Things That Are Out Of Order

I definitely have a problem. It's been mentioned to me before, in shocked looks and over reactive arguments, so I never really gave it too much thought, assuming it was merely the vicious contrivance of an enemy mind set to undermine my sanity. But then it hit me square in the face. This morning. When I dropped Dagny off at the vet for her spay appointment and had to fight a mild panic attack, right before I left Aspen standing on a street corner in front of her school and several quasi-questionable vehicles parked in the shadows.

I worry more about my dogs than I do my kids.

Before you slam your computer in disgust and disappointment, or send me a congratulatory note for finally coming to my senses, let me clarify:

As human beings, it is built in to us to control our environments. We change positions or temperatures or colors or smells or really anything that we don't like to live with. We cultivate careers and hobbies and pastimes and families and communities around things that make us happy and captivate us. It's instinctive to draw little compartments around our lifestyle choices and create the most realistic sense of security and control that we can. It's what we do. In 2009, I remember lying awake in a humid bedroom in Uganda, staring at silver-dollar sized holes in the mosquito net above my bed, when the reality that I had four human lives for which I was solely responsible, innocently depending on me, thousands and thousands of miles away,  across oceans and continents and hours and days. They were there, I was here, surrounded by other children and people and families. And I realized, in that moment, if anything happened - whether an earthquake shook a roof in on top of my sleeping babies, or a horse trampled one of them, or some driver texting his mom swerved in the wrong second, anything could happen, and I would not be there to control, fix or prevent it. I had a few moments of absolute terror. Anxiety like I have never experienced. The sense of not-being-in-control was something I had never really thought about. Life is just something you coast through and everybody is ok, until they aren't. But there is this thing in the back of our minds, as human beings, that everybody is ok, and things are just fine, because we make it that way. Because we are doing it right. Because we've got it handled. And then one day, somehow, we realize that we don't. Some of us take longer to learn that than others. Some people never figure it out. For some of us, it takes the Most Terrible Thing We Can Imagine to happen to us before we understand that we never "had it handled" in the first place.

This is where we begin to wax all philosophical and talk about the Goodness of God, which I will not contend, or that Everything Happens For A Reason, which I truly believe, and sometimes we even indulge the Sowing and Reaping conversation in an attempt to place blame and reclaim our own control. This argument usually doesn't end well for anyone, unless a life of guilt and bitterness and shame appeal to you...  But the reality is that at some point, as human beings, we have to come to  terms with the fact that we Do Not Control Things. Some things, maybe. Small things. Things that Have Little Consequence. And this brings me back to my original point: I worry more about my dogs because the world of my dogs is small. It's petty, it's dependent entirely upon me, and it's something, that more or less, I can control. More so than the elementary school where I dropped Aspen off. Who's to say that Ensworth Elementary could never be a Sandy Hook? More so than the swirling emotions of a teenage girl that can't be grounded away. More so than the outcome of the potentially terrible and yet somehow necessary thought of handing over the care and upbringing of one of my children for several months to a family I barely know. More so than a walk down the street with any number of potentially lethal accidents, criminals and catastrophes hanging in the balance overhead.

I realized several years ago that I have little to no control over the lives of other human beings. Including my own children. Whether I am in Uganda or the next bedroom doesn't change whether MacKenzie's heart or Natalee's cello playing fingers will get broken. But my dogs. I tell them where to go. When to sit. When to eat. I subjected Dagny to the pain and suffering and confusing loneliness of a surgery this morning. I can't tell her, like I could tell Halle, Don't worry, this will be worth it, you'll get a prize at the end... Dogs depend on me to control their world. They trust me. My kids already understand the folly of looking to me for a reliable and well-scripted destiny. They have already undertaken the human operation of controlling their own worlds and environments, even the ones I have tried to craft safely for them, they have changed. They have plastered Harry Potter posters over the soft alfalfa-hay green walls that I provided them. They have added chocolate to the perfect cup of coffee that I built. Dagny knows nothing better than the piece of dry dog food from my hand. Simply because it's from my hand. It's easier. Worrying about dogs. It's friendlier to a power-hungry human.

My kids probably feel like they play second (or fifth?) fiddle to a herd of dogs, not knowing that I have channelled my urge to control the outcome of their choices and life events into their canine counterparts. Emmy, with all of her anxiety issues and strange behaviors, is someone that I can effectively mold and shape, whereas the more pressure I put on MacKenzie to conform, or relax into a mold, the more she struggles and fights and makes her own shape. I guess I am just lazy. Or scared to take responsibility for the outcome of my kids. Not that I can avoid it. Whether I shape them passively or aggressively, I get to take some of the credit for how they turn out. But what life delivers to them - I can't control that. I can't put them on leashes and build a fence and tell the doctors exactly what to do them. Remove their ability to reproduce (although this isn't a terrible idea), microchip them so they can never wander without being brought back, trim their toenails so they can't dig in and defend themselves... In some ways the energy seems much more well spent on a pack of dogs. I guess that is what separates people from animals. That sense that we each have our own path and at some point, we have to wander it ourselves. If I let Emmy wander her own path she'd be right back out in the middle of the midnight street, narrowly missingthe bumper of every passing car. I don't have to test her to find out. But Halle - where will she go? If her last adventure didn't work out so well, she'll re adapt, look for a new way. I can be here to offer suggestions and reminders and ideas, and she can take them. Or not. Either way she will learn and grow and experience, for better or worse, all of the things that she needs to. To be her. Which is not me.

So my task is to practice investing my care into my kids, even while knowing I can't predict the outcome, at least as much as I do into my dogs, where I can determine what happens. Human life, relationships, they're all about control. Relinquishing it, maintaining it - this has been my way of clinging to control. I need to learn how to stay involved even when I can't have the last word. This is probably the hardest and most worst thing for any parent. I'd rather wash my hands and walk away then share the burden of one of my kids Big Mistakes. But that's not why we're here. If my parents walked away from all of my Big Mistakes I would be hopelessly adrift. I was for awhile. It sucked. It's a terribly hard transition. To stay invested but not in charge. I don't like hard. I like easy. I like dogs on leashes in sunshine better than kids and tough decisions and letting go. But I've got both. And I need to own both, and love both, and be both. Rarr.

Things That Are Real

This morning, I had a nightmare that I was awakened at an ungodly hour by a nine year old wearing a quasi-realistic mountain lion screen printed t-shirt, with frizzy unkempt hair, telling me that she needed a thin white pillowcase for school. It wasn't until this afternoon, when I encountered this: 

That I realized that my nightmare was, in fact, reality. 

I think I  am not as well recovered from my ailment as I believed myself to be, since I have chased this day around in a half-drunk stupor, trying to discern between delusion and reality. Yes, we have almost completed the purchase of a bright yellow Mini Cooper. No, the ever-efficient Natalee did not load her cello into the car this morning as per her Wednesday ritual. And whether by design or accident, the safe harbor of the ladies restroom at Costco provided me enough reprieve from constant confusion to actually clear my head and think. There were no wiener dogs pushing the door open with their noses. No empty toilet paper tubes on the roller, under the sink, on the back of the toilet, with the nearest usable roll in an upstairs closet. No kids crying for their turn in the shower or which color tampon they can "borrow". Peaceful personal time, at its finest. You never know what you'll find at Costco.

There is nothing so serene as time wasted on a brand new set of patio furniture with the smell of bicycle tires wafting over my shoulder and the soothing whir of a vita-mix demo just down the aisle. No place to be for at least 17 minutes. No errands to run, money to spend, calls to answer. Just me and the listless wandering bulk-grocery shoppers, solving all of the world's problems. And then my prescription buzzer goes off and I trundle reluctantly toward the pharmacy line with 47 post-geriatrics and a few identifiable care-givers. Unfortunately my stolen 17 minutes resulted in a late pick up for a certain cello lesson and the cringe of guilt I felt wearing a beer hat as I went in search of a budding musician in a Presbyterian church that seemed to have disapproval painted on to the walls. 

Somehow each one of these crazy days full of children deliveries and minuscule tasks and tiny crises ticks by without catastrophic failure and before I know it, a month is gone, and then a year, and suddenly I've been married for two years to a man that I just met, and finding myself chasing my tail (and his) back to the starting line for a fresh take on how we want to let these days go by. A little less run and a little more soak. Not minding a wait here and there because it's in the sunshine, and there's somebody interesting to talk to, or maybe just a clumsy beetle to watch as we don't hurry anywhere. Maybe it's a pipe dream and we go from one level of panic to the next, but for the life of me, I don't know why. I mean, heck. I made sloppy joes from scratch tonight. No Manwhich or MacCormacks seasoning packets even. Just a little sprinkling, stirring, dumping, tasting, adding... I mean if we don't have to rely on a Safeway within 5 minutes to make sloppy joes, I'd say we're pretty well set for life in the slow lane. Or maybe I'm still a little delirious. 

Things That Are Out Of Control

I was sick for two days and the whole world fell apart. Or at least that's what it feels like. I don't remember parts of it, but as I pushed my way through a shower this morning, feeling half way human again, the consequences of my vacation in zombieland began to surface. The memories start to come back in flashes as a I pick up an old fabric softener sheet off the stairs that Aspen had been wearing for a hat. Oh yes. We did laundry yesterday. That explains the multiple pair of underwear in unidentifiable stages of cleanliness strung from the downstairs bathroom to the linen closet, where all unclaimed underwear go. It also justifies the stack of kitchen towels I was standing on at my bathroom sink this morning, confusing them in my post-sick-early-morning-blur for a bathmat. I'll wager that the laundry undertaking yesterday will ultimately result in MacKenzie coming home from school in my favorite Free People top since "someone" put it in her pile. Oh wait, Kizzie is home sick. I'd better go in and go through "her" clean clothes before she wakes up.

In my delirium I distinctly remember making an extra large pot of coffee for myself, thinking, completely irrationally, how I could heat up the leftovers this morning when I might be feeling a little better, thereby saving myself the extra work of making fresh coffee since I was sick the day before. When I am sick, things that make sense just don't really, at all. Sadly, the Extra Large Pot of coffee was completely gone. Like somebody had even sloshed some lukewarm water in the bottom to get the last dregs of coffee flavor out of it, gone. This compelled me to make fresh coffee, for better or worse, and question my sanity in remembering the giant pot I made and wondering where it went. And then I remembered Halle drinking something that resembled a mug full of chunks of hershey bar with a little splash of luke warm coffee-flavored water over it while we watched Murder She Wrote. Angela Lansbury ain't the only one solving mysteries here, y'all.

Being sick has also caused my jeans to not fit well. Maybe it's just that I don't feel that great yet, but I distinctly DO NOT remember eating much at all, especially when My Darling Husband sweetly offered to make dinner and it was an odd mix of chili dogs, top ramen and week and a half old stir fry. And yet this morning, my jeans were extremely difficult to put on, and unless I stand Very Still in One Position, they look terrible. All of them. Maybe I am swollen from being sick. Like my whole body is in a febrile swell that is causing nothing to fit and everything to tick me off. How one could possibly gain weight while lying around eating nothing more than chocolate cake and saltine crackers with butter is beyond me.

You know those days when every time you pass a mirror you just get sad because there is just no fixing what is going on in there? It's one of those days. It's just too much work to hold my arms up long enough to even put a bun in my hair, let alone makeup, or curls or anything that might give me the appearance of still being alive. Thankfully, Kizzie just surfaced from her sickbed and I have to say, I feel much better. It could be worse.

There are two more (visible) baskets of laundry to fold out here in the living room, which means I may be able to salvage part of my wardrobe once I reclaim my underwear from Aspen's drawers. I am WAY behind on avoiding all of my eBay responsibilities, a dereliction that I feel I earned by posted 1.5 years worth of feedback the other day. Feedback is not my primary concern when I am messing around on eBay. Unless it's reading my own. I do like attention. But now that my feedback is caught up, I really should take care of the auctions that I have been ignoring and questions like "is the inside seam of this item stitched with blue thread, or purple? and is the stitch a 1/4 inch or 5/16?". I don't know, and I don't care. And for the $5.16 that you will pay for this shirt, including shipping, neither should you.

Apparently at some point over the weekend, I painted my fingernails sparkly black. Not sure why. But I did. I even did a decent enough job I might not pin it on Aspen this time. So I guess being sick didn't turn out all bad. Maybe I will stay sick awhile longer. Then I don't have to wear my jeans just yet.

Things I Do

I tell people Aspen painted my fingernails because they look so bad.

Apparently all of those years of not painting my fingernails paid off in a severe lack of skill that I have yet to overcome. I suppose that if I keep doing it, I will get better, but I think I ultimately lack the patience to ever be a passable nail stylist. Or even keep the paint confined to my nail beds. I hate using red or any shade thereof because I inevitably end up looking like I just got done with a record breaking finger jello eating contest.

I also collect shoes.

Aspen was helping me pack my bedroom and I gave her a Very Large Box to put shoes in. Her first comment: "Are you SURE we will only need one?" No. No Aspen, I am not sure. Actually I am fairly certain we will need three. But just pile them on there for now. Except those. I want to wear those. Oh, and those! I forgot I had those! And that one pair there. I haven't even worn those yet. They can go in the next box. You know what, nevermind. Just pack these towels.

Another thing that I do is change my clothes at least three times every morning.

This habit of mine makes storing my clothes on the floor in front of my dresser a more sensible habit. Then all of my options are on display, waiting for me to try repeatedly and then cast aside. Like that one shirt with the lace in the back that is So Cute, but every time I put it on I feel fat. Instead of realizing that the chocolate cake I have eaten Every Night This Week is sitting right there on those shelves of fat above the top of my jeans (I won't call them muffin tops because I haven't indulged in a muffin in ages), I blame the shirt. But it goes back into the array of choices strewn out around the core of three or four pairs of jeans settled in the middle of the floor. I like to work from the base outward, like a color wheel of texture and style fanning out from the denim that I have to work with. I punctuate my fantasm of fashion with little dots of sundress piles and hoody wraps. It's all right there. Easy access. Calling to me to try it on.

I am a terrible packer.

I am such a bad packer, that I have intentionally decided to wait until my mom comes next weekend to pack Granny's china, even though I have all these specialized zipper pouches with foam and stuff that my grandma got for it and it should be simple. I will find a way to shortcut, and will, unquestionably, break something. I just packed the entire closet, which includes everything that Josh hasn't worn in the last six months, into two boxes complete with hangers, dust bunnies, and rolled into nice little multi-garment wads that will definitely need to be ironed someday, if anyone in this house knew how. I packed a (one, singular) box up in the kitchen, and I wrapped some things in newspaper, and stacked other, mostly unbreakable (ha!) items precariously throughout the rest of the box. It now sits in the garage "ready to go" like a yard sale treasure trove of kitchen wonders. I just hope that the people loading the truck (i.e. Josh) are intuitive enough to nestle that little gem of a box in a safe spot near the top of the load...

I bought my 13 year old daughter a push-up bra.

Accidentally. Hey, it was a Victoria's Secret Pink bra at a thrift store for like a buck. So the 4cm thick padding escaped my attention. Lucky for me she put it on and was mortified so I quickly tucked it away before Kizzie found it. I am sure I can sell it on eBay. To some other unwitting mother trying to prostitot their daughter out like I am. Sometimes I really question my own judgement as a mother. Although when Kizzie came home from school in a skirt that just grazed the bottom of her cheeks the other day (and not the ones on her face), we had a conversation about length appropriate attire. And why bike shorts were invented. So they don't all sneak by me. Just some.

Things That Are Of Little Consequence

Last night when I climbed in bed, half way through a non-committal fight with my husband about something petty and ridiculous, I felt as though someone had stuffed cotton balls into my ears, up my nose and packed my sinuses tightly with the dense fuzz. It was convenient that I was mad at Josh because then I could blame him for me getting sick. Somehow in my phlegm addled brain it made sense. This morning I woke up with Josh curled up behind me, cuddling me with a handful of wadded up tissue, prepared to catch either the snot or the drool escaping from one of my facial orifices. Not that he was at all in the right last night, but he can sure be sweet - even when I am not. He left for work and I immediately returned to a coma like state, mouth breathing because it's the only passage for air into my lungs at present, until 11 o'clock this morning. I thought I felt better after I started drinking coffee, and chased the rotten melted cheese taste of mouth breathing away, but then I took a shower and was immediately overwhelmed with everything that I needed to do and the pounding of kettle drums in my ears. Luckily, being sick means I have an excuse to sit down with my coffee and my computer and ramble on about making lists and planning an attack on this house that for all of the world looks like it could have been in the path of the Oklahoma Tornado. And then I realized that the difference between here and there is that all of my stuff in still in one place, and for the most part, whole. What a nightmare for them to endure. To lose everything. But watching the videos and seeing the photos of the mess, the overwhelming theme of many survivors is gratitude for their lives, and the ideal that the most important things in life are not things. Watch this video, by the way:

As I avoid packing my house for the impending move, the arguments between Josh and I about my hoarding tendencies echo in my ears, along with the throbbing pressure of snot infested sinuses, and I wonder if I should have less stuff. For me, stuff represents people. The china that belonged to a great grandmother that I barely knew, but somehow found myself following many of the same pursuits in life, means the world to me. Josh can't understand having dishes we never use. The vintage yellow high chair that stands at attention awaiting the visits of nieces and nephews and someday, grandbabies that I can't even fathom having, represents the ever-ready hospitality I want to offer my friends and family, along with the porta-crib and the the stroller (which we did sell at the yard sale. Some concessions must be made). The row of empty cheerwine bottles which I plan to transform magically into a swaying outdoor light fixture remind me of a wedding party that I picked everything for as a representation of the old fashioned, small town, unselfish, soda pop and front porch love that I share with My Boy and our whole family, not a token of my affection for The Avett Brothers, as Josh insists. The collection of band t-shirts that Aunt Tracey brilliantly suggested would make a great concert going quilt... All of these things are petty and impractical in and of themselves, but carry meaning and purpose to me. Maybe because of  how I was raised and the importance of family traditions to me, the stuff has become too important. Or maybe because Josh has yet to develop these deep roots of family affection, he doesn't get it, but I have faith that he will. That someday Granny's china will be as important to him as his fire department badges and medals, because just like those represent who he is and has worked to become, so my family heirlooms speak of how I came to be who I am. I wouldn't die without these possessions, they are just things. But they are beautiful things that remind me of the beautiful life that we are given. I like to be tied to life by relationships and things. Not that being a wandering gypsy with only the guitar on his back wouldn't be fun for a moment, but relationships are the things separate living from being ALIVE.

I guess the question of values is one of the driving forces behind everything we do. The things that motivate us to get things done and accept consequences, good and bad, of actions. For example, I am not starting laundry right now because it is more important to me to not move my head than whether Josh has clean boxers in the morning. This value will probably shift as soon as I take some cold medicine and I rethink the effect of no clean boxers. Or chocolate cake. Is it a coincidence that my face broke out like a premenstrual 14 year old shortly after Josh brought me home one of those fantastic All-American Chocolate cakes from Costco and I embarked on a sometimes twice-daily adventure of 7 layered chocolate? But are the zits worth the bliss of squishy chocolate cake and a cold glass of milk? I should say so. At least for this week. Whether vintage high chairs or clean laundry have any intrinsic value of their own is completely subjective, based upon the beliefs of any given person. For My Loving Husband, he would be overjoyed to trade baby furniture with or without historic value for clean underwear. Lucky for me this is not a logical trade, but I will do the laundry to avoid him tripping over the space offensive high chair on his way to find his boxers in the pile. The beautiful thing about the differences in our values is the balance that it provides for us. Without Josh, I would be a messy hoarder in dirty underwear. Without me, he would be, well, other than WAY less cool, he would have only his fire badges to remind him that he is connected to the universe in some way. And Emmy. Those dogs are the ultimate reminders of how lucky we are to have relationships, and what unconditional love really looks like. Even if they vengeance pee every once in awhile.

And that brings me to tattoos, and the reasons that I want to paint a picture of the mixed up crazy person I am, full of passions and full of life, on my body for everyone to see. Since I was a small person I have been desperate to be known as an individual, someone set apart, different, unusual. There is no worse fear for me than going unrecognized in my hoodies and jeans and soccer mom car as just another somebody. I shop at Costco, I watch TV, I live life. But I also KNOW things. Like Russian words and latin words and hebrew words, and I have a big and complex family. I am a firewoman (there you go, Josh) and an EMT. I started out as a little butterfly, testing my wings. I have accomplished the feat of not killing four children, so far. There are so many more things I want to say about myself, in full color, to the whole world. So they know. I probably need counseling for this, but I'd prefer to spend the money on tattoos. Sorry mom. :( I know that YOU know who I am , but what if I go unnoticed? That would be worse than driving a mini van. Nothing makes me happier than telling someone about my AWESOME little brother that scripted the motivating words on my arm in Russian. Or the baby niece that came, ever so briefly, to remind us as a family of how important we are to each other, and what we are capable of. Or the proud heritage of the men in my family that have served for our country. Really it's just overblown self focus. I like to talk about myself and these pictures give me a foot in the door. Someday maybe when I tell my story and it's a worldwide best seller I won't feel so compelled to broadcast my awesomeness in ink on my body. But maybe I will. I can never get enough attention.

I am frantically sorting through my aching brain to think of more words to say so I don't have to go do laundry, which will inevitably lead to cleaning at least SOME sort of path to the washing machine, which will in turn lead to packing junk in the garage, spilling over into the eBay room and then my bedroom, and rendering my entire day of lazy sickness totally wasted. But clean boxers. THEY are important.

Things That TICK ME OFF

This morning at 6:16 AM (That's Pacific Time, Y'all) my darling husband woke me up to tell me that our bank account was overdrawn $555. American. Instantly my mind raced to any forgotten shopping binges that I forgot to calculate into the register, but came up blank since I have been So Darn Good lately. Of course Josh was having chest pain and on the verge of an all-out panic attack, since the 60+ hours a week he is working just don't seem to cover the bills anyway. I reassured him in my calm and laid back demeanor (which means I wasn't fully awake) that I was sure it was some technical glitch and all would be well. He was insistent, as usual, that it was fraudulent activity and probably our whole lives had been hacked. I think he then checked to make sure his gun was still in the drawer by the bed, which is wasn't because he hid it behind the TV for some reason. I have always casually poo-pooed Josh's paranoid ranting about identity theft and mocked his careful worrying, noting how it was HIS truck was broken into and wallet stolen, and not mine (never mind that this was due to the forgetfulness of a certain un-named individual who was not me. For once.) , and in all the years of carrying a debit card, I had never been hacked that I could remember. Although I think there was this one thing on PayPal... but that turned out to be a new pair of boots that I forgot I ordered. And I happen to be universally careless about locking cars, house doors, internet passwords, pin numbers... Josh, however, had survived a series of misfortunes due to fraudulent activities, in spite of numerous safeguards and anal attention to locking and passwording everything he owns, even from me.  Before we go any further, I would like you to understand that I really dislike the word fraudulent. Especially before noon. ESPECIALLY in my bed. I feel as if there are legal proceedings going on and I am not even wearing a bra. So while Josh grated my early morning nerves by using THAT word several more times in his adamant protests that we had been HAD by those damned identity thieves running around out there, I was growing more irritable and was still trying to think of a shopping expense to blame it on. I even offered to bet him that it wasn't "fraudulent", which, thank goodness, he didn't take me up on. Mostly because he was too distracted googling "identity theft therapy" and the legal definition of self-defense in murder trials.

After waiting a pain-filled 44 minutes, the credit union call line opened and he was instantly connected to a nice young man who pulled up the details of over $750 in charges placed today through TicketMaster.

Whoooaahohohoho... now hold on. Not only were these charges actually fraudulent (at this point I breathed a sigh of relief for the untaken bet, or lord knows what I would be liable for), but they were fraudulent purchases of TICKETS. Now, if anybody is gonna be bouncing our account for ticket charges, it had better damn well be me. This was like the ultimate insult. Like someone robbing a double amputee to buy a pair of prosthetic legs! I was immediately irked, and simultaneously more comfortable using the word fraudulent. Even in bed, with no bra. I was irate in spite of the crow I had to eat to admit that we had, in fact, been taken by those damned identity thieves running around out there. My first and most important question was to inquire about what the tickets were for and whether they would be mailed to my address. Turns out some jacka** in New York with an email address: had bought a slew of tickets to the Rangers games. Not that I wouldn't like to see the Rangers, but it was immediately apparent that no tickets would make it to Bend and no Bendites would make it Rangers games, so any incurred charges were completely and utterly unjustifiable. I was also a bit peeved that  I didn't think of the email stliv@whatever first. Oh, and I checked into this goldenpages4u crap and it doesn't even exist. I was contemplating emailing the thief but in addition to it probably being a fake email, I didn't want to risk stliv having access to even more of my information, so I will sic the credit union on them like a hound dog. That is slightly less lazy than Truck. Ok maybe more like a pit bull, or a border collie. Those little guys never quit. Maybe if nothing else, for all of our trouble the Rangers would feel sorry for us and comp us some box seats next time we're in New York in two thousand and never. It's a nice thought.

The really convenient thing about a financial crisis of this caliber is that I can stay in my sweatpants longer while I am making phone calls and doing a little sleuthing of my own, rather than packing any boxes. At this point I have run out of leads to chase and may have gotten distracted by Facebook. But if stliv@goldenpages4u is hanging out on Facebook I should probably know. Josh had to go to work and I am sure that the morning has been almost as stressful for him as yesterday when I yelled at him for yelling at me for calling him at work with unimportant information about a pair of certain teenagers and their wish to get driving permits. I forget sometimes that there are more important things going on in the world that no insurance premium raises and the fact that I am making pulled pork for dinner.

The pulled pork turned out awesome and Josh even said it was the best ever, maybe to reassure me that pulled pork is at least as important as a siding job. After slow cooking in two bottles of beer, it better be.

At any rate, I think I am now out of excuses to avoid getting dressed and going to the credit union to sign an affidavit of fraudulent activity. At least I will have a bra on by then.

Things That Are Intended

I have a very vivid imagination. I can vividly see the end result of any undertaking that I decide is worth the effort, and sometimes it motivates me enough to follow through, cut a few corners, and end up with a result that is nothing like the original dream. Kind of like those Pinterest fails (go to this website, you'll thank me.) that we see pictures of. Josh didn't understand why I was laughing until I cried while I scrolled through other imaginative mom's attempts at something cute that resulted in a cataclysmic, but hilarious mess. It's so relatable. That's why it's funny. I live that. For me, dressing for work poses the exact same problem. I will lay in bed until the Last Possible Second, planning a new, edgy outfit to wear to work that day, get up, put at least most of the pieces of the outfit on my body, omitting the ones that have been wet in the washer for three days and should probably be run through again to kill the mold spores, and trying to cover the stains on some that I forgot happened when I was burning pinto beans and chocolate chip cookies yesterday. I make some passable (or so I think) substitutes and look in the mirror. It's at that point that I realized that the image I had in my head while lying in bed was of me 20 lbs from now and I forgot to stick to that diet that I think about so much that I can't understand why it's not working. Turns out thinking and doing are two totally separate things. The girl in the jerry-rigged outfit staring back from the mirror does NOT look good. She looks like a meatloaf wrapped in draperies and accessorized with Christmas tinsel. If I could take a picture of what I had imagined and put it next to the finished product, it would be just as funny as those Cookie Monster cupcakes that look like the dude on Raiders Of The Lost Ark with his face melting off.

Another area of imagination letdown is childrearing. For about 6 years (from just before Natalee was born until I got my first pair of designer jeans and moved on to more important aspirations) I woke up every morning with that 1970s Amy Grant song about Brand New Start Each Day (listen to this, you won't thank me) stuck in my head, trying to brush away the condemnation of my mothering faux pas from the day before and ready to conquer parenting for REALS this time. Some mornings I would even make breakfast, wash the dishes, and by 10 AM at the latest I was sidetracked by ANYTHING more interesting, which my kids would unavoidably interfere with, sending me into a downward spiral of frustration and poor verbal responses to my herd of toddlers. This pattern continued until I gave up the Brand New Start thing and just skipped straight to the frustration upon waking. It's much easier anyway, since few things irritate me as much as waking up.

It's hard, really, to think of an area in my life where this principle of failed intentions doesn't carry over. Certainly in the "customized" recipes I adapt to whatever isn't moldy in the refrigerator. And in the house cleaning that gets as far as a box of old photos I keep meaning to scan into the computer but can't stop looking at. Lately, even the errands that I run fall prey to a combination of laziness and/or forgetfulness, as I leave the house minus the things that I was supposed to have dropped off but can't remember why I showed up at a particular business anyway. I know that making lists is supposed to help all of this, but I have this tendency to forget my list. Even though it is on my iPhone, which we all know is never out of reach.

Also sewing. It turns out that cutting corners in sewing is almost always a recipe for certain disaster.

That old saying that "Good intentions pave the road to hell" carries profound truth. To an extent. No amount of WANTING to be a good mother, wife, housekeeper, cook, friend, or fashionista will make it so. Just the step by step DOING of it. One little choice at a time. Don't yell at Aspen when she wakes me up to show me Truck's lips. Remember to turn the beans down FINALLY. One less toxic drug into my body. One less cookie. Be nice to My Boy even when it is Grossly Apparent that every problem in the whole world (a.k.a. my broken and hormonally altered body) is all his fault. Take the time to get that one ingredient for a recipe that May or May Not be vital to the outcome. And maybe not getting the house clean but scanning some of the more precious memories into the computer and plastering them all over Facebook where they will be enshrined forever.

The funny thing is that good intentions and even right actions is that you can't always circumvent the failures. Even when you follow the directions to every jot and tittle, sometimes things just don't come out right. Like a necessary vet bill for a very sweet dog that wasn't even ours. Like devastating your children by doing the right thing for your family. Like making the best call you can imagine in any given moment and causing years of hurt and frustration, or following the "will of God" right into a cesspool of human error. Like making the "right choice" that you find out later, really wasn't. Like all of the careful non-shopping I have been doing and then somebody uses TicketMaster to charge over $700 to our checking account. Like going to Costco with a short and specific list and realizing there is a new coupon book. It gets sorted out somehow, but sometimes things are just beyond our control.

This tendency of mine holds an ominous foreboding for the coming move to Washington. All of the best intentions to pack neatly give way to hurriedly dumping into boxes and hoping some things break so that we have less stuff when we get there. Rooms that I can daydream about in pretty colors and ├╝ber creative themes that will stay the same drab off-white until after Christmas sometime when I kick into early January nesting as a result of post-holiday depression.

Lucky for me, the memories that usually stand out for me, and (thank God) for my kids, are the ones that DO happen, not the missed opportunities. Although I still kick myself for a few things that I "meant" to do and never followed through. Like sponsoring that little girl in the Ugandan school that we took off of the Christmas tree at Church. Or using my Living Social voucher for 10 sessions of Hot Yoga. But all-in-all, the things that we actually pull off are the things that we recollect. Like that road trip to Reno with 4 kids for a concert. Or melted crayon rainbow hearts that are MOSTLY recognizable. Or a pineapple curry in the crockpot that is slightly customized, but delicious nonetheless.

Maybe it isn't so much that we get a brand new start each day, but that we get to keep going. It's not do-overs, it's move-forwards. Survive, and Continue. It's learning the valuable lesson that cupcakes must be COMPLETELY cooled before one can add a frosting cookie monster face, or that you can crumble up burnt cookies and make a crust for an amazing pie-type thing (hey, with ice cream, everything is amazing). And that gaining a couple pounds over the weekend is an excellent motivator to work a little harder, move a little faster, since I certainly would not have wanted to give up those amazing hotwings at the Whitebird. Maybe it isn't that I have failed at fulfilling my intentions, it's that I have intended the wrong things and must be redirected periodically. If asked to choose between a hotwing and a pound of fat, I would probably go with the hotwing. Choosing between 20 hotwings and 20 lbs is a more obvious choice. Therefore my intention should be more exercise. All things in moderation. Small steps. One choice at a time. Hey, the fact that I make dinner at all is pretty awesome some days. There really aren't any do-overs in life. It is my intention (one that I will follow through on) to get the most out of each moment of each day. To learn every lesson, make every choice. Move ahead and know that I will do it wrong. And sometimes I might not even do it at all. But without intending to, we'd be even farther behind than we are now. So maybe good intentions aren't as evil as we make them out to be. Not fulfilling them is disappointing, no doubt, but not having them is death. I have a handful of true regrets in this life, but for the most part, every failure I have seen is the leverage I needed to get me where I am today, and we all know that I am pretty awesome. I have wasted enough time wallowing in the guilt of screwed up days and lost opportunities. There is always today to pick up where I left off and make things better. Maybe that's what it means to live for today. Don't wait for tomorrow for a new start when today still has opportunity, even if it isn't the one you were looking for. I get a certain sense of panic when I realize how quickly the days fly by. The weeks, the months, the years. I feel terrified that I will blink and miss something vital. The silly part is, the vital things are what I decide they are - they are happening with my and by me and I can't miss anything that is vital to me, because if I do, it wasn't. Life is good. Today is good. Even with it's little overdraft issues and me stepping on a Lego viking helmet this morning. I've got lots of intentions to go fulfill... see ya!

Things I Like To Do

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Of course this meant that I could do anything that I wanted to do. Apparently what I wanted to do was eat leftover pizza for breakfast, go to work, come home to a trashed house and very crabby children and leave again for a BBQ at the Bob's. Or maybe it's the Sikorsky's. Both names are cool last names but I kind of like to say the Bob's. In between work and The Bob's I made Josh ride his bike to the Old Mill so we could wander aimlessly for an hour or so and I could try on a random assortment of shoes and chairs. The chairs were definitely more comfortable than the shoes and I think I successfully guilted Josh into buying me this for Mother's Day:

Super appropriate for fire season, concert season and just hanging out on the floor at REI for awhile. Which is totally what I did. Plus it's orange. The other options, including the Alite Monarch Butterfly and the REI version without an interesting name were nice, but after at least 37 minutes in each, the Mayfly maintained a comfort level that the others couldn't compete with. Josh is of course waiting for Friday when we each get a 20% off of one item coupon, and I will probably buy him one for Father's Day with my coupon, except in Tactical Black. For his special ops outings. 

I used Mother's Day as an excuse to buy myself a couple of new shirts at the Buckle as well, since they were 60% off this week for employees. It made sense at the time, when I was grumpy at my kids for not lavishing me with an extraordinary breakfast and strings of diamonds that morning. The new pair of jeans that I put on layaway was a bit of a stretch to justify, but since I listed a ton of my old jeans on eBay (go here: Liv's eBay stuff to be like me) I figured it was almost ok. And layaway is totally different than impulse shopping. Right?

Maybe this morning is a better version of Mother's Day for me, since I am doing my favorite thing: laying on the couch with coffee and dogs and more or less wasting time. I really enjoy the exhilaration of not HAVING to be anywhere right this second. OH CRAP. I forgot to get meat out of the freezer. Stand by. 

Ok. Crisis narrowly averted. I have discovered, as the years go by, that all of the best intentions in the world (and this includes walking all the way into the garage to get the meat out but forgetting why I was there) do nothing to make frozen steaks thaw faster. Hot water, however, does. The plan is to BBQ tonight, and sometime between now and 630ish I need to make potato salad and banana bread with a million overripe bananas that Aspen brought home from school to help us out with the oft-complained-about grocery bill. because she is awesome. She is so awesome, that not only was the she first and only kid to tell me Happy Mother's day yesterday morning, she made me this, wherein she details 10 reasons she loves me, including my Smokey Bear Decor and my forgetfulness:

best mother's day present ever!

So it's not like I can say that mother's day was a total bust - I got to sit around all night and solve the world's problems with Halle and Josh and The Bob's, and stuff myself on delicious food that I didn't have to cook (always a win for me!). And today, I don't have to be anywhere in particular all day long. That's just nice. I should be cleaning/packing/freaking out that I have about a month to have my messy self removed from this location. But there's always tomorrow for stuff like that, right? 

Lest y'all think that I am competely lazy (not that I am not) I must say in my own defense that I have done laundry and listed several many auctions and almost finished my coffee this morning. AND I am dressed. Bra and all. That should count for an industrious morning, no? Next step, pre banana bread and potato salad, is cleaning up "Josh's" office (which I use twice as much and prefer messy) and my room, which is daunting enough to make me need a nap just imagining it. And since I have nowhere I HAVE to be... OK fine. I'll go run my errands.

Things To Discuss

Penny is an Ewok?

Someone asked for an update on my life.

To be honest, other than the pastime of dressing dogs up as Star Wars Characters, I feel as much in the dark about what's going on in my life as a lot of people who live very far away from me. Which is a little silly since I live with myself. I can say that I feel amazingly loved since Kizzie read my last blog and has made me coffee TWO mornings in a row now. That is one of the most fabulous things ever. It makes me want to unground her from the ROTC trip to see Iron Man 3 tonight.  It would be easier to unground her if I could remember why she was grounded in the first place and make more efficient excuses for her. Or maybe I can just go and chaperone other Cadet Corps kids unsolicited. It is somewhat frustrating to not be able to remember why Halle and Kizzie are grounded but be capable of reciting names of the entire line of woolen mills tribute blankets for Pendleton, or the 7 distinct BKE gals denim fits we stock in the store right now. My theory is that I only have so much room in my brain and anything that doesn't have to do with the thankless task of parenting feels like a better use of space. And about parenting, and thanklessness...

Is it just me or is Mother's Day the second biggest letdown of the year next to Valentines day? My theory is that Mother's day only gets good when either A) you have a rich and performance-oriented husband who dresses up his overachieving gifts and acts of service as the ideas of several ungrateful children, or B) your kids get old enough to feel guilty for everything they've done for you and they have money with which to show their remorse. These are best case scenarios since I am fairly certain that I fall under category B by now with my mom, but probably demonstrate an amazing level of fail every year at Mother's day when her card is three days late and I am still giving her homemade coupons for free yard work and a neck massage that I never intend to fulfill. Actually this year I feel pretty good about the fact that I outdid even my own gift giving panache for Mother's day and I can't wait to hear the gushing. (you're welcome, Mom)

It is my firmly held theory that Mother's Day, like Valentines day, Secretary's day, Father's Day and possibly even Easter are just deeply embedded ploys that we have fallen prey to over the last several decades. They are masterminded by Hallmark and American Greetings, whom I hope are facing their demise with the advent of self-expressive stamping, paper making and scrapbooking designs from home. These holidays were created with the diabolic intent to turn every human relationship into a landmine of destructive possibility.

These are the annual days when we are reminded that our kids are selfish and don't give a darn about the woman who birthed them violently and painfully, or the man who breaks his back 365 days a year to keep food on the table and designer jeans on their self-absorbed rear ends. Our lack or prior planning is rubbed in our face when aforementioned children see their jerry-rigged, half-assed easter baskets that lack the shining glory of the Neighbor Kid with the giant purple stuffed rabbit. I mean, so what if I split a bag of Christmas jelly beans that I found in a drawer 4 ways into paper sacks for easter baskets? It's the thought that counts?

And how have we escalated to the expectations of breakfast in bed or lavish date nights regardless of the inability of offspring to prepare more than crunchies for breakfast and the perpetual restraints of a designer-jean-taxed budget? It's time for a holiday revolution, where rather than heaping inevitable disappointment on the top of unreasonable expectation, we are motivated purely out of the competitive desire to be the Best Giver Ever.

I believe that birthdays should be an opportunity for the celebratee to give gifts to everybody that has put up with them for the last howevermany years. Why do they deserve presents for getting born? They should be rewarding the loved ones that tolerate them through the years (especially their mom)(but if we could change this tradition AFTER June 12 that would be great).

And Valentines day, if we must have a holiday to celebrate romantic love, should be nothing more than a night of requisite foot rubs for the ladies and intimate provision for the oft-deprived man - the one night that headaches and all other excuses are moot. All this flowers and chocolates stuff is ridiculous. Everyone knows that a foot rub is way better than chocolate. Although it is my vote that we do away with any specific day for this and make it a way of daily living. Yes, these un-holidays should be reformed. Christmas is great just the way it is, but maybe with more decorations. And of course Halloween is fine. I am so full of great ideas that it is amazing I can even focus on real life. Not that I do.

But as far as updates on my life go... we are still moving. Not sure exactly what our living situation will be yet, but we will be outta here June 15th. It has been decided. It is bittersweet, because I do love this place, especially with the sun shining and the mountains standing guard over bend like big snowy angels. But I am starting to get so excited about living life with my family. Cousins growing up together the way it was meant to be from the start. Friends that have known my kids since they were running around in red capes and cowboy boots. Neighbors who holler offerings of cold beer across the road, three front yards and a chicken coop. Sun faded big wheels parked in front of my driveway of unknown origin. A 5th dog who tries to pretend he's always been part of the pack when it's dinner time. Walking to the river and not caring what we're late for. A cozy, messy fireplace that keeps us either raging hot or frozen stiff in the winter time. Boxes of peaches, cherries, apples... A piece of ground with our name on it, that Russians or Koreans or Talibanis or Zombies or mean landlords can't take away from us. A house that makes us crazy while we make it Exactly What We Want. I am looking forward to that. And mother's day, which is already awesome if Kizzie makes my coffee again. What more could a mom want? #footrub

This Pendleton mug is designed after a blanket called "Female Storm". Strangely appropriate.

Things About The Day

Coffeeless mornings are the worst. It's nearly impossible to function when one doesn't wake up to find oneself standing in front of a puttering coffee pot that somehow was filled with water and grounds and turned on while still in a sleeping state. Coffee is miraculous. It makes conversations less boring, drives more delicious, and any event worth attending, like, say, morning. This morning there was no cream, and being the spoiled developed-world child that I am, coffee without cream is something like having sawdust for dinner to me. I could have gone to the store for cream, but without coffee to remind me that I could do that, I feel as though all I can do is stare helplessly into the kitchen from the couch and wonder how to get on with the day. Clearly there was no way I was going to make my 9:30 hot yoga class without coffee. I toyed with the idea of buying a coffee on the way there but that seemed like a terrible idea, for many reasons, mostly the one involving a big iced coffee just before hot yoga. So obviously yoga was out. Now I know there are many things I should, or at least could, be doing, but I find myself hopeless and despondent and unable to focus. I wonder if this modern epidemic of depression is merely population wide coffee deprivation.

I have a lot of things to get done today, if I can ever find my way out of this coffeeless abyss. A chain of events that began in a hot tub in Hood River has escalated to the point of surety that we are moving back to Washington in June. Hot tubs are amazing for epiphanies. As are people like Christy, who say the most profound things accidentally. All at once, almost simultaneously (once I told him), Josh and I realized that we were Doing It Wrong. All of it. That as much as we love Bend, all of the reasons we love it are things that we can not access. We are working our buns into the ground to have a lifestyle that we still can't afford. The recreational opportunities cost too much for 6 people - the amazing beer makes me really fat, and the job field in a tourist town isn't letting us break past survival. Maybe if Josh had gotten a fire job. Maybe if I didn't need surgery and he hadn't joined the air guard. Maybe if we had less kids, or they were more into video games than expensive things like skiing and cellos and skinny jeans. Maybe if we liked to never see each other or eat dinner together or put any money into savings - then Maybe Bend would be a better home for us. But as it stands, those are NOT the things we want, the lifestyle we desire. I have always wished for a more rural setting, but Bend seemed like a happy compromise between big city and small town. Lots of opportunity, a little less traffic. And it is, if you can afford the opportunities. Floating the river is free, so is the river trail, and the snow parks for snowshoeing and sledding and stuff, unless you don't get a winter pass and forget to pay the parking ticket that said pass would have avoided and end up with fees and stuff. But beer isn't free, neither is happy hour (although it's close), or any school activity that I have found so far. We miss each other. We miss life. We miss watching the kids play their sports, or having time to chaperon/embarrass offspring at dances. I don't worry much about the bills since I have a sugar daddy now, but Josh has been awfully crabby for the last couple of years for some reason. I think that keeping up with the Bendites is killing him. I think having a wife that shops to fill the lack of social connection and psychological stimulation is also killing him. I think having kids that jealously watch their friends go skiing on their season passes to Bachelor, and take vacations to Fiji, and spend more money on their wardrobes with their parent's platinum cards, is suffocating him. Never mind that our kids have almost exclusively designer closets, thanks to a totally RAD mom who bargain shops like a son-of-a-biscuit, and every hair product known to man, and good bikes and cellos and computers and every bit of whatever it is that is necessary to be a teenager in 2013. Never mind all of that. Never mind the food on the table and the chauffer waiting outside the dance at 11:30 for a kid who got a ride with someone else and forgot to text. Never mind a big, weird family with lots of adventures and stories and giant crazy trips to Disneyworld and Hawaii and Olympia and dogs and roadtrips and all kinds of fun that we have had. My kids are spoiled, unquestionably, but by Bend standards, they are among the deprived. Because we don't buy their "Cougar Pal" presents for them. Because we don't stock energy bars and sports drinks for their highly active lifestyles. Because they get second hand gear for their sports (unless Grandma and Grandpa happen to be visiting). We are all spoiled. I am ready to go back to a simpler lifestyle, where the once-a-year new pair of shoes is the envy of the whole 8th grade. Where I can can peaches and jump in the river and have coffee with my sister instead of talking to myself in the aisles of Goodwill on any given morning. I am looking forward to the necessity of planning dinner every night instead of remembering that Costco is 5 minutes away and they have $1.50 hot dogs. I am excited for that once a week latte in "town" when I go for groceries and Irish Dance.

All of that being said, I really need to get going today. Sorting, packing, folding, selling. Getting ready for a moving sale, eliminating EVERY POSSIBLE PIECE from the overwhelming mountain of stuff that will be transported across two states. But first, I must find coffee.
reminder of better days...

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