Monday, December 05, 2016

Calling a spade a spade

It was pointed out to me recently (kindly, with no malice intended) that my posts make it sound like I'm a single parent.  I have discussed this with the person who commented and things are completely resolved.  Well, I guess you can't have resolution where there really wasn't an issue in the first place, but I think you get what I mean.  However, I feel that I need to address this further.

I am happily married.  Sure, we have our arguments; all married couples do.  But we've been married for over sixteen years and haven't killed each other - or wanted rid of one another - yet.

My hubby is a very private person.  He's grudgingly on Facebook because I kinda forced him into it a few years ago by creating an account for him.  I think he's finally - after all these years - seeing its draw.  And, I'm sure, its drawbacks.  But I digress.  He doesn't really like it when I write about him - specifically - so I've gotten into the habit of just not writing too much about him.  I'm far more open than he is, anyway.  He's always there, though.  My one constant.  My one strong point.  Lifting me up when I've let life overwhelm me, which happens far more often than I care to admit.  Sometimes, he doesn't even know he's helping, but he is.

I'm gonna embarrass the heck out of him now, though.

Here's to my fixer-of-kitchen-sinks, doer-of-own-laundry, Chief Kid Wrangler, raker of leaves and mower of lawns, handler of all the things, constant companion, partner in crime, pain in my rear, aways putting the toilet paper on the holder the wrong way, love of my life.  I couldn't do it - do anything, really - without you.

One other thing. I do not know what it is like to be a single parent.  I cannot even begin to understand the challenges single parents face and would never profess otherwise.  If I understand anything about it, it is this: It's a hugely important job and a singularly difficult one with it's own particular set of challenges encompassing not only care of oneself, but other little lives who depend on you, along with a sometimes sad, and other times lonely experience.  My hats off to you. 

TTFN
JMS


Friday, December 02, 2016

Forcing myself to think of the good things

I think I mentioned in another post (and probably, if you really dig, several other posts) how I struggle to keep my emotional head above water and to not be so darned negative all the time.  But my negativity is about to rear its ugly head.

WOULD 2016 JUST END ALREADY?  PLEASE?

SHEESH!

Okay.  I've gotten that out of my system.  Feel free to sound off in the comments, too, if you want.  It's an open forum after all, right?

Do I feel better?  Not really.  But in order to make myself feel better, I'm going to say a few things about stuff which has made me feel good this year.  In no particular order, they are:

** Going to see Alice's Restaurant performed live at a local restaurant - by a very talented musician - just before Thanksgiving.  I love that song.  I know every word.  And it brings me joy every time I hear it.  It was especially fun to listen to it performed live.  The artist made it his own without compromising the integrity of Arlo Guthrie's original.  That takes skill!

** And of course, there's Booker T. Jet Black Alley Cat.  I can't neglect to mention him.  He's brought joy and fuzz and snuggles and silliness to our house and I just adore him.  The kids love him, too, so that's awesome.  His "Gotcha" day was Friday, May 13 and he's a black kitty.  He has crossed my path each morning - on the way to the food bowl - and hasn't tripped me up yet.

** Two visits from my father.  The first one, back in March, was after a solid ten year lapse.  It's been an amazing thing to reconnect with him, and to have him get to know his grand kids.  They're totally in love with Grandpa, too, so it's a mutual thing.

** Being part of the Puppet Ministry at church.  It is a fantastic outlet for my Inner Weird Person and so much fun!  Oh, who am I kidding?  I'm just a Weird Person.  No "inner" about it!  But it gives me a chance to use these stupid voices I've made up for a better purpose than just being obnoxious or having fun with my kiddos.

And...I'm done now.  I guess it's kind of a short list, isn't it?  And there have been other things I'm sure I've forgotten about.  Apparently, I have trouble in that regard; allowing the negative (there I go again) to overshadow the positive.  I'm trying.  I really am.  Of course, there are my daily joys of getting to see my kiddos after work and hear about their respective days.  And the joy of looking at my physical surroundings - of East Tennessee - and remembering what a beautiful place this is.

TTFN
JMS

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Great Smoky Mountains are on Fire

I typically try to stay out of anything that could cause a stir - politics and religious issues especially - because, quite frankly, I'm too ignorant (stupid?) to speak on them with any real insight or knowledge.  Most of the time, I'm not "up" on current events and I only find out about things well after they happen and then, what's the point of really trying to discuss it?  Another thing I do not do is spew verbal vomit around simply because I might feel particularly strongly about one thing or another.  Yes, occasionally my soap box does come out, but that happens when not only do I feel strongly about something, I know enough about it to be able to say something wise and truthful.

I'm not perfect.  I won't profess to be perfect - ever.  I feel like things around me are in shambles right now and I'm struggling to keep my head above water.  I'm drowning in negativity, and I am the first one to say - about myself - that I have a tough time keeping a positive outlook anyway.  Long-term depression kind of does that to a person.

Where was I going with this?  (I'm still caffeinating.  Please bear with me.)

I live in East Tennessee.  We've been in a drought for several weeks.  We haven't had any significant rain since July (I think).  It's exceptionally dry around here. Right now, there are wild fires raging all around us.  It's been really devastating for those in the direct paths of those fires.  But, admittedly, I've been doing what most people do: I've gone on with my life because, well, those fires are really not affecting me in any major way.  (Unless you consider the major breathing/allergy issues I've been having for the last few weeks due to the smoke in the air.)  I suppose it's selfish of me.  Uncaring?  Pretending like nothing is wrong while the world, for some people, is practically ending?  Yes.  All of those things.  But it's also self-preservation.  I'm already struggling to get out of bed in the morning and these little stories I tell myself (i.e.: Everything is awesome!  It's gonna be a great day!  You've got this!) are sometimes the only things that keep me moving forward.  I have people depending on me so I have to be okay, even if I'm not.

Sorry - I went a little bit...off...there.

Anyway, fires.  These fires didn't become real for me (though they are most definitely real) until yesterday, when they hit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  (Go Google "Wildfires in Gatlinburg, TN" for more information.)  Now, granted, I'm not really near these fires.  So, why are they affecting me more than the ones which have been and are much closer?  Because I've been there.  I know the places which are being destroyed by the inferno.  The area is one of the first places I ever went in Tennessee - before I even lived here - so it holds fond memories for me.  And the videos I've seen on social media of the mandatory evacuation of that area - and the fires literally licking the edges of the roads and flaming all around - daring escapes down the mountains.  I'm just devastated.  Not for myself, but for the folks who live and work in that area.

Tennessee has become my home in so many ways.  Not just because I live here.  Not just because I've made a life here.  Not just because I love where I am.  But it's the people.  It's the movement.  It's the way of life.  It's nature.  Nature most especially.  I might not be much of an outdoorsy person but ever since I first laid eyes on them, those Smoky Mountains got to me.  They take my breath away every time I see them.  And for me, that's saying something.  Nearly every day, driving to and from work, I think to myself, "I live in the most beautiful place in the country!"  And now, it's being destroyed by fire.  At least parts of it.

If you're a praying person, I'd like to ask for your prayers.  If' you don't pray, then just send good thoughts up.  Just last night, we've finally had a small amount of rain but more is desperately needed in order to really get a handle on all these fires.

Oh - and one more thing: They (authorities) suspect most of these fires were started by arsonists.  Yes, really.  What?  Who does that kind of thing?  We've either got one very determined fire bug or a lot of really sick people who would rather see beautiful things destroyed than lifted up and protected.  In my opinion, our world as we know it, is on the brink of destruction anyway.  Why speed up the process?

TTFN
JMS

Monday, November 21, 2016

Booker T. & The Tiny Furry Dictator

Boo, in all his glory
You guys remember Booker T. Jet Black Alley Cat, right?  Well, Boo (his affectionate nickname) has become a wonderful member of our family.  He's fat and happy and such a love bug!

Still not going into details about all the "Everything" that's been going on lately (not there yet, emotionally) you already know we've got Gammy's cat, Wendy, and are trying diligently to integrate her into our household.

First nose-to-nose
There have been some mild bouts of Kitty Fisticuffs between the two, but there really haven't been any major issues.  Like I said before, Booker seems pretty chill about having Wendy around.  He's interested.  He likes to know where she is and sometimes wanders the hallway crying until she comes to investigate why he's being vocally obnoxious.  Fisticuffs ensue.  Wendy, on the other hand, has now been dubbed The Tiny Furry Dictator.  Boy Child calls her "The Instigator" - which is also correct.  She starts "it" every time.  Boo isn't sure whether he's coming or going, but when she's hiding, he looks for her.

Last night at 10:30 the two of them spent quite a while chasing each other up and down our back hallway.  Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa!  She's 8 lbs.  He's 20 lbs.  They're like a herd of elephants!  Any parent of multiple cats (#joysofcatparenthood) understands what this sounds like.  And most of the time, any parent of multiple cats can tune out the running back and forth and general sounds of play.  Even mild Kitty Fisticuffs.  But when the fisticuffs become a full on screamer of a fight, it wakes everyone up in a hurry!  Yeah - that happened.  Poor Boy Child got genuinely freaked out, never having heard a legitimate scream from a cat before.  It is, admittedly, a bit terrifying, even if you know what it is!  Girl Child slept through it.  (And before you ask, yes, I checked them over.  No one got hurt.)

The Tiny Furry Dictator with her favorite minion, Girl Child
So, while I'm absolutely thrilled to be a multiple cat household (I've dreamt of this day for a long time!) I'm not enjoying being a referee to two furry toddlers who cannot share a toy.

He eats her food. She smacks him and sends him running down the hall.  He hides.  She finds him.  He chases her back down the hall the other way.  She runs and hides under my bed, where he can't reach her because he's really too big.  He sits in the hallway and cries and makes concerned sounds until she comes out from under the bed.  Then they both sit and stare at each other for a while until one of them decides they just have to move.  Then the chasing starts again.

She uses his litterbox and I am sure she does it because she knows he's too big to fit into hers.  It's a small win for female kitty kind everywhere, right?

Spoiled Fur Child
She has a pink pillow on Girl Child's bed that we call the Royal Throne because it is from this vantage point which she watches the goings on.  Near litterbox and food.  Defending her territory.

Boo is spoiled so I think he's probably feels like we've added an interloper into his domain (which we have) and probably feels mildly threatened.  Except, being of such a non-violent nature, he's not sure what to do when The Tiny Furry Dictator lays down the law.  Usually he can't figure out what he's done and comes to me to cry and snuggle.  Goober.

Anyway, it's been (and will continue to be) an adventure.  I know that it can take a LONG time for cats to truly accept each other, but I'd forgotten about the struggles in the meantime.  I have no doubt they'll get there, but for now, please wish me (and my family) hours of uninterrupted sleep.

TTFN
JMS

Friday, November 11, 2016

Catching up with Tangent

Wait!  What?  I haven't posted anything since MAY?  You're kidding, right?

Um...apparently not.

There's just been SO MUCH happening and I haven't felt like writing.  I still don't feel like writing.  And, quite frankly, you won't really want to hear anything I have to say anyway.

Booker T. Jet Black Alley Cat (affectionately "Boo" for short) is awesome and has become a real member of the family.  His Glorious Fuzziness is such a wonderful addition and so much fun.  He is friends to adults and kids alike.  But he is my special buddy.

Recently, we added (maybe temporarily, maybe permanently) Gammy's cat, Wendy.  Without going into detail about the whys and wherefores, we are still in the Kitty Integration Phase.  There are twice-daily supervised visits between them and we're still dealing with the hissy-pissy, grumble and groan phase of things.  Once all the vocal whining stops - and they stop taking half-hearted swipes at each other - we'll let her out of quarantine.  She's a little instigator.  Boo is kind of chill about the whole thing and, truth be told, probably kinda likes her.  He's at least interested.  Unless he's pretending to be disinterested.  It's been a journey.

There's so much other stuff, but I have decided to keep this light.  Once I have the emotional capacity to delve deeper, I'll share.  But not right now.

Stay tuned?

TTFN
JMS

PS: Sorry for the hiatus.  I've missed you guys!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Nag, nag, nag...


There's a saying that goes something like this: 'The hardest thing about being on a diet is shutting up about it."

I get that.  No one really wants to hear about what a pain in the butt it is to lose weight or your trials and tribulations toward a healthier (happier?) you.  Really – just eat the silly rabbit food and move on with your day.

Here's my (similar, yet not) saying: "The hardest part about giving your kids chores to do is waiting to see if the chores will get done without you having to nag the crap out of the kids."

The answer?  Nope.  They really won't do it if you don't bug them.

Therefore, please do not tell me to stop nagging because, aside from royally ticking me off, if I don't strongly encourage a thing to be done - with frustrating regularity - nothing (and I do mean nothing) will get done. Ever.


***

I decided it was finally time to start bribing…um…I mean giving my kids an allowance.  But, before you start wondering why I would do that if they're not doing anything, let me explain.

Boy child has a chart and a set of chores to do daily, and he gets a set amount of money (a small amount) per chore, per day.  He has the ability to earn up to $8.00 a week.  Boy child has been making a concerted – and voluntary – effort to get all his chores done before going to bed and seems to be excited about the prospect of earning a little bit of money.

Girl child also has a chart and a set of chores – same rules apply – and she has the ability to earn up to $6.00 a week.  (Different, age-appropriate chores + different kiddos = different allowance earnings.)  I do not anticipate she will earn the entire amount each week because she's not particularly enthused about the whole thing.  She does like the idea of being able to earn a little bit of money, but does not like the idea of having to do anything to get it. I have one word for you: Lazy. 

Bottom line – and they both know this – is that they must do the work or they do not get paid.  Also, mommy and daddy are not allowed to assist – their chores must be done by them.  The chores are not hard, and every single one of them is completely attainable – they just need to “buckle down” (I loathe that phrase, but it fits) and do the work.

So, I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. I'm not holding my breath, though.  Wish me luck, will ya?

(I wonder if a chore chart for hubby would work?  Kinda like a honey-do list, only with regular, daily chores – and he wouldn’t get paid.  No?  Yeah…I thought not.  Was worth a try.)

TTFN

JMS

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

So...this happened.


I've already posted this on Facebook, so I'm sure that most of you already know about our new furry family member.  Introducing Booker T. Alley Cat.  Jet Black Alley Cat, that is. 

Fun Facts:

1) We adopted him on Friday the 13th.  What better time (in my opinion) to adopt a black cat?

2) He's 15.5 pounds.  The shelter folks said he was probably about 17 pounds, but then I weighed him.  Well, I weighed myself and then hefted the cat and did the math.  He's 15.5 pounds.

3) He's solid black.  Ok, so he's got a few white hairs on his belly (like 7 of them) and has a few white strays salted (ha ha) throughout his pepper.  But he's definitely a black cat.

4) He loves head bumps.  I love his head bumps.  This is how he says, "I love you!"

5) Did I mention he's huge?  We got a window seat thingy for him really, it's probably too small for him.  If he stretches while he's on it, he extends significantly on both sides.

6) He's great with the kiddos and the kiddos are great with him.  I'll see a kid walk by the bedroom door and a second later I'll see the cat following the kid, close on his or her heels.

7) He no longer has to live in a too-small cage eating next to his litter box and getting no love at all.

8) Part of his name (Jet Black Alley Cat) is for our nephew Zach's band of the same name.  They're awesome!  (Go to YouTube and search Jet Black Alley Cat - then listen carefully and share extensively!)

We're all very excited!

That is all.

You may now return to your regularly-scheduled...uh...whatever-it-is-you-were-doing-before-you-found-this-post.

TTFN
JMS

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Pouring my heart out -OR- Feeling sorry for myself


I'm trying to get back into the swing of things…like actually writing occasionally, even though I really don't want to because the words don’t come like they used to.

It used to be that I could be doing something normal and mundane and a sentence or a thought or a snippet of a story would pop into my head and I would turn it over and over until I finally got someplace where I could write it down so I wouldn't forget it.  Now, those sentences, thoughts, and snippets are quiet.

I'm OK with it, really, though I do miss the creativity.

I'm kinda broken right now and I don't know how to fix myself.  Oh, yeah – outwardly no one would really know anything is wrong, but my family does.  My husband feels it.  My kids feel it.  So I try - I really do try - but I fail.  A lot.  I try to be OK for them, but how can I be OK for them when I’m not OK for me?

So I push forward one day at a time.  One restless, more-often-than-not sleepless, night at a time.  And I get up the next day when my alarm goes off, because, let's face it…if I don't, I'm not getting up at all.  So the alarm starts yelling at me and I get up, I shower, I brush my teeth and dry my hair and make sure I’m wearing clean clothes.  And I go to work and get through my day with as much professionalism as I can muster and even that is hard, though I love my job.

I love my family.

And there are so many things that I need that I'm not getting.  And it's hard to know I'm responsible for teaching these lessons which once taught, need to be retaught and retaught and retaught until I'm so frustrated I could scream.  What am I doing wrong?

And, I don't know how to get a certain person to understand that lying and manipulation are not the ways to get what you want and that no means no, it doesn’t mean argue about it until I'm so worn out I finally just don't care anymore or remember the reason I said no in the first place and now they feel like they’ve won and I've taught them no lesson at all.

And, I don't know how to get a certain other person to understand that laziness doesn’t mean eventually I will do it because I'm sick of looking at it.  It means that if I do it, you’re going to lose it permanently and then you're really going to be unhappy. 

Or, if I take the time to do your laundry and you dump what I've carefully washed, dried, folded, and left on your bed for you to put away in an unfolded heap on top of your dresser or shoved into drawers in a wrinkled mess and then you say to me, "I didn't know!" or "At least they're in the drawer," and then you get mad at me when I hold your clothes hostage and tell you that you can have one outfit back for every ten minutes you work in your room (because to me, that's clever and a great way to teach a lesson) and you call me and my methods stupid and unfair and are hateful to me and cry thinking it's going to change my mind.  How about I just don't ever do your laundry for you?  I'm not above making you go to school naked.  (Ok, not that last thing…)

And, I don't know how to get a certain other person to understand I need them to actually talk to me, tell me what's going on and give me a game plan so I don't feel like I'm flying blind all the time and then have them get mad at me when I am unable to read their mind.  Or, how about just helping around the house on a regular basis instead of watching television all day?  That would be awesome, too.

I'm feeling used and angry and kind of like wrung out wet socks…

So, I guess the words do come, but they're not particularly nice words right now. 

And yeah, I guess if you want to you can pray for me or light a candle for me or send a healing word or two out into the ether for me – and that's all wonderful, and I am grateful for them – but I need real help.  The kind of help words just don't cover.

Am I feeling sorry for myself?  Maybe a little bit.  Am I walking around with a chip on my shoulder feeling resentful and angry more often than not?  Absolutely.  Am I taking it out on those around me because I don't feel like anyone cares enough to ask me what's wrong and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT when I tell them what's bothering me?  Most likely.  

I know.  I suck right now.  And I'm sorry.

TTFN
JMS