roundabout stop…

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Over the past three months, we’ve been living in a shared community of germs. Whether my kids are passing the flu to one another or a nasty cold, no matter what we’ve tried, we’ve been unsuccessful at eradicating those shared nasty germs. Last week the boy stayed home from school, suffering from a cold and going through two full boxes of tissues in the process. “Bay, seriously, you couldn’t have gone through all these tissues in one sitting,” I complained. “Mom, I can’t stand to have a stuffy nose, so I am constantly blowing, trying to clear those nasal passages,” He explained. Meanwhile, I made a note to buy more tissues to cover the spread… literally.

We’re under the impression the boy caught his cold from his sister, who happily told him, “Ha, sucks to be you,” When he complained to her about it. However, not two days later, the doll’s cough had deepened and the once almost eradicated cold came back with a vengeance.  “Karma, doll…” The boy said as he handed her his box of tissue and was rewarded with his sister sticking her tongue out of her mouth.

“I firmly believe the carpeting is the culprit,”  I complained to my husband. When our first dog passed away, we were going to install new carpeting, but didn’t have the money to do so.  Now ten years later and another dog who has accidents, I think that carpet is full of toxins that are hurting all of us.” “Perhaps, or they could be bringing it home from school,” He argued and so we tabled our decision until last weekend, when the doll’s cold had ramped back up and now all of us were fighting off a cold. “It has to be the carpeting,” I began argued again, “We can’t seem to get all the germs out of the house, regardless how well we clean. I think if we get these allergens out of the house, we’ll have a better opportunity to get well and stay well…”

So yesterday, while we both coughed and blew noses from the colds our children shared with us, we finally pulled the trigger, driving across town and ordering the materials needed to put hardwood flooring throughout our first floor. The only painful moment came when the samples the salesman gave me to take home, decided a sliver in my right index finger would be a good introduction. As such, I hope that darn sliver (so tiny it remains lodged in my finger) isn’t a harbinger of things to come with our new flooring.

When we arrived home, we were met by the doll who wondered what he had been up to, asking “Where have you two been?” “We went out and purchased new flooring for the main floor…” I replied and was met with an enthusiastic answer, “Thank GOD!!” Yes, my sentiments exactly!

 

Empty heads….

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With thanks to Harvey yesterday, I was able to post a blog, but short of complaining how easily my kids eat our monthly supply of data, before the month ends…I really have nothing new to write. Have I mentioned before how boring my children have become?

Since they won’t give me anything good to write about, I’ve been forced to create some false drama, hoping to liven things up. For instance, the other day when I arrived to pick the kids up from school, I happened to notice the doll’s friend “J” waiting for his ride. A silly thought popped into my head, What if you were to jump out and introduce yourself to him? The doll would be mortified! “Yes she would,” I giggled aloud to myself.

By the time both kids reached the car, “J” was gone and I decided to have a little fun with my daughter. “How was your day?” I asked and she replied, “Ugh, okay,” though her exasperated tone told me more. “Well, so long as it was okay…” I said with a sarcastic undertone, before adding, “Oh, hey, your friend “J” was sitting out here waiting for his ride when I pulled up…” “Oh?” She said, turning around to look where he mighty have been standing. “Yeah and I thought, ‘You know what? I should introduce yourself to him…'” “Mooommm!” Came the doll’s lamented cry. “But I didn’t…” I said with a laugh. “Thank God! My high school friends have not been adequately prepared to meet my parents yet,” She exclaimed. “What? What does that mean?” I replied laughing. “Just what I said…” She replied and then tried changed the subject. “Hmm, me thinks I need to become more proactive in your high school life…” I said only half joking. “Please don’t,” She replied while I laughed and plotted my next move (yet appreciative that she did ask nicely saying “Please”).

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Hmm, now, once I think of that next move, I’ll let you know…

boots and socks..

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Have you ever worn a pair of boots that systematically pulled your socks down to your toes, with each step? While in New York last month, I experienced this phenomenon and I can tell you what a frustrating and inconvenience this can be. In fact, at the time, after stopping to pull the sock up numerous times I finally stopped, removed my foot from my boot and removed that offending sock, before putting the boot back on and continuing our walk. Now you have an idea of the many frustrations I’ve felt these past few days, trying to pull a blog out the never reaches of my mind. Plenty of story ideas flowing out, but instead of holding firm, they’ve pooled down at the bottom, offering no relief, just a simple inconvenience.

Yesterday, while visiting with Mrs. K, we decided, in lieu of venturing out into the lousy weather outside, we would watch an entertaining movie after lunch. This is quite a feat, in that, Mrs. K owns not a television nor internet service for streaming. Thus, I cart my laptop, an external disc drive and a set of old Bose computer speakers over to her house any time we watch a movie. Yesterday, we decided to treat ourselves to a feast of amusement with the film Harvey, starring James Stewart and his 6’3/4″ buddy, er bunny, friend.

 

 

 

“This used to be my doll’s favorite movie,” I said, adding, “Every time we held a sleepover, she would ask me to rent the darn thing, so her friends could delight in the joy Harvey brought to the screen. That is until one of her friends said the movie caused her to have nightmares…” I recalled. “A nightmare? Whatever brought her to that conclusion?” She wondered. “Well, for some odd reason, her friend is terrified of bunnies–in any form. The mere thought that Harvey happened to be not only a bunny, but one that was 6′ 3/4″ tall,  terrified her…” I explained while she giggled. “So, in effect, her friend was terrified of the invisible whimsical, mischievous Pooka.”

We both smiled at the ridiculousness of the scenario and then harked back to some of the many nuggets of wisdom interspersed throughout that wonderful film and how they pertain to my neck of the woods.

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me. 

How many of us struggle daily with being pleasant instead of smart in this day and age of Social media barbarism? I think being pleasant is the better road to hoe and I will endeavor to do so from now on… hopefully my doll remembers this nugget the rest of her life.

Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.

In light of recent developments in our popular culture, I think winning over reality sounds like a wonderful idea…

I took a course in art last winter. I learnt the difference between a fine oil painting, and a mechanical thing, like a photograph. The photograph shows only the reality. The painting shows not only the reality, but the dream behind it. It’s our dreams, doctor, that carry us on. They separate us from the beasts. I wouldn’t want to go on living if I thought it was all just eating, and sleeping, and taking my clothes off, I mean putting them on…

What a beautiful acknowledgment that dreams are really what makes our lives worthwhile…

I am not artistic. On average (with the exception of my current writer’s block) I can write some small stories about my family, but I can’t draw a stick figure to save my soul. My doll on the other hand, has begun to explore her artistic side, drawing and painting using all types of paints, papers and canvases. “How does this look?” She’ll ask me mid creation and I always reply, “Fine, this looks fine or beautiful, etc.” I think the next time she asks, I’ll look deeper into the picture so I  can see the dream behind her vision and hope I’m on the right track.

Harvey and I sit in the bars… have a drink or two… play the juke box. And soon the faces of all the other people they turn toward mine and they smile. And they’re saying, “We don’t know your name, mister, but you’re a very nice fella.” Harvey and I warm ourselves in all these golden moments. We’ve entered as strangers – soon we have friends. And they come over… and they sit with us… and they drink with us… and they talk to us. They tell about the big terrible things they’ve done and the big wonderful things they’ll do. Their hopes, and their regrets, and their loves, and their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar. And then I introduce them to Harvey… and he’s bigger and grander than anything they offer me. And when they leave, they leave impressed. The same people seldom come back; but that’s envy, my dear. There’s a little bit of envy in the best of us.

Yes, there is a little envy in all of us. Thankfully, Harvey and Elwood are pleasant sorts, who help us see, feel better and open our eyes a little wider with greater hope for our future.

I strongly recommend a (many) viewing(s) today.

 

doll the critic…

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The other day the doll grabbed my iPhone and disappeared while I was making dinner. “OMG MOM!! WHY???”  “What?” I replied unaware of why she was yelling at me this time. “Why did you write that J was my crush?? I mean seriously, he has a girlfriend!” The doll yelled. “Oh, were you reading my blogs?” “Answer the question,” she returned, looking mortified. “Well, considering I wrote that blog some time (2 months) ago…” I began, “and I only used his first initial, I didn’t think that would cause much harm. Besides, you’re having a crush is ‘cute'” I added. “MOM! That is so not cool!” She shot back. “Doll, I’m pretty positive his parents don’t read my blog and neither does anyone else who actually KNOWS him. Chill…” I tried. “You are not allowed to write about me anymore,” She said setting my phone down on the counter. “Sorry doll, having given birth to, housed and supported you all these years, by parental and God’s rights, I’ll be writing about you when I’m old and decrepit–“The doll didn’t call me again today….” I said imitating an older woman’s tone with my voice. “Keep this up and I’ll never call you…” She replied, then turned to leave the room.

“Oh doll…?” I asked after her, “What?” She sharply replied, “What did you think of my other blogs–in between?” I asked. Nodding her head from left to right she said, “Not bad, some of the topics I completely forgot about and they made me smile,” She said. “So, only one really embarrassing blog-for you, out of the bunch?” I asked. Sizing me up with a look she replied, “More or less…” “DAMMIT!!” I replied and was met with the mother of all stares from my daughter, “What’s wrong with you?” She asked. Laughing I replied, “Not a damn thing…” accompanying my reply with a shrug while a big wide evil grin crossed my face.

inclusion and love…

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One of the many joys I’ve experienced lately has been listening to other people describe my son, to me. I’m sure I am not alone in enjoying hearing good things said about their children, but my son has overcome so much these past six years, even he recognizes the differences between then and now. “Mom, when I look back at who I was in sixth grade, I cringe,” He’s told me numerous times. The other day, while ruminating on the differences between then and now he added,  “I was so serious….” I smiled, remembering just how serious he was and all the difficulties he had with his peers. “Bay, Middle school is a difficult time regardless who you are.  But truth be told, at that time, you had not been taught any coping skills. In addition, your Father and I were ill equipped to help a kid on a spectrum, because we refused to see a spectrum in you. In fact, if anything, you were a product of frustration stemming from inept parents,”  I replied. “Aw Mom, don’t be so hard on yourself…” He said, before adding, “Actually Dad’s always been pretty perceptive…” “Oh Gee, thanks, bud…” I replied and then accepted a conciliatory hug from him in exchange.

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On Thanksgiving and Christmas, many family members made a point of telling me how much they enjoyed the boy’s inclusion and interactions with them. “He’s really come out of his shell,” my sister Ann mentioned. “Marsh, he’s such an affable young man, who knew?”an in-law mentioned. My brother Chris, who gave the boy and I a ride home early Christmas Morning, referenced a conversation we overheard between the boy and his son, Patrick, when Patrick’s girlfriend Katie happened to mention that one of her room mates was a man. “Oh, he’s a good guy, Patrick began, “You know, someone I can trust with my…” That’s when the boy interrupted and said, “You mean, the type of guy you’re not worried about knacking your girl?” “Yes, exactly,” Patrick replied with a laugh. “Knacking?” I remarked as we all burst into laughter (the boy included) at the his astute? use of the English language (or maybe not; it was late). “Marsha-the boy is so smart and funny and he knows it!” He remarked.

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Then last night, I attended a meeting at his high school arriving a few minutes early. As I walked into the front gym, I approached a table where stacks of paper had been set and a young man stood busying himself at the table. “Hi, is this where Senior parents are supposed to meet?” I asked  “Yes, your name?” He asked. “Marsha….” The young man looked up at me and asked, “Are you the boy’s mom?” I smiled and replied, “Yesss,”cautiously. “Hello, I’m Mr. Rolf, the boy’s religion teacher….” “Oh, hello,” I returned. “Your son is so great. I really enjoy him. He’s one of the most engaging students in the school, well at least in my class anyways,” He explained. Nodding. I said, “Oh good! He is a good talker,” then wondered if I should say anything else to say, but was saved when his Newspaper teacher overheard Mr. Rolf’s exclamation and added, “He’s engaging in Newspaper too, I hope he likes the class…” “Oh, he loves writing for the paper. Ultimately he’d like to be a writer, and your class is giving him an opportunity to learn different writing skills,” I said as she nodded and replied, “I’m glad to hear this.” A few minutes later, the college counselor approached and together we began talking about his possible future plans. “I know he’s worried about going away to school…” She mentioned before quickly adding, “But, you know, if he were the same kid who walked into this school four years ago, there is no way we’d be having this conversation”. “Yes, he’s really grown here…” I returned. “To be perfectly honest, I was so worried for him his Freshman year, but, he’s really matured, opened himself up and I think is ready to face the world…” Nodding along, I added, “From your lips to God’s ears…” and we both smiled. “Always to God’s ears,” She replied before we parted company.

When I arrived home last night, full of love and hope for his future, I knocked on his bedroom door, opened and said, “Hey, I talked with a student who turned out to be your…” He interrupted and said, “Oh, you met Mr. Rolf.” and then laughed adding, “Yes, we tease him mercilessly about how young he appears to be”. “Well, what I’d like to know is what have you been putting in the water over there…?” Giving me a curious look in reply I added, “Well every teacher that I talked with tonight were nothing but complimentary about you…’He’s very engaging, He’s very well liked… blah blah blah…Who ya bribing bay?”  Smiling he simply replied, “It’s just my charming and affable personality helped along by my exceedingly good looks”.  From the other room the doll overhearing me added, “More boy fans–gag!” Our smiles met one another as I said, “Well, whatever you’re doing, keep doing,” and then reached out, gave him a quick hug, before exiting the room.

Ah, life is good!

 

hard lessons aren’t all bad…

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“Well, I’ve learned my lesson,” the doll said with a rejected tone, “never attach a gift card to my iPhone”. Looking as she stood up to leave the kitchen, I said, “Wait a minute… let’s see if we can fix this…”

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“Mom, something is wrong with this darn iPhone, it won’t accept my gift card,” She said. “What are you talking about?” I wondered. “For Christmas, I attached the Visa gift card Uncle E gave me, so I could download some music, but they’re telling me the card is invalid,” She explained. “How much do you have left on the card?” I asked and she shrugged. “Thankfully, there are websites that will tell you…” I said and a few minutes later, the site revealed she had $8.52 cents left from $100.00. “What the….?” She said.

“Okay, here are the purchases…” I said, as an itemized list appeared. “Okay, two purchases at Amazon, and two on iTunes totaling $57.00”. “I never made those purchases on iTunes. Heck I’m not even sure what they are…” She complained. “Okay, let’s open the email file you have attached to your iTunes account,” I said handing her the laptop. A minute later, we found the purchases. Looking shocked, she said, “Mom, I never bought those”. “Doll, do you ever check this email?” I wondered. “No, that’s my throwaway account for solicitors,” She replied. “Because here they are, posted the day of purchase…” I said pointing at the in-game app purchases. “Mom, I’m telling you, I never purchased those and even if I did, I should have some record on my game,” She said, pulling up the game App on her iPhone and searched for evidence. “Regardless baby, they’re right here…” I said pointing at the emails, even though I knew how frustrating my answer was for her.

“Just forget it, I guess I learned a hard lesson…” She said, sadly. “Hang on,” I replied then called Apple support for help. “Yes, my doll entered a Visa gift card into her iTunes account and we’ve found some unusual charges on her card,” I explained.  An hour and a half later, after talking with four different technicians, Apple thankfully resolved the issue with a full refund. As was explained to me, “Since this is the first time you’ve ever called in for a return claim, we’ll help you in this matter, and offer you some steps to prevent this from happening in the future,” the supervisor said. Together, we reset her iTunes account and set up restrictions for game Apps access to any future monies she applies to her account.

“Next time you want to purchase music, buy an iTunes card with set limits, okay?” I implored. “Nodding she replied, “Oh I will,” then leaned in and gave me a hug. “I can’t believe you got the money back!” She added. “Because we were sincere and honest,” I replied and returned the hug, then added, “Plus, it never hurts to ask”.

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oh very young…

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I was listening to old Cat Stevens music, the other night and particularly enjoyed the song, Oh Very Young, which currently pertains to my seventeen year old son….”Oh very young what will you leave us this time, you’re only dancin’ on the earth a short while…” as he prepares himself for college. Yesterday, I made him sit down and fill out online scholarship requests for one of the universities he’s interesting in attending. “I guess this means I’m going there…” He said, rather sullen. “Bay, this only means you’re applying for scholarships. This says nothing about committing there. But honestly, this school has been soliciting you hard for the last month–which means they want you there. You liked the campus when we visited, your dad and I liked the size of the teacher to student ratio (1400 students) and campus size, not to mention their work study program. What’s wrong with seeing what else monetarily they have to offer?” “I just don’t want to limit my opportunities,” He replied. “Nothing says we will, however, with each university there are hoops to dance through and around to get the best offer. So, we or rather you, need to start dancing…”

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In regards to the blog I wrote yesterday, the boy took my advisement to heart, walked into the doll’s bedroom and declared what jobs she had to do versus what he was going to do. She took one look at the list and cried foul!!!  Much like I knew she would.  Then together, they both surprised me. Not only was the kitchen clean and dusted, but the living room had been too. The real shocker came when I found all the Christmas decorations, including the tree had been taken down and put away as well. “Mom, I also cleaned the bathroom toilet-which wasn’t on the chore list,” The doll added. “Good, that toilet needed to be cleaned…” I remarked. “Oh yes it did,” She returned with a gushing smile. In addition, both kids seemed very proud their time together was amiable,  “I sang while I cleaned…” The boy happily announced. “I needed to commandeer your Tap so I could drown out his horrible singing, from the kitchen,” The doll countered. “Regardless, you both did a great job, thank you.”

Then they really surprised me… “Sure Mom,” The doll said and  “Anytime,” The boy added.

Hmm, I believe I’ve created a good harmonious monster, one that needs to be employed more often.

Bwahahaha