Monday, September 28, 2009

Okay, so this "bad economy" thing is beginning to irk me.

You hear about it everywhere - it's causing people on my favorite TV shows to lose their TV jobs, commit TV crimes, and act in very uncharacteristic (for their TV character) ways.

I've shared that I've needed to downsize. You know, selling a few things: my cherry red LG steam washer/dryer combo; my stainless steel french door Jennair refrigerator; my king-sized all solid wood four poster canopy bed . . .

But, this is just NOT okay.

I had to leave Therapist Lisa.

See, I am between health insurance plans, and the
one that "let me go" didn't cover her. So her (sorry TL) fairly hefty fee's been coming out of my ever-shrinking pocket. BTW, she is worth every single penny.

First, I tried cutting back. We went from weekly to every other week. It helped, but really I still couldn't afford her. Mostly I just wrote the checks and prayed (literally) that everything would still get paid.

Here's the crazy part: that didn't work so well. But (important "but), it did buy me some time, and I think that was a good thing. I've got a notebook full of her really good, insightful, tailor-made-for-me instructions, and if I'm smart enough to apply them, I think I'll be okay.

Don't get me wrong. I had a choice. I could have tried desperately to find other ways to make more money. At this point in my life, I am thankfully, still pretty employable. But (another important "but"), that completely flies in the face of all the advice she's given me. One of the reasons I slid so far down into the emotional/mental health quicksand was because of all the frantic activity and chaos I'd allowed in my life. Extra jobs on extra jobs. No way to find coverage for the kids (shocker - not too many folk are qualified and willing to watch my super-special little brood). No life for me. The payoff in income was never enough to offset the damage to my soul.

I'm pretty sure we have enough to keep the lights on and food on the table. The other things will either continue to wait or not. My experience is that some will, some won't. But God has always been faithful to us. We will be okay.

My sweet little mom and my dad lived through the real Depression. I've heard stories . . .

None of them included the great sacrifice of quitting counseling. Or, maybe having to eat out less and perhaps drop the Netflix subscription.

I am beyond grateful for my motley little family. We have a good thing going on: each other. I am SO proud of all my children, and I really know that our love for each other and God's love for us will safely see us through. However that pans out.

Tons of love to all of you. You don't know how much I appreciate you for listening to my musing (some would say rambling).

Talk to you soon.
The Stunner next to the Airstream
is my mommy, btw. From back in Her Day

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Can't Suspend This Disbelief

Okay, so I've confessed here before to several things. I used to LOVE America's Next Top Model . I read People magazine. I watch Hell's Kitchen and the Amazing Race (actively seeking a partner to audition with...anyone??), and I do enjoy Project Runway. So, I do have a bit of a mental junk food habit.

But I think I've reached a limit.

Project Runway has a little spin-off this year: Models of the Runway. It's a 30 minute fun fest showing the girls arguing, being catty, swearing devotion to each other (bffs, right?), and "competing" to be the last girl standing. It's about as compelling as it sounds.

I enjoy seeing the creative process of Project Runway, love seeing the results, actually listen to the judge's critiques, and pull for my fave designers. But, the Models interest me not at all. It's like eavesdropping on a (forgive me, Kelsey) cheerleader sleep-over.

Last night was the kicker. One of the girls was doing her little sound-bite before the elimination. She said something about realizing that she could go home at any moment and said it was, and I quote: "terrifying".

Um, right.


Terrifying is not the possibility of elimination on a reality show where you've already gotten tons of exposure to the "biggies" in your profession. "Terrifying" is not leaving the lovely comped condo you and your girls have been staying in.

Terrifying is sitting in the hospital while your child is taken into major surgery. Terrifying is trying to find Alzheimer care for your aging parent; the one you promised you'd never "send away." Terrifying is letting go of your husband or wife as they leave you for yet another tour in Afghanistan or Iraq. Terrifying is losing your home because you lost your job and the interest rate just jacked up again and you have no idea how you are going to take care of your family. Terrifying is lying in bed waiting for your teenager to come home, wondering if he's out drinking and driving again and will this be the time he kills someone?

There are many, many things in life that can terrify us. But being paid for being cute, being on a TV show, and getting eliminated are most DEFINITELY not some of them.

Get real. Entertainment is supposed to encourage us into a "willful suspension of disbelief." Not make us want to freakin' hurl.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

But Today

Sometimes, I am Nazi Mom.
A shrew-like meanie who scares small children
and belongs in a fairy tale, tempting children into her oven using treats.

But Today, I will hug more and yell less.
I will listen to my children more, and avoid them less.
I will be their biggest fan.

Sometimes, I eat too much, sit too much, drink too much wine
and stay up too late watching TV.

But Today, I will be kind to myself. I will not snack.
I will move more, drink less, and put myself to bed
by 11:00.

Sometimes, my brain shifts into overdrive. It gets stuck
in un-winnable one-sided arguments and worthless what-ifs, with
thoughts swirling around like water in a toilet bowl that never finishes flushing.

But Today, I refuse to contribute to my own misery. I will remember
that I am the Captain of my own mind. I will not take anything personally or
make assumptions about anything. I will keep a quiet heart.

Sometimes, I feel overly responsible for other people's feelings. I try to anticipate
how my actions and choices will affect them, and I act
based on that, rather than simply live my life.

But Today, I will allow God to take care of the world.
If He needs me, He knows where I am. I will live in His freedom.
I will live my story. Mine.

Sometimes I go nuts thinking about all the things I want to do
and be and try. I get overwhelmed and end up frozen,
not doing anything at all.

But Today, I will be intentional about my life. I will think
about what my priorities are,
what I really love, what feeds my soul,
and purpose to take baby steps in at least two areas - today.

Sometimes, I feel oppressed and tormented. I feel weary and shell-shocked
and can't believe I have to take another step.

But Today, I will remember that we have an enemy who hates us
beyond all reason and wants to destroy our lives. Today, I will refuse
to give him influence over my heart.

Sometimes, I question God's motives. I wonder,
"If God is so good, why does this happen?" or, "If God REALLY loved me,
He'd (fill in the blank)."

But Today, I will trust Him. I will trust His goodness. I will trust His love for me,
His good intentions toward me, His plans. I will not behave like an infant in my faith, whining about what I can't have or be or do. I will be an adult, today.

Just for Today . . . I will believe.

As always, I love you guys, and thank you for reading.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Not About Me

My nineteen-year-old daughter, Kelsey made me cry the other day.

It wasn't out of frustration or anger (though that's happened a couple of times), it wasn't over some sad story she'd come across, or empathetic tears brought on by some major life issue she was dealing with. These were surprise tears, and she was crying, too.

Kelsey and I don't tend to be big criers. Tears are usually a last result, and often the by-product of someone else's pain (Kameron comes immediately to mind), or frustration (you know, how you get so darned p.o.'d that you start to cry?). I do cry more at movies, although she can't claim that she doesn't do that anymore, because now she does from time-to-time.

Since she started going to Northwest University last year she's been crying a lot more. They have all those God things going on all the time like Chapel services and stuff. The Chapel services often have guest speakers. Local pastors like Mark Driscoll and Judah Smith come, former NU students like Natalie Grant (singer), and people who've traveled the world doing mission-type things (getting their hands "dirty" all the way up to their hearts for Christ's sake), as well as current students from time to time.

These services touch her deeply. Beneath her witty, tough-girl exterior beats the heart of a servant. Kelsey's always loved our "special" kids. In fact, she's told me for years that she wants to adopt a Down's Syndrome baby. Future husband, beware.

So, back to how she made me cry.

Apparently they had a guy speak at Chapel on loving others, Jesus-style. You know, in a First Corinthians Thirteen unconditional love everyone truly and from your heart kind of way.

He talked about how easy it is to love those that love us: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?
" (Matthew 5: 43-47) and about how the Christian Church has the unfortunate reputation of picking and choosing who to love, like His Church is some sort of private club.

But Jesus was all about finding the people who had no future - "the things that are not" - the prostitutes, the lepers, the ugly folk and the despised. Those are the ones He loved specially. He came to seek and save the lost, not those who think they're found. The Chapel Speaker Guy said it was about loving "all in" because that's the way Jesus is.

This is the place where, in the front seat of our car at Burgermaster, telling me this story over the sound of arguing kids in the back, Kelsey started to lose it, which of course, made me start to lose it. She said, "And I thought, 'That's my mom. That's what so special about her. That's how she loves the kids, that's why my friends and Kris's friends all love her. Because she loves everybody
that way'".

You know, that was so not where I thought she was going with that story.

There was more to the conversation, of course. I know I don't love everyone the way Jesus does, and I told her that. It hurts me that I can't be pure love, that I let all kinds of stuff interfere. I'm not the friend I want to be. I'm not the daughter I want to be. I'm not the responsible adult I want to be. I can make lists of all the things I'm not.

But you know, I think that's why God loves me. That's why He loves you. All those broken, imperfect places we have are what He wants us to give to Him. He doesn't want us to try to get all cleaned up before we approach Him:

It's not about being fit for the "Club". It's about knowing how messed up we are and needing Him to take our torn up, bloody, world-weary hearts and gently hold them in His immensely capable hands, forgiving our mistakes and helping us let go of all the hurt we've received.

Maybe that's what Kelsey sees in me. Not super-mom or super-Christian (definitely not), but super-sinner saved by great grace. Luke 7:47 says that one who has been forgiven much loves much (my loose translation). And I have been forgiven much.

He really is the answer. Him, not Christians. Him, not the Church. Him, not even me.

I love you guys - thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How Am I Like Her? Let Me Count The Ways. . .

Another confession from Crazytown

I am a reformed mother-hater.

When I was sixteen (how many good things start with that phrase?) I was in full-fledged rebellion. Actually, rebellion sounds too tame for what I was in. I was in my own terrorist cell. Yep, a suburban domestic terrorist. My only target was my mom. Mainly because she was there.

Dad saw me every other weekend, mostly. My older brother had begun his illustrious career in really dumb illegal activities (he's the guy who shows his ID to a bank teller before robbing her), and was probably incarcerated, and I'm pretty certain I'd alienated most of my friends by this time. It's hard to remember because I lost a lot of brain cells back then, and any surviving cells are starting to petrify.

Ah, but I was in the process of making some really super new friends. Like the twenty-five year old guy from Texas who lived in his car. And smelled like he lived in his car. And there were the totally awesome folks who worked with me at the Renaissance Faire in Novato. Some of them were near my age, some were creepy old guys, and everyone was loaded on something. My mom still doesn't know the nasty junk that happened on those weekends. Heck, I don't know most of it. I believe I mentioned my lack of brain matter. . .

During this "phase", I was one hundred percent convinced that my mom was the stupidest, meanest, most out-of-touch woman on the face of the planet. I cussed her out, I never told the truth when a lie would do, I took off for several extended weekends without calling or letting her know where I was, or if I was even alive, and I skipped most of my sophomore and junior years at high school, finally "escaping" early under an early form of the GED. There's more, but I'm sure you get the drift.

I listened to nothing mom had to say. Not one thing.

Meanwhile, she was freshly divorced from an eighteen year marriage, working two jobs, dealing with my aforementioned brother. . .

Yeah, I was a real peach.

As I've shared in previous posts, I carried this major attitude toward her for years. In fact, I carried it until I was twenty-eight, had an epiphany and God started helping me face myself. Mom became a human, and I started understanding her and her pain - I was able to finally stop acting out of mine.

In any event. One of the perks of our redeemed relationship is all the fun ways I'm now acting like her.

For instance, I find myself admiring white objects: white cars, white drapes, white towels, white trim on walls . . . pretty much anything that is crisp and clean-looking. The first time I noticed this about myself, frankly, I was a bit appalled. I mean, white things are boring. Am I right?

But truly, when you see a fresh load of whites just out of the dryer, or a freshly washed white car, they are SO attractive. Maybe it's the cleanness of them. Maybe when you spend years cleaning up after yourself and other people, anything that looks that good makes your heart go pitty-pat.

Another way I'm becoming my mom is investigating things before I buy them. Back in the day, mom and dad subscribed to Consumer Reports. I thought they were total losers with no sense of adventure or style.

Having wasted untold thousands on purchases better left un-purchased, I am now a firm advocate of, Amazon's ratings, and any other site I can find that provides feedback from people who've bought and used the item I'm considering. Ditto on price comparisons. Often, I'll research something, then go to or Ebay or to get the best price on it.

But today was a special day in my transformation. I've resisted - for twenty two years as a parent - mending things for my kids. Lame, but true. Well, I did sew on Kris's badges during his short stint in the Cub Scouts.

As for anything else, not so much. Not even replacing buttons. After all, I never can find the needles and thread; forget about finding the missing button or that little spare pack they usually give you.

But the times, they are a-changin'. My daughter Klaryssia lost the button on some brand-new shorts a few weeks back, and I just refused to ditch them. Wearing them without the button wasn't an option, either, because it created a really nice poof and gap right under her belly button. Klaryssia has a hard enough time keeping her shirts over her belly and her pants up. Obviously, I needed to jump in and find a button to sew on. I'll spare you the details of the button search, remembering to buy yet another spool of thread and pack of needles ('cause of course I had no idea where the last set went), and then struggling to thread the darned thing AND sew it on in a helpful way (so that she could actually button the shorts).

I'm happy to report, mission accomplished.

This success led me to set aside one of the boy's button up shirts the other day when I saw it was missing one. Well, to be honest, I probably would have let it slide, but the button missing was the second one down from the chin. You can't just let that one go. It leaves a weird gap.

At this point, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to have some sort of place to put these clothes that await mending. Further, to have a designated spot for the mending tools AND a place just for all those buttons I expect to collect.

But where?

With this thought in the back of my head today, I set out on some errands. Somewhere along the way, I remembered my mom's old button tin. She had two different tins, actually. One was for all the buttons, one was for her mending supplies: pins, thread, needles, etc.

This seemed like the perfect solution, but alas, I had no tins! Ah Ha! I bet our local Goodwill would have some, if anyone would!

Sure enough, the Goodwill store had not one, not two, but THREE shelves full of old cookie tins and cans from liquor gift packs, and heart-shaped chocolate tins. Jackpot!

I found two that I like, a tall cylinder that housed cookies - this will be my button tin; and a flatish rectangular one that says it's from Harrods and has all these English lords and ladies on it. This will be my sewing supply kit.

Now I'm not going to go all crazy and suggest that I will be launching into a whole new era of hemmed and mended garments, but I am definitely going to be able to find a button, needle and thread next time I need them.

And that's pretty sweet. Good job, mom. Good job. Once again, I realize that you were on top of things. And once again, I'm sorry it's taken me all this time to figure it out.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Did on My Summer "Vacation"

Well people, the long summer has ended and the children are scampering back to school. Maybe not scampering, but they are getting on the bus and going. One way or the other.

And now:


But, really. . . its time to buckle down and get all those waiting projects going, and um, start that ahh . . .

NOPE: What's that time? What is the time? Tick-tick-tock, it's party o'clock!...

What DID we do on our summer vacation? 'Cause, really, that's the question here. People with children don't have summer vacation, per se. They have children. They have activity plans. They have camps and trips to movies, and maybe summer school - if they're lucky. They have lots of mental exercise trying to keep their kiddos occupado, out of trouble, and out of their hair.

We also spend a lot of time on the train to Crazytown.

If you have teens, you probably have even more stress. What is little Susie doing at the mall? Is she really at the mall? Is she texting while driving that car you bought her? Worse. . . is she "sexting"? And what the heck is that, anyway? Do they still have Raves??

It boggles the mind and feeds the worry machine.

For those of us "lucky" enough to stay at home with our little dears, there are other concerns: Will I survive the next three months? Will the children? Do I care if the children survive? It would certainly cut down on the back-to-school expenses. . .

But really, for our little krew, this was a pretty decent summer. We had Miss Kelsey home from college for most of it, and you all know I loved that. It will probably be her last one home. She's planning on getting an apartment with one of her roomies next summer. Thankfully, she will be pretty close by, but still. . .ah, but that's next year. Why borrow stress that's almost a whole twelve months away? I have plenty of worry for today.

Besides, I think I might (key word: might)be adjusting to this having adult children thing. As most of you know, my baby boy got married (see multiple posts on this one), and, although I cried copious amounts, I did not perish. And, I am actually very happy for them both. Really. REALLY.

Kelsey went on a road trip from Washington to California with some of her roommates, and I didn't freak out when she neglected to call me - well, I think she checked in twice - I survived it. 'Course, she got a speeding ticket, and she wouldn't have if she'd listened to my voice echoing in her brain to slow down and drive safely. But, they all made it home intact. And a good time was had by all.

I made a decision (again) to downsize and clean up and get organized. Am I alone in this? We Americans are insane consumers. We pay for places to keep our junk. We treasure it, as if we'll miss out on some essential part of life if we toss those pans we bought at Wal-Mart fifteen years ago. George Carlin did a bit on this phenomenon (disclaimer: it's a little raw, after all, it is George Carlin).

In light of this decision, I asked two of Kris's BFFs and groomsmen to come out and assist. Wes and Dustin had some free time and came out for a few weeks. It was terrific fun and they helped me get some big ticket stuff done - moving furniture out, rearranging rooms and appliances, some minor repairs, AND they mowed the lawn for me - WOOT!!

In exchange, I gave them some tours of Seattle at her finest, a few beers, introduced them to some of our AWESOME food, and they got to run down to Oregon and visit with the Newlyweds for a few days.

Oh, by the way, they are terrific cooks and made many meals for the kids and me - another big WOOT! I could totally get used to having someone cook for me. Foot rubs would be nice, too.

We had Elesha visit several times, a few friends drop by, Kobi had two weeks at Drama Camp (go figure), Kameron got to ride a really cool adapted bike at therapy, we all managed to tolerate Klaryssia's non-stop talk about being a senior this year at high school . . . did too much DQ, baked in the unusually hot Seattle summer, BBQ'd a couple of times, and generally had some good times.

And then, the capstone of summer: the first day of school!

The kids survived, despite their valiant efforts to make me hurt them with their tactics of arguing, fighting, whining, grumping, and general loudness.

And so did I.


Oh, one more thing I did on my Summer Vacation: I re-discovered Craigslist. The world's biggest garage sale. Now, I can sell my stuff. And buy more stuff.

Uh oh.