Archive for the 'Sons' Category

Lounging in Limbo

Within the month, we should have a much clearer picture about two life-changing events in the lives of my family members.  The first one involves Middle Son J.  About three days before he was scheduled to be deployed, first for training stateside, and then on to Afghanistan, he and others in his unit received an e-mail saying that due to military budget cuts, about 50 soldiers would not be sent.  J’s name was on that list.  Of course, we were all in disbelief.  I felt like the death row inmate who had just been pardoned at 5 minutes until midnight.   J, however, was initially very upset, as were some of his buddies–both those who also were cut, and the ones still scheduled to go–but now without the buddies they had planned to go into battle with.  After the shock wore off, though, J began to see the upside and readjusted his battlemind back to the positives of staying home, finishing school, and not leaving his girlfriend Kathy for a year.  Until the next day…when they were informed that they should disregard that first e-mail.  No final orders were issued.  They would carry on as if nothing had happened.  If they got the final orders while they were at training, they would be sent back home.  If not, they would be going to Afghanistan.   So he’s away at training and no one seems to know for sure what’s going on.  It has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least.

The second decision is another one completely out of our hands.  We are pretty much spectators, waiting for someone else to shape the direction of our lives.  And the process leading to this decision will begin tomorrow.  We were informed last month that the family court judge who is in charge of deciding where our foster daughters and their siblings will be placed has asked that we be present at the courthouse tomorrow.  And I’m nervous.  I have no idea what to expect.  In fact, I’m not even sure if this is for real.  I have nothing in writing.  No calls from the county.  Just a call last month to Big Daddy–from the kids’ lawyer–that we were to meet with the judge.  Big Daddy is going to e-mail her later today to verify that this meeting is still on, and that nothing has been canceled.

I’m scared it may be canceled.  I’m nervous if it’s not canceled.  I haven’t seen the girls since late September.    I have no idea if they’re scheduled to be at this hearing.  I want to see them again.  I’m afraid to see them again.

Big Daddy has seen the girls since they left our home.  He showed up at one of their scheduled hearings to see what was going on (even though we are never really sure what is going on since we foster parents are relegated to sitting out in the waiting area), and to remind the kids’ lawyer to mention that we are very much willing to adopt the girls if that becomes the final determination.  We have been very lucky to find some caring people who, like us, want what is best for the kids.  It doesn’t always work out that way.

At first the kids walked right past him in the courthouse, without a hint of recognition.  It was early, they didn’t expect him to be there, they had just moved on and forgotten about us???  For the first time Big Daddy wasn’t sure we were doing the right thing by trying to get them back.  But we had to let them know.  We hadn’t abandoned them.  We were fighting to get them back.  It was NOT our lie that they were going to be living with their siblings–and then dumped somewhere else–away from not only their biological family, but now also the family and friends that had loved and nurtured them for the last year and a half.

And then he saw Bonus Baby–sitting on her bio mom’s lap–chattering away and pointing at him across the room.   He walked over to them and said, “Who am I?”  Her mom laughed and said, “Yeah, she keeps pointing and asking ‘Who is that?’.”   “You know who I am,”  Big Daddy said, and all his doubts melted away when Bonus Baby reached out her arms to him and said, “Daaaaddy!”

Then it was like she never left.  She talked about the black thing on the pool (the winter cover).  Then she talked about J’s leg and how he hurt it.  She asked him where Mommy(me) was, then put her hand on her hip and asked with a sneaky grin, “Is she still sleeping?”  Of course Big Daddy got a kick out of that!

It was funny in a been-there-done-that kind of way when the new foster mom related how, when Bonus Child came in to tell her that Bonus Baby had put her lotion on her bed, that they had no idea at first that she’d meant she had actually slathered a whole bottle of lotion on the bed sheets.  And it was heart-wrenching when it was time for Bonus Baby to leave the courthouse, and she wrapped her arms around Big Daddy’s neck and said, “I want to go home wif you, Daddy.”

And tomorrow, my emotions , too, will be getting a vigorous workout.







Mama On The Edge (Part II)

After a crazy hectic tax season last year, things seemed to be falling into place by mid-May.  I came to the realization that perhaps Bonus Child had been acting out so much during those two months I worked because I had disrupted the schedule she had gotten used to.   Now that work was over, she was starting to settle down.  Youngest Son made us proud at his college graduation in early May, and we were beginning to get excited about our upcoming beach vacation in mid-July.  Oldest Son and his fiance spent the month packing up their belongings to drive across the country to begin their lives together in California.  Her dad flew out to help them move, and we got to meet him for the first time at a going-away barbecue they had their last night at their emptied out Pittsburgh apartment.  It was sad to see them go but I could tell he was excited about the move and I was happy for him.

We spent most of June having fun in the sun.  I was able to spend more time with Bonus Child while Bonus Baby had fun at preschool and we often invited  Bonus Child’s school friends over to swim.  One of her friends lived within walking distance and had a sister about the same age so it was a month of giggling and girl drama.  Middle Son J was away for army training for a few weeks but would be home before our vacation.  We were enjoying being able to spend some quality time with Youngest Son.  Things were going pretty well…until the s**t hit the fan.

The girls and I were home alone the last week of June while Big Daddy and Youngest Son were driving a U-Haul across the state to set up Youngest Son’s new apartment where he’d be moving in early August.  While they were there, we found out that Middle Son J suffered a serious  training accident.  He was told that his army boot saved his leg from being lost.  I don’t know how, I don’t know why, and I can’t believe they let him…but as bad as his leg was, he insisted on finishing up his last few days of training so that he wouldn’t have to start from the beginning at a later date.  This, of course, was not helpful to the leg.  Nor was the flight home which, with the fluctuations in air pressure, made his leg swell up to look like some giant purple melon ready to burst open at the seams.  But before I could even assess how bad things were, before he or Big Daddy or Youngest Son came home, our air conditioner croaked.  And it was the hottest week of the year!  I had to scramble to find someone to fix it so my injured son wouldn’t even be in more misery!


Christmas Zen

We’re all in a festive holiday mood around here. Bonus Baby merrily ripped open all the wrapped presents her sister had bought at Santa’s Workshop for us that we foolishly placed under the Christmas tree.  Bonus Child was focused on torturing me all day, putting her cold feet and hands all over me and deliberately blocking my view of the computer screen.  She claims she’s certain I’m not getting her the kid’s laptop that she wants for Christmas and she’s mad at me for that.  And Big Daddy’s singing Christmas Carols.  After the Red Cross rejected him when he went to give blood Saturday because his blood pressure was so high he was about to burst, he came home singing in his finest baritone voice, “I’ll be deeaad for Christmas…” Funny guy!

Despite all the everyday hustle and bustle, torture and annoyances, I still haven’t been fired up enough about anything to post a rant lately, although I came really close after Black Friday shopping.  So I’m wondering, have I reached the end of the line?  And I’m not talking about the blogging thing…I’m talking about my life line.  You know how they say we’re here for a purpose…to work things out…to grow and change?  And now it seems I’m so zen about things,  so uncharacteristically mature and calm about things that would have sent me through the roof not so long ago, that maybe I’m the one who should be singing that Christmas tune.  Have I worked out all the kinks in my psyche??

For instance, I was reading a post by my brilliant hilarious blog friend Robin who was suffering some angst over her teenaged son’s somewhat slacker ways.  This brought back so many memories of my own endless struggles with my Oldest Son’s apparent willingness to just “get by.”  I pleaded.  I yelled.  I bribed.  I stressed.  But still…he was content to work well below his awesome potential all through school.  I bought him planners and organizers to teach him how to remember to turn in assignments and pay his bills on time.  Still, he ended up losing his full tuition scholarship and frequently paid ridiculous credit card late fees, not because he didn’t have the money, but because he “forgot” to open his mail or write a check.  I stressed.  I agonized.  I pleaded.  He usually took the path of least resistance and took out loans or paid for classes with his own funds rather than go through the paperwork hassle of using his GI bill benefits that he earned by risking his life in Iraq.   I nagged.  I begged.  I foamed at the mouth.  But now that he’s moved out, found a young lady who is happy to take care of marry him, I’ve just learned to let go.  Even when he still gets overdue bills sent to the house.  Even though I’m pretty sure he’s screwing up his classes.  I have finally learned to just take a deep breath and let go.

Then there’s mom.  She used to really push my buttons.  She doesn’t try to do this.  It’s just the way she’s wired.  But it used to piss me off soooo bad.  Here’s a scenario my sis texted me yesterday…substitute her sweet smart daughter–she really is one of the good kids–for my three generally well-behaved sons–and it’s a classic mom soliloquy:

Fourteen year-old niece was going to a formal Christmas dance with her super-nice clean-cut boyfriend wearing heels that mom deems too high and grown-up.  Mom is clueless about these things.  But for weeks she’s railed about these shoes and and how slutty they look.  Sis invited mom over to see how cute lovely niece looked for the dance.  She immediately goes into Sis’s dining room and focuses on the mini blind the dog cracked trying to fix it, then she starts in on the heels, the length of the dress and the pouf it has (I saw it–it’s adorable), how it looks all bunched in the back, BLAH BLAH BLAH, then she starts railing on about the TV show they had on about brides wanting plastic surgery and when niece tries to explain it she cuts her off, then start ragging about Sis not having any decorations on her tree yet because her girls didn’t feel like decorating (like really, who does?) and calling her girls the laziest people God ever made (I told Sis I thought it was my boys that were the laziest because they didn’t hang their jackets up when mom came to visit) and that my sister should have MADE them do it and she should be ashamed etc. etc. etc.  and I just sat here and had to laugh (and sympathize) with poor sis because I’ve lived that scenario so many times…and it finally doesn’t bother me anymore.

Have I mellowed out?  Am I just too old to care?  Or did I finally grow up?  I don’t have it figured out just yet.  But I plan to enjoy the holidays with this new found inner peace.

Merry Christmas, all!

The Funny Twists and Turns

Lately, my home has been a crowded crazy mess.  It’s fun.  It’s exasperating.  It’s hard to stay on top of things. My Oldest Son has been laid off for a few weeks until the company he works for starts on their new contract.  The two younger sons have been done with college for about a month.  Many of our once-tidy rooms are loaded with stacks of boxes and furnishings from dorm rooms and apartments.  Our grocery bills are through the roof and if I want anything good to eat, I have to hide it.

When the boys are home, I also get to spend time with their girlfriends.  I like having them around.  The boys are fun to talk to, but there are some things I like to talk about that they zone out on.  When I went shopping with Muchacha, she actually responded enthusiastically when I held something up and said, “Isn’t this sooo cute”?  The boys will only set foot in a store with me if I’m buying them something, and even then, it’s all business.  Get the item and leave.  Immediately.

Gender differences aside though, I relate to my guys like “one of the guys.”  We kid around a lot.  We push the limits sometimes, but there are rarely hurt feelings.  If they sometimes say something crude, I dish it right back at them.  We rehash embarrassing situations and laugh at each others’ expense.  Sometimes I feel so comfortable with their girlfriends, I treat them the same way.  Sometimes it doesn’t go so well.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the girlfriends got angry at me and the boys when we were having a little too much fun at her expense.  To us, it wasn’t mean.  It was funny.  She should have been having fun yelling right back at us.  But we were told, via her boyfriend, that she wasn’t mad; she just didn’t think it was funny.  At all.   Then a few days later, Youngest Son high-fived me and thought it was hilarious that I embarrassed J’s girlfriend when I made a flippant comment kidding around.  Damn.  Have I been living with guys for so long that I’ve become one?  Or would I act this way with daughters if I had them?  Would they be used to our way of communicating, or would they also not appreciate my humor the way my boys do?

A couple weeks ago we were all kind of bummed when my habit of not carrying my cell phone with me cost us the chance to have a three-year-old boy come stay with us.  By the time I got the voice mail, the foster care agency had found another home for him.  I made sure I had my phone with me all the next week, and voila!  We got a call asking if we could take in two little sisters.  Big Daddy gulped hard when he got the news but he’s ready for the challenge.  I’m determined to have fun with them without being an asshole.  The boys have reminded me that it’s going to be different having little strangers in the house at first.  I just hope they don’t feel like they’re strangers for too long.

Just Call Me Mrs. Rodney Dangerfield

Yeah, you got it.  I get very little respect.

Some of this, I deserve.  I can be goofy and annoying.  There’s a ring of truth to the comments my boys sometimes make about me being immature, like when I get on their case just for the sheer joy of annoying them.  Other times, though, they fail to see my strengths.  Like, I’m not quite as dedicated to my exercise regimen as they may be.  But I’m like 30 years older than they are. Our senses dull a little with age and I just can’t seem to hear that little voice that says “Push on” when the legs want to quit running or the arms don’t want to lift those weights.  But I still do push myself…a little.  At least give me some credit for putting on those running shoes!

Tonight, after downing 6 slices of Pizza Hut pizza, Youngest Son decided to go for a run before it got too dark.  Mr. Track Star is the same little dude who used to hate me the most, cussing me out under his breath the whole entire time he ran around the community track, back when I used to bribe the kids to run a mile with me for Dairy Queen rewards.  Now he’s psycho-runner, breaking his school’s records at track meets, building bulging calf muscles doing wind sprints, mapping killer 5 mile practice runs through the neighborhood.

Mr. "I Hate-To-Run" all grown up

Does he give me any credit, though?  No.  Instead he comes home with this story about how he nearly puked multiple times during this evening’s run.  It was pretty funny hearing about how the pizza tasted so good going down but how the flavor of the sauce takes on an evil salty aftertaste when it wants to come back up.  I empathized with his desire not to throw up in front of the elderly neighbor lady who was out walking her dog and so he made himself plod on, knowing that if he stopped, the puke would flow.  But then my amusement at his clever telling of this tale vanished at the point when he said he almost quit running after the first mile, but then he decided he “didn’t want to be like MOM.” Really?

A party? No, just dinner for my "hosses"

Mr. Big Shot is running a 5K on Memorial Day.  I didn’t sign up this year.  It would serve him right if I plopped a Pizza Hut pizza in front of him Monday morning before the race, because that little voice of his may know how to keep him running through the pain, but it hasn’t been able to convince him not to down half a large pizza before going for a run.

Men Bite…And Stab

Sooo…the other night, I’m finishing up with dinner preparation.  We were eating rather late because Big Daddy was spending the bulk of the evening on one of his marathon bicycle rides.  I heard him come in through the basement after his ride, so I got the slotted spoon to start taking the cabbage out of the pan of water and into a serving bowl.  I don’t know if he came home super hungry or what, but for some reason, he starts taking over without saying he was taking over.  I mean, you know, had he said, “Go sit down. I’ll finish up here,” I would have gladly left the room.  But instead, he gets in my way, knocks the slotted spoon off the counter and as I lunge to catch it before it hits the floor, he stabs me with some sharp utensil that plunges through my hand near the base of my right thumb.

“AAARGHHH“…I grab my wrist and ran toward the powder room, crying and screaming “I’m stabbed, OMG he stabbed me,” and started running cold water on it to stop the blood and hopefully numb the pain.  I ran right past Oldest Son, lying on the couch playing some hand held video game.  I don’t even think he looked up.  Big Daddy comes moseying in, looked at my hand and said surprised, “Oh, it’s bleeding.”  Like, no shit, Sherlock, that’s what happens when you pierce living flesh with a sharp object.  A minute or two later, Middle Son J comes downstairs and says, “I thought someone was being killed down here.”  Well, so proud and happy you came down to intervene on my behalf.  At least you didn’t wait until I started to decompose.

Big Daddy was kind enough to bandage my hand with some gauze.  “I’m done in here,” I muttered as I left the kitchen and sat in front of the computer to cry and feel sorry for myself.  Big Daddy finished getting the corned beef and cabbage to the table, and we all ate.  My hand throbbed, but I managed later to put the leftovers away before the food spoiled.  I was wondering to myself why hubby wasn’t so eager for kitchen duty now when I actually could use the help.

I left the bulk of the dishes on the counter.  My hand hurt and I was feeling depressed.  I plopped my butt on my recliner, leaned back, and went to sleep.  To his credit, Big Daddy had cleaned up the rest of the kitchen by the time I woke up.  I woke up the next morning with a huge headache and some major depression.  For some reason, this injury pushed me over the edge.  At the risk of sending hubby on some week-long pouting session, I will try to dissect what sent me into a downward spiral, one that caused me to spend the bulk of a beautiful Saturday afternoon in bed, and the rest of the day a snapping bitchy wench.  Stay tuned.

Fair April

This is the tree that almost made me an orphan on Friday.

The trunk is covering the sidewalk leading up to my mother’s front porch, that she had just been walking on to escape the brewing storm.  In fact, she wasn’t even in the house yet when she watched the tree gracefully and surrealy hit the ground.

The same cold front that caused the vicious storm that took out this tree (and many other trees in the area), was nearly the death of me, too.  Two days earlier, I was basking in the 80 degree sunshine in a tank top and shorts, thanking the good Lord for the beautiful day and the fact that I had survived another tax season.  Saturday, April 17th, I was swathed in layers, watching tiny ice pellets bounce off the blanket covering my legs.

For the        last several weeks, I had been silently envying my husband, who had been enjoying   lovely early spring Saturdays watching Youngest Son compete at local college track meets.  I know it’s not the end of the world if I’m not there, but I like to be there to cheer him on.  I like to enjoy a day out in the sun.  And of course, who wants to be cooped up in an office crunching numbers?

Instead, I’m snuggling up to Big Daddy for warmth, praying I can hold out until Youngest Son’s next event.  My eyes keep wanting to close as my head rests on hubby’s shoulder, but a little voice inside my head keeps whispering…”Don’t fall asleep.  You may never wake up…”

Meanwhile, these runners are strutting around the track half-naked.  Not only that, they had been outside several hours before we had even gotten to the meet.  Youngest Son’s events are toward the end of the meet, and we timed our arrival accordingly.  Clearly, these young athletes are comprised of a new and improved weather-resistant material not yet discovered in the era of my creation.

In the end, the day turned out OK.  I found a perfect spot where I could pull the car up to the fence and watch the 4 by 400 relay race out of the icy wind.  It was facing the finish line so I could see the smile on Youngest Son’s face when he realized he had beaten his own record.  Oldest Son’s girlfriend, Muchacha, had some hot homemade Mexican soup (I think it’s called posole) waiting for us when we got home.  I called mom and found out that not only did the plumber fix the gas leak caused by the tree falling, but the electricity was also restored to her neighborhood.  Things were back to normal on this strange April day.

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