Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"A Funny, But Sad, Story"

I was talking to my (great-) Aunt Judy this morning.

As we chatted, she was telling me about my Nana's dementia (since I haven't been down to visit Nana for a while. I write her letters, since her hearing's not very good anymore ... and so that Aunt I (who takes care of Nana) can read them and know what's going on, too).

And here's this story, which happened in the not-too-distant past ...

Nana: [Pop-pop/Nana's husband]'s come back.

Judy: (not knowing if this is the dementia or not) Oh?

Nana: Yes, he's sitting right there on the porch. He's come back to collect his social security.

Judy: Well, okay.

Nana: (matter-of-factly) He's going to get in trouble for fraud, since he's been dead for thirteen years.

I have to admit that this exchange has me tickled. It's just such a Nana thing to say, that last line.

Like once, in a conversation with her a few years back, she was telling me about some distant cousins who adopted a little girl from China.

Nana: So, they're both ladies ... well, which one's the husband and which one's the wife?

Me: Um, I think that you just refer to them as 'partners.'

Nana: Oh, that makes sense. ... I don't know why they call homosexuals 'gay.' They don't seem very happy.

(That's where I had to work really hard at not bursting into peals of laughter.)

I love my Nana. She's darling.

And, hey, even if she's waking up at 1 AM to make Pop-pop some coffee and lunch, if she's woken you up, hey! you can have a midnight-ish snack, right?
(Which is better than, say, having someone with dementia swear that they've been stabbed or that people are creeping around the house ... and then shooting a hole in the door. ... So I've heard.)

But, yeah.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Some cute things

After my last post got kind of heavy, I figured that we needed some levity.

(Cue Auntie Mame belting "We Need a Little Christmas" ... but not exactly.)

So, yesterday, while Michael was on his commute home, there was traffic. Like adding 20 minutes to his 45-minute commute.

As I hung up with him, Bubbles was asking where Daddy was.

Me: He's stuck in traffic, sweetie. There's a lot of cars that aren't moving much right now.

Bubbles: *gasps* Dat's not KIND!

Me: And there were two fire trucks and an ambulance. People probably got hurt.

Bubbles: Oh no! Dat's bad! Not kind!

So... she's got the idea that bad = not kind.
Which isn't a bad way to think about it.
Since I figure that if I teach my kids to respect others and be kind and to love them, well, the world will be a better place for it.

Also, Bubbles went everywhere in her Princess Sofia dress, dress-up shoes, and crown yesterday.
It was pretty adorable ... something that only a toddler can really pull off (because those shoes are SMALL).

As she practiced dancing in the front room, she'd conclude her dance number.

Bubbles: Okay. Say "yaaaaaay" and clap hands!

Me: "Yaaaaaay!!" *claps*

Bubbles: Good job! Good job, Mommy! You did it!

Everyone's mentioning that she's talking a lot more and much better.
She's a funny little munchkin.

Your "What's-Gone-On-In-the-Last-Two-Weeks-If-You-Really-Care" Update

So, yeah, it's been two weeks since I last blogged.
(Way to go, me ... sounds like I'm starting with a confession. I'm not Catholic, but I do have some friends who are ... and it's not like I haven't seen movies where a character is in Confession ... I digress. Like I always do.)

Okay, since June 9th ...

Well, I WANTED this to be a fun, chatty post, since I got back in touch with my high-school Theater teacher (also taught Writing for College, which was a great class, too). (No, I'm NOT trying to suck up, okay? I really did enjoy those classes AND having him as a teacher/friend. Geez, you guys.) ... where was I? Oh yes ... AND I would have really preferred, since I told him that I have a blog and he said that he'd be glad to read it, to have something witty and funny and well-drafted ... but, well, it is what it is (didn't Vonnegut say that? I find myself saying it a lot. And I think it's a quote ... Whatever. I've just gotten up and I can't brain yet).

Sorry, Mr. A. I really did want to be clever and awesome. But, well, at least you know that I didn't hire a ghostwriter or anything, right?

SO ... the kids are out of school for the summer. Bruise and Bucket had their well-child check-up. They're current on their shots (Bucket had pumped herself up to be prepared for a vaccination, though I was pretty sure she didn't need one, so she was bummed NOT to get a shot. ... Yup, that's my girl).
That's how we started Summer Vacation -- go to the doctor's, then take the kids' to Grandma's house (while Mom and Dad go to a meeting [read that: get to a meeting rather late because the guy in charge of getting information only told us the [City] Stake Center, not an address. So we went to the church building in [City], then had to call our sister-in-law to figure out where we (and another ten cars) SHOULD be ... which meant that we were BARELY on time. Which meant that Michael had to listen to me grouse about how I HATE being late. Poor guy. At least we got to eat at the Pita Pit for dinner, so it wasn't terrible. And the meeting was good [about missionary work]).

Backtracking -- the kids had a fun time at their class trip to OMSI. I was feeling guilty about not going with (but then I'd have to run Bubbles up to Mom C's, run the kids and myself BACK into town, drive up to OMSI -- most likely carpooling, so then I'd have to drop off everyone BACK at the school and run BACK UP to Mom C's, AND THEN go back home) ... however, since I found myself being VERY GOOD FRIENDS with Mr. Toilet that day, I didn't feel so guilty.
(I would have said that I didn't feel so bad, but that would have been a lie. Since I was NOT feeling good by any means. Not for a while.)

I've agreed to be PTC (Parent-Teacher Club) Secretary for the 2015-2016 school year.
Sounds like the meetings will be moved to Tuesday evenings, which mostly work better for me. Michael can pick up the kids (and take Bucket to her Activity Days twice a month) ... I'd better prepare a metric crapton of slow cooker meals.
It also sounds like there'll be a morning meeting once a month. I'm sure they'll get used to me in pajamas, schlepping my brood in. (I jest, I jest. But I WILL be rocking a ponytail with my I-threw-this-on-right-before-running-to-the-car ensemble.)

Before the kids went down to stay a week with grandfolks (they stayed with my dad and L Monday; then, until Friday, they were with my mom and stepdad), we did the kick-off for the city summer activity/scavenger hunt/passport program/thing. It's actually really fun. You get a little passport and go around (mostly downtown) and collect stamps from participating businesses. At some places, you need to do something to earn your stamp. At others, you get to make something (like at the paint-you-own pottery, you paint a little trinket [which you'll come back later to pick up, after it's been put into the kiln and cooled. Or, at a coffee shop/deli, (at least last year) kids made their own, free, Italian soda. Or you had to shoot so many baskets on the court at the YMCA. Stuff like that]). Some are out a little ways -- in one, you go to a historic mill, which makes a nice day trip. it's fun to go on the tour and into the little interpretive center -- grind some flour by hand. Maybe feed the chickens and turkeys ...

But, yeah, Bruise, Bucket, and Bubbles had fun spending the week with grandfolks. They all came back happy, tired, and sunburned (I know they did put on sunscreen. They were JUST in the sun that much).

While they were gone, I had high hopes of laying in bed and reading all day (like I could do pre-kids). Instead I did small bursts of cleaning ... and got my hair colored.
Tuesday, I went through the kids' outgrown clothing and got that sorted. Then I went to the salon for my appointment. I'm now even blonder (working towards platinum, since that's one of the [few] colors I haven't done) and sporting some fun streaks. We tried to do teal, purple, and pink ... but the pink didn't take at all. So I have fun teal and purple streaks (hadn't done purple streaks before. I've done teal, but only on the bottom-most layer of hair. And that was years ago) happening.
Then Michael and I went to see Jurassic World (which was good despite not starring Dr. Ian Malcom. Though, trivia says (and I missed it), that Jeff Goldblum's picture IS featured on a couple books held by two characters in the film).

Wednesday, I cleaned up the house a bit and organized a freezer (which NEEDED to happen, because I was sick and tired of foisting off an impeding avalanche EVERY time I opened that stinkin' freezer), since we were feeding the missionaries. One of the elders is going to be going home soon. Which is a bummer (for us) since he's really fun. But we know that his family misses him, so we'll deal.
After dinner, we went to Home Depot to go pick up supplies for Thursday evening ...

Thursday, I spent around four hours cleaning up the kids' room. Two bags of stuff to donate. Another FULL bag of trash, countless passes with the vacuum on every bit of floor that I could reach, cleaning off the BIG shelves ... and their room was clean. BUT ONLY HALF OF THEIR ROOM.
(We worked on the other half of the floor and the closet on Sunday. Happy Father's Day, Honey!)

Then I went shoe shopping. I ended up with a pair of sneakers (goal), a pair of dress shoes (secondary goal), a pair of nice flip-flops, and a new shirt (bonus!) And some new socks. And a swim cap to protect my dye job (which sort of worked).

Thursday night, we spent building Bubbles's new bed, since she bent the frame of her (used) toddler bed by jumping on it. Whoops. Michael cut the boards, I sanded the boards. We ran to Home Depot again (another board and more sandpaper). We bolted the thing together and screwed down the plywood ... If a bomb should happen, that bed might burn to the ground. But it'll burn to the ground as a thing SOLIDLY BOLTED TOGETHER. Doesn't even shake or shiver when I sit on it.

Friday, I went to work with Michael. I helped Paige (the office manager) by collapsing cardboard boxes (which brought back memories as I used the boxcutter. Even though it's been around 20 years, I still know how to employ boxcutter safety. Thank you Shop Smart and your [kinda boring] safety videos). Then we took out the recycling ... which, being Paige and me, was filled with giggling and nearly dropping bags of precariously-piled bags of magazines and newspapers. She's totally fun to hang with. And I got to meet her son in the survey department (Lest you misunderstand, this is NOT a large company. I think they have about 15-20 employees. But I hadn't met everyone ... usually since, if we come with the kids, I work to take the kids out to the stores in the complex or the park, so that Michael can actually get some work done. That and we never can turn down a trip to Trader Jo's. :P).

After work, we got lunch (even though Cafe Yumm did mess up our order a little. It was still delicious.) and headed down to my hometown. We collected the kids so we could check into the hotel (and give my mom a chance to rest -- between taking care of the kids AND my stepdad [who has dementia], she was exhausted. Poor girl).

We checked in, got settled, waited for my aunt and my cousin's daughter (who Aunt J is taking care of this summer) to come, then we went swimming.
Since I mentioned that my swim cap mostly worked, instead of having nice delineated technicolor streaks, they turned into more ... mermaid hair. Which isn't BAD by any means. Just a little different.

After that, we got dressed and ready and headed back to Mom's for dinner.
After eating and the kids (Cousin + my munchkin brigade) playing, we headed back to the hotel, took a small tour of the casino, and went to bed.

Michael joked that, "Hey, maybe this is the room that Mike Rowe stayed in a few weeks back." But I had to break it to him that, no, THAT hotel is the one across the highway.
(Though, it WOULD have been awesome to be able to make that claim. Heck, I think that THAT hotel should get a little brass historical event plaque for the door: "On ___, 2015, Mike Rowe slept in this room." We could use the added tourism, I'm sure.)

Saturday, we started back fro home, making a stop at Wildlife Safari (If you have a membership at the Oregon Zoo [Ours is almost ready to expire], you can get your admission for 1/2 price. #TheMoreYouKnow) So we made it worth our while. Then we scouted some stores for another LEGO set that's all sold out up here. No dice. And we got some fast food for the drive home.

We got the sad news that Michael did not pass his HUGE engineering test that he took back in April.
He'll be taking it again, next April.
Please send prayers, good thoughts, happy muju, whatever.
Passing this test (next year) will make him a full-fledged Civil Engineer.
Which is what he's been working for.
(I'm just irritated that OSBEELS is dumb in not letting you know your actual score or what you missed or anything. Just a Pass/Fail. Which isn't very helpful. How can you gauge how much you need to improve? Bah.)

Bubbles loves her new bed. The kids are enjoying their clean room (still need to go through three dressers -- hoping to get Bucket's clothes into ONE dresser, so that the other dresser can START housing Bubbles's clothes -- getting THOSE out of OUR room -- AND one set of shelves. THEN they will have a CLEAN-clean room.
And they'll just have to do maintenance on it ... or face the wrath of a frustrated mommy. (A fate worse than death!)

We wished everyone (Michael's dad, my stepdad, my dad, and my Grampy) a happy Father's Day on Sunday. The little craft that the kids in Nursery did for the dads was well-received (the kids did a handprint on a page that said "Daddy, I'm hooked on you." We added a googly eye and orange lips to make the handprints into fish. I made it about as simple and easy as possible. just had to ink up the kids' hands, make the prints, wipe off the hands, let dry, draw on lips with an orange marker, glue on the googly eye, and let dry. Most of them were even done last week. Even better).

Yesterday, we did some chores while Michael was at work. Then we went to a Health Fair, to the library, and back home. The big kids worked on Duolingo (Spanish) and khanacademy (math) and read a bit. And played outside with a neighbor.
Then we went to their swim lesson, where they had fun with Bob.

Today (and the rest of this week) will be more of the same -- housework, not forgetting everything they learned last year, playing ... and doing some of the town passport program.

As I type all this out, I realize that I have a vaguely boring life. But ... well, I like it.

Because, unfortunately, there are much worse alternatives.
Like what happened in my hometown Saturday night.

I don't know how much it's been on the news, but there was a shooting.
In my small hometown.
Which left my cousin's best friend's husband dead.
By his nephew (who was one of my classmates since Kindergarten).

Both the victim, JP, and BF, who shot him are family members of a couple that are in my home Ward (church congregation, if you're not LDS) family.
J is the son of this couple. B is their grandson.

And we're just left reeling. Because ... how could this have happened?
My cousin's BFF went from having a perfect, happy family to being a widow in seconds. And she witnessed the whole thing. I can't imagine how she's feeling.
And poor N (the mom/grandma) ... because she and her husband are some of the nicest, kindest people around ... nobody deserves for this to happen, least of all them.

I keep hoping that this is just some crap nightmare. But it's not.

And I can't wrap my head around this.
BF was a nice guy.
When we were in Kindergarten together, after school, we'd walk the block north from the school, then part ways (he towards his grandma's house about a block away to the west, me further north to my house).
"See you in a million years!" he'd call as he crossed the street.
"No, see you tomorrow," literal-minded little me would call back.

And, in middle school, when he was in the popular group and I was not ... One time, in P.E., he came up to me after another less-than-pleasant bout of existence with some of the in-crowd kids.
"You know," he told me, "you could be popular."
"What?" I replied. As quick on the uptake as ever. Typical Allanna.
"You could be popular, too. If you drop [friend's name] as a friend."
(I mean, I didn't make that choice. But I knew that BF didn't have to tell me that. And that he did because he saw what was going on. And I was sure that he remembered how we were friends in elementary school ... and that ... well, it's not the type of thing someone without empathy and caring would do.)

Even on Facebook, now, people are all commenting that they can't believe that BF would ever do something like that. He was So-and-so's friend. He was always a good guy. ...

... what happened?

And I keep wondering if there was something that I could have done.
I mean, after middle school, we weren't close or anything. We were in the same school and we'd say "hi" to each other when we saw each other. But we didn't move in the same circles, really.
But I always thought of him as a friend.

I mean, I was DOWN in our hometown that day.
If I knew then what I do now, I'd have worked to track him down and talked to him.

But, I mean, what could I have said ... "Hey, later tonight, don't shoot your uncle. AT ALL. Not even once, let alone a bunch. M'kay? That'd be great. So, how's it been going for the last decade or so? You doing okay?"

Not very realistic, I know. But ... could I have been a better friend to him? Was he even on Facebook? I could have sent him a friend request ... let him know that I always remember him fondly, since we were friends a long time ago. That I appreciated that he offered me that chance at being in the in-crowd when nobody else really seemed to care (except jumping at the chance to make my friend's life pretty awful).

Michael tells me there's really nothing that I could have done differently.
Which is true. Unless I had a time-machine or something ...

Which then makes me wonder WHY this happened? HOW could this happen?
This is the kind of thing you read about.
It's not something that you can prepare yourself for in advance (well, not and remain mentally healthy).

And I find myself, squatting to find refried beans or tomato sauce in the pantry cupboard and wondering, "What am I doing with my life??? Why am I even here ... what's the significance of my existence right now? I should be doing something ... and ..."
And then I have to get on with my life because I have three kids who need to be fed and a husband to assist and a cat to snuggle (so she won't get all anxious and pee in the laundry pile or over-groom herself. Seriously, I cannot believe that out of all of us, it's the CAT that has a prescription for Prozac. Obviously, this is the perfect cat for me. Obviously.)

However, I think that it's time to escape into a book sometime today.
I have a pile of library books that need to be read ... but I'm feeling the need to jump into a tested-and-true old friend. Something familiar. Something safe. Something that will be good to read while Bubbles is napping.

I mean, I have faith that there's an overall plan. And that we all are going to learn and grow from this ... horrible ... happenstance.

But, still, I really wish it hadn't happened at all.

When I am benevolent dictator of the world, all conflicts will be dealt with hugging-it-out. Or maybe pie-eating contests. Or staring contests whilst eating dark chocolate (unless one is allergic. To chocolate. I've not yet heard of anyone being allergic to staring ... but what do I know?).

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Okay, it's been ages and ages since I last blogged.

And I don't even really know where I SHOULD start. So we'll go for the middle and flesh things out from there.

I looked at my last post ... the van was fine. When Michael got home, he turned the ignition and it started right up. Yeah, it must just like him better. Or I left a light on and then it was able to charge itself up enough or something ... But regardless, I got to take it out to the next town and have a by-myself-Ulta-shopping trip and come home. And we made it to pick up the kids from Strings practice and all. So that's that.

Since then ... it's been over a month ... Sorry.

Um ... okay, time for bullet points:

  • Still in Nursery. I'm now the head honcho of the Nursery leaders (taking over for one whose life is ... a bit complicated right now. She's been trying NOT to get a divorce, but, well, ... yeah. I feel terrible for her. Especially since, on Facebook, her spouse is making it sound like she's being really unreasonable. And, as a child from a broken home, I GET that sometimes you do all the work that you possibly can, but if the other half of the marriage isn't willing to also meet you halfway, ... you get really burnt out.)
  • Found ONE louse on Bubbles's head yesterday morning. Treated her (yay for Licefreee!, it's seriously THE BEST) and washed her bedding and all. Haven't seen anything else on the other kids. And, since my mom was up, she checked MY head ... we're all clear. Bubbles must have picked that one up from another Nursery friend OR from the carpeted floor (a gift from the previous ward's Nursery class, maybe?). Regardless, I'm glad that it was JUST the one and that it's over. ... If I never see another louse in my life, it'll be too soon.
  • The kids are almost out of school. They had their big end-of-the-year awards assembly.
    Bucket was recognized for participating in the GOTR 5K (with Michael as her running buddy) and running the most laps in the PM group, participating in Strings, writing in English, reading in English, music, and good behavior and attendance. Bruise was recognized for participating in Strings, good behavior and attendance, and most laps run in Track Club.
  • As mentioned above, Michael and Bucket participated in the GOTR 5K a couple weeks ago. They walked it, for the most part. But they had fun. Bucket's ready and excited for the next time she gets to do it. And I'm thinking that Bruise and I might also register for the 5K so we can do it as a family (with Bubbles in a jogging stroller).
  • One of Bruise and Bucket's teachers this year was baptized into our church. We were able to attend her baptism ... since Mrs. K is ALSO the stepmother of one of our friends (Brooke and I have been friends since late 1999. And I only JUST put it together a couple months ago that they're family. Mrs. K and I are thrilled at the extra connection ... well, I think she's thrilled. I know that I sure am).
  • We had a brush with Poison Oak. Good times. (NOT.) Last month, as we cleaned up one side of the yard, we pulled out a vine. And Michael started itching. He thought it was just hives from Oak or something. ... Then, the day of the kids' Strings Concert, Mom and I noticed a rash on Bruise's FACE. So I took him in. The physician's assistant knew right away from my arm and Bruise's face that it wasn't hives ... So Bruise went on Prednisone. And it cleared right up. Michael's hands and arms cleared up pretty well ... but my body freaked out. I had it on my forearms (I was wearing gloves but only a short-sleeved shirt), a bit on one ankle, and on one breast (from scratching, I guess). And then my left arm started to swell and was hot to the touch ... so I went in and saw my lovely, lovely doctor. And then I went on Prednisone, too. And WOW, it worked really well. I don't know if it was just the immensity of my relief at not ITCHING CONSTANTLY or what, but I was pretty loopy (like, VICODIN-loopy) for the next 24 hours or so. Good times.
  • Bruise and Bucket are done with Strings for the school year. Bruise seemed to get a little burned out at not being absolutely awesome at it (but, if he chose to practice the cello, that'd go a long way). Bucket seems to have natural talent with the violin ... which is why she'd been asked to perform in a couple extra assemblies this year.
  • Bruise did really enjoy participating in the 3rd-grade lunchtime LEGO Robotics club. He's already put in his application to join the official 4th/5th grade teams.
  • You could probably already tell that both those two enjoyed running, whether in Track Club or Girls On The Run.
  • Bubbles is talking more and more. She likes to laugh and dance. She feels that any day is vastly improved by wearing a tutu. And her tantrums and pouting are quite epic. ("Though she be little, she be FIERCE," as stated by Shakespeare.) But, for the most part, she's quite sunny and personable ... and, if she's wearing panties, she's staying dry quite well.
  • Michael and I will be building her a new bed, since she's broken/bent-beyond-repair her (used) metal bedframe for her toddler bed by JUMPING on her bed.
  • We've replaced our curtains in the front room with new curtains with NEW rods. The old curtains were patterned like the bark of birch trees. One was sporting a cut (thanks to a toddler Bucket). And the old rods were ... old and falling apart. We now have oil-rubbed bronze double rods (for the light-reducing curtains and the sheers -- now the kids can't bend/break the tension rods that the sheers used to hang from). It looks MUCH better. And we feel SO OLD/ADULT having actual window treatments and all.
    Michael also built me a bookshelf in the front room. We took down the kids' folding tables (that were just piled up with their STUFF) in the front room ... We have a LOT more open space now. It feels a lot less cluttered ... and we moved one bookshelf into the dining room, where it's filled with school-type things (workbooks, etc.). And I cleaned up the big bookshelf in the bedroom ... it's not at all organized, but you can SEE books now, so that's a good thing. And I'm surviving without it being alphabetized like it's always been. But that's a project for when we build in a bookshelf there instead, I think. 
  • I still miss my friend, Kim M ... I know that it's been a while since she passed. But I keep finding myself missing her. A few days ago, I watched "The Decoy Bride," which we had watched when we made cinnamon rolls together ... not that she overly enjoyed it. Poor Kim. But I found myself missing her so much later that evening.
  • One of my friends was in the state for a short visit. But she was busy enough that she didn't call or text me. And I hadn't called or texted her because I didn't want to interrupt any of her plans and visits with her other friends. I mean, I miss her, yes. But I get that she has a PACKED schedule and that it's not all about me. I don't want to be a needy friend. But I am bummed that I didn't get to see or talk to her at all. But, well, that's part of being an adult and all, right?
  • Michael had his birthday. We got him the Blu-rays of the Jurassic Park trilogy. And a Jurassic Park shirt to go with it. We also ate cheesecake. And went out for a birthday lunch to eat Mexican food. It was a good day.
  • Sunday, after church and some cleaning, I was just exhausted. So I ended up laying down for a nap. And I woke up nearly three hours later. Whoops.
  • I've been working to keep up with Duolingo. I'm learning Irish, French, Spanish, and German. I find German easiest, since that's what I studied in high school and college. I've gotten much better with Spanish. I'm still not very good at French, but I'm getting better ... especially at reading it. And I'm rather pants at Irish. Its grammar structure and even word structure are so very DIFFERENT from any of the other languages that I'm learning. But I'm enjoying it all for the most part.
    Oh, hey, since I actually logged on to it on my computer (instead of my tablet, as usual), I can tell you that I'm 30% fluent in German, 47% fluent in Spanish (how did that happen?), 24% fluent in French, and ... not fluent enough to even GET a percentage point for Irish (not surprised, ha ha).
  • I've also got Bruise and Bucket started on working on KhanAcademy.org ... I figure that earning new avatars AND competing with each other is a good way to get them to keep learning this summer. Maybe it'll even help them prepare for their school testing ... we'll see. and they can even work on learning to program (which will help Bruise with the LEGO Robotics club. IF he's accepted, that is).
Okay, I think that's most things. Hopefully.
I'm tired and out of the ability to craft words together well ... or so spellcheck is telling me. Ugh. Whatever.
Time to go do dishes or something useful. Maybe nap ... napping sounds good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

That's wack. And not wiggety-wack, just the regular kind.

Today started out fine ...

Got up, showered, dressed.
Had devotional with the kids, dropped Bruise off to track club.
Bucket got on the bus. I finished getting ready ...

Then, when Bubbles and I got into the car to go into town/shopping ... I go to plug in my iPod ... and then the car won't start. When I press on the brake, the dashboard clock fades away to nothing.

I don't know my neighbors well enough to feel like I can just go ask them for a jump.
Okay, I was going to say that Michael isn't picking up his phone (so I also emailed AND shot him a text), but he just called back.
And he'll come home at his lunch break, figure out stuff and we'll figure out what all needs to be done.
If nothing else, he'll stay home long enough to pick up the kids from strings (which means he'll just be staying home for the rest of the day) ... and we can either walk to pick Bucket up from her after-school running tomorrow. We'll see.

I'm hoping it's just that either I shorted out something that's easily fixable OR that Bucket just didn't close the stupid door quite well enough (it has a crappy sensor anyways) and the battery was just run down a bit.

Okay. I'm going to figure out dinner and read a book and go soak my head or something.

EDIT: And watch a bazillion episodes of Teen Girl Squad. And read my scriptures for the day. And probably do my Duolingo. Distractions galore!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crazy Dream Chronicles - Part 1,493 (or thereabouts)

This morning was a two-fer!

I woke up this morning (and was back in bed JUST in time for the 4:30 alarm to go off) after this first dream ...

I went to pick Bruise and Bucket up from school (no idea where Bubbles was in this dream), but instead of picking them up at their real-life school, I was at the school that my mom taught at for ages (where it would be about a fifteen-minute drive home to my childhood home, as opposed to a five-minute drive to our house ... BUT, as in dreams, we still had our current house).

And, Bruise and Bucket had, for some reason, taken the bus (which normally wouldn't go to my childhood home, not on the bus route from THAT school ... but, again, DREAMS). And I didn't realize it, so I was out of the car and inside the school, since one of the office ladies (from their IRL school) needed a ride home, and I was asked to do that.

So, I'm hanging in the office of my mom's old school (-ish), writing notes to two male teachers that don't exist at EITHER school, when I realize that it's 4:19 PM. This office lady STILL isn't ready AND my kids took the bus nearly an HOUR ago and they're probably sitting around outside, freaking out.

Then I recall that, no, we have that cool button-lock so they can get inside (which is true), so they're probably fine and CPS won't be waiting for me.

And I race to the car, just in case, and there's my phone so that I can call the house and check in on them.
I try to use speed dial and end up calling Oliver Sacks' voicemail, somehow. And I feel bad for hanging up right away, rationalizing that I'll redial THAT number later to wish him the best of luck with his brain cancer (which he DOES have IRL, but I don't have any direct contact info as much as I adore his writing).

Then, I can't get past this LONG, rambling voicemail from my stepdad where he's telling me (as I'm turning the corner by the I-Mart, down highway 99) about how he and Mom are sorry that I'm sick and they'll come bring me medicine/cough syrup tomorrow.

FINALLY, as I'm turning onto the ramp for I-5, I get through to the house number and Bruise answers and his voice is FULL of tears because he DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I WAS and, there's a three-way call with my mom, censuring me for being irresponsible ...

Oh ... actually there was ANOTHER dream stuck in there ... so THREE dreams total ...
Michael, I, and some other people were spying or something. And we had to go to this resort/club/thing. We'd leave the room after the dance performances (because then the dancers would do stripping ... and we're not into that). I don't remember who we were working for or what the goal of this reconnaissance mission was ... but, I ended up (to throw off suspicion), kissing a male dancer and going out to his car to talk. Yeah, I had to full-on kiss another guy in front of my husband. Awkward and not at all fun, really. (If I had been an unmarried woman, it would have been fine.)
I don't remember much more about that dream. Besides trying to apologize non-verbally to Michael while sucking another man's face, and trying to sell THAT to the dancer. (I haz conflictz az spy ... which is yet ANOTHER reason why I don't work in espionage. Can't lie. Don't have any desire for infidelity. Yeah, I'd be the worst spy ever. It's not like one can be, "Oh, I'd totally be throwing myself at you, sans clothing, but I JUST got out of a [mythological] relationship and you'd be my rebound." Because, really, I doubt that some Russian drug lord or whatever would be all, "Oh, you're so sensitive and vulnerable. I respect that. Here, let me tell you all my secrets." ... I mean, that'd be awesome if it worked. I could be the best spy ever (besides being unable to lie convincingly)!)

OKAY, so THIRD (and FINAL) dream!

In this one, I must have been back in high school or something (SOMETHING, thinking on it. Because I was worried that we couldn't find the appropriate technology, that's right) ... and we had a project in theater to do karaoke.
(Truly, it wouldn't have been too terribly off from some of our real-life projects. Just a simpler version of those, really.)

BUT, I was helping my Roxy-sis to have a song and music. And, for some reason, I had a karaoke cassette that had some tracks on it. And she was going to sing Coolio's "Gangster Paradise."
Yeah. Not really her type of song, especially while we were in high school.

So, I was making sure that I had the cassette ready for her, all rewound ... and it got caught a little in the player, so I had to CAREFULLY remove the tape from the player and grab a pencil to wind it all back in JUST SO ...

And I worried that we might not have a cassette player at the school for her to use ...

And then I was trying to go through whatever instrumental CDs we had so that I could choose some song to sing ... and trying not to freak out because I couldn't use the cassette, since I didn't know any of the other (rap) songs on there and I didn't have any other karaoke tapes ...
(Which, IRL, I had ONE karaoke tape. We didn't have a karaoke machine or anything, but I had ONE karaoke tape ... of some of the songs from Les Miserables. Yeah, I was THAT KID in middle school. Is it any wonder that I was NOT in the cool-kid bunch? ... Yup, I really don't miss the social scene in middle school. I miss a handful of people (mostly teachers, really. Again, THAT KID).)

But, yup. That's about what all went on in my dreams -- being a crap, disorganized mother; being an apologetic spy who won't watch strippers; and making sure that my friend is taken care of ... so that I can run about like a muppet when it's time for me to cover my bases.

I'm sure this all means something ... and not just (as in that spy dream) that I should get a feminine-cut suit ... though I did cut a nice figure in it.

My brain is a strange place.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's make-up-your-own-title day! (No, not REALLY)

I know, I know, it's been a few days. But not SO terribly many as it COULD have been ...

Let's see.
Michael's done with his CRAZYHUGEEXPENSIVELONG test. In a couple months, we should learn if he's passed it. (Just FYI, this test only has a 42% pass rate. Yowch, right?)

Bubbles is in the middle of potty-training. She's doing pretty well ... Mistakes are still happening, but nothing horrendous.

Last week, one of my "baby" cousins turned 22. And she's THISCLOSE to graduating college.
I also got to have a lunch date with one of my friends that I hadn't seen (in person) for what feels like ages and ages. We had a great time. I've missed her bunches.

We cleaned the church (we had traded our assignment last week to this week).
I have to say that cleaning WITH kids takes a LOT longer ... but Bruise and Bucket are learning (bit by bit) how to clean the church bathrooms decently.
Yes, we opt for cleaning the bathrooms and the drinking fountains instead of the kitchen and vacuuming classrooms.
(Now, July-December, we'll have the other jobs to choose from -- washing the windows, vacuuming/sweeping the chapel, cultural hall, hallways ... and some other things. But, as for me and my house, we prefer the bathrooms.)

SO ... Michael can actually clean the bathrooms, kitchen, vacuum the classrooms assigned, AND clean the drinking fountains (that's the BEST one, really) in around an hour by himself, so he says ...
It took me, coaching Bruise and Bucket, on the wiping down the sinks and toilets (Michael was in charge of refilling toilet paper and paper towel dispensers and, for the most part, mopping), it took us almost EXACTLY one hour.

On Sunday, when we were walking into church, we ran into Brother D--. He made such a point of thanking us for COMING and CLEANING at the church (it's a nearly random assignment given to at least two families each week. Our family might be assigned to help clean maybe four times a year?) ... but it was pretty apparent that folks aren't showing up or doing their work.

I could rather tell that, since in the Nursery, we have PILES of sawdust where ants burrowed through earlier this month. (I should just take Michael's key and give that room a DECENT vacuuming sometime during the week) And, when I was scrubbing the toilets, they were hosting quite a pink ring of mineral-sediment in each and every one of them.
(When you have someone in the other ward remark on how good the toilets look ... I mean it's flattering, but it's also rather irritating. This is the Lord's HOUSE ... it SHOULD be taken care of.)

So ... yeah. And Michael got home from a meeting last night feeling frustrated.

Pretty much all of it really boils down to the fact that a good majority of folk in the ward (and don't get me wrong, I love my church. I love my ward. But we're none of us perfect. Apparently, here's an area in which a LOT of us can aspire to show HUUUUUUUUGE improvements. Just sayin'.) are not taking their responsibilities/duties seriously.

I mean, yes, sometimes there are times when a teacher just WON'T SHOW UP for church, leaving either the Sunday School presidency or the Primary Presidency skedaddling to find someone to take his/her place OR squeezing two classes together.
It's understandable when it's an emergency ... but just NOT showing up for a calling that you agreed to do (and it's not like there's NO ONE who could pitch in and sub. Heck, I just typed up the list of Primary substitutes into a pdf for my Nursery co-leaders.), it's not responsible.
(And I say this as a woman who LOVES to sleep in.)

I see Michael busting his butt to TRY and be a good steward (as called for, being an Elders Quorum president) to all the families assigned to his care (Not all the families come under the stewardship of EQ. Some are assigned to the High Priests' group in the ward). And ... well, he can't do it. Even when I'm at my most supportive, there simply aren't enough hours in the day/week/month/year/century for him to administer to each family on his own.

And, well, he tells me that there are three brethren in Elders Quorum who are consistently doing their Home Teaching.

Yes, you heard me.
A SINGLE DIGIT ... yeah.

I've offered that, if I'm asked to speak in church in the near future, to issue a call to repentance.
(I can do that, since I do strive to do my Visiting Teaching. I feel intense guilt if I haven't reached out to my Visiting Teachees each month. Because, dang it, they DESERVE to know that Heavenly Father loves them, Jesus loves them, and they have at LEAST two sisters in the ward who know and love them and are willing to help out. Besides, Home/Visiting Teaching also is a great act of service to the High Priest Group Leader/EQ President/ Relief Society President, since THEY need to be able to know how we can best serve those in our ward's boundaries ... and, if they don't have the time/ability to visit each and every family/sister, how can they have ANY chance of knowing about those needs?

It just irks me.
And maybe it's got something to do with the fact that we haven't been home taught since before my friend Kim died (her husband, who's since moved out of the ward, was one of our home teachers. Our other home teacher is ... in legal trouble/having a crisis of faith. So, yeah, it's been a few months since we've had a visit. I GET that people are busy. But, when you're putting other priorities before serving the Lord, I have a bit of a problem with that.

Right now, I don't really know who my Visiting Teachers are.
And I get that whoever I've been assigned to are probably just really busy ladies ... but, at the same time, it's sad that they feel that I don't even rate a call/text/email/Facebook message/whatever.
I mean, sure, I'm doing okay. For the most part.
But, well, what if I weren't? Who would I call?
(Okay, I'd call my mom. But, when my mom passes, I'm going to be UP. A. CREEK.)
And I do have some friends in the ward, too. Like our RS president ... she'd make sure that I was taken care of.

But what of the families/sisters who DON'T have a friendship established with the RS President or someone, anyone else? That's RIGHT THERE what Visiting Teaching is all about (and Home Teaching, too). It's helping the good shepherd by going after and checking on all His wandering (and not-so-wandering) lambs.

And, from my experience of Visiting Teaching, I KNOW that it's not always easy. There will be sisters who don't WANT visits (or even ANY contact from the church). When that happens, you just write letters or send texts (if they're cool with that) and let them know that you're there for them, that you care, that they're not alone or forgotten.

One gal (who I met by being assigned as her Visiting Teacher) was rather flabberghasted when I visited, Michael in tow as my VT companion, since I couldn't get hold of my assigned companion. We had a lovely visit, which started a friendship. ... She was flabberghasted because, when she asked if we had any fun plans for the coming weekend/spring break (in a couple days), I told her that Michael and I were getting married the next day. (It was true. And it was a HUGE reason why I wanted to be SURE to visit her before we went on our honeymoon. Because VT is a priority to me. Not just because of numbers ... but because I'd feel AWFUL if any sister assigned to me felt lonely, forgotten, or neglected. That's NOT how Heavenly Father would want her to feel.)

So, yeah, I can't really wrap my head around why so many folks in the ward aren't reaching out to those they've been assigned stewardship over. Even if you're only able to make contact once every couple months, it's SOMETHING.
If I had more time, I'd be about ready to just print out cards saying "If you need anything, please give your Home Teachers ________ & ________ a call at, respectively ___-___-____ or ___-___-____. Or contact your Visiting Teachers ________ & ________  at ___-___-____ or ___-___-____. They'd love an opportunity to get to know, love, and serve you! ... And if they don't, give me a call at ___-___-____ or email me at ____@_____.___ and I'll set them straight at what a wonderful opportunity they're selfishly neglecting. Because you're awesome! And they should know that!"

But that might be a little, oh, passive-aggressive and overly forward, I suppose.

But, yeah. It's irritating that things like this happen.
(Since, in regards to the cleaning the Stake Center, Brother D-- is no spring chicken. Nor is he in the best of help. He shouldn't have to pick up the slack for all the people who aren't pitching in their share. *SIGH*)

But, well, it's sucky. Because I love these people ... but I also, at the same time, want to give them a GIANT kick in the bedonk-a-donk to get them into gear.

Yeah, I shouldn't talk about this aloud. Or else you're going to hear me bellow that "If we'd just GET IN GEAR and DO STUFF, we'd get blessings, y'all! And I FREAKING NEED blessings! If we'd just DO our CRAP, we'd receive more! THIS is the reason why we DON'T HAVE the SEALED SECTION of the GOLDEN PLATES! I'M TRYING to get my CRAP DONE! I'VE STARTED READING MY SCRIPTURES DAILY! NOW YOU GUYS NEED TO STEP IT UP!!!!!"

And, well, that's not the most Christlike way to address people.
Regardless of whether or not it might be true.

But, yeah ... that's about where it stands.

So ... besides that, I am toning my hair with my awesome purple shampoo. I left it in for, like, 25 minutes the other day. And Michael was impressed at how much blonder/more-platinum my hair looked. So I'm leaving it in longer today. Worst case scenario -- my hair will be a little on the lavender side. Oh, boo. (Honestly? I'd be kinda thrilled.) And I FINALLY got around to giving myself a manicure. Most of my nails (fingers and toes) are a deep nude. But my big toes and my ring fingers are sporting nail strips. Mint green with a cream/dusty rose floral print. The nude ties in with the shadows on the pinkest parts. If you care. Which you might not.

Oh, I've been talking to Bruise and Bucket about puberty.
The other day (Friday morning, before school), I was telling them about their (soon-to-develop) secondary sex characteristics [e.g., body hair, Adam's apple, breasts ...] but I also mentioned menarche and (Bruise was HORRIFIED at this) nocturnal emissions.

But, hey, at least they're aware of what fresh hell their bodies have in store for them.
I did tell them that they really didn't need to discuss this with their school chums or anything ... since it's really something that families should discuss. BUT, with all the fun-fun-fun of upcoming Sex-Ed classes, I figure that I should cover my bases as to human development and gospel doctrines and morality and expectations NOW, while they still listen to me, right?

So, that's most of our week in a nutshell.

And, from discussing with the kids this morning (about accepting God's will, even when we DO have righteous desires ... we have to learn that He does know more and will give us all what's best for us to learn. And I mentioned how we prayed [and fasted] that Kim would get better and come home to her family and us ... and that it ... ... didn't happen.
Bucket crawled into my lap and gave me a big hug. Which was nice, even though she's solid for her size (that girl, I swear, is all bones and muscle. Good for her, right?).

But, yeah. It's not fun when I drive by the road that Kim's family's old apartment is on. Or I watch some clip from Jimmy Kimmel and think that I should share that with her ... and I .... can't. But I'll deal.

I just, you know, I thought I'd be older. A LOT older. ... when I started losing friends this way.

I know it makes me sound all petulant and childish, but I don't LIKE it. Not at all.

Well, I'm going to go load the dishwasher or something. And wash this application of purple shampoo out of my hair.

THEN maybe I'll enlist Bruise and Bubbles to help me build a blanket fort where we'll eat ice cream until it's time to go pick up Bucket.
Though I'll probably be DONE with effort after I load the dishwasher and do some laundry. Or something. They house will wait another day for cleaning, I guess.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In which I am ... something

So, I'm in a little funk.
Which might be a bit of an understatement, really.
But, regardless, ...

So, I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my Nana (my dad's mom) has dementia.
I used to be able to say that "She's been diagnosed with dementia." But now, really, it's not just a diagnosis. It's not something that I can just wave away ... as much as I wish that I could.

She's not able to live alone anymore. She lives with one of my uncles and his wife (She really didn't ever have to worry about where to live. If she had rather lived with my dad and his girlfriend, they [or, what really counts, my "stepmom"] were more than willing to have her come live with them, too).

Part of this is just sad ... and life ...

Of course, I'm a rather sentimental idiot person. And it hits me a bit harder at times.

My kids have no memory at all of Nana and Pop-pop's house by the creek and one of the parks in my hometown. Because they've never been there. Ever.
(By the time Bruise and Bucket were even conceived, Nana had sold that [lonely, to her, after Pop-pop's death] place and had moved into her own place in the main city. Bubbles will barely ever even remember THAT house.)

Whereas, so MANY of my childhood memories (especially Christmas Eve memories) revolve around that house.
I mean, it could be worse. Nana promised my cousin, S, that she'd get the house ... and, well, that's obviously not going to be a reality. But I think that S is able to deal with that ... at least, a lot better than I would.

I can be honest that, as much as I LOVE Christmas, since Grandma Darlene passed, it's been different. THEN, after Pop-pop passed (and Nana sold that house), it was even more different. I still love it ... but ... it's just not the same. And I miss that sameness, that consistency of opening presents on the burnt-orange carpeting with a fire in the fireplace, with my dad's-side cousins FINALLY getting there. And racing to the bathroom with Cousin S to try on our new clothes ... and the old green corded telephone ... and ... all these little things.

And it reduces me to tears, missing these times that I took for granted far too much.
I wish that I had thought to take (and develop) pictures of each room, of the outside of the house, of Pop-pop's garden ... and I am so disappointed that I never did.

Though, in my mom's shop/garage, I do have the original kitchen door to Nana's old kitchen (before the remodel). Someday (and Michael is aware of this), I will have a house around it again.
I love that door. It's one of those Dutch-style ones ... where you can open just the top half.
Everyone thought that I was silly/crazy for asking for that door ... but, well, I do love it. ... If it would fit in our house here, I'd have installed it ages ago. ... But it takes me back, just thinking of that door. Nana would open it and check the laundry running on the (enclosed) porch. Or go put the bowls of custard out to cool, sprinkling nutmeg on the tops ...

So, even though my family was quite amused/bemused by my request/demand, I have no regrets at all about it.

But there are things that I wish that I could have done differently or could just have the chance to do again because I miss those times ...

  • When my parents separated, I wish that I had visited Nana and Pop-pop more. Especially when my dad wasn't in town. I avoided him when he visited for a bit, telling him that I had plans or was busy (when it wasn't really true. But, when you're eleven/twelve, how else do you really punish someone who's made it apparent that the effort to be a family with you and your mom isn't worth it? ... So, yeah. But I should have visited Nana and Pop-pop more when he wasn't at their place).
  • I miss going out shopping with Nana. Even just browsing at The Emporium or The Bon Marche or Sears or J.C. Penney ... and most of those stores are getting to the point where they no longer even exist. 
  • I miss being able to talk to Nana and knowing that she'd recall that we even had a conversation the next day/week/month.
  • I miss being able to talk to Nana on the phone and that she'd be able to hear me/recognize my voice. Now, even though my kids and I are the only folks who call her "Nana," she can't hear me well enough. But she does love to get a phone call. So I call my Aunt I, talk to HER and give her any pertinent information, and then chat at Nana ... who can't really hear me at all. So now I work hard to send her cards and letters ... so that she can KNOW who's sending her things and what all IS happening.
  • I miss going to the movies or musicals with Nana.
  • I miss going over to play at Nana and Pop-pop's. Riding the tractor/riding lawnmower and helping Pop-pop "drive" (then actually mowing Mrs. Weatherbee's property for Pop-pop) [True story: When I was little, I wanted to get a riding lawnmower so that I could ride it to school. This was before I saw "Can't Buy Me Love." I just really loved driving the riding lawnmower. Way cooler than a bike.], having dinner (always at 6:00pm) with Nana and Pop-pop. Sitting down at their kitchen table on a summer afternoon when Nana would put out a bowl of strawberries, fresh from the garden, sprinkled with sugar, and then pour some cream on top and hand me a spoon.
  • I miss Nana being such a lady so often (dressing up to go out shopping. Getting a wet set every Saturday. Touching up her lipstick) and yet using phrases like, "I've got to use THE POT!" when she needed to answer the call of nature. 
I wore my pair of silver patent-leather Sketchers to bits, really, because my Nana loved me enough to buy them for me. Mostly because, when I unwrapped them (either for my birthday or Christmas), she told me how she'd gone up to Eugene to buy them ... and, since she and I wore the same size shoes, everyone watched as "this old lady tried on all the crazy sneakers."

So, even though they got old and scuffed-up and dirty, I wore them and smile whenever I looked at my feet. Even when one of the girls I considered a friend mocked them. (My answer to her less-than-favorable opinion of my shoes? "My Nana gave them to me.")

Because those shoes were total physical proof of how much my Nana loves me.

Yesterday, while out with Mom, I bought an earring display ... thing. But now I can display both my dangling AND post earrings (I wear a lot of stud-type earrings) ... and I spent around an hour or so putting my earrings on it. At first, I worried that I'd lost one of a favorite pair from Nana ... but, thankfully, I found it in a baggie that I'd had to sweep a lot of the-disaster-that-is-my-make-up-counter into.

Maybe one reason that I'm taking this hard is that, as I've realized, dementia is horrible in the fact that it makes you mourn the person who has it BEFORE they've died. And I don't like that.

Another reason could be that, even though I was sealed to my parents when I was little, my dad left the church totally. Had his records removed and all. And my mom's sealed to my stepdad now. I don't know exactly how things will end up working out. I mean, I have faith that they WILL ... but I'm not so concrete as to the HOW of things ... but, when I sing, as in the Primary song, that "Families can be together forever" and "I always want to be with my own family," I've never considered NOT being sealed to my Nana and Pop-pop. But with my dad having removed himself from the situation ... well, things will work out. I know, I KNOW, that Heavenly Father wants me to be happy. And I can't see a way that I would be happy without maintaining those family links. So I KNOW that something will work out. And that's a definite reason to keep on working on my family history and making sure that all the other temple work gets done ... so that, when the time comes that there IS an answer, I'll be ready. And I can be sealed to Nana and Pop-pop and their families.

So ... yeah. I'm ... yeah.

I'm just living by faith in this. Having the answers NOW (or years ago) would be nice. But, well, it's an opportunity to live by faith, right?

Counting ...

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