Hitting the Wall

I’ve started and erased this post about six times already. 

I have so much to say, so much to write, so much to record and remember yet I don’t have the emotional energy to do it.

I’ve hit a wall.  Or rather, the wall has tumbled down and hit me first. 

There are emotional bricks laying on my heart and bashing me in the head and they’re making it hard for me to form cohesive thoughts.  I’d usually lay these thoughts out here- get it off my chest- but this time, they’re not for public consumption. 

Bear with me while I rein in and deal with my feelings.  They’ll either be bottled up (my usual way of dealing with crap) or they’ll be exploding and the aftermath won’t be pretty.  Too many thoughts are racing around my head and they’re going too fast for me to reach out, grab one and write.

Other that that, everything is just…peachy.

The cupcakes, btw, were Panthers…the stupid name of Zombiegirl’s travel soccer team.  The Google search results yielded up “Pink Panther” cupcakes and fondant sculpted panthers which were cute, but not practical considering I had to make 48 of them.

Jansie- email me your mailing address and I’ll send you something for playing anyway!  Kim…I know where you live!

A Happy Birthday Contest

Zombiegirl turns 12 today.  How is it possible that this kid is 12?  One more year until she’s 13 and all the trials and troubles that come with teen years; wow, I can’t wait.

Because she has a soccer game today, I made cupcakes.  I know I said I was done making cupcakes, but if her birthday wasn’t on a soccer day I wouldn’t have made them.  I asked her what kind of cupcake she wanted and she told me.

I tried.  Really.  I pored through the cupcake book and the internets and no one had anything remotely like what she wanted.  So I figured I’d do something totally out of character for me and MAKE IT UP MYSELF.  Right.

You have to realize that I’m not a creative person.  I can do almost any craft out there, and get mad props for it, but 99% of the time I’m copying someone else or using someone else’s creative juices.  I have no juice of my own.

So, as you can see, I made cupcakes.  They do not look like what Zombiegirl asked, but she’s a little okay with it.  I say a little because after all, Mom should be able to anything…

The first person who can tell me what these cupcakes are SUPPOSED to be will win something handmade by me.  Don’t tell me what they look like, we all can see what they look like and that’s not what the 12-year old wanted.  As for the handmade gift, I have a pretty good idea what I’ll be giving out and it’s bound to be liked by everyone.

Our immediate family is excluded from this contest since they were witness to my agonizing over what these cupcakes should look like.  I thank them for not laughing too hard at me.

Have at it people.  What the hell are these cupcakes supposed to be?

And while you’r ehere, could you send some bloggy birthday wishes to the kid?  Thanks!

It’s Hard to Believe Such a Calamity*

How often does the opportunity come up where you have nothing, absolutely nothing to do.  I’m talking about those times where you don’t have to meet with anyone, you don’t have to answer to anyone and no one is expecting anything from you?  A time where one or all of your family members may be away and your time is your own.

I know it doesn’t happen to me often.  I’m everyone’s bitch, from the job down to the kids.  I’m even the laundry’s bitch (you KNOW how that washing machine gets…) and the dogs bitch (ha ha!) and the cat’s bitch.  I’m constantly in “motion”, doing and running and serving and washing.  When I’m not in motion, those times where I can sit and watch a little TV, it’s at Zombiegirl’s request. 

I was looking forward, therefore, to Zombiegirl’s sixth grade trip to Frost Valley the same time MR was going up to Boston for the Seafood Show.  A little time by myself, doing things I wanted to do.  I arranged to sew work from home on Friday so I could pick Z-girl up at school when she got back, and MR and I were going to spend some time together Wednesday night before he left.  I asked Dad if he wanted to go to Cheeburger Cheeburger on St. Patrick’s day, far away from anything Irish related (because y’all know how much I HATE St. Patrick’s day.) All stuff I wanted to do, because I had all this time on my hands.

The best laid schemes of mice and men (and me) and all that crap.  Yeah.  They often go awry and leave us naught but grief and pain, for promised joy.  Boy, Burns, you got that right.

Instead of spending some snuggle time with the husband, I started bleeding Wednesday afternoon and then we spent three hours of non-romantic time trying to get the van fixed.  Beena couldn’t get it started when she came out of student teaching at the high school four towns to the west so MR rescued her so she wouldn’t be late for her real job.  When I got home I went back to the van with him because I felt bad he wasn’t going to get any action before he left.  After three hours in the cold, dealing with a maniac jumpstarter from Roadside Assistance and one tow truck later, we were totally pissed off and wiped out.  MR rushed around throwing stuff he’d need for the five day trip and we passed out two hours earlier than normal bedtime because after all, we were up at four a.m. to drop Z-girl off at school to start her trip.

Yes, they go awry. 

I practically begged my boss to let me work from home on Thursday because now I had to deal with the mechanic.  I’m lucky I report to a manager who doesn’t care what I do as long as my work is done and done correctly.  It turned out I was really busy “at work” and I didn’t get much time to do anything else I wanted to do.  Dishes were washed and the floors were mopped (while routines were run) but they’re no fun.  Kansas and I picked up the car (it was the rusty battery connections), got some food shopping done, Kansas practiced her driving and I grudgingly went back to work. 

Dad took us out for dinner (which included a “green” pistachio shake) and by the time I got home, I was stuffed and sleepy because after all, we were up at four a.m. to see MR off.  I was so tired, I didn’t even appreciate being in the big bed all by myself.

Friday saw more work, no sewing (although I did get my office cleaned up a little) and then off to pick up Zombiegirl and her friend Suzie.  The rest of the day was spent listening to them tell me about Devil’s Hole, Petey Pete, snow tubing, Birds of Prey and maple syrup while I ran occupancy plans and sent stuff to the printer.  After Suzie went home, Z-girl got sick so the rest of the night was spent cuddling on the couch.

Saturday comes and I still haven’t done anything I planned to do (sew, blog, dust, paint, sleep late, bake) and now it’s time to drive 70 miles to Z-girl’s first Long Island Cup game.  I have a slight migraine and the last thing I want to do is stand in the wind and yell.  It hurts to yell.  I had the sense to ask to carpool with Ronnie (Suzie’s mother) so I didn’t have to actually drive.  After an awesome game (which they won) we browsed the Christmas Tree Shop in Deer Park and stopped for pizza.  We got home around 7:30 pm and Zombiegirl is still feeling sick, and I still have a migraine so we rented Vampire’s Suck and ate popcorn for dinner.

Dad left us to go down to Florida to see Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob (Mom’s stepsister) so by this time I was feeling pretty damned depressed that everyone had gone somewhere and I wasn’t going anywhere.  A dear friend’s mother passed away on Thursday, so Z-girl and I went to the wake on Sunday afternoon.  Under the sad circumstances, it was nice to see everyone again.  We made plans to get together (not at funerals) and catch up.  When we got home, to cheer us up, Zombiegirl and I took out our bikes to go to the grocery store for cat food and lattes.  Those damn plans went awry again and we ended up walking to the gas station to fill the very flat tires.  Twelve cans of cat food, two caramel lattes and four flat tires later (Zombie-g says we’re “such girls” because we didn’t know how to fill up the tires- they went flat on the way home.  We promised to watch how MR did it so we wouldn’t be dependent on men.  My little feminist…)  By now I’m ready for a nap because I’m physically and emotionally tired (but jittery from the latte) and just as I doze off…MR comes home.

I had too much time on my hands and nothing went as planned.  Normally, I would get upset because my house didn’t get cleaned, I didn’t bake as much as I wanted, the walls and ceramic pieces didn’t get painted and I didn’t sew.  But I’m not upset at all because I spent some amazingly marvelous time with my daughters, my dad and a good friend, got all the niggling little things wrong with the van fixed and caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile.  My husband was happy because he didn’t have to deal with my bleeding issues was working. 

John Lennon said it best.  “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

It’s a good life.

*Okay, this flipped me out…I was typing in “Too Much Time on My Hands” in the title.  Take a wild guess as to what song came on Pandora at that moment?  I had to look twice at the title while listening to the Styx song.  Way too creepy, so I changed it to another line in the song.

Spring Training

Rewind please, to about a week ago.  It’s lunchtime and I’m looking for my Indian food cart along Park Avenue.  As I pass St. Bart’s church, there is a flurry of activity along the sidewalk and the stairs leading up to the church doors, more so than usual.  I look up at the crowd of people coming down the stairs and I see the signs.

It’s Ash Wednesday.

I knew the day was coming up soon; I had prepped the family members I knew were going to be around that we would be going to church that night.  I had made a Mardi Gras King Cake a few nights before to have after our pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.  But when I woke up that Wednesday, I had totally forgotten the date.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Indian food place that day.  As I looked at the persons marked with ashes, I grew increasingly jealous.  Here they were, all these penitents, humbly blessed and outwardly proclaiming their beliefs while my own head remained naked.  I almost ducked into St. Bart’s for ashes, but remembered I promised to go with Zombiegirl later that night.

I couldn’t WAIT to get to church that night.  The need I felt to connect with God was intense, almost a hunger.  Which was odd, since I am a quiet Christian.

I DON’T make a joyful noise about believing in God and Jesus Christ.  I believe, and that’s basically that.  While you can’t persuade me otherwise, I don’t try to persuade anyone to my beliefs.  I would make a lousy missionary- I wouldn’t be able to convert anyone.  I can’t debate the Bible or creationism even though I’ve read and believe in both.  So I believe what I believe because my heart and gut tells me so.  Bible-thumping and preaching and any outward displays of Christianity have never been my forte.  I AM a quiet Christian.  Which is why that green emotion welling up in my chest surprised me.  I wanted to be part of this crowd, wearing their literal hearts on their sleeves, showing everyone what they believe in. 

At church that night kneeling besides Z-girl, I received the blessed ashes as a symbol of penance and reflection.   We were told to do good works, be kind and prepare our hearts during the Lenten season for the Resurrection.    Fasting and prayer should be part of our daily routine for the 40 days leading up to Easter.  So, on the way home, I asked Zombiegirl what she was going to give up for Lent.

Since school and homework weren’t options, and since I’ve already given up meat, we agreed (with MR and Rob as our witnesses) to give up fast food.  NOT that we eat a lot of it, but I do find it’s easier to grab Mickey D’s on a day I forgot to take something out of the freezer.  Zombiegirl likes it too much so it was a good choice for her, too.  I went a step further and included Chinese food too. 

We also discussed getting more involved in community service- at our local homeless shelter, children’s hospital or soup kitchen.  I’m going to have to enlist Pastor’s help in this one, but we talked about her bringing a board game or two to the shelter/hospital to play with the kids there.  I want her to reach out to the less fortunate and give more of herself.  It’ll be good for me, as well.  I’m really trying to be a more patient and kinder person, especially during Lent.

Dang it, though, it’s hard.

It’s hard to be grateful to the person helping me sell Girl Scout cookies when I know I’m being gypped out of money.  Yes, I’ll never ever learn.

It’s hard not to kick people (a New! Fun! Exciting! pastime of mine I’ve been engaging in) as they walk directly in front of me as if I’m not even there.

It’s hard to bite your tongue when you see how much work your spouse is doing at a yearly job and not getting enough compensation for it.

It’s hard not to slam the phone down repeatedly on the idiotic people you work with.

It’s hard to be kind to (and not throttle) the stupid, ignorant and uncaring people you come in contact with every day. 

It’s hard to look in the mirror and try to see yourself as others see you.  To see that reflection and reflect on who this person really is.  And try not to be such a bitch.

St. A has a sign on their front lawn: “Lent is Spring Training for Christians”.  Spring training for anything is hard, all that work after a cold, wicked winter.  So I guess that’s the point, that Lent isn’t easy.  Neither was dying on a cross.

 So this child of God will try to be patient, kind and helpful.  She will read the book of Psalms over the next 40 days and strengthen her relationship with God.  She will shun Burger King’s Veggie burger and onion rings and will keep her foot and her bitchiness in check. 

By Easter, this child of God will be hitting home runs.

It’s Better to Give Than Receive

(Okay, I know it’s the first week of March, and Christmas is the last thing on ANYONE’s mind, but I have to post about what drove me absolutely banana-shit crazy the few weeks before the holidays.)

I’m lucky that my nephew and nieces are still young enough to “appreciate” handmade gifts.  Really, put anything in a sparkley box and tie a ribbon around it and they’d like it.  I make their gifts because I know in a few years I won’t be able to get away with it- they’ll want electronics and designer duds and ponies.  All stuff I would love to get them but can’t/won’t.  So for now, everything I give them is wondrous (for a second) and beautiful (until the next gift).

I don’t really make anything for Raymond because trucks and cars and guns are not in my arsenal of sewing ideas.  We did get him a lab coat because he’s a SCIENTIST and an ant farm because he’s a SCIENTIST.  We included in his gift bag some stuff Zombiegirl made: Sidewalk chalk (in cute shapes, like butterflies and shells), and Snow globe soap inspired by Alphamom.  Unfortunately, Raymond’s chalk was stepped on in the pandemonium and was crushed in a billion pieces.  S’okay…he stole his sister”s…

For Sammy,Lily and baby Hannah, I made these tiered skirts from this fabulous tutorial,

with matching headbands using this tutorial:

(Hannah got a matching baby scrunchie headband.)

Each of the older kids got a puppet washcloth, courtesy of Running with Scissors awesome tutorial

(I thought these were so cute I made one for Zombiegirl and one for Beena’s boyfriend’s nephew, Super Jesse, cutie-pie.) I really like working with terry cloth and I have a feeling I’m not done making these…

Add some barrette holders for each of the girls:

and aprons for my SIL Paula and the two older girls (following Amy Carol’s Bend the Rules Sewing pattern),  a jewelry frame for my older niece Elize and Fiesta Ware cup and saucer bird feeders for my MIL, SILs and Mother-in-law once removed, Gerry.  The gifts were well received among the older relatives (thank goodness) as well as the kids considering Lily immediately put the skirt on as a top (think “tube top) and the apron on the bottom, leaving her bee-hind blowing in the wind.  Once Hannah is older, I have visions of sewing matching sundresses and floppy hats and bags and…

Okay, enough. Stop the insanity.  I have enough to do for now before I tackle anymore gifts.

BTW- blogging from home sucks.  I didn’t read this over and edit because I’m up and down to the kitchen making my first King Cake for Fat Tuesday.  I’m distracted and not used to typing my blog on my laptop with (gasp!) one monitor.  I guess I have to get used to slumming it…

Update to Ponderings

I need to update last week’s Ponderings and F*CK You’s post:

  • I’m sending a virtual apology to Mrs. D, the school board member who ranted and raved about letting other teams play on our fields.  She didn’t show up to the vote the following week and I implied cowardice.  I was told she was actually on vacation, so my apologies, Mrs. D.
  • And yes, Pia Toscano from American Idol is the same Pia that grew up with Beena.  She’s an awesome talent and will probably go far on this AI Season 10.  (I have a really cute picture of her at Beena’s Fashion Runway Birthday Party but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post it.)

More stuff and junk tomorrow…

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

It’s been two years since you left us.  How is that possible?

I took the day off yesterday to be with Daddy.  He’s been doing really well on his own, keeping the house immaculate, making his bed, planning his next tattoo.  I know he has his down days, especially when he finds something you squirreled away or a note you wrote, but that’s totally normal.  Thank goodness for Pumpkin.  That cat keeps him company and on his toes.  The thing is, Mom; could you find a way to let Dad know he’s feeding that little porker too much?  He looks like Garfield- fat and orange.  He has a kitty food buffet on the counter, and he won’t listen to me…

Did you see the beautiful flowers Dad brought you?  Look in between the petals- I made a penguin for you.  Out of a used lightbulb, lol.  I made a snowman for Robbie, too and left it in front of his stone niche.  We can’t pass a penguin by without thinking of you.  Kansas is thinking of getting a tattoo of a penguin, just for you.  I would consider getting one with her, but I’m not going to hold my breath.  You know how much she hates needles.

Dad and I did something yesterday I know you loved to do- we went shopping after we visited at the cemetery.  I dragged him around to Ikea, then to Walmart, then out to lunch.  You’ve trained him well, Mom.  He actually likes to shop, and didn’t rush me or complain when I went from one end of the store to the other.  I even made him wait in the storage section of Ikea while I ran to the bathroom.  I know you knew where every public restroom was in every store, mall and gas station you went to. I definitely inherited the lactose intolerance from you. 

I’ve been thinking of you alot lately.  I’ve been painting the ceramics you cleaned for me years ago- those three-sided “go-rounds” of Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the elves.  They’ve been sitting in a box forever and I’m trying to finish all the half-started projects in my office.  How many of those pieces did we do over the years we went to ceramics?  I know you donated a few of them to St. B’s for their Penny Social, and I’ve given them away as gifts to a bunch of people.  We always joked that we did ceramics for everyone but ourselves.  I like knowing that you cleaned and touched the pieces that I’m now painting.

I miss you, Mom.  I know we had our differences (I also inherited the stubborn streak from you) but I miss talking to you about the kids and work and crafts and sewing.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with a pattern piece or some directions my first instinct is to call you up and ask for your help.  Sometimes I feel you looking over my shoulder when I’m sewing and I take extra care to get it right because I know that’s what you would have done.  I wish you were really there guiding me.  I’m sorry I never took advantage of your talent and wisdom when you were around.  It was easier to ask you to fix those pants or make those bridesmaid dresses for the girls than for me to do it myself with you standing behind me.  I miss your guidance.

Dad’s going to Florida in a few weeks to visit your sister, Jean.  I’m so proud of him driving down by himself and eating in Cracker Barrels alone.  I know it’s hard doing all the things you guys used to do together, but I think it’s also making him stronger.  Not that he wasn’t strong when you were around.  He was always a Titan to me- big and bold and sometimes scary to a little kid- but it kills me when he’s sad.  So he’s staying down in Florida for a couple of weeks with Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob.  Just like old times when we camped together, but without the kids and a little more Bengay. 

I put the picture of you and Daddy on our living room side table.  I need to see more of the healthy Helen, not the Helen you became when the cancer got bad.  Those memories are fading, slowly, being replaced by less sombre memories.  Like the times I’d see you when I picked up the girls after work, or at the Calendar parties (you and Barbara sitting in the front of the social hall making notes on all the bad acts…), sitting in church together and driving to ceramics class with Ann, Diane and Lucille.  Girl Scout camping.  Family camping.  Holding Beena and Kansas and Zombiegirl in the hospital.  Going to all those Broadway plays.  You singing “Shall We Dance?” in the kitchen while making dinner.  That’s the mommy I need to remember.  I don’t want to forget all the suffering you went through or the time we spent before you passed away- me rubbing your feet and you shooting Daddy sarcastic looks because you couldn’t talk- but I found that’s all I was focusing on and that’s not what you were about.  I try to focus on our good times now instead.

I’ll talk to you soon, Mom.  You know I always do.  Say “Hi!” to Robbie and Nana and J for me.  I can’t believe it’s been a year since we lost J.  Life moves too fast.

I love you always. 

Love, Sue