Things About Kids

They come and they go, you know. They seem to come a lot more than they go, but when they go, it's awfully noticeable.

I could probably pretty easily nominate myself for an international award for Most Complaints About Children Placed, and I am fairly confident that I would win. I don't generally make it a big secret that kids can be, stated indelicately: a pain in the rear. It probably feels like something more of a secret, especially to my kids, that I actually love them fiercely, and in spite of the Vociferous Protests and Strong Objections, I have put the time and energy into them that they have needed to stay alive and know better than to cuss out a teacher or spray paint a church wall. Which is why it is concerning to me when one of them does something like that. Not that any of them actually would... But much more apparent than their delinquent behavior or the scream for attention that is what teenage angst is really about, is the lack of presence when they are not here. This has been clear in a very tangible way this year, with Halle in Bend, and our family quickly reduced to a 3 child  consortium that feels imbalanced. We still haven't quite figured out how to cover all of the household chores with only three kids, especially when two of them are perpetually at practices for whatever athletic undertaking has swept them along in it's undertow. Any given night, we are reduced to a family of four, at best, and  all of the flack I have heard for years about Aspen being spoiled and not doing enough chores has been answered nightly as she is our only remaining captive slave and ends up with the short end of the chores stick a lot lately. She can't wait to be old enough for sports, so that Josh and I will have to ro-sham-bo for who does dishes and who mops the floors.

It is this absence that I hold responsible for the momentary lapse in judgement that led to ringworm infested kitties who poop in the corner of the house behind the pile of wood that I think was supposed to be our new floors someday, but nobody can quite remember. It is also this empty nest syndrome that is perhaps responsible for the fact that we have signed up to take on an exchange student for the next school year. We have been assigned a young (15?) Vietnamese girl named Uyen, and I can't wait to meet her. Already she emails and calls and is perhaps foolishly eager to come here and play American for a little while. I think having another daughter will be good for us. To give us someone else to take care of and worry about. It's so easy to get caught up in our own pettiness. But to experience life through a whole new set of eyes should be interesting. And you can never have too many teenage girls under one roof, right??? Glutton for punishment. I also blame this lack of children underfoot for the total void of productivity this weekend, as I sleep until 11 am and then spend the rest of the day thinking of reasons to not fold laundry. Or mop floors. Or even get dressed. Since it was obviously the kids' fault that I never got anything done when they were little, why should it changed now?

But seriously, in all fairness, I haven't been completely useless, moping around the house in my pajamas and feeling sorry for myself. I have listed junk on eBay and designed my next tattoo and even washed the crock pot. Since I don't have money to go GET my next tattoo today, or a pedicure, both of which feel like compelling needs, I will probably read a book that my brother gave me for Christmas and keeps waiting for me to finish so we can compare notes. And then maybe I will fold all of those clean clothes that are stacked sadly in the laundry room, wondering if they will collect enough dust to be washed again before they are ever folded or worn. Then I could burn through the rest of House Of Cards, which would embitter me against humans for another week. To make up for that, I would have to watch some episodes of Arrow, to remember who the good guys are, and then eat a pan of brownies and then go to bed and have really weird dreams about Stephen Amell killing Kevin Spacey to save me... Sounds like a winning plan.

Things About Me. Or not.

Last night was our final epic performance of Peter Pan, put on by the Northport Highschool Drama class, where I got to live backstage, and whisper-yell at 25 reprobates and catch falling palm trees and flying pirate boots from backstage bunk bed props piled with bored elementary acting extras. And shout captain Hook's lines from behind the curtain when he mysteriously disappears between scenes because the spirit gum on his mustache tore all of the skin off of his upper lip. No really, that happened. And really, the girl who played Wendy and I took turns shouting his lines from offstage. It takes a village to play a pirate. And inevitably, one of our youngest pirates had to go potty three minutes into the first act. And two of the lost boys either "forgot" or just refused to wear their hoods, thereby reducing them to nothing more on stage than a crabby teenager in ripped jeans carrying a bow and arrows. After two hours of applying makeup, pinning consumes, yelling cues and silencing freshmen, I was a hot mess. Literally, and not in the attractive way.

Yesterday, before the show, I had a little bit of an emotional meltdown at Josh, which involves yelling at him for a Lot Of Things that aren't his fault and aren't even a real problem until I circularly-reason my way to the crux of the issue, which is that I feel like crap. And when I feel like crap, which is always, I either have to take it easy and feel crappier because I am not doing the things that I need to do and that need to get done, or not take it easy and feel crappier because I am not taking it easy. I feel like the latter is the lesser of the two evils, which is obviously flawed thinking, but as I get farther and farther behind in everything, and less and less "healed" overall, the frustration becomes paramount to wisdom. 

After the show, and running myself in silly circles about silly things that couldn't be fixed or controlled anyway (i.e spirit gum avulsions), I stepped back and watched the glowing students and the glowing parents, and as much as it's s thankless job, and as much as I now have worlds more respect for teachers in their underpaid positions, there is something to be said for watching a kid (even one who just told you off backstage) enjoy the rush of OWNING a character, and a story, on the stage, and selling it successfully to their parents (even ones who just chewed you out backstage) and know that years from now, they won't remember you whisper-yelling backstage, but they will remember that play. Their part. Probably even their lines. And maybe you helped with something worthwhile. Even if there were no glowing parents to take your picture afterward (in fact I don't have a single photo in my possession to even prove it ever happened),  and instead of thanking you they glare at you for whisper-yelling at their child, and nobody even knows that if you hadn't been there that palm tree would have landed on Wendy's head, or Captain Hook would have been absolutely wigless for the entire last scene, or that one pirate would have definitely been short  one boot. Even if you spent the rest of the week on the couch, you were part of something big for a couple of hours. 

Ultimately, in the end, all of my frustrations and bad tempers can be attributed to A) a long winter, B) an uncooperative body and C) not getting to play Peter Pan. I'm still a little bitter.  Just a little. 

Things About The Weather

Ever since I was a kid, I've had this sneaking suspicion that while God probably doesn't give a whole lot of credence to my rambling, nonsensical, teenage girl prayers for the most part, He always seemed to get my weather requests. If I prayed hard enough for rain. Voila! Rain! Same with sun, snow, or temperatures over 70 degrees so that my mom would let us wear shorts. Sometimes I forget about this wizard-like-control-of-the-weather deal that me and God have, so when it reoccurs to me I have to test it out. Now don't get me wrong, I am one of winter's biggest fans. Two weeks ago I was singing Christmas Carols and still relishing the soft white blizzards. That hit every. single. day. But today I realized that half of my physical problem is that I have been wearing shoes for almost 5 months, non stop. This has got to end. Much like most of your body heat escapes from your head, most of our earthbound joy is absorbed from our feet (I totally just made that up, but let's go with it). And encapsulating all ten toes, crusty heels, paint-chipping toenails and even plantar warts, inside of fuzzy boots and warms socks and suffocating shoes has nearly killed me. It's time to wage war on winter. It's time for flip flops. 20 years ago in February I was playing soccer on a muddy field with snow and ice around the edges BAREFOOT. I know some of you were there, Pete, Amber, Em... Michael... And all of you WaterHooligans... Don't deny it. I have been so busy growing up and being smart and doing the Best Things that I have forgot how to determine my own seasons. How to reconnect with the outside world. How did I get so distracted? How do I ever expect to get better if I don't get a fracking pedicure and get back out there???

please note the footwear... this was clearly not a barefoot game -
unless Justin is back there putting his boots back on?

Rise with me, army of toe-breathers. don your springtime footwear (or none at all) and claim this season as officially Springtime, come heck or higher snow lines. (It's ok if you wear a beanie with your flip flops, since most of our body heat escapes out of our heads...) Crank your car heaters up full blast on the floor setting and embrace the enlivening burn of snow between your toes. Remember being young and stupid and making bad choices that nearly caused frost bite! Live in the now that is this lionlike baby March - dominate it with your bare feet and transform it into a lamb with me!

Ok, so maybe I have been reading too much Shakespeare and Divergent and I am looking for my own French Castle Wall Held By Rational Adults to storm. But seriously. A week on the couch and what do you expect?

Things That Hurt, and Things That Don't

This morning I woke up to a phone call from a young girl in Vietnam who is coming to live with us for the next school year. I spoke to her and her parents in small and confusing sentences, about how excited we all were to meet each other.

When I got out of bed and shuffled out of my room, I found a letter from another young girl. One who already lives with me. One who is not excited about living with me and whom I have hurt and mishandled.

The letter was brutal. It was young. It was carelessly honest, spewing out words that will never be retracted, but will be remembered. The first thought that went through my head was : oh man. Did I ever say these things? To my mom? Because the sting was real. Even though I know that this is part of growing up. I know that growing pains aren't just felt by the kids that are growing, they are felt by the people growing them. I know I can not take it personally, however personally it was written. I know all too well how the lack of maturity is also the lack of a filter. I know to set the letter on a shelf and put it away, inside of me, and take out the things that I can hear: You Never Listen; You Humiliate Me; You Judge Me; and work on those things. Address them with my actions more than my words. This anger is not remedied with seven hour long conferences. It is remedied with compassionate parenting, but firm parenting. I have given all of my children, and in fact all of the people in my life, far too much liberty with me. I have allowed them to blame their poor choices and bad attitudes on me. I have enabled their excuses and I have tolerated their justifications. Me, of all people. I have spoiled them. I am an enabler. A DIS-abler. Because really, I have disabled them, thus far, to being successful in relationships and taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes and behaviors. I will try to listen, and respond with truth, even if it is inconvenient for them. I will try to discipline without humiliation. I will try to never judge, and always remember my own careless youth. There is no perfect parent. There is no manual on raising girls. Trust me, I have searched. There is only heartache and joy and learning on both sides. And I am learning. So it she. But it stings. For both of us.

One more day, home from work, endless hours to face my physical pain, my failures as a mother, a wife, a friend. Free from distractions. I have all day to read books or watch TV, and I find myself staring at the wall thinking: Ok, what next? How do I take the next step? What is the next step? Where do I go from here, other than the bar? The bar. That sounds very appealing.

Too much snow, too much gray, too much hurty couch time. I need to go for a jog in the sunshine with a keg of beer at the other end and happy dancing daughters singing my praises. Wouldn't it be loverly? Soon. It's coming. I can taste it. There was a speck of blue sky this morning when I got up that was pushing back the clouds. It lost the battle, but maybe tomorrow. Maybe winter will give up the ghost and springtime will come. Or maybe I can make my own sunshine out of hope and determination. (and a little bit of whisky?) I am ready. Or I will be, as soon as I shave my legs...

Things I Should Give Up

Everybody is yammering about Lent, and, being a Recovered Homeschooler, it is against my religion to miss out on anything that everybody is doing, so I am here to yammer about Lent as well. Last year, for Lent, a day or two after it started when I finally realized what Everybody was yammering about, I decided to give up alcohol, which went great for 4-5 days until I began rationalizing that wine isn't the same as other alcohols because it's Biblical, and started the slippery decent into wanton abandonment of self-deprivation.

This year, rather than kidding myself about giving something that I may or may not be addicted to up, I find myself forced into yielding another layer of self-image that I have fought so fiercely since I was 15 years old to establish and maintain. This lent, I sit on my ever widening rear end and I release the adamant insistence that I am Peter Pan. At least physically. I will somehow come to terms with the Peter Pan in my soul that my nursemaid nana exterior can't keep up with, and I will accept the limitations that years of abuse and neglect have put on my body. Since the lat surgery, and the accident, I have gone progressively downhill and can't muster up the gumption to take painkillers and push through. Probably because taking painkillers and pushing through in the past has taken a higher toll than I could see through my Peter Pan eyes. Suddenly I realize that if I do not heal properly, this level of immobilization could become lifelong and permanent. I am terrified of being always in this state of pain and exhaustion. And so I relinquish, this Lent, my need to be tough. My need to be be there for every drama practice, every minute of work, all of the places that I believe I am needed. Somehow I will overcome the panic I feel of missing out, and letting people down, and being forgotten when I cannot carry my share of the burden. That's the real thing. Peter Pan's greatest fear. To be forgotten. To have the nursery window closed because he was away for too long and there is no place for him. Or for Tiggger to find out that he is not the only one and that his bounce has turned into more of a geriatric wobble.  Growing old is hard, especially when denial has compromised your ability to heal, and your ever youthful mind is up against a body that has been taken advantage of. I know that I will get better. And I also know that by then, I won't be forgotten and not very window will be closed. But letting go of the burning NEED to be ever present in the lives of as many people as I can is as hard to give up as wine. Almost.

I struggle with immense guilt for not being at work. Not cleaning my house and proving myself useful. To the extent that I asked the doctor for a note, excusing me from school, errr, work, and I tried to give it to all of the office ladies so they would know that I wasn't faking or being lazy, and they all looked at me like I was... Well, homeschooled. My house is trashed. Every cell in me itches to just pick up That One Thing. And then the next, and the next, and OhMy look at that dust... But no. Tonight, people will walk in my door and I will judge myself through their eyes and think "man, she was here all day on her butt (sorry mom) and look at this mess!" when in reality, if they are like me, they are thinking, oh thank god,  I'm not the only one. This lent, I am going to work on not allowing myself the judgement. Not clinging ferociously to some image that is really not me anyway. Peeling off a layer of that ugly onion of Trying To Impress People, and just breathe. Accept where I am, plan for the future. Hope I don't lose my job and trust that I will still have value in the eyes of the people I are about. Even if I am not Peter Pan. On the outside.

Things That I Shouldn't Talk About

Let's get this out there:

I am a reluctant believer. As in, I believe in God against my own stubborn will. If you have questions about this, then read : Things That I Believe . 

I am also against politics. As in, I hate them. I think they should go away. I think people spend so much time worrying about GREAT BIG THINGS that really don't matter that they miss out on all of the Best Little Things that are really what life is all about. If I didn't face immense guilt for not voting, I would not vote, but being related to the people that I am related to, the guilt is immense and imminent. Not that the ballot doesn't occasionally slip into the envelope missing a few marks here and there. Most of the problem is that I am uneducated. And in order to feel like I am not making The Worst And Most Uninformed Decision Ever, I would need to educate myself, which would require reading a lot of things and trying to weed through the biases and getting Really Ticked Off at people who can't just Be Logical and Do The Right Thing, but have to make laws about it. Then I just start writing my own laws about death penalties for petty people and mandatory sterilizations and it really isn't healthy. So I am against politics. 

Every once in awhile though, a Facebook rampage catches my eye and I feel compelled to say Something. But once again, I am forced to educate myself, which I did a little bit this time, really by reading some heavily biased articles on both sides and trying to read between the lines to see what the issue really was, but I also went to some government websites to check things out. I was pretty proud of myself. And if you correct my incorrect referencing in this blog, I will probably block you. 

In case you aren't aware of it, I was homeschooled throughout my K-12 lifespan. I guess there were like 5 days in a Christian Kindergarten, but I only remember the potato stamps and the tape decks with headphones and Sarah T wearing a zip sweatshirt with nothing underneath which violated my accelerated 5 year old fashion sense. It was purple though. Kudos on color choice, Toed. So back to being homeschooled: I was. And I don't regret it. Not for one second, as if I had any choice. But watching my 16 year old Tigger daughter go through several public high schools is enough for me to know that homeschooling was probably not a bad choice for me: someone else's 16 year old Tigger daughter (thanks mom and dad). I am not against homeschooling. But even with aforementioned 16 year old, I wouldn't consider doing it myself for my own kids for many reasons, the first of which is the ENORMITY of information that I didn't receive and have spent years chasing (also not a bad thing), as well as the total unabashed humility to admit that I Do Not Have (really any) All Of The Answers So Don't Ask Me, and the athletic and vocational opportunities I didn't get. 

If done well, homeschooling can be a powerful thing. I have RARELY, very very rarely, seen it done well. My mom, bless her heart, was the Champion of Effective Homeschooling, and my siblings and I have her to thank for our above average communication and questionable, if subjective, reasoning skills. However, I'd venture to say that she will admit that somewhere in the middle of educating her 6 kids and the drama that life with all of them brings, some of her hardcore educational steam wore off. I personally hold Bill Gothard and his ATIA booklets from Hades responsible for her loss of motivation, along with the implosion of our family and the loss of a brother and some other cult-like dealings we faced. But if homeschooling was ever done right, my mom was on that track.

All of that being said, I see this story pop up on Facebook about this persecuted homeschooled family, the Romeike's. Of course all of my remaining Christian Home Schooling friends (some of which ARE doing it right, I believe) are posting it because, oh the horror, of seeing religious liberties, the thing this nation was founded on, revoked or withheld. My other friends, (you know who you are) of the left wing bent, anti homeschool and anti god in some cases, are posting the story because, oh the horror, of the hypocrisy of supporting immigrants with threatened religious beliefs in the face of denying immigrants who seek survival outside of their impoverished homeland. And of course, according to some, it's all Obama and his nasty administration's fault. And according to others, homeschooling is a privilege not a right and we can't support the brainwashing of children by crazy parents any more than the German government can. Strong feelings on both sides. I read the articles. On both sides. I did some hunting. Because for me, homeschooling is my heritage, and I am curious about it's ramifications; I have also been to Germany and was profoundly impacted by the governmental regulations on religious practice, where the pastors are all state employees. And so I wonder, what is the right thing? Morally, ethically, legally, in this situation. The cynic in me supports deporting over-productive families who are against Harry Potter. The libertarian in me stands staunchly in their defense. The rationalist that I would like to imagine being says that the ISSUE is very much NOT the issue. So back off, Michael Farris. 

So where did the Romeike's go wrong, and ethically, what is the right answer? Which might not coincide with the correct legal answer...

The Romeike's have found a friend and a defender in Mike Donnely, a lawyer for The Homeschool Legal Defense Association. While Mr. Donnely makes many valid points about religious freedom and the right in the US to homeschool, he is overshooting the legal issue of how the Romeike's got here: seeking political asylum. The constitution grants political asylum or refugee status to "to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. " . Refugee status is legally granted to "people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm." While the Romeike's were denied the right to homeschool in Germany, it can be questioned whether they truly qualify as refugees. If the Romeike's had immigrated to the US for work opportunities and acquired their citizenship according to the same path that workers from Mexico or other countries would, this issue would never have presented itself to the federal court system. But the Romeike's seem intent on making this an issue of religious liberty and "persecution" they may have faced in Germany, which I am sure makes the German government feel very supportive of them, as well as Obama or any president or administration. The Romeike's would have you believe that 'serious harm' would include the mandatory public education or state approved private education of their children or having their children removed from their home. The main objection to enrolling their children in state approved public or private school is their lack of opportunity to teach their children Christian principles. Unless Germany is doing something totally weird, most school days are less than seven hours, leaving a large remaining chunk of time for parental influence. The "serious harm" might refer to the very large fines that the Romeike's were faced with paying, but most likely the thing they fear the most is having their children's thoughts directed by someone other than themselves. Which for many, is the most terrible thing. Homeschooling, in my best and most well informed and experienced opinion, is by ALL MEANS a privilege, and should probably be a right. If it is not, are parents precluded from educating their children in any religious vein that they choose during non-school hours?

For me, the legal thing is not the ethical thing, and vise verse. Sure, they should be allowed to stay and work their way toward citizenship, assuming they are "a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law". But to attempt to do it through the pathway of political asylum is where, in my mind, they went wrong. If I was a judge, I would have to rule that they do not qualify under that status. Much the same as the jury who will side with the plaintiff for a giant settlement against an insurance company that was in no wise responsible, just because "they have more money than they know what to do with" (I sat on this jury, ladies and gentlemen), the court cannot grant asylum just because it would be "really great" if the Romeike's can stay. They need to find a legal pathway that has nothing to do with homeschooling or persecution, unless someone is missing some fingers....  But that is just my two sense, and what do I know?

I guess my point in saying all of this is that I shouldn't ever host political opinions, because I realize I open myself up for an onslaught of debate, and I really can't stand seeing it on my page even if I initiate it. I also openly admit that I am SURE that I am missing some facts and don't know the whole story. Do we ever? But since my Facebook page was slathered with this stuff anyway, and since anytime I see the words HOMESCHOOL, MICHAEL FARRIS, or PERSECUTION on my page I get a little bristly, I just wanted to throw out there some considerations that might not be the BLACK/WHITE that the media is feeding us. In closing, I hope that the Romeike's can stay. Not as political refugees but as good people concerned with the raising of their children in the best way that they know how. I do not hold Barack Obama or anybody in the judicial system responsible for the loss of their appeal. And once again, I hate politics, and we are missing the big picture.

Things That Are Gross*

Ringworm. There it is. I said it. I owned it and acknowledged it. It's out. The shame is made public and I no longer have to live in hiddenness and lies.

A few weeks ago, the hormone fluctuations from my recent hysterectomy overcame me and I suddenly had weird maternal-ish nesting-type impulses and I needed a kitten. Somehow I took a parking lot commission from Josh when he said that a gray one was cuter than an orange one in this totally defrauding picture on the Facebook Classifieds, and so I got both. Both gray and orange kittens, which came complete with ringworm, which now infects officially one third of the elementary school. This is not an exaggeration. Anyone who knew the first name of any of my children contracted ringworm by osmosis. The principle was so grossed out that he sent two whole families home (one of which was mine), until the doctor personally called him to calm him down. (SLIGHT exaggeration). Thanks to my stupid, hormonal cuddling instincts.


In other disgusting news, I also have a wart on my toe which started long before my hysterectomy or my newest hormonal upheavals. A wart that hurts like someone is drilling into the joint of my left baby toe with an ice auger that is on fire. I didn't know that warts hurt until this one did. I have treated it with everything I can think of, including but not limited to: duct tape, apple cider vinegar, OTC wart remover, colloidal silver, oil of oregano and industrial freezing at the doctors office, and so far, it's only gotten worse. It's almost like God is just saying to me that He wants me to have a disgusting, filthy world full of warts and fungus. He wants me to know that I live in the Dirtiest House That Ever Stood, even though we just cleaned it really well on Sunday. I feel like I should have to shower three times before I am allowed to go to work, and I need to apologize for the wart on my toe to everyone that can't even see it. I blame the frogs I have been kissing. You know who you are. On the positive side of all this, the pain from my warty toe gets so bad sometimes that it distracts me from my post-surgery non-uterine pelvic pain. So that's good.

It's kind of ironic and hilarious (if you have had enough wine to make it so) that before I'd even had those darn kittens for two weeks that I was already disgusted by them. (DO NOT TELL JOSH) I am not convinced that any amount of adorable-hanging-from-the-curtains-and-the-screen-door can make up for ringworm, or the collection of little kitten potties that we found in my canning kettle, which was sitting on the dining room floor for days. Why? You ask? I have no idea. Because sometimes canning kettles just live in the dining room. On the floor. Nor do I know why kittens would poop in a canner when there is a perfectly good litter box nearby. Because kittens are foul, disgusting little entities of horridness that out on a cute disguise and then ruin your life. Our kittens, Whisky and Daisy, now live outside. ENTIRELY outside. Which worked great until they found the dog door. Now the dog door has to be locked, so we come home to the occasional puddle of unclaimed dog pee in the laundry room, near the dog door, with an imaginary note that says "I'm sorry. I tried." Anyway, I no longer drink Whisky Daisies.

*Author's note: This was originally composed in mid January. Being completely overwhelmed and disgusted with everything, I couldn't air it publicly until now. There were many things that I just couldn't choke out in this setting. And then there were so many things that I hadn't said, it was like when you don't do any laundry for SO LONG that it seems like it would just be easier to burn down the house and go shopping for new clothes because you have no idea where to begin. But then you get that first load of disgusting, moldy clothes all fresh and perky from the dryer, and it motivates you to force the kids to do all of the rest of the laundry. Except if I turned kids loose on catching up my blog, I can only imagine... Shudder to think. (so much for transparency and not living in hiddenness.)
But for the record, the ringworm is all but gone, with a few remaining traces that are there just to remind me of HOW GROSS.

Things I am Catching Up On

It's been awhile, y'all. I know that. So much is happening, sometimes I can't keep my mind in one place long enough to commit any thoughts that are connected in any way into writing. My brain is an indoor ping pong game. Like my nephew Judah, I have random floating thoughts and ideas screaming through my head at mach 4, creating a mashup of Special Ed issues and Pinterest Projects and SHOPPING impulses, with an occasional collision of philosophical dreams and physical ailments... It's a danger zone, and I wish that I shared Judah's traffic jam of superheroes and meal combination ideas, musical notes and strange noises, and the totally arbitrary lego piece or toy weapon flying through.  Mine is MUCH too grown up. Sometimes.

I realize I owe y'all a few stories. Or endings. Or explanations.

First of all, Josh went to boot camp and came home. That was 2 months of holidays and single parenting that went a lot better than I had anticipated, except for Josh, who was being screamed at while folding t-shirts with tweezers. I definitely had the better end of that whole deal, even though the  pellet stove kept breaking and I had some flat tires and surgery and blah, blah, blah.

Which leads beautifully into #2 catchup item: My surgery(s). I have had two. They were both WONDERFUL. In case you were curious about what or why I actually had these surgeries, the first was to remove my uterus which was badly engorged with Adenomyosis, and the doc (and me) sincerely hoped that yanking it out would take away the aforementioned pain. It did. For a month or so, except when I wasn't taking it easy, which was all of the time, so really, it didn't help. The doc mentioned that I had some ugly varicose veins on my left ovary which MIGHT be part of that left sided pain problem, or it MIGHT subside once the pressure from my swollen uterus was removed. It didn't subside, but it was definitely part of the problem, so two months after surgery number one, the doc went in and yanked out the left ovary. God willing, this is the fix. And if I would stop getting in car wrecks and going on hikes, twerking on the dance floor and showing Peter Pan (see item #7) how to dive off of marooners rock, or shadow how to collapse to flat and disappear on the stage, I will finally be pain free. It's just over two weeks since surgery and all of those things have inhibited my healing so I am still in pain. But after the car accident (see item #6), both the chiropractor AND the doctor told me to stay home from work, which I still didn't do, until the lawyer said that we wouldn't get any kind of sympathy from insurance if I was disobeying doctors. RARRRR. So now I am homebound. A little. Almost. Except for the Irish Dance show which is tonight and I made 6000 cookies for (with help) and Peter Pan next week, which I have replaced myself as Nana with a small, non-hurting child. I don't have time to stay.still. But I can't afford to destroy my body anymore. But back to surgery: I have decided that if I could have a surgery every week I would, for several reasons:

  •  they MIGHT take away the pain that has become a routine part of my life {parenthetical pause: this pain that has lasted for 3+ years is something I am so used to that when the doc asks me to rate my pain on a scale of one to 10, I say about a 6-7 (using childbirth as the litmus) and then tell a joke, because a 6-7 is WAY better than the 8-9 I was in before I took the drugs that made me nauseous and crabby. end parenthetical pause} 
  • they give me REALLY good drugs that make everything in the world seem AWESOME (cue Lego Movie Song) 
  • I get to be lazy and do nothing for at least a couple of days and people do stuff for me, like make Chicken Kiev (I love you Em), and Tater Tot Casserole (I love you Andrea) and get me water. And wine. And roses. And chocolate. And take me shopping right after I get out of surgery so I can spend money at Victoria's Secret in a glorious drugged stupor, and I am so cute, nobody argues with me (thanks Josh). Or at least that's how it feels - the cute part.

  • if I work it REAL GOOD, or say, get in a car accident, or tackled by a flying 18 year old partridge with Cerebral Palsy, I get to take some MORE time off because I can't walk and stuff. 

Which is a beautiful transition into number #3 catch up item: The Lego Movie. Go see it. #SPACESHIP!!!!!

#4 catchup item: Hotpants. I know. I told you all about these awesome hot pants that cost a bunch of money but were going to make me skinnyrealfast. So, what happened is this: I ordered the Zagorra Hotpants, and they never came. It was only like $100 of getting nothing, so I didn't really care at first. I finally cared, when I remembered not getting them, and turns out, they got sent to my old house in Bend. Which is weird. Luckily the people in our old house are friends, so when I went down there to pick up or drop off Halle (don't remember which), I picked them up, along with some free PINK! headphones from Victoria's Secret PINK!, for being one of their best customers ever (and Josh thought all of that PINK! stuff was a waste of money. HA.) (EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!) And some other random things that we had either left or received after we left Bend. So I got the pants sometime around Thanksgiving. The first thing I noticed was that they fit. This was very important since I measured myself repeatedly (mostly because I kept getting dizzy from sucking everything in and couldn't remember the measurements) and was right between a small and a medium. But I followed Josh's continuing advice: "get the smaller one. you don't want to get any bigger.", "don't give yourself permission to gain any weight." "in 6 months it will fit. you just have to work at it.". And so I ordered the smalls. And they fit. With a little bit of sucking in. The next thing I noticed. RIGHT AWAY, is that they are noisy. Very noisy. To the point that they made an excellent source of embarrassment for my high school junior daughter - I would rub my legs together intentionally when I passed her in the hallway, just to make her groan. I know, I wasn't wearing them to "work out", which is what they are designed for, but right after surgery, just going to work feels remarkably like a workout. So I wore them to work. And I wore them on a fun little hike in the snow that I shouldn't have gone on so soon after surgery. So my impression of them, other than the noise, is that they are very painful, but probably it wasn't the pants' fault. I am not sure if I lost any inches when I wore them, because when I peeled them off, all sweaty and dripping, I was too tired to measure myself. which is ok because I forgot to measure myself before I shimmied awkwardly into them. Shimmy sounds more cute and attractive than what I actually did to get them on. It was more like a seizure crossed with jumping jacks. And weird grunting sounds to mix with the swishing pant sounds. But they're cool, and most importantly - THE SMALLS FIT. 

Catch up item #5: The kids. 
  1. Halle just swept state Nordic Ski competitions, applied for summer fire jobs and is accepted to any of the community colleges she wants to go to. 
  2. MacKenzie has had a major attitude transformation, thank the Lord, and has been very sweet, but not precluding the occasional run in with, ahem, some storytelling and fudging the facts here and there. Her grades have come up considerably since Bend and she has had a lot of boyfriends. 
  3. Nattie's best bunny rascal died. We were all very sad. But I think you already knew that. Her grades are awesome, her room is clean, she's playing cello again, and she's just the all around Nattie. 
  4. Aspen has a big Irish Dance show tonight and then plays Tinkerbell next weekend in the school production of Peter Pan. I would like to tell you that all of this positive attention isn't going to her head, but listening to her withhold her puffy Cheetos from friends and throw little tantrums when she doesn't get her way, tells a different story. 
And about Peter Pan (catch up item #6): I voluntarily placed myself as a helper in the highschool drama class with one of our SPED students, which was probably a little selfish on my part, but somehow, and honestly completely without my interference but with my full support, they decided that they wanted to do Peter Pan. Obviously I moved in and sort of took over... Because, well, Peter Pan is my THING. I hope Mrs. Wilson doesn't hate me. But I am kind of a soldier in the defense of not destroying the IDEA of Peter Pan, so I am a little picky. Also uninfluenced by me (seriously), they held auditions and cast Aspen as Tinkerbell. I was surprised and somewhat skeptical. But she's pulling it off in true, adorable, Aspen style. I was relegated to play the dog Nana because none of the kids would, and according to the resident-15-year-old-type-A-controller of all things drama, I make a really good dog. Turns out the doctor thinks otherwise, and the really awesome costume I got didn't fit (clearly I am not a small in dog costumes), so I have replaced myself. I think it will be a very good show, even if I am not playing Peter Pan, which is a source of much bereavement to me. Not only did the kids not CLAMOR to make me The Pan, they relegated me to the nursemaid dog. Woe is me and the end of my youth! OLD! ALONE! AND DONE FOR!

Catch up item #7: The crash. Milepost 91, six miles south of Ritzville on HWY 395, in a frozen slush blizzard, a lady passed us going 80, lost control, and we played bumper cars down the road for a few hundred yards. Our car was totaled, and we didn't break any bones or tear any skin, but we're both a tied up wreck of ribs out of place and textbook whiplash injury - me to my lumbar spine and josh to his upper back. We were the only two in the rig, thank goodness, except Dagny, but I grabbed her and was probably more concerned with her not flying through the air than I was with guarding my own recent surgery sites. Poor me. I am sore. 

I know there are a lot of other things to catch up on, but I have exhausted my mental resources for today and am highly distracted by the freshly baked Gingersnaps in the kitchen. I think I will go see if I can eat myself out of those size smalls and leave you with this amazingness... 

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