Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Update

Thank god it's Monday.  The busy weekends are kicking my butt.  So much can happen in two days.

But I love me a Monday.  Manic Monday? Not here.  Mondays bring routine, schedules, kids in safe/happy learning environments (aka not at home fighting!), my normal daytime tv programming.  I must confess I like having the same cereal in the same bowl, with the same coffee, in the same coffee cup while watching the same "Today" show every Monday through Friday.  Is that weird?  Probably.  But it is comforting.  

And believe me, there is enough chaotic, exciting change and activity going on over the weekend.
Here is a Weekend Update:

There was house news.  We received an offer.  Now it is a waiting game.  Waiting on the banks to approve a short sale, appraisers to once again confirm the sad, sad low value of our home and everyone else that needs to give this little transaction approval to approve.  Fingers crossed.  

There was a plethora of sports: gymnastics for Lucy, hockey for JT and of course football playoffs for Peyton.  And breaking news, they won.  So the big Superbowl of pee-wee football is all set for next Sunday.  

There was a wedding.  But no sitter.  So, the kids accompanied us to the ceremony.  We were running late (Truth be told, because of a long line at Starbucks. I totally caved on the no caffeine thing and got a latte, but with soy because I am trying a no dairy thing now).  Frantically racing in the custom van, (which by the way recently several people have asked if it is a service bus) we didn't think we would make it to the church on time. I just had to type that last part to be obnoxious.  Anyway, my husband Tim suggested we slip in the back.  Yeah, I could really picture all six of us simply slipping in the back of the church.  But we made it with seconds to spare.

It was Tim's cousin's wedding, so of course it was a Catholic ceremony--a very beautiful ceremony, in a beautiful old church.  During communion, I sat with the kids in the pew as everyone went up to the altar for their bread and wine.  Lucy looked at me with a furrowed brow and asked "Why can't we go up?" 

"We aren't Catholic honey," I whispered.

She thought for a moment, looked around and then looked at me and said quite loudly, "So we are the only ones here that aren't Cathletic?"

She and I will discuss this at length I am sure.

Tim went onto the reception without me.  I went home and had an indoor picnic dinner with the kids.  

There was leaf raking.  My kids got really involved and raked their little hearts out.  Only problem was they were loving raking the neighbors' yard.  Why is it so much more fun to my kids to clean someone else's house or rake someone else's leaves?  My wonderful neighbors did come over and help me rake my yard, but sadly the kids had lost interest by then.

There was hours and hours of church.  Tim and I were in charge of passing out the trick-or-treat for UNICEF boxes to the kids and teach the lesson.  I love this program and am so proud that my kids got totally into it. 

Of course there was the carving of pumpkins, watching of "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" and eating a nice Sunday family dinner. Breaking news--the baby Wade sat at the table without a booster or a high chair.  
Good stuff.
Happy Halloween!

Here is some more good stuff:

I LOVE,LOVE,LOVE this.  You must watch. Now these two are the ones that should host the Oscars! 

One of the best SNL Weekend Updates ever:

This is how I have felt the past two weeks with my giving up of caffeine and dairy, and my gluten cheats. I am "going all "Girl Interrupted.'"

UNICEF is an amazing organization, watch the video and do something.  Not to sound all like the lady who used to be on Archie Bunker, but it only takes a quarter to provide clean drinking water for a kid.  It is easy to be powerful and create change, really it is.

And finally, if you are still reading and watching...since I mentioned it, I must include the video.  It's just another Manic Monday! (which is really my fun day)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Crack is Whack

I haven't paid a lot of attention to the Michael Jackson trial, but whenever I hear brief updates on "Access Hollywood" or CNN I shake my head in frustration.  Mental illness and drug addiction look a lot alike.  And when you mix the two watch the hell out, it can get messy.  Ask the Jackson family.  Or Martin Sheen.  Or me.

I was 15 the first time I witnessed one of her full-blown panic attacks.  Doing my homework watching 90210 and wondering whether Brenda was going to go all the way with Dylan, I heard my brother calling for me to help.  My mother was sitting on the couch having trouble breathing and grabbing her chest.  We thought she was having a heart attack.  She begged us not to take her to the emergency room because she didn't have the right insurance.  So we loaded her in the car and took her to urgent care.  Struggling to breath and crying, my mother was a mess.  I was also crying and struggling to breath as I tried to remember everything I learned in driver's ed (having only a permit and no license yet).  
*Sidenote--To be completely honest, I had been stealing the car and driving since I was 13, but driving under this kind of stress was a whole new ballgame.  And sorry dad that you had to find out that driving since 13 fact here.

My brother and I flipped through magazines in the waiting room....waiting like a couple of immature adults (that's foreshadowing people!).  After what felt like hours, the nurse wheeled my mother out to us.  She was slumped over, incoherent.  They had given her a shot of something.  "Just take her home and put her to bed she'll be fine," the nurse said and deposited my mother to us.

 My mother started taking anti-anxiety medication in 1979 and hasn't stopped.  She just added new and different medications and opiates.  I was unaware of how long it had actually been going on until this past winter when I was at the hospital with my mother, trying to convince her to go to rehab.  She didn't.  "I take oxycodone not oxycontin, that's for hillbillies," my mother told me on that visit.  I like to call it her Whitney Houston moment, referencing Whitney's "Crack is Whack" quote of course.

I know I can't stop with the pop culture references.  Sorry, that is just how I roll.  When things happen in my life I have always looked to my real friends on tv to make it all better.  Or at least make me feel normal.  

Right now is probably the first time I can say that I have something in common with LaToya Jackson.  Because I am betting that she can't pinpoint what the real problem was with her relative---mental illness or drug addiction.  (The whole damn chicken and egg crap.)  And there was nothing she could do about it anyway.

Look, I am not trying to bash my mother on this blog, vent about all my wire hanger moments or make light of addiction or mental illness.

What happened to my mother is devastating.  I really could've used a good "Access Hollywood" story when I was growing up to relate to.  No joke.  No one talked about bi-polar or manic depressives or prescription drug use like they do now, since Britney Spears and the like.  Sure there was a "Knot's Landing" Episode when Karen was addicted to pain killers, but it wasn't enough to resonate with me.  

While I was trying to help my mother last year, Charlie Sheen was having his break with reality.  Remember the whole Winning! fiasco?  After spending the day begging doctors to simply "do something" with my mother, I would go back to my hotel to watch all the entertainment analysts.  Some of them were questioning how this could have happened, where is the family, how do people "let" this happen.  I got so irritated! Families don't "let" this happen.  They can fight like hell to help, but it is usually a losing battle.  Unless a person is self aware enough to seek treatment and want it for either mental illness or addiction it simply won't work.  And you cannot force a person to get better.  I just got so Dr. Drew on all of you, I love it.

This past week there were some real big life stuff happening for my brother and sister.  Life stuff that no matter what age you are you could use a mom.  We could've really used a Nora Walker (Sally Field's character on "Brothers and Sisters").  I seriously can't stop with the pop culture!  

Not only is it painful to see how lonely my mother's life is now.  It is painful to see how full it could be.

But damn it pop culture really does.  I am going to go watch an old episode of "Brothers and Sisters" and get me some Nora Walker love.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Fat Without Gluten

Everyone is doing it.  Going gluten free is the trendy thing to do.  Every health magazine I have picked up in the past six months is talking about the benefits of a gluten free life.  A lot of people are going gluten free to lose weight and get healthier.

Well folks, I have succeeded in finding ways of gaining weight while going gluten free.

I am very glad that gluten free lifestyles are getting lots of press,  because ultimately that means that Celiac disease will get some press too.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can make people very sick. The only fix at the moment is to eat a strictly gluten free diet.  Doing this a person with Celiac can avoid terrible stomach pains, severe diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, muscle and joint pain and long term damage to their intestines.

My son JT was diagnosed with Celiac disease a year and a half ago.  Thankfully, he is now thriving and doing quite well.  The whole family went gluten free.  I joke that we initially lost weight because we couldn't afford to eat as much.  I joke, but it is the truth.

But don't worry, after a few months, I found ways to get fat without the gluten.
Um, hello sugar, I think I love you.
Do you like the spoon in the jar of frosting?  Yes, I eat  the frosting like it is a cup of frozen yogurt.  But it's gluten free!
So now, I am trying to do a Dr. Oz cleanse and get my health back on track.  

I made the kale cocktail but I am afraid to drink it.

JT volunteered to try it.

His face said it all.
So I had this instead....gluten free, but so not good for me.

Now even though my family is on one of the trendiest health diets around, I am back to the getting healthy drawing board.  

Check out the clip below to just laugh.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Unfinished Business

I have always prided myself  on the fact that we have a laid back house.  Kids come over and they don't worry about making a mess.  We get the paint out, track mud in, spill milk and it is totally okay.  The messier the house always signifies more fun in our book.
There is no amount of sprinkles that we can't handle.
My husband is not the guy that worries about the perfect lawn because he is too busy playing with the kids.  I love that too.

Our impulsive, laid back nature would lead us to start a couple, a few, well a lot of projects around the house.  

We liked a paint color for the living room, we bought it that day and started painting.  And of course we would totally be so all about the new paint color, until something else happened.  So you guessed it, we never quite got around to that second coat of paint.  Or finishing the seven other projects we started so excitedly.
It never bothered us.  Until we put our house up for sale.

Each time we show the house I feel like I should leave a disclaimer:
We are a really nice, fun family that lacks follow through.  Please don't judge us by our unfinished business.  Know this house is a place of love and possibility that would be a perfect home for your family.

But in the end, these buyers are a practical bunch that know they are in control in a market like this.  They notice the chipped paint and don't know the funny story behind it.  How my son Peyton used to ride his tricycle through the living room and bang into the walls, yes chipping the paint.  And they don't care.  
They don't care that this is where I brought each of my new babies home.

They want bigger rooms.  Finished projects.  And a cheap price.

It's an emotional, personal thing this house selling business.

Tim and I have always talked about someday having a "Father of the Bride" house.  A house like the one in the movie, with a basketball net and everything.  It is our version of a dream home.  

But really we know we are living the dream no matter what the house looks like.

I am reposting this video because the song says it all...home is whenever I'm with you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crazy Train Goes to Payless

"Wade!!! My pee is  not a waterfall, get your hands out of it." said the boy to his baby brother.

"What a lovely dinner kids, this was great being together," said the mom.  "Are you being sarcastic?," asked the son.

"Smooth move Ferguson," said the five-year-old boy to his parents, quoting a "30 Rock" episode he's never seen.  

These were all things that were said this evening in my house.  My older two kids (ages 7 and 9) are going through a stage saying statements such as "That was so fun," then they pause for effect.  "I was being sarcastic."  Bwhahahahahaha!  They laugh hysterically with their mouths open and heads little crazy people.

I am crazy too.  Shocking I know, but I am trying to limit my caffeine intake and it is really screwing with me.  I feel like I am in a fog.

Today after baby Wade's 2-year check up at the pediatrician, I agreed to buy them toys for being so good.  This is not something I normally do, but it gets worse.  I bought JT a recorder.  Yup, I am crazy too.

The whole ride home he played that damn recorder.  Out of the car, he played it in the yard.  He played in at the lunch table.  He played it on the way to school. And then after school, of course the recorder became a weapon in a sword fight with his big brother.  I know better than this.  I need caffeine.

It doesn't help our craziness that we are in the process of selling our house.   And we are at the beck and call of anyone that wants to take a tour.  The realtor calls, we leave the house.  

Tonight when the realtor called and said they wanted to show the house from 6:45-8, I loaded up the kids to go shopping. Again, I am a crazy lady.  And again, something I don't normally do.  But we were taking our crazy on the road, to Payless.  

My kids were so excited to be at Payless Shoe Source.  Bwhahahahaha...I laughed thinking how awesome it is that they love Payless.  My husband, Tim, met us there to make it a real family fun experience.

We yucked it up in the aisles trying on all sorts of shoes and boots.  

Wade became mesmerized with looking at himself in the shoe mirror upside down. 

I cried when my oldest son picked out shoes from the Men's aisle and they fit. Surprisingly none of the kids that didn't get shoes got too upset. (Only two out of four got shoes.)

It may be a crazy life, but it's our life.  I have heard that before....hmmm....oh my god!  It was the opening line in Jon and Kate Plus Eight, when they were still Jon and Kate.  Oh god, that did not end well. I have to get a new ending.  I don't want the Jon and Kate ending. Yikes.

I need caffeine before this gets any crazier.

Here's a little video that highlights the crazy.  If you have a minute, or less, you should at least watch the first 30 cracks me up.  It is like bloopers from the news, the one where the reporter is interviewing someone while a crime is happening on camera behind them.  

This family in happier times???

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dear Future...

Two more weeks.  That's it.  It will be over. 
I will finally be football free in my house, until next fall of course.

It has been a LONG three months.  Football takes over your life, your family's life.  Yes, we are still talking about my 9-year-old son Peyton here.
I will not miss trying to keep the other kids entertained and off the field.
These kids will not miss football, but they will so miss the concession stand.
Lots of gluten free junk food!
Practice three days a week, weigh ins, games, volunteer time.  Frankly, it is too much for everyone, well me.

Look, I knew this day was coming.  My husband played football since he was nine and continued through college.  So did his three brothers.  They are a football family.  They are fabulous tailgaters, supporters and football fans.  The moment I found out I was having a boy I knew this day was coming.

But I thought I could handle it.  I mean I like football.  I was raised on SEC football and my family still has pictures of the great University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant on their walls.  My father has lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for almost 20 years now and we are all proud members of SteelerNation.

Football is just great, unless my son is playing it I discovered. 

Another reason I thought I could handle this, was my competitive nature.  I want to win and I want my kids to excel.  During Peyton's baseball season he was in a hitting slump that was making him miserable.  I actually sat in the bleachers hoping the pitch would hit him so at least he would get on base.  What kind of mother does that?  One that could handle football you would think, but you would be wrong.
Ice on an injured player's neck, a sight so normal at a football game.
Normal unless it's your kid.
During this Saturday's game, Peyton was hitting hard and getting hit hard.  He came out of the game because his ears were ringing and his neck hurt.  Are you kidding me?  It was the first time at a sporting event that I wanted to run on the field and cradle my son.  

Just like the book "Love You Forever."  When my kids were little the book creeped me out. I majorly disliked the idea of the old lady mother driving over and picking up her grown son and rocking him "back and forth, back and forth."  But I totally get it now people!
I used to think this was so creepy when my first child was a baby, but now I totally get it.
It all feels so strange to me and barbaric.  It feels like child abuse.  I want to run down and get all his equipment and go home.  But the problem is, he loves it.  And his dad loves it.  And together they love it.  Ugh.

"You realize you are going to have to find a way to deal with this because you have about 16 more years of football," my husband Tim lovingly told me the other day.  

I have one word for you....Golf.  I am going to get the other kids totally into golf.  No head injuries there.  No taking over your life with practice right?

Before our football-filled Saturday, we went on a moonlit hayride on a farm.  Loved the hayride, but of course the animals freaked me out a bit.  The kids enjoyed the hell out of everything which always makes it worthwhile.

My daughter, Lucy, enjoyed the evening the most.  So much so now she wants to live on a farm and is convinced that when we sell our house that is where we are moving.  
She called me into her room later that night to see a letter she had written.  

At first glance, I thought she heard what I had called the grumpy goat that got a little too close for comfort.
Here's the little f&#*er that looked like
 he was going to jump out of his stall.

But she read her letter aloud and it said "Dear Future," not "Dear F*%&er."  Phew to that.  Anyway she wrote a letter informing future she wants to live on a farm and be so busy with chores she doesn't have time to clean her room.

Okay, I'll give it a try.

Dear Future, I will not live on a farm ever. My kids will all be very impressive golfers and shun football or any other dangerous sport.  I will not be a hoarder and I will be thinner and taller. Love, Me.

But in my immediate future we are heading to football playoffs.  Two more weeks.  I will worry about the next 16 years later.
Compelling sign hanging in the barn.
This was my reaction when I heard Peyton's team was heading to playoffs which meant two more weeks of football.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Can Be A Warrior After All

"You can't be one of the warriors," my neighbor told me.  No this isn't some weird Renaissance revival game I play in the park. This is a flashback to around 1982-ish and me playing some sort of game with my brother and my neighbors.  

I had no idea why he thought I couldn't be a warrior with my brother and him.  But I do know that it made me mad.  Really mad.  So mad I didn't know what to do with it when I was 8 years old.  So I quit playing.

Tonight I watched a documentary on my girl Oprah's network OWN. A documentary about how images in the media that degrade, demean and objectify women have had damaging effects on women, girls and the culture at large.
Watching the movie with my baby boy Wade.  I think he really gets it.

"MissRepresentation" was a good documentary, but it was in no way shocking to me.  You see I am about to type a sentence that might seem very controversial to some....I am a feminist. 

If you are still reading, let me explain.  I can trace my feminist beginnings to that warrior game in the early 80s.  I just didn't know there was a word for my anger and frustration with being limited because I was a girl.

Over the years, my anger would resurface and I would debate about injustice and gender inequality.  I wasn't the best student in high school, but I remember coming alive in government class when we watched the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas trial live in our classroom.  Taking my head up off the desk, I watched as my classmates spewed their parents' beliefs.  "She is crazy," some of the boys said.  "Who does she think she is?" said a very proper-looking girl.

Even though I always harbored anger and resentment about not being equal, man did I buy into the whole objectification of women thing.  At an early age, I discovered the power a girl-woman can have.  In eighth grade I got sent to the office repeatedly for wearing skirts that were too short.  I didn't care about getting in trouble, but I did care about the attention from boys/men.  I loved it.  But hated myself.  Ugh.

For years, I battled this look-at-me-I-think-I'm-sexy attitude toward life.  Now of course I am older and battling the oh-god-don't-look-at-me-I-think-I'm-fat attitude toward life.  Shit, being a woman is hard.

For a few years I found a home for some of my frustration and that helped.  My pal Steph and I used to attend the annual National Organization for Women (NOW) conventions.  Yes, NOW still exists.  
Now there's a couple of serious feminists for you.
When I went to my first convention I felt like I was...home.  Sure there were people with extreme views that I was not into, but man the cast of crazies made me feel so normal and I loved it.  Remember I am the girl who cries and feels so happy watching the Democratic National Convention.  And I usually wish it lasted two weeks rather than one.  Yup, can't help it.

I heard some great speeches, met some fascinating people and bought some cool merchandise at those NOW conventions.   I had this great hat that said something about being a feminist and I wore it until it simply wore out.

"Isn't that an oxymoron," someone asked me once.  I was wearing the hat while I was pregnant (with my fourth baby) and yes, barefoot.  In my defense, I was on vacation and on the beach.

But here's what I believe, you can be a Republican and be a feminist.  You can be a Christian and be a feminist.  You can be childless and be a feminist.  You can be a stay-at-home mother to 12 children and be a feminist.  You can be a man and be a feminist.  

The definition of feminism is the movement for social, political and economic equality of men and women--

that's all it is.
Me telling somebody what's what.

After all these years of getting fired up and defending not only women's rights, but the idea of feminism, I still get mad.  Really mad.  But not for me, for my children and what they might encounter in the world (especially the complex media world that was highlighted in tonight's movie, scary).  

And I won't quit this time.

People say, oh you feel this way because of your daughter.  Yes, but also because of my three sons.  

If I do nothing else in my lifetime, I sincerely hope that I have some part in helping them all grow up to be compassionate, open-minded adults.  Adults that treat all people with respect and get mad when they see injustice, bullying and inequality of any kind. 

And that is what feminism is all about.  Guess I can be kind of a warrior after all.

Movie I just watched:

This is good, really good.

This has nothing to do with anything except it's funny and it's Tina Fey.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This afternoon as the rain fell against my window, I brewed a nice hot cup of tea.  Billie Holiday songs were streaming out of my ipod while I sunk into the couch buried under a cozy cashmere throw.  I was completely comfortable and ready to read for hours and hours. Without being interrupted. 

Of course this didn't happen. This hasn't happened for 12 years, but man it is a fabulous daydream.

Here is how it really went....the good, the bad and the ugly.
This is the good, the oh so good.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks are my new OBSESSION.  I am in love with this drink and I want to marry it.

This Everyday Mathematics is bad, very, very bad.  Every time this book comes out of the backpack, which is every week day, I know trouble is ahead.

And this my friends, is when it gets ugly.

For years my family has been telling the straight line story.  We harass my father, who I am not sure actually remembers the straight line incident or not.  But it is one of those stories that has become family legend.

It started at a kitchen table, a lot like the one up in that picture.  With a girl that again looked a lot like the one up in that picture.  The little girl, me, struggled with math and confidence, and paying attention.  

My dad sat at the table and was helping me with my homework.  He patiently went over the math problems, over and over and over and over.  You have to understand that my dad is a very smart man (I think he and Oprah Winfrey know everything).  He has also always been very driven to succeed and know more about everything and anything, and be good at it.  My mother used to angrily mutter "if your father was a ditch digger he'd be the best damn ditch digger there was."  She used to say that like "how dare he!"  Ok, I digress, just trying to make the case for why he might have been so bewildered by his uninterested middle child so many years ago.

There we sat at the table for what felt like hours and we weren't getting anywhere.  It didn't bother me, which really bothered him.  At one point the homework assignment called for drawing straight lines with a ruler.  I attempted it and my straight lines were slanted, even with the ruler.  "Draw a straight line," my dad said with his jaws clenched.  I tried and failed.  Slamming his hand on the table he screamed "Draw. A. Straight. Line."  Hitting the table with each word.  Then he sort of started yell chanting it---"Draw a straight line.  Draw a straight line."  His eyes had a funny look in them, his hair was all messed up, he was turning red and sweating.  He looked crazy.  And damn it I tried, but the angrier he got the more slanted my lines got.  Finally the madness stopped when he said "I give up!"  He got up from the table and grabbed his head shaking it in disbelief.

My family laughs and laughs at this story.  We tease my father and how crazy he looked.  (And I still have trouble with straight lines.)

Oh it was such a funny story until now.  Now that I have those moments of madness with my own daughter.  

She hates math and really all homework.  And I hate it too. She is a smart girl, which makes it all so much more frustrating. I want to scream "What the hell is wrong with you?  You are making everything so god damn hard.  Just do the homework!"  And most days I don't.  But after just a few minutes with my daydreaming little beauty I feel my eyes getting the crazy gleam and my body getting that sweaty, hot rage feeling. 

This my friends is the ugly.  
But maybe it will be funny someday?  
For now, I am just waiting for the next really good latte.