Blessed are mundane things

Today started out being not such a bad day. My house wasn’t considered to be in the flood zone, and we had made some progress on going through stuff in the basement that needed to be gotten rid of or brought upstairs. There was a sense of it needing to be done, but not that we had to kill ourselves to finish up.

My Sister calls this "Frog in a Blender"

Then we went out to run some errands. Older Son came with me and on the way home, I thought it would be nice to stop at Starbucks and get us some coffee. Or, in my case, a nice Green Tea Frappuccino.  We sat outside the drive through speaker for a long time, and then a girl came out and apologized, letting us know that they were closing due to the evacuation zones being expanded.


Yep…we came right home and turned on the tv. The big news is that someone just discovered that double the water was coming our way, and those close to the original evacuation zones were to evacuate as well. Well, that threw things into a tizzy. Later on we would find out that we weren’t in an expanded evacuation zone, but that someone had jumped the gun on that announcement. We are still getting double the water, though. It’s going to be what I come to call a Prairie Tsunami.

So, Older Son and I began to get things up from the basement, double time. Younger Son was at Driver’s Ed all afternoon, but got home early. We hauled stuff up and stashed it in bedrooms, we hauled crap out to the curb for garbage pickup, and we took some stuff to a friend who had use for them. It got to be about 9:30, and I walked across the road to see what’s going on closer to the river. I could see straight down one road to a main drag that runs over a bridge across the river. It was still dry, even though the West end of town is flooding. I’m hoping to get up tomorrow and still see a dry road. We’ll see what the new day brings. Until then, time to hit the rack.

Older Son’s bed is smack in the middle of the living room, so he’ll be comfortable enough until this whole thing is over and we can get him back into his bedroom in the basement. He suggested that we watch a movie, Battle: L.A. It’s an alien attack movie, just the kind of sci-fi thing we all like to watch. I sat here earlier flossing my teeth and catching up on the news on Facebook, and realized how nice it was to just do something as mundane as take care of my teeth. Watching a movie together is a nice mundane way to try to normalize after a long day of tearing up your house, and watching your community go under water via the television.  For now, we are just a family hanging out together, discussing the best way for the protagonists to kill the attacking aliens. Run of the mill stuff around these parts.

Good night all…


Hug your children, they may be gone tomorrow

So, what makes a hug a hug?

I think hugs don’t always  have to be two or more people wrapping their arms around each other. Sometimes hugs come in different packaging.

The reason I know this is that of my two kids, Younger Son is not a Public Display of Affection kind of guy. He’s not into hugs, and by the time he hit kindergarten holding hands with Mom was taboo. Older Son is a very openly affectionate person, in the usual manner, and has never been one to shy away from a hug.

This really bothered me for a long time until just recently, when I discovered that Younger Son hugged me all the time, just not with his arms. He’s rather a prankster at home, and I find that he often will poke my shoulder as he walks by…or nudge me. And, he likes high-fives. Lots of high-fives.

It dawned on me the other day that if I am really paying attention, Younger Son is hugging me every day, multiple times a day…just not with his arms.

This revelation makes me feel a whole lot better, especially in light of the news I received today from my dear friend “R”. She sent me a note on Facebook this morning letting me know why she didn’t make it to town this last weekend. Two of her older son’s best friends, and another friend of theirs were killed in a car accident this week. These kids were only in their late teens/early twenties. Yes, I called them kids…they are someone’s children, and so young that they didn’t have a chance to really live. Not really. Three sets of parents have just outlived a child, and will never have the opportunity get to know those boys as they grow into men and have families of their own.

“R” lives in a small community, so it isn’t just the parents who lost these boys…everyone lost these boys. Worse yet, it wasn’t like this was an expected death. These kids were strong, healthy boys who got in a car and just didn’t make it home, which makes it all that much more shocking and painful.

As I sat reading the message this morning, trying to find words to say to my friend, I realized there are no words. Nothing fixes this. They say time heals all wounds, but something I have come to understand is that grief is worn away like stones are worn smooth in a river. It takes a long time, and I only  imagine the personal hell these poor parents are dealing with.

I generally don’t do this, but today I will ask my 18 faithful readers, and everyone else who happens by this little blog,  to please send all the good vibes you can muster to these parents and their community.  They could use all the help they can get.

So, hug your kids. If you have a kid who isn’t into hugging or other obvious displays of affection, be on the lookout for those behaviors that are really hugs in disguise…like frequent high-fives.

Cutting cords while trying to hold it together

Last week, Younger Son got his first job. He’ll be working with a local landscaper, which will be good for Younger. He’s a hands on kind of kid and likes to keep physically busy. He was a little worried that his busy summer schedule would interfere with being able to get a summer job, but he got lucky and found an employer that was willing to be flexible. And, it’s close enough that he can ride his bike to work. Score!

Yesterday, he turned 16 and got his first paycheck, and I’m feeling a little strange about that. Tonight I need to take him out to buy steel-toed work boots and gloves. He’s my baby, and now he’s my gainfully employed, man-sized, baby. Uff-da.

Older Son is 18 now, and is looking for a job that will provide him more hours this summer. And, he still wants to hang on to his current part-time job.  I didn’t feel so terrorized when he got his first job two years ago because I knew that he needed to do that in order to learn how to get along in the world. Older Son was always more shy, less able to put himself out there and try new things. I pushed him and made him get a job because I understood that it would be good for his self-esteem to earn the paycheck, and he’d learn useful skills.  I’m happy to say that having a part-time job has had exactly the desired effect…he’s really come a long way and is nowhere near as shy as he used to be.

Recently I purchased a new-to-us vehicle, so that Older Son would have some independence in getting back and forth to school and work.  Now, he’s not exactly pleased with the choice I made in vehicles. What I would have liked to get him, and what he’d have LOVED to have is something like this:

Desirable, but not affordable

What he ended up with is a 1978 Dodge Adventurer SE. We affectionately call it The Beast:

So, while it wasn’t what he dreamed of, it’s something that gets him around until he can afford the vehicle he wants. Younger Son instantly fell in love with this rumbly old beater, and is terribly jealous. I’ve promised him that he can use it when Older gets a his own. I’m hoping it will only be another year or so until I can hand that over to him.

So, with all of the comings and goings, my little family isn’t going to see much of each other anymore. It makes me terribly sad that time has flown by and, all of a sudden, my little boys are now grown men. It gives me the nervous twitches just thinking about that fact that in another three years, I will most likely be the only one living at home.

I was talking with my Sister-by-Choice last night about how strange it is to sit alone in your house when your children are away from home with their other parent. When my kids are away from home, I experience a strange juxtaposition of emotions where I feel freed up to do any freaking thing I want (whoo!), and yet I feel paralyzed for wondering what they are doing and worrying if they are ok or not. When they finally come home, no matter how long they’ve been gone, I always feel myself breathing easier. Letting go of this kind paralysis-inducing worry is definitely something I am going to have to teach myself how to do. Imagine what it will be like when my kids leave home for good? I’ll have to get hobbies, and lots of them. Good thing I will have Harley around to keep my company.

Now, while I’m helping my kids grow up and become responsible people, I feel like I am handing them the scissors to cut apron strings with. In Younger Son’s case, I think he was born with a hatchet in his hand, and gleefully chops every apron string I own as soon as he discovers another one tying him down. He’s the one that is yearning to get out in the world, who isn’t afraid to put himself in new situations. He’s the one I feel like I need to hang on to a little tighter because he has no fear.

And yet, I give him the tools he needs and I stand back and watch him go.

I suppose that is the appropriate way of things, and bucking the system won’t get me very far. But, I’ll try to get away with it…just for a little longer.

Pre-emptive coffee, and the day Santa died

This morning I made the coffee, and I did it purely out of self-defense.

Older Son has been making the coffee recently and his idea of coffee, at the tender age of almost 18, is to put so many grounds in the filter that they are almost leaking out by the time the water has finished running through. I don’t often drink coffee right away in the morning, but the one day that I was really needing a cup I made the mistake of not making it myself.  It was so strong, it fairly made me break out into a sweat, so I didn’t finish it…I took two sips and there was so much caffeine in that little bit of coffee that I was lit up like a Christmas tree for the whole morning. That might have not been so bad, except it was so bitter that I just couldn’t get it down.

When I made the coffee today, I made it a little strong for me so Older Son wouldn’t feel like he was drinking colored water. So far so good. he finds it palatable, so mission accomplished.

So here I sit, reading blogs and sipping my low-octane coffee. I’m seeing a lot of posts about Santa, and it reminds me of the Christmas that Younger Son was in the First Grade. Younger Son has a very pragmatic, black and white way of looking at the world, and it didn’t take him long to figure out that Santa isn’t real. As the boys stayed with my parents after school, he inquired with my Mother about this, and they had a discussion about the real St. Nick and the fact that he is not with us any more but we celebrate him in spirit. He seemed satisfied with this explanation and all was well.

That is, until the next day when he announced to the rest of his First Grade class that Santa was, in fact, dead. From what I understand, there was an argument, and several of the children cried. Needless to say,  the teacher was pretty put out with him when my Mom picked him up after school.

Apparently Younger Son didn’t understand that while you may learn the truth about something, you don’t get to burst other people’s bubbles. I have no doubt that some of these kids will have bitter memories of the Christmas of their First Grade year. I can just imagine some of the conversations that happened around supper tables that night.

So, now that I’ve finished my coffee, and my story, it’s off to work. Happy Thursday!

Rising through the hayfever, and other sordid tales of life on the Prairie

Ah, harvest time. I love it! I love the way the ripe crops look as they wave in the prairie winds of North Dakota. I love the smell of burning fields, and fresh mown hay. Unfortunately, none of those things love me back. Sigh…Bring on the hay fever.

This year, for some reason, it’s much more pronounced that in previous years. Or maybe I’m just getting more sensitive to is as I get older? That’s probably more likely. Today I have a headache  and my sinuses feel a little like they are full of Elmer’s Glue.  I know some people who have allergies so bad that they just allow them to take over during this time of the year. I figure that I haven’t got things so bad if all I have is a headache and a stuffy nose, so I’m going to get up and continue on with my day as though there is no hay fever. In fact, perhaps I will just say it to myself repeatedly: “There is no hay fever, there is no hay fever, there is no place like home, (oops…sorry. That’s someone else’s mantra) there is no hay fever, there is no hay fever…”

So, Older Son is working today. He worked yesterday and will work tomorrow again all day. I’m very proud of him. I was a little worried that his BS-o-meter was set to go off at a little lower level, but he’s stuck with it so far. He works in concessions for a local business that handles several different venues around town. If things go as well for all of us this winter as I hope it will, we’ll be able to get a 2nd vehicle and then he can branch out a little bit. It’s hard to believe that he’s going to be 18 this Spring.

Good Gods… My baby is going to be 18!

Alright, enough of that. If I keep going down that line of script I’ll be a gelatinous puddle of sobbing goo before too long. Last I heard that’s not good for the keyboard so…moving on…

Younger Son and I are going out for lunch and then out to my parent’s house to pick up some extra green beans they have from their garden. Then I’m off to visit a friend at her house. She and her husband are putting on a wine tasting, and I was very thrilled to be invited. Her husband comes from an Italian family, and he knows how to cook the authentic stuff that most people wish they could cook. So, it will be an evening of good food, good wine, and good conversation…with adults, no less.  I can’t wait!

Tomorrow, I have some things to finish in the house and then I’m contemplating digging up my front yard, or at least a small piece of it. I have been wanting to do that for quite some time, and with Younger’s help, I bet we can get it done in an afternoon. All the extra dirt and sod will go around the foundations of the house as the dirt there has settled downwards.

If we do get around to it, I’ll show before and after pictures. I can’t wait to see what my new front garden will look like this spring. I’m hoping to plant tulips, irises, lilies and hyacinth so there is something pretty coming up right away in the Spring.

But now it’s time to get ready to go. I’ll have a glass of wine for you too! 🙂

Coffee, how I do love thee…

I never used to like coffee. When I was little my mom used to fix me a cup of tea with lots of milk and sugar in it. Once, I came upon a cup full of what I thought was my tea, but it was

Good morning!

someone else’s coffee with a lot of cream and sugar in it, and it was awful. I never touched the stuff again from that moment, until my middle-late twenties.  My (then) husband, myself and our two babies traveled to Michigan to visit his family, and his younger brother introduced me to the joys of flavored coffee. Since then, I’ve been irretrievably hooked. It’s all Jeff’s fault…yeah, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Anyway, fast forward to now. I love to buy my favorite fluffy coffees at Starbucks. We have local coffee shops who also sell delightful coffee concoctions. My kids have recently developed a taste for it as well. Often on Sunday mornings,  one of the boys will go with me to Starbucks and we get us all coffees, pastries and a newspaper. What a fabulous way to start a nice Sunday morning!

Fluffy coffees are expensive, though, and it’s not something we can have all the time. Since buying coffee every day is just too cost-prohibitive, we have a coffee pot. Mom had an extra one, and sent it home with me one day when I mentioned the kids liked coffee. So, it’s been interesting buying different flavors and doctoring our coffee up with flavored creamers and sugar.

Drinking coffee isn’t just about the taste, or the caffeine. There’s something about the smell that calms me down during a hectic morning. It’s also a great smell to wake up to. I love the smell of coffee right away when I get up. It’s almost aromatherapy! In the Winter, drinking coffee can be all about getting warmed up again after being outside. Sometimes drinking coffee at work is a means of grounding and centering myself if I’m having a rotten day. Most days, I only drink one cup of coffee, and am lucky to finish it.  I know it’s a bad day at work when I’m hitting my second cup of coffee before noon. Gods help the person who messes with my coffee. Reach for my coffee cup, and you may only get back a bloody stump where your conniving, thieving hand used to be, especially if it’s early in the morning.

I have a cup of coffee sitting next to me right now. I’m just waiting for it to cool before I start sipping, so I’ll just inhale the lovely aroma and get a good start on my day. (Sniiiiiff….ahhhh!)

Football season again…there goes the schedule.

Younger's Jersey this year

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. Football season has begun.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with football. The love part has to do with the fact that Younger Son loves to play, and I love to see him play, even though I don’t understand much of what I’m seeing. But more about that in a later post.

The hate part comes in when it comes to scheduling and supplies. The supplies part of it isn’t that terrible…it’s just another expense along with school supplies, registration etc. The scheduling is what really gets my goat.

As many of you parents know, we live and die by our kids’ schedules. Our lives revolve around what they are doing, whether it’s school activities, sports or work…or all three at once.  Parents need a Plan, not just for themselves for their jobs and activities, but the for the kids as well, so everyone is on the same page. Everyone has The Plan in their heads for the week and knows what to expect. Everyone who needs a ride will get one. All activities will be accounted for and attended. By the end of the week, everything will have gotten done that needed to be done.

Apparently, that doesn’t even enter into the minds of The Powers That Be who administrate the scheduling of Football for the season. Today is a good example. I’ve seen on the schedule we do have that there is a scrimmage today. Younger Son’s team is playing against the team of another city for a preseason practice.  I’ve been asking Younger every day this week, “What did you hear about the scrimmage? What time is it? Where is it? When do I need to drop you off and pick you up?”  Poor kid…of course these come out in rapid fire sequence in my zeal to solidify The Plan for the weekend.

Unfortunately the coaches refused to tell the kids anything until Friday afternoon. The kids have to be at the school before 8am so they can be dressed to play and get on a bus to go across town. Scrimmage will start sometime between 9 and 10am. Time to pick the kids up afterward is undetermined. It’s unknown how many games will even be played.

What the heck?!

So, I breath deeply, and evenly…this too shall pass. It will be worth it to watch Younger Son have such a good time. Additionally, he’s learning discipline and good sportsmanship. And, it’s only for two months more and then we have a nice long break until he joins track in the Spring.

I never thought I would look so forward to a nice long Winter!

Buying a car for a teenage boy

I imagined that when it came time to buy my sons a car, I would have saved up enough to get a really neat old car that any teenage boy would drool to own. The picture Younger Son

Dodge Charger - It would be tall dark and handsome, were it a man!

has as his desktop wallpaper, a 1969 Dodge Charger (see right), is a good example. Another fine example of a pretty car is a Chevelle. I got to drive one once, and once was enough to get me hooked.You see, I was as this party…ah, but I digress. I’ll save that story for another time.

I like old cars and trucks. I remember once there was a used car lot across the road from my grandparents’ house, and I used to go over and ogle the GTO that sat over there for quite a while. That it sat for so long tells me, now, that there was something wrong with it under the hood…ooooh, but was it ever pretty. Yum.

I grew up driving a 1979 Chevy Blazer – It was red with a white stripe down the middle. It was not the prettiest thing, but I liked driving it, and since then I can’t really swallow the idea of driving anything with less clearance under it than what the Blazer had. That thing could plow through snow drifts like nobody’s business. While I was driving the Blazer it made me feel a little invincible, and I liked it. One time a friend and I went driving and we went over to one of his dad’s fields and…oops… Digressing again. Back to the subject!

When I was in college, I drove a 1974 Chevy pickup. It was bright canary yellow and had a beat up old topper on it. It was a used truck my uncle bought and used for years. When my uncle passed away, my dad inherited the truck, and that’s what I drove in college. It might not have been the prettiest thing, but it started on a dime in the bitter cold, on fumes, when everyone else was having to get their vehicles jumped just to start. The engine was simple enough that I could crawl up into it, change the air filter, fix a stuck throttle, etc. I loved that truck, but it died…and that was that. Then my dad bought me an Izuzu P’up. That was a good little truck. Oh…those were the days.

My trusty van.

Currently I drive a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan. I know some people cringe at the thought of driving a “family” vehicle, but it’s very practical, and drives like a pickup truck. I can take all the seats out and have plenty of room to haul stuff. When the seats are in, I can haul lots of family or kids. It even has a video player in it for those long trips. I can’t gush enough about the virtues of that video player enough for long trips. It saved my kids’ lives on more than one long drive, and my sanity to boot! Not only that, but I can plow through the snow drifts with it like nobody’s business. You can see the recurring theme here in the vehicles I like to drive.  As much as I love muscle cars, my true happiness lives in practicality and function.

I’ve been looking through the want ads for something cheap I can buy for Older Son to drive around. It’s become apparent that we aren’t going to survive with one vehicle very well, and I am hoping to stumble across something very cheap in the next few months. With Older Son working now, and Younger Son in school activities  and chomping at the bit to get a job himself, I need to get these boys their own ride. Hmm…how about a nice GTO? Or a Road Runner? I know…I bet they’d like a nice Firebird! What boy wouldn’t?

Unfortunately, with the current budget we’re working with, they are going to be lucky get their hands on a Volkswagon Rabbit. That’s ok…as long as I can get them something that gets them from p0int A to point B. Truthfully, I am looking at find them a good sturdy pickup. I would like something with hauling capacity, as well as something with a hitch on it. Let’s not forget that it needs to be something that’s easy to repair. Now days, everything has a computer “brain” in it. The problem with that is when the car’s brain has a fart, the whole thing goes to pot.

Anyway, I’m keeping my eyes open for that good buy to come along. If you had the chance to buy a vehicle just for yourself, your fantasy vehicle, what would you buy?

Did you ever wonder what goes on in your fridge?

I’m cleaning my fridge, and  have to wonder what the heck happens in a fridge. Fridge Things are supposed to sit still and wait patiently for you to return and give them purpose. Fridge Things are not supposed to cavort with wild abandon. They are not supposed to jump off of shelves or act like they’ve been drinking and fall down. They are supposed to sit upright, quietly.

Courtesy of Delaware Online

I’m pretty sure that there’s been some kind of party going on in my fridge. As I’ve been really busy and have neglected the inside of my fridge, the Fridge Things, I believe, took entertainment matters in their own hands. I do also suspect they had help from Older and Younger as well. I’ll have to give the young’uns a chat about having too much fun with the Fridge Things.

I’m taking a quick break as I am expecting a big fight with a particularly nasty Fridge Thing, which protested mightily when notified that it had worn out its welcome. I’m now rested up, I’ve got my bleach, my scrubby and my armor. I probably should have made sure I had a rabies shot too.

If nobody hears from me by tomorrow, call for help!

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