Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.

 Facebook, I tell ya.  They know how to do it...sometimes.  Well, here's my year in review, with commentary, of course, and some shitty parts thrown in there for fun too.  And pictures you probably haven't seen because they've been on my camera since I took them.  I'll actually start with the bad.  And end with the good.  So, you leave here feeling all warm and fuzzy.

A few things have happened this year that have absolutely sucked.  Some are not as bad as others, but I'll begin in February. 

Claire turned 12.  I don't like throwing her birthday parties because she usually cries and/or throws hissy fits about things not going her way.  I hate watching it.  I also hate watching her friends rally behind her and pick her up and generally treat her like a princess, which she probably plans from the start.  Dumb.  But I agreed this year, again, saying that it would be her last, especially her last WITH PRESENTS!  Enough already.  She invited boys (four of them) this year and everyone was going to stay outside sledding and skating, which was all fine and dandy.  UNTIL the drama started.  Her boyfriend at the time was (and still is) a very nice young man.  He's had a crush on Claire since I can remember.  His parents came in to meet me when they dropped him off; they were super nice and totally down to earth.  He got her an Alex and Ani bracelet, which (you know) says something.  And then, AND THEN, Claire has to tell another boy while they were out skating that she doesn't really like her boyfriend anymore.  What?  Say what?  You did what?  Who are you?  And so, of course, that boy tells her boyfriend and it isn't until he leaves the party and goes home and gets on his Ipod that she TEXTS him that she doesn't want to go out anymore.  I realize she's 12 and navigating the murky swamp of "dating" but geez girl, you know right from wrong!!

On to other shitty news:
Besides the boys NOT winning a soccer game this last fall (and me taking the brunt of the blame because I was their coach), the other catastrophic event that happened was that Timmy decided he wanted to move out of his bedroom. 

The guest room isn't quite Timmy's yet.  Not until the septic goes in over at the shop so the guest room can move out to Paul Bunyan's Mother-in-law space.

 But for now he's moved 1/2 the clothes, 1/2 the Nerf guns, 1/2 the posters, and his hockey awards.

 And my heart is broken.

 They still get along swimmingly.


But the move is definitely a sign that they are needing their own identities and space and friends and space and whaaaaa.....they don't need each other any more.

And the last two very tragic events were the loss of Bee and Bozie.  I've never spoken about Bozie on this here blog but she arrived a month before Bee died.  She was listed as a English Bulldog mix on Petfinder.  Paul Bunyan has always wanted an English Bulldog and a brindle.  So there.  She was going to be IT!

She and Bee played fantastically.  For one month, they wrestled and wrestled some more and then kissed.  There was only one fight between them.  Bozie showed signs of fear aggression the moment she arrived.  However, the moment Bee died she really started to growl and scare anyone who came to the door.  She snapped at the kids and bit Paul Bunyan.  I knew it wasn't the right fit, so mourning the loss of Bee I had to drive Bozie down to Connecticut one week later to surrender her to a rescue that was partnered with the one I adopted her from in Arkansas.  This place seemed horrible though.  It was a converted gas station with just windows and cement and dog kennels.  I cried the whole way home.  I was grateful my mother was there to drive- I wouldn't have been able to do it.  I had to convince myself that I had done the right thing and that we were just the transport for her to get to her forever home.  She was adopted not soon after I brought her to CT.  So, I have to believe she is where she's supposed to be.  She was labeled, after all was said and done, a Mountain Cur- a dog bred to protect.

The loss of Bee will mar most of the good things that happened to our family in 2014.  I will never forget the sight of those reverse lights from my neighbor's car.  I just knew.  I knew she'd be laying down in the back of it. 

I feel her loss in so many ways.

She was a fantastic dog and I'm sad that her ONE fault was the thing that killed her.  Well, that and she liked to bark at us if she was bored.

But she taught us some valuable lessons- ones I hope we can remember when we bring our IV(Y) home on the 2nd.  Our fourth black lab, with all of her love, will bring us some cheer for the New Year.  And dog hair.  And poop to clean up.  And sharp puppy teeth.  And wet dog smell.  And, and, new puppy smell, too.

Okay, well that transitions us into the good.  There's a bunch.  More than I can or want to document here.  But the highlights are:

Despite Claire's strong finish and 5th place at States, Claire decided to quit gymnastics to pursue other interests.  Here was one of them:

Can you say, "Happy Mum"?  So fun to watch her.  Well, I shouldn't say that.  Let's be honest here.  It sucked to watch her play.  But I enjoyed seeing her have fun with the team.  And I was grateful that she was on a team!  Without gymnastics and the pressure to be there all year long, many hours a week, Claire has freed herself up to be present at camp all summer and not feel guilty, to try a fall sport, and to commit herself to theater.  She is happy to announce that she got the part of Tiger Lily in this year's production of Peter Pan.  And now I'm starting to sound like a Christmas letter.

I found this shot of her dressed up for her FIRST EVER HALLOWEEN!

She's a fucking pissed of Native American, eh?  I'm not sure Tiger Lily is that mad.

We'll keep the Christmas letter theme going.

In April, the family took their very first "vacation" without having either set of Grandparents pay for them.  We took the train to NYC for two nights.  

 Everyone wanted to shop, except Mom, so that's all we pretty much did.

In June, the boys graduated from 4th grade.

They miss their teacher tremendously.  She was like another mother to them and now they actually have sit and get shit done at school.  They hate it.  However, it was a special night.

They were very lucky to have the experience they did at this little elementary school.  It's a special place.  Here they are with their Kindergarten teacher- their class was her last year (40th!).

In other news:

Auggie got up on water skis this summer!  On his very first attempt!  What a stud.

And, once again, Paul Bunyan amazes us all with his building prowess.  He, and his brother from another mother Jon, put up the post and beam frame for a brand new Sugar Shack this past summer. 

I still get amazed at his ability to dream and DO anything and everything he puts his mind to.  1,000 
taps are on target for Spring of 2015.   

And last, but not least, the biggest thing to happen to me this year was my decision to quit drinking.  I didn't want to make this blog about my sobriety and I won't now but I have to say it's probably the best decision I've made for myself since I decided to start washing my face with oil-free face wash.  It's been something I've been proud of.  I don't know what in my make-up mixes with booze and creates a raging, mean, mommy but something has changed in my blood that, when mixed with fermented liquid, boils up and over the threshold.  I cried for three weeks at the loss of my daily dose, but in hindsight it was probably something I should have quit a long long time ago.  I'm giving myself a pat on the back for my courage.  Because it ain't easy folks.

Here I am with my Mom having my first Mexican meal without a margarita.  Bummer dude.  But righteous at the same time.  There's more to life than beer.  And there's no self love at the bottom of a bottle.  It took me a long time to realize this.

Here's hoping we can continue to learn from our ways in 2015!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Do the fat wooly bears really have a chance?

In the Spring it's the spotted salamanders who are trying to cross the road.  They wait for dark.  They wait for rain.  Then they go forth- risking death to make it to their vernal nesting pools.  Some make it, some don't.  But they all still try.

In the fall the big fat furry wooly bears cross the road.  They wait for sun.  They wait for warmth and then they go for it.  I'm not sure what they're trying to cross the road for but some make it, and some don't.  But they still try.

We are, as of late, a family of BIG losers.  It's hard to watch.  The boys' soccer team (of which I'm embarrassed to say I coach) has failed to win A GAME this season.  There have been many games because of all the jamborees: 3 games per jamboree x 3 jamborees + two regular season games= LOTS OF LOSING.

Claire's field hockey team (of which I'm excited to say she made) has had 6 games.  SIX chances to win.  But NOOO!  And I'm starting to play for a brand new women's hockey league in the area.  There are four teams in the league- we've played four games and have lost them all.  And I'm not talking tiny losses (close games).  We have ALL lost BIG TIME.  Like, BIG TIME.  Blowouts- 4-0, 5-0, sometimes more.  We are a family of losers.  I keep telling the kids, "We're making progress,"  "You're getting better,"  "You're gonna win one of these days,"  but FUCK THAT!  I want them to WIN now.  I want them to have won yesterday.  And the day before.  I want them (and me too) to rejoice in the feeling of WINNING.  The feeling, specifically in sports, that is, "I AM BETTER THAN YOU RIGHT NOW!" 

This sucks.

It really sucks.

Because they're starting to get used to LOSING.  They're starting to accept LOSING!

So I googled (well, actually Binged) "benefits of losing" and the pages and pages of "Benefits of weight loss" popped up.  Okay, that didn't work.  So, I added "benefits of losing in sports" and the only sites that popped up were "benefits of sports" sites.  Okay, Okay, I thought, "benefits of losing the game".  NO RESULTS FOUND!  Seriously.  You try it.  So, under those words was a related search section so I clicked on "We are losing the game" and a series of heavy metal music videos popped up.  This isn't where I wanted to go.  I wanted there to be a list of POSITIVES TO LOSING somewhere out there and what I discovered is that THERE IS NO FUCKING POSITIVE TO LOSING!  It just plain sucks.  So, I typed in "positives to losing in athletics" and I came across an article about a losing softball team that talks about how they take away the positives from losing but it doesn't really highlight the positives (because there fucking aren't any).  The article does end with a quote from the sage athletic director: "They'll take these lessons on into life...this isn't the only adversity they're going to face in their lifetime.  This will teach them how to handle it in most ways students don't get the opportunities to learn."  In other words- YOU'RE LEARNING HOW TO BE LOSERS.  AREN'T YOU LUCKY???  BE GLAD YOU FUCKING LOSERS.

I'm sorry I'm swearing so much.  I'm just mad.  I'm mad at all this losing.

We just watched Little Miss Sunshine on Saturday night.   If you haven't seen this movie you have to see it RIGHT NOW.  I'm not kidding.  It's one of my favorites.  The dad in the film is trying to get a book deal on his 9 steps to happiness theory.  His main philosophy is that there are winners in this world and there are losers.  I'm pretty sure by the end of the movie his outlook on life (and happiness) changes but it's a good question.  Are we destined for winning or losing?  And is this destiny handed down from generation to generation?  Are you born a winner?  A loser?   Do my children have a chance at WINNING??

I went to an amazing school to play field hockey.  I'm sure I've talked about it here before.  So, I won't go into details. We made it to the Final Four three out of my four years.  We made it to the final game two of those times.  Did I ever win a national championship?  NO.  Is this something I still think about?  Yes.  We did not win.  We got close.  We showed up.  But I didn't ever have a chance to have that feeling.  AM I PASSING THIS GENETIC LOSING TRAIT TO MY KIDS?  Holy shit, I hope not.  Please let this not be the case.

It's not about winning and losing- it's about playing the game.  Right?  Everyone says this.  They're playing the game.  They're risking the chance of losing in order TO MAYBE POSSIBLY WIN!  My fat wooly bears really do have chance!!  Someone has to win.  Why can't it be one of mine???


“They’ll take these lessons on to life,” Oberhelman said. “This isn’t the only adversity they’re going to face in their lifetime. They’re going to face a lot of downtime in their careers and in their personal lives. This will teach them how to handle it in ways most students don’t get the opportunity to learn.” - See more at: http://mustangnews.net/young-softball-team-takes-positives-from-losing-record/#sthash.TP9bLmDF.dpuf
“They’ll take these lessons on to life,” Oberhelman said. “This isn’t the only adversity they’re going to face in their lifetime. They’re going to face a lot of downtime in their careers and in their personal lives. This will teach them how to handle it in ways most students don’t get the opportunity to learn.”
- See more at: http://mustangnews.net/young-softball-team-takes-positives-from-losing-record/#sthash.TP9bLmDF.dpuf

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Blog Should Be Called the Chronicles of Dead Black Dogs

Since that's all I seem to be writing about here.

We killed her.  I know that seems a little drastic but when you break it down it's true.  She had an addiction and we didn't break her of it.  She was an adrenalin junky.  You were Miss Bee.  You were.  She, from the moment she arrived here at the Homestead, chased things with wheels or legs that moved.  My earliest memories of her are of her chasing my garden cart as I pulled it around the property.  But here is the list of other things:

anyone on a bike
the 4 wheeler
the ski boat
children sledding
any bird, including our chickens
any chipmunk (their taunting chirps made her go berserk)
definitely the cat
Medora's goats
pollywogs in the pond
any ball, puck, or moving object thrown or kicked by a kid

I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten but her need to get whatever was moving is what ultimately led to her demise.  If we had been any good- we would have trained her.  We talked about a shock collar.  For years.  Would that have helped?  Tough saying, not knowing.  My guilt is overwhelming.  She was just starting out.  This was her beginning.

I've lost a follower.  I'm down one from 10.  I don't write on this here platform anymore.  Life with preteens is enough.  So, I'm sad to jot down only sad news but I want Bee's life chronicled somewhere.  I want to remember her just as I do today.  Sometimes time doesn't lend itself to remembering.  And I don't want to forget.

Liebe died on Mother's Day in 2011.  Bee was born June 9, a few months after.  We filled the hole with Bee.  She arrived with her rambunctious spirit, which was not loved by Sydney, our old hag.  Therein lied some guilt too.  It's rampant in these parts.  Early on Bee ate dead frogs on the road and perfected her art of chasing the cat.  It got to the point near the end of her life that she associated bringing down the recycling to the basement with the cat.  She would bark as soon as we picked up the recycling bucket to head towards the basement and like Pavlov's dog she drooled with the excitement of the prospect of a chase.  I won't be able to walk towards the basement door without remembering how she would blow by anyone to shoot down the stairs first- just in case the cat was within biting distance.  A few days before she died she almost had him.  He stayed in the brown shed until yesterday.

Bee was a free spirit in the woods.  She took her own path, often on the scent of a deer or two.  She would always come back, frothing at the mouth after a good long sprint.  This was okay in the woods, but I knew some day that it wouldn't be okay on our road- even though we live in the middle of nowhere.  We let her do it anyway.  Well, because we like to make our children happy.  I always kept her on a leash on the busier road at the bottom of the hill.  Paul Bunyan would sometimes risk it down there with her off-leash.  We had trained her to come to us when she heard a car.  We would make her sit until the car was out of sight and then we would release her.  Sometimes she would chase anyway.  But most of the time, she stayed with us.  And this worked for three and a half years.

Until Bee didn't have time to come back to me before the second car came down the road.

She slept at my feet and barked at 3 in the afternoon for dinner.  She barked at the shadows cast by the full moon.  She barked when she needed attention, which is why I got her a friend.  Bozie will have to be a different post.  But they played hard, together, for a full month.  They had their first fight on Friday.

Bee was a sweet sweet dog.  She had kisses for you whenever you wanted one.  She and Paul Bunyan would hug often.  All he needed to do was to get down on one knee.  She loved to lick his salty head.  He would give her a rub down in return.  We constantly wonder why we keep setting ourselves up for this heartache.  And I have to remind myself that the heartache is trumped by all the love and affection that we have received from all of our black labs.  Bee slept at my feet.  In the morning she crept up for kisses.  And there is nothing that can replace the feeling of contentment that you can receive from having someone come to greet you, happily, at the door.  Especially if your preteens don't care if you've come or gone.

I think it helps people deal with a loss when they tell themselves that their loved one died doing what he/she loved to do.  I'm quite certain the Crocodile Hunter's family said that when he died.  Or there was a guy who died using one of those wingsuits.  Or the local boy last month who drove his motorcycle too fast down a dirt road.  All these adrenaline junkies who knew the risks but did it anyway.  I could say that for Bee.  She was doing what she LOVED to do.  But she didn't know the inherent risks in doing what she was doing.  That's what's killing me.  We were the ones responsible for this.  I should have stayed in the woods.  I should have kept her on the leash.  We should have gotten that shock collar.  We should have trained her that first day she chased my garden cart.  should should should should should should.

Well, this I know.  Her legs and spirit traveled more in this time and place than most dogs do in a lifetime.  We shared a love and a short life and it was a gift.  She was a gift.  She is a gift.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I think I Have an Alien Baby Inside of Me

Summer is passing at warp speed.  Boys are moving around in 5 packs.  They have a mob mentality and don't pick up their wet suits and towels and before I can ask them to they're off and running to sleep over someone else's house.  At least last night I made them brush their teeth before they left.  They're tan and growing so fast their bones hurt.  See what sleep and sunshine do?  They make me have to buy twice the burger meat. 

We're here there and everywhere.  It's par for the course.  I'm not going to make this a weepy report of my sobriety but let's just say it's going swimmingly.  I've replaced beer with homemade limeades and last night I had a lemonade mixed with some strawberry jam I jarred up yesterday afternoon.  I've replaced my need to get drunk with a need to host dinner.  I want to feed people, see their relief.  I threw a 9 lb. piece of pork in the oven yesterday and let it cook in its own bone and fat for 7 hours.  I pulled it all apart and slathered it in apple cider vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar.  It was too simple to taste so good.  It's hard to believe you're eating muscle when it tastes like candy.  No scraps for the compost bin. 

Arthur wrecked our beach trip this year; I still dug my feet in the sand and ate like a queen.  Seems to be the thing to do down there.  Before that I was spoiled in L.A.  Getting my hair "blow dried," hanging out with the Fonz again.  You know that section of the tabloids where they show stars being regular people..."They're JUST like us!"?  Well, Henry's just like us.  You should see his grandson's face when he sees him.  Love is human.  Love is kind.

Bees buzzing around the homestead again- swarmed from my neighbor's hive.  I sawed off the branch they were clinging to and Amy and I in our bee keeper's outfits, sweat rolling down our backs, captured them into a plastic bucket.  Sweeping them in with a broom like they were dog hair piles collected in the corner of the living room.  It was surreal.  We just dumped them, literally, into a new box and they immediately started working, cleaning, exploring, protecting their queen who sits around and lays eggs all day.  It's phenomenal.  I heard the box buzzing this morning as I worked to get my garden presentable.  It seems like an impossible task (more weeds than vegetables) and then I think about those bees working so hard to make honey so they can exist in this world.  I can, at least, weed for an hour.  But my mind wanders to the list- bills to pay, friends that need help, Mom that's getting emergency hip replacement (right now), laundry that needs to get hung, dishes that need doing, book list that needs creating, boat that needs registering, pizza oven that needs starting, dog needs exercising, me that needs exercising, soccer sign-ups, dinner thoughts, greenhouse plants that need watering, ugh.  I'm sure the bees have complex lives too but what I wouldn't give to just have one goal: nectar.  That's it.  Go get it.  Bring it back.  Go get more.  Sleep.  Go get nectar.  Bring it back. Go get more.

I have to admit I like the chaos.  I don't sit very well.  Lately, when I've sat on my porch in my new furniture to take a moment for myself I get this sensation in my gut.  Something rolls around inside of me.  It truly feels like I have a baby doing somersaults in my stomach, which (ya know) I've felt before, so I'm qualified to tell you that that's what it feels like.  But, yet, it sorta feels different too.  Which is why I think I have an alien in my belly.  I'm pregnant with an alien baby.  But that's ok.  Maybe he/she'll treat me like I'm the queen and they'll do all the work around here.  And then all I'll have to do is lay around and have tons and tons (2,000 a day) more alien babies who, when born, wait on me hand and foot.  They'll feed me and clean up after me.  And maybe, maybe, if I'm a good queen they'll even pick up their fucking wet bathing suits.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Choose You

I love this picture.  Me, two babies inside, in Paul Bunyan's underwear.  Addy on the left.  Claire on the right.  Jesus on the t.v. behind me. 

My 41st birthday was two and a half weeks ago.  It was a Sunday.  It was spitting snow.  It was raw and cold and...

I didn't open one gift.  No one gave me a present.  I have to give Paul Bunyan some credit because he and I had been working tirelessly to get the space over his shop ready for one of the Wombats who needed to move in immediately.  She has left her husband.

She moved in on my birthday.

The Friday night before we got invited to go to Mud's house for dinner.  She had salmon.  I was bringing steaks.  The sun was out.  We hadn't seen it for awhile, so it felt good on our faces and backs.  The kids jumped around outside after school.  Paul Bunyan and I cracked a beer at 4:00.  We finished building the bed frame by 5:00.  When we got to Mud's house Paul Bunyan and I cracked another beer.  It was 5:30.  We were heading around the field for a walk with the dogs.  Paul Bunyan went inside for another beer because he slammed his second one.  While we waited on the hill, Mud with her gin and tonic, me with my beer, I made a snarky comment to Addy, Mud's daughter.  She's Claire's age and taller than me, with a heart the size of a horse.  It was vacation week and she was greasy from playing, and not showering.

Me, smiling: "Addy, When was the last time you took a shower?"
Her, embarrassed, looking away: "I don't want to say..."

I laughed it off.  We walked, drank, laughed.  6:00 cracked a beer.  6:30 cracked a beer.  I don't know how many I drank.  I piled the empties in the box so I wouldn't see them.  Paul Bunyan stopped at 4.  I remember crushing more of Mud's dilapidated patio furniture and throwing it on the fire; I've been known to do this.  I did it last Spring after drinking a half gallon of a homemade rum punch I brought over to share.  I burned her failing table that night- trying to be funny.  Later that same night I called my husband gay- trying to be funny.  

At some point on Friday Mud and I were talking about how we would stay sober enough to go pick up our children at parties if they needed rides home.  It was baffling to us.  We ate (at least at this dinner I remember eating).  We drank more.  And then the kids came to say it was time to go.  We rounded up our stuff; I meandered around the kitchen and found only my nearly empty case of beer with a few (2) leftover for me to crack open when we got home.  I cradled it to my chest and said my good byes.  Things are murky from here but this is what I remember:

I called Addy trailer trash.
She ran away upstairs in tears.
Someone (Paul Bunyan) had to tell me to go upstairs to apologize.
I still clutched my case of beer (maybe).
I tried to open her door, apologizing, telling her I was only kidding.
She pushed from the other side.
When I came back down Claire called me mean.
I saw the disappointment in everyone's eyes.
I clutched my case of empties.



adjective: sheepish (of a person or expression) showing embarrassment from shame or a lack of self-confidence.

I had turned into my father.

I don't want to go into the details about all the nasty nights I've witnessed my dad, who was always trying to be "funny", be so critical and mean to me, my brother, my mother, my teammates, my friends.  All you need to know is that in that ONE moment that I felt Addy push against the door to NOT let me in I realized I was him.  And every piece of my body does NOT want to be him.  

And so I'm done.  I'm done with the alcohol and it's not going to be easy and it's not going to be fun and I've been crying for two and half whole weeks at the loss of something I've found so enjoyable  for 20 years.  There is so much work to be done and there is so much redefining that has to be done and there is so much fear that has to be suppressed and there is so much joy to be found in sobriety.  But right now I'm just plain sad.

It took Paul Bunyan 5 (give or take) years to quit his addiction to tobacco.  It was finally a $1,000 bet he made with his buddy Jon.  I hope I don't struggle as much as he did.  I have a feeling that whenever I have a craving to go back all I'll have to do is feel Addy pushing back against that door, trying to keep me out.  I was that girl.  I know how that feels.

Claire has been playing this song every time we're in the car:

"Tell the world that we finally got it all right"

And so I choose you.

I choose you.

I choose you.

 I choose you.

 And most importantly, I choose me.  The greatest birthday gift anyone could give me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Looking out my winder...at Spring and the Possibilities.

I think it's here.  Sun. Blue sky.  Mud.  Yay (facetiously said)!  The mud is here!  No, really, I think this year I'm psyched Spring has arrived.  But there is still enough snow in the woods to have to snowshoe.  And there is still snow up to the kitchen winder.  So, it's still here.  For awhile, at least.

But sun shining in while I was doing the dishes this morning made the mundane task, well, not so mundane.  Pandora in the background.  Limitless possibilities in the foreground.  And then this song came on:

And I turned into a weepy mess.

Claire had a birthday party at the beginning of March.  Lots of friends, pizza, root beer, skating, sledding, a few boys.  SCREECH!  Wha?  A few boys?  Yeah.  A few boys.  What's the big deal? They came rolling in with clouds and clouds of cologne in their wake.  They brought a new dimension to the party.  Claire broke her boyfriend's heart that night.  What's the big deal, right?  Her best friend will probably be dating him next month.  Cacacarazy.

Well, the twins came home from their skating party at one point in the night.  They were headed back out to a sleepover but they came home to grab their sleeping bags and pillows and when they walked in they got a "Sup?" from one of the boys, and a "What's up Bro?" from another.  One of the them gave them a high five and my heart overflowed with some pride.  Claire's picked out some great guy friends.  For them to notice "the little bros" was cool.  My mind raced to next year.  The twins will be up at the middle school.  I was seeing them in the hallway getting high fives from these "older" boys, wanting desperately for Claire to accept them into her "cool" group of friends.  What if they could all hang out together through the years?  Her boyfriends, Claire, them- down in the basement sneaking beer from the kegerator? SCREECH.  Wha?  No, well, you know what I mean.

Four days ago she posted this on Instagram:

What the hell is happening?  I'll tell you what is happening: HER FRIENDS THINK HER BROTHERS ARE COOL!  That's right, she's using them to gain popularity! No, I'll tell you what I think is really happening:

THIS WOMAN has saved our family.  Our family meetings are sometimes well attended and sometimes not, but having appreciations to start them off has done something miraculous to our family dynamic.  At first it was hard for them to come up with things that they appreciate about each but last night Timmy said, "I appreciate that Claire is nice to me."  SCREECH!  Wha?  Seriously?  She laughed and said, "Yeah, I shared my popcorn with him."  SCREECH!  What?  Seriously?  I tell you....it's fucking working.  And why wouldn't it?  If I told Paul Bunyan how much I appreciate him on a daily basis life would be so much greater.  And if someone told me how much they appreciate me on a daily basis, I might work harder to please them.  It's incredible.  Seriously, why are we such assholes to each other?  It makes no sense.

So, if we keep this up, if we keep telling each other how much we appreciate what we do, or how we do something, the possibilities are endless.  Claire will want to hang with her brothers, listen to their opinions, help them pick out hairstyles and clothes.  They will share things, now and in their lives when they leave this home.  And as the Avett Brothers so artfully spelled out to me this morning, "There is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name."

We are the Ganzies.  They are the Ganzies.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Beauty and the Beast

Claire has been stealing my camera.

She's been taking pictures of some of her favorite things.

She's been posting them on Instagram.

I think.  I don't know.  I don't monitor her.

I really don't know who she's talking to.  Or who is talking to her.

I'm sure my friends (Mud) think I'm crazy .  I should know.  I should make sure there isn't any creepy guys.  I should watch, listen, oversee, spy, protect.

But, I don't.  It isn't in my nature.

I have to trust her.  She's done nothing to make me not trust her.  So, why wouldn't I give her the benefit of the doubt?

I went to listen to Vicki Hoefle last night and she's good.  She's good at making everyone feel like they've really fucked it all up. 

Because that's how I feel.  I've really screwed it up with Claire. 

She's a bully to her brothers.

She's complains about having to do any work around the house.  She sometimes throws temper tantrums.  She sometimes tells me she hates me.  She sounds like a spoiled rotten brat.  And I did that to her.  I made her that.

I'm sorry Claire.  I'm sorry we (see how I bring Paul Bunyan into this) did that do you.  (Vicki, you'd be proud of me for saying that!).  But now we get to see what (in Vicki's eyes) we did right.  I have never once told you what to wear or how to do your hair.  Just the other day I had a parent comment on how her daughter was dressed, up on the stage, in front of the whole community.  She had on different colored socks, crazy shoes, a cool patterned skirt, a funky shirt, and a hat that made the whole mismatched extra spunky outfit come together.  She said, "she's got a Claire thing going on".  I laughed.  You have always been identified in the school as the girl who went in her own direction with regards to how you dressed.  And you know what that means- you have confidence!  You never gave a shit about what people thought.  I LOVE THAT! 

Here's what else we did right.  We made decisions about your life up to you.  You get to choose gymnastics over play or play over gymnastics or maybe even BOTH.  It's your life.  You choose.  You recently wanted to give up flute.  Cool.  I'm sorry you're going to give it up because you're really good at it and I love listening to you play at home.  BUT it's your life.  Go for it.  You get to choose when you go to bed, when you get up, when you want to shower, when or if you want to do your homework, when you want to do your laundry (cuz you're doin' it girl), when you want to eat, what you want to eat, if you want to eat (EEGADS- if everyone knew you leave the house without breakfast I'd have my hide skinned.  Oh wait, they now know).  I don't care.  It's your life.  You live it.

We don't care about your grades.  That's up to you.  Isn't that great?  All right, now we're on a roll.

So when I look back on all the things we failed you at (helping you cope when things don't always go your way and how to appreciate your brothers and your role in this family) I am grateful that these are things we can work on.  But your confidence in your abilities to do things well and your abilities to make decisions that affect your life are things that I'm glad (really glad) you have.  Because they are the things that are hardest to find.

So when you come out on top, first all around, I'm proud of you.  I appreciate how much time and effort and will you've put in to get where you are.  More importantly, I hope you're proud of you too.  But you still have to empty out the dishwasher.  Sorry.