Things About Things

It's not that I am depressed. Really. Fall is my favorite season. The colors and smells and sensations of chilly mornings and warm afternoons are some of the best reason to live in a place with 4 seasons. And Everything is going Really Well. Our house is beautiful. The kids are doing good - minus a little behavior hiccup here and there with a renegade 16 year old. Things are fine, as far as I can tell. But I haven't been able to pick my heart up off of the floor and find Joy. Shame on me, for all of the wonderfulness that is caramel apples and pumpkin carving and costumes and copious amounts of unecessary chocolates should be more than enough to make me giddy in the gradual build up to The Holidays, and all of my favorite everything throughout the next two months. But I am not giddy. I am exhausted. I sleep far more than any human should need to. My pain is really pretty bearable this week. I am not stressed out or overwhelmed by anything. Maybe I am underwhelmed. I feel disappointed in myself. In people, generally. In our potential and our lack of clarity to fulfill it. I feel let down by my own thoughtless choices that hurt people I care about, unintentionally, or sometimes, intentionally. I am annoyed with the easy offensibility of other people. By the energy that people can dedicate to being upset about things. I am irritated with grudges and judgements and cliques and gossip and making things into issues that really don't need to be. But then there I go, judging what is or is not important, according to the gospel of Liv. Not weighing the depth of injury to someone else as the potential for dysfunction. I am hurt by other people being hurt. We are all so silly, human beings.

We found out yesterday that Josh leaves for boot camp on Monday. 8 weeks of no Josh. He would probably have you believe that I am excited to have the bed all to myself and will only miss having someone to nag all of the time, but with MacKenzie around, I should be fine. I know that the empty space that he will leave for two months is going to be oppressive. His highly opinionated and rarely silent voice will be missed, as well as his staunch and sometimes arbitrary harping on futile rules about food in the living room and turning off lights. It will be a long two months, even though they are usually my favorite two months. As much as I like to complain about him, I know that I will miss my best friend desperately.  I've already started a filing system in my head for how I will store all of the information that I won't be able to tell him as it happens. A "while you were out" scrapbook of sorts. I'm going to try to look at it like a prolonged fire season, where the benefits outweigh the taxing distance. I can't afford to think about where he'll be or how he'll survive. I won't know, and the worrying will make me crazy. And angry. And it won't make him call me any sooner. I am putting a lot of mental preparation into this, you guys. I'm getting there. But not really.

Things About Wednesday

It's the middle. It's not the beginning. It's not the end. It's just that balancing spot - the center of gravity of the week, where the drudgery of the first part weighs itself against the relief of the coming weekend, and a chance to start all over. It's like most of my life right now. Wednesday.

My kids are halfway through growing up. They have good moments and bad moments. I am swelling with pride one minute and wallowing in despair the next. One child succeeds and lets it go to their head, another child fails and owns it tearfully in beautiful humility. Not one of them has "arrived", and Lord knows, I haven't either.

If I live to be 72, which is the exact age that my Grandma Schiffman passed away, I am halfway there. It's a good, long life. Maybe not quite long enough. But I am at the Wednesday of my life, or thereabouts, and I can tell. Because I am tired. I am a little bit bored with it, and I wish it was last Saturday. But since last Saturday has come and gone and there's no use crying over spilt milk, I am looking forward to Friday night, which I am assuming comes somewhere between my kids all starting their own lives and when I have to start worrying about grandkids and another whole generation of worries that aren't really mine but I want desperately to help fix. Those grandkids must be Sunday morning, because it's kind of an obligation, and sometimes more work than the weekend calls for, but there is something sweet and necessary and precious about it. The cool thing is, I am also a fan of Thursday, because People My Age still think that you can go do wild and crazy things on a Thursday night, like Drink Wine and Gossip, and you only have to crawl through Friday at work before you can just be done for the week. Unless somebody has Volleyball at 8 AM on Saturday. Or a Pancake Breakfast, or a Mandatory Fundraiser. My method of coping with these realities is just straight-up denial. Don't think about it. Or perhaps even block the recollection of pending responsibility. Consequences are much more meaningful when you have to endure them. And I wonder where MacKenzie gets it?

Wednesday is sweet. Sometimes, I feel like I want to savor it, because the weekend will be here before we know it, and then gone. And then it's Monday again. Monday is all of those years when I was pregnant and wearing TERRIBLE maternity clothes and getting my hair permed and forging my way through a bad marriage. I HATE Monday. Luckily, on a lifetime scale, I don't have to do that again. I hope. It's ALL good from here on out. Days I love. Nothing but relief on the other side. Not that my back won't hurt and I might not have enough money to stay at the Ritz on Friday night, but it's all downhill... right?

I guess this is the stuff that Mid Life Crises are made out of. Men are weird, because a Ferrari and a Much Younger, Hot Girlfriend doesn't sound nearly as fun as putting all of my kids up for adoption and becoming a professional tiger petter in Siberia. Siberian Tigers are beautiful. I would much rather start a Dachshund farm and eat nothing but beets than get involved with another meaningless love affair and a car that hurts to get in and out of. My midlife crisis will be manifest in the investment of copious amounts of Josh's income invested in every item of Denver Bronco's paraphernalia that Victoria's Secret produces from their child slaves in Bangladesh. Oh that sounds horrible. Ok, scratch that. My mid life crisis will be the culmination of the angst of 36 years of dodging and deflection and survival in the form of a book. I just have to figure out what my book will be about. I could really write several books. One would make you cry, one would make you laugh, one would make you ticked off and the other would send you to a loony bin, where I (hopefully) will be hanging out, with awesome drugs and padded walls and somebody telling me which pajamas to wear.

Speaking of pajamas, and mid life crises, Josh has made so many comments about my lack of "cute" jammies lately (probably due to the sheer amount of time I spend in frumpy sweatpants and his own unfulfilled penchant for frilly shorts and garter belts) that I finally got online and ordered some "cute" pajamas to wear while he is working around the house, and I am languishing on the couch. He says it will motivate him. They have nothing to do with a garter belt. But they are shorts. They are frilly. They are pink, and they are covered with wiener dogs which unquestionably qualifies them as "cute". Take that, Josh Weston. Ask and ye shall receive. And I needed jammies a few sizes bigger these days any way. *snotty look. (What???? It's Wednesday!!)

Today, Wednesday, a thousand things went wrong. I cried a little. I dumped on my sister a LOT. I yelled and I hugged and I hurt for my kids. It wasn't the best Wednesday ever. But I have my kids, even if they aren't RIGHT HERE. And they are amazing. I have my family, and they are amazing too. And I have my husband, and even if he complains about my un-cute sweatpants, he's still amazing. Even if I forget sometimes. Usually on Wednesdays. And I have my friends. The ones that can just know. And just understand. And just look forward to Thursday, and then Friday, and then SATURDAY!!!! with me. And Wednesday is a good day. Even when it's not.

Things About Girls

This morning started off AWESOME. I slept in until 9:17. American time. It was epic, and not in the junior high sense of the word. TRULY epic. Josh had snuck off to work at 6:00 or some other God-awful time that I refuse to acknowledge as existing, because people work on Saturdays, apparently. I would have thrown a fit (something I have done a lot of lately, and quite well), except it was nice to have the Whole Bed to myself and not feel guilty for not getting up at a Reasonable Hour. So 9:17 it was, when the tyrant of my body known as a bladder forced me up. And the tyrant of my soul known as Motherhood compelled me to make breakfast for the 37 girls that were sleeping in various inappropriate places around the house. Somebody, who recently had a sleepover for twelve 8-11 year olds, didn't think through the ramifications of letting Everybody have a friend to spend the night. So the female adolescent population in our house doubled overnight. Literally. It really wasn't bad, since Kizzie and her friend were making dinner for us. So after I cooked the chicken and made the alfredo sauce from scratch and found the pan for them to cook the tortellini in, and gave them detailed instructions on How To Slice Bread, Spread Butter, and Sprinkle Garlic Powder, they mixed it together and put cheese on top. It was nice to have a night off. And Kizzie only threw a little fit when I asked her to clean up "their" cooking mess and wash 1/5th of the dishes (I actually thought I asked about all of the dishes, but...).

After getting to bed a little later than I had planned, thanks to an impromptu and overdue downloading session with a buddy and a few drinks, I slept like a baby. Because I had been allowed the privilege of sleeping in, I scurried around like Mother Of The Year and made breakfast for the crew. And then it all fell apart.

The toilet flooded. And by flooded, I don't mean it reached the top of the bowl and a little spilled out. I mean an inch of standing toilet water across the bathroom floor. Lucky for me, I had just picked up the bathmat so that was one less thing to wash. After dealing with the Clog of Unknown Origin, I searched the house for 45 minutes, looking for the mop. I think after the last go round with Josh and some drywall dust, it went into permanent hiding. I finally resorted to using a Swiffer with the useless dry covers, and a very large bottle of Clorox spray. I wasn't too upset until I got toilet water on my new Minnetonkas, because I forgot that you should never walk into a bathroom unless you are wearing rubber boots. It's ok though, because when I was spraying copious amounts of Clorox, I also covered my wet Minnetonkas, so they are now disinfected, and probably ruined. I mean really, when you have 6.5 women and Josh in a house, you can't expect a toilet to not revolt. Not that Josh poops, but...

My mild but well handled frustration at the toilet and Minnetonka situation was exponentiated when I rushed to the laundry room with a dripping pile of towels, only to find a load in the washer of questionable age, and THREE PILES of dog poop. After relocating Dagny to the outside, forever, I cleaned up the poop. I dealt with the laundry crisis in the only reasonable way: denial and ignorance, and finished mopping with seven or eight Swiffer things, found my now cold coffee, and sat down. Half of the girls were gone to volleyball. The rest were hiding, in fear of facing the same fate as Dagny. I chose to ignore the cold puddle of dog pee under the kitchen table, since we ran out of pellets, it will be frozen pretty soon, and I can just chip it up.

Now my house is saturated with the sweet smells of Bacon grease (because I didn't use the Aunt Lynn method, lacking a wire rack or broiling pan), Clorox spray, and stale laundry. My plan for the day is to load up every Scentsy I own, possibly including Santa and The Easter Egg, watch part of a volleyball game, go to town and get my hair done, a pedicure and probably a whole new wardrobe, all after putting my hard boiled eggs away. Because making hardboiled eggs in the middle of German Pancakes and Bacon and Cleaning up poop just seemed logical.

And I Did This. 

Things To Confess

Here's some things:

I know that my blog posts have MANY grammatical errors. Most are on purpose. The other ones are plausibly deniable as accidents since I do so many on purpose. I have a strategy. I know grammar. Especially subject-verb agreements. If I screw those up, it wasn't on purpose. But I demand grace. Punctuation wise, I figure I can do whatever I want. Poetic license, y'all.

I drink a lot of wine. Some nights a bottle even. Some nights, slightly more. Some nights, it's not enough. If I only drink a little, it only makes me keenly aware of how little I have had and How Entirely Much My Body Hurts. I have decided to err on the side of excess. It's working so far. I ran out of Prozac like a week ago and nobody is dead, that I have noticed, anyway. That means it's working.

I work in special education now. I always thought that special education was referencing the specifically designed teaching plans for kids with disabilities of all sorts. Turns out special ed is actually talking about what the people working with these kids are learning. Like how to shoot someone with a carrot out of your nose. Or how to flunk a test on purpose and nobody will make you read anything beyond a 4th grade chapter book, ever. Or how hand washing is a very good reason to run away and sit with your back pressed against a door for a Very Long Time, making your helper feel like an idiot that can't talk a kid into a little bit of personal hygiene. And coloring skills. MAD coloring skills.

I miss Halle. I sometimes cry when I think about her dragon pictures. And how they aren't here. And how nobody asks ridiculous questions except Aspen, who is young enough to justify it. And nobody eats All Of The Chili. I have been putting together a care package that can't possibly hold all of the things I want to send her, but then I get questions about What It Is That She Could Need So Badly That I Would Pay The Ridiculous Postage and I answer : ME. She needs me. She needs us. She needs stupid little pieces of her family, overdried apples and dorky hats she left. Her exorbitantly expensive Zorro costume and Aspen's instruction following test, which she failed. She needs candy corn and punkins and a lot of other stuff that wouldn't fit even if it would somehow miraculously arrive without shattering. I keep thinking I should just wait until we "go visit". But the visit keeps getting farther out of reach. Especially now that I sold my soul to the devil called A Full Time Job. I miss her.

I finally went to the doctor. I told him I finally had insurance and we should test everything, so we did. We found out that I need more Vitamin D, I have no STDs,  and that my back is not, in fact, technically broken. And then I found out that my insurance doesn't kick in until November 1st. I haven't figured out how to break the bad news to Josh, so I figured a public forum, where he can't yell at me and stare with those Big Incredulous Eyes, and make speculations about the Grave Amount Of The Bill, would be the safest. I am hoping, since the people at the clinic are nice, that they will let me make a lot of Very Small payments on the battery of useless tests that I had done. Including x-rays, which, last time I checked, weren't cheap. And before you remind me about the Affordable Care Act, or the charities that help people in our spot, I've already checked. We're too rich for charity, and even if/when I enroll in an ACA, it won't go into effect until January 1st, which is close to the time I would also be eligible for Tri-Care through the military, but by then, my new grown-up job insurance will be going strong. And I will be making Very Small Payments to NE WA Medical Group. Forever. But at least my back isn't broken, it just feels that way.

NPR released the First Listen: Magpie and the Dandelion on their website, yesterday, maybe, or the day before. Normally, when it is time for the inagural audition of a new Avett Album, I have time to sit, quietly, with wine, and deliberate on the wonder, or the disappointment (rarely, but occasionally) and listen. Not so much with this one. Here I am, two days late, with my wine, complete with an assortment of fruit flies. Dogs in my lap with drywall mud in their hair. Josh and the shopvac working merrily on the last of the living room walls (GOD BLESS HIM), and I am listening. You guys, I'll be honest: I liked I & Love & You. It was no Emotionalism. It certainly wasn't a Mignonette. It wasn't even a Gleam II, in my book. But it was good. The Carpenter was up a few ticks on my best of list. But still not Swept Me Away, Avetty goodness. But Magpie and the Dandelion, as if the name wasn't enough to win your heart forever, is good. It's old fashioned, raw Avett passion and exposure. Confession. Relatable Humanness. It is beautiful. I won't lie, I am as judgemental as the next judeo-christian backslider that can't get away from their guilt driven conscious and uneasiness about life in general, so I had a bit of a hiccup in the Seth scandal, whether he and his "January Wedding" bride split because of his TV star girlfriend or not. And truth be told, I have always been team Scott in all of my Avetteering. But I heard the first few lines of "Bring Your Love To Me", and I was done. Seth was exonerated of all potential wrongdoing. And then Scooter started into "Apart From Me" wherein Joe Kwon takes my heart out and chews it into tiny pieces, and it was all over. It's like Bush's "Glycerine", except Gavin Rossdale is a hick in this one, and the words make sense.  And the boys were back. Up on that pedestal of This Is The Stuff That Family, Community, And Life, Is Made Of. And then they sing "Souls Like the Wheels", which has been at the top of my charts since I visited Lake Tahoe with my mom in 2009. It's a good album. If you like raw, open humanness. Hurt and failure and Fixing It. I like it. Give me a hundred more listens and it might be in my top 5 albums. It's the old Avetts again. It's Seth crooning, and Scott pleading. And beautiful. And fun. Josh says it's negative. That's like saying that fall is negative. Everything is dying. But it's coming back. And it's beautiful. And it's sweet. And it's my favorite...

One more thing: I got sent home from school today for making a poor wardrobe choice. Not like Janet Jackson, more like all of the 9th graders at Northport High School, but not really. I wore a fire sweatshirt, from the Whiskey Complex, that, admittedly, has a logo that closely resembles the Jack Daniels label. A conscientious adult would have thought through the ramifications of this emblem, working in a special ed room, or any school, but true to form, I didn't. In fact, I was so desperate to just manage WALKING this morning when I woke up in Three Thousand Worlds of Pain, that I didn't care. They were kinda lucky I wasn't in Corona Beer Pajama Bottoms (half of the juniors were). Not that I own any... yet. But a parent complained that I was wearing an "alcohol shirt"; justifiably so, and I trudged home, in an aura of deja vu that threw me right back the years at Marble when I walked home from church, or dance practice, or prep school class, or drama class, or family meetings, or potlucks, or WHATEVER, because I was wearing something INAPPROPRIATE. It's like my theme. I am an adult. You'd think I would know better. But I think I spent so many years living in One Extreme, that I am not sure where the balance is anymore. AND I am a bit of a rebel anyway. AND I was told there was no dress code. AND it was cozy. AND the pain seemed more important. At the time. I might have shed a tear of injured pride on the way, but they'll never know. Unless they read this.

It's been a rough week, y'all. Compared to the week that my favorite Trent and Tam have had, mine has been a dream. I can't complain. But I do. And I will. And I am sorry.

These are my confessions. A few of them. I will have more later.

Things We Haven't Earned

Dear World:

My friends need help. They're people like me and you, so they don't DESERVE help, because they're stubborn and radically independent and proud and maybe self-involved,  but like me and you, they need it. Just a little bit of help. Just a leg up, or a kick in the rear, or an apple pie, piping hot, delivered to their doorstep (or you can deliver those here to my house, I will see that the sentiment is conveyed). They've fallen into some rough times, like all of us do, and for all of their hard work and determination and independence, they got knocked down again. They're young, and strong and healthy. They believe in providing for their own. They believe their own includes the family and friends that God has put in their way to trip over and laugh at and just enjoy life with. Three years ago they paid through the nose to help our family when we needed it. They didn't care. If it meant rice and beans for a year, they would have paid. And now it's their turn.

There isn't any fall back plan because the fall back plan fell back before they did. There isn't any insurance because the Affordable Health Care act didn't get Affordable until it was too late, and even then it wouldn't have been a lot of help. Explain to me how a family with 5 adorable kids and self employment taxes can also afford medical insurance and all of the other "necessary" things in this day and age. I have been working on this problem over for years, as a single mother and as a married one. If you work hard, you can't afford insurance. If you don't work hard, or at all, you might get free insurance, and food, and whatever, but you can't live with your self. Or some of us can't. They couldn't. They work hard. Harder probably than most of you can imagine. Maybe that's because they have five kids, including a set of twins, and working hard is the only way to avoid another episode of My Little Pony or Go Fish.

Either way, they are now faced with a mountain - or maybe a continent - of medical bills, and a long, long road to recovery that is unimaginable for most of us. For me it is. Weeks of "DO NOT LIFT THAT!" for a man who has never NOT done something to take care of his own in his whole life. He has worked through broken bones and double pneumonia and a pregnant-with-twins wife who had raging hormones that are comparable even to my own, and he never slowed down. Whether this is a diversionary tactic, workaholism or a true providers spirit, I am not sure, but he has taken care of his family of 7 with an average age of 15.666667 (this explains A LOT), thoroughly and well. He is no slacker. Neither is she. I saw the quarts of homemade salsa to prove it.

In spite of all of their domestic heroism, there is nothing so special about this family that makes them deserve help. There is nothing special about most of us that makes us worthy of the support of an entire community. Some of us might be bigger contibutors. I donate a lot of crap to Goodwill. But I can't think of anyone that I know that truly DESERVES a community to step in and pay a bill because of any misfortune. Every one of us screws up. They did. I have.  You have. Nobody I know hasn't made a royal joke out of "real life" at some point. But everyone of us is absolutely dependent on each other for moments like this. Moments when it is so far out of our hands that we don't have the right to refuse help. When our pride and our ability and our worthiness are all smashed to the same ground level of rubble. And this is their moment. They need help. Five bucks is five bucks less that they have to pay to bills that are laughably huge. No they haven't earned it. No they don't deserve it. But do any of us, when the hammer comes down, which it inevitably will, at some point for all of us? I have received more help than I can ever repay. From my family and friends and even strangers. I have been repeatedly humbled by the care that I have been provided without warrant. I don't mind when it's my turn to give, because I have received a hell of a lot. And lord knows, I don't deserve it.

Please consider supporting this family of 7 ridiculously awesome, yet undeserving people (with an average age of 15.66667) as they are faced with medical bills and living expenses that are beyond laughable. Please extend the grace and mercy that you can only hope to receive when you take a wrong step and end up on your head in the pit of eternal despair, and you know you don't deserve help, but you know you can't live without it. We've all been there, or will be, and we've all been on the other side, if we have eyes to see, and humility to share.

An account for donations to the Smith family will be set up at Key Bank this Friday. Or you can send money to them through PayPal at . Or you can contact me if you don't like those options. Or you can mail stuff to THE SMITH AWESOMENESS, c/o Liv Weston & awesome incorporated, PO BOX 723, Northport, WA 99157. Please make all checks payable to Trent and/or Tamara Smith. Or you can deliver firewood, groceries, board games and Coors Light to their house. Contact me for details.

Please share this with your family, friends and strangers. The Smiths might not deserve it, but you never know when you won't either.

Things That God Does

It's been three years this week since I drove from Bend to Spokane in a record number of hours, to walk into Sacred Heart Hospital and see a girl that I hardly recognized as my sister, her face a shade of green that I hardly recognized as human. I am an EMT you guys, I have seen hurt people and dead people and very, very, sick people, and I haven't ever lost composure. But seeing my sister, the one who has always been as much like me as she could manage (because I am AWESOME) look so radically different, and destroyed, was more than I could take. I almost threw up. I nearly passed out. I had to put my head down between my knees and wait for my eyes to recover from a cloud of black that shut out a sight that I just couldn't process. It only took a minute, and I don't think Em saw, but if she did, she doesn't remember, and then I was fine. ish. For two weeks the majority of our family bounced around the halls of that hospital and did whatever we could to piece those Creachers back together. Even if that was just buying lattes and watching Sponge Bob. Mushed into that Stecker, Allers, Creach, Etc, Conglomeration of Helping was a pseudo sister of ours (Em and I), who is married to a pseudo brother of ours, who have been as much sibling to us as our real siblings, even if we don't look anything alike. 

Yesterday was three years to the day that we stood in the ICU of Sacred Heart and held baby Maddie - the one that got away. The ultimate loss of that horrible, horrible accident. It was her birthday, and the day she left us. I watched my sister grieve in a way I can still only imagine, but in a way that broke my heart. You learn how much you love some one when you see them suffer. When you realize that you honestly would do anything to take their pain on yourself, because it would be easier than watching helplessly. You understand what family is. And why it is so very important. And what makes life worth living. I stood there with Tam and my parents, and some siblings. And some nieces and nephews, and there wasn't a soul in the room that wasn't hurting. With Em and For Em and for our own inability to just Make It Better. 

Yesterday, our pseudo brother Trent fell off of a ladder 14 feet in the air. He landed on his head. And in spite of the questionability of how much he uses that noggin - he was hurt badly. He was moved from the ER in Colville to the ICU in Spokane. And on the third anniversary of Maddie's tiny visit to the world, and my brave sister's many hurts, we walked into the same ICU, a few doors away from that room that is burned into my memory for all of time. And there was our brother, and our sister, and Em and Phil, but this time Em was strong and standing and recognizable. And Trent, tall, tough, big, goofy Trent, was broken and bruised and looked like hell - and I told him so. Trent is going to be OK, after a long time of healing. A compound clavicle fracture and broken ribs and a bruised brain, but no permanent loss or damage so far. And we were so grateful. Em said, as we sat in the dark and listened to Trent snore (which is typical and "healthy" for him), how different it seemed, and how good, almost, to be there, in that ICU, with no loss to grieve. Nothing taken from him, from us, that would never come back. His collarbone will heal, his ribs will heal. His brain will heal - he asked if this was gonna make him stupid forever, and Tam told him that she was hoping he'd be better than before. Miracles CAN happen. He was there. His sense of humor. He was recognizable, even with a swollen head and torn up shoulder... it was Trent. Tam asked if he remembered what she told him earlier when she was giving him water from a swab. He said yes, that she had said that he had perfectly shaped lips. She reminded him that she had actually told him that he "sucked", but it was good to know that Trent is still Trent. It will be a long and hard road for him. Mostly because he is stubborn and independent and won't sit still long enough to heal a bloody nose, let alone broken bones and brain injuries. But we're all here. His family and pseudo family. To yell at him and reprimand him and distract him. And we didn't lose. 

Yeah. It SUCKS. It would be a bad thing for any family, but the Smiths - this was the Last Thing They Needed right now. Trent was already caught between a rock and a very hard place before the accident, and working his buns off to fix it. And then, in an instant, he CAN'T. It's out of his hands. It's kind of like a death sentence for an independent guy like Trent who does everything himself. He just CAN'T. Almost everybody I know has been here before. Where we just can't take One More Blow. We are at the end. And then it comes. That last hit. And the moment you realize that it's TOTALLY OUT OF YOUR HANDS. And the only thing that you can do is say, OK. Let go. Start Over. Regroup. Learn. Be humble. Be grateful. And live life One Step At A Time, because there is no other way. I've been there more times than I care to relate, because I am stubborn and I forget that I am not in control of the Entire Universe. Some of us have to be reminded more than others. Like me. And maybe Trent. 

Tam is remarkably at peace. I think she knows that it's beyond her. The impossibility of this situation is in Hands bigger than hers, or Trent's, because that's the only way. All of the fighting, struggling, working - it's like Don Quixote and his Windmill Giants. You just need to know that YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. Give up. Move on. Be humble. Be grateful... and learn. 

We went out to dinner last night while the nurses were doing their shift change, and in addition to the restaurant being Absolutely Ridiculous, it was Ridiculously Expensive, but in a sneaky way. The hostess at the door assured us that ALL of their ingredients were directly from Italy, and, in her words: "I am not exaggerating like people that work at restaurants are supposed to." Well, hostess lady, I am fairly certain that our Pancetta and Pineapple pizza had Dole pineapple chunks on it, instead of exotic Italian pineapple rings. I am also certain that our "house red", four dollar bottle of Columbia Valley Merlot that cost $32 wasn't from Italy, unless there's a Kennewick in Italy that I haven't heard of... Anyway, it was pretty awesome, in a bad way, and Tam was disappointed that the story of a family member in ICU did nothing for the Chinese waitress to expedite our dining experience, let alone cut us any slack in the bill. This was especially hurtful after PF Changs had written off an entire dinner when Em was in there on crutches after her accident. Tam was dismayed that the clearly not-Italian server couldn't see that her heart was on crutches. It's good to know that we still have fully functional sense of humors around here.

It's one more thing that makes me entirely grateful for my family - real and pseudo, and friends, and that we are back here, where we can help by packing underwear and dropping of corn dogs and tater tots and buying lattes for people just so we feel like we are doing SOMETHING. I love this place, and these people, and sometimes, I hate the processes that we need to remind us of How Good We've Got It, but I know that we'll always be up for the challenge, and the truth of who we are to each other always wins. I love these people. 

But seriously, God, maybe next time lets do June or January, and not Sacred Heart ICU. Because we still remember. I promise. 

Things That Are AMAZING

I have insurance, you guys. For reals. All of a sudden, insurance. The tricky part is, I just started a new job. And I just felt a catch in my throat when I thought about missing time at work, especially after I have worked hard to get a smooth flow, to get "my kids" comfortable with me, in a rhythm... So more waiting. But hopeful waiting. There is light at the end of this tunnel, y'all. I am EXCITED.

I am NOT excited, however, that Josh just got an email telling him he is going to boot camp November 11th. November 11th means he misses Thanksgiving. And Christmas. Someone forgot to tell the Air National Guard how Terrible Important The Holidays are to me. I told Josh I don't know if I could stay married to someone who puts his military obligations before our Family Holidays. But he is a good drywaller. And he gives good back rubs. But another dreary, alone, sad Holiday Season? There isn't a good insurance plan that covers that one!

In addition to all of that amazement, I would also like to fill you in on a little update of my new, working lifestyle. Spending the last couple weeks in some of The Worst Pain Of My Life, which I blame on Josh for no reason in particular other than I can't find anyone else to blame, I have come to realize that even though I wake up in Quite A Lot of Pain, if I don't get something done in the God Awful Early Morning Before School, it will apparently not get done at all within that 24 hour time frame. This translates into me getting up earlier. And earlier. And even earlier. Especially when Terrible Children decide to turn ten and it rests on my pain-wracked shoulders to Make It Happen. This is the second morning in a row that I have been making cupcakes before 7 AM. Did you even know that ovens WORKED before 7 am? I had no idea. Two mornings because of course, it being the school year, and of course, me working at the school now, the only excuse that I had to not provide birthday cupcakes to her entire class was that I was too lazy and wanted to sleep a reasonable number of hours. Clearly not acceptable. So I am now on batch number two, and a massive bowl of manicotti stuffing, which she wanted last night for dinner but I somehow convinced her to have left overs - ok, I just forced her, basically, even though last night was her "real" birthday. So, to avoid the same avoidance of Doing Anything tonight, I made the manicotti this morning.

Two things about making manicotti: don't let husbands or kids make it, they will mess it up. Also: always cut the olives, in the can. If you don't do this already, you should. My friend Trish taught me the trick and then I taught her little sister and took all of the credit myself. It worked out pretty well. All of the angst that you develop when trying to slice a thousand round and rolling olives is equivalent to the amount of angst you will expel when stabbing a knife into a can repeatedly, with or without curse words and graphic visualization. It's theraputic, in a way, and it gets the olives chopped up. Without fail, one or two escapes the frantic blade, which leaves a couple whole olives for gleaning from the recipe. You might not get this, but olives and manicotti stuffing are delicious, even before 7 am. If you think I am crazy, ask my sister. There is nothing quite as delightful as eating the gooey, unmelted cheesy glory off of your fingers after mixing a bowl of manicotti with your bare hands. I tried to use a spoon today, because hand mixing seemed somehow inappropriate before 7 AM (I know, as if ANYTHING is appropriate before7), but it just wasn't working out. Tradition prevails, and I had manicotti stuffing and olives for breakfast. With a tiny bit of cherry chip cupcake batter.

Aspen wanted chocolate and cherry chip cupcakes. Or at least I think she did. I didn't really ask her, because that's what I wanted. What I really wanted was that Giant Chocolate Cake from Costco, but A) no one was going to Spokane in time, and B)Josh would have freaked if I spent $20 on Aspen's second birthday dessert this week. So I made cupcakes. I made jumbo cupcakes because I forgot to get regular cupcake papers. So I borrowed a jumbo cupcake pan from a buddy. Then when I went to make batch #2, I only had 5 jumbo papers, so I said screw it. Aspen and her friends are having decorate-it-yourself cupcakes (thanks for that idea, Kat) WITHOUT any papers. Because before 7 AM, that's just what happens. Now that I have successfully removed the need for Josh to make cupcakes OR manicotti, both of which he was volunteering for (a terrifying thought about a man who puts ketchup and hotdogs in EVERY recipe), and I can have him focus on the important things, like wrapping presents. I probably shouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors, or any blade outside of an olive can, before 7 AM. It's just the harsh reality of Liv and mornings. Especially considering I had Just Enough cream left for my coffee, and it may or may not have been Almost Rotten, but I decided to mask and potential rottenness with cinnamon and call it good. It was pre 7 am, and I wasn't about to try to tackle anything coffeeless.

Today: Get cream so that I don't kill someone in the morning. Get frosting so that I don't make the kids decorate their cupcakes with powdered sugar and Nutella since I can't bear the thought of making frosting after work, when I am scheduled to die. Get tomato sauce so that I don't have to resort to using stewed tomatoes on manicotti again and ruin it. GET DRESSED FOR WORK!!

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