Jean is staring at me from across the room and Errol is smiling down at me as I lie here snuggled under a down comforter.

It was a wonderful coincidence.  I was sitting at the kitchen table and DH was saying, “I wish we could get away for at least a couple of days.  Just a short break.  Just the two of us.”

He went out to the mailbox and there’s an offer from Hollywood Casino in Tunica.  Two free nights at their hotel, two free dinner buffets and $30.00 in free slot play.  Cool!  Serendipity!  We called and found out that we could get a third night for just $39.00.  Made a reservation for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and hit the road.  We joined Hollywood’s member club when we were down here last October and this is a nice welcome package.  If we just don’t run out of casinos, we can keep getting comped!

We drove down here yesterday and settled in.  Stopped at a winery on the way down and picked up a couple of good bottles.  Checked in yesterday evening, asked for a corkscrew and had room service deliver dinner.  It feels really good to be able to just relax with DH.

Now I’m ready to get a shower, get dressed and head down to the casino to use my free slot money!

25thDecember

NOW I remember…

Why we go to Florida every year for Christmas, that is.  It’s because of all the work!

I hit the bed at midnight last night.  Cookies were baked, pies were baked, candy was made, Jake and Scout opened their presents, the house was cleaned.  I made the shrimp spread and cornbread for dressing.  It was a killer day.  Now we’re stocked up with a homemade derby pie, a blueberry cream pie and a butterscotch pie.  I have meatballs, little weinies, shrimp spread, cheese and crackers ready.  There’s chocolate pecan fudge, peanut butter fudge and slabs of chocolate brickle.  That should keep the hounds at bay while I work on dinner.

Expecting to feed 13 today.  That’s not as many as I’ve had in the past but it’s still a lot of work and I don’t have any female help.  I’ve cried uncle on a couple of things…No Christmas centerpiece in the middle of a table set for ten with holiday placemats and a holiday tablecloth.  Instead, I decided to just put one leaf in the table and set it for six.  Everyone else can dish up and eat wherever they can find a seat.  No good china.  DH bought heavy duty paper plates and I was perturbed for a fleeting moment and then I thought about having to unpack the good china and wash it all before eating and then after eating and the paper plates seemed like a fine alternative.  And, since we’re using paper plates, I’m certainly not going to unpack the silverware and polish it.  Sorry, folks, everyday tableware will have to do.

On the menu:

Baked ham with mustard/brown sugar glaze, turkey, dressing and gravy.  Sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, and homemade biscuits.  Pies for dessert.

SIL, Kim is doing great!  She has a long way to go but she’s mouthing words (can’t talk because of the trach tube) and using a chalkboard to write.  She’s exercising her right arm and leg (can’t use the left) and she demanded a shampoo which my brother was absolutely delighted to provide.

DIL called about picking up Jake and Scout last night and the caller ID listed her name so I guess I have her new number.  I swallowed my pride bigtime and gushed on and on about how much I appreciated her letting the kids come over and how much we enjoyed having them.  Reminded her of how much DH and  love them and told her to feel free to call us if she ever had a babysitting problem or just wanted a night off.  It had the desired effect and she asked if we’d like to have them back this evening and keep them through Sunday.  I told her we’d love to.  It makes me cringe to think of having to stroke her in order to have time with the boys but I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we stay in contact with them.  I have to remember how scared I got when she changed her number and didn’t contact us and how futile it was to try to deal with the caseworker.

Have a VERY Merry Christmas, friends.  Enjoy your blessings and celebrate the season!

23rdDecember

Tidings of Great Joy

I only have a few minutes.  Can’t believe I slept until 7:00!

Kim is showing signs of improvement!  My sister got very aggressive with her.  Saying things like “Wake up, Kim!  I know you’re in there and I know you can open your eyes.  You’ve been in here for more than a week and it’s time to wake up!”  Little sister carried on for four or five minutes and then Kim opened her eyes, looked right at her and absolutely glared in anger.  They called the doctor in and Kim began to follow everyone and everything with her eyes, brushed her hair out of her face and moved her arms and legs when the doctor asked her to.  She’s still a long way from recovery and we don’t know how much she’ll be able to do but she’s finally coming around.  She can’t talk because of the ventilator but they’re going to insert a trach tube in the next couple of days and she may be able to be moved to a rehab center close to her home in a few days. 

I broke the law yesterday.  The protective order says no one from my family can contact anyone in DIL’s family.  The judge set me up as the intermediary for visitation and I’m supposed to be in contact with DIL by phone to arrange visitation.  DS talked  with both the caseworker and his supervisor yesterday but they said they can only go to court and order that DIL give him visitation one day a week and they can’t do that for a couple of weeks.  They kept saying they didn’t understand why DS didn’t just call DIL’s mother if he wanted to see the kids and it was like talking to a brick wall.  He finally figured out that they don’t have a copy of the Protective Order in their files and, once that was established, they didn’t want to admit that it existed.  They kept saying, “We don’t have anything like that in our files.  If you want to see the kids, go talk to her mother and ask her mother to have her get in touch with you.”  I tried to talk to them and they told me the same thing. 

DS called his attorney and was assured that neither of us is supposed to call her mother.  I decided that I was going to call her anyway.  The caseworkers told me to and I didn’t talk to the attorney so I don’t see how they can hold me accountable.  I called DIL’s mother and told her DS hadn’t seen the kids in almost a month and had wanted to give DIL her child support via Jake but, since he hasn’t seen Jake, he was going to go downtown and give it to the court and Stacy probably wouldn’t get it for almost a month.  She said she’d call her and see if she could bring the kids over.  I talked with her and we agreed that it would be good if they could stay until late Christmas Eve.

She called back and said DIL would drop off the kids around 8:30.  DS was at a meeting so I decided to surprise him.  He wasn’t due in until 9:00 and DIL dropped the kids off in the driveway at 7:30.  She didn’t come to the door.  Just dropped them off, with no clothes or belongings, and drove away the minute I opened the door.  It was so good to see them and be able to hug and laugh with them.

DS came home at 9:00 and the kids hid and then jumped out and surprised him.  I went to bed shortly afterwards but they’re all snuggled up in the guest room. 

I know I wasn’t supposed to call DIL’s mother but I don’t see how there can be any repercussions.  The caseworkers told me to call her and the judge set me up to keep in contact with DIL so I’m not worried about making the call but it angers me that the only way I can arrange anything is by doing something I’m not supposed to do.  By the way…I asked Jake if his mother had a phone and he looked at me like I was stupid and said, “Yeah.  She’s always has a phone.”

We have the kids and Kim is improving.  Thanks for all the prayers and support, Chicklets.  It truly is the season for miracles.  I’m off to work now and I’m only going to stay until noon.  I want to get back and spend time with the grandkids.

22ndDecember

Spending time with Mac

I worked 8:30 to 4:00 yesterday.  My principal said I could work Monday through Wednesday if I want to repair laptops.  Our macs are now pushing seven years old and they’re dropping like flies.  I get about 30 turned in each day and I can only find time to repair about ten.  That means they’ve been piling up.

So I worked yesterday.  DS wasn’t working so he said he’d go with me.  Between the two of us, we managed to get 84 laptops up and going.  Hope we can do at least that many today.  We reimaged some of them, deleted student accounts and made new accounts on some more.  Replaced keyboards and airport cards.  Nothing really dramatic.  Just things I don’t have time to address on a regular work day. 

It was strange.  No kids, no teachers, no administrators.  Just one secretary in the office and a few custodians.  It really felt good to be able to dive into a stack of computers and work without interruptions or distractions. 

In other things, there’s still no change in SIL’s condition.  My brother stays with her as much as he can and will only leave if my sister relieves him for a while.  I keep praying for a miracle.

Things aren’t going great with DIL either.  DS talked to the supervisor yesterday about what’s been going on and she wasn’t happy.  She said the caseworker should have worked out a regular visitation plan by now and had them both agree to it.  She said she doesn’t know why I’m still supposed to call DIL everytime he wants to see the kids.  She asked if DS had told the caseworker he didn’t want a regular plan and DS said he’d been begging for one from the very beginning and the caseworker told him that was something he and DIL would have to work out.

In the meantime, we feel pretty sure that she isn’t living with her boyfriend anymore.  I have a friend who knows where they live and I asked her if she’d seen DIL’s car lately.  She’s been keeping an eye out for the last week and said it hasn’t been there.  I live just a mile from her mother and drive by her house all the time and it hasn’t been there either.  So, we don’t know where she is and don’t have a phone number.  The supervisor said she’d talk to the caseworker today and try to see what she could do.

The only thing that really puzzles me is the child support.  DS always gives a check to Jake when he visits and Jake gives it to DIL.  She usually cashes it within a day or two.  Now, she hasn’t gotten a check for three weeks.  Whatever else is going on, that’s not like her.

I know I’m not supposed to but I’m calling her mother if the supervisor doesn’t find out something today.  I can’t stand to think that the boys won’t be here for Christmas.  We have presents for them and I decorated the house and DS has presents for them but, if something doesn’t happen soon, we won’t get to see them over the holiday.  If nothing else, maybe I can drop their presents off at her mother’s house.  Of course, if we have to do that, we won’t get to see them open their gifts and we’ll never see the games and toys we bought for them.  They’ll take them home, wherever that is, and we won’t get to see them enjoy playing with them.  Still, I guess it’s better that they know we were thinking of them even if we couldn’t spend time with them.

Enough…it’s time to go to work.

I’ve been cleaning, decorating, and wrapping presents.  Everything is almost ready for Christmas except my spirit.

Kim remains in the hospital and there doesn’t seem to be much change.  She’s still on the ventilator 100%.  She has some movement but my sister says it’s just involuntary movements.  She appears to nod her head every few minutes and moves her arms and legs occasionally but that’s about it.  She’s been unresponsive for almost a week.  My brother practically lives at the hospital and my sister is with him as much as possible.  Thank God she’s able to be there.  She and my brother will be together for Christmas.  Everyone else is coming here but DB is afraid to leave SIL and I understand why he needs to be with her on Christmas.  I’m so grateful to my little sister for deciding to stay with him on Christmas so he won’t be alone.

I keep decorating hoping the grandkids can all be here for Christmas but I don’t know if it’ll happen.  DS and I kept calling the caseworker and he wasn’t returning calls.  The last time DS talked to him was more than a week ago when he got upset with him for scheduling DIL and him for screening at the same time.  Twice in a row.  After this latest thing with the caseworker not returning his calls, he finally called his supervisor.  He said she seemed pleasant enough and gave him the impression that she wasn’t happy at all about the caseworker sending them both at the same time when there’s a protective order in place.  She asked him how much time he and the caseworker had spent together and seemed shocked that he’d only had one visit from the caseworker that lasted about 20 minutes.  She said she’d “talk” to him.

After that, he still didn’t return DS’s calls and I kept leaving messages as well.  He finally called me back late Saturday evening and said he only had a minute to talk because he had just gotten home.  I felt like saying “Then why didn’t you call me yesterday or the day before?” but I didn’t.  Instead, I told him I didn’t know what to do about arranging visitation because there was no way I could call DIL.  He said, “I’m not working with your son anymore.  I’ve signed off on it.  I told Stacy to call you.”

I said, “Well, she hasn’t.  She has two phone numbers for me and I don’t have any way at all to get in touch with her.  Why is it that she just gets to decide that she isn’t going to call?  My son hasn’t been able to see the kids for three weeks and Christmas is next week.  He still doesn’t have any visitation set up.”

He said, “I’m not working with your son anymore.  Obviously, he doesn’t like to work with me so I’m finished.  Stacy doesn’t have a phone because she can’t afford one.  She’s barely getting by.  Your son doesn’t seem to care about that.  I’m sure if she could afford a phone, she’d have one.  In the meantime, I suggest your son get an attorney and go to court to arrange for visitation if he wants to see his kids.”

I said, “Why are you so upset with him?  What has he done?  Is there something going on here that I don’t know about?  He’s done everything you’ve asked him to do.  He’s never been late on child support.  He and I have both bent over backwards to accommodate Stacy on visitation.  You’ve never even taken the time to sit down with him for more than 20 minutes and now you say you can’t work with him?”

He said, “Everything I’ve asked of your son has been met with resistance.  He doesn’t want to go for counseling, he doesn’t want to go for drug screenings, he doesn’t want to go to anger management classes.  Stacy has done everything I’ve asked of her without any arguing or complaining.  Your son seems to think all the problems lie with her and he’s just a used and abused victim of the entire system.”

I said, “I don’t blame him for not wanting to go for counseling and drug tests and anger management.  He doesn’t think he needs them and, between child support and all the other stuff that’s going on, it’s draining every penny he has.  I’m not going to get into it with you about Stacy’s history but that’s also a big part of why he doesn’t feel like he should have to do all this stuff.  He doesn’t have anger issues.  He doesn’t have a drinking problem.  He’s very bitter about everything that’s happened and he’s tired of everyone thinking he’s abused and victimized Stacy.  Even so…he may not want to but he still does what you tell him to do.  He goes to anger management every week.  He goes for testing whenever you call.  He goes for counseling whenever you tell him to.  He does everything you tell him to do so how can you say you can’t work with him?”

He said, “Stacy does it too.  She does it without complaining.  She agrees with every suggestion I make and does whatever she has to be a good mother for her kids.”

I said, “Let me ask you this.  Who pays for all Stacy’s testing and counseling?  You provide it.  Right?  Because she has primary custody of the kids, she gets all her counseling and testing paid for.  In the meantime, David is dishing out almost $800.00 a month for child support and counseling and testing.  I’m glad Stacy does everything you ask of her but she’s getting all kinds of support and David isn’t getting anything unless he pays for it. Even now…when Stacy is not working with us to arrange visitation, you say David needs to hire an attorney and go to court if he wants to see his kids.  Why should he have to dish out even more money when you’re supposed to be working with them both to see that the kids needs are met?”

He said, “I don’t know what to tell you.  As I said, I’m not going to work with him anymore.  He called my supervisor so he obviously knows how to make waves when he wants to.  If he doesn’t like the way things are, he can get an attorney.”

So…it’s Monday.  Finally.  And I guess DS will be calling the supervisor again this morning.  In the meantime, I just keep decorating and cleaning and wrapping presents.  I don’t know if we’ll see Jake and Scout at all.

18thDecember

Still waiting…

Nothing new on Kim.  She’s still unresponsive and on a respirator.  The neurologist told my brother they’ll begin trying to take her off the respirator on Saturday but it looks like it’s going to be a long time before we really know anything.  She’s had some response to pain on her right side.  Jerks her arm and moves her leg when they inject her or change her IV.  All I want for Christmas is a miracle.

In other venues, life moves on.  Today is the last day before Christmas break begins.  My students have been wonderful and they’ve gone out of their way to give me hugs and offer prayers.  I’m touched.  I’ve had them creating holiday videos using the Animoto.com site and today we’re going to watch their videos.  I made two double batches of Sistah Pam’s much loved Oaty Bars and bought some Country Time lemonade for them.  It should be a pleasant day.

Some new drama from DIL.  She’s claiming she doesn’t have a phone anymore and I know that’s not true because she can’t live without a cell phone glued to her ear.  Still, she’s told the social worker that she doesn’t have one.  I’ve placed two calls to the social worker and DS has called him twice without getting a return call.  In the meantime, the weekend is here and he still doesn’t have any visitation set up.  This will be the second weekend in a row that he hasn’t been able to spend with the kids.  I suspect DIL is doing it deliberately to try to keep him from seeing them over the holidays but DS says he’s calling the caseworker’s supervisor today to see what can be done.

It’s worrisome.  DIL doesn’t just crash and burn when she goes off the deep end.  It’s always preceeded by strange, unprovoked incidents where she’s just plain mean.  I’m afraid that’s what’s happening and it scares me.  There’s been nothing going on and there’s no reason for her to suddenly be out of touch.  Even if she doesn’t have a phone, she has my cell phone and home numbers and could easily call me to set something up.  I’d like to think everything is okay but past experience has taught me that something isn’t right.  I’m getting angry at the caseworker.  I left a message for him last week that I didn’t have any way to contact her to set up visitation and I would have thought he’d be all over that.  Maybe he’s mad because DS got on his case about sending them both for testing at the same time.  Whatever’s going on, it shouldn’t be happening.

 

17thDecember

Waiting……

Waiting for news about Kim.  I got a call from my sister at work yesterday.  Around 1:30, she called to say that they didn’t expect Kim to last more than another two to three hours.  I was in shock. 

My cell phone never picks up inside the school and it’s a long distance call.  I tried to call around 9:00 and the call wouldn’t go through.  I can’t very well make a long distance call from school so I decided to wait until I got off work at 2:30.  The kids are crazy.  Two days until Christmas break and they’re wound up and acting like…kids.  I got busy and the students were consuming me.  After my sister called, I was in shock.  I told my principal and she said, “Why are you here?  Go…  Call me on my cell phone if you need anything.”

I got the boys and drove them home as fast as I could.  Called DS and asked him to meet me there for the 125 mile trip to be with my brother.

I arrived around 4:45 and Kim was still hanging on.  My brother told me that they were driving home after spending a couple of days in Nashville.  They’d gone because Kim wanted to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show.  He said they had a great time and Kim really enjoyed it. They started for home and, on the way, they stopped for some soft drinks at a gas station.  He said Kim went to the bathroom and didn’t come out.  After 15 or 20 minutes, he got the manager and they found her.  No warning.  No preparation.  She’d just collapsed.

My sister was a respiratory therapist and she tried to explain what was going on but I didn’t understand all of it and just captured the main points.  Something about a bleed that they couldn’t locate for hours and hours but they’d finally found it.  She was doing better than she’d been when she called me at 1:30 but there was still just a 25% chance that she’d survive the next 24 hours.  I was expecting the concern to be about the damage the stroke had done and rehab.  I didn’t expect it to be about whether or not she’d even survive.  My sister was going to spend the night at the hospital with my brother so DS and I left around 9:00.

I didn’t sleep very well and woke up early looking for news but there isn’t any.  I hope she made it through the night.  She looked so tiny and fragile lying in the hospital and my heart is breaking for my brother.

I was going to continue my rant about the slobs this morning but three little sentences sent to my Blackberry at 11:00 p.m. last night changed everything.

“On the way home from the Rockettes concert, Kim suffered a major stroke with debillitating consequences.  She’s in critical condition.  Please pray for her.”

My brother sent the message and Kim is his girlfriend.  They’ve been together for four or five years.  She’s quite a bit younger than he is.  She’s 45 and he’s 60.  They’re both health nuts.  Work out every day, eat healthy nutritious meals, neither smoke or drink.  Living the clean life. 

Kim wanted to see the Rockettes in Nashville last weekend.  I was waiting for them to get home so I could call and invite them to Christmas dinner.

How on earth could Kim have had a major stroke?  She’s a tiny little thing who could run circles around me.  She and Mike travel a lot and they just got back from the Virgin Islands last month.  Kim was showing me pictures and I was so jealous of the pictures of her in her little bikini.  Looking all healthy and tanned.

I can’t wrap my mind around this.  It’s too early to call anyone.

How could this have happened? 

Pray for them.

The men are ready to start peeing outside.  And they can, Dammit.

I’ve been on the warpath.  Checking the bathroom constantly and threatening to make them go to the gas station.  DH actually wanted to know why I always buy white rugs for the bathroom.  Why can’t I get some dark ones?

“Get back in that bathroom.  Put the top back on the toothpaste, rinse out the sink, and straighten up the towels.  Pick up your used dental floss and throw it in the wastebasket.  Now!”

I went down to do laundry and found the washer full of wet clothes, the dryer crammed to the max and two baskets of “clean” laundry that DGS’s finished.  I took all of it and put it in trashbags and hauled it out to the shed.  They were freaking out!

“Where’s our clothes?”

“I put them all in the shed.”

“What????”

“I figured since you left them in the laundry room, you didn’t really need them.  I don’t have time to take them to Goodwill right now so I put them in the shed for the time being.”

“We were washing them!”

“No you weren’t.  No one was washing them.  They were already clean and they’d been dumped in a basket.  I know they’d be folded and hung up in your room if you really needed them so I figured you just washed them so you could donate them to Goodwill.”

They looked at me like I’d lost my mind.  They’re already afraid to go in the bathroom.

I’m adding to the list:

Thanks, Susan, for letting me know that I’m not the only woman who sleeps with a madman.  I can get out of bed, run my hand over the bottom sheet, pull the covers up and it looks like the bed hasn’t been slept in.  DH’s side has 3 extra pillows and the sheets and blankets are ripped from the bed in what appears to have been a fight to the death with some kind of dark demons.

Men don’t close cabinet doors.

They polish the furniture with wet dishrags.

They don’t use coasters.  Ever.

Women don’t put open cans of food in the refrigerator and then close the door and walk away when one of them gets knocked over.

Women don’t use the microwave and oven for food storage.

Women DON’T leave slimy gray shaving cream adorned with hair in the bathroom sink.

Maybe if I stay on the warpath, they’ll all move out to the RV for the winter and I can spend long winter evenings curled up on the couch with a coaster under my wine glass.

 

Now I remember.  How my house got this way.  I live with slobs.

DH is a stubborn man.  Very. 

After 41 years of living with him, I’ve come to accept that there are a lot of things I can’t change.  I can let them drive me crazy or I can let them go.  It takes a lot out of me to try to address them or change them.  And it doesn’t work.  The best I’ve ever been able to do is to harp on them constantly but it never seems to really change the bad habits.  It just masks them a little bit.

And now I’m surrounded by DH, his protegy, DS and his “trainees”, the twins.  I spent all day yesterday cleaning and addressing issues that I’ve addressed a thousand times.  With everything that’s been going on, I’d eased up on the bad habits and they’ve gotten worse.  Examples:

Women do not pack the washer so tight that nothing gets clean, throw everything in the dryer so that it comes out wrinkled and then throw the entire pile in a basket in the laundry room.

Women DO NOT leave skid marks in the toilet.

Women don’t brush their teeth, spit out the toothpaste and leave it to dry in a nasty green smear down the side of the sink.

We don’t use the expensive white handtowels and washcloths to wash the car or do the dishes.

Women don’t fall asleep on top of the covers with our shoes on and then rant when someone wakes us up so they can go to bed for the night.

We don’t take the trash out, put the empty trash can back under the sink and walk away without putting in a liner.

Women don’t finish dinner, put the plates in the sink and then walk over to the stove with a fork and start eating out of all the pans.

We just don’t.

And that’s what I’m dealing with.  All the time.  I did a lot of cleaning yesterday and, after dealing with “man messes” for a couple of hours, I was definitely getting fed up.  All their “shortcuts” add up and pretty soon everything is ten times harder than it needs to be.

The bathroom is clean.  Sparkling.  And I’m on the warpath.  Better watch out, boys.

13thDecember

Ho! Ho! Ho!

I’m up early.  This cold has me still feeling kind of run down so I hit the bed at 8:30 last night.  Of course, that meant I was doomed to wake up around 4:00 a.m.  There’s not a lot you can do at 4:00 a.m. without waking the entire household. 

DH and I have to decide what we’re doing for Christmas.  We really have to make a decision.  I can’t believe it was only a year ago that we were gearing up for a Christmas cruise to Mexico with the twins and my sister and then heading to New Orleans to spend Christmas day with my brother and his family.  Of course, we got fogged in and spent Christmas Day on the boat, arriving in port at 7:00 p.m. and arriving at little brother’s at 10:00 p.m. 

We’ve thought about staying home but it seems so strange.  Oldest DS will be somewhere in the Florida Keys.  He’s working on a shrimp boat and will either be in Key West or Key Largo.  Youngest DS doesn’t know what he’s going to be doing and doesn’t know if he’ll have his kids or not.  The twins don’t want to make the trip to Florida but they’re not particularly excited about having Christmas here either.  They just want prepaid charge cards so they can clean up on the after Christmas goodies.  I guess they could spend Christmas with their mother.  They seemed to enjoy Thanksgiving with her but I feel strange not being with them for the holiday.  Even though they’ll be 19 in a few weeks.

Whatever…I need to make a decision.

DS got a call from the caseworker last Monday to go for a drug/alcohol test and, just like last time, DIL was there when he arrived.  They both get off work at the same time and he was furious that the caseworker had done it again.  The place closes at 6:00 and they both get off work at 5:00.   He had to hide across the street and watch for her to come out of the building while furiously dialing the caseworker’s number without getting an answer.  She finally came out at 5:52 and he had to wait for her to leave the parking lot and race in to get signed in before 6:00.  He finally reached the caseworker the next day and told him that was two times in a row that he’d ordered them both to report for testing at the same time in violation of the protective order.  The caseworker said he can’t keep track of all that and if DS wanted to avoid a problem, he should take off work early so they don’t get there at the same time.  What??? 

I called DIL on Thursday to set up visitation for this weekend and got a disconnect recording on her phone.  DS called the caseworker Thursday and Friday and left messages but he didn’t return his calls. I tried to call Thursday, Friday and Saturday but the phone is still disconnected.   So…he didn’t get to see the kids this weekend and I still don’t have a phone number to arrange for visits.  I’m sure the caseworker doesn’t think it’s a big deal but DS is upset that he didn’t get to spend any time with the boys this week.  What a wonderful system.

I worked the craft fair from 7:30 to 1:00 yesterday.  Didn’t have to do a lot.  Just sit there and sell the stuff one of the parents had donated.  Pet stuff.  The parent said they placed a bid on a lot of stuff at an auction and took what they wanted then donated the rest to us.  It was a bunch of strange, cutesey, doggie stuff.  Hats with holes for their ears, fabric leashes and collars for Halloween, Christmas and other holidays.  Placemats shaped like bones to place under food and water dishes.  Picture frames and luggage tags for all different breeds of dogs.  Christmas ornaments shaped like bones made of terra cotta and brass.  Doggie outfits including a tutu and a leopard skin coat with matching hat.  Photo albums with different dog breeds on the cover.

I spent the time using Sharpies to draw candy canes and holly on the ornaments and wrote the dog’s name in calligraphy for those who purchased one.  A lot of work for a $2.00 ornament.  I left at 1:00 when the other volunteer showed up and we’d brought in a total of $26.00.  (and…I bought breakfast for the two ROTC cadets who were supposed to help me because I got tired of hearing them hint about being hungry and not having any money)  Next year, maybe I’ll just write them a check for $30.00 and stay home.

Aha!  DH is up and the Sunday paper is here.  Let’s get this day moving!

9:00 a.m. update - We’ve made the decision and I feel good about it.  We’re staying here for Christmas.  I think DGD, Holly, was the deciding factor.  She came over yesterday afternoon and stayed until midnight when DIL#1 got off work.  She brought presents.  Carefully wrapped with lots of paper and tons of tape.  All bought with her own money and chosen by her.  She insisted that we all open them because she wanted to be here when we opened them and didn’t know if she’d be back over before we left for Florida.  She got me a ring.  A cheap little adjustable ring with a heart and a pink stone.  She gave DH a bag of peanuts.  She gave her brothers a U of L sticker and a candy bar.  She left presents for Jake and Scout.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that the fact that it seems so disjointed this year is all the more reason to try to pull it together.  My family is fractured.  We’re all in a strange place and it seems like everything is falling apart.  All the more reason to try to get everyone together as much as I can.  There will be food.  There will be decorations.  There will be presents.  There will be family.  The twins may get some charge cards but there will also be presents and lots of gifts under the tree.  And we will be here to see Holly and give her presents.

That means, for the first time in five years, I will need to scrub the house, go shopping, put up decorations and fix dinner.  It’s funny how it got away from us.  About six years ago, we celebrated Christmas and then left for Florida the next day.  Then, for a couple of years, we celebrated a few days early and left for Florida.  Then we left presents for everyone and took off for the entire time with the boys.  That’s been going on for a couple of years now.  I have to admit it felt pretty strange last year.  Sitting on a cruise ship Christmas day drinking frozen dacquiri’s and listening to kettle drums.

Now I’ve got to try to pull my family together the best I can.  I’ll invite DIL#1 and Holly over and the boys will be here.  I’ll invite youngest DS over and do the best I can to see that Jake and Scout can be here.  I’ll invite oldest DS although he’ll probably be on a shrimp boat somewhere and I’ll invite my mom and my siblings.  Don’t know how it will all turn out but I’m going to give it my best shot.

And now, I have to get a move on.  I’ve got LOTS to do.  Cleaning, baking, cleaning, decorating, cleaning, shopping and gift wrapping.  Did I mention cleaning?   I’m going to start by with making some phone calls to the family.

11thDecember

It’s all about time

Time.  I don’t know if I want it to speed up or slow down.  On the one hand, I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas.  One more week and we’re off school for Christmas break.  Halfway through the school year.  And it’s winter out there.  Yesterday’s high was 27 degrees and it got down to 17 last night.  I still haven’t gotten my winter coat out of storage.  How can that be?  It seems like everytime I look around, another month has passed.  I get up, hit the door running and hit the bed exhausted.  Day after day.

On the other hand, do I really want it to slow down now?  When we’re looking at a cold, dreary couple of months before springtime rolls around?  I think not.  Just keep on rushing by until it’s warm and sunny and I can work in the yard again.

I’m going to take a little chunk of time this weekend however.  To catch up with all you chickies.  Find out what everybody’s up to.  But for now (sigh…) it’s time to hit the shower and let the day begin.

How can it be winter?  I keep being surprised at what’s outside.  Temps going down to the 20s this week?  We had a dusting of snow on Monday and that surprised the Hell out of me.  Went out to the car to go to work wearing a light jacket and the windows were all white.  My mind just won’t wrap around the idea that it’s the dead of winter out there.

I pulled up the weather forecast for our place in Florida and they’re getting up to 72 today.

I feel much better this morning.  Yesterday was terrible.  I was coughing and sneezing and went through a box of kleenex.  My students were wonderful.  I croaked out, “I don’t feel good.  You all have work to do on your projects.  Get to it.”  They all got their laptops, sat down and worked quietly.  Ya gotta love em.  Stayed for the faculty meeting, brought Andrew home, went back to school for the ROTC meeting, got home at 7:00 and took a long hot soak.  I slept pretty good and my nose isn’t running this morning but I’m still coughing.  Other than the cough, I think I’m pretty much over it.

Gonna hit the day running.

8thDecember

Too busy to be sick

I’ve been sitting here for the last hour trying to decide whether or not to call in sick.  Finally came to the conclusion that I can’t.  I’ve just got too much going on today.  I have a cold (flu?) and I’m coughing and achy and my nose is all stopped up.  I woke up at 4:00 so stuffed up that I couldn’t breathe.  Used some nasal decongestant and laid around in bed trying to get back to sleep but it didn’t work.  I really need to call in sick but here’s what’s on today’s agenda.

 

First period today, there are two people coming in from ECE at the board and they want to help me set up a classroom set of laptops and install some special software on them.  I can’t call and tell them not to come because I can’t remember their names and don’t have phone numbers for them.
 
Then, of course, I have my own classes second and fifth periods and I hate to miss the day because they’re just now transitioning from one topic to another and they’d be just killing time playing with online websites if I’m not there to introduce them to the new topic.  Not that I’d mind that but we’re running behind where I want them to be and I don’t want to leave a sub holding the bag when I don’t have a good lesson plan for them to use.  That’s just asking for trouble.
 
I have to be in another teacher’s class third period to take her students through a lesson on how to use video in the classroom and I don’t want to cancel out and leave her holding the bag.
 
After school, we have a faculty meeting and, if you miss a faculty meeting, you have to come in at 6:45 the next morning to make it up and the boys and I would all have to go in early tomorrow.  I’m sure we’d all love that.
 
After the faculty meeting, I have to bring the twins home and then turn around and go back to school for an ROTC Booster Club meeting at 5:00.
 
Yeah, all in all, it’s not worth it to call in sick.  I thought about taking the boys to school and sticking around a couple of hours to get the  laptops set up and put together a lesson for my students but I figured I’d be lucky to get away with working half a day and I’d still have to drag myself in early tomorrow to make up the faculty meeting.  I’m feeling like such a martyr right now that I can’t even get a break when I’m sick as a dog.
 
Enough griping…I’m going to grab a hot shower, throw on some jeans and drag myself into work to hack and sneeze and pass whatever I’ve got to everyone in the building.

 

6:00 a.m. update - Woke up the boys and Steven is sick and says he’s staying home.  Must be nice.

4thDecember

THIS is more like it!

Woke up five minutes before the alarm and felt good.  Decided to get up and I reached over to turn off the alarm only to discover I hadn’t set it.  Good thing the internal alarm was working this morning.  I came in the kitchen to find my coffee just finishing up and my laptop already up and running.  This morning is starting out MUCH better than yesterday.  And, to add a cherry on top…it’s Friday!

Yesterday was okay.  I ate good.  Finally fixed the Thai Beef with string beans, sliced tomatoes and “fried” rice for dinner.  The only problem is still exercise.  I had to do a session with a homebound student yesterday after work.  I had her scheduled for 2:40 but she called and said she would have to change it to 3:30.  I didn’t like having to kill an hour after work before I could even see her and I wasn’t about to drive home and drop off the boys because it’s in the opposite direction.  When I arrived, she still wasn’t home and I had to chat with her mother for fifteen minutes before she arrived.  Mom was watching the baby and my student finally arrived with a coke and bag from McDonalds in her hand.  Had to get pretty firm with her because she’s a good kid but I didn’t want to set a precedent by having her call me at the last minute and change the appointment.  This kiddo had a baby.  She had a difficult pregnancy and was confined to bed the last six weeks before delivery.  Then she had a C-section and missed a total of two months of school before I was assigned to her.  I’m supposed to home school her for a month and then she’ll be returning to school.

Yesterday, she came in with her boyfriend at 3:45 and we’d been originally scheduled for 2:40.  I couldn’t very well grill her about where she’d been with Mom sitting there but I let her know that our sessions are not flexible and I don’t have time to be rescheduling them.  I feel for the kid.  I know she’s been staring at the walls for two months and is probably itching to get out and about but I don’t want her doing it while I’m cooling my heels and my grandkids are sitting in the school library waiting for me to pick them up and take them home.  If you’re not able to attend school because of a C-section, you’re not able to run around with the boyfriend.  Not on my time.

I didn’t get home until almost 5:30 and I got to work on dinner.  A lot of prepping with ten thousand string beans waiting for me to snap the ends and parboil them, grilling the beef and fixing brown rice.  Dinner was over around 7:00 and, by the time I got the kitchen back in order, it was almost 8:00.  No, I didn’t workout.

Still, I DID walk the halls at lunch yesterday.  Not much but something.  My plan for this weekend is to download some new music to my MP3, get my workout room in order and get back into a workout routine.  I just haven’t had the energy during the work week but I’m hoping the weekend will give me time to get things going.

Yeah, I’m having one of those.  Nothing has gone right since the alarm sounded.  I got up and someone must have hit the timer button on the coffee because it brewed my coffee at 1:00 a.m. instead of 5:00 so I had to dump it and make another pot.  Went to sit down at the table and the cat had thrown up on my chair.  I cleaned it up, sat down at my computer, clicked on Explorer and got hit by one of those adware viruses so I had to shut down the computer and completely reboot.  In the meantime, I went to the bathroom to pee and found that the toilet was clogged so I got to spend a couple of minutes plungeing instead of relaxing with my blog and coffee.  Now it’s time to get the boys up and hit the shower.  I’ll try to post if I find a couple of free minutes at work.

6:15 - Okay, I’m ready for work and waiting for the boys so I have a few minutes.

Yesterday pretty much went to Hell in a handbasket.  Lunchtime rolled around and I found myself staring at that packet of instant oatmeal with revulsion so I just skipped it.  By the time I got off work, I was starving.  I stopped by the produce market on the way home and picked up fresh string beans and headed home.  The plan was for Thai beef with string beans, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes that I picked up in Florida and homemade “fried” brown rice with onions, eggs, garlic, and shredded carrots.

I was so tired driving home that I kept yawning and I was miserable.  Getting up an hour early meant I’d only had five hours of sleep the night before.  It was raining — that cold misty rain of Kentucky winters–and I couldn’t wait to get home.  Came in and started slicing the beef and DH informs me that he’s tired and he’s going to eat some leftover chili and hit the bed.  The twins are telling me they’ll just eat a frozen pizza and I’m really too tired to summon the warrior.  There’s no way I’m doing all that cooking just for me.  So…DH hits the bed at 4:30 (yes, FOUR THIRTY) and I rummaged around in the freezer and couldn’t find much of anything except some frozen leftover lasagna.  I grabbed the lasagna and threw it in the microwave on a 30% power setting and thought I’d either pass out from exhaustion or die of hunger while I waited for it to warm up.

Work out?  Are you kidding?  I was totally miserable.  I’ve got to start feeling better.  I did my usual; took the lasagna in the family room and turned on the TV but I couldn’t stay awake past 8:00 so I crawled into bed and was really too tired to sleep.  I stared at the ceiling and tossed and turned for a couple of hours before I finally fell asleep.

I was thinking today has to be better but it’s sure starting out bad.  Gotta run…

11:00 - Taking a couple of “me” minutes.  I’m going to take a 15 minute walk in lieu of my usual working lunch.  I brought a lean cuisine and can eat it while I’m working but, this way, I know I’ll get at least a couple of minutes of exercise.

2ndDecember

Whimpering Warrior

I managed to get through the day yesterday.  I ate well.  I walked around the block a couple of times but I wouldn’t really call my efforts warrior-like.  I got home, went for a walk, fixed dinner and collapsed in front of the TV where I remained from around 8:00 to 11:00 and then I limped off to bed.  Still, although it wasn’t what I would call a perfect day, it was a good day.  I’ll try to do the same today.  A couple of things to celebrate:  I took more than half of a huge carrot cake to work yesterday and foisted it off on anyone who would take the bait.  I knew I’d eat some if I left it here.  Also passed on the macaroni and cheese and garlic bread that DH added to my nice healthy dinner menu.

Taking to heart some of the comments left yesterday (Thank you, Chicklets!), I’m going to start tackling some of these problems.  I’m taking on two of them today.  One: get a jump on dinner so I’m not left to the mercy of the men.  Two: plan something/anything that will keep me from being hypnotized by the TV this evening.

I have to be at work almost an hour early this morning because Andrew has a National Honor Society meeting.  Their advisor can only meet before school and I agreed to be a sponsor so I have to be there as well.   I figured I might as well since I do so much for Steven with ROTC and I have to go in early anyway to take Andrew.  So…I have to hit the shower running this morning.

8:00 - Quick update — I laid out some sirloin beef before I left for work so we can have Thai Grilled Beef with string beans for dinner.  I dug around in the freezer and found a Lean Cuisine for lunch and then ran out the door and left it sitting on the table.  Just finished digging around in my closet and found an old box of instant oatmeal.  Not what I planned for lunch but, at least, I have a plan now and won’t be tempted to eat something I shouldn’t.  I’m thinking of things to keep me busy this afternoon and I’ve decided to run by Sistah Pam’s for a few minutes and go to the fabric shop that’s down the road from her.  I keep trying to find an inexpensive piece of fabric that’s black with a small gold accent so I can make the comforter for the cabin.  Hey!  It beats sitting around the house watching TV.

1stDecember

Summon the Warrior

 I’m calling on the Warrior.   It’s tough to hang in there when so many obstacles are placed in our paths.  You almost have to be a warrior to get through each day.

I have to admit I get tired.  I have a difficult time keeping up the fight.  Time is always the enemy.  Anytime I work out, it’s taking time from other things.  Of course, once I give up the workout time for something important, it’s that much easier to give it up for anything else that comes along.  Pretty soon, I’m giving it up so I can watch reruns of The People’s Court.

Food, too.  I’m all alone in having any desire to eat healthy in my household.  All those damn men.  They don’t want to eat healthy and I get tired of trying to plan and prepare healthy meals only to have DH bring home pizza or fried chicken or Arby’s.  Of course, there’s always the battle that comes from him getting home before I do and deliberately starting a dinner that’s lethal to any kind of diet known to man.  I need the warrior.  Someone who will set his butt straight and tell him what he can do with his hamburgers, french fries and cole slaw.  It’s difficult to stick to the straight and narrow and it’s a whole lot MORE difficult when you have a houseful of men complaining all the time.  I worked all day yesterday, visited a home school student after work and then came home to find that DH had started my homemade spaghetti sauce, meatballs, and homemade pepper parmesan biscuits.  Just needed me to finish it up.  What can you do?  I made the biscuits and threw some meatballs in a skillet.  Ate dinner and then suffered with acid reflux all night.  The funny thing is, the more crap I eat, the less I like it.  It’s like my tastebuds get used to it and all the fattening junk all tastes the same. 

Still, I don’t feel good.  I’m tired and fat and my pants are all too tight.  I have no energy and the highlight of my day is flopping down on the couch to watch TV in the evenings.  Time to go on the warpath.  How many times have I said that?  I’ll weigh myself this morning for the first time in two or three weeks and try to get back on the straight and narrow, then I’ll walk out this door and the chaos will begin.  Work, meetings, home schooling, committees, the kids, DIL, and everything else that eats me alive every day.  I’ve gotta put on my war paint and summon the old warrior.  I’m going to keep track of everything I do today and see if I can gain some insight or see what I can do to get back on track.  Things have got to change.

  • 5:15 - 5:35 - Got my coffee, blogged and tried to wake up.
  • 5:35 - 6:00 - Woke up the boys, took my shower, weighed myself (although I didn’t even want to look and just about screamed when I finally did - 189.5!), used the blow drier on my hair, put on my makeup, polished my toenails.
  • 6:00 - 6:10 - Put on a pair of black trousers and a beautiful black and white top and heels.  Walked around a couple of minutes and decided I’d die before the day was over if I had to keep my gut sucked in and wear those pants all day.
  • 6:10 - 6:25 - Changed into a pair of size 16 “fat” jeans but the top was too dressy for jeans so I grabbed a maroon tee and changed to cute white athletic shoes with gold and silver all over them.  Topped it off with a pink and white jacket because the jacket has some maroon in it.
  • 6:25-6:45 - Rummaged around in the freezer and found a lean cuisine.  Same kind as yesterday but they all taste the same anyway.  Also grabbed a frozen pork loin and threw it in the crock pot with Bronco Bob’s Roasted Mango Chipotle Sauce.  Take that, DH!  I got the jump on dinner!
  • 6:45 - 7:45 - Drove to work.  Had to scrape the windows to get rid of heavy frost.  Hadn’t planned on that.  Brought in half a huge carrot cake and told everyone to eat the damn thing or I’m trashing it.  Met with Advisor for National Honor Society (I’m a sponsor) about tutoring for the middle school, checked my mail, checked and responded to (or deleted) 60 new emails since yesterday afternoon.
  • 7:45 - 1:45 - Been hard at work all morning.  Met with the principal and went over the next newsletter with her.  Met with all the teachers of my new homebound student to see what I need to work on with her.  Met with ROTC instructors about holiday program.  Had students two periods and went over how to edit photos in Picassa and add them to PowerPoint presentations.  Met with resource teacher to write up a brochure promoting “Books for Belize”, a program that donates used books to schools in Belize. 
  • 1:45-4:00 - Wrote two articles for the school newsletter, met with Major about grandson, Steven’s, ASVAB scores.  First try, he scored 45 and the Air Force requires 31.  I’m actually surprised.  I didn’t expect him to do that well.  Guess I’d better keep an eye on him or he’ll come home one day and tell me he enlisted…drove home, stopped off at the store and bought cole slaw mix and lite sweet and sour dressing to go with baked apples (with Splenda) and pork loin for dinner.  Now comes the hard part.  I’m TIRED.  All I want to do is sit down and watch TV.  Instead, I’m going to find my MP3 and go for a walk.