P is for Planning

P is for Planning

PI am the first to admit, I am horrible at planning. It’s not that I don’t have goals. It’s not that I’m lazy… okay, sometimes it is. I guess it’s not a priority to me. I’m sure those who are reading this who are planners have a hard time understanding that concept.

I don’t remember dates, so if I plan too far ahead, I will absolutely forget. For example, hair appointments. Instead of scheduling my next appointment while I’m still at the salon, I just wait until my hair is unbearable and then call to schedule an appointment… preferably for that day.

Sometimes plans change, so I take a proactive stance and wait to see if an event is really going to happen before I commit to it.

I’m not going to lie. Life would be simpler if I took some time to plan ahead and being open to improving my life, I plan to plan more. One area I will start planning more faithfully is in figuring out ahead of time what my kids need to do for their school work that day. Then I can write it down and they don’t have to keep asking, “What should I do next?” I used to plan a week at a time when I was teaching, and that worked pretty well. I should try it with homeschooling.

Okay, now I plan to finish this so I can go ahead and plan something for the letter Q.

Thanks for stopping by!

Through a Mirror Darkly

My First Independently Published Book & Why I Wrote It

Through a Mirror Darkly is a short story I wrote under my pen name a couple months ago. I self-published it last month through Amazon. I wrote it originally for an anthology that was published this month. It has been categorized as a horror story, but it’s more than that.

When I think of horror stories, I think of crazy, knife-carrying clowns with fangs chasing a group of horny teenagers at a deserted camp. Through a Mirror Darkly has a paranormal element to it, but it’s also very loosely based on my own experiences with familial and personal depression.

When I wrote it, I didn’t think it would end up being therapeutic for me, but it was. I never had a chance to say goodbye to my mom when she died. I hadn’t seen her in over 35 years. After my parents separated, she tried to kill herself. I was barely seven when I heard her crying out from the other room. To this day, the memory of finding my mom on the floor, begging for help wrenches my heart.

After that, my dad got custody of my brother, sisters, and me. She was eventually released from the hospital and given visitation rights every other weekend. Despite her therapies and medications, she was not emotionally healthy and tried a few more times to take her own life.

Eventually, she stopped coming to pick us up for our weekends. The last time I saw her, I was nine years old. I never really missed her… maybe because her withdrawal from our lives was so gradual. Maybe it was because I was such a daddy’s girl. The only thing I was ever angry about was having to find her the first time she attempted suicide. More than anything, I hated the pity people would express when they found out I didn’t have a mom.

Looking back, I realize I spent my life in the shadow of my mom’s suicide attempts and depression. I was adamant that I would not be like her. I would never be weak like I thought she must have been. When I had my first child, I was even more resolved that I would be nothing like her. And I was a great mom: attentive, patient, happy, ambitious. For the first time, I resented her for leaving her children because I could not understand how anyone could do that.

Then, I had my second child. I knew something was wrong in my last trimester. I grew depressed, anxious, and obsessed about irrational things. I told nobody and figured it would go away after I got to hold my baby in my arms, but it only got worse. He seemed to cry all the time, he was a horrible nurser, and nobody but me could hold him. At the same time, my three year old demanded my attention.

I sank into a dark place. I found myself resenting my baby. I started having anxiety attacks when he would cry. I remember wondering if I could place him for adoption. I was sure someone would be a better parent to him. I didn’t want to admit I was “weak” like my mom. I spent my life being everything she wasn’t. I spent my life not being what she was.

Around this time, Brooke Shields wrote a book about her experience with postpartum depression called Down Came the Rain. I do not know where I would be if that book hadn’t ended up in my hands. As I read about her depression, I realized something: this beautiful, intelligent, talented woman was admitting she needed help overcoming her depression.

I decided that was where I would be different from my mom. I would get help before it was too late. I had to be strong enough to admit that I was weak. I was ashamed and embarrassed, but I did seek help because of my love for my boys. With the help of antidepressants, I became more like the “old” me again. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, and I still take medication for it.

When I found out my mom passed away a couple years ago, I felt I needed to do something to “release” her… to let her know I finally understood her. I needed to let her know that she had my forgiveness.

My goodbyes to her were put on the back burner, however. The same day I learned of her passing, my dad was undergoing surgery. Complications arose and he almost died. From that time on, his health deteriorated. He almost died several times in the months that followed. Emotionally, I couldn’t focus on my mom’s death. My dad had priority. He died five months ago and I miss him terribly. I always thought my first book would be dedicated to him, but as the story, Through a Mirror Darkly, wrote itself, I realized it was a book for my mom. It was my way to say goodbye, to let her go with my forgiveness.

I’ve always found comfort in writing, and this story was no different. It also brought healing. I believe in the afterlife. I believe she needed to know that she is forgiven. I feel I needed to tell her this for her sake and mine. I hope she has finally found peace and wholeness.

If you are interested in the fictional account of my story, you can get it on Amazon. It’s less than a buck and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. If you do read it, please leave a review on Amazon. Reviews help independent authors like me. Thank you!51AiuzkwVtL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)

Monday’s Meanderings

* I wrote this on Monday night.  Fell asleep on the couch just as I finished.  Woke up at 2 am and realized I never posted it.  Technically, it WAS a Monday.*

So, it’s been a while since my last post.  There have been a few reasons for that:

  1. I’ve been busy grading papers and calculating report card grades
  2. Minecraft is very addicting
  3. Thanks to my aging uterus, I became so anemic the only thing I wanted to do was sit around and wallow in a pool of lethargy– which I did for about four weeks

Well, report cards have been sent home and I won’t have to do another batch until June.  Mincecraft is still addicting, but I’m managing my addiction… a little.  And the whole problematic, anemia-causing uterus thing has been temporarily alleviated with a steady dose of iron.  In three weeks, it will be permanently taken care of with surgery (yay me!).

Yesterday, my nine-year-old decided he wants to participate in a “Zombie Walk”.  He’s not even into Zombies, but his interest in the walk was sparked by an old episode of Cake Boss.  In this episode, a couple wanted a cake made for their zombie-themed wedding.  I couldn’t really hear what was being said on the TV, thanks to my talkative 11-year old.  From what I gathered, though, the couple had met at a Zombie Walk and were really into zombies.  Obviously.

Now, I like zombies and all, but I think if I had to get married again, I’d do it surrounded by a beautiful forest or a quiet beach somewhere. In attendance would be a few close friends and family.  But, that’s just me.   There are all kinds of people in this world, and some of them want a zombie wedding.  I guess it’s not all that strange… it really can’t be much different than getting hitched in Vegas. That place is its own kind of freak show, filled with dead-eyed people pushing buttons on video slot machines.

Anyway, back to my point:  Thanks to Cake Boss, my son was intrigued with the idea of a Zombie Walk and wanted to know more. Being the type of mom who encourages a well-rounded education, I hopped on YouTube and found some videos of different Zombie Walks around the nation.

Turns out the videos made him want to be a part of a Zombie Walk.  I think what sold him on the idea was the clip of the “zombie” gnawing on a human arm (fake, of course– I hope).  As a result, it looks like the San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Zombie Walk is in our future.

My son immediately started searching Amazon for an edible human arm.  He hasn’t found one– yet.  But when he does, I hope it’s on Prime.  I immediately hopped on Facebook and announced to my FB world that my son wants to do a Zombie Walk and who would be interested in joining us.  Apparently, quite a few people want to do it with us.

I have learned to take those first enthusiastic “I want to do it!” comments with a grain of salt. Over the years I’ve heard my share of “Yes! A ______________ sounds like fun!  I’m in!” Fill in the blank with “marathon”, “half-marathon”, “session at the shooting range”, or “surfing lesson”.  People’s plans change… their minds change.  I’m no different.  We’ll see how many still want to join us when July comes around.

I’m not sure what kind of zombie I want to be.  It’s a Zombie Walk & Prom.  I never went to prom.  My parents weren’t going to fork over the money for a fluffy prom dress & matching shoes.  I was on my own for that.  I was frugal back then and decided anyone who asked me would have to be worth the $150 bucks it would cost me to go.  The guys who did ask me had bigger hair than I did (it was the ’80s), wore skinny jeans, and didn’t appreciate Bob Dylan.  Not worth my hard-earned money.

So, do I do the walk as a Zombie Prom Queen?  Nah… I’m too old for that.  I’m thinking I should go as a Zombie Prom Chaperone. Maybe as the teacher who’d rather be somewhere– anywhere– other than at a hormone-fueled high school dance.  We’ll see.  I have until July.  By then, I’m sure my son will have his edible arm.  By then, those who want to do the walk with us will be committed. And, by then, I will have my zombie identity figured out.


Night Owl in the Morning

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a night owl.  If I could choose my own schedule, I would sleep from two am to ten am.  But, as with most people, I don’t have the luxury of making my own schedule.  Work, kids, family, appointments, etc. all join forces to make sure I don’t do what my body naturally wants to do.  I’m OK with that, it’s just how life is.

As a natural-born night owl, I have always resented having to get up early in the morning.  Recently, however, I discovered the pleasure of having about thirty minutes to myself in the morning before everyone else has to get up and get ready for their day.  There’s just something wonderful and rare during this time- I believe it’s called silence.

I swear, my coffee tastes even better when it is sipped in the stillness of the early morning.

I’m certain that one day, I will miss the noise of my children getting ready for school, arguing with each other, and asking me where their shoes are.  But, for now, I’ll appreciate these silent moments.  They don’t last long, but they are golden.

I am a Seeker

I am a huge fan of the TV show “Bones”.  There is something about the quirky, dark humor of the show that appeals to my quirky, dark-humored side.  I’m not sure what was going on with last week’s episode, but the show introduced the audience to a whole new set of characters.  Any other “Bones” fans out there smell a spin-off in the works?

The good-looking main character of the new characters was described as being a “Seeker”.  Apparently, he has  an amazing knack for finding anyone & anything someone wishes to find.  For a price, of course.  He does this by using his intuition, common sense, and two larger-than-life sidekicks.

As I was watching the storyline unfold, I realized that I, too, am a “Seeker”.  I don’t receive monetary compensation for my efforts and I certainly don’t have two kick-butt personal assistants by my side.  I don’t seek criminals.  I don’t seek missing loved-ones.  I do, however, seek lost treasures.  I do seek missing relics.

Specifically, what do I seek?

I seek socks.  I seek misplaced homework on Friday mornings.  I seek the missing  stuffed-animal-of-the- week when it’s bedtime.  I seek aphids for our latest ladybug “pet”.  I seek shoes when we are late for school.  I seek the TV remote so that I may use it to  seek age-appropriate shows for my boys.  I seek Legos.  That vital  missing piece, by the way,  is usually found under the rear-end of the person assembling the most recent Lego set acquisition.

Some days, I seek solely my sanity.

It’s amazing to me how often my boys think I just know where something is… as if I am a superhero who obtained my superpower after being bitten by some sort of all-knowing insect.

In short, I am a Mom… therefore, I am a  Seeker of the most important kind:  I find those things that mean so much to the ones who mean the most to me.

Seek on, Seeker Mom!

Long Time, No Blog

Wow!  It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged!  Here are some updates… very quick updates:

  • I’m teaching again.  Gone are my days of sleeping in, watching daytime TV,  and eating bon-bons before and after my daily naps.        Oh, wait- I’ve never had those days!  And what the heck are bon-bons, anyway?
  • I’m teaching kindergarten and loving it!
  • I can’t run anymore due to a fallen arch in my left foot.  My podiatrist told me the bones in my foot are basically collapsing on each other.  Nice.  He also told me that I have the foot of a 70-year old woman.  Um, thanks, Doc.  I’m still mourning the loss of being able to run.  I’m also a bit self-conscious of the appearance of my foot… for the first time in my life.
  • I’m trying to learn to love cycling.
  • It’s not happening.
  • My youngest started kindergarten… and no, I’m not his teacher.  As much as I love my sweetie-pie, that would be a nightmare!
  • My oldest is adjusting to his new school and being in the third grade.  He is doing very well.
  • We enrolled my third-grader in a program called Brain Highways , hoping to address some of his quirky (and somewhat Asperger’s Syndrome tendencies).  It’s tough.  Very tough.  But it seems to be helping.
  • My husband is asleep on the couch right now.
  • The clock says 11:03 p.m. but my body-clock is telling me it’s really 12:03 a.m. Why do we need to “fall back” and “spring forward”?  C’mon… daylight savings time needs to go the way of the typewriter, TV antennas, and VHS tapes/players and be considered obsolete.
  • I admit, however, I do like waking up and having it be light out.
  • On the other hand, I really dislike leaving work in the dark.  Or dusk, depending on the day.

With that, I need to sign off of here.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll accomplish what I really came on here to do, and set up my kindergarten blog.

Hmmm… we shall see…

High-Tech Treasure Hunting

A couple weeks ago, when Matt first expressed an interest in geocaching, I’m pretty sure I responded with a blank stare. Geocaching? I had heard the word before but had no idea what it was.

Am I the only person under the age of 67 who did not know what geocaching is? Since I am hoping I’m not the only one who needed an explanation, I’m going to explain it to you. If you are more “hip” than I am (and who isn’t?), please bear with me… or rather, bear with Wikipedia:

Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning Systemreceiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”) anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container (usually a tupperware or ammo box) containing a logbook. Larger containers can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is most often described as a “game of high-tech hide and seek”, sharing many aspects with orienteering, treasure-hunting, and waymarking. (GPS)

Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.[1] As of September 20 2009, there are over 904,000 active geocaches over the world.

-Stolen from Wikipedia

Now that you know everything there is to know about geocaching, I can finish this blog. Matt and I took the boys geocaching on Friday afternoon. Matt had gone with the boys on Thursday, but this was my first time. I had a great time, in spite of the heat. The boys had tons of fun. I think Matt had the most fun of all of us (that’s probably because he got to hold the GPS thing).

We didn’t even have to go far to have a fun adventure. Matt found out there were a few caches hidden at Kit Carson Park and off we went. I figured it would be an easy excursion but I was wrong. We stomped through brush, wound our way down coyote trails, barely missed angering a nest of wasps, saw a baby rattlesnake, and all ended up exhausted. I’ve seen parts of Kit Carson Park I never knew existed.

We found a total of three caches that day. We looked for five but two were impossible to find in all the dense brush and trees. The funniest one was hidden in the base of a lamp post in the parking lot by the soccer field. In the collage above, you can see Matt holding a small, black disk… that is what was hidden in the base of the lamp post.

The best cache was hidden on an obscure trail. We found it at the base of a tree, near where we saw the baby rattlesnake. In this cache, there were fun little toys for the boys. Per geocaching etiquette, we replaced what we took with our own little toys.

By the time we found that cache, we were all tired, thirsty, dirty, and ready to call it a day. The boys did very well, considering the amount of walking we did. I’m so glad Matt thought to start geocaching. I think we have found a fun family hobby that will keep us active and having fun together.

Mommy, the Black Widow Spider Slayer

I am going to hate writing this blog but I feel like it needs to be done… regardless of how heevie-jeevie it makes me feel.

Let me start by declaring that I really dislike black widow spiders. When I say “dislike”, I mean hate, despise, abhor, loathe, and detest black widows. I’ve never liked them but it seems like my hatred and fear of them has grown over the past few years. Actually, it’s no coincidence that my black widow hatred has grown since we moved into our current house.

I’m pretty sure our house was built on the Mecca for black widows. Each spring, they make their pilgrimage to our backyard and set up permanent homes. They party, have spider sex, kill their partners, and lay eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. In egg sacs. Lots of disgusting eggs in lots of disgusting egg sacs.

We rarely see the egg sacs but we know they’re there because a few weeks later, those eggs hatch and out come the baby black widows. Fortunately, many of them don’t survive the hatching process because they eat each other. I guess the ones that survive are the ones that a) float away in the breeze to another part of our yard; or b) do the eating.

When Matt and I first moved into our house, we kept noticing these little spiders in the backyard. They seemed to be everywhere in the back. They did not look like black widows… because they weren’t black. Their bodies were usually shaped like black widows, though, so we took a closer look. We noticed these little grayish spiders had whiteish hour glasses on their abdomens.

We did some research and found out that the little spiders we kept seeing were baby and/or juvenile black widows. The information isn’t clear regarding whether or not juvenile black widows are poisonous. Some sources say yes, and some say no. I don’t intend to find out for sure the hard way so I kill any and all black widows.

In case you’re wondering what newly hatched black widows look like, check out this disturbing picture.

I took the following picture yesterday. I was on a black widow spider killing spree in our backyard. This one is not a newly hatched baby. In my unscientific backyard observations, I label these the “preteen” widows.

The widow is in the center of the picture… it’s that roundish grayish thing with the legs.
Sorry for the poor quality of the picture- I was high on bug spray fumes when I took it.

I am pretty sure this is an immature female black widow. The males don’t usually have such round butts. Notice that she is not black. You may also notice that I found this little devil on the underside of the boys’ Little Tykes Picnic Table.

Here is another one I found on the same table:

Based on its shape, this one is probably a female, too. The white stripes indicate that it is an immature spider. My label for this stage of widowhood is “Late Teen”. She’s almost grown up, she just needs to get rid of those stripes and she’s a full-fledged black widow.

Both of the spiders are dead now… along with about 11 of their friends. I mostly find juvenile black widows in our yard but when I do find the full-fledged black widow, I am always happy to kill them with a little extra “umph”. My weapons of choice are bug spray and a croquet mallet.

Here are some black widow spider facts:

  • The males are not poisonous
  • The males are smaller than the females
  • The females don’t always eat the males after they mate- it depends on how hungry they are.
  • Females can live up to three years
  • Egg sacs can hold between 250-700 eggs

If I seem obsessed with black widows, it’s probably because I am. They both horrify and intrigue me. They mostly horrify me. I’ve always believed that in order to appreciate something, you need to learn about it. This may be true in many cases, but I’ve learned more about black widows than I ever wanted to and I only hate them more.

I dream of one day living in a place where there are no black widows. A place where my boys can go out back to play without me having to do a spider check first. A place where we can have spider-free outside toys and play structures. A place where I don’t need to shake, stomp on, and turn inside-out my garden gloves before I put them on.

I know there are dangerous creatures in every place. But believe me when I say I would take rattlesnakes, coyotes, bats, chiggers (whatever those are), ticks, scorpions, and rabid bunnies over black widows, any day!

By the way… I know some of you are thinking, “Why don’t you hire a pest control person to spray the backyard?” My answer to that is, “That’s probably a good idea.” A good idea, assuming it works better than the ant control we used to have done… until we realized we were still getting ants.

Of Coyotes & Insurance Companies

It has been so long since my last- and only- post!  I meant to keep this blog more up-to-date but have obviously failed.  No excuses… just busy, I suppose.  So much has happened since my last post:

My seven year old started second grade.

My four year old started preschool.

Our cat, Peanut, is missing and presumably dead as a result of coyote digestion.  All that’s left of our poor kitty is his blue collar and a small tuft of fur.  My boys are keeping the collar to remember their first real pet.  We buried the fur in the backyard and plan to hold a memorial service on Thursday.  My future Donald Trump (the seven year old) wants to charge people to attend the service.  I doubt anyone besides us will show up to pay their respects.

My dad, who has been has been in and out of the hospital and nursing homes over the past few months is back in the hospital again.   He started with back surgery due to a bad disk.  He came home.   Had a small stroke.  Went back to the hospital and then to a nursing care facility.   Sent home prematurely, thanks to the insurance company.  Went in for another back surgery because the first one was unsuccessful.  Back to the nursing care facility to recover from the surgery.  Sent home prematurely, thanks to the insurance company.   Fell on his first day home, called 911 (nobody else was home).  Back to the hospital.  An MRI done (to make sure he didn’t damage the surgical site)  revealed an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is a life-threatening condition if not diagnosed before the aneurysm ruptures.

Actually,  it is a blessing my dad was sent home from the nursing care facility… even though we all considered it a premature move. If he had not been sent home, he would not have fallen on his way to the kitchen. If he had not fallen and been alone in the house, he would not have called the paramedics.  If the paramedics had not taken him to the hospital, he would not have had the MRI.  If he had not had the MRI, the abdominal aortic aneurysm may have gone undetected… until it was too late.

So, as you can see… life has been a little crazy for my family.

I hope to be more consistent once things become more routine.

Did I just write that out loud?  Routine? What’s that?   I think Routine is somewhere under the towering stack of clean laundry that needs to be put away one of these days.  If I ever do find it, I’ll probably need to toss it back into the dryer for a few minutes just to get the wrinkles out!  And then, it will end up back at the bottom of the pile.

And with that thought, goodnight all!