Monthly Archives: January 2015

the artist….

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IMG_1997We all have creative abilities which manifest in different ways. I write; how well depends on the new grammarly app I applied to all my writing stations; an app, which I hate by the way; and how you all receive the blog. My husband used to draw, more as a hobby, less anything else. But has since taken up searching endlessly online for houses to think about purchasing, as his creative outlet. The boy, whose imagination knows no bounds, has started and stopped writing more books than even I know… Although, if you ask his sister,  he’s most creative when tormenting her. The doll, however, will tell you she’s an untalented shrew.

I can tell you she is lying.

Recently one of her online groups decided to host a  “draw something a day” contest for their members. The idea was to draw something and then post the picture online.  As you might imagine, her self-confidence prevented her from participating fully in the contest, regardless what praise her father and I heaped upon her. However, we were blessed to see two of her creations–a self-portrait and that of a fox. “Mom I can’t visualize the subject on their own…I need a picture to copy” she explained holding up a photograph of a fox she’d gotten online.  “Doll, most art classes revolve around looking at something and then drawing from your perspective.” I said and she gave me a wistful smile in return.IMG_2004

The other day I asked her to draw me a sketch of the boy, using a picture I sent to her iP0d and she’s yet to begin. “Mom that’s just going to take a huge amount of inspiration to want to draw his ugly mug” she informed. “Just do your best” I replied with a laugh and a slight pat on her shoulder. “If nothing else, the exercise will be good for your technique” I added. “Why do you want this?” she asked. “So I have one of both of you…” I said hoping she’d say yes. “I’ll think about it..” Was all she said and I’m left here wondering, waiting and hoping.

 

 

 

 

writers block…

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IMG_2086My kids have been…boringly normal lately. Nothing has struck me funny in a way in which I can write about. So that leaves me with a bit of a conundrum. What the hell to write about? My iPhone recently has been complaining about, not having any storage which makes me sad. I’m going to have to delete some pictures; maybe even all of them, so I can begin collecting new ones. The thing is, I enjoy having pictures in my pocket to pull out at a moment’s notice to show folks or be reminded of trips I’ve been on. Yet I suppose, since we are in a new year, a new set of pictures should be the focus.

IMG_2083But before I hit delete…. I thought I’d show you some pictures I’ve taken throughout the year, hoping to use for writer block blogs, but never got around to writing. For instance, take our dog Dixie. This girl loves my husband, following him wherever he goes. She is most definitely HIS dog. But all of a sudden, she began to display the same scared behavior usually reserved for thunderstorms-nervous, shaking and most curious of all, curling up next to me, afraid of her upstairs bedroom. For days we wondered what was making her behave in such a way. Then my husband realized, an app he downloaded to help him fall asleep at night (wind chimes and sounds of the outdoors) was the cause of her “freak-out”. Tell me, do they make noise reducing headphones for scaredy-cat type dogs?

Like the way Orlando, Florida goes about trying to get you to buy a T-shirt. If a regular building doesn’t sell you on the idea, how about a giant orange or if you’re not fruit inclined, how about Elvis. Why we even saw Uncle Sam out hawking wares. I guess whoever has the best gimmick makes the most sales-versus whoever sells the best stuff.

 

IMG_2085Then there is the case of how many photos do I need of the same sunrise in Daytona Beach, FL? Nevermind, that I was up before 6 am, walking on the beach for exercise and the sunrise, was simply a perk that went along with the hike. But seriously, why I needed 37 pictures of essentially the same photo is beyond me. I suppose I could argue that the button on my iPhone got stuck…which might explain a few of the photos…but not all 37. Well, if nothing else, this was a pretty sunrise.

So the time has now arrived to hit delete…or goodbye to the year just past and hello to the potential photos of 2015. Let’s just hope I have even better perspectives this year.

 

 

 

 

History lessons….

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Life is in a constant state of flux, whether we want to believe this or not. My son hates change. His sister doesn’t like it much either but understands and doesn’t resist much. But he fights hard against anything that could potentially mess up his routine; the little world he’s made for himself. He perceives change as taking away from who he’s meant to be and his willingness to fight against change, can be infuriating to me at times. Why can’t he see “change” is inevitable whether we like it or not?  Going with the flow is so much easier than offering resistance.

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To be fair, I can pinpoint the exact place, day, and time, when my life took a dramatic turn and everything, changed for me (even though I was unaware of that at the time). Long before I was married and had children, I was struggling with my identity. I didn’t know if I was moving forward or backward. My long term goals for my life were skewed. I found myself not planning for a career or life, but rather floating along without much care in my future world. My only true goal was to find a good man to marry, settle down and raise kids. That was the world I painted for myself. All this schooling was just me biding my time until that happened.

When I began college, my original plan was to become a teacher. I loved history and thought I could become a great high school History teacher. After one-quarter of history in college, I wondered if history really was all that interesting, considering I slept through much of the class. After participating in three student-teaching exercises at area schools, I came to the conclusion, teaching just wasn’t for me. I did not have the discipline to make a teaching plan day in and day out. I was lazy and didn’t really want to work all that hard. By the time January of 1986 arrived, I had burned out on school. The man I was in love with was unaware–because again, being lazy covered all aspects of my life and I needed a break from school, a break from me and a dose of reality. So I dropped out of school for winter quarter and began working full time at Best Products; an area department store.

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On the morning of Tuesday January 28, the space shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after take-off, killing every passenger on board. I don’t remember if I saw original broadcast, when this happened. But that didn’t really matter. Almost every television channel we had kept replaying that sad event over and over again so they could analyze, scrutinize and try to determine what possibly went wrong.

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I was still living with my parents then and had to be to work at 3 pm. My dad and sister Ann Marie would be coming home for lunch around noon, and decided I would make them some grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. My mom had a shopping list and was preparing to go to the grocery store. “Marsha, your Aunt Nonie is still upstairs. Could you make sure she eats some lunch before you leave?” My mom had asked. Two weeks earlier, my 86 yr old much-beloved aunt had moved in with us, after displaying signs of dementia. “Sure, we have enough cheese” I replied.

About 1 pm,  I stuck my head inside her room and asked if she was hungry for lunch. Making her way downstairs to the kitchen and sitting down at the table, I slid a plate containing the sandwich and some chips in front of her, along with some hot tea and then continued getting ready for work. “What is going on here?” She asked as the kitchen television replayed the events of the day. “Oh, yeah, the space shuttle Challenger blew up this morning, killing all their passengers,” I replied. She immediately began to cry and began praying for the poor souls on board. I turned off the TV.

An hour later, my aunt had moved into the family room, where instead of her daily stories shimmering off the television screen, the Challenger tragedy continued to play ad nauseam. I was talking to a friend on the phone when my aunt called out my name and changed my life. Entering the room, she complained she was going to be sick. Dear God, I poisoned her with the grilled cheese sandwich, I thought. Running off to find her something to vomit into, I made one mistake after another. When I finally returned (a few short minutes later) she had already vomited and was now complaining of pain running down her arm from her chest.

A classic signal for a heart attack. I was screwed!

Well, not really. While running around for that something she could vomit into, I had called my dad. He called a rescue squad to the house and my sister Ann called our oldest sister Terri to come and assist. But I felt so all alone in that moment and I wondered if I was going to end up hating my Aunt Nonie for putting me through all this. I knew this was not her intention, but the irrational mind at times doesn’t care where the blame is placed. Instead, I blamed my God for putting me in this position, turned my back and basically walked away from Him–for years.

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Today when I look back on this horrible anniversary, I wonder why this was the day that changed my life so critically? Besides the obvious pain of losing someone (Aunt Nonie passed away 3 days later on Feb. 1) or turning my back on my God (I eventually reconciled my anger and came back to Him); what makes this day so much more important than all the days prior or since?

Because January 28, 1986 marked the first day of the journey to finding ME.

After taking that winter quarter off from school, I enrolled for Spring classes, ready and motivated to finish my degree. I took a good hard look at myself and put in the effort to find my love and work things out with him (and did). I got myself back on track. Even though, I wandered around for years wondering who I wanted to be when I grew up, I never stopped searching or turned down opportunities to find the answer (at 50, I’m still wondering).

Our history lessons show us that Tuesday, January 28, 1986 was a game-changing kind of day for our nation and our NASA space program. A day filled with our nation’s tears and sorrows. But also a day filled with promise, for my future to be grabbed.

Change ever present.

Is that yes, no, I don’t know or get lost?

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Three years ago, the boy temporarily quit talking in complete sentences, preferring to use only grunts, growls and groans to convey his wants and needs to his father’s and I. The doll took notes and has since, ratcheted up how she communicates with us. Instead of using the boy’s method forcing us to use our ears to decipher what message she’s trying to send, she’s decided to rely on inaudible, nonverbal cues.

That’s right. She has literally quit talking, preferring only to speak with shoulder shrugs, eye-rolls, and the occasional sideway nod. While this may seem like a great way to keep our household decibel levels to a minimum, her lack of vocal communication may leave open a wide door to misinterpretation which can raise the decibel levels as well.

Sigh.

“Doll, are you feeling okay?” I asked her the other night and was met with raised shoulders to a stationary head. Hmm is she saying she doesn’t know or something else?” I thought. “Are you bored?” This time she used one shoulder to convey her answer-bringing it forward and then back. “What?” I said aloud. “Marsh she’s saying she IS bored but is undecided if she wants to do anything about it…right?” Her father interjected. For a brief moment, the doll smiled back at him (which brought a triumphant look to his face. Oh brother!!) Before she returned to her sullen teenage look. “Huh..well alright then,” I said going back to what I was doing.

But when she wants us to be aware of something that displeases her, there is no mistaking the long heavy dramatic sigh she belts out. “Doll is something bothering you?” I ask, only to be met with the mother of all nonverbal replies: A dull stare accompanying front shoulder droops with a cocked head to the left. Her body displaying “Are you daft?” toward me.

There have been times when I’ve thought, two can play this game and in reply, raised both eyebrows while furrowing my brow. Hoping against hope, she’ll read my plea for her to return to the land of verbal language skills.  Instead, I’m met with her striking a pose/stance while crossing both arms in front of her body essentially conveying to me to”Get a life mom!”

I know someday I’ll eventually have the key to understanding all her nonverbal looks, stares, nods, glances and other miscellaneous body language postures. I also know by the time I have this key, she’ll have changed positions and gone back to speaking in complete and clear sentenses. One thing for sure is certain, the doll will be keeping us all on our toes for years to come.

 

 

 

 

sometimes a mother’s touch….

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This is the time in my doll’s life when she’s testing how close she wants us (parents) to be. “Mom I don’t like to give or accept hugs from anyone… well except maybe Emily because we’re like sisters. Even if someone touches my arm I tend to back away. I’d rather just keep my distance; keep to myself” She explained last night.

Our conversation came about as she prepared to go to bed after having had a bad day following a restless night of sleep. Knowing she had a bout of insomnia the night before, I decided to let her rest and sleep in. Yet when she awoke Sunday afternoon, she complained of feeling tireder, accompanied by a headache. “Mom it’s centered right here in my temple” she complained. “Did you drink any water yet today?” I asked and suggested she do so immediately. “I don’t want to give you any meds if you’re suffering from dehydration” I explained.

The water seemed to help dull the pain but did little to stop her from feeling off for much of the day. During dinner, she complained, “I’m not hungry, but I know I should eat” as she took one small bite after another and chewed slowly. “Do you still have a headache?” I asked. She nodded and continued trying to eat her dinner. “Does it feel like a sinus headache or not?” Pointing to her left temple, she said, “There is a dull ache right here and behind my eye. I can’t seem to shake it” she said. “How much water have you had today?” I asked her. “I had that one bottle a few ours ago” she explained and then took the bottle of water I handed her to drink. “Doll, you need to stay hydrated,” I informed. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t hesitate giving her some ibuprofen, but I really believed if she were properly hydrated her headache would have dissipated.

About an hour later, she entered the kitchen looking ghostly pale and declared, “Mom, I feel horrible…like I can’t breathe and I’m going to be sick. “Okay…” I said slowly, as I scanned her over. “What’s happening?” I asked. “My head is throbbing!” She said as tears began to form in her eyes. “Okay, time for the ibuprofen,” I said and retrieved the pill from the cupboard. After she swallowed the pill down I said, “The best thing to do is lay down, and close your eyes…” Noticing her hesitation at my suggestion, I said, “Or the two of us could sit on the couch together. You can cuddle into my side and I’ll massage your temple.” She thought for a moment and then nodded. Standing up, I led her into the living room, sat down and welcomed my doll into my waiting arms.

Noticing the oddity of the doll accepting this kind of help, her father asked, “What’s going on?” “She has a nasty headache…” I explained. “Doll have you had enough water today?” He asked. “Jeez what’s with all the water talk?” She asked before calculating she had not in fact had enough water for the day. No matter, she pushed into my body as I lightly pressed circles into her temple, only varying when she pointed to a new spot for me to try. After about 30 minutes, she lifted her head slowly and said, “Thanks, Mom, I’m feeling better now…” Not really wanting to relinquish our position, I asked, “Are you sure? I mean we can sit here a while longer if you’d like…” She smiled and then snuggled closer for a few more minutes before thanking me again, getting up and heading toward her bedroom.

The next time she emerged from her bedroom I asked, “How are you feeling now? Did my temple massage help?” Leaning against the wall with her arms crossed she said, “Yes, surprisingly they did..or I mean you did.” “Well good, I’m glad you weren’t too weirded out by the suggestion. I only know when I’ve had really bad headaches, getting a light massage in the area helps”.I said. “Yeah, I wasn’t sure I was going to say yes when you offered. I’m not a cuddly type of person. But I decided that it sounded better than lying by myself in bed suffering. At least I knew you were wanting to help me”. She said before turning and heading off to bed.

I smiled and nodded, feeling good about everything. She acknowledged even though she hadn’t said aloud “Sometimes her mother’s touch is still needed to help make all the ills go away”. Well, a mother’s touch coupled with some ibuprofen and lots of water..

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This morning she claimed to be headache free and to have slept much better, thank goodness.

 

 

 

tales from the sidelines…

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I love basketball.

My daughter has a love-hate relationship with the sport. She loves me; hates basketball.

“But you get to hang out with your friends at practice…” I reasoned with her. “Uh, but mom, I don’t like the game” She’s tried. “When I asked you if you wanted to play, you didn’t say no. In fact, you were wishy-washy about the whole thing.” I came back and received a groaned disapproval response; back to me.

Since the boy ran cross country in the fifth grade, I have been devoid of someone to root for from the sidelines. The doll ran (rather walked) cross country while in kindergarten and then declared all other sports to be boring-that is until Volleyball came around two years ago. Then in a move which surprised me completely, she asked if I would sign her up for basketball her sixth grade year. All my previous attempts to sign her up for my sport were met with the same band of resistance: “Mom, my nose is a ball magnet.” While she had a lot to learn and didn’t shatter any records when they played, she did come away with one solid truth. She did not like the sport of basketball in the least.

Regardless her lack of desire, never mind her dislike of the game, I signed her up to play basketball again this year.

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Most of the mom’s in the stands will tell you, I enjoy watching the game. I have worked really hard over the past two years, not to yell “GO DOLL!! or “NICE DEFENSE DOLL” or “YOU NEED GLASSES REF!!” so as to not embarrass her. “Hello… my name is not doll!!” She reminds, tho on occasions, “doll” does slip out. One of the mom’s last year asked if I would sit next to her for the remainder of the games, so the refs would throw me out, instead of her–for arguing calls.” Yes!! I love watching the game and cheering the girls on.

During the first game of the season, I was asked to record the game using the coach’s iPad. Unable to lower the volume, the coaches were instead met with my analysis of the game, including a large assortment of snarky comments. As I handed the device back to the coach I instructed, “Please have television on mute, during playback” Which of course he did not do. “You were right, I should have taken a timeout…” the coach said, the next time I saw him. “You weren’t supposed to listen to the snarky comments” I replied embarrassedly. “Are you kidding me..that was the best part”. The coach explained.

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A few weeks back the doll made a good play-either got a rebound or put up a good defense and I shouted, “Way to go!!” She turned and shot me a look that had it been loaded with knives, would have eviscerated me. All the mom’s around me laughed and said “Ohhh, Lord,  you’re dead!” I couldn’t help but laugh as well;  my doll has some great killer looks when she wants them.

Last night I sat inside a chilly gym watching my doll’s team scrimmage another. I was pleasantly surprised to see her put up a shot and make the basket. She also attempted another shot and pulled in a couple of rebounds. For my part, I stayed on my best behavior keeping my mouth shut, engaging in conversation with another parent and pretending not to watch. “You know I’ve noticed in the last few games, your doll is playing with a lot more confidence and making some good plays” The other mother said to me. “Yes her coach texted me the other day and said the same thing. He also told me he’s starting her at their next game”. “Seeing how she’s playing right now, she’s earned that position”. She replied. Just then we both noticed the doll shooting me looks again. “Boy she’s keeping you on your toes, huh?” the other mom noted. I looked back at my doll and replied “Yep.”

The doll was laughing and was giving hi-fives to her teammates. Seemingly liking basketball a little bit more than she ever imagined.

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Yeah!!

Quips ala bay…

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The boy was in rare form yesterday; making me laugh. Of course this is a daily occurence, but I made him repeat what he said several times, so I could quote him accurately. After reading Wednesday’s blog aloud to his father, I approached the boy who was eating left over spaghetti at our kitchen table. “Do you remember when you used to only eat spaghetti if I put the noodles on one side of the plate and the sauce on the other?” Giving me an odd look he said, “I prefer not to be reminded of my odd behavior when I was younger because it throws me into an existential crisis, when realizing what a strange kid I was”.  “What?” I laughed. “If you think about it mom, I really was something of an A-hole”. “Bay…” I laughed out loud, “You have never been an A-hole” I said. “Okay, A weirdo then” “That’s more accurate” I said before adding, “I used to say when you were teen tiny…I shoulda named you payne…’cause you are a pain !!  But you’re my pain and I wouldn’t have you any other way.” He smiled, grunted and added a nod for good measure.

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The boy loves to give hugs–especially bear hugs.  As he approached me from behind to give me a half lean down hug yesterday evening, I turned to him and said, “Hey, today is national hug day!!” and leaned in. Soaking wet, the boy weighs about 220 pounds and stands 6’1″ to my 5’8″ stature. As such, when he realized what I said, he grabbed me up into a bear hug and yelled, “HUG DAY!?! which quickly morphed us into a “pushing  contest” bear hug. Fortunately for me, I was wearing rubber soled slippers which enabled me to grip the floor for balance and push back. From an outsiders perspective, one may have thought we were twirling and dancing “closely” in the kitchen, when in fact we were pushing, twirling and laughing inside this mutual squeezing bear hug; test of resolve. Once I finally pushed him against the sink counter he laughed and cried, “Uncle!!   No fair you have grips on your slippers”, pointing out his stocking feet. “Bay, I said national hug day…not national “push momma to the floor in the grips of a” hug day…” Laughing at my remark he lessened his grip and leaned down giving me a nice hug thereafter.

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The boy accompanied me down to my dad’s last night to scrape the last bit of wet snow from the driveway and walk ways. My sister Terri, who was visiting with my dad, came outside to say hello to us. “How’s school going?” She asked the boy. “Eh..schools going…” He said. “Winter blues?” She asked. “Considering he hasn’t attended a full week of school since before Christmas…” I started to say before being interrupted by the boy. “I’m finding it difficult getting back into the school rhythm…” “Because of the days off?” She asked. “That and because I got used to being lazy and lying around doing nothing for two weeks.”

We laughed. “Well at least he admits this…” She said with a smile. “Acknowledging and doing something about it…are two different things…” I replied. “You can go inside now mom” He shouted back toward me which only succeeded in making us laugh more.