Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's 9pm. All good trick-or-treaters are safely home. It's probably time to move the pumpkins from the front porch and into the garbage can before the bad trick-or-trashers come out. My kids are holed up in the den (where the puppy can't go) surrounded by mountains of candy. They are engaged in a ritual that I remember fondly from my childhood. Counting out and trading their loot. I love sitting here listening to their negotiations. This is a new experience for the three of them. In the past we had a "no trading" rule to protect them from intimidation and coercion. We don't need that rule anymore. It's times like this.. listening to these three kids that I feel the most grief for the fourth.

It hit me earlier today... the guilt and anger and loss... and I had to go out to the garage to cry for awhile. But crying for Ian is more like dry heaves.. the reflexive action of a body empty of everything but still unable to recover. I wonder if I will ever have tears again. Life is calmer for the five of us without him living here. It's so obvious that we are doing what is best for Zane, Taylor and Delaney... and when I doubt it I have a few counselors I can call who will remind me why this decision was made. But giving Ian the freedom he was fighting for meant giving up the child we were fighting to save.

I don't know where Ian is tonight. Maybe he will call me tomorrow but I don't think he will. We talked with his former roommates Sunday and it sounds like he is out of control. They had good reasons to ask him to leave but felt he had manipulated the situation to make it look as though they had thrown him out for insignificant reasons. It was sad talking with them. They know well the danger he is putting himself in but they can't risk their own sobriety to save him.

Where do you draw the line? How much should you do to save someone who doesn't want help? I don't know. What I do know is that there are three children laughing down the hall who didn't laugh much a year ago. They are my reason for going on when I think I can't.

I love their laughter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Knight Before Halloween

Despite all plans to the contrary I did manage to leave one costume until the last minute. I just finished it.. sort of. The breastplate and back are one piece of cardboard with a hole for his head to go through. I need to make a belt to attach them at the waist so it doesn't bounce around when he walks. I'm going to stop at the fabric store on the way home tomorrow and get some elastic for that. It looks pretty good on the kid. He's happy and it's really hard to make a 14yr old happy.. so I'm happy too.

Monday, October 29, 2007

If you kill it you have to clean it!

Monday, monday... lala.. la.. lala lala

My goal for this week is to use up everything in my freezer. With Thanksgiving only three weeks and four days away (yes it really is!) I need to clear some space. My refrigerator is pathetically small thanks to the dunderhead who designed my kitchen. When we moved here our traditional style side by side refrigerator blocked the door of the pantry. The refrigerator that replaced it is "counter depth" and cost a whole lot more for the delightful feature of having less space! Now I'm toying with the idea of buying a very cheap refrigerator to put out in my garage. We have a perfect spot right next to the door from the kitchen so it wouldn't be a ridiculous trek out to gather stuff from there. It feels a little wasteful to have two refrigerators but right now I'm wasting time and money running to the grocery store three times a week simply because my fridge is too small to hold enough fresh food. Anyway... on to the menu!

  • Monday - Pasta Alfredo, Garlic Shrimp, Salad

  • Tuesday - Thai Peanut Chicken with Broccoli and Rice Noodles (we skipped this last week so I'll try again)

  • Wednesday - Slow cooker Beef Stew

  • Thursday - Chicken Tomatillo Enchiladas

  • Friday - Turkey Burgers, Potato chips, Salad

  • Saturday - Bob Cooks Something Delicious

  • Sunday - Soup and Panini (this is becoming a Sunday tradition

Thanks to Laura at for hosting Menu Plan Monday every week. If you haven't seen her new blog go check it out!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Corn Maze Mayhem...

Today we went to the pumpkin patch and corn maze and didn't bring a camera. Again! Poor Delaney... 2001 was the last year we took pictures of her at the corn maze. Wasn't she adorable? She still is, although I don't think she'd be caught dead in rainbow tights anymore.

We had a fun time today although we did get lost in the maze for a very long time. Zane and Taylor took a different route and found the way out very quickly but Bob and I are directionally challenged or something. We were lost! Delaney tried to take control and lead us out but we just hit one dead end after another. The sun started to go down and it was cold enough to see our breath. I was honestly starting to get worried that they would close the farm down and leave us stranded in the corn! Eventually we found the way out. Zane and Taylor had spent time finding the biggest pumpkins in the patch and dragging them back to barn. So we now have three gigantic pumpkins sitting in the kitchen. Tomorrow we will gut and carve them. Bwhahahahahaha!
For most of my parenting life I have had this magnet on my refrigerator door. It came to me in the mail, at a time when I truly needed encouragement. Ian, who had been walking and talking since he was nine months old and aggravating adults for even longer, had been asked to leave another daycare center. Well, techinically, they didn't ask him to leave... they asked me not to bring him back. Faced with the prospect of interviewing, and being interviewed, interrogated, and rejected by childcare providers, AGAIN, we decided it was time to just stop trying. After all, this was our child and who could better care for him than his own mother. Who indeed? After six months at home with him I was painfully aware of my limitations. Desperate to avoid turning into the world's most negative mother I turned to my silly refrigerator magnet. Everyday I would pick a phrase and find a reason to say it to Ian.

When we have difficult children we often find ourselves grasping at straws, looking for any way to gain a handle on the situation. I don't think the platitudes really made any difference to Ian but it helped me focus. Having that very basic reminder to praise my child's positive qualities challenged me to keep looking for those qualities. At times it would have been easier to just believe he was bad, rather than curious, strong-willed, frighteningly intelligent, and charismatic. As an adult those qualities could be the very things that will save him from himself. If he would only believe that he is worth saving. You're incredible Ian. I love you.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I'm going to complain.. feel free to ignore me...

There aren't enough hours in the day and I'm not finding any time to write. I have committed to doing the NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) but tonight I missed the first meeting of our local group because Bob had to work late and I was just too tired to do anything social. I don't' have to be involved in the group to write a novel in a month, but it definitely helps to have people to suffer with.

This will be the third year I've attempted NaNoWriMo and I've never completed the marathon. In fact I quit before I even got started last year. November was a very bad month for us. By the first week I had been so overwhelmed by the events unfolding in my house that I was only able to live minute to minute. I am better prepared this year but I hadn't expected to be working all day, or to have family visiting the week before and after Thanksgiving, or to be dealing with the worry of Ian's imminent melt-down.

But... these are excuses. I have a book to write. It's not even a big book. It's about 120 pages. That's only four pages a day. It is an achievable goal if I can stay motivated. IF!


Ok.. I admit it.. I might be a little crazy. On the surface I seem to be a rather quiet, conservative, 40ish, mother of four. My typical mom uniform is a brown/black/gray sweater and jeans. Why? Well, partly because I don't want to draw attention to the fact that, nine years after the last baby, I still look pregnant and partly because I have always been a little bit of a wallflower. I am not exactly shy but I am reserved and uncomfortable with being the center of attention. (And yet I am a complete attention junkie in print.. go figure.) So, why is it that, despite my general reluctance to wear any color, I fell in love with, bought and have actually worn, a bright orange paisley blouse?! I am at a loss to explain this strange behavior. All I can say is that when I wear it I feel vibrant, alive, and a little bit younger than my gray hair says I am.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Denial.. my favorite afternoon treat...

Today I was invited to visit my eldest son in his new apartment. It's a cozy two bedroom in a prime location, close to shopping and public transportation. As an added bonus there is free guest parking within walking distance of the back patio. He was happy to see me and to introduce me to his roommates. He seems to be settling in and is surrounded by friends.

Invited: Asked to come by and drop off grocery money.
Cozy: 850 square feet.
Shopping: The Shell Super Station.
Transportation: A bus stop.
Free guest parking: At the Super Shell.
Walking distance: Go around the gas station and through a hole in the fence.
Back patio: A mossy green slab of cement.
Introduce: An unintelligible grunting and pointing ritual.
Roommates: Six Pre-adults.
Settling in: Sleeping on the couch.
Friends: (Definition currently under revision)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another week rushes by...

The only post I managed to complete last week was my menu and now it's Sunday and I'm working on the menu again with very little else to say... that's kind of sad. But I had a nasty cold last week so I'm going to cut myself some slack about not writing. I got through the first week of work and we mostly stuck to the menu although I did have a mini midweek melt-down that required a visit to Ruby Tuesday's. Here's hoping this week will be good and I'll be getting back to semi-regular blogging very soon.

  • Monday - Turkey Meatloaf, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Green Beans

  • Tuesday - Shredded Beef and Potato Soup with Chimichurri, Tortilla Chips

  • Wednesday - Thai Peanut Chicken with Broccoli and Rice Noodles

  • Thursday - Baked Ziti with Turkey Sausage, Salad

  • Friday - Slow Cooker Roast with Potatoes, Carrots and Onions

  • Saturday - Make Your Own Paninis and Tomato Soup

  • Sunday - To Be Decided Later

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Monday again?! I'm really not ready for this week. Last week was hard.. nothing went like it was supposed to and I'm terribly behind around here. I did manage to stick to my menu for almost the whole week and I'm really proud of myself. It took me three weeks to get to this point and now I have to embrace a new challenge. Tomorrow I will start working four hours a day and I need to figure out how to do that, and keep up on everything around here, and still find time to write. Everyone in this house is going to have to pitch in... and everyone seems to be willing right now. Zane is actually excited to take over some of the cooking. Sunday afternoon he sent me an email (he knows how to get my attention!) with his menu and grocery list for Thursday.
  • Monday - Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup, Ham or Turkey and Cheese Pannini, Salad

  • Tuesday - Turkey Meatloaf, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Green Beans

  • Wednesday - Spiced Roast Pork, Baked Yams, Rice, Spiced Apples

  • Thursday - ZANE COOKS! Lasagne, Salad, and Homemade Ice Cream for dessert.

  • Friday - Shredded Beef and Potato Soup, Tortillas

  • Saturday - Bob Cooks

  • Sunday - To be determined later

Happy Birthday Delaney and Bob!!

The high school journalism club hosts a Father/Daughter dance every year and this year it happened to fall on our Father/Daughter birthday weekend! It was a really neat way for Bob and Delaney to celebrate their birthdays together.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I think I can, I think I can...

Tonight I'm taking the first chapter of my first book to the writer's workshop to be critiqued. It's a funny experience, both exhilarating and frightening. Every time I take something to critique I get very anxious. Will this be the time that they all decide I'm not really a writer and escort me out? (Although I'm not sure they really could escort me out of Barnes and Noble.) Maybe they will just turn away, shunning me for my lack of talent, or chase me from the table shouting "Hack! Hack!" or worst of all.. just laugh?

In order to build up my courage, I submitted the chapter to my in-house revision staff, better known as Zane, my fourteen year old son, and his girlfriend. Although they were supposed to be studying history they agreed to read for me IF I would make them kool-aid. There is something ironic about being required to perform motherly duties in order to get opinions on my attempt to do something non-motherly. They pronounced it "good" and "worth an A" and then Zane went on to ask me a few questions about the setting and the motivations of the antagonist. I expected a grunt from the boy and a giggle from the girl but I got so much more. I actually ended up running back to my computer to change a few things.

Amazing, isn't it? The boy I taught to read is now helping me learn to write.

But I wanted to be Tigger...

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!
Unfortunately this is a pretty accurate description of me.
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A Quote...

Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!
Og Mandino -

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Things I'm avoiding

Today I am filled with a sense of dread. I don't have a specific reason for this anxiety but, instead of just shaking it off, I find myself sitting here obsessing over things I don't want to do. So, while I obsess I'll make a list for you guys (all three of you.. hey, readership is up!) to ponder with me.

1) The peeling paint on my porch columns: Mostly this annoys me because my house is only a year old and should not have peeling paint anywhere. But, behind the annoyance, is a small fear that, despite being brand new, this house is starting to fall apart and I can't keep up with it. It's the kind of thing that gives me tiny nightmares. Like dreams of my teeth crumbling and falling out, the site of peeling paint, and the thought that there might be mildew and rot under it, haunts me. What really sucks (yes, I said sucks, because I have the maturity of a thirteen year old) is that I should have taken care of the stupid columns in August when the weather was beautiful. Or in September when the weather was relatively dry. But I didn't and now it's raining... and the mutant mold is probably growing!

2) Hanging pictures: Again.. the house is a year old! Why do I still have artwork piled in a corner of the dining room? I honestly don't know. Fear of commitment? Discontent with the color of my walls? The nagging feeling that if I allow myself to relax something might go wrong? I really need to get a grip.

3) Unpacking boxes in the garage: Notice a theme? Ugh.

4) Change of address form: No, not for me.. I'm not that bad! But for Ian, my eighteen year old, (notice I'm pretending that someone I don't know might be reading this) who is no longer living here but is still using our address for his mail. I hate, hate, hate, getting his bills, credit card offers, and postcards that are clearly notices of bounced checks. I guess I'm not really avoiding the change of address form. I'm going to fill out the change of address form to avoid the stress of knowing that I can't fix him or even give him advice. All I can do is change his address so that I don't have the tangible evidence that I need to worry about him showing up in my mailbox every other day.

I think this list could go on and on but I'm going to stop it here and go tackle the laundry.. another avoided chore but not one that gives me palpitations. Perhaps tomorrow I can make a list of things I do to avoid thinking about the things I'm avoiding?