What goes around, comes around…

I stumbled out of bed this morning; let the dogs out. The usual routine.

Still half asleep, I plodded back to my room to get dressed. As I passed through the kitchen doorway, a stream of liquid hit me square in the face.

I tried to spit it out of my mouth…

Darling Daughter: It’s WATER mom.

Me: Huh?

(Still wiping my face, water dripping down the front of my shirt…)

Darling Daughter: From my squirt gun.

Me: Oh. Well it tastes gross…

Both children laughed at me. The dogs ran in circles around us.

Me: Did you have to get it in my mouth?

A few minutes later, we headed out the door.

Me: What are you doing?

Darling Daughter: Filling my squirt gun.

Dogs, the children and I loaded into the car. And it is a load; of dogs/dog hair, heavy backpacks, my ‘suitcase’ purse, bags stuffed with both kids after school workout gear…

My son rode shotgun next to me. Daughter and both dogs were in the Back of the Bus. (Family terminology for ‘backseat’)

And we were off to school…

Water whizzed past one dogs head.

I glanced back there…

Darling Daughter: What? I thought they liked water.

Me: Yeah, they really, REALLY like that.

Darling Daughter: Well, they drink it. And they like to swim!!

The Red Dog buried his head under my arm while I drove. He did NOT like the water.

Darling Daughter: Rocky, are you traumatized? Grace, you like the water, don’t you?

Gracie rode with her head out the window.

Me: She does NOT like it. And she’s very neurotic. Let’s hope she can’t get her whole body out of that window.

Darling Daughter: If they could open their mouths, maybe they would like it…

Where was my son in all of this?

Relaxed. Plugged into his music, both ear buds securely in place. Traveling in his own bubble. Happy…

Me: Do you have to torment the dogs?

That’s when the water flew past my head, landed on the dashboard and windshield.

I flipped my sunglasses down over my eyes.

The Red Dog turned his head toward my daughter. If he could speak, he might have said, “What are YOU doing?”

Darling Daughter to Rocky (AKA The Red Dog): It’s water. Wanna sip?

Me: Nobody wants a sip!!! None of us…

Where did she get the squirt gun?

Part of the spoils from yesterdays National Honor Society induction process.

There is a tradition at our high school. On the morning of NHS inductions, senior NHS members ‘kidnap’ the new inductees from their beds. New members have a minute to brush their teeth, then get dragged to school for the day in their pajamas.

How are the new inductees awakened?

With chaos. A dozen kids crammed into our house. Hurled balls at her. Turned on lights. There was yelling and screaming. Darling Daughter was pelted with water from squirt guns and silly string. (That is still stuck to her bedding) And in our house, the dogs barked like crazy. That is how my day started yesterday at 5:45 am.

Luckily, we still have the plastic balls, squirt guns and such.

The tradition is fun for the kids. And the seniors did an outstanding job in organizing the event, of speaking at the induction ceremony last evening and they made the ‘right of passage’ a wonderful memory for the new NHS members.

At the reception after the ceremony, I spoke to a teacher/coach whose third child (of four) will graduate this spring and head to college in the fall.

Coach: Yeah. My wife has been crying some lately. The kids are almost gone.

Me: I find myself thinking about that, though my daughter is a junior…

Coach: I keep telling her…in a couple of years, they’ll start coming BACK!!! And they will bring more people with them…

We both laughed…

Me: That’s so true. So, really we should look at these years as our ‘window.’ A little breather…

Coach: I keep telling her we can do some things together.

And he was right.

College isn’t the end of one phase. It is simply the beginning of another. 

There are few breaks in parenting and our job is never done. Once we have kids, we are parents forever. We send them off to college. And they come back. They get jobs. Get married. Have children. And if we are lucky, we have a wider circle of loved ones. The conversation shifts from high school sports and classes, to college majors, to the job hunt and careers, the first home and other life events.

When my children hit milestones and other mothers cried, I was always more excited for my kids than I was sad for me. Because my kids were excited. If they are happy, then I am happy for them. And so I try to enjoy each phase that parenting brings.

We aren’t guaranteed these moments. My mother couldn’t attend my NHS induction, though she would have loved to.(We videotaped it for her) She was too ill and was diagnosed with cancer several months later.

Maybe I appreciated every moment of last evenings NHS ceremony a little more because of that. It isn’t that I live in the past, more that my past injects an extra dose of gratitude into some things. Or has shown me not to take anything for granted.

I was grateful for the efforts of students, staff and parents in making last night special. Grateful that my father and his wife could share it with us.

Life does move forward. And we never know what is in store for us. Sometimes that is downright terrifying. But it is also part of the adventure…

And so I try to enjoy the ride. Even when ‘the ride’ includes water squirted inside the car, at 7am.

As for my daughter…what goes around, comes around.

She stays after school every day to work out. And I pick her up.

Today, I will pick her up with a loaded squirt gun. And when she gets in the car, I’ll be aiming for her mouth.

Surely, she’ll want a sip of water after her run?

NOTE: Please read the comments, to see how picking up my daughter unfolded…

Another week, Another Failure???

I have struggled some this week. Honestly, it was a tough week.

Started when the Trusty Honda got ‘tired’ (i.e. stopped running) while I was driving  50mph on a busy road and I coasted (ironically) into a used car lot.

What could I do? I locked the car. And my neighbor Chapman came and got me.

After weighing my options, I had the car towed to a repair shop. Seeing my car on the tow truck had me downtrodden.

That evening, a friend picked me up for a meeting:

Friend: My car might not start later.

Me: Huh?

Friend: Yeah. My son moved it and left the lights on. We had to jump it the other day.

Me: I have jumper cables in my car.

Friend: Shoot!! I forgot mine at home.

Me: We are driving past my car. Maybe we should get my jumper cables? It isn’t like they are going to help me at this point…

Thankfully, we grabbed them from my trunk because she used them the next morning to jump-start her car…

Later in the week:

That same friend sent out a reminder that this Friday is Bunco night. (Yes, I live an exciting life…)

Me: I will be there. Somebody might need to stop over and pick me up, but I will be there!!

Friend: I hear you. My car is at shop now. By the way, thanks for the jumper cables. They came in handy this morning.

Me: Seriously? We might have to leave early and WALK to Bunco…

Friend: No. I’m picking it up now. New battery, so I’m good to go. (We hope!)

Me: You don’t like walking? I might like it A LOT. Depending on how much it costs to fix my car.

Friend: I do like walking….it is actually a lot better for me than riding. And my battery was not cheap, so good luck.

Another Friend: Yep. I will be there, too. I can walk with you guys. I got lost a couple of times while walking in Florida and ended up on 2 1/2 hour walks…

Happen to adore ‘Another Friend.’ Hilarious that she sort of skipped the part where the ‘walking’ was due to our car troubles.

I was looking outside at my empty driveway when she texted me (and others) a short time later…

Another Friend: Since you guys like to walk, want to do the Susan G. Koman walk with me? It requires raising a lot of money, though.

Me: Let me think about it. That is a big commitment.

Another Friend: I just found a 5 mile walk we can do in September for charity.

Me: Great!

Much easier to go with it…

(Though I’ll be sure to tease her about it this weekend when I see her .)

Anyways, my favorite mechanic put a ‘band aid’ on my car and it is running again. And I couldn’t be more grateful after four days with no car.

I (mostly) kept my chin up and tried not to feel like a complete loser.

Single parent. Two teenagers. Two dogs. Meager means. No ‘real’ job.

The cherry on top? No car.

When I am stressed or upset, I clean.

Others might get drunk, cry, or lash out in anger.

I paint and re-finish furniture. Rearrange rooms.  Clean behind kitchen appliances. Weed the yard.

And while I am cleaning, I am working out solutions. The upside is that when my low mood passes, my surroundings look fantastic and I am ready to move forward again.

But what really got me over the hump this week?                My 17-year-old daughter.

And her handling of a school assignment. Her teacher often assigns the class a question; the students post their responses to an online forum and have an online discussion with each other. The latest question…

What makes a hero today? Who is your personal hero? Why? How does this person fit the mold of a modern hero?

“A hero is someone who is strong and courageous. Not necessarily in the typical, life-threatening, fighting dragons kind of way but someone who can stand up for what they believe in and go against the grain. My mom is my personal hero. She has been through her mother’s death when she was young, a divorce, moving, getting a job, being unemployed, struggling to keep my brother and me happy and well-cared for, and getting along with my Dad. Rather than take the normal path and finding whatever cruddy job she could, she chose to do what she loves and make that a career. She is a writer and an eBay PowerSeller, not a chemist or a teacher or an accountant. She is doing what she loves even though she is always criticized and it is really difficult sometimes. No matter what life has thrown at her, my mom has always been clear-headed and happy. She has never given up hope or ignored her personal beliefs to please someone else; she has done what is best for my brother, herself and I. Her unselfishness and strength amazes me every day. My mom fits the mold of a modern hero because her love, spirit, happiness, and strength do not fit any kind of mold. She is one of a kind and anyone would be proud to be half as good of a person as she is and I am so lucky to be her daughter.”

And just like that, I was over it. I know my reasons for making many of the decisions I’ve made. For not straying from my core. And I have certainly made plenty of mistakes. (Too many to count…) But my family, friends and those close to me have always been my top priority.

And they always will be. My children know this. Not so much by my words, but in how I live each day. By my actions. The choices I make.

I cannot feel like a failure after reading that last night.

Even if I am walking, instead of driving a car…

Let’s do (a little) something for Kenan

I’m not one of those people who ‘love’ Facebook.

I don’t often post status updates or photos–but I do login most days to take a look around…to see what’s going on…

And every once in a while, there is something that really, profoundly, touches me.

Today was such a day.

In Chicago, there is a little boy named Kenan. He is the son of a girl I went to school with. And he has Krabbe disease.

It is unfathomable when looking at photos taken when he was an infant…

 And yet, it is so.

What is Krabbe disease?

Several months ago, I had no idea. Had never heard of it. It wandered onto my radar with a series of achingly beautiful family photos featuring Kenan…

 

Medical Definition: Krabbe disease is a rare genetic disorder of the nervous system.

A little more information: This disease affects muscle tone and movement, and may cause vision and hearing loss, among other devastating effects. It is brutal, and usually fatal. With few treatment options, the goal is to ease symptoms. There is no cure.

No hope.

Ahhh, but there is ALWAYS hope. Always…

There are always advances in medicine. And in the case of Krabbe disease, there has been some success in using stem cells to treat young infants. As with many diseases that once had no cure, research will bring little bits of information. These little bits will be strung together to create bigger chunks of information. There will be forward momentum, more information…and eventually treatment options and a cure will come.

But for now, there is a little boy who is ill.

And a family who could use some help. Because both parents are self employed—they are also self-insured.

Not only are they raising a baby in need of extensive medical treatment, they bear the financial burden of paying for this treatment.

No parent should have this worry.

Caring for an ill child is enough.

This family is remarkable. They document their son’s milestones with beautiful photos. And Natasha is the true definition of what a mother is; loving, gracious, hopeful, caring, unselfish…

Often, we hear of this type of challenge being called a parents’ worst nightmare.

I can only call it a challenge. Although family and friends who love this little boy must be heartbroken, they surely consider him a blessing like no other.

As anybody who has read this blog knows, I am not a woman of great means. (At least not yet!!) And I am still trying to figure out what (if any?) talent I have.

The one thing I seem able to do is write.

Not with Perfect grammar or punctuation. Nor can I claim any formal training in journalism. But I can often reach others with the written word.

It only makes sense that I write a bit about Kenan today. Because he inspires me.

His family and friends inspire me. And they have come up with a way to help. For those who would like to join me, here is a link to the “Kisses for Kenan” website:

http://kissesforkenan.org

Today, I love Facebook.

Because it gave me the opportunity to do a little something…

If a lot of people can do just a little, then maybe the sum total will be something really BIG.

And a family might have fewer worries.

Is Failure a Viable Career Option ??

So, I’ve been in my basement– or what a favorite uncle calls a Cellar—for the past couple of days.

In fact, he’d call me a “Cellar Dweller…”

And he is correct. My desk, computer, file cabinets, eBay supplies and packaging area are down in my cellar. It is a finished basement, with comfy couches and chairs—and a TV. So I don’t mind being holed up in my cellar. I often go down there when I am serious about getting things done.

Anyways, I looked at spreadsheets. I looked at bills. And I looked at potential jobs.

Until my head was spinning…

That’s when I knew it was time to get outside. I grabbed The Little Black Dog and we headed to the beach for our daily walk.

As I walked, I got to thinking. (God help us all when I do that.)

My current financial situation isn’t that hard. Just simple elementary school arithmetic.

Just need to add up the money I have coming in.

Then subtract the bills.

And if the sum of these two numbers is red instead of green? Scale back.

Some common options:

Eliminate Car Payment.  Done. Years ago. Hence my 13-year-old Honda Accord.

Sell my house.  Again, done. I rent the home the children and I live in.

(From a woman who might soon be canonized as a Saint …)

Sell off my worldly possessions? Done. Any gold I had was melted down years ago when I set up my new household.  Honestly, I pawned my wedding rings right out of the gate, because wedding rings aren’t necessary for a person getting divorced. Though one or two people protested…

Protestor: You NEED to save those for your daughter.

Me: Oh.

Hadn’t really thought of that. For me, it seemed silly and useless for something I clearly didn’t need to occupy space in a drawer for many years…

Me: Darling Daughter, how do you feel about these?  Are they something that have meaning for you? Would you like me to save them for you?

My daughter looked at me like I was standing on my head…

Darling Daughter:  WHY would I want to wear the rings of FAILURE???

Sold.

Onward. To more common options:  

GOOD OLD MA & PA

Many people head back to their parents’ house in times of financial distress. Not an option for me. My mother passed about 20 years ago, so I would have to pitch a tent at the cemetery to hang with her. And my father lives nearly an hour away. A little too long of a commute, considering the promise I made my children that they would not have to change school districts after the divorce.

FIND A NEW MAN (OR A HUSBAND)

Another popular plan of attack in times of distress. Men use this one, too, but they find a woman. (Unless they are not heterosexual) Biggest problem here? I’d be counting on somebody else to bail me out. Which means I don’t bail myself out. Which means I don’t learn and grow from the experience. There is an old saying that the lesson keeps coming back at us until we get the brick to the head. I am ready to learn the damn LESSON already!

Goes like this…

PRAY FOR AN INHERITANCE

As far as I know, there aren’t any wealthy, childless relatives hiding out anywhere. Plus somebody has to DIE for people to get an inheritance. And I would feel terrible if tragedy or illness befell somebody I knew—and I ended up compensated with vast sums of money. (At least I think I would feel really, really badly )

TRUST FUND

This is kind of interesting, because nothing BAD would have to ‘happen’ to anybody. So I think I could feel okay about it if somebody wanted to set up a Trust Fund for me to draw from occasionally. And I wouldn’t be one of those ungrateful people. Nor would I act snotty, entitled or better than others. I would really appreciate it.

A JOB

I’ve said this many times before. But it is fact. The world—Northeast Ohio specifically—isn’t in need of another middle-aged, single mother looking for a job. Or even another PERSON looking for work. Jobs aren’t all that easily found…

Because I am a little (maybe even a lot) ADD, my mind bounced to my marketable skills:

I’m NICE…

People usually like me. (Except for two…maybe three people)

Put me in the sandbox and I play well with others. I never threw sand as a child. Just like on the elementary school report card. They always said that I ‘worked well with others.’  Probably, I had ‘natural ebullience’ when I was a kid, just like I do now. (See past two blogs if that doesn’t make sense…)

From there, I drew a blank.

Seriously, I am hardworking, got excellent grades in school and am PC and Mac literate. I’m a first-rate organizer. I learn new skills and technology easily. Have a pleasant phone manner. Happen to have an eBay store where I am a PowerSeller and Top Rated seller. Hopefully, I am an acceptable writer.  (A writer is what I would really like to be…)

Then there’s my BA in Management/Finance. Which is a bit ironic considering my inability to do elementary school math lately.

Or maybe I just need more to work with.  If there aren’t any beans to count, how can I be a bad bean counter, right?

Obviously, I am not a quitter. Or I’d have quit a long time ago.

I just need to look a little harder for ways to change my current financial circumstances.

Which means I’ll be heading to the lower level of our Little White Ranch House. A Cellar Dweller for another day.

I am a HAPPY Cellar Dweller, at least…and a NICE one.

And I promise I’ll be soaking in the LESSONS like a sponge. Because I really do not want to have to break out my catlike reflexes to dodge ANOTHER brick. (more on my catlike reflexes another time…)

As ever, I am open to suggestions, if anybody out there has anything?

So Much For My New Job …

Sadly, it was my most short lived job ever. Not that my resume is long on ‘real’ jobs…

I can now add getting FIRED to my list of life experience.

(That was the term used by a ‘helpful’ person who I used to hang around with some. Which might explain why I USED to hang around that person…)

I could soften the blow and say I was LET GO. Or I could go British with made ‘Redundant.’

Definition of Redundant: Exceeding what is necessary. More simply…not needed.

Which is really the case…

It  was a small family business. They were sort of in the middle of reorganizing when they hired me. Trying to figure out their next move.  And as they did so, it didn’t make much sense to pay me to do work they could absorb amongst themselves—if they each put in a few more hours a day.

And I have no regrets. They were really nice people. Who might have been too quick to hire me, given their business model. And this was the best business decision for them.

But it leaves me Redundant.

Not necessary.

Which I have been before. That is how I ended up divorced.

Other things I am (at least by definition) …

UNEMPLOYED AGAIN.

Unless we count my eBay store, which has been doing quite well recently. Except last week when I didn’t have time for it on account of the job I USED to have.

PARENT.

Of two teenagers. Which a lot of people would see as a negative. They say teenagers are difficult.  So far, I disagree. And I wake up EVERY day feeling lucky that I have these two wonderful children in my life. Really, there are no words for what they mean to me. Even more lucky, I have a tight knit group of family and friends who will always love me. And who I will always love dearly.

SINGLE.

Not really a negative. I find myself not wanting to have my newfound ‘wings’ clipped at this time. I am kind of relishing in the opportunity to go out and have fun, to laugh with friends, to date, to explore my options. To be ‘me’ for a while… (Someday, there will be a fella who changes my mind—but for now I am happy and content.)

BROKE.

Or at least of meager means just now. Which is somewhat stressful. Will be more so when I clear my bank account to pay my bills this week. But at the same time, I KNOW in my gut that it is temporary. I have been through financial highs and lows. As we all have. As my wise uncle said to me not too long ago –It’s all about PERSEVERENCE now.  And so I will do my best to meet my financial obligations, pull the weeds and get my landscaping beds ready for spring. (While I have time) Make sure my house is organized and neat as a pin. So that when opportunity for financial gain comes my way, I am ready to embrace it.

OWNER OF OLD, TRUSTY HONDA ACCORD.

I was just about to get rid of my old ‘trusty’ Honda. And believe it or not, I was struggling with my decision. I was actually having a hard time letting my old car go. The downside? It needs a good bit of work. It is scheduled for major ‘surgery’ next Monday. It needs new brake lines, fuel lines and a timing belt (to preserve the engine).  And it isn’t that it is a bad car. Or even that it has broken down. It is just so old that its original parts have rusted out—or WORN out. Maybe that is why I identify with my old car. Because I ‘get’ being solid, if a little worn out…

KEEPER OF TWO DOGS

And thank goodness for Rocky and Grace! Just looking at them makes me smile. Taking them for walks outside each day keeps me sane, too. Not sure what it is about dogs, but they make a house a home. And they make the people in the home more calm, relaxed and joyful, too.

 

 

HAPPY.

How? I really have no idea. It certainly doesn’t make any sense. Getting ‘canned’ yesterday wasn’t super fun. And yet today I woke full of hope and optimism. Happy. Ready to tackle what comes next…

On paper, things seem a bit dismal.

Redundant, single parent of teens with little money and an old car.

And yet, I can’t help but feel I am moving in the right direction. Defies rational thought, I know. But then I tend to roll in ways that don’t always seem logical.

And so I am off to enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

Doesn’t it sound nicer to say I am going to ‘enjoy’ it?

(Really, it is my only option. It is cheap. And available.)

And then I am off to look at my financial picture for this month…

Looking forward to it. (Not, really.)

Lastly, I will be listing a slew of new items on my eBay store in the coming days. That has been an invaluable tool in supporting myself in the past couple of years. And doing my budget first always helps to motivate me.

I’m not much of a drinker, but I am thinking of stopping somewhere for a drink either Friday or Saturday evening.

Anybody want to join me???

I promise it will be fun, as I have “natural ebullience.” (see my last blog, if that doesn’t make sense…) And I promise to bring it with me…

Fair warning.

You might have to buy me the drink.