the World's Greatest Too Much Information Monologue. It went something like this:

(Part One)
"Hey! How're you? I'm Shane. This here's my boy, Shae. He's three. How old's she? 'Bout five? That's my brother over there and his boy. He called me up and said, 'hey, you wanna go see Disney ice skatin'?' and I was like 'HELL, YEAH!' I'm more excited than my boy. Oh, sorry about that 'hell.' It's just us boys tonight out causin' trouble, watching McQueen and all. I ain't with Shae's momma no more because when I met that girl, you see, she was really TIGHT. And I mean, TIGHT. Then she went and had this boy and just let herself GO! She got all fat and stuff and her hair got all greasy and one day next thing I know she come and told me that she done met her some dude at a trailer park--he's all fat and stuff-- and she was done gonna go move in with him. I was like, 'if he wants to live with your fat self, you just go on. You used to be TIGHT!'"

Then he offered me a congealed nacho, and finally stopped talking to take a breath.

Now, you've probably got a few questions about Shane, most of which I cannot answer, but a few I probably can. He was about mid-twenties, charming and mildly unkempt, with the maturity level of a fifteen-year-old boy. I'm also fairly certain, although not positive since I'm not from this area, that he might have been the Hampton Roads version of a redneck (which is slightly different than the Tennessee version, but with several similarities, such as his girlfriend leaving him for a fat guy in a trailer park). He was also super friendly, used lots of hand gestures, and like to smack his fist against his other palm for emphasis.

Lucky for me, the show started before he could tell me his blood type or sexual preferences. The show was great--lots of confetti and bright colors, music, skating, the whole nine yards. Belly was entranced, and I was having more fun watching her face than the performance. Things went swimmingly for about an hour and a half, then it was time for Intermission. And more from Shane.

(Part Two)
"Hey! How you likin' the show? You like Mater? I love me some Mater. Me and my boy here both love us some McQueen, but that Mater just cracks me up. I think we's gonna run down and get us some chicken fingers. You think they got chicken fingers here? I was at this car show once and they didn't have no chicken fingers, but you could buy a whole box of chicken and just take it home with you! I'se like 'damn!' Saw cars, had some chicken, got me one of them hats drank some beers. I don't think they got no beers here. Hey I like your bracelet. This girl I knew once made me this tight bracelet out of like a bicycle chain. It was all black and she painted it and--it wasn't Shae's momma--this girl was TIGHT. She could make all kinds of stuff out of like chains and wood and rocks and money and stuff. She had these feathers..."

This is when I excused myself and Bellamy to go to the bathroom. There was no way in hell I was going to the bathroom because I knew the lines would be insane. What I wanted to do was exit the Coliseum and head directly for the nearest shot of vodka, but Bellamy was still knee-deep in desire to see Tinkerbelle ice skate, so we walked around the concessions area for a few minutes until we heard the announcement that the show was getting ready to start, then headed back to our seats.

When we got back, Shane was wearing a large foam hat shaped like "Tow-Mater" from Disney's CARS, and drinking from what appeared to be a 2-liter Coke. (Don't ask, because I don't know. I only saw people selling 20 oz. bottles. Nothing bigger.) He proceeded to share Shae's cotton candy with Bellamy (which was very sweet of him) and whoop and holler as the show commenced.

I'm sad to say that, although Shane would lean over and babble at random on occasion, I didn't get to have any more full-impact conversations with him at the show. Sad, because, looking back, it was vastly entertaining, despite being slightly overwhelming and Twilight-Zone-like at the time.

Just think of all the boring people we COULD have sat next to...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hello, my name is Procrastination

I am not usually a procrastinator. I do not like to waste time. I do things efficiently and deliberately and in a timely manner. But for whatever reason, these past few days, I just cannot seem to get myself to accomplish much of anything.

I'd like to blame it on the air conditioning, or lack thereof. On Friday afternoon at 4:58pm, our air conditioning unit died. Blaker immediately started calling repair shops only to find that they all closed at 5 for the weekend. Nobody would help us--even the 24-hour services said they only did weekend and after-hours calls for emergencies (like gas leaks). Early in the week this would not have been a problem with the crazy winds and temps in the upper 60's, but by Friday we were back to the 80's, with humidity. After talking to my Dad (who can fix anything), Blaker determined that it was the motor on the unit that had died and that he should be able to replace it himself. Only there was nowhere open to buy a motor over the weekend. Then, he picked one up yesterday, brought it home, and it did not fit. Needless to say, things have been kind of warm and sticky at my house.

Anyway, although I would LIKE to blame my lack of motivation on our unnaturally warm home, I don't really think that's the problem. I don't know exactly WHAT is causing me to be this way. Part of my brain is saying, "Oooh! It's almost Halloween! Let's decorate and make desserts shaped like brains and ghosts and such!" But I can't seem to get up and do it. That same part of my brain wants me to get around to ironing Bellamy's dresses that have been waiting in the laundry room for days, clean out the closet (it's a wreck), make a pile of things to donate to Goodwill, figure out what clothes the kids have outgrown and, consequently, what they need for Fall.

I kind of just want to take a nap.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wanted: Purpose

For quite a while now, I've been floundering along, just sort of meandering through life. Things have changed--we left Richmond and moved to Suffolk, Bellamy started kindergarten, Dad was diagnosed with cancer, so on and so forth. Regardless, emotions may have shifted here and there, scenery may be different, but overall, I don't feel like life took any big turns. I wish it had. I get bored with my life.

My wonderful friend, Michael, told me recently that it does not matter what happens to you, it only matters how you react to it. Simple enough, but something I had never really considered. The way that I choose to think about that is not that I overreact to bad things, but that I under react to good things. There is so much good, so much to see and learn and do. So much that could make me happy if I could just stop and let it.

I think I've been lacking purpose.

I probably would have never figured that out on my own. It's not a complicated concept, just one that really does not cross my mind very often. I started thinking about it when I was reading THE ALCHEMIST. (On a side note, THE ALCHEMIST is a lovely, fascinating, amazing book. If you are reading this, Bill, I owe you for suggesting it to me. ) In THE ALCHEMIST, the prevalent idea is that God gives one omens to lead one on his or her Chosen Path. A shepherd boy, Santiago, follows these omens to find his Purpose. The universe will conspire to help him on his journey, if only he follows these omens and stays true to his Purpose.

I think THE ALCHEMIST may be an omen. I think the universe may be sending me a message that I need a Purpose. And you know what? It's right. I do. I've been wandering around with this half-empty soul for a while now, trying to figure out what was wrong. I have a great husband whom I adore, healthy kids, a blessed life--where is my ever-elusive happiness? I need my Purpose. I have no idea what it is and I don't know how to find it, but I need it.

While I'm on the topic of omens, I should probably mention that I just joined a Bible study group for women around my age with small children. I don't go to the church they all attend, and I did not know any of them beforehand. I am not a joiner or someone who attends group activities, but I decided I would give this a try. At the first meeting, I learned that we will not be studying the Bible. We'll be reading A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE.

Dude. That is SO an omen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hey, Baby.... Any Chance You're A Libra?

I'm not a huge follower of astrology. I know my sign (Gemini) and the birth dates that correspond with all of the other signs, as well as a few of the supposed traits that go along with them. I know a little bit about what signs are romantically compatible and such. I've never checked to see if a moon was in retrograde or what position Pluto was in before I made a decision regarding something, though. It's all pretty low key--just something fun to think about.

Being a Gemini, I'm supposed to be creative, energetic, social, intelligent, occasionally shallow, fashion obsessed and TOTALLY have split personalities. I am many of those things, although social and fashion obsessed do not even remotely describe me. I'm a jeans kind of girl, and I am not particularly social. (I trick people into thinking I am, but I'm not. Ever. I do NOT enjoy large crowds, family gatherings, or meeting new neighbors. Ever. That's Blaker's territory. But, I'm digressing.) Anyway, the point of this isn't what qualities the various signs are supposed to possess. The point is that I have made an astounding discovery over the years, and that discovery is that I LOVE LIBRAS. I love Libras. I just do. Libras are the coolest people ever, and I don't even know why. It's not as though there is a certain quality I am picking up on (at least, not that I'm conscious of) or a particular trait I enjoy. There's just something about those crazy Libras that meshes well with me.

Due to my unsocial nature, I am not a person who goes around befriending people right and left. My friendships are careful, calculated. I have many acquaintances, but only a small handful of people with whom I feel I can open up and be myself with. Of those few people, most of them are Libras. Michael, my dearest and most beloved friend since I was a teenager--birthday, October 8th. Jennifer, my amazing friend for years whom I met through a diabetic magazine pen-pal article (and who actually just left my house after a 3-day visit)--birthday, October 19th. Madame Angie, who is the Kentucky version of me (which makes her AWESOME)--birthday, October 10th. Then there's my Gina, a relationship that dates back to high school and who is one of my favorite people ever--birthday September 22 (please note that some people consider her birthdate to be that of a Virgo, but not the dates I follow). There are more, but I assume you are getting the picture.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have a few friends whom I would give my life for, and who are not Libras. Rebecca is a Taurus, and I'm usually not thrilled with Tauruses, but Rebecca is the best. Then there is Blaker, whom I love with my whole being, and who is an Aries. (I have little experience with Aries, except to notice that they all seem to be bull-headed, bossy, and want to be in charge all the time. Blaker's lucky I love him so much because that crap gets old.) Which means that being a Libra is not required for me to love you, but it surely helps.

On the flipside, I have learned from much experience that I do not like people of the Pisces sign. They all seem to be strange and flaky, give off an odd vibe, and I just do not care for them, not a single one. Never have. I suppose it's possible that I have at some time in my life met a Pisces that I liked and just never knew he or she was a Pisces, but it's doubtful. I always ask people their birth date. It's a habit. Additionally, I'm not overly fond of Scorpios either, as I think they are volatile and unstable, but often enjoy watching them from a distance, sort of like a soap opera. And I have learned from repeated tragic attempts that I should never, ever be in a romantic relationship with a Scorpio. There is no greater recipe for disaster.

It has occurred to me that if I had only noticed my astrological preferences earlier in my life, I could possibly have avoided a number of unsavory relationships over the years. I could also have potentially gathered a band of Libras with whom to travel the world, merry and amok, and be living a free-wheeling lifestyle of continuous adventure. (It is with great sadness that I realize the window for these opportunities passed some time ago.) Perhaps in the future, I will make "What's your sign," the second question I ask people I meet. (You might think the first question would be "What's your name," but actually, with me, it's usually "How old are your children?")

In the meantime, are there any Libras out there?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thank Goodness It's.....MONDAY

I'm starting to lose all faith in the weekends.

In my former life--the one where I got to do whatever I wanted on the weekends, which usually revolved around sleeping until eleven or so, having coffee in bed, then reading all day before a fun night out with Blaker--I lived for the weekends. Most people do, no? Weekends were the time to relax, to recharge, to savor the life that you worked so hard during the week to create for yourself.

As a parent, and specifically as a stay-at-home Mom, I have no weekend. Every day is the same. Saturday is no different from Wednesday, except that more often than not Blaker is able to spend the day with us. I used to at least look forward to that, because having Blaker home took a little of the pressure off of me and afforded us a little time together that we weren't able to have on the weekdays. However, as the kids have gotten older and things have gotten only more hectic, the bliss of Saturday and Sunday has completely disintegrated into something painful and exhausting for the entire family.

Blaker and I are so tired, but the kids still have their boundless energy, and little bodies whose internal clocks are set to wake up at 6am. The children have reached an age where they bicker nearly nonstop. Sutton wants to get a rise out of Belly (not hard to do) so he touches her on the arm. Belly, being the drama queen that she is, begins to wail and fake sob. Hitting, pushing, and screaming usually ensues before we're able to get the episode nipped. These theatrics are not particularly enjoyable at any hour (although can occasionally be entertaining after a second cocktail), but are even less so when the sun has not yet risen and you have only been back to sleep for about an hour from assuring one kid or another that there are no monsters in the closet for the fifth time that night. And on the weekends, when we are all always together, this just goes on and on in a loop that never ends.

When one wakes up grumpy, moods tend to go downhill from there, at least in our household. Listening to the kids argue over breakfast, fight while they play, and constantly ask for things they are perfectly capable of handling themselves will wear anybody out. Trust me. By the time we are all fed and dressed and ready to do something--anything!--Blaker and I are both so irritable we can barely speak to anyone and the kids are already to the point that they need a nap. Everyone is hot (I hate summer in Suffolk), tired, and very, very cranky. We don't usually recover.

Now that Bellamy has started kindergarten, weeks are much easier. I miss my girl, but from 8:15am until 3:30pm, I'm down to one kid who still takes a decent nap and has no one to argue with for an entire seven hours. It's probably as close as this Mommy can get to heaven right now. Whenever I think about how great it is, I start to feel terribly guilty, but frankly, it's true. It's wonderful. Blaker is at work, so I'm not worrying about the kids making him crazy. I have a little peace and quiet for a little window of time, which is more than I've had in years (my kids rarely napped at the same time).

So now I look forward to Mondays, which may or may not make me a bad wife and mother. Regardless, it does make me much more sane.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Just Call Me A Fountain Of Wisdom

This morning at breakfast, my daughter informed me that I am a "freakin' genius," due to my lightning fast ability to untangle Barbie's hair. Thus, I decided to share some of my geniosity (not a real word, but perhaps it should be) with the world via

Things I Have Learned That YOU May Not Have Yet Experienced (and never may, but should be aware of anyway):

1. Christmas morning is not actually ruined if the Christmas tree falls over on the tile floor and breaks all the blown-glass ornaments during the gift opening. However, if it hits your brother and gives him a concussion on the way down, it does in fact delay the festivities.

2. Red nail polish looks a lot like blood, and will cause complete hysteria if you and your baby end up covered in it in the middle of Wal-Mart. It also does not come out of clothes, and is difficult to remove from hair and jewelry.

3. If the gynecologist asks you if it's okay for a student to assist during your annual exam, say, "No. Absolutely not." Otherwise, you may end up with an entire medical team taking turns poking their fingers up your naughty bits to see how a diaphragm SHOULD feel when it's placed correctly. (Note that this is great for a cheap thrill.)

4. She who carries a flask in her purse at all times is NOT an alcoholic, but merely prepared for anything.

5. I don't care if you take them at exactly the same damn time every day and never EVER miss a pill, birth control pills are not 100% effective. EVER.

6. If you use a Sharpie to draw a curly moustache on your dog, along with a tattoo on his belly that says "I like drunk chicks," be prepared to explain it all to the vet when something inexplicably happens to cause the dog to need to go to the vet. Because something WILL happen, and you WILL have to take the dog to the vet, and the vet WILL want to know why your dog has a moustache and a tattoo. (Just trust me on this one.)

7. It's fine to get a tattoo on a whim. Just don't get it of a large, colorful pea hen (a female peacock) and on a noticeable place like your wrist, particularly after you've been drinking.

8. It is difficult to jump on a trampoline in total darkness while eating gummy dinosaurs and drinking (more) vodka. Things spill. People fall off.

9. It's true what everyone says about changing little boys' diapers. At some point, he WILL pee in your mouth.

10. Wearing knee-high stiletto boots and using a dustpan is NOT the most effective way to shovel snow out of a driveway.

More later....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Know Now It's All On My Own, As You Blossom Every Day

For anybody who is lost on the title, it's a line from a song by Candlebox. It's also a lesson that I'm learning, how every day you should strive to change and grow. I think that is something that I have neglected to do for a long time. I've been stuck in a rut, you see. A big, unhappy rut.

Almost two weeks ago, Zach came to Virginia to get me and the kids and bring us to Tennessee to see my Dad. Dad has cancer and is going through treatment, so he can't travel. It had been a year since I had been home, and although last time I was here I swore I would never come back, here we are. And it's good that we did, because I've learned so much. I'd like to share what I learned, as complicated as it all is, because, well, this is my blog and I can write whatever I want.

Lesson Number One: You Need Your "People."
I don't really have a lot of friends. I'm an introvert. I'm terrible at getting out in the world and socializing with people. My best friends in the entire world, besides my husband and kids, are Rebecca Ferguson (who lives in Durham, NC), Zach and Shawna (my little brother and sis-in-law), and Michael Tyndall. Michael has known me longer than anyone except my family--going on about 16 years now--and has seen all my craziness over the years and still loves me anyway. Zach, Shawna, and Michael all live in TN and I only get to see them about once a year, unless I manage to persuade them to come visit me, which has happened on occasion, but not often enough.
Coming to TN and getting to hang out with these guys has been incredible. Times are hard right now, with the cancer and all the changes that have taken place in my life in the past few months. I had no idea how much I needed my "network," but I did. And I do. There will never be people who know me as well or for as long as they have, who support me and love me like they do. They are my People.

Lesson Number Two: If It's Broke, Fix It
I have a bad habit of getting into a routine and sticking with it, no matter what. In Virginia, I was especially bad about that--the kids and I had the same pattern, same activities, same things every day. We don't have anybody there except my in-laws, and they are busy, busy people. Blaker works a lot. Our routine WAS NOT WORKING, but I didn't dare change it. I'm too much a creature of habit. Visiting Tennessee broke our routine, made everything different, and it was as if a huge weight was lifted off of me. And that makes me see that when I get back, we need to change things. I don't know how or what exactly, but things have to be a little more different, a little more spontaneous, or I won't survive.

Lesson Number Three: Appreciate Your Surroundings
I had forgotten how beautiful it is in Tennessee. I grew up on a farm, and coming back to the farm was such a peaceful experience. I spent a couple of days in the mountains and on the river with Michael, and it was just incredible. This amazing, majestic place that smelled like home and sounded like home and felt like home. It reminded me of how amazing God must be, that he could think up a place like that and then create it. It reminded me that I need to look at everything that way, and to learn to appreciate the gifts that I've been given.

Lesson Number Four: A Lot Changes, But Some Things Never Do
This is something I've struggled with in the past when I've come to Tennessee. The house I grew up in is different--walls, floors, furniture. Things have changed over the years. My parents got used to being without kids dominating their lives, and they adapted accordingly. Cleveland has grown tremendously, and I don't even recognize half of it anymore. Some of my loved ones are no longer with us, and that makes visits hard because I miss them even more. For a long time that made me resist coming home, because it didn't feel like home. But now, I realize that that's not what home is. It doesn't matter if things look different. What matters is that this IS home. I may not want it to be, but it is, and it always will be.

So what now? What do I do with all these things I figured out? We can't move. Blaker's job has us locked in for two years. And would I even want to? God has a plan for me, right? There's a reason he showed me all of this. I just don't know what it is yet. But I will keep looking. I will.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Anger Management Is A Problem For Me

It has come to my attention that I have anger issues.

Now, one might say, "Why, Haley. You are such a good, sweet little Southern Girl. You're polite and like cuddly things, like dogs and bunnies. You wear lots of pink and have blond hair. How, oh, how could you possibly have anger issues?"

I hear this a lot. I mention my dark side and people look at me skeptically. This leads to all the tales--the Asian man in D.C., the woman in B.J.'s, being banned from several establishments in Cleveland, TN. Sometimes, I even call my Mom in as a witness, after all, she's been there for a lot of it. She likes to think of me as opinionated and high-strung. I think that's probably just a nice way of saying that I'm a psychotic bitch, but since she's my Mom you can't really fault her for trying to put a nice spin on things. At the very worst she might say, "She's crazy as a Bessie Bug, bless her heart." After all, she is a good Southern Girl too.

I have a nice smile. I'm able to fool a lot of people. I am, however, a pretty angry person. There's not one good particular reason for it. I don't have some sketchy, abusive childhood or anything. I grew up on a farm surrounded by a giant family who loved me a lot. I did have a few traumatic romantic relationships as an adult, but frankly, who doesn't? If that alone was a trigger the world would be fueled solely by hatred. No, there doesn't seem to be a very good reason for it all. Most of the time, I am able to deal with it pretty well. At times, if I am extremely high-stress, little things push me over the edge. For the most part, though, there are only a couple of triggers that really get me going, one of which I would like to discuss here because it's appearance is in my imminent future: a relative of B's. And this relative is coming to visit this weekend.

Let's back up a bit. For those of you who don't know, I was married once before I married my current husband. The marriage was brief, even shorter than the three-year courtship. My ex-husband had a crazy, Jerry Springer-like family that was unmatched by anything I had ever experienced. We're talking, immediate family members with serious addiction problems, frequent stays in mental hospitals, the works. Getting rid of that load in our divorce was probably just as beneficial to me as getting rid of the ex. At that time, I swore that if I EVER remarried, the guy would have to be an only child, and an orphan at that. NO MORE RELATIVES. I can barely handle my OWN crazy family. God knows I don't need someone else's adding to the chaos OR to my stress levels. He could be ugly or stupid or completely useless if I loved him, as long as he was alone.

Then I met B. B is not ugly or stupid or completely useless. B is neither an orphan NOR an only child. As a matter of fact, his family is very Brady Bunch, and then some. He has a sister, stepbrother, half sister, Mom, Dad, Stepmom, ex-Stepdad, ex-step-siblings, and many other various cousins, steps, and whatnot. All I can say is that I must have really loved him a LOT. I did. And I do. Otherwise, we would never have made it through seven years of togetherness, including two children (one unplanned), three bouts of cancer in the immediate family, two grandparent deaths, several career changes, and moves spanning four states and numerous homes, along with an assortment of other roadblocks. During all this drama, I have grown to love his nutty family. With one exception.

I will not get specific as to who that exception is, for B's sake, on the off chance that somebody (anybody?) ever gets bored enough to read my ramblings. I will just say this: there are few things in this world that cause my anger issues to flare like this relative does. This person has harmed my children (unintentionally, but through neglect, which is still unforgiveable). This person has psychologically screwed with my kids, as well as my husband. This person has done things that I will never, ever forget and never, ever forgive. I'm not Christian enough for that (see my Homeboy blog if you don't believe me). Yet, I am forced to endure a relationship. I am forced to endure visits. I am forced to endure news, holidays and photos.

I am forced to endure. And I am very, very angry. Yes, folks, I am one pissed off little Southern Girl.

The problem comes in when I try to figure out what to do about it. There doesn't seem to be an answer. I have to stay close by to protect my children, so I can't avoid this person. My husband won't keep this person away. I fly off the handle easily and might pull a Ninja and flip out and kill somebody with a spoon at any time if I have to keep this up. It's not fair and it's not healthy.

So what do I do? Right now I stew, and shave years off my life with a sharp dagger of hatred (I may be furious, but I'm still quite poetic). It makes me mean and angry and particularly unattractive I'm sure, but I can't seem to control it. And THAT, that loss of control, is the worst part of all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You suck! (AKA: Oh, how I love vampires)

I never understood the Harry Potter phenomenon. I tried to read the books. I curled up on the couch with my hot tea and my cozy blanket, all ready to leave the Muggle world and emerge myself in the mystical. The Harry Potter series had been around for a few years, but I was still a Potter Virgin. I hadn't had the time to read them, but when I did, I just knew I would love them.

I didn't. I hated them. I made it halfway through the first book, skipped to the second, was bored stiff, and then just gave up.

After that, I tried watching the movies. I listened to critics on television discuss the amazing story lines, the breathtaking special effects. I was certain that, regardless of my feelings for the books, I would enjoy the movies.

I didn't. I hated them. I watched the first one, tried to watch the second, and never even finished it.

When I tell people this, they have been known to wonder aloud about what may be wrong with me. Apparently, I am lacking some important Harry Potter gene. Don't get me wrong, I think J.K. Rowling is probably one of the most creative novelists of our time, but I just don't like the material. I could care less about some stupid school of wizardry. The characters annoy me, and Harry is the biggest dork ever, but not in a way that makes me love him. More in a way that makes me want to kick his ass.

With this said, despite my disgust with wizardry, there is something in the supernatural genre that I adore, love, and cherish. Vampires. Yes, that's right. Vampires.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved vampires. I find them to be about the most fascinating creatures in the literary world. I've read dozens of books and articles and essays on Vlad the Impaler, taken an entire semester on Bram Stoker, and spent endless hours perusing vampire material both in the library and on the Web. I know all the legends and stories, the superstitions and curses. I know how you're supposed to find them, lure them, and kill them. I am a connoisseur of vampires.

In case you are curious, I do not believe vampires actually exist, nor do I believe that I am one. I saw a documentary on vampires once and learned that there are actually thousands of people in America alone who believe that they are the undead. They sleep in coffins, drink blood, stay out of the sunshine-- you know, the whole vampire kit and caboodle. I don't do any of those things. (Well, except stay out of the sunshine. But that is less because I am afraid of turning to ashes and more because I am of Irish descent and get burned very easily.) I am just terribly interested in the macabre, and specifically, vampires.

Imagine my delight when I heard that there was a new series of vampire books by a previously unknown author named Stephenie Meyer. These books, The Twilight Series, are geared towards the Young Adults of the world, but have become wildly popular with all age groups. It took me a while to get around to reading them (vampire obsession aside, I do have two babies to raise) but now I have been SUCKED IN (no pun intended). Even with my extremely limited recreational reading time, I read TWILIGHT in two evenings. Although it reads quickly, it is not a small book--about 500 pages. As soon as I completed the last page, I immediately began reading its sequel, NEW MOON. I had to drag myself away from NEW MOON last night around 1am so that I could get some sleep and be ready to deal with my children this morning.

It's not often that I get to wallow in my weirdness, but Meyer's novels have provided me the catalyst to do just that. I can celebrate my love of the undead without even standing out in a crowd--it seems like everyone is reading the Twilight series these days, and they are found in every bookstore and superstore. So for all you vampire lovers in the world, go out and pick up TWILIGHT. Curl up with your red wine and your turtlenecks (just in case) and enjoy. Who knows when another good vampire series might come around.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finding wisdom at.....Kohl's Department Store

Sutton, my beautiful boy, fell headfirst today into the Terrible Twos. He's been teetering on the edge for a while now--testing the waters, dipping in one toe at a time. A tantrum here, some backtalk there, but he has always pulled back when I put on my stern Mommy face or used the stern Mommy tone of voice. He says he's sorry, he puts his chubby little hand on my arm or leg or shoulder, and he looks up at me with those huge blue eyes and the cutest face I've ever seen. It will melt your heart. Today, though, was a different story.

The kids and I had gone to Kohl's. We were not at Kohl's with the intention of being at Kohl's, we had actually gone to the pharmacy about a block away to pick up a prescription. It was miserably hot, the kids were bored, and fighting like crazy. So instead of taking them straight home, I figured we'd wonder around Kohl's for a few minutes. They have toys, they have books, it was something different for a little while. And all was fine. That is, until Sutton decided he wanted me to carry him.

Now, Sutton is a little guy. He's always been beneath the measureable size on the pediatric growth charts. Both Blaker and I are small in stature, it's to be expected that our children will not be large people. Perhaps not even average sized people. But even though Sutt is small, since I'm not very big either it makes carrying him get old QUICKLY. At 2 years and 8 months, he's active enough that usually he's fine running around on his own. But when he does want to be carried, and I'm the one playing pack mule, I am not able to last very long.

Today is a miserably hot, humid, sticky day--the kind where you can't stand the weight of your own clothes on your skin, much less the weight of a toddler and his clothes on top of your clothes on your skin. So when he demanded that I carry him, I said, "no." I expected him to fuss a little or argue. I did not expect him to plop down in the middle of the aisle and commence screaming, "You carry me!" at the top of his sweet little baby lungs. Full volume, on a loop. Lucky me.

I'm no stranger to kid tantrums in public places. Bellamy threw some doozies when she was a toddler, one specifically in Target that actually caused several Target Team Members to approach me and ask if I needed assistance as I sobbed and shook my head. I am the Queen of smiling apologetically, gathering my wailing, kicking, flailing child and heading for the nearest exit. I'm used to the mix of sympathetic looks from other Moms and the appalled sneers of the "others" (those who have clearly never had to wrangle a child anywhere, especially a child between the ages of 1-5) who either can't or won't understand. Every time is the same, every time we slip out, every time we are a noisy anonymous. This time, though, was different.

As I was gathering my child into my arms, whispering and bargaining, threatening and soothing, a woman stopped beside me. She was older than me, probably an entire generation ahead, with graying hair and a serene face. As she stood next to me, I looked up at her, and she layed her hand on my shoulder and smiled. Not with pity, not even with empathy, just with....peace. As she smiled, she looked me straight in the eyes, steady and unbroken, and said, "You are OKAY. You are doing a GREAT job. It WILL get better and you WILL be fine. Don't give up." Then she walked away.

What she did not know, could not have known, is that I needed that, more than I've needed anything in a long time. This point that I'm at in my life is filled with so many wonderful things--a husband I adore, two healthy and beautiful children, a nice home, blessings galore--but it's often so busy, so complicated, that I can't absorb it. I can't wallow in the joy I'm wrapped in. I'm so tired, so harried, so mired in the day to day care of two little people who need me for everything that I don't always know that I'm going to be okay. I don't know if I'm doing a good job. I don't know that everything will be fine.

I will most likely never see that woman again in my life, but I think I will always remember her. One could argue that the words of a stranger should carry less clout that those of someone near to my heart, or at least near to my life. But sometimes, SOMETIMES, the words of a stranger are so much clearer, so much easier to listen to, than those from the lips of one your love. Clear enough to be heard over the screaming.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jesus is my Homeboy, OR: You Gotta Have Faith

With all that's tragically askew in the world, it seems as though conversations about belief and faith in a Higher Being, or lack thereof, happen more and more every day. I even have them with MYSELF now, especially every week when the issue of Newsweek arrives. I tuck myself into the corner of the couch with a cup of Earl Grey (who are we kidding--more often than not it's a martini or a glass of wine, but I'm trying not to distract from the wholesomeness of this blog) while the kids are napping and read it cover to cover. Across the world, people are fighting, killing, dying over such silly, but necessary, things as oil and money, and over the much more important things such as freedom and religion. It really makes you start to wonder who's right, what's best.

I grew up Baptist. As an adult, I was baptized Episcopalian. My husband was baptized Methodist, as were our children. Am I Baptist, Episcopalian, or Methodist? No. I'm not anything. At least not unless I start my own religious sect very soon and make myself something (or, if Gina's cult will hurry and get up and running, that might be an option). I've thought long and hard, read and studied, talked to many people, and reached my own conclusions about the Great Beyond. I believe there is an afterlife, but I think of it more as Nirvana than heaven. I don't think you die and go there and float on a cloud wearing wings and live happily ever after. I strongly belive in reincarnation, and that we live many, many times, until our soul has completed its journey, at which time we retire to our "Nirvana," which is not a place of living and consciousness, but just strong, happy energy (to greatly oversimplify). And you certainly never have to be baptized to become happy energy. I don't believe in hell at all, because I believe in karma. There is such a thing as hell on earth, and karma will take care of any punishment eventually. What goes around, comes around, maybe just not in this lifetime.

I think Jesus was real. He was probably a really cool guy, a healer, blessed with special talents, and he may even have been immaculately conceived. I'm down with all that. I do not, however, believe that he was perfect. I don't believe he ever thought he was perfect, implied he was perfect, or was meant to do so. I think a bunch of stupid guys many hundreds of years after his death, decided to edit the Biblical texts to make Jesus perfect. And I do believe that his life was much more normal than we are lead to believe from their steller editing skills. Which leads me to the Bible.

I think the Bible is a very interesting topic. I don't see how it can be called the Word of God, because it was written by men. Sure, men who were supposedly guided by God, but it was still their mortal words being written down. Hence, the Word of Man Being Guided by God When They Chose to Pay Attention would be much more fitting. I think the Bible has merit, can teach many lessons about how we should and should not behave, but I don't think it's all true. Not to say I feel like it's a giant work of fiction, but I think it's probably partially true, partially false, extremely exaggerated in some instances, and that there are probably parts that some guy with a great imagination and an even greater sense of humor wrote thinking, "I can't WAIT to see who is gonna believe this!"

There's definitely a God (Allah, Higher Being, Lord, Holy Ghost, etc). Whether or not he meddles in our lives and decisions or just sits back and enjoys the show is a little foggy to me. I think he probably just watches, shaking his head when we screw up, laughing at us from time to time, and hoping that we eventually get it right. I think he CAN intervene when he wants to, and does sometimes--especially to answer a few prayers--but I don't think he goes out of his way to make things more simple or complicated for us most of the time. I don't think he gets angry or mean or strikes anybody down (smote--I LOVE the word "smote"). Which just reinforces my idea that such a kind being would never create a hell, or send anyone to it (naughtly angels, included). I think he enjoys hearing from us, and that it's great to pray, although much easier to communicate with God through meditation. I think it's important to be respectful and grateful, more than anything.

You know what I think is most important about all of this though? It's all just what I believe. I think people go horribly awry when they take their beliefs--be it Christianity, Islam, Atheism, or anything else--and think that their way is the ONLY way and that everyone who believes differently is wrong. Most religious denominations were created by men who were being influenced by their own needs and desires, not God. The Bible may lead one to believe that you have to follow the commandments, believe in the resurrection of Christ, whatever, to get into heaven, but I'd be willing to bet that the texts of other religions offer up their own set of rules for reaching the Great Reward. Who decides what's right? Or wrong? I am all for people having strong beliefs--being a strong, unwavering Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic, or anything else--and following his or her own path to his or her own End. I think faith is EXTREMELY important, not religion or denomination, per se. My opinion on this is the only thing that keeps my mouth shut when people start "witnessing" to me, because I know that witnessing is advocated in the Bible, and those Christians love their Bible and doing what it says. Great. I'd rather not hear it, but I still support it.

Now that I've shared my beliefs, you can bet that I won't be trying to make you feel the same way or telling you how wrong you are when you don't. I'm pretty sure that this blog will probably score me a whole passle of extra prayers from my Mom (she's probably already started praying for me before even finishing reading), but that's okay. I could probably use it. And I'll probably hear from some of the rest of my friends about eternal hell fires and whatnot, but I don't mind that either. Condemning me won't stop us all from hanging out in Nirvana someday, and I look foward to seeing you when we get there.