SUP?

I’m sitting at an intersection with my windows cracked and Jay Z and his friends busting out of my mom-mobile and a surly tow truck driver at about 2 o’clock from me looks back over his shoulder and eyes me. He is tatted from his fingertips to his eyeballs. I give him a traffic head nod like “sup?” He shakes his head and huffs then turns and takes a swig from a gallon of water in a bottle labeled Juicy Juice.

Really? Hey Juicy! You’re not so hot yourself. Don’t you know 40-something white ladies are probably one of Jay’s largest listening demographic? Lighten up. Maybe mix something stronger into your Juicy Juice.

I’m glad to have a few moments to myself after dropping the kids off at school and before I have to rush into work. How many coffees will I need today? I ponder.

What’s happening this week? I’ve been debating whether to join a softball team at work. Practices are once a week, right after work. I’m falling off the fence on the “no” side. The exhaustion that comes with figuring out who to bug to take care of my kids after school once a week is what forced me to take a hiatus from belly dancing. My job hangs in some weird balance, with a vote coming up in a month that will decide whether the unit I belong to will continue after the end of June. I’ve always taken government job security somewhat for granted. Guess what! I shouldn’t have thought this way! Your financial well-being and quality of life may lay in the hands of one senator who thinks he has come up with a brilliant idea and a legislative analyst. I’m sure this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened…

My daughter informed me this week that I have a fourth child (I can’t figure out what happened to number 3), whose name is Kool Tooley. It turns out that I gave him away at birth and she and her brother have recently discovered his existence. My son won’t confirm or deny this story. He sits in the backseat of the car, staring out the window, while my daughter weaves fantastic stories about Kool. My son already looks like a defeated husband with selective hearing. I’m hoping that wherever Kool lives, he’s in a financially stable home because I just can’t provide for one more child if he decides to come looking for me.

My daughter is also going public more frequently with her discussions about her absent father, or “donor dad.” She is wavering between whether she will continue to harass me about his whereabouts, or if she will just adopt a father. Because if people can adopt children, then they surely can adopt fathers, too. Another tricky issue I’ve had to address with her lately is why even half siblings aren’t allowed to marry each other and have babies. I’m always too tired to explain this in a way that a 6-year old going on 18 will understand.

“Because the baby may be born with an arm growing out of his head.”

Really? That’s all I’ve got? Way to go! Currently, I’m looking for volunteers to pick up their phone when one of my children calls with a difficult question like, “Can I play on the iPad tonight?” or “What will you give me if I pick up my toys?” or “Why does that boy have long hair?” I just don’t have it in me anymore…

The February Blob

Life is not that hard. My life, by comparison to several million people, is not that hard. I still feel like I’m under a giant crushing rock lately. I’m the blob from the depression commercial. I think it might have been the Zoloft advertisement years ago. The bubble blob that drifted through life with the serious and concerned sounding male voiceover:

“Is it hard to get out of bed in the morning?”

“Have you lost interest in the things you used to enjoy?”

“Do you cry more often?”

Do you find every single thing you encounter irritating? Do you find yourself crying when you forget your kids’ breakfast bars on the kitchen counter in the morning? Does everything, including washing two cups sitting in the sink after breakfast, feel like the most monumental of tasks?

How many days of exercise per week will it take before endorphins flood my body and make me laugh like a maniac?

Is it weird that in conversations with friends or my children or my boss, I make up the answers I want to hear from them in my head? That I’ve created an imaginary significant other with whom I chat in my head (obviously I make up his responses too, he’s perfect). That I miss belly dancing not just for the exercise and companionship but I also loved making vibrator jokes when my instructor talked about how great belly dancing is for sex?

How long does a funk last? I attended my kids’ sock hop the other night and I found myself clinging to the wall of the gym, not unlike my own middle- and high school days. I made conversation with a tall, lanky man wearing glasses who was standing beside me. I guessed he might have spent some time on the wall in those days as well. He talked to me about his divorce. Not unlike a conversation I may have had with someone else on the wall in school, minus the legalities of marriage. A friend checked in with me the next day. She thought I had looked sad. I didn’t realize I was wearing sadness. She said, “It’s understandable. You have a lot on your plate.”

So does everybody. Especially my mom and dad, when they come to visit and they are helping me catch up on 30 loads of laundry and fixing ceiling fans that have been broken for a year. I continue to need a mom and dad to take care of me. For the love of God, I’m 46 years old. I think. I can’t remember. I keep thinking I’m 45 but that may have been one or two birthdays ago.

Is this the post holiday blues? Only to last until the holiday season starts again in July? Is it pre-Valentines blues? Lord, I hate that day. I heard an idea on the radio to give people who might be suffering from a breakup or a death or just might be single and not loving it, a thoughtful gift. I’m totally going to do that.

Just writing this has brightened me up a little. It is a skill to make yourself smile, even when others watching you type away on your phone think you are a lunatic.

In just 12 hours, it will be Monday morning, the start of another work week. Thank goodness I like what I do for a living. That’s a plus. I’m going to work on gratitude this week. That’s supposed to help. ♥️

Swimsuit Shopping with #nofilter

In case anyone was wondering about this, don’t ever go swimsuit shopping with young children. I mean, infants through toddlers, probably just fine. But if your kids are old enough to have a vocabulary and they know how to use it, you are in trouble.

This is one of those times when I wish the fitting rooms at Target had a bar. I mean, why not? The girl staffing the place was young enough to be my granddaughter but I think they could make some accommodations to make my shopping experience more enjoyable. The prices at Target for clothing now rival Nordstrom’s or Macy’s, so I think the store could spring for classy older men and women to assist you with your shopping needs.

I was thrilled that Target had a rather decent sized collection of one pieces and tank top suits. I grabbed exactly 14 tops and bottoms and one pieces. I think there was a limit for the fitting room, but the young girl saw me and two monkeys hanging off my cart and waved me in with a gracious smile. She decided to let this one fly.

The first swimsuit tried was “too tight, momma” and both kids erupted in giggles because “we can see your boo boos, momma.”

The second: “looks horrible in the back! It is so gross! Your back looks weird.”

The third: “that is a goblin swimsuit. You look like a goblin, momma.”

And so on. 😔

We finally settled on two suits. One was a two-piece tank type thing that scored a resounding “yes” from my filterless children. The second was a one piece with cut outs that kind of zig zag through it but are still filled in with a transparent fabric. Neither child liked this one but I need a one piece for actual swimming. They thought that my “belly button looks gross, nobody wants to see your gross belly button” and that my back “looks weird.” Both in black. Because it’s a slimming color in any form of clothing, right?

I am hoping these last me at least two seasons. Or that I magically shrink two sizes and find a miracle product that smooths my belly and I can fit into those fabulous bikinis from my pre-children era.

*sigh*

My advice for swimsuit shopping: Leave the kids at home. Even if your babysitter is a 90-pound boxer pitbull mix. 😔

Non-stop!

LOL! After writing about how much I love side gigs, the only downside is that we are even more non-stop than we were in the past. Dog sitting requests are pouring in and each visitor we host captures our hearts. This week, our beloved German Shorthaired Pointer went home. She ended up staying a week longer because her owner was flying standby from Europe. Each day I got a text saying “maybe tomorrow?” And I was always happy to hear that she was delayed yet another day. 

My little old lady, La Vieille Dame, had so many endearing quirks. She would bark at her food every time she ate. I had to remind her to eat it and not talk to it so much. She would dig into my carpet every night and turn a thousand circles before settling down to sleep. She didn’t like my yard, but preferred to go for walks and watch the kids play at the nearby park. Through this business I also find more and more that dogs and owners resemble each other. Her owner, though I wouldn’t consider her old as she is probably only 15 years older than me, is a graceful and beautiful woman. When I interact with her in person, I feel like I am seeing her through a filter, she literally glows and flows softly around the environment. Her dog, though not as graceful, is equally captivating with her personality. 

We have received four sitting requests for future dates this week alone and visited with three of the dogs over the past week to see if we were all a good fit. Two of the four have booked so far and we will know at the end of this week about the other two. The kids are used to frequent “meet and greets” with prospective clients. I am thankful for our busy-ness and love meeting so many new people and the canine members of their families.

Our skincare work also keeps momma very busy, up late at night dreaming up social media posts (besides using the product, this is probably one of my favorite activities), and chatting with partners in crime and potential clients. I am grateful that I love the masks, toners, moisturizers, eye creams, etc. so much that I have no trouble talking to people about the products and business itself when people ask. Sharing with people and seeing them get excited about how the products have made them feel has been good for my soul. 

With all the extra activities, day job and school, we still somehow manage to get lunches made, baths taken (although I’m encouraging more showers as they are quicker), dinners made, stories read, days shared, cuddles had, dishes done, laundry washed, house straightened, groceries bought, and dogs walked and cared for when they are visiting. ❤️💯

Non-stop, content and thankful.

Weekend Recap: Posh, Pig Roasts, Paris, Pups and Police

This weekend was a bit surreal in terms of experiences.

So, Thursday evening I got a frantic message from a woman saying her mother is leaving for Paris on Friday morning and could I watch her dog for the next 13 days. Upon learning that the dog is a breed I grew up with (German Shorthaired Pointer) and is 13 years old, I agreed, sight unseen, to pick up this dog Friday morning from a loft in Union Station, a very swanky area in downtown Denver. The mother, who I discovered travels frequently to Paris, is a high end interior designer. Her pup, who I have nicknamed "La Vieille Dame," is a lovely and sweet old lady who barks at her dog food and tries to dig holes in my carpet with her front paws to create a comfortable spot for sleeping.

Saturday morning, I woke up to the police knocking at my door to ask me about the "squatters" who have taken over the old grow house next door. Sigh. Dorothy, we're not in Union Station anymore. The officer and my neighbor reported that people have taken over the house, they come to party at night, and did I ever hear them?

The police were going to call in a company to board the house up and try to track down the owner. Mulling over the idea of living next to a boarded up house, I supposed the house couldn't possibly look any worse than it already did with a queen-sized mattress leaning against the garage door and miles of PVC pipe piled up in the driveway next to the overgrown weed fest of a yard. Weed in the actual sense of the word.

Saturday evening we headed over to the wedding reception of one of my daughter's former daycare teachers. A family friend was hosting it at their home. This neighborhood was definitely where some of Colorado's 1% live. My kids jumped out of my car and raced across the exotic xeriscaping of the expansive front yard, stopping only long enough to leave fingerprints all over some gorgeous vehicles in a 4-car garage before running into the house and stopping just short of a well- appointed dessert bar. Yes, don't mind them, they will have one of each. Will you please let the bride know that her guests from south Thornton have arrived?

Later Saturday evening, we drove an hour south to beautiful rolling hills alongside the mountains to a friend and co-worker's home and land for a pig roast. It was like going to Disneyland Colorado style. Beautiful acreage with pigs, cows, woods, tire swings, playgrounds. It was A River Runs Through It minus Brad Pitt. The kids and I hung around the buffet table poking at the fully-intact face of the pig who had been roasted earlier in the evening. Afterwards, we danced and played and listened as some police officers tried their hand at karaoke (stick to fighting crime, guys).

Our weekend wrapped up with church and lunch with grandma and grandpa. Through it all, the kids were superstars. I'm not sure what kool-aid they started the weekend with, but they were model children all weekend. I felt so grateful and blessed to have such diverse friendships and the opportunity to expose my kids to different experiences.

5 Things I Love About Summer!

The title of this blog is meant to come across as positive, exciting and bursting with infectious happy energy! Here is what I’m really thinking about summer right now: I’m tired of living sans air conditioning. The average temperature in my home runs about 85 degrees in the early evening. I swore up and down that this would be the summer of the cooling system installation extravaganza. After obtaining a few estimates that I can’t really afford without taking a loan and discovering that many HVAC companies are booked out at least a few weeks, I’ve decided that this might be the summer where I leisurely explored the idea of installing a cooling system and decided to put it off another year.

Why not? I’ve met some really interesting HVAC guys and a whiney electrician, increased my knowledge of heating and cooling systems exponentially, spent quite a bit of time getting to know my fuse box, and received plenty of bad news about the issues that an old home presents when installing anything major that requires electricity. I can give you the rundown about the options that are available nowadays when it comes to cooling your home and tell you why you should never use a present day GFI testing thingy to check ungrounded GFI outlets in an old home.

Move on, you say. Let’s talk about why summer is so great. Here are the 5 things I love about this summer.

  1. I get to spend one whole day a week hanging out with my children! Through this experience I’ve learned that being an SAHM is probably not the ideal way to go for me, but I wouldn’t trade our Tuesdays for anything. Even when they involve hours and hours of bickering, hearing the word “Momma” a mind-numbing amount of times, and turning down hundreds of requests per day regarding TV, iPad, and iPhone usage.
  2. Above-mentioned children have learned to swim! When we do go to the pool, we don’t have to spend a lot of time in the wading pool where the water is suspiciously warm all the time and toddlers in swim diapers splash and squeal all around you.
  3. Crime seems to have slowed down this summer in our neighborhood! While data shows our area as the most popular place in town for our police force to hang out, our immediate surroundings have remained relatively quiet (knock on wood). 
  4. It is too hot to use the oven in my house which limits our diet to only items that can be eaten straight out of the fridge and prepared on the stove top or in the toaster! Add in picky eaters and the only things I really need to keep readily available are bread, peanut butter, jelly, and cheese and turkey slices. 
  5. Homemade cold brew coffee. With vanilla almond creamer. 

As you can see, the upcoming school year and fall will likely be greeted with some long faces and heavy hearts. Despite the high temps in the house, we’ve managed to have one of the better summers in recent history.

Can He Be Our Dad?

We were headed off to the Dinosaur exhibit at the zoo last night, meeting a coworker and his wife and son. I received a text from him saying they were running about half hour late, so we stopped at a BBQ restaurant not far from the zoo. After a failed dinner – my kids ONLY eat hamburgers and french fries and tender shredded meat covered in tangy sweet BBQ sauce is abhorrent to them – we hopped back in the car to head to the zoo.

As we were pulling out, my daughter noticed an older man, dressed head to toe in camouflage, surrounded by backpacks, with a long, gray beard and wraparound sunglasses.

My daughter says from the backseat, “Momma, can he be our dad?”

“Who? That man with the long beard?”

“Yes. He looks nice.”

My heart broke in two right then. Like it always does when I’m overwhelmed by the crushing “you are less than because you are a single mom and your kids will wind up wounded” feeling.

“Honey, I think he’s homeless.”

“Well, then we can bring him home. He can live with us. He can be our dad.”

That put the cherry on top of my already feeling insecure parenting sundae. At the zoo, she reveled in the attention of my male coworker, begging us to each hold each of her hands and “jump” her.

We have a good life. Sometimes things can eat at you though. I’m still working on my heart of steel.

neelah-boots

 

When You Can’t Sleep…

My mind is racing and I can’t seem to quiet it. I’ve been up late these past few weeks focusing on exploring and expanding my two new businesses and I find it hard to shut off my brain at bedtime.

This evening, while purchasing 3 burger combo meals, I stumbled into the life story of someone who was dealing with a lot of pain. She was watching my daughter spin around a hand railing. My unique child, wearing knee-high black gladiator sandals with a pink leotard, tutu and tiara. The woman asked what my job was and I blurted out “I work for the State.” Brilliant. I clarified what I actually did “for the State” and she proceeded to share with me that her daughter had been murdered by the babysitter who cared for her nearly 30 years ago. She lamented that, despite the fact she had joined several support groups over the years, seen therapists, etc., she still found herself dwelling on it and talking about it even after so many years. That made a lot of sense to me. How could one forget or “put to rest” the death of their child?

At the end of her story, she started to tear up. She thanked me for doing the work I do. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone from the general public thank me for my work. I thanked her for sharing her story. And now it’s nearly 1 am and I can’t stop thinking about her. ❤️

Microblog Thursday: An Unsatisfying Break from Alliteration

Today was my afternoon off to pick up my son from school. It was a beautiful day, with temps near 50F and a bright, warm sun. When I picked him up and asked him how he wanted to spend the afternoon, I had a brief fantasy.

“Momma, I’d like to find a coffee shop with a patio and enjoy a hot chocolate while I tell you about my day.”

Instead, we took turns kicking down the snowman in the backyard and walked to 7-11 for a slurpee.

After we picked up his sister from pre-school, he suggested we all jump on the bathroom scale together to see how much we weigh collectively. Getting on a scale with two children with Asian genes was not my idea of fun. But I did it. For the children.

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Au revoir 2016! Phew!

I’ve been dying to write again! Every day I categorize my experiences, my thoughts, my interactions with the kids, into short stories. It has been so long.

Let me start by saying that I AM SO GLAD CHRISTMAS IS OVER! My mood starts a downward spiral shortly after Halloween every year with the anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas and the new year starting. So much pressure occurs at the end of the year. The pressure not to gorge myself so that the only time I’m comfortable is when I’m wearing pants with an elastic waistband.  The pressure to make up for my perceived single mother with limited resources status and throw a great Christmas filled with the perfect presents for the kids. The pressure to start yet another “this is going to be the best year ever” kind of year.

On top of these routine stresses, this fall has also brought problems with my son’s new school. We will call what he is experiencing “not bullying” because it doesn’t fit the legal definition of bullying. Kind of like when you are at work and a police sergeant tells you he’d like the key to your “panty drawer” or a former sheriff asks if you are wearing underwear to make a point in front of his subordinates. It doesn’t make you feel real good but technically it’s not sexual harassment because they are not in positions of power over you demanding sexual services “or else”. “Not bullying” happens when your son’s classmate calls him names like “stupid, crybaby, dumb” or combinations of those terms but it’s excusable because the name caller hears those words at home because he was raised in a culturally different environment or he couldn’t possible be saying those things because he’s a nice kid who otherwise is always complimenting people. “Not bullying” happens when your kid gets picked on occasionally on the playground for the clothes he is wearing but since no one saw it except for your kid, it might not have really happened. “Not bullying” is when your kid is doing well academically and smiles a lot in class so whatever he is experiencing just doesn’t fit a definition that is actionable.

So “not bullying” causes your kid to mope around at home, burst into tears for minor issues, and refuse to get out of the car at school every morning to walk into his “safe environment” and tell you repeatedly that he doesn’t like his new school because he has no friends. I’m looking forward to meeting with his teacher and principal after the break to talk more about this concept of “not bullying”. I’m hoping we can find a mutually agreeable word that describes the discomfort my son is experiencing so we can engage in a plan together to help him finish out a more positive first grade year. Yes, first grade. We haven’t even hit middle school yet. I can’t wait to see what “not bullying” looks like in middle school.

The above has consumed a lot of my mental and emotional resources. Additionally, our beloved little whippet went into massive kidney failure this month. While her care blew up my credit card, she has come through to the other side and survived the “acute” event that occurred. Now she is about as much work as my kids, with a special diet, regular medications, and frequent clean ups of escaped bodily fluids (she is taking in a lot of liquids and therefore expelling them constantly). But I swear she is smiling most of the time and she is back to her  constant pacing of my home and racing around the backyard. Viva la Smoke!

Yes, my preoccupation with holiday stress and such has kept me silent lately. On a positive note, the silence has also offered some time to “listen” and I’ve gotten out and read more of my fellow bloggers’ posts which has been cool.

Not sure if I will be writing again before the end of 2016, so best wishes to all that check this post out for a happy and healthy 2017!❤️