All Good Things

Back at the beginning of 2015 I started a project that would last the year. I took a bowl I had in my house and some scraps of paper and started to keep a record of all the good things, big and small, that happened over the course of the year. I chose to do this because, let’s face it, the previous few years had been pretty hard to get through sometimes and when I got to the end of the year I just felt so bummed because all I focused on was the shitty stuff that happened. So, I set out to change that.

I wasn’t 100% successful. I stopped putting notes in the jar around the beginning of August. Things got busy; I forgot. Then school started and Liam got a concussion and my fall turned inside out.

But even those first 8 months of good things reminded me that hey! Lots of good and fun things happened this year and so, for the end of 2015, I’d like to share the big and the small – the joy in our lives.

  • In January, a lot of my scraps of paper talked about weight loss. I did lose some weight but as of right now, I’m right back where at I was on 1/1/15 so that’s something to work on.
  • “Today Jamie had a tantrum over getting dressed. But I managed to work with him enough that he calmed down and worked with me, ending up happy with his outfit.” (1/1/15) This used to be a daily occurrence. Getting him to calm down in the midst of this was HUGE.  And now? A year later, he’s dressing himself without complaint.
  • “Big bear hugs from Liam” (1/20/15) Sometimes all you need to make your day brighter is a big, squishy hug from your kid.
  • I continued to be in school in 2015 and I earned A’s the two classes I completed. I should have done more schoolwork but with Liam’s concussion care, I had to put off the planned fall work. That’s ok. Back at it in 2016!
  • “I GOT A JOB!” (2/8/2015) Booyah. “Great first day at work!” (2/20/2015)
  • I got my piano tuned for the first time in 15 years and I could play again. She needs another tune up but it’s so nice to have that creative outlet again.
  • In April, I went to Texas to visit my best friend and her husband. I was away for three days and it was so! much! fun! It was just what I needed to relax and rejuvenate. I was so grateful to Scot for making it happen.
  • “Jamie: buckle, car, coat, cup. All correct! No prompting! IT’S CLICKING!!” (4/15/2015) Jamie’s speech improved so much over 2015. He finally started getting ‘K’ and ‘G’ sounds correctly – something he’d been working on since he was two – and I am so proud of him for how hard he’s worked.
  • We carried a fair bit of debt with us into 2015. In April we finally paid off all the medical AND credit card debt. It was SUCH a load off our minds and budget.
  • I was kind of a social butterfly in 2015, much more so than in years past. I went to see Indigo Girls with the PSO (4/30/2015), I took in the inaugural Pittsburgh Listen To Your Mother show which my friend Dawn performed in (5/8/2015), Scot and I went to the symphony (5/9/2015), We hosted Cards Against Humanity game night (7/18/15), I enjoyed having a beer to celebrate Jenda’s birthday (8/4/15), and I saw Eileen Ivers perform at Hartwood Acres with Jenda and Eric. I also remember great dinners out with girlfriends and just hanging out at Dawn’s house. It seems I didn’t write these down as I should but they remain bright in my memory.
  • In June, I worked hard to restore some semblance of order to my landscaping. The job was huge and I didn’t finish all of it but I put a lot of time and effort in and it showed. Here’s hoping the wildflowers I planted this year come back next year!
  • “Dr. Stewart appointment with Jamie. So good to have a pediatrician who cares.” (6/16/15) When the school told me that Jamie was still struggling and might have greater issues than just a stubborn personality, I was crushed for him. It was hard. And navigating any kind of process to help him was bewildering. In the end, we asked to talk to our pediatrician for guidance and what did he do? Slotted us in at the end of his day and stayed LATE to talk with us for an hour. He helped set us on the right path to helping Jamie and I’m so happy to report that Jamie is doing SO WELL right now that we’ve closed out therapy for him for the time being.
  • Also in June, we got to visit with Scot’s best friend, Anna, and her kids for the first time in a very long time. I love Anna and her whole family and we’ve known the kids since they were born. She and Casey are raising truly fantastic people and I’m glad to know them.
  • We FINALLY got new garage doors on the house! (7/1/15)
  • In July, the boys and I went to Michigan for several days for our yearly visit to the homestead. This was the first year that my Dad has been fully retired for the visit and it was such a great time as a result. We could be more leisurely and flexible about our plans. Everyone had a great time – from zoo visits to a day at the beach – best visit yet.
  • The last big set of things I have written for 2015 is Scot’s new job. In 2015 he left BNYM to join IBM Watson and the move has been so great for him and for all of us. He’s so much happier with what he’s doing and who he’s working with. Also, their flexibility allowed us to navigate two work schedules and an intense schedule of doctor’s appointments this fall as we treated Liam’s concussion.
  • One last thing: in mid-December we were finally released from all concussion care and Liam was given permission to attend school on a normal, full time, gym-included schedule. It might have been the best Christmas present I got this year.

Thanks to my little project, it turns out that 2015 was a pretty great year. We had some bumps and lumps to take but I think the joy and happiness we had throughout the year far outweighs the bad. Here’s to an equally joyous 2016!

Whew. I Made It.

The last seven days have been a marathon and I finally made it to Friday. My sanity is mostly intact, if slightly askew, and that’s about all I can hope for at this point.

Saturday: I baked. I baked and I baked and I baked. Hundreds of cookies churned out of my kitchen that day. I did little else besides bake and clean the kitchen on repeat.

With the stunning exception of screaming like a fishwife at my children who were being incredibly difficult about cleaning up the family room. The room they had trashed. The room that HAD to be clean before I could put up the Christmas tree they’d been bugging me about. It ended with everyone going to bed early because they refused to finish the job. Ahh, the sounds of the season…

Sunday: I baked some more. I also grocery shopped, did laundry, chatted with my parents, and supervised homework. In the end, I had thirty dozen cookies. I think I may have truly become delirious on butter at some point. I was also so sore from standing on the tile floor of the kitchen for so many hours that I could barely move.

Monday: Kids to school, me to work. At last, a chance to breathe! After work, I had to pick Liam up early from school so that he could attend physical therapy. That went well, actually, and I’m really hoping we are just about done with that mess. FINGERS, TOES, HAIRS, LEGS, ARMS, YOUNAMEIT CROSSED.

I also got to play Cookie Fairy for a couple of people that was pretty awesome.

Tuesday: Oh, what a day. We started off with a follow up doc appointment for Liam with the Rehab Medicine folks. That went well. Then, I took Liam to school and things started to go south. He moaned and he groaned about how he didn’t feel well and his head hurt and he was nauseated. I gave him Zofran and kicked him into school.

The nurse called me less than half an hour later. Surprise! Liam is in the nurse’s office. I had her give him seltzer, ginger ale, mints, etc. No luck. So, I had to go pick him up.

When I did, the nurse pulled me aside and basically told me that Liam is gaming the system to get out of school. Her hands are tied by the protocols she has to follow and he knows exactly what to say and do to get me to pick him up.

Now, we’ve suspected for some time that there might be a malingering problem going on here but I don’t think either one of us really knew the depth to which our son had sunk. I was furious with him. And while I did not yell, I did make it clear that he would NOT like the consequences of being held back a year because of his antics.

Then, Granddad came to the rescue. He took Liam to lunch and it transpired that Liam thinks it’s hunky dory to only be there to turn in his work and then come home and do the make up work. He doesn’t need to be in class, right?

WRONG.

Granddad, the seasoned elementary educator, made sure that Liam was disabused of this notion and also told Liam that he was to be back in school full time as of Wednesday. Full stop. Also, he was to GET HIS DANG BACKLOG OF WORK DONE.

He’s been a changed kid ever since. He goes to school all day, he puts in two solid hours on homework every night (because he’s working to catch up), he’s not constantly complaining that he doesn’t feel good and trying to win our sympathy. Kid is too smart for his own dang good.

Once that crisis was out of the way, I had a date with traffic court. About 6 months ago I got pulled over speeding egregiously. It was my own stupid fault; I was not paying attention to how fast I was going, I was having a VERY bad night, and I just blew past a cop going way too fast. STUPID STUPID STUPID. Tuesday was the court date.

The cop offered to plead me down to 10 over the speed limit. This would have left me with 2 points on my license for a year but seeing as this was still a better deal than the ticket as it was written, I took it because beggars can’t be choosers.

So, I wait around and wait around and wait around until finally I get in front of the magistrate with the cop. Except the cop tells the magistrate the wrong plea and says 5 over instead of 10 over. I, not being completely inept, keep my trap SHUT. Magistrate signs everything. Cop signs everything. I sign everything.

And that’s how I got out of having any points at all.

In between these two events, I was cleaning our basement game room. It was a total shit heap, barely navigable through the sea of Legos. Many hours later, I hit carpet. I had to clean the basement so that furniture that was in the family room could be moved down to the basement to make room for the tree. Oh how I love having to clean a room on a separate floor of my house to make room for something a floor away.

Wednesday: Kids when to school and I went to work in the morning. Then, race home because I have a thousand things to do. On my way home, I stopped at the AT&T store because I needed to ask some questions about our cell phone plan before we decided on phone upgrades.

I walked out with two iPhone 6s Plus’. Merry Christmas, honey! I hope you like your phablet!

I spent a bunch of the afternoon getting the new phone set up so those thousand chores I had kinda got pushed off. But, for the third night in a row, I went to bed ungodly early because I was exhausted. Ramfeezled, even.

Thursday: The kids went went to school, I stayed home. It was Christmas tree day and Jamie let me know it. He woke up, “It’s Thursday! Christmas tree day!” Good gravy, kid, chill out.

But before I could actually go purchase a tree and put it up, I had to a) fix a curtain rod that had pulled out of the wall A YEAR AGO and b) move furniture. Item A ended up requiring a trip to Lowe’s because I couldn’t find the dang wall anchors I knew I had. Item B required Scot’s help to move a cabinet to the basement. Luckily, he worked from home so he managed to help me get that done. Then, it was off to the nursery to get a tree.

Yep, I'm the dork that ties a tree to the roof of the car.

Yep, I’m the dork that ties a tree to the roof of the car.

Then, it was unload, prep stand, prep tree, get tree in stand.

Big Fucker

Big Fucker

So now the kids can stop bitching about it not being up yet. I’ll put lights on it either tonight or tomorrow and we’ll decorate over the weekend. My house now smells amazing.

I also shampooed the basement carpet, cleaned up the mess from putting the tree up, and then passed out asleep on the floor before the kids got home.

Friday: School for kids, work for me. I can’t believe I made it without falling over.

Just Another Day In Paradise

Today, 14 people died in San Bernadino, CA.

Today, 1 person died in Savannah, GA.

Today, 1 person died in Houston, TX.

Five days ago, 3 people died in Colorado Springs, CO.

This is our country and this is what happens here. We kill each other for stupid reasons. Everyone everywhere kills each other for stupid reasons so why do we seem to be so good at it?

Guns. We’re good at it because of guns. Because the Second Amendment grants us the right to bear arms. Because every time we’ve attempted to hem in the rights granted by that amendment, it has resulted in ever more complicated laws that do no good.

Today I had to text not one but two friends in two different locations to be sure they were ok after reports of a mass shooting.

This is our country and this is what happens here. We live in fear that those we love will die in a place that was supposed to be safe because of a nutjob with a gun.

I am sick of it. I am tired of making allowances for good, responsible gun owners. I don’t care that they exist and I don’t care that they’re following the rules. The point is that rules that make life easier for them ALSO make it easier for criminals and nutjobs and domestic terrorists. And I’m done.

The Second Amendment is wrong. It is wrong. We don’t need it anymore. It is more harmful than it is helpful. I don’t care if that offends people. I don’t care if that makes me un-American. I don’t care if you personally find that statement offensive. I don’t care.

I care that 20 first graders died in their classroom. I care that people who work at Planned Parenthood live with the constant threat of violence toward them. I care that nowhere is safe anymore.

Guns are unnecessary in the context that the Second Amendment has allowed them to exist in this country. Guns outnumber PEOPLE in this country. I am done pretending I understand responsible gun owners. I am done pretending that their responsibility negates the necessity of changing the laws.

I am done.

The Second Amendment is reckless. It is stupid. It needs to be changed. Because one day, I’d like to be done being scared that a day at the movies with my family will turn into a day of terror and grief.