Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Viruses suck

Last week our house was attacked by a nasty virus. One night I stayed up all night with Princess, the nest night with Jason, the next with Curly Top. I have changed more bedding than I can count and have done too many loads of laundry. By the third night I had a full blown chest cold and have lost my voice. On Saturday I came home from work once again and collapsed for a nap. I spent my whole weekend only getting up to do necessary things like cooking, dishes, laundry, and medicating the children then I went right back to my nap. Well to be honest I did a bit of reading too. My boys also spent large chunks of time coming in to lay in my bed and talk. At one point I looked up from my book and all five kids were sprawled about reading. Curly Top can't actually read yet, but she tells herself the funniest stories while looking at the pictures. Most of the symptoms are gone now. The stubborn cough is still hanging about some, and my voice has refused to return but other than that we are back to our daily lives.

Where have I been?

I wish I could say I haven't posted lately because I've been out trying knew and exciting things and really couldn't be bothered. I guess I could say that but it would be a complete lie. Two Fridays ago dh was out of town. My plans for the evening included a cup of tea and a good book. On the way home from work I stopped by Anna's house to chat for minute. The first thing she said was that her husband was working late and asked if I wanted to run to town with her to pick up something to drink.
We came home with a 2004 Cabernet Savignon and a California Riesling. Our plans were still simple. We were going to watch movies and drink a few glasses. Then her phone rang. Her husband and some friends invited us to come to the Country Club. The girls had already went to Grandma's house and the boys were watching movies so I went.
Now we don't really have a country club within 40 miles of here. They just think they're clever by calling our little one room bar that. It is really called The Cantina. The place is so small that whenever somebody is shooting pool on the only pool table, which has to be right in the center, anyone sitting at any of the tables that line the walls have to constantly move to accommodate the pool sticks. We didn't stay long. We're too old to think it is more fun to sit in a smoky room paying to much for beer and talk than it is to sit at home and talk. So we left and by midnight Anna and I had finished off both bottles of wine. I woke up at seven to leave for work. It was cold out but I didn't notice it much. My keys weren't on their usual hook. Were did I leave them? Oh yeah, they are in my coat pocket. The coat I left at Miss Universes house a few days ago. I walked to her house let myself in with my key grabbed my coat and walked back to work. When I walked in the door at work it hit me. I was terribly hung over. Muscle fatigue and vomiting every few minutes made work very hard but I made it. Luckily Saturdays are only half-days.
At home I toasted two pieces of bread and collapsed in Princess's bed to slowly eat them and have a nap. My bed was covered in children who were taking turns playing the x-box and reading. After my nap I felt much better. I cooked eggs and toast for all then we went to the movies. I watched Ghost Rider which was a good movie at the time, but not memorable now. The following week was fairly uneventful.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Land mines in a small town

One of the things that make living in a small town complicated are all of the land mines. Social land mines that is, there is no danger of losing a limb, but they sure make living a peaceful life tricky. Years ago I noticed that falling into a circle was a sure way to have things blow up. Most of these circles are subtle and hard to spot, but there was a particularly obvious one in our town at that time. A circle is a group of people who hang out together as a group and all seem to like each other as a whole. However when any two of them were alone together they displayed a contempt for most of the other members. It doesn't seem to matter which two you got together either. A twosome could separate,walk away from each other, each of them running into a different member, who they had just been talking about, form another twosome, and of course, start talking the person they had just walked away from. Watching this obvious circle years ago I decided I did not want to belong to a circle. One of the ways I have tried to prevent it is to try not to trash talk. For some people that may be easy, but I have days when I find it extremely difficult. On the days when I am fed up and really need to vent I allow myself to vent to only two people, Miss Universe and my friend Tams, they both know me well enough to know I'm only venting and I know them well enough to know they won't use what I say as fodder for gossip. For the most part I have been successful, although I have to check myself every once in a while. One of the reasons I have to check myself is Godiva. There are a couple of reasons for her name, one is her long blond hair, the other is that one night after having a few beers she went across the street and stood behind a sign and removed her pants and shirt. The sign was just the right height so that it covered her from the uppermost part of her thigh to her armpits. Everything that was showing was bare. She appeared to be completely naked when her husband turned around and saw her. Then in the early morning moonlight she ran down the street in her underwear. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes her fun to hang out with. She is also very smart and interesting to talk to, and good person to have on your side when you need help. She has been there for me when I needed her more than once. On the other hand she is a horrible gossip. One morning a few months ago my sister Drama Queen was going through a rather rough time, and was spending a few nights in jail, Godiva actually came to me and said something about my sister being crazy and what were we going to do with her. Then she asked me what the full story was. I had already heard from other people that she sat around with them and laughed at how crazy D.Q. is. Now I'm not saying I'm perfect and have never laughed at somebody's misfortune, because I'm sure I have, but turning a friend's family problems into party entertainment is a little too much. So I tried to keep my voice from being extremely cold ( I think I managed to move it from Arctic to frosty) and changed the subject. Since I was angry and hurt about it I avoided her for a few months. This was a bit difficult since she is family in the most extended in law sort of way. Now that I have worked through my anger and forgiven her, of course without ever mentioning to her how I felt, I have started hanging out with her again. It was hard to watch myself and not trash her during that few months, believe me I had to squeeze my mouth shut more than once.
A few weeks ago Dh called me to ask who in town had a nine month old girl. He had heard a page go out for an ambulance to pick up the baby and mother at the clinic and take them to the hospital. That is how small towns are, when somebody hears something over the scanner they call around to find out who it is. Immediately I thought of Godiva. She has three girls, a baby, a two year old, and an eight year old. It turned out that the two year old had fed the baby six anti-depressants. She was treated and spent a night in the hospital and came out just fine, but it was scary. Of course right away people started talking about whose fault this was. Yeah, Godiva may have made a mistake, but if only people who never made any mistakes had children the world would be a barren place, and many good people would have never been parents. The funny thing I have noticed over the years is that people who point out the mistakes of others the loudest are usually the same people who make very serious blunders themselves.
When I heard that somebody had turned Godiva in to child services I assumed it was somebody who worked at the clinic or hospital. In their jobs they may have felt legally or morally obligated to do so. When people who see these kind of things first hand feel they may need to do something I believe they should error on the side of caution and have things checked out. How else can we battle child abuse? When it came out that it was none of these people who turned her in though, but another woman in town, who would have received all of her information through hearsay I was a little disgusted. Officially nothing came of the investigation, however this has caused a landmine in our community. In a small town all of the parties involved have many different roles. I get along with this woman because I know that she falls into the category of people that are friendly and I talk to when needed, but don't share anything personal with them because I know they will talk about me, and anybody I mention, the minute my back is turned. So now I have to try not to trash this woman whenever Godiva brings it up, which is not that easy. I also am avoiding the woman for a while just in case my disgust for her has not been properly wiped off my face. Why bother with last part? My son works with her, she is Princess's girl scout leader, her and Godiva both work for a organization that Dh sits on the board of. In a small town it is easier to just try and stay out of all arguments like this.

My weekend with Drama Queen.

The minute Drama Queen opened the door I felt bad about being grumpy. I love her so much, and she had not seen her kids in over a month. This is very hard on her and I really should be more sympathetic. I enjoyed spending time with her last weekend. Before we left Wichita I took her by a few stores so she could get a few things. At a couple of places we shopped for birthday presents for the girls Curly Top was with us so she didn't get any surprises, but I think she liked it better that way. While the girls were school Friday I ran her around town so she could get a few things done and really enjoyed all of the time I spent with her. Friday night I went grocery shopping and dh took the boys to a ball game which left her with an evening alone with her children. When I got home I was very tempted to go into my room and hang out with the three of them, but this was their time so I stayed out until midnight when I went in to go to bed. Saturday we had a sleepover for the girls. D.Q. told me more than once that she was glad I let the girls have one because she would never do it. On Sunday the girls and I drove her back to Wichita. One incident did taint the whole weekend for me, but in usual fashion I have been ignoring it hoping it will go away. When I have time and stamina to explain fully I will.

Lee is fifteen

Today is Lee's birthday. He turned fifteen this morning. For me this means that in three years I will have an adult child. This thought has filled me with a jumble of emotions. First fear, fear of turning my baby loose into a world that can be very harsh. Fear that there will come a day when he will move out and we will not ever be as close again as we were when we shared a house. Fear that someday he may decide to have children and I won't agree with the mother he picks for my grandchildren. Second pride, pride in having such a smart, kind, funny man to call son. Pride in watching him handle life's problems with dignity. Pride in knowing that even with all of the mistakes I have made I have stuck to my original goals of giving him roots, stability, and love. Third anticipation, anticipation that someday all of my children will be off living their own lives and I will be able to move some of the things I want to do with my life up on my priority list. I know it doesn't sound nice for a mother to admit that it will be nice when the nest is emptied, but to be honest even though I love my kids and know I will miss them terribly when they are gone, a small part of me looks forward to being able to get a few more things done.
Last night as these emotions started coming to me I wondered if I had done a good enough job. Self doubt took over and I listed some of my faults that I had passed on to him. I sat down at the computer to play spider solitaire. He walked by and reminded me not to close out the window he was on because he was burning a cd, but to feel free to listen to his music. When going over his play list I notice three old Beastie Boys songs. Peace washed over me, I was raising this kid right after all.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm a little grumpy today

I'm making a quick trip to Wichita today to pick up Drama Queen. The girls both had a birthday this week and she wants to come down and spend the weekend with them. I don't mind the drive to get her, but knowing I'm going to spend a whole day driving when I have so much to do is driving me crazy. The girls are having a slumber party this weekend. That means I have to clean this place up, do invitations, shop for snacks, and make a cake. All of that has to be fit around work on Saturday morning, and getting Lee's passport started. I'm going to miss Jason's scholars bowl meet today which makes me angry every time I think about it.
I know I should be more patient, and I usually am. For some reason this whole trip is grating on my nerves. Back in December it seemed like I was driving to Wichita on a weekly basis to pick her up or drop her off, and it didn't bother me as much as this one trip is. It has been over a month since I went so I really should be handling this better. Part of it is that I am feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the crap I'm supposed to be handling right now. Part of it is may be that I am not looking forward to Drama Queen's visit. That is a horrible thing to admit since I really do love my sister. It is just that she has been very critical lately every time I talk to her. She issues orders on how to handle situations with the kids and is constantly saying that she is going to have to straighten them out when she gets them back. I know her criticizing and demands are a way for her to feel like she is still taking some responsibility in her children's lives, but that doesn't make it easier for me to swallow.
It is odd when an unscheduled day of work feels like a vacation. Yesterday I was called into work at the last minute. It was such a light work day I had all of my work done by lunch time. I had to be there after lunch, but didn't have much to do. Instead of pacing around trying to look busy I broke the rules and sat at my desk and read. I am reading One day the Ice Will Reveal All of its dead. It was the perfect book to read on a cold day indoors. I was reading about the icy terrain in Greenland and every time someone opened a door freezing air rushed in on me. The office is always cold anyway since there are no south facing windows. So I hugged my cup of tea and read for two hours with only a few customer interruptions. I kind of wish I had to work today.

Monday, February 05, 2007

cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls vex me. Most things I can cook to my satisfaction after a couple of tries, but Cinnamon rolls I have tried over and over and they are never exactly what I want them to be. They are usually edible and get decent reviews, but they are never the specific roll I am craving. There is a little cafe along a highway in Oregon. Twice I have stopped there as a greyhound traveller and had breakfast. Both times I ordered the same thing, a cinnamon roll, orange juice, and black coffee. Both times it was heavenly. On my first solo trip I was 14 on my second I was 16. Sadly, I was too young then to think it important to remember the name of the cafe. Now I wonder if I was too young to be making greyhound bus trips alone, but at the time it seemed like a completely normal thing to be doing.
I remember at one point, after the cafe I think, a boy around my age boarded the bus. I was on the last stage of my journey, he was at the start of his, but we were both going to Salem. It was nice to pass the time talking with somebody my own age. My memory is full of people of varying ages and backgrounds that met over the course of my trip. Many of them are sharp, clear memories. This boy though is bland in my memory. In the memory he is blond, but if I picture him with black hair that fits too. His face is just a blurred placeholder. Who knows what we talked about. It was pleasant though, I remember enjoying the time we spent together. More clear is the lady sitting behind us. She leaned over the seat and asked us a few questions about where we were heading. She had dark brown hair. It hung to her shoulders in a straight bob. Her eyebrows were pinched together as she tried to figure out how far the two of us were travelling without and adult. We soon cleared up the misunderstanding that we were on the trip together. When she realized that we were both children travelling on our own her eyebrows pinched tighter. She sat back down in her seat. We giggled as we eavesdropped on her telling her companion about us. Here the memory fades again was the companion male or female? I don't remember.
Back to the cinnamon rolls. On Saturday night I made a batch to take over to Miss Universe's house on Sunday. My plan was to try a recipe off of the Internet, but when I asked Lane to let me have the computer for just a second he agreed, but asked what for. When I told him his eyes lit up. "I know where one is." He ran into the kitchen and pulled the little recipe book he had made for me in school off of the shelf. On the first page was a recipe for cinnamon rolls. There were a few copying errors that made me a little nervous,but how could I disappoint him by not using it? After the dough was rising I realized what was missing. The recipe didn't call for salt. I tried to knead some in and am not sure if that helped at all. The finished rolls were good, but the missing salt was noticeable.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Phone calls

Miss Universe called me last night and from her very first word I could tell she was exhausted. She likes to talk on the phone when she is tired. When I'm tired I can't stand phone calls, I answer the phone doing my Dorothy Parker impression. "What fresh hell is this?" I grumble as I search for a cordless phone that is usually found lying under the couch cushion. Unless of course it has been left on then it the cell that is answered and I am given instructions to turn off my damn phone.
This time though I am not tired and the phone is in its base where it belongs. She was tired though so we had the silliest of conversations.

M.U.: My dryer is broke so I have gathered up all my laundry to take to the laundromat tomorrow .

Me: Why don't you just use my dryer?

M.U.: There is way too much, it'll be faster to go to the laundry and get it all done at once. Do you want to go?

Me: Yeah sure, what time are you going?

M.U.: You don't have to go if you don't want to.

Me: I just said I would go.

M.U.: Yes, but you didn't seem very excited about it.

Me: It's the laundromat. Nobody is excited about it.

M.U.: Then don't come. You don't have to come.

Me: I just said I wanted to go.

M.U.: No don't come if you don't really want to. I only wanted you to come if it was something you really wanted to do. You don't have to come.

Me: It's the laundromat!

She didn't say any of this in an angry or petulant tone. It was all delivered in a calm unemotional manner which made it even sillier. It turns out that she fixed her dryer by pulling all of the frozen lint out of the exhaust vent. So neither of us went to the laundromat.