It’s that time again. Where you can say to your children, “Stop it or I’ll make you watch badminton.”
Caden-8yr suggested I was kidding.
Ethan-12yr said, “No, she means it, I can tell. Stop it.”
If only that threat would work during church. BOY that would have been good today.
I inappropriately giggled my way through a really good sermon on the importance of looking at the fruit in someone’s life. I couldn’t help it. Caden-8yr got restless and adjusted his waistband and there was the very loud, unmistakable SNAP of the elastic in his underwear popping back into place. He slowly turned his gaze to mine and his eyes just got bigger and bigger and his little pale face flushed pink. Adorable.
Seth-6yr sat next to me and kept leaning over to sniff me. He was trying to be subtle. But he wasn’t. Then he’d smile. And say, “You smell like a guhl.” The way he said it, it seemed like a good thing. It’s a weird thing all the boys have been doing lately. Sniffing me in a deliberate way. Then discussing amongst themselves the differences between how bad boys can smell and how good guhls can smell.
Then there was the Offering. OH, the Offering. We sit near the back. By the time the ushers send the plates down our pew, the whole thing is almost over. The plate gets to Ethan-12yr today… and STOPS. He had been concentrating on drawing something, so it caught him by surprise. He balances the plate in his lap and then digs around in all his pockets looking for his wallet. ALL his pockets. And of course it was the day that the child was wearing cargo pants.
The offering plate tips and slants and almost spills a million times as he balances it on his knees while searching every last pocket. I’m hiding behind my hand. Trying not to laugh. Mouthing apologies to the usher. I’m a few people down, and cannot do anything except watch this continue. Finally, Ethan-12yr locates his wallet. He pulls it out and opens it LOUDLY, because he is a 12 yr old boy and of course it has ton of VELCRO and then he takes forever. He leans over across a few people and says, “My tithe is RIGHT HERE.”
We have a new system of chores/allowance/giving/spending/financial responsibility stuff. It’s all very good. We’re all learning.
Ethan-12 yr beams at me, drops his tithe in, and passes the plate.
I beam right back.
It’s kinda a miracle I heard any of the message today. But it would have been a good morning, even if I hadn’t.
It’s Wednesday. Glorious Wednesday.
The one day in which baseball is not on the schedule. Even Sunday has the occasional practice. But Wednesday is all ours.
We – accidentally – fell through the cracks of the baseball world here and ended up in A Totally Different Baseball-y Place. In this new place, baseball is…. intense. Different. Hard core. Teams are comprised of players and families who apparently GLADLY organize their entire lives around baseball skills, games, practices, trips, equipment and everything else. As you can imagine, the level of play is WAY higher than we’re used to.
Which is good. I like it when Seth-6yr is not always a star, and he has to push himself to keep up. It’s good for him. Caden-8yr is on a team with much older kids. Seth-6yr is on a team of kids who ARE his age but they play teams made up of much older kids. So that changes things.
They’re fine. But the whole new baseball world we slipped and fell into is kinda too much for ME. I long for the leagues in which you can have an off day, skip a practice, or go on a trip without feeling the need to apologize forever. Not that I’m going on a trip. But the intensity is just… eh. It’ll be over next month. We’ll make it. I just don’t want to sign them up again.
Seth-6yr’s coach is a really nice guy. I genuinely like the guy and appreciate his approach to the sport and to the kids. But I was definitely asking google what it means to have an empty teardrop tattoo under one’s eye, because it just seemed a bit… I don’t know, surprising. In previous prissy-by-comparison leagues, the coaches are usually white collar, hands-on dads who may or may not know anything about baseball, but they have read a few faith-based nonfiction parenting books and heard a few rousing sermons on the positive bonding influence of engaging in their child’s extracurricular activities. And I’ve never seen an empty teardrop tattoo in those leagues. But HEY. That’s okay. And it’s probably better that it isn’t a filled in, solid teardrop tattoo, according to my research. That may be yet another league.)
Yesterday Seth-6yr and I spent many hours on the art of fence repair. I LIKE fixing fences. A lot. I may not be very good at it, but this doesn’t bother me. Fence slats needed to be purchased, stained, and put into place. I held Seth-6yr steady while he stood on the ladder and tried to tell him that hammering a nail is probably like hitting a baseball. It works a lot better if you look at the nail, just like you really have to look hard at the ball when the pitch is coming.
He nodded. Started hammering the nail a lot more effectively. Then, “Did you ever PLAY baseball?”
Ha. Uh… no. It’s just that this league has taken over our lives and my mind and now everything is baseball – even fence repair – even though no i do NOT play baseball.
But it’s Wednesday. No baseball. And here I am, making it about baseball. SEE?! It’s taking over the world. Make it STOP!!!
So. If you’re thinking of starting a business, it should include as many of the things you like as possible. I think.
I like some weird things.
Yesterday I had a serious email conversation with a woman on Etsy about if she might be willing to add a tiara to an image of a prairie dog (named Laura) in a formal gown for me. (She was. It totally makes the look work now.)
I like junk. (Separate on the list because NO, anthropomorphic rodent art is NOT junk.) But not just any junk. Only swirly, curvy, elegant junky stuff that will look so much better if I put a splash of color on it or dress it up in some other way.
And I really REALLY love power tools. This IS the year I’ll learn to weld. Projects in need of it already in line in the garage.
I like getting dirty and sweaty and nasty and making messes. Being totally justified in wearing my nastiest, ripped old jeans is a sweet bonus.
The whole chandelier/ birdcage thing is cute too, but not in the sometimes overdone shabby chic way. More in a… well. That is different sort of way.
I’m really into animals in drag. There’s a tall, topiary reindeer in the dining room right now with a hot pink fascinator and an aqua blue choker. I won’t be selling her. I LOVE HER. Him. Her. Whatever. Big antlers. Big jewelry. My gorgeous tranny deer. I’d like to find a whole lot of her friends and dress them up, too, and populate the boring corners of other people’s dining rooms as well.
Big carved angel wings. Painted funky.
Giant carved picture frames. Painted.
Felty ball garlands.
LOTS of different textures.
Crystals and fringe and beads and the occasional feather. Vintage maybe, but not retro.
Bargain and free. (As Caden-8yr says, “everything you’re buying is either cheap or free. WHY?”)
I met my junk fairy this weekend. A BARGAIN JUNK PERSONAL SHOPPER, thank you GOD, i didn’t even know You made those. I was at his house the other day and realized that ANYTHING I asked for… he had.
Chandeliers? Here are 3.
I like old, pretty metal vents. Here are a few.
How about… all your swirly wrought iron stuff. Here, here, and here.
Wooden furniture with curvy legs and empty picture frames and prissy, metal wall sconces? Sure, of course, and over there.
Wooden exterior hinged shutters that are falling apart that can be used as chippy room divider things? A friend of mine wanted those. YES. Here you go.
Anything I could THINK UP, he had, and for dirt cheap. Or he’d say, “you want THAT!? take it, it’s yours.” He called earlier because he remembered more stuff he thought I’d like, and he kept calling me “Clarice” and I got this icky feeling and an hour later I remembered that was Jodie Foster’s character’s name in The Silence of The Lambs. So. That needs to be tweaked. But that’s fairly minor.
Saturday night Mom and I sat in a smoke filled venue, trying to come up with a list of the stuff that I like and would want to sell, attempting to define this odd vision. I like peacock colors. I was thinking it could all be called Peacock Chic. But – and maybe this is silly – I’d like to avoid the whole ‘cock’ syllable. And it’s West Texas. And… it all evolved into Prairie Dog Chic. We were writing and she was sketching and the whole time we were waiting on a favorite cowboy type to show up and sing and waving off a truly flattering number of drink offers. (that is unnerving. flattering maybe, but HIGHLY unnerving. Come to West Texas, ladies, if y’all like that kind of thing, because everyone is WAY friendly. Personally, I do not like that sort of thing, it makes me want to grab a few of my anti-anxiety pills I’m trying so hard -successfully- to quit. I remembered way too late that if you want to get rid of a persistent guy in a trucker hat and a cute beard REALLY the best thing to say is probably, “i have FOUR kids.” I will remember that next time. “I am getting divorced and am therefore technically still married and that means something to me and so no you may NOT… ” to all of his various, increasingly creative offers – was just way too subtle.)*
SO. Prairie Dog Chic. It’s bright and colorful and sparkly and it takes your plain old crap and makes it into prettier crap. YEAH. Well. Something like that.
(Okay, I’ll keep working on it.)
*Okay, that guy probably deserves a little credit for at least not backing down from a challenge. There’s one sober, vegetarian, shy type there with her mama, trying to consider the marketing strategies for pretty crap and THAT’s the one he wants to convince to go have steak another night? Uphill, losing, ill conceived battle. But he probably should at least get a few points for the beard and for the effort, misguided though he was.
My dad got into a weird post-divorce phase where he made origami. He’s an engineer. I suppose the precision needed was somehow therapeutic. There were brightly folded paper containers and animals EVERYWHERE. It was strange. Cute. Strange.
Yesterday I received in the mail an order of wool roving. (If that’s not right, forgive me, for I am new.) Giant puffs of wool, ready to be transformed into… felted balls. (aren’t those GORGEOUS?! Like Easter eggs. but not.)
I was sure I needed to wet-felt balls (I’m SURE that’s not how you say it, but I am new) and make Etsy-like garlands out of them and put them over some white curtain topper things Mom made me a few years ago.
It’s a brown wall. There are bright white window treatments.
Neutral + Neutral = you see my problem here. I needed bright, furry, colorful ball things up there.
I had a friend’s boys over, and so i sat with 2 or 3 kids at a time and played with the wool fluff and added the soapy water and then the hot water and then after about 5-10 minutes, there was a gorgeous little fuzzy, felted sphere thing. Seth-6yr stayed with me the whole time, creating his own collection. The others wandered in and out, mystified at the point of the process.
Callie was BESIDE herself. I guess it’s that whole “border collie mix” thing she has going on, but she was all, “THAT CAME FROM A SHEEP, LET ME STICK MY FACE IN IT AND SNIFF AND MAYBE TASTE, OOOOOOH YUMMY, LIKE GOING HOME, YES IT IS…” It became clear that we could not leave the room and trust her with the irresistible wool stuff.
Seth-6yr created his third or fourth ball and then said, “So. We do this and then after, like, a LONG time, we are through… and we have a wet… hairball? THAT is what we are doing, right?”
Well. Yes. Origami is not for everyone.
I hear you can make these in your washing machine. But that kinda takes the hands-on therapeutic value right on out of it, so I didn’t try it.
(do you have ANY IDEA how difficult it is to write a post about this without making the expected childish puns even by ACCIDENT? I have done WELL.)
The legal approach to this divorce has a specific name. A name i will not tell you, so that you cannot google it and possibly have a more definite opinion on the matter. But. It means that we are all friendly and civil and work together and informal and we have lots of confidential meetings and negotiations and it’s supposed to be the friendly way to divorce. You aren’t supposed to tell people that you are doing it this way, or listen to ANY other opinions, legal or otherwise.
That’s what they tell you when you join a cult, too, I think, but I’m going with it.
(And the delaying issues of the process are not reflective of this approach, but of something else entirely.
The ‘ divorce team’ (ew. like, can we have matching jerseys, too?) consists of Mike and I, our attorneys, a neutral mental health professional, and a neutral financial expert. We met today at the financial expert’s office. It’s in the same office building Mike’s business used to be in. It was a cold morning and rain sprinkled the windshield while I sat in the car, dreading what was ahead. About five years ago, I’d sat in Mike’s bright yellow office, overlooking that same parking lot. We were discussing retirement plans for us, and he was explaining the arrangements he wanted to make that would provide for those years. While he talked that day, I looked out at the impossibly bright afternoon. The pretty white gazebo at the courthouse is across the street. The same courthouse where, after I’d adopted a young girl, we’d posed for a happy family picture. I wore a truly questionable shade of lipstick. But I thought we were happy. I thought we’d raise that daughter together, and do it well. I thought we’d make use of those retirement arrangements when the time came.
Same office building. Same view. Different day. Different weather. Different arrangements.
No marriage. No husband. No daughter.
But. Lipstick I will not regret.
It’s not much, but let’s go with it.
Oh, and also, I never have joined a cult. So there’s that, too.
*a boot collection note, inspired by previous commenters:
i’m cheap. (As caden-8yr so charmingly told me this week.) I generally get my boots on ebay in the dead-hot of summer so that I get a really great deal. You can too! (That’d be… NOW. ) Don’t be afraid of boots on ebay. As with all things, just sanitize and maybe offer a little prayer of blessing that covers you in case they belonged to a serial killer and then you’re good to go. I’ve bought new ones on ebay, but my latest were a darling little pair of fringed vintage suede ones. The only boots I ever regretted buying were old gringos that were gorgeous, and colorful, but I paid retail for them (?!) in Santa Fe in the middle of a snowstorm because Mike was all for it and I told myself I wouldn’t care that they had roses on them. But. I did. I HAAAAATE roses. I finally gave them away just so I could stop flinching at the sight of them in my closet. Don’t make a similar unwise boot purchase. Be sure what you want, and then go find it for an off-season, extremely cheap ebay price and then be thrilled. Good plan, right!?
The boys are helping me with my closet. There comes a time… six months after the closet officially becomes ALL mine, that even the children are bothered that I haven’t claimed the space that used to house Mike’s stuff.
I tried a few times. I put a thousand bikinis in a drawer and forgot about them and then frantically wondered where they went and could NOT remember. I decided a bikini thief had struck. I was sure of it. I’d read an article on a crime website about a guy like that once. (I remembered where they were in the middle of the night. And then went to check. So relieved.) Also, I stashed a lot of old crafty stuff i’ll never use again in a far corner. But mainly, I avoided that side of the closet. That was Mike’s space. Still.
I tried to take over his bathroom drawers. I cleaned and scrubbed because there were little black whiskers in there from his electric shaver. It grossed me out and made me sad. And then when the drawers were clean, I just couldn’t think of what I could possibly want to put in there. Sure, I have a ton of stuff… but, I mean, those drawers were waaaaay over there. My stuff doesn’t go there… That was Mike’s space. Still.
The stupid bed project isn’t going much better. I gave away all the old bedroom furniture. I got a much smaller bed and moved it to a different place in the room. Bought a VERY old bed and spent countless hours refinishing it. It’s not finished. Re-finished. Finished being refinished. Whatever. I could do it. I should do it. There’s really nothing stopping me. Except everything. Except that it’s MY bed. Only mine. Only my space. I tell myself that I can’t decide on a color. But I’m guessing it’s probably more than that.
The boys came into the closet with me this morning, put their hands on their hips, and told me they wanted to help. Callie, the border collie mix, came as well. It’s a big closet. They can all fit in there with me, even with their hands on their hips. So I guess they sense it’s time, too.
Okay, maybe if three little boys and a border collie mix stage a closet intervention, it’s probably PAST time.
It just feels so strange sometimes. By the time this is legally over, we will have been married 16 years. At least. (Okay, actually, by the time it’s legally over, we may have been married 60 years.) Even when we were together, we were highly separate. There wasn’t a lot of sharing of space, time, energy, words, vacations, meals, possessions. Now it feels like moving into those spaces is like sharing those spaces… and that’s a weird time to start doing anything like that.
So. This is where i am. I’ll let you know when I take over those spaces and get the bed done.
I’m thinking blue. With fuschia.
And maybe I could build shelves for that long closet wall just for the purpose of holding a cute boot collection. I could do that. I could SO do that.
I was supposed to herd some cattle.
Before the unplanned smashing of my ribs. It was on the schedule. A trip was planned. A little tiny town right near the little tiny town my dad lives in has this cattle herding thing that sounds REALLY fantastic. So HolyCousin and I were all set to go herd up some cattle.
That’s probably not how you say it. But we can give me a break on that since I haven’t done it before. And then there’s that whole vegetarian thing. I’m not expected to get the terminology right. Or eat the big steak dinner afterward. I hope. Oh GOSH, let’s not even think about that.
There might have been chaps.
We’ll get to it eventually.
Seth-6yr remembered this plan a few weeks ago and said, “Hey, Mom. Weren’t you supposed to go herd some sheeps?”
“Um, NO.” I could just picture Little Bo Peep standing with a curved stick thing, serenely looking at a peaceful flock of unmoving sheep. Or, sheeps, as Seth-6yr says. Either way, it’s not EVEN close to what I was going for. “I was supposed to herd cattle.”
“Oh. Right.” And after a long pause, “What’s a cattle?”
Don’t let his Texas accent fool ya.
The ribs are improving. They just aren’t ready for cattle herding.
Maybe Little Bo Peep style sheep watching.
But that just doesn’t even sound fun.
I would imagine that the business and financial interests of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are extremely elaborate and complicated and yet they already have figured out the whole divorce thing and quietly agreed on a settlement? WHAT?! HOW FAST?
It’s been 6 months. We have not yet filed. We are in the ongoing and endless process of meeting after meeting. I spend many hours of my life in these meetings, preparing for these meetings, dreading them, crying and analyzing afterwards, and yet wishing for more of them so that we might be somewhat more DONE.
At the end of a 2 1/2 hour meeting last week with Mike and myself and a facilitator type, we negotiated through endless custody paperwork and got to the very last legal point. It said something like, “All of this is out the window if y’all remarry.” And that made no sense, because I fully expect Mike to remarry some beautiful young thing rather quickly (just a hunch, I have no idea if they have even met yet) and we had previously covered several points in the paperwork that referred to just such an instance. The facilitator type asked if that was clear and I was COMPLETELY confused and I looked at Mike and he was not confused and I tried to clarify a few different times because WHAT? None of our agreed upon custody terms will be in effect if Mike remarries? What the hell is that?! And the facilitator type calmly explained that the clause in question actually meant if Mike and I remarry. EACH OTHER. And I couldn’t help it. I laughed and snotted and spit and collapsed forward on my lap and made horrible noises. SORRY, but that was funny. And shocking. And unexpected. And through all of that, I’m apologizing. But not too sincerely.
And DANG but I am so graceful.
i wanted to be able to come back and honestly say, “the ribs and I are just FINE!”
But we aren’t there just yet. So instead let’s deal with rib stuff. If you haven’t read the comments on that last post – or have no idea why i’m talking about ribs anyway – and you sorta care… you might start with that last post.
(Sara, this first part is for YOU also)
SO. I wasn’t honest in the grocery store when the two guys smashed into me. I had a million excuses and reasons why i didn’t want to inconvenience people or make a scene or make a really awkward scenario actually FEEL awkward for anyone so I just continued to shop without a supply of oxygen. That decision made PERFECT sense to me at the time. (right, Sara?)
Enter the lovely therapist lady who hears this and is squinting at me slightly and saying, “Whaaat…? But if it had been one of your KIDS?”
Or, “lightbob” as Seth-6yr says.
Well. If it were one of my kids, I would have made everyone in that entire story feel VERY awkward. I would have scooped up my baby, whichever one it was, and then loudly confronted the two cart guys who smashed into MY PRECIOUS small person and asked for a manager and taken down names and phone numbers of witnesses and let my full mommy tiger ire reign in full force right next to the cold quiches because THAT’S MY BABY AND HE MIGHT BE HURT, I DON”T KNOW, I’LL KISS HIM AND ASK HIM IN A SECOND BUT FOR NOW THIS WHOLE WORLD WILL STOP AND PAY ATTENTION AND WAIT IN A STATE OF EXTREME AWKWARD UNTIL I KNOW FOR SURE. WHILE YOU WAIT, PLEASE EXTEND YOUR RIGHT ARM THIS WAY AND MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL AND PRAY BLESSINGS IN THE NAME OF JESUS BECAUSE I WILL APPRECIATE THAT A LOT. PRAYING IN TONGUES IS NOT DISCOURAGED. UNITE FOR A GOOD CAUSE RIGHT THIS SECOND, Y’ALL. THIS! IS! MY! BABY!
So… for ME. I should probably have at LEAST shaken my head NO when asked if okay and gestured that i would now collapse in a puddle on the floor right there by the cold quiches and at least let a few of those tears actually fall. And ditch the fake smile. And gasp. And maybe make the ugly, gutteral sounds Michele described that I really so desperately wanted to make, but wouldn’t let myself, because i am a lady. (Um… no offense, Michele. Hee!)
And my COMPLETE unwillingness to take a second to even think about how I really was, or allow anyone – including me – to care… probably another self worth issue.
Or, as the lovely therapist lady says, “you didn’t have your tiara on, did you?”
No. NO. No, I did not. My figurative tiara was long gone at that moment.
For now, I’m mostly okay. I sort of walk and sit like I might have a minor hunchback issue going on, but I’m SURE IT”S NOT NOTICEABLE OR ANYTHING, DON”T TELL ME OTHERWISE. I am not lifting stuff. Or doing the yardwork that needs to be done. Or working out. Or running. Or laughing hard, if I can help it, because oh but y’all that hurts so bad.
I couldn’t help it earlier though. Mike came to get the kids this morning and he borrowed a couple of tables for a 4th of July thing they’re attending. The boys helped him load it into the back of his truck.
For the rest of this to make sense, you have to know that Mike just bought a REALLY nice truck, and apparently had a REALLY nice thick, fabric bedliner put in it, and then a shiny, silver diamondplate locking bedCOVER thing also. FAN-CEE.
(and, so much for ‘we will not make large purchases during this time, and will consult one another’, but HEY. i guess we’re officially past that point.)
So Caden-8yr helps load these two tables into the back of the nicest truck bed ever and then turns and yells, “mom! i am SO GLAD we got these out of your house!”
(note: they were in the far corner of the garage)
He continues, very sincerely, from within the Fanciest Truck Bed Ever: “Because these are COVERED in like, a MILLION baby spider egg things!”
And then he gets out of the Fanciest Truck Bed Ever and they lock up the million baby spider egg things in there and the boys kiss me and they drive away and I could NOT stop the rib-hurting laughing even though I desperately wanted to.
OH… Caden-8yr, you are so cute.