Monthly Archives: March 2017

Hang on loosely, but don’t let go…

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Over the course of eighteen years, from time to time,  I’ve asked my son, “Do you know how blessed you are?” His usual response to me would have been a small head shake or the glossing over of his eyes, as he anticipated the oncoming lecture from me. But very late Saturday night, when his father and I returned home from our South Carolina excursion, he said,  “I’ve finally figured out what you’ve been saying to me all these years…” “Huh?” I asked, not sure where he was going with this line. “You’ve been right all along, I am very blessed…” and then proceeded to give me a monster hug–that also served to crack my back, in the process.

As alluded to in a previous blog, my son attended a Kairos Retreat with his high school class last week and was mad with me for not coming up with an excuse to keep him home. “This is a requirement for graduation,” I began, “Perhaps you might come away a changed person–one ready to attend college–not just academically,” I argued. He complained he would be losing three days of learning, in lieu of being “Indoctrinated” into our crazy religion. So when he met us at the door, excited to see us and fill us in on what he DID learn and how thankful he was for the opportunity of self discovery, my heart felt very full and of course vindicated for being right.

Of course, Friday night, he called when his father and I were on our way to dinner and gushed over and over how much he loved us. “Is this due to the retreat or because we’re not there?” I asked him, laughing into the receiver. “Both… no but honestly, thank you for making me attend…” He said and then filled me with small glimpses of the retreat… “One time I got up and did a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Ramble on for the class…” “Dear God…” I said into the receiver. “Yes, when I finished, several classmates told me I should become a comedian…” He laughed into the phone. “Oh and mom, there was so much food there…except, on Thursday morning we came down to breakfast and there was this huge bowl filled with sausage… So I filled my bowl with like twelve links, smothered them maple syrup and then discovered they were horrible. I mean I ate about six of the links to make sure I hadn’t picked up a lone horrible one, but no. The disappointment was palpable…” He finished.

“Of course he’s talking about  food here…” I thought and worried for a moment he would use this experience as an allegory for the rest of his retreat. But then he said, “But the rest of the food was great. I think I gained ten pounds–easy. “Whew!” I thought to myself and the listened as he recalled more of the retreat…

“I want you to know, my sweat shirt coat is now made up of more tears than fabric…” He said. “What?”  I replied a little alarmed. “Because many of my classmates cried in my arms and shoulders. I simply wrapped them up in big old bear hugs when they were struggling and held them while they cried,” He said, pride coming through voice. “Bay, that’s always been your self appointed job,” I replied and he agreed. Then he quickly changed subjects, “That bastard Dad, made me cry too…pulling out the old school typewriter to write me a letter…” he said with a laugh. “Well, I’ll let you talk with your dad about that,” I said laughing.”But Mom, when you get home, I want you to know, I wrote you a letter one one piece of paper, then on the other side, I wrote one for dad too…” He said. “What, they didn’t offer you more than one piece of paper?” I asked in a sarcastic tone. “Eh… you know me, Mr. Minimal…you’ve been calling me that for years…” “True,” I replied and smiled.  Beginning to wrap up our conversation, I reaffirmed how much his father and I loved him and were sad we missed his homecoming. “Tomorrow night, okay?” I asked. “Tomorrow….” He replied before we disconnected the phone.

After his massive hugs, he handed me his love letter to me, which makes me smile. I guess I’ve been a good influence after all… 

 

a home with a view…

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We’ve been thinking about the future…

Between recent college visits; looking to find the most affordable university, that will also be the best fit for the boy and figuring out where my husband and I will be in ten years can be exhausting. Last summer when our friends Matt and Laurie told us about their decision to move to Myrtle Beach, SC, full time–not to retire, but to live in an environment that had more growth potential (more job opportunities) than the one they currently found ourselves in; the wheels in my husband’s head began to turn.

The summers of his youth were always filled with a week spent at the beach in Surf Side, South Carolina. “I remember running out to jump into the ocean with my dad and thinking, when I’m older I’ll be doing this with my son from the same beach. Only difference being, instead of renting a week, I was going to buy a home…” He’s told me over the 27 years of our marriage. Hearing that Matt and Laurie were making his dream a reality, brought that old dream back to roost. The prospect of living so close to the Atlantic Ocean, in the next ten years became a bit of an obsession for him.

He researched the area, found out the laws and bi-laws and everything we would need to know about buying a house/manufactured home down there. Then last September, he sprung a last minute weekend trip and together we flew down to visit with our friends and pick their brains about the cost of living there and if this really could be a reality for us.

When we arrived home, following the visit, we tabled the discussion. “We’re bright white people moving to an awfully sunny, hot place…” I offered. “Would you be interested in moving there full time?” He wondered. “No…I can’t see myself living there. Vacationing there, couple times a year, sure. But living there I can’t–especially since we don’t know where our kids will land…and if there are grand babies…I’m going to want to live nearer to them…” I replied. “Maybe I can find a cottage closer to home…” He said and went back to his favorite obsession…looking at properties in and around our home area.

“What about this one…?” He’d ask, and I would look at the picture, semi-interested in what he was showing me. “Eh, I don’t know…” I’d reply and go back to what I was doing. At the end of February we had made the decision to go back to Myrtle Beach and look around, considering the busy season was fast approaching and the house values would begin to rise. “We’re going to need to get down there again if we’re really serious about this,” I offered. “Are you really serious?” He asked. “I think this could be a good investment for us–though I’m still not convinced I can live there full time,” I explained. “We’d have a permanent place to go on vacation that wouldn’t break the bank…,” He offered. “Then let’s go back and see,” I agreed.

View from front porch


Last Saturday, after spending three days walking through several manufactured homes, imagining ourselves living in every one, we found one we liked, within our price range that also included beautiful views from the front porch and made an offer–which was accepted. After signing the necessary paperwork, putting down some earnest money, we drove away in a daze. “Did we just do that?” My husband asked. “We did…” I concurred and then we sat in silence, as we drove down the road with no real destination in mind. “Are you okay with this?” He asked me for the zillionth time and I allowed a long pregnant pause to rest between us. “Marsh?” He asked again. “I”m happy you’re happy.  I’m happy with the choice we made. I’m happy we found one that fits all our criteria and I’m happy my future with you includes this home. I’m happy Matt and Laurie will be ten minutes away and are willing to act as “caretakers” when we’re not there. The only think I’m not happy about is that we won’t get back here until June,” I said. “We could always move…” He smiled. “In ten or so years, yes…and maybe then the doll will attend Carolina Coastal College…”

Small “party house” for 2


This morning my husband asked, “How do you feel, a few days removed; about everything?” I looked back and said, “I think our future is gonna be so bright, we’re gonna need shades…and plenty of sunscreen.”

 

 

Get out of your own way!!!

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The boy left yesterday with his high school classmates, to attend a three day retreat, an hour north in Canton, Michigan–far away from electronic devices and other noisemakers that could prevent him from participating in the message that God is real and God is love. As an incredibly arrogant eighteen year old, he has told me regularly that he no longer believes in God–as there are too many other choices out there to explain everything. “That’s fine,” I’ve said, “I was in the same boat when I was your age,” I’ve told him adding, “But don’t throw he baby our with the bathwater, okay?” Hoping he would understand the analogy.

Yesterday, as I drove him to school with his gear, he sat unhappily in the car, rather stone faced. I kept joking with him,  trying to get him to talk with me considering I wouldn’t see him for a few days, but he wasn’t playing. Finally, tired of my jokes he yelled, “I can’t believe you’re making me do this…” Smiling I replied, “What? This is a requirement for graduation and you’re probably going to have a great time…” I explained. “I have no doubt I’ll have an enjoyable time, but I will be missing three days! Three days when I could be using that time learning!!” He exclaimed. “Oh, like you did this weekend…?” I asked alluding to the time (several hours) spent playing video games. “Mom, you’re not getting it…” He tried again. “Oh I get what you’re saying bay, and  you know what? You’re full of Bullshit… 100 percent bullshit. In addition, “Since you were a little boy, the one thing that has been the most detrimental for you…” I said, fired up, ready to give him my what for; when he interrupted me and said, “My autism”. “No, your inability to get out of your own way!! Whether you want to blame this on your autism or on your ego is up to you, but frankly bay, I’m tired of watching YOU keep YOU from experiencing life,” I finished and he sat stone faced.

When we pulled in front of the school for drop off, I tried again, “Bay, don’t close yourself off from experiencing something… Just because right now you have no faith in God, does not mean he does not exist. You say you love to learn, but if you keep your mind closed during this retreat, then you’re the antithesis of what your profess. Be open, you might be surprised…” He opened the car door and began to get out. I met him on the other side and tried to get a hug from him, but he resisted. “Are you embarrassed?” I asked him. “No, I just don’t want to give you a hug right now,” He replied. “Okay,” I said, grabbing his scruffy face, leaning over and giving him a kiss. “Have fun bay…” I said as he turned and walked away from me…

 

moving forward…

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The other day, the boy sat at our kitchen table telling me about some Dungeons and Dragon’s campaign he was creating with his friends, when his sister mentioned something concerning the end of the quarter. Stopping he looked quizzically at her, then me and said, “Oh man, the school year only has about eight weeks left… I gotta get… I gotta…” and then he bowed his head into his hands, looking a bit depressed.

“Ya bay, turning eighteen should have been the sign,” I said waiting for his response. “I know, but, still… I can’t believe I’m almost done with high school…” He replied. “Aren’t you excited and ready for it to be over?” His sister offered, believing that’s where she would be standing, if the roles were reversed. “No, I like school and my teachers. Next year is so far off…and I’m comfortable here,” He replied. “I gotta get busy…” He added, before getting up from the kitchen table and exiting the room.

“I don’t see why he’s all weirded out,” his sister offered. “No? Graduating high school and stepping out into the real world is getting him one step closer to adulthood and being responsible for himself. Your father and I have been trying to impress upon him this very thing for the last year, but he’s been resistant. You can’t resist when your future is staring you right in the face…” I replied and she nodded, taking it all in. “Plus, he’s lazy…” She remarked. “We’re all lazy in one form or another, but growing up is difficult to do. I know, I only did so in the last ten years,” I said and smiled. ” I watched as the doll turned her head to the side, as if trying to understand my last remark so I elaborated, “Doll, figuring out what you want to do when you grow up is a process–which is in the very beginning phase and will only get more intense once he leaves for college. The overall process can be daunting and down right scary–even for a boy who acts like he has everything together,” I explained.

She nodded in reply, bringing our discussion to a close.

***

I knocked on the door and entered the boy’s bedroom. “Are you okay?” I asked, concerned his realization of waning time was resting heavily on his mind. “I just have a lot of things to finish,” He replied. “Like…articles for the newspaper or homework?” I wondered. “No, the dungeons and dragons campaign I’m writing for my friends. There is so many options and landscapes I need to finish putting into place,” He explained. “I see,” I replied and told him to carry on as I left his room.

Yes, growing up is hard to do… “

weekend special…

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On most weekends, the boy vacates the house to spend time with his grandmother, but for the last two weeks, he’s remained home. Confused, I looked at him on Saturday morning and asked, “What’s going on bay?” “What do you mean?” He replied. “You didn’t go over to Grammy’s again, are you sick?” I asked. “Eh…” He began, but I interrupted, “I know we’re in the last eight weeks of school and a short time after, you’ll be leaving for college. Are you remaining home to soak up all the atmosphere before you leave this summer?” I asked, blessing my sentimental boy for his choice. “Well, to be perfectly honest, I never get to play this…” He replied. “This as a son home on the weekends?” “This as in the Playstation 4…” He said bluntly.

****

On Friday, the kids did not have school, which, for the boy meant, all day video games. But for the doll, the day off afforded her an opportunity to eat lunch at the mall and see Beauty and the Beast on opening day, with her girl friends from school. When I picked her up afterward, she kept saying, “It was just nice getting together like real friends”. “Real friends, indeed,” I replied, happy for her. On Saturday evening, the doll and I attended a performance of The Addams Family Musical, put on by another area high school. This afforded her the chance to hold a mini reunion with her elementary girl friends, as Emily sang in the chorus. As the girls huddled giggling and gushing over Emily, I said her her parents, “The doll would like to host another sleep over in the coming weeks, if you’re interested.” “It’s nice that these girls continue to support and want to hang out, regardless what school they attend…” One of the parents remarked.”Having smart phones help,” I offered. “When I was in high school, my best friend attended school fifteen minutes away, except I lived in Michigan and she lived in Ohio-which was considered long distance at the time.  Needless to say, with our many phone calls, we built $400 phone bill…” Natalia’s mom commented. “Oh, whoa…thank goodness that’s not the case now…” I remarked trying not to laugh. “Oh, believe me, my parents gave me a lot of grief about that phone bill–probably would today if I brought it up,” She laughed. “Oh, I’m sure…” I replied and the conversation dropped.

On the ride home she said, “It was great seeing everyone tonight. We’re changing and going in different directions, but we’re still friends. I hope we always remain friends too…”

I hope so too doll, I hope so too.

 

 

****

 

 

 

 

talking breaks…

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“Now when you turn the corner, allow the steering wheel to come back on its own, with little guidance, except to keep you on the RI..ght side of the road…” I explained to the boy as he took a hard right turn at a local cemetery. “Mom, you’re being kind of loud,” He replied, straightening out the wheel. “Bay… Slow down, slow down and prepare to st..” Before I could finish, he slammed on the breaks and both our seat belts tightened to hold us in place. “Bay, why did you slam on the breaks?” I asked, re-positioning myself in the front passenger seat. “You said to slow down to a stop and we stopped,” He replied wearing a grin. “Bay, how often do I hit the breaks so hard we are flung against the seat belts?” I asked. He opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it, and replied, “Okay, softer on the breaks, got it!”

The rest of the driving lesson revolved around little snippets of conversations…

“Bay?” I asked “Yessss?” He replied. “Which way are you going left or right?” I asked. “I was thinking left…” he answered”. “Well you have to make that decision before you reach the other side of the road and the option is gone…” I replied, as he stopped three quarters of the way through a three way intersection. “Oh, should I back up?” He asked. “Considering that’s your only option, I’d say yes,” I replied.

“Buddy Bay, you might want to think about stopp…” I started to say as the car came within a foot or so of hitting a fairly large headstone. Slamming on the breaks again, the car halted as did we, slamming against the seat belts. “Bay, did you not see the headstone right in front of us?” I wondered with a hint of sarcasm. “No…” “What?” I asked surprised. “I was looking in the rear view window…” “At…?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Let me make a suggestion… when your not driving in reverse, it helps if you’re looking forward at the road you’re on,” I offered. He replied, “Oh mom, you’re always so literal…” and smiled in reply.

“You do realize we’re in a cemetery and the speed limit is like ten miles per hour–if that,” I remarked, noting how fast we were going. “This car has really good pick-up,” He commented. “Bay, slow down…please,” I said and slowly he eased off the gas pedal.

“Do we live in England?” I asked. “Okay, hang on, let me maneuver…” He replied, slowly bringing the car back onto the right side of the road.

“Um, so what are we doing?” I asked. “I’m putting the card back into drive,” the boy replied. “Okay, but is there a reason why the car is parked in the middle of the road?” “Well you asked me to back out…” He explained. “Yes, back out, to the end of the driveway, not to the middle of the road…” I replied. “Eh, no worries. Traffic is light today,” He said as he put the car into drive and he slowly pulled into our driveway and parked the car.

“Well, that was your first hour of driving. How did you like it?” I asked. “Eh, I’m disappointed you didn’t take me to lunch…” He replied. “The reward is learning to drive bay, not feeding your belly,” I quipped. “Why can’t it be both? That’s all I’m saying..” He replied. “Considering all the stopping and thrusting against our seat belts, I’m surprised you find yourself hungry,” I remarked. “You make that sound “dirty”” he replied; getting out of the car faster than usual, avoiding the inevitable smack I had coming his way. “Stop being gross!” I yelled after him, knowing that’s a futile thing say to a boy of any age.

 

 

 

Income tax refunds…

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Living room shortly after the start on Monday, Natural bamboo hard wood

For the past two and a half weeks, Mrs. K’s daughter has been in town, effectively giving me vacation time in March. Unfortunately, vacation time meant preparing the house for new floors, as well as working on many other needed household chores. Thus, even though I’ve had ideas, the timing just hasn’t been right and my writing has suffered. However, now that the floors are in and back to helping Mrs. K, I should be able to finagle some free time to write. Word of warning, they may be posted later than usual.

***

Over the years, we’ve used our tax refund to help pay the children’s tuition in school. Last year, I was blessed to have saved enough throughout the year, that our refund could be used for something else. Having studied gardening and the need for available light in our yard, my husband arranged to have a large oak tree removed.  This year, we decided to use the money to do a little updating to our home by repainting and installing new bamboo hard wood flooring, throughout the downstairs, including both kids bedrooms.

But updating the home wasn’t the only reason we chose to do this. Unfortunately, we have a very old dog who began defecating on the carpeted floor almost daily. In doing so, my asthma symptoms began to worsen as well as my temperament toward that old dog. So in compromise for keeping the dog alive, my husband agreed to the new flooring. The dog has also been reintroduced to her kennel while we’re not home, which seems to be a good compromise for the both of us.

Finished product Monday evening. End of day 1

Sunday night, we moved our living room furniture into the kitchen, so the installation could begin Monday. Then Monday night, all four of us worked to place both kids’ bedroom furniture into the living room–on the new flooring; without scratching the surface. Yesterday, once the work was complete, my brother in law Eric arrived to help us put the kids bedroom furniture back into place-kinda. “Mom, I’d rather my bed go here…” The boy said, redesigning his bedroom. “I don’t care bay, just remember, next year at this time, this won’t be your room…” I said with a wink and he grunted his reply. But the boy isn’t the only one who chose to switch things around. “Mom, must I have the armoire in my room?” She asked. The armoire is member of her bedroom set. “If you don’t want it, sure, but now we need to figure out what to do with it…” I said. “Okay,” she replied happy to open her room up further.

By the time we went to bed last night, tired from all the furniture moving, the doll came out of her room and complained, “This floor is too hard. I liked my old hardwood flooring and it was soft in comparison…” “That flooring was almost seventy years old, of course it was soft. Give this time, I mean shoot, it’s only been installed a few hours…” I said before adding, “But do me a favor and try not to drop anything that could shatter…” “Great, another thing I have to worry about,” she returned. Later when she came out to kiss me goodnight she complained again, “Mom, my feet hurt…this new flooring is too hard on my poor feet…” “Have you ever heard the expression, if you haven’t anything nice to say, don’t say a thing?” I asked her. “How does that make sense about the floor?” She asked. “You’re hurting my feelings about my new flooring…” I replied before adding, “We’ll find you an area rug to help those poor tired toes of yours…”

Boy’s bedroom, back to normal, already clothes on the floor.

Doll’s finished bedroom, like her bro’s w/clothing strewn about.