Saturday, March 31, 2012

lights, earrings, a hawk, and some notecards.

So, it seems we may not have electricity much longer. My electric house (heat and everything!) has a large overdue balance, and since Spring is here, they shut your lights off if you don't pay up. They asked for $1000.00 yesterday, after we gave them what we could, which was $250.00, but they were unwilling to work out a payment plan with us. That caused my heart to sink, and myself to sink into a deeper funk, on a day that we were treating the girls to getting their ears pierced. I took pictures and smiled, but really I wanted to scream, and tell them that we can't afford the earrings today. But how do you make little girls choose between lights, and getting their ears pierced? You don't.

Charlotte was shaking like a leaf, and when I put my hand over her heart, it was pounding! She was so scared, but wanted so much to do it. I wanted them to wait until they were at least 10, but we say no to so much. This was something I knew they both wanted so badly. And they had such good report cards. They deserved it.

They look so grown up suddenly. They are so cute about caring for their new earrings. Carefully cleaning them as they were instructed. Charlotte is so scared they are going to fall out. She keeps making me check them. Such a worrier. I wonder where she gets that?

My orchid, the "phoenix" of all orchids, continues to dazzle. It is exploding daily with new blooms. In the past few Springs, I have looked at it as sort of a glimmer of hope. A good omen. Not so much these days. It just seems to be staring at me, and I see a small, evil looking hawk flying right toward me. It is making me want to put it somewhere I can't see it. It watches me.

David has gone to California. I am alone for the next few days. I so wish I could talk about it in this space, but I can't. It is bigger than the space I have here. And so painful. And private, so I must respect that. The girls and I will be having a "spa" night tonight. Complete with masks, and nail polish. Maybe a movie. I am making a spinach and artichoke baked pasta for dinner. Perfect for this gray, and dreary day. I just want to pull the drapes closed now. I want to lock the doors. I want to curl up with my little ones, and just enjoy them, and not keep thinking about how we will shower, or cook, in the event the electric company  shows up. I made all the girls shower this morning, just in case it was today.

Someone gave me a shot though, to end on a high note. My photos, and note cards are now for sale at a shop in East Hampton. Fingers crossed that they sell.

I am grateful for the chance.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting for Change

I have been reading a book, written by Dr. Christina McCale, called Waiting for Change, Impacts on Life, Family, Work, and the 99% Reality. The author, herself, sent me a copy of the book, as she quoted part of a recent interview I gave, to Dick Gordon, on" The Story", on NPR radio.

The title alone made me cringe, as I feel like that is precisely what my own family, along with millions of Americans are doing. Waiting for change. Waiting for things to get back to "what they used to be". Waiting for more opportunity, and better pay. Waiting for a way out of the mess, so many of us find ourselves in. Kind of like how I am still waitng for things to go back to how they were before kids. (Ha!)

 Did you know that according to the U.S. Census 2011, "One in three Americans, roughly 100 million Americans or 1 in 3 people, are living in or near poverty, and are whiter and more suburban than previous stereotypes have implied. The "near poor" category has grown nearly 76% based on a new measure for poverty, which now accurately accounts for disposable income."

That is the reality folks. It is no joke. Those figures are chilling. Robert Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University is quoted in the book saying this..."There is now really no unaffected group, except maybe the very top earners. Recessions are supposed to be temporary and when it's over, everything returns to where it was before. But, the worry now is the downturn-which will end eventually-will have long-lasting effects on families who lose jobs, become worse off, and can't recover."

When I read those words, my arms and neck became flush with goose bumps. "Can't recover". Those words haunt me, daily. Even today, feeding my girls breakfast, and sending them off to school. Making sure they have their homework, and listening to them question what will be for dinner when they get home, and how excited they are that I finally relented, and decided to let them get their ears pierced, after years of having them wait until they were 10. Safe, little everyday, goings on, that happen, everywhere, in millions of homes.

Yet, my home is in foreclosure. And if and when we must leave this place, our future is uncertain. The downward spiral of my own family has, most days, made me feel that we won't recover from this. And all of this, all of this day in, day out living, this safe feeling my girls have come to know,  are coming to an end, and the other shoe is about to drop. Some days, I think that all will be OK, and we will prevail. But some days...not so much.

I read this on a friends Facebook wall a few weeks ago..."Some day I hope to be able to afford a new the girl in front of me with the food stamps". It wreaked of stereotype. There are always going to be the bad apples...people taking advantage of any situation. Look at the banks! Look at politicians. But this time in our country is like no other time, at least  in my lifetime. And I really believe that the wrong group is being focused in on. The wrong segment, which happens to be the majority, is being made to look like a bunch of lazy, entitled, parasites. From the figures of the Census, this simply isn't true anymore.

I read these words, and I really believe this is the way that the conversation should go..."If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." -Malcolm X

100 MILLION Americans folks. We can't all be bad apples.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ty Louis Campbell

Please pray for this little boy and his family. And if you don't pray, send healing thoughts for them. Their little boy is so sick, and this family has suffered so much.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I must have been in 1st grade. I remember getting off the school bus, which was at the end of my driveway, and walking into my house, and while I was at school all day, my parents had transformed our house into summer.

 I recall the very feeling of excitement when I saw that my father had put up the awnings on the windows, and the patio furniture was set up, and had their giant green flowered plastic cushions on them. My mother had made a pitcher of her fantastical sweet tea, in the amber colored pitcher reserved only for iced tea. There was even cut up lemon slices floating in it. A new spring outfit for school was laid out on my bed. The drawers in my room, the very drawers that are now in my Charlotte's room, were filled with shorts, and t-shirts. Turtle necks and corduroys put away until next year.

 And the best, most spectacular part, was the pool.

We had an above ground swimming pool. It was tiny. We referred to it as the "tuna can". I adored it. It was small enough that it could be filled up with the garden hose in almost a day. My Dad would empty it out every year. The swampy green water would run down the street, and my Dad would put on his fireman boots, and get in the pool, and scrub it with bleach. Then he would refill it, and begin working on the filter.

The filter was in bad shape. It had holes in all of the tubes. My Dad, and I say this with the utmost respect, love, and adoration for him, because he was and is an amazing man, father, husband, friend, and good at so many things, but fixing things around the house...not good at all. Duct tape and a hammer were the only tools that were in our garage. Maybe a screwdriver. He wasn't the handiest man. Not like Mr. Serie down the street. He had a whole workshop in his basement. He had tools that went back on to peg boards, that had an outline for that specific tool. He had saws that I have only seen in my junior high shop class.

OK...the filter. The filter had lot's of duct tape patching the holes in the tubes. And the tubes were held on by these metal round thingies, that tightened. I am sure they have a name, but there were lots of those. And there was some sort of plastic string wrapped tightly around the areas that had breaches. Basically, when the filter ran, it looked like a fountain. I thought that was how they were supposed to look. It wasted a lot of water. So much, that every few days, the garden hose was dragged over, put in the pool, held in place by a brick on the aluminum side of the tuna can, and brought back to the proper water level.

This constant cycle rendered the pool FREEZING, all of the time. If you went into the pool slowly, it took your breath away. And if you jumped off the ladder, you went into immediate shock. Your head pounded, and after an hour or so in the pool, your lips turned blue. I loved that pool. And I loved opening day, and the iced tea, and the new outfit, and even the red striped awnings. It was sweet Spring, signaling the imminent arrival of summer, and many days of hypothermia in the tuna can. It made me feel safe, and loved. It was and is, still such a vivid happy memory of a pretty great childhood, that my parents tried to give us.

David, my husband, and father to our three amazing little girls is a lot of things. He is funny. He is so very intelligent. He is loving, and warm. He has the greatest. dimples. ever. He helps around the house, and even does dishes, and folds laundry. He is involved in every facet of the girls lives, and is all of our biggest fans. We all adore him.

Two things he is not. A good dancer (sadly) and a handy man. He tried to fix something in our house last week. I will not go into detail what it was, to spare him from further embarrassment, but lets just say that a repairman had to be called in to undo what was done. And we did not have the money to call in this repairman. And after hours of googling things on the computer to try and repair this "problem", a phone call was placed. By David, to my Dad. And thankfully, with the help of my fathers Visa, and $169.00 later, because it was on a Saturday evening, and the part was $20.00...problem fixed.

And wouldn't you know how ironic I thought that all was. One great"handyman" helping another. Two beautiful men, trying to make it all OK. Making our home, safe, and warm. I never felt so loved.

I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sleep walking

Cool nights with the sliding glass doors open have made for some of the best nights sleeps that I have had in so long. Deep, long sleeps. I have actually been waking up feeling rested, and find myself during the day wondering if something that flashes in my mind was real, or a dream.

My sleep has been restorative. Yet I can't finish a task. I can't seem to put the laundry away. I put off giving the baby a bath, for yet, another day, and wipe her down with baby wipes. I have lists in my mind of all the things that I need to be doing, but I can't quite seem to get anything done. Even cooking meals and putting dirty dishes away has become a struggle. I just don't run very efficiently. Maybe I am just realizing how pointless the constant cycle of cleaning is. I know it is necessary, but what a huge waste of time.

And my mind is a million miles away. Part of it worried about so much. Part of it stressed, because worry and stress are two totally different things for me.Part of it has so many grand plans, and then there is a small part that it totally out to lunch. I just can't get it all together. I have been showering later and later in the day. I feel happy that some days, I got myself together at all.

Charlotte asked me to come to her school and talk to her class on "What's it all about day". That's a day at her school when parents come in and talk about what they do for a living. Olivia wanted me to do that a few years ago, but I was cleaning houses then, and it made me want to cry that she was proud of me. Charlotte thinks it's great that every Friday, my column is in our local newspaper, complete with a photo of me. And both the girls think it's great when someone around here recognizes me, which happens a few times a month. They think I am famous.

I told her I would come and talk to her class, yet I don't know what to say. I don't know what 6 year olds would want to hear about. And I really don't feel like I am doing much of anything these days, except worrying. And trying to remember something that is gnawing away at the back of my thoughts, but I can't remember what it is, but I know it's important.

 And how I have no patience to even talk to Charlotte lately, but she is proud of me.

That makes me want to cry.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

9 years ago

9 years ago this month, we bought this house. And every year at this time, I am taken back to that time. The very early smell of Spring in the air, and the emerging bulbs that delighted me around this property, and the way the light comes through the windows and slowly moves along  the wall in our living room, transport me to that early time in our marriage, and our new life together.

Shortly after our wedding, we were delighted to learn I was expecting. It was such an amazing time. After planning a wedding for a year, getting married, and still sending out thank you notes, suddenly, I was planning again. This time,for a baby. I couldn't believe it had all happened to me, and how sickeningly happy I was about all of it. 

I saw this house on line, and knew that this was our home, with every inch of my being. Even after we found out that it had gone to contract with someone else, I refused to believe that anyone but us could live in it. I even purchased things for the bathroom that I had seen at a Pottery Barn outlet, and David thought I was in high pregnancy lunacy mode. He kept saying," we lost the house". "There will be another one". But I knew that this was my home.

The phone rang one morning, and I saw that it was the realtor's number. I handed the phone to David, and before he even answered it, I said to him, "we got the house!" And we did. The deal fell through. And after that phone call, our life went into fast forward. Getting the mortgage was easy. I recall being scared because David and I had some student loan debt, and I thought that would hurt us. But there was never a bump in the road, and I always questioned that.

When we came up to close, I was so big and pregnant. I was nearly 8 months. We purchased a queen size bed for $200.00. A most uncomfortable bed, but I thought it would be temporary. (9 years later...and many sore backs, we are still "sleeping" on it.) We put it into a U-Haul, along with wedding gifts. I remember thinking where I was going to put my glasses, and all my new flatware. I couldn't wait to put my new plates and bowls in my new cabinets. It was like walking through a dream. A wonderful,  little bit scary, dream.

When we signed the last piece of paper, and initialed the last document, the keys were slid across the table to us. David and I looked at each other, and took a deep breath. I never felt so grown up. Poised to have my first child, and now a proper home to put her in. I felt we were on the right track, and things could never do anything but do as they were. Getting better.

And really, this life of ours has gone so great. And I love where it is going. All the uncertainty aside, and our home now in a state of being taken away from us....after so much work, some days breaks my heart. But yesterday, as I returned home from the bus stop, I smelled the early Spring air, and listened to the newly returning birds, and took note of the daffodils peeking up though the leaves as they have done for 9 years and probably more now, I felt a gush of hope.

I felt that same excitement that I did 9 years ago, when everything was so new. When the road that lay before us seemed filled with endless possibilities.

It still is.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday the 12th

Olivia is better. Finally. It took the whole week to get her temperature down. Constant Tylenol and Motrin. I hate doing that. I feel like I am just masking the problem. As soon as the medicine wore off, her temperature would shoot right back up. I felt so bad for her. One minute she was feeling better, and then she got the chills again, and would burrow into her bed. For days. I felt a little "cabin feverish". I did take her with me some places. I had no choice on certain days. But our outings were fast. My regular schedule was off. Not quite used to her constant chatter either. Non. Stop.

I watched her stride toward the bus this morning, and loved watching her pony tail bounce, and swing behind her. I feel thankful for anti-biotics. I feel thankful that she is just fine.

We made a fire outside last night. All night, each time I woke up, I could smell the fire on my hair. I just love that. The girls played all day, and smelled like fresh air. It was so warm out.

I planted some bulbs. Two different kinds of peonies, and some ranunculus. I also chose two different kids of dahlias. And Lily of the Valley. I am so excited about them. They are poking up out of the dirt more than they were yesterday.

I have two wicker chairs in my basement that I am going to paint next weekend. I can't decide what color. Something bright. Maybe turquoise. I chose some really pretty fabric to re-cover the old cushions. I don't know how to sew, so this should be interested. I have a brand new sewing machine in the box, in my basement. Maybe this is the year to learn.

Spring. Not quite here, but all the little signs are just beginning. And with that, plans. And thanks to Pinterest, my guilty pleasure, I suddenly want to gut my house, and start over.

 One can dream. At least I can do so in a much quieter house today.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One hour

Olivia has been sick on and off for a week or two now. Last week, it began as a stomach ache. "Mom, my tummy hurts". Ugh...the dreaded complaint. Every cough, or throat clearing has me ready to respond to a vomiting child. I went to bed a few nights in a row, and barely slept. Every noise, creek, even the hamsters running in their wheel down the hall had me jumping up, ready for a night holding back the hair of a heaving girl. Didn't happen, much to my relief, and it seemed to resolve itself.

When Olivia got off the bus Monday, I saw her eyes, and her ruddy red cheeks, and lips that looked like sausage skin, and knew she was sick. I got her home, and laid her down. She started to beg me not to go to Brownies, but quickly realized I wasn't letting her go even if she did want to. Her stomach pains had returned, and her fever was high. She was achy, and hot, yet freezing cold, to the point that her teeth chattered.

Yesterday morning at the doctors office, we were sent over for blood work, and several other tests. An ultrasound is scheduled for next week. I took her home, and got her cozy again. Dosed her up on an antibiotic, and Tylenol, and covered her with a blanket.

I had an hour to get dinner ready before Charlotte had to be picked up from the bus, so I made meatballs for dinner. I love making meals like that if someone feels crumby. And I love the process of dicing the onion, and chopping the garlic. Mincing up herbs, and mixing it all together until it has just the right smell. I know my meatballs are the way I like them by scent. I have no measurements.

I worked quietly for about an hour, and thought that Olivia was sleeping. She was so still and quiet. She asked to stay home on the couch, instead of me dragging her to the bus stop down the street, so I put the phone next to her, and locked the door behind me.

When we came back, I took one look at her, and became frightened. Her cheeks were bright red, but the skin beneath the rosy color was pale. Almost a greenish yellow. Her eyes were red. Her lips looked so dry they were white. I touched her, and she was on fire. I took her temperature, and had to look twice. 104.9. I have never had a child with a fever that high. I have never seen those numbers on a thermometer before. I took it three times just to be sure.

I called David, and he left overtime at work. I gave it an hour in my mind. I started Tylenol, and Motrin, and despite her cries, stripped her down to a T-shirt. I put a cold wash cloth on her head. I even gave her a Coke to get some fluids in her. I tried to get her into the tub, but that was so not happening.

One hour I thought. If those numbers don't start going down, we are taking her to the hospital. I took her temperature every ten minutes. She recoiled every time I walked toward her. Slowly the numbers came down. When it got to a respectable 100 degrees, I felt like we were out of the woods. The greenish color subsided.

But the worry hasn't. And so, I will wait the hour,  until the doctors office opens this morning. Patiently. And keep my fingers and toes crossed awaiting her test results. And kick myself for focusing on car repairs, and a mounting electric bill, and how are we going to pay the car insurance, and the water bill. Because who really cares about all of that stuff when your baby is sick.

All it takes is an hour change your perspective on everything.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

So far this day..

2:41 p.m. and I have yet to shower, slammed down a fast food lunch, and literally, ran in one place for the last six hours.

Liv got off the bus yesterday with that face. The "I don't feel good" face. And she was burning up. And she didn't want dinner. So I got her a doctors appointment first thing this morning.

The doctor ordered blood work. And an ultrasound. On her pelvis. She has pain. And she sat, and felt her lymph node for what seemed like eternity. She remarked how gigantic her left one was.

So off to the hospital we went. Molly needed lab work too. Her hair is changing. I just thought it was knotty and frizzy. But the doctor wants her thyroid checked.

And I know these things normally turn into nothing to worry about. But sometimes they don't. So until that is for certain, I have a small lump in my throat. And a knot in my chest.

My mind became scattered. I started driving too fast. I left my bank card in the car when I went to the post office, and I snapped at the clerk when I thought he was moving too slowly. And there was an accident, that made me take a detour, and instead of saying a prayer for the people in the car, I got irritated.

And now I feel bad that it took Liv so long to give her urine sample. Flushed with fever, her eyes looked so sad as I made her gulp water, and glared at her.

Why did I do that?