Thursday, January 29, 2009

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That

This beauty to the right is our dear daughter Julia when she was about 4 or 5 years old. Julia is definitely our family princess. She is also almost 10 years old now and she is on the verge of becoming a very kind hearted and amazing young lady. At the same time she is showing signs of the coming change and the Jekyll and Hyde moments are cropping up with some frequency. So far it's nothing too bad but we can see that some interesting times are ahead.

Yesterday was a half day for the kids and Julia and Beren came home at 12:30. Things started off going quite well and I was very proud of how mature Julia was being in helping keep Beren entertained and also helping him out with some computer activities. This continued for over 2 hours. I was lulled into believing it would last until Logan and Bryan made it home after 6 P.M.

Oh, my friends, I was so naive. I was also not prepared for the meltdown that would begin with an ear piercing scream from one child and hysterical crying from the other. I was in an adjacent room and for a split second I was utterly confused. How could something that sounded so horrible be happening to them when just moments before they were exclaiming their joy over rediscovering the Crazy Frog videos they had bookmarked months ago? What was the problem in there? Julia, being the family princess AND the family tattler, ran in to sing the perceived misdeeds of her younger brother. Bear remained crying in the other room so Julia was obviously the screamer. Seems like that would have been obvious but the unnaturally high tones they reached at the moment of insanity was near the decibel level that only dogs can hear.

The problem? At first Julia's ramblings weren't connecting with me because of the crying. Checking on Bear became mission #1. I came around the corner and he's still hollering and he's red in the face but he otherwise looks okay and he's sitting in the chair in front of the computer. A look back at Julia gives her the opening to throw her bro under the bus. In the end the battle and explosion was caused by them not being able to share the chair any longer. WTF? The intense emotion they let out over this slight after being able to share said chair for the previous two hours had me completely befuddled. I still don't get it.

Solution? I can now think of several things that would have done the trick. Separate them. Make them get off the computer and do something else. Tell them to go outside and play. Time out could have been called. Did I do any of these things? Nope. What DID I do? If you know me, as many of you do, you will guess right away what my initial reaction was. Well, initial reaction is always to make sure no one is bleeding or maimed so I'm getting at my 2nd reaction here I guess.

I laughed.

I let out the kind of guffaw that expelled most of the air in my lungs and caused me to snort painfully as I tried to draw a breath. This, the one thing that infuriates my dear loving daughter (and also her father if I must tell the truth) and makes her give me the evil eye before storming off to pout and work on her voodoo doll of me. What was I thinking? Here's the deal -- I wasn't thinking. I could NOT help myself and could not have stopped the laughter from erupting. I laugh at stuff my kids do all the time. I laugh at appropriate times but I am more well known for laughing at the kids when they will find it terribly inappropriate. Julia often accuses me of being mean when I laugh and she feels it is at her expense. That does suck but I really can't control it sometimes.

Hmm, I'm totally leading this in a completely different direction than I had planned. If you've come this far then I applaud you and I make no promises that the end will connect with the beginning in any way, shape or form. I also do not guarantee you a cookie if you finish it all. Will you accept a hand full of old Halloween candy instead? Come on, work with me here.

Laughing is one of my primary defense mechanisms. I was the kid with the nervous giggle in the doctors office. As a kid I suffered through some intense ear infections and at the doctors visits I would cackle as the doc looked in my ears. Want to confuse a waiting room full of people at the dentist or OB/GYN office? Laugh your ass off during your exam. Laugh like your sanity depended on it. They will move out of your way as you come out to leave, nurses behind you pointing you out as the culprit. Now, I don't want to give the complete wrong picture of myself. I may have only freaked out a waiting room 2% of time and I have never laughed in the company of anyone in a medical situation that was not my own. Still, my moments of mirth have been memorable.

Making my child or my spouse or anyone uncomfortable in any way, especially with laughing, is never my intent. Bryan gets this and he can let it slide. 99% of the time my laughter is not misplaced or oddly timed so there is not a big deal made and everyone joins in. Julia is the one I offend most often. She takes it personally and to the heart and until you go chase her to her pouting spot and explain your case she is a sad girl. Yesterday I made a deal with her that I hope we can both follow. I promised to hold my laughter in check with her until I get situational details and she promised to remember that I mean her no harm and that emotional scaring is not what I am after. This was a good talk. I don't know how long our deal will hold out considering her changing hormone levels and my inability to take life to damn seriously. Fingers are crossed on both sides though.

Next we need to get Julia enrolled into some sarcasm lessons. With laughter and sarcasm as your weapons how can you not excel at life?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chosen Family

Recently our daughter Julia asked if my best friend's step kids are her cousins. If you look at blood relations then Julia only has one cousin and that will likely be it unless her other uncle decides to change that. But if you look at it from the perspective of the heart then these kids are truly her cousins and she belongs to a very rich and diverse group of "chosen" family. My best friend and her family have been a part of our lives for going on 27 years now. You invest that kind of time and emotion in people and they become a part of you.

To explain it to Julia I told her that each of us has people we are related to by birth. These people are yours whether you like them or not. At some point you can decide if you want to interact with them or not throughout the rest of your life. Really though, until circumstances change or you grow up you are stuck with these blood relations. As you grow up you will meet a lot of different people and hopefully you will make some good friends. Some of these friends will become a part of your family and a part of your heart. These are chosen family and if you have some of these in your life you are surely blessed (by FSM or Buddha or whatever you look up to). Julia seemed to get the message and she started naming the people we have considered a part of our family for many years. She was really surprised and impressed at the number of people we hold close that are not blood relatives.

I have very few blood relations that I would not associate with. I come from a very loving family and I have the best immediate family that anyone could ever ask for. My husband also comes from a great group of folks that I am pretty sure have never met a stranger in their lives. Each family is unique and special in their own way and so far the blending of them all has given us 3 wonderful children.

Okay, I'm not looking through rose colored glasses here people. I will admit that some of us are quirky as all get out. It's part of what makes us special. Special and unique, not short bus special.

The whole conversation with Julia has been on my mind a lot today. I'm feeling bad that I don't keep better touch with some of my chosen family and I aim to fix that. Amazing people have shared their lives and hearts with us and I am a very lucky girl. Lucky is not a strong enough word really. Not adequate in helping explain how much I value these people and the role they have played in shaping who I am and also adding so much love and joy to my life. I will put on my thinking cap and see if I can come up with something to tell these people how much I love them. If you have people like this in your life let them know how much you love 'em.

Awe, dammit. I'm out of tissues and this paper towel is harsh on the face.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yep, just call me Miss Softie McPushoverpants

Today I am sitting here with 2 kids at home instead of just the one toddler. Julia managed to wrangle a day out of school from me this morning. Well, wrangle is a strong word. She flashed those baby blues at me, moaned a bit, moped a lot, fell apart while brushing her teeth and then totally grossed me out by showing me the super loose tooth that is just barely hanging on there in her mouth. She begged to stay home and since I think I had thrown up in my mouth a little I nodded yes.

I didn't actually throw up but it could have happened. I do not handle teeth or tooth issues very well. Seems strange with my love of the body and all it's processes but make it a mouth problem or getting your ears pierced and I am just not the chick to take with you. Oh, I also fall apart if I see anyone putting tinfoil in their mouth. Man, I'm giving you guys all the ammo needed if you ever want to attack me. Crunch chips in my ear and then wiggle your loose tooth at me while chewing on some tinfoil like it's a wad of chaw. AAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH just the thought puts a metallic taste in my mouth.

Before having kids with Bryan I sort of thought that I would need to be the one to hand out discipline and that he would be the softie. There are occasions when this happens but it is actually quite rare. Bryan is an awesome dad and he can be tender and silly but he can also put them in their place when needed and they listen. I do not carry as much sway with them. Sure, some of it works for me - time outs, taking away privileges or toys and the like -- but a lot of the time I get ignored until I raise my voice. Often I just give into whining because I feel their whining is more detrimental to me than what they are whining for or about. Self preservation at work here people. I'm sure many of you understand.

School absences are one area where I need to be more hard lined than my mom ever had to be but I still remember how I was as a child and it colors my ability to always hold strong. I didn't hate school really but I was a shy kid and I always would have preferred staying at home over having to interact with a bunch of loud kids that I had very little in common with. My own children have done so much better in school in that respect but they did hold onto my desire to use up all the allowable absences they are given in a school year. Unfortunately times have changed. Now you can go to jail if your kids have too many unexcused absences or are habitually late for school. There are even fines that go with that. In this school system the kids can miss a total of 14 days in a year. They are allowed only 5 excuses written by a parent. Any other absence must have a doctors excuse with it. I have a million an done reasons why this is shitty but I'll leave the complaining to the more vocal parents who are already doing so.

Being more authoritative is a goal of mine. I can be a take charge person in so many other areas. Why can't I do that with these wee beings that I love more than life itself? Perhaps it's an underlying need to always be accepted, even by people that love me unconditionally. I suspect it's somewhat genetic too. I parent in much the same way my own mom and dad (while he was alive) did. I just forget that my kids are not like me and my brother. They don't have nearly the amount of slacker in them that we do and they are always bursting with energy and the want/need/intense desire to be entertained.

Speaking of being entertained I have been looking at one of these on my desk all morning and the need to play with it is huge and my mind is drifting. Holy beeswax Batman! Caffeine is wearing off... the force is strong with this toy..... I be hypnotized. Must resist.

Slacker in me is giving in to the toy. Must see you later.

PS - I have now learned that I can do tons of different things while playing with that infernal toy. This is by far my favorite thing I got the kids for the holidays. They apparently don't care about them at all but Bryan and I can play with them for hours. It's somehow extremely soothing and becomes a zen activity after a while.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mouse Unicorn

Today I had the pleasure of going out to lunch with a group of grown-ups. Logan also came along but he was so quiet that it was like he wasn't there. I think he just didn't know what to think about having a group of beautiful women paying attention to him. Hopefully he will grow into it and learn to be a polite gentleman. Really, I often just hope he grows up knowing when and where it's appropriate to pick his nose. Start with the small goals and work our way up. Someday we'll add on the lesson about not eating boogers in front of people.

While driving back from lunch I had time to think about a few things. The route that we drive to and from Bluffton is very scenic and normally very quiet. Today there was a lot of traffic and people were impatient and I watched cars getting passed on each side of the road. One particular driver cut it extremely close while passing a firetruck. We were still at a safe distance should anything bad have happened but it made my heart jump into my throat anyway. Seeing this nut job risk his cojones just to get somewhere 2 minutes faster reminded me that each and every time we step into our vehicles and leave our homes that we put ourselves at risk.

Now here is where I share something with you. It could have gone on my 7 things list but I guess I just didn't have it in mind for a change. Here it is -- I am terrified of being in a fatal car accident. The one way I don't want to check out is by being crunched up in a vehicle. Sometimes this seems very silly to me. I rationalize my thoughts and I give myself a pep talk and I move on. Car crash fears laid aside. The careless actions of the driver in the little black sports car today made it come immediately to mind and heart. Damn him!

Having the crash thoughts led to thinking about something my mom says. She has said that she'd "rather up and die than go and die." I love this. Her rational is that if you up and die that it is a quick process and it's better emotionally for the family. If you go and die then that implies that you have had to go on a journey to get to that final ending destination. Since there is no way of knowing what may lay ahead of you, your family, your possible care givers, she feels that it's just not the way she wants to check out. For me, my mom, and much of our family this is representative of how we all feel to a degree. I'm not sure what that says about us, if anything, but it was interesting to think about today. Quick or slow or at a moderate clip a death is still a death and it's hard for all those involved.

After thinking about Mom's saying and the path it led down I then turned to cotton candy. If you can figure out how my addled brain got to cotton candy from the blood and guts start then you win a prize. I will hand you a cookie AND a Mouse Unicorn. GO!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mingo Tingle? What is a Mingo Tingle?

When I set this blog up the other day I needed to pick a name for it. The brain cells were not firing at first and I started to just put something having to do with the 7 things meme. Staring at the screen and the mess on the desk set my mind to wandering and after a winding path that passed uncountable oddities I settled into thinking about names. I love names. Not just simple ones, like Pat and Sam or Bobby or Beth, but odd names full of strange character. I love memorable names that have a story behind them. Hell, I like common names too but I adore them more if there is a story that backs them up. My name is pretty common - Sara. No H on the end there. I'm not a "Say-ra" and there are no religious connections to my name. Although there are two stories behind my naming I like the one that connects me to my father. He idolized Bob Dylan and Sara was the name of Bob's first wife and the title to a lovely song on the album Desire. My middle name is a family name and it connects me to all the amazing women on my mothers side of the family. I've got a story and I like that.

So, where am I going with this? Let me warn you now that my writing style is shit and I'm a babbler. That I am ever able to put together a thought on Twitter in 140 characters or less is fucking amazing. It's a good exercise in being concise and to the point for me. Not something I am good at yet but there is always hope. Similar to my hope that I may still be a 7 ft tall drag queen and the belle of the ball for just one night only at Club One, eclipsing the drug induced awesomeness/total train wreck that is the Lady Chablis. It's good to set the bar high on your goals, right?

Ok, back to Mingo and his Tingle.

My Uncle Steve is a collector. His main interest is in Native American cane basketry. Chitimacha baskets especially. In his travels and quest for these pieces of art he has met some interesting folks. After one trip down South he told me about meeting a Chief Tingle and his son, Mingo. I believe they all met in Mississippi, not that it matters really. What I took away from his trip was the name Mingo Tingle. I thought that it was the most original and wonderful name I'd ever heard. It is fun to say out loud. Do it! Now I tell you!! Tell me that name is not like springtime in your mouth. Admit it!

Mingo Tingle. Mingo Tingle. Mingo Tingle.

I have never met Mr. Tingle and I am not sure if my Uncle ever encountered him on his travels again. At some point it might be nice to contact him and tell him how much I admire his name. I believe it has a meaning based in his Native American heritage but at this point I have forgotten the exact details. All I know is that I enjoy the name just as much today as I did the moment Uncle Steve told me the tale of the Tingles.

Perhaps Mr. Tingle will stumble upon this pitiful piece of my brain. I hope that he doesn't take offense at my use of his name. I hope that he loves his name as much as I do. Hey, maybe he even shares my dream of being a 7 ft tall drag queen for a day too. Weirder things have been known to happen :P

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

7 things about me that will bore you to tears

I am just now getting to catch up on all the fun I've missed on Twitter during the holidays and one thing I have really enjoyed is the 7 things meme. It thrills the voyeur in me to read tidbits about my favorite Twitter folks but also to get to learn about some that were flying under my radar. I look forward to reading more lists and I thank you all for sharing!

1) I was a co-founder of an antisocial society back in college. After a few meetings we decided to disband as we had broken the charter rules by having a gathering. I guess we were confused antisocial kids. The drugs had not kicked in yet at that time. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

2) I was a candle maker for around 12 years. I became a master candle carver after a 2 year apprenticeship. I eventually owned my own business doing the candles and once upon a time owned a shop with my husband in St. Augustine, Florida. That lasted for a few years until the tourist economy tanked there and we had to go back to "real" jobs. It was great while it lasted and I had some of the best customers ever. I still have all my equipment and could make some candles at any time but I have not carved any for well over a year. The last order I filled was for a wedding unity set for a couple in Australia. Nice folks that later sent me pictures from their wedding.

3) I am a perpetual college student. What can I say? I love the process of learning even though I let it stress me out to no end. The first go around was a nursing major. The second was art, specifically black and white photography. That I completely adored and I once felt like I wanted to spend my life in the darkroom. I didn't care if the pics were even mine. Just the act of printing and developing the pictures was a headrush for me. This current run at college again is to further the nursing along and get what's needed to concentrate on geriatric and hospice care as well as those masters courses needed to add adult nurse practitioner to it all. That last bit may take a while at the rate I am going but it's ok. I like being back in school again. Being older and having so much more life experience makes me appreciate my time in class. It also makes the younger students and their foibles more silly and annoying though.

4) I was accepted to the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C. back in the 90's when I was doing the photography major. I applied on a whim after visiting my uncles in Fairfax. After a return visit to the school and an interview and slide review I was sure that they would laugh in my face and my attempts to gain entry into their establishment. I went home to Savannah and was shocked beyond belief when I got a letter of acceptance. Did I end up going though? Nope. Why, you may ask? Well, see #5

5) The first time I met Bryan it was at work and he was a new employee. The VERY FIRST thought that ran through my head upon seeing him was "I wonder if he's THE one." The second thought after the introduction was "I wonder where he hides the bodies." Neither thought was one I'd ever had upon meeting anyone else in my life. After our initial meeting we were friendly and within a month I was trying to help him woo a girl at the shop that he was smitten with. Janet was a cute little innocent chick from North Dakota and Bryan fell for her hard the moment he met her. Bryan was very shy though and he needed some help and encouragement and somehow I became that person. After a 4 month try at getting Janet interested the poor guy had his heart crushed. Janet just wanted a friendship and didn't want to date anyone. I felt bad for Bryan and invited him to go out with a group of us on my birthday. We were good friends by that point but nothing more. By the end of that night, my 22nd b-day, we had decided to try taking the friendship further, no strings, and see what happened. We've been married 10 years now and I cannot imagine my life without Bryan in it. All of it boils down to Bryan needing a job to pay for some car insurance while in school. If it weren't for that we would not have met.

6) I was once a Beatles fanatic. It's the one thing that pulled me out of a long issue with depression as a teen. Lennon was my religion and I was a devout follower. I no longer have a single minded devotion to them but I am forever grateful for the time that the Fab Four comforted me and lead me out of a very bleak and dark place.

7) I'm not sure which way to go with this last one. Everything running through my head is on the boring side and Logan is insisting that he wants to go outside and for me to finish playing on this computer. So, you get random stuff to end this list --
  • I am distantly related to both Mary Cassatt and Robert Henri.
  • I hate when people eat crunchy things near me if I am not also eating crunchy things. The sound of crunching drives me insane.
  • I hate lima beans.
  • Sarcasm, dark and sick humor, and just a weird way of looking at life is what I most enjoy out of the people I'm friends with. It's these qualities that I also look for when following people on Twitter.
  • if I could get away with doing it I would spell my name in all lower case letters all the time, like e. e. cummings

I suppose I need to tag some folks now but I will have to come back to add them later. Logan is insisting that Jerry Butler and Johnson are getting mad. They want him to come out and play. Maybe they will sing me a poop song or their newest hit "Stop Looking at Me!"

Stuff and Such

I've been tagged to write 7 things that you don't know about me by a couple of folks on Twitter. I have really enjoyed reading the lists that others have put up and I am actually touched that anyone would be interested in 7 things about me. I will work on the list today though and I will throw it out there for anyone interested in reading it. Perhaps this will also be a benefit to me as well. I've set this blog up just for the list but perhaps I can use it to inflict my special brand of idiocy on anyone willing to stop by.