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Archive for July, 2007

Class Reunion. Poop on you.

Ah, my high school reunion. It was a mixture of change and stagnancy.

Superficially speaking, the women from Palmetto age much more gracefully than the men.

Analytically speaking, some people never really grow much after a certain age. Weird.

The gig was at a country club in Palmetto (hahaha, who would’ah thought PALmetto had one of those???!). And despite the dress request of “country club attire,” many of those good ol’ boys just won’t leave their home in anything but a pair of Wranglers and a Stetson cowboy hat. Yes, this is the town I grew up in. Small town folks. Rednecks. Racists. Bigots. Homophobes. Misogynists. And people who scoff at smart folks.

The sight of men in blue jeans (and a couple of accompanying women) actually worked in my favor because compared to most of the women there, I was underdressed. Comfortable, yet under dressed in my vintage gray men’s dress slacks, “nice” fitted yellow T-shirt, and coolest pair of olive green shoes I’ve ever owned. These shoes have history.

My clothes and tattoos were my shield in a way. At least that is how I felt. The only person outside my table of “today-friends” who I reconnected with was a women who in high school was lovingly dubbed with the nickname, “Weirdo.” Her husband was really cool, too. So fitting! We hung out and talked, she showed me pictures of her beautiful kids and we tore it up a little on the dance floor.

Naturally, being surrounded by old class mates reminded me of high school. I can’t really fault people for grouping into the same clicks they were in during those four years of hell because, well, that is what a class reunion is for: reconnecting with old friends. However, a lot of the feelings I experienced in high school that, for all intensive purposes left me with age, showed up for a quick visit. Feelings of being marginalized, awkward but liked, and a little insecure.

I couldn’t get drunk enough to actually talk with anyone because in my mind, they probably wouldn’t be interesting to me, anyway. Yes. I’m an intellectual snob like that. Heh, without any reason to be.

In high school I talked all the time, just not about anything real. It was all shits and giggles and now as an adult, I’m all about “real” conversations. Anyone who knows me knows I have a really hard time with BS conversations. AKA: small talk. Some of the people that I would have liked to sit and talk with were busy reminiscing the past with their other old friends. I found myself sitting with the few people I know from high school who I still have love for. People who I speak with as the person I am now – not then. I hate getting together with an old friend and reminiscing about our history without getting to know who that person is today.

In high school I was one of those people I’ll refer to as a “social floater.” I was well liked by every other female, ignored by every male unless we were joking around or he wanted to talk to me about his girlfriend or one of my friends that he wanted to hook up with (I’ve always been the ugly friend), but in general I got along with everyone. During the reunion those feelings of being a social floater with no grounding in one particular group came back. My friends are the outcasts who every one likes but no one knows. Just like me.

Today, I realized my moments of social awkwardness during the reunion had more (if not everything) to do with the fact that I was tipsy on wine. I’m not use to feeling buzzed. It didn’t have the same affect on me that it would have if I was a weekend wine drinker, or something. Normally, at least in recent times, I have been tipsy or drunk in the company of close friends, family, or just my hubby. That has happened, like twice this year. I am a sober person all the time… Anyway, I’m thinking about this too much. You get the point. The wine didn’t loosen me up like it would have under more familiar circumstances.

I’m glad I went. And it felt even better to leave. When I woke up Sunday morning with my little girl smiling her big morning smile as she coo’d, “I love you mommy,” into my eyes, I felt such inner peace. As I crawled into Max’s bed to hang out with my sleepy husband and little boy before we started our morning rituals, I felt in my skin.

My naturally neurotic mind wants to over-analyze the sights and sounds of that crazy night but really… it is what it is…

And let me tell you, I am glad it is over. There were so many different things that offended me about the event. The e-mail assuming that we were ALL either married, with kids, or with a mortgage. Because you know, NO ONE from Palmetto could possibly be gay, single, without kids, or a free spirit who doesn’t want to buy a house! Or what about the condescending e-mail telling everyone that “country club attire is REQUIRED,” and that we shouldn’t be so stupid as to wear “shorts and T-shirts.” Gah. Or, how about being bullied into sitting down before dinner and then having some pastor guy TELLING everyone to “bow your heads and be quite” because it was time to pray. What. The. Fuck. I know, right… because EVERYONE from Palmetto MUST be Christian. Or, at least a Christian who thinks it is appropriate to be SLOSHED and pray for “forgiveness for our sins” at the same time. If I hadn’t been in such a state of shock at the inappropriateness of a prayer to Jesus at a class reunion, I would have had my wits about me, gotten up and made a bee-line to the buffet. I hate this town.

Damn, that ended sourly.

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MIL just picked Max up for the day. Bella is upstairs sleeping. Tonight is my 15 year high school class reunion.

I’m actually pretty excited about the class reunion. Mostly because (I’m a dork and) it will be the first time since Bella’s birth that I have been out sans the kids. And to make the night a sure laugh, I’m going with a friend who is funny as hell. True, I am a bit nervous because its been a while since I’ve had to socialize outside of my comfort zone of close friends. Though, I’m sure after the first glass of wine, I’ll be fine. I’m a bit of a natural social butterfly.

Bella is growing like a weed. I can hardly believe that in five days she will be six months old. I’m really trying to soak up the infant and baby stages because This. Is. It. She will never be born again.

Time can fly by so quickly and unnoticed. A long time ago, starting with Max when I found out I was pregnant with Bella, I stopped waiting for the next development and the next clothes size. I stopped thinking about the future so much and started opening up to what is. Max taught me how to live in the moment. He had been showing me this skill since I went into labor with him, but I didn’t really hone in on how I could do it everyday until pregnant with Bella. She taught me how to start right now. She said by being, “don’t wait until something else happens.” What a wonderful gift from my children – the gift of living in the moment.

Stretching each moment out into a lifetime has become a gift that has served my life well. Instead of wondering [read: worrying] about what I’m going to do when I go back to work, school, life with kids in school… I’ve slowed down. A lot. Time is irrelevant these days and sometimes my mind forgets to properly change days and is lingering in Monday when its really Tuesday.

I still have to get things done, make appointments, plan for future happenings. Life doesn’t stop just because I’ve stopped worrying so much about the future. We are still poor, living paycheck to paycheck, hoping Hal doesn’t lose his job because of some lousy tax break that really only helps the rich – all these things are still a part of life. I don’t really understand why I’m less worried about them. Well, I do worry. Sometimes. I do occasionally crawl up into my head and sit with the difficulties of life and fantasies of the future – but that is happening…um, differently(?) these days.

There were more practical, day to day things I wanted to share but when I sat down to write, this is the stuff that came out. This living in the moment thing must be affecting my writing! Usually, as the day goes on, I make mental notes of stuff I’d like to jot down in this blog and then when I sit at the computer it flows out of that little box in my head. Now, I’m still making these mental notes, but it is flowing out of my head before I get a chance to write it down! Gotta work on that.

Maybe I’ll become one of those obnoxious writers who carries a recorder around with her! My thoughts are way too important to forget!

And that was more exclamation points than any one piece of writing should have!

BellaGrace, 6 months:

Max at six months:

Crazy! They are like twins!

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Dear Max,

I have been thinking about this letter for over a week. You are just the kewlest kid ever and I want you to know exactly why I think this. I know a day will come when you will ask me, Mom, what was I like when I was a two year old? So, when I say, You were the coolest kid, Max. Here is why…

Things you do at the ripe ol’ age of 32 months/1 week/6 days old:

  • You love to kill ants that are in our house. With your finger. You use to kill them while outside, too, until I explained that when we are outside, we are in their home. You figured out quickly that it wasn’t nice to kill bugs for fun when outside.
  • The nursery rhyme, Old Mother Hubbard, is in one of your books. When you took a close look at the dog in the picture and realized that it was hungry because Old Mother Hubbard didn’t have a bone for it, you broke out in tears. Once you calmed down, you wanted to look at it again. I told you that she eventually finds food for her dog and feeds it. It took you about five looks before you stopped crying at the sight of that dog.
  • You sometimes use the words, God Damn, Damn, and Fucking. All in their proper forms. You know that you are only to say those words in front of mommy and daddy because other people may get upset and punish you. Though, I’m fully expecting you to slip-up at some point because we all do. I don’t react when you say these words but can’t help but to privately laugh when I hear you say, “Where is my damn Tyrannosaurus Rex???” With the appropriate emphasis on the word, damn.
  • You love to shoot me and your toys with your pretend spider web. It is the easiest way for me to make you laugh. I can lay in bed and shoot you as you try to hide in the hallway. Its all very funny and relaxing. You’ve never seen the movie, Spider Man, but have been privy to old episodes of the cartoon.
  • You love it when I lay in the pool with you. The pool is pretty small and mama is pretty big so we spend the entire time snuggling, laughing, and playing – usually as I lay on my side.
  • It has been a little over a week since I weaned you from nursing. I am in full belief that you are capable of nursing for much longer (I’m talking 5-6 years old). It has been rough for you and at least once a day you will ask for num-nums. However, everyday is getting a little easier for the both of us when I say, no. As a substitute, one you thought was quit poor in the beginning, I hold you close – we snuggle. It’s starting to grow on you. You often ask me for a hug or to snuggle and I happily oblige – no matter what I am doing. Sometimes, we hold one another for long quite minutes. Those are some of the best minutes of my life.
  • Around the same time I decided to wean, we transitioned you into your own bedroom. Papa and I believe these two major changes caused your world a lot of turmoil. You started having melt downs upon waking up after naps. Needing mommy was always the focus. Papa has been sleeping on an air mattress in your bedroom every night since the first night we put you in your own room. He plans on staying there until you are comfortable enough to make it through the night in your own bed. Papa’s presence has grown on you. Now, when you wake up in the morning you call for daddy and don’t even try to open the bedroom that Bella and I are sleeping in. The two of you go into the kitchen to start the day with your breakfast rituals. Even waking up from naps is getting smoother. These are really big moves in your life and we are here with you every step of the way. As I expect we will always be.
  • You love your dinosaurs. You play with them every day. Sometimes for hours at a time. You make houses for them. Fight them. Line them up in a row or in groups. Name them. Send them to the store. Keep Bella from putting them in her mouth. Love them.
  • You also like to build stuff with your wooden blocks.
  • You love books. Both when they are read to you and looking at them by yourself. Your favorites right now are Dinosaurs, and all of our Dr. Seuss books.
  • We play “who can yell the loudest” every day. You yell, NO! And I follow your lead by imitating your tone/voice with, YES! You can yell much louder than I can. The game always ends in laughter.
  • You are very possessive over me but will share me with Bella. You insist that I don’t love daddy, I only love you. I always assure you that I do love Papa and I love you, Bella, and Camus, too.
  • You like to pull my pants and underwear down to my ankles when I’m on the phone.
  • You love to look at pictures of dinosaurs on the internet.
  • Sometimes you get so mad when I come downstairs to write and only entertain yourself for a few minutes before insisting on sitting on my lap. I usually get annoyed by this and give up on the computer and we either go outside or back upstairs. However, there are times when I’m finding it to be necessary to sit and write. We usually bicker when this happens. I almost always manage to finish my writing and you often end up in the playpen in order for me to do this. Naturally, you do not like being confined.
  • You love your Nana, Lola, and Grandpa with all your heart.
  • You also love Auntie SheShe, Uncle Ryan, and Liiiiiiiiiz.
  • You speak very clearly now and are very social. A bit of a show-off, actually.
  • You talk non-stop.  Occasionally, I try to make you stop by covering your mouth.  You just laugh and keep talking.  Usually, I enjoy the talking and find you to be great company.
  • You always give Bella kisses and if I even so much as suggest you kiss her feet instead of her face you say, “no mama, I want to kiss her on her cheeks.”

I am so lucky to be staying home with you and Bella during your early years of life. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel this way – even on those hard days when we butt heads. I know being a stay-at-home-mom isn’t for everyone, but it sure is for me.

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Flip.

Life has been pretty chill around here, lately. We seem to have gotten over and through our early year rough patch and have moved on to greener pastures. The shift started with an old high school friend offering to give me a free massage. I remember thinking after I read her e-mail, this is it! This is the start of something new! I know it’s silly, but I tend to see everything like a river… sometimes it flows peacefully and sometimes its out of control. It all depends on the surrounding elements. I’m the river. Maybe one day I’ll run smoothly even when the weather’s not so good.

I’m still seeing a therapist every week. She has also been a calming element in my life.

** Hal’s grandmother decided to give her grandchildren a chunk of money before she passes away, when we all seem to need it the most. Apparently, there is still a lot left over to give after she passes. We are shocked and very grateful.

Our main bathroom is in dire need of work so we’ve decided to invest the money in our home. We’ll probably go about it in the least expensive way possible, however, I’ve been having a lot of fun looking (daydreaming) on-line for tile, vanities, and bathtubs! Realistically, we will be replacing the linoleum flooring with new tile – possibly the stuff sitting in our garage if there is enough, it is left over from when we tiled our front door area. We’ll also be buying a decent, yet inexpensive, vanity/sink. IF the floor isn’t too expensive because of the water damage done to the particle board under the linoleum, we’ll put in a new toilet. I am really hoping we won’t have to replace the bathtub and wall tiling in the tub. We also need to re-tile half of our roof, clean our carpets, and do some yard improvement stuff with this money. Oh, and we’d like to by a nice 32″ TV. I think our current TV is a 20″, which is nice, but we are movie people.

I took out 100 bucks of our pre-inheritance to buy some new clothes for myself. I’ve spent $55 of it already. I don’t have expensive taste – Target clothes are fine by me – but my body is in such a weird middle place right now. I’m afraid to buy any pants because within the last three months I have dropped four pant sizes, and it seems like I keep losing weight on a weekly basis. Not complaining, but unpredictable weight loss makes buying clothes less fun when you’re poor and need to be able to wear what you buy for at least a year. I’m also keeping my larger sizes because once I’m able to eat what-ever I want again, my weight may go up.

After giving birth to Bella, I was a size 20. I’m currently a size 16. Funny how I don’t feel any different. I never see myself as being “fat,” regardless of my size. I also have never felt unattractive because of my weight. The only reason I want to be a size 10/12, is so that I can thrift store shop and find cool stuff! The era of clothing I like was made pretty small. A size 10 back then is like a size 6 now-a-days. When I was 24 years old, I was a size 8. Only now do I realize just how small that is.

** Hal’s sister works at Margaritaville in Universal Studios. She gets free tickets every month to either use or give away. We have been to Universal several times with those freebies. This time, as a birthday gift to Hal (July), Max (November), and me (December) she is giving us tickets to Universal and paying for a hotel at Universal. Walking distance from the park! For two nights! Hal and I aren’t “theme park people,” but when its free… woohoo! yipee! I’m actually pretty darn excited about this.

** I’ve been taking it easy since burning out last week from all the outings with the kids, but tomorrow I’ll head out to Sarasota for “camp.” My nature mama friends have organized a summer camp for our kids. I am what is called a “floater.” Max, Bella, and I pop in when we can without any commitment. If you are part of the regular camp you can drop your kid off on one of those two days for the duration of camp-time. Regular camp runs two days a week from 9am – noon and is held at a different mama’s house each time. All my nature mama friends live two towns away (at least a 30 min drive) which makes it hard for me to commit. If they do it again next year (this is the 2nd year its been done) I think I’ll “sign up” (which is a verbal commitment) to go full-time.

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Dear Readers,

I just added a new blog to my blog-roll over there. Please visit it. It is called, A Day Late and a Dollar Short.

The woman who is writing it has a son, Evan, who has a brain disease called, Hypothalamic HamartomaRead the post about Evan’s condition.  She writes about what this struggle has been like for her in a way that grabs me and puts her shoes on my feet just enough to feel what she is going through. She’s one strong mama and is in my thoughts daily.

As I read this blog, I think about how strong this family is, how fortunate my family has been thus far, how vulnerable life is, and how much love is available in each and every one of us for our children. That love is overwhelming, all-consuming, and so very powerful. More powerful than anything else in the world.

This blog, A Day Late and a Dollar Short, is intense, beautiful, sad, and brave. Our family donated to Evan’s Brain Surgery Fund. If you can, you should, too.

They have had all kinds of issues with their health insurance company in getting them to pay for the surgery Evan needs. What a surprise, eh? Fucking insurance companies.

Oh, and replace your Google search page with THIS. It is one small and easy thing you can do to help this family.

Love,

Michelle

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Written Friday 13th, 2007

My MIL picked Max up today around 1:30pm, and is keeping him until… any minute now. My house was a disaster when she arrived to take The Bossman. The bathroom smelled like piss, there were dirty dishes in the sink, it looked like a bomb went off downstairs, upstairs was riddled with toys, and I had tons of laundry to do.

Five hours later…

The house looks the same.

I napped with Bella, ate chocolate and almond butter, read my favorite blogs, watched TV, and I’m writing this post. Some days, ya just gotta indulge.

I think a lot about the philosophy of parenting that shapes my actions as a mother. I’m always tweaking it to fit what is practical and working on learning how to put my ideals into practice.

I often spend time pondering the question, how much control do I really have over how my children “turn out?”

Yes, as the mama I play a huge role in shaping who my children will be in the future. However, it is not so much me as a mother, individual, and adult that plays a roll in shaping my children as it is their experiences in life.

My power lies in the quality of their experience with home life, in the environment I create for them with my actions and words, and in teaching them to listen to their inner voice. My power does not reside in their perception.

This is really hard for me to understand and even harder to explain. I think on the most basic level, I want my children to grow up in a home where they are free to trust their intuition. So, if this is a skill that is already within and only needs encouragement, how do I become part of that encouragement process instead of a hindrance to it?

If you watch a toddler, they don’t take very many things personally or hold any one feeling for very long. They are the perfect people in a lot of ways. They experience life as it is in the moment and not through the lens of judgment, scrutiny, contemplation, or too much analysis (point taken).

I don’t obsess over this, really. Its just that being around children is so new for me that I’m really getting into understanding them.

Lately, I’m paying special attention to the words I use when speaking to Max. My body language and tone is (usually) in check but I think word choice is important, too. I’d like to be a mother who guides her children instead of the mama who tries to mold them.

Observing Max has made me realize that my children perceive life from a place within that runs deep to who they are. Layers of confusion (read: many future therapy sessions) can be added by mistreating them, attempting to make them into a smaller version of my ideologies, lying to them, attempting to mold them, or misguiding them. However, the core of who they are will always be pushing to reach the surface. They will either live life to experience their true selves or they will live life on the surface – superficially. I think I can help them to live as their true selves by guiding as oppose to controlling.

I do not believe that we are blank slates waiting for our guardians and the world to write who we are into the emptiness of our minds. However, who we are as an adult has a lot to do with what we experienced as a child. And although those last two sentences may seem conflicting, they are not. I am going to try to give my kids the power of insight, perception, and inner strength.

How am I going to do this kind of parenting? With my interactions with them. My voice. My actions or inaction. This is something that is different for every family dynamic. Though, I imagine for everyone it is a constant work in progress.

I believe in sitting back as much as possible and enjoying my children’s mind unfold – their likes and dislikes, their observations of others and of the world. It is hard to parent a child this way. It means parenting without judgment. It means parenting/guiding my kids as separate individuals from myself. It means as a parent I have to learn how to talk so my children grow from the inside out. All of this is really hard and I do screw up a lot. But I am trying.

I want my kids to learn to listen to their own inner dialog and I want that inner voice to grow because I have stepped back and allowed it to be.

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Palmetto High School.

This is the last e-mail that I received regarding my upcoming class reunion. Let’s hope that someone offers to edit any future e-mails. This was painful to read:

17 days left until the event of the year the Tiger Reunion Bash. Time is running out to register for the Tiger Reunion Bash. For all of you who have registered you will be getting a email confirmation in the next couple of days. No tickets will be mailed out. There will be a registration table the night of the event where you will check in.
So for the ones who have not registered yet what are you waiting for. Don’t miss this opportunity see friends from our past. The ones that knew us before we had husbands, wives, kids and mortgages. This is going to be time of celebration of our lives we made after high school with the ones that remembered us when. So I don’t about you but I am looking forward to night out with old friends. Don’t waste another minute and stop thinking about it just register. You will not regret it. Look forward to seeing everyone in 17 days. Just think these annoying emails are coming to an end soon. Please call (555) 555-5555 or email me with any questions you may have. Talk to you all soon.

I’m actually embarrassed for the person who sent it out. I’m no grammar stickler, but damn, this is really bad.

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