Say Hello To A Friend

I found out a while back that my dear friend Melanie had started blogging.  She was taking a class and asked me to give her some feedback which I happily did. I just went over to check her blog, and found out that we have spontaneously chosen the same template for our blogs. If that doesn’t say “kindred spirits” I don’t know what does. I’ve added her blog to my blogroll to the right.

Melanie writes about wine (for now–I’m trying to convince her to turn to other subjects), and she’s very good at it. So jump over there and give her a read, leave her a comment and let her know I sent you.

I promise you won’t be disappointed.

GG

Baby Steps, Again

I didn’t think this post would be so difficult to write. It’s very easy to get out of the habit of writing. You just don’t do it. You let the grandson play on the computer when you should take some time for yourself or you play mah jongg instead of writing or futz around on Twitter, or any one of a million other things. You let it slide. Just like you let your life slide, it seems. That’s what’s so hard. I admit it. I’m letting my life slide and I have no idea where. It’s really, REALLY difficult to write that. But that’s how I feel at the moment. I don’t know why. Nothing particularly momentous happened and all of a sudden I was oh, this is all just to much to bear. Yes, I know some of you will say taking on the grandson was a big deal. You’re right. It was huge. However, this feeling was manifesting inside me long before that happened.  Maybe this latest thing was the proverbial last straw, but it definitely isn’t/wasn’t the root cause. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

But I’m working on it. I’m taking baby steps, again. This post, for instance. I have a couple of non-fiction ideas I want to explore for submission a couple of places. I considered NANOWRIMO for a nanosecond, and realized I wasn’t ready, but I can do small things. I’ve begun using the timer on my phone. Now that sitting apparently is worse than smoking (and WHO decided on that for God’s sake in a society that sits about 85% of the time now–there has to be SOMETHING to make us fearful, right? I am so over that), I’ve begun to set myself 45-minute intervals and then get up, even in the middle of a report, and use my resistance bands, do wall squats, bounce on my rebounder for 5 minutes, stretch, do a few yoga moves, whatever it takes to get me out of the chair. It’s helping, especially on the last half of my shift.

I started walking again, now that the weather is more conducive. Again, the timer. I set it for 15 minutes and walk till it goes off. Then I set the stop watch and walk back the way I came to see if I keep up the same pace. I do. I figured if I can’t give myself 30 minutes a day to get out of my head, what is the point. I don’t need fancy equipment, etc. There’s a perfectly good street right outside. I just need to use it.

I knew it was getting critical when I quit wanting to cook. True. Don’t care. I’m suddenly tired of trying to get nutrition into people who can’t seem to open a fridge and see anything that’s not convenient. E wants chips or Cliff bars, I can’t even get him to microwave stuff. G either forgets to eat until she’s nearly passing out, or she’s nauseated from the reflux so nothing is appealing. Again, baby steps. G found a fabulous recipe for homemade “cliff” bars that is SO much better than anything I’ve found in a box. Don’t have it in front of me, but I’ll post it, because really, you have to make these. They are great. And flexible, so you can customize them to your taste.

I’m trying not to complain. I have nothing to complain about. All my needs are met, and the vast majority of my wants, so I can’t figure out why this utter blah-ness for lack of a better term. Maybe I need a vacation? I don’t know. I just know I don’t like this feeling and I’m not sure how to make it better. Except with those baby steps, one word, one meal, one foot at a time.

So Much For That

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This was morning down the street a couple of days ago. We’re all fine here, by the way, if you’ve been keeping up with news of flood in Colorado.  They are north of us in Colorado Springs, Denver, and even further north toward Wyoming. Once again, Pueblo proves to be about as disaster-free a place as you’d want to live in.  Apparently, we are a geographical anomaly, which suits me fine.  

Oh, hi.  Yeah, it’s been a little bit.  Mostly I’ve been driving a boy to and from school, to and from football practice, to and from…whatever.  Yeah.  Pueblo is a small place but we’ve put over 2000 miles on the new car (Yeah, we, er, she got a new car–went to get the mirror fixed on the old one and walked out with a whole new vehicle. It’s great) in less than 2 months.  I guess that’s not much when you commute to work, but for two old ladies who don’t work outside the home, it’s a LOT.  Plus Denver. VA Denver.  We’ve got at least THREE trips to Denver coming up in the next six or so weeks, at about 250 miles a pop round trip, not counting me picking her up at the airport on Tuesday, so add another 1000 miles. So, that’s what I’ve been doing when I’m not having or watching someone else have a meltdown.

Yeah, we’re doing the meltdown thing. I’m not going to go into it because for the first time ever, G read one of my posts and thought I really “cremated” her in it.  I’ve never asked her to not read my blog, but she’s often said that she doesn’t or won’t because she knows I’m pretty honest and put a lot out there. I guess she decided to break her own rule.  I assured her that nothing I write is ever meant to hurt her, and she should also read the comment section too, because that might make her feel a little better.  Anyway, over the last few months, she’s asked me to be honest and when I have, it seems like I’ve really hurt her without meaning to.  And by honest, I mean HONEST, not the kind of “honest” that’s like, “It’s not mean if it’s true.”  I work really hard not to do that and not to make snap comments off the cuff because I can be the utter queen of sarcasm and I know that sarcasm is not taken lightly. So, there’s this tentativeness I’ve got now around blogging at all.  We’ll go forward. I’ll get over/beyond it.  The weather has changed recently and my attitude is a lot better.  (Yes, Dr. Gignilat, I AM a “climatic determinist.”)  That was one of my college history teachers, by the way.

Right now, G is in New York for her sister’s birthday (today–Happy Birthday, Joanne!) and her niece’s wedding (tomorrow). We all needed this trip.  Last week, E had F’s in two (not one but TWO) of his classes and I let him play because I didn’t find out until 5 minutes before we were supposed to leave for the game (his one away game). He played really well, too.  Scored the only two touchdowns the team has had all season.  They still lost, but they scored. It’s a big deal.  So we had all the conversations with him, I called teachers, talked to one (message from the other), etc. etc.  Today, I was texting with one of the coaches and now he’s got F’s in THREE classes and tomorrow he’s benched.  He’s also going to learn that because of this fiasco, he has now “failed” Facebook and if he’s not careful, he will also “fail” any TV too.  It’s going to be a fun weekend, let me tell you.  Most of tomorrow will be taken up with the game (he has to appear, if not play) and then one of the coaches has a study session scheduled at the library in the afternoon. But Sunday, well, not going to be fun.  Too bad. So sad. He has options.  He can do what we ask, i.e., go to school, get decent grades, etc. or he can ask his mom to go back to Denver, or we can call Social Services and ask to have him put in foster care.  It is entirely up to him. His behavior still isn’t really bad, but there is a sense of entitlement and I know he thinks he can play me…and he can, up to a point. He doesn’t know yet that he’s “failed” the computer, but I just went and changed the passwords, and he doesn’t know mine b/c I have to have it protected for HIPAA compliance.  So, even if we weren’t here, he couldn’t get on.  The thing that is so aggravating is that he’s too damn smart for this. Just like his mom (tho I will NEVER say that out loud to him). He can do every bit of the work but he wants to do the least amount to get by.  I simply don’t get it. I was baffled by it from my daughter and I’m baffled by it from him.

But I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. I have some activities planned if he gets bored.  Of course, there’s always house work. The bathroom really needs cleaning and the rug needs to be vacuumed.  And I’m looking for 8th grade appropriate poems and I have a dictionary to go along with that and a few questions, too.  Oh, and the trump card? Hey, I’m off four weekdays.  I can show up at his school any time I want and accompany him to class.  He wants to goof off?  He WILL suffer the consequences and nary a harsh word spoken.

So much for that.

 

Football Buddies

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Had his first official game today. They didn’t win, but he played most of the game and did well. Skittles was thrilled, too! Then, after an entire game in 90+ degree heat, when we got home, he wanted to go play basketball with some of the neighborhood kids. Good Lord.  I need my fainting couch just thinking about it.

Tough

We’re halfway through the second week of school.  Got E enrolled in football and got all his gear (thankfully the majority of it on sale–Nike cleats for $30.00!!) and he will play in his first game on Saturday.  It’s just crazy. With FB practice, he’s now at school from about 7:30 am until 6:30 pm.  So far, no homework, but I have no idea where that will fit in.  Yesterday, G sort of had another meltdown.  Weekends, when she is basically alone with him while I work, are really hard for her. But, she makes it worse for herself. She clings to this idea that if she tells him something ONCE, he will remember and do it but immediately and from now on.  And be enthusiastic about it.  I’m sorry, even under the best of circumstances, teenagers aren’t like that–or if they are, they are the exception to the rule. She got divorced from her son’s dad when he was about 10 and went into the army, so she was a long-distance parent through his adolescence. She has never lived with a teen on a daily basis.  Even though my daughter ran away and did all her other crap, for the most part, she lived in the house and I dealt with her every day–messy room, laundry wars, eating, ballet lessons, getting her to and from school, etc. G missed all that, so she thinks he should be acting like an Army recruit, up and at ’em and ma’am, yes, ma’am!! And I’m like, chill OUT already. If you want him to do something TELL him, again, again, again and again.  Do you want it done? Then TELL him.  But no, she wants to insist that he “get it” the first time. And when he gives her the pout face, she takes it personally. I keep telling her that she’s setting herself up for failure and disappointment. The other parents in the parenting class say the same thing. The facilitator says the same thing, but she won’t hear it.  I am trying not to let her depression, anger, bent out of shape-ness affect me, but it’s hard.  When your partner is so obviously emotionally distraught or frustrated, it’s HARD not to take it personally even when you know it doesn’t really have anything to do with you. 

And she’s utterly furious with my daughter.  Really, she’s been mad at her pretty much from day one after we met, when she realized how she was, but this thing with E was the last straw. For me, right now, I feel completely indifferent to her. I don’t really care if I ever see her, the boyfriend, or the other two kids again.  I guess I feel a little bit worse about GS2 because he’s caught in the middle, but ever since they moved up to Denver, he pretty much made no bones about the fact that he wanted E out of the house. Even when I went to his school for an after school program when we went up to see the baby, when one of the teachers came over to chat, he mentioned his new baby sister and then said he wished his older brother was gone so he would be the oldest.  He wasn’t kidding. Just because you’re only 11 doesn’t mean you can’t be rotten.  So E. has to deal with knowing that his brother, to whom he was closer than anyone since the kid was born, now wants nothing to do with him.  He (GS2) called this past weekend and started whining about his bike.  When he was here last for his birthday, he left the bike with his cousins who at the time were living down the street.  We asked him several times if he was sure about that because we couldn’t keep an eye on the bike and those kids pretty much destroy everything they touch (5 kids and a single dad who works and a grandfather who’s supposed to “watch” them but is pretty much hopped up on drugs most of the time).  He was adamant he wanted to leave the bike there. We KNEW it was because he didn’t want E to ride it.  Now the cousins have moved, we don’t know where, and even before that, the bike was pretty much history, and he whines to me that he “accidentally” left his bike there. I wasn’t having it.  I reminded him that we asked him over and over if he was sure he wanted to leave it there and wasn’t it too bad that he didn’t have a bike now.  Just another thing that E. has to deal with. We’ve told him that if he doesn’t want to see his brother, that it’s okay, and he won’t come visit.  We aren’t going to force him to be around people who have made his life miserable.  Later, maybe things will change.  And, I’ve decided that if GS2 wants to come down and it’s okay with E, that my daughter can damn well bring him down here and pick him up on her own steam. She has a car now, and got her drivers’ license back and got insurance, so I’m done going out of my way for that.

I’m working on keeping an even keel. We went back to the gym (FINALLY) yesterday and that was good. I managed to do the entire Silver Sneakers cardio class and only had to not use a hand weight with my right arm/shoulder. Everything else I could do.  We had lunch out and talked about getting “us” back. We had a leisurely afternoon after that. I made dinner and picked up E after practice and we went and washed the car.  Then G and I had a fire in our new firepit and I burned old bills and tried to toss some of the past into the flames along with the paperwork. It helped.

This morning, I got E to school, picked up Starbuck’s for G, took Skittles to the groomer, took G to the bank, came home, made a batch of breakfast burritos to freeze for E, rearranged the living room, cleaned up the kitchen, took care of paperwork and started laundry before I got here.  G’s off helping a friend finish up a rental property she owns and I’ve got more laundry to do.  Maybe I’ll get the binding done for the quilt I was working on months ago. Did I even blog that I started quilting earlier this year? No? Well, that’s another subject to put on the list. We have our parenting class tonight–more than halfway through and it’s really been a big help for all of us. 

I guess we just thought at this stage of our lives things would settled down a little bit.  But maybe being settled isn’t the best thing. Maybe we needed the shake up. Maybe we needed something different to happen. It’s not what I would have chosen, but maybe the Universe has a bigger plan for us.  Who knows? All we can do is the best we know how to do and ask for help when we need it.  I keep referring back to good ol’ Abraham–you can’t get it wrong and you never get it done, so I guess the best thing I can do right now is relax and go with the flow.

Hand me a paddle and wish me luck.

The Project – Part 1

The goal was to get E some private space of his own.  Since he got here, he’s been sleeping on a blow-up bed in the basement, where my office and meditation room is.  Our house isn’t huge, approximately 1800 sq ft, a 2-storey box with 900 up and 900 down.  The basement, aside from the med. room and a tiny pantry, is all open.  The furnace and water heater are kinda smack-dab in the middle, along with a brick chimney and there are built-in floor to ceiling cabinets and a workbench courtesy of the first owner/builder along the entire south wall.  Where the stairs come down, there’s a little alcove that we were planning on turning into a permanent sewing storage area, but it got the bed after there was a small leak in the tub plumbing recently:

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We thought if we put up a new wall from where the stairs are, back to the head of the bed, then knocked out that other wall on the right side of the bed (which is the back wall of the pantry), then we could give him a little space of his own.  Here’s a shot from inside the pantry:

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In the photo above, the bed is just on the other side of that wall of shelves. Standing in the middle of the pantry, I can easily touch both walls, so it’s not a large space, but if we extended the back wall, it would become kind of an L-shape and at least give him a door he could close.  So, with all that in mind, we got started with demo:

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Look fast, folks, because you probably won’t see this again any time soon!

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Also, that old saying, “They don’t make ’em like they used to?” It is SO true in this house.  That little add-in wall was tongue in groove, folks.  Tongue. In. Groove.  Amazing.  We saved all the wood and who knows what it will become, but it definitely has too much history to waste.  

And after a couple of hours, we cleared out a space that let us see better:

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You can see the L shape, and we envisioned that E would tuck his bed into the alcove and use the other space for a chair, and G was furiously searching Pinterest for drop-down desks that she could attach to the side wall there by the door.  Then, what do you think happened? We started talking.

This:

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is what’s outside the OTHER pantry wall (the 3rd and 4th walls being the outside walls of the house).  The built-in workbench butts up against the pantry wall, and most of the stuff on top was inside the pantry before we started the demo.  This was our sewing/art/creative area that honestly hadn’t been used in a while, so it was just collecting things. So, after we got the original space cleared out, we pulled back a little and decided if we knocked out the other wall:

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…we would end up with a much larger space:

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As you can see, even though we will have to leave the support posts up, the L-shape is gone, leaving more of an actual room (nearly 10 x12).  We moved the door unit forward, and will frame out up to the built-in workbench, which  will remain, leaving E a work space for homework, etc.  All spaces around the stairs will be closed off for privacy.  And, the BEST part was that at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store we found…wait for it…

Glass bricks!  So, the dividing wall on the workbench will be translucent, allowing light from the south window over the workbench to filter in:

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There’s still a lot of work to do on finishing, etc., but he’s moved his bed into the space, and we’ve put up some bamboo and fabric curtains that I used in my office during the winter before we got the gas heater down here to keep in the heat from my little space heater.  He picked out the colors he wanted, helped (some) with demo, construction and painting, and most of all, when it’s done, he will have an actual room of his own.  He even got to argue with gramma G and they managed a compromise on the carpet he wanted (bought from a discount store).  Best of all, we get to keep our main basement area (and my t’ai chi space) and have put the sewing space back where it was, minus only those few feet under the stairs.  We still have a workbench that’s plenty big enough, I managed to move the pantry food into an empty cabinet across from my desk, and all around it was a win-win for all concerned.

More photos to follow later.