Today’s Top Stories

Sorry for my absence, for those of you who care.  End of the year school activities had me unable to form complete sentences.

A lot of very touchy subjects are in the news spotlight right now.  It’s enough to make me want to swear off Facebook and media in general.  Everyone is pissed about something.  Many are about pissed about everything.  Some are pissed about nothing, but I don’t know any of those people.  As I’ve constructed my opinion on these matters, whether just in my head or verbalized to my friends who I know will agree with me, the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m pretty laid back about everything.  Or just too lazy to be really passionate about any one of these topics.  I have opinions, and I like to express them, but they aren’t always based on years of research, or some staunchly held religious belief.  I just think them because I do.  I have some rationales, but not always.  I generally don’t try to persuade people to my side of the fence, so I think it’s ok to just have an opinion. In any case…

#1-Gay Marriage-or as you’ve heard some call it, “Marriage”  Truth is I can’t say anything smart that you haven’t already heard in the past week since SCOTUS made their ruling.  I think it’s just fine and dandy if homosexuals want to get married.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.  Not in a religious sense, not in a political sense, not in a sexual sense, not in any sense.  Some will say I have no sense.  And I’m ok with that.  My religion does think being homosexual is a sin, although we don’t exactly talk about it much.  It was a 5 paragraph article on the 4th page of the quarterly national newsletter. The equivalent of “Cat Show Spectacular in Tuscaloosa” news coverage.  I don’t agree.  Plain and simple.  I think God made homosexuals just they way they are and they deserve the legal benefits of a binding marriage contract.

#2-Sub-text of #1 Gay Marriage opinion-I also think homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children.  The homosexuals couples I know that are raising children are doing a bang up job.  Whereas on the other hand, I’ve witnessed some seriously fucked up heterosexuals doing their best, yet pathetic, version of a sideshow act of parenting I’ve ever seen.  I’m not saying sterilization should be legal…but I have a really long list of those who should be first in line should it ever come to that.  Lots of unwanted children out there, give them a loving parent, gay or straight, and they have a fighting chance in this world.

#3 Confederate Flag nonsense-Stop flying it over government buildings like a badge of honor.  Otherwise, leave it be.  We can’t rewrite or make disappear all the shitty history we’d rather forget.  We don’t have to worship former symbols of hatred, but rather teach what was and learn to be better.  And Dukes of Hazard rules!

#4 Gun Violence- We own a handgun and several WWII display rifles.  I hate all the gun violence that rips families apart on a daily basis across our country (not just Detroit, folks…).  It shames me that our country’s price for our right to bear arms is such tragedy. Like the war on drugs, I’m fairly certain there is not an answer to this question that will EVER work.  Law abiding citizens will never give up their right to lawfully own guns while criminals will abuse that right and kill innocent people. It just makes me sad.

#5 Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy-refer to previous statement about sterilization.

#6 Rob Stark being killed off on Game of Thrones-The red headed witch lady better bring him back to life next season or someone is gonna be in a world of hurt.

#7 USA Women’s Soccer Team-They won the World Cup in glorious fashion!  Being a soccer household, of course we were watching, but I know plenty of non-soccer freaks that also were engrossed.  Win for the sport, win for the ladies, win for USA!

So here is where I leave you today. There will be friends and family who disagree with my opinions, and that’s perfectly ok with me. They of course are entitled to their opinions as much as I am.  My opinions are not up for debate any more than theirs are. What these hotly discussed issues have brought to the forefront of my mind is that I need to be as respectful of those who I feel are on the “wrong” side of the fence, as I expect them to be of me.  And in that vein, what I’ve found that works is seriously just to stop reading.  I get sucked into the comments on a Facebook post, full of “racist bastards, sodomites, faggots, gun toting rednecks” and verbiage that makes me seethe with anger.

The vehemence and name calling and attacks and fury and outrage is just exhausting.  I have trouble enough getting my Keurig power button not to stick, this shit is too much for me. I hate the fact that I lay in bed last night unable to sleep due to swirling thoughts of the widespread, ongoing and irrational reactions to these issues.  So I step away. And the truth is, I can’t change them, and arguing with them sure isn’t going to get me anywhere.  So respect.  Or at least blissful ignorance. Can’t we all just get along?

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”  –John Lennon

Futzing and Other Mom Activities

Futzing:  defined as wasting time, idle or busy oneself aimlessly. In my house, it’s defined as walking in a manner which appears to be “wandering aimlessly” from spot to spot in your house picking up and putting away, moving, or otherwise taking items from one place and placing them in their correct and proper home. This alternate definition is a conglomeration of what I actually do and what my husband perceives that I do.  If you are anything like me, and I venture that most Moms are, you walk in the door to your house after work, or really any activity that has you out of the house for several hours, and it’s like you are playing “Where’s Waldo?” Except in this case it’s “Where’s the Mess?” or “What is Wrong With this Picture?”  A Mom’s very own living and breathing, hell on earth, Highlights Magazine activity.

Futzing is an art for me, and I am rarely done with my painting. Why, you ask? Because I have 3 children and a husband that live in my house. Enough said. I am not neurotic about it, but once I see something out of place, I can’t UNSEE it. It has to be taken care of.  Ok, maybe that is how you define neurotic.  I’ve been called worse.

It feels like I am the Predator, you know that movie? The alien has heat sensing vision so that he can see and kill his prey.  I am the alien with mess sensing powers (totally wish I had some other super power, like maybe I could turn dust bunnies into cash). Anyhow, it starts with the shoe cubby as I walk thru the front door. Typically most of the shoes are put away into the little boxes, but of course, it’s just easier to kick them off and leave them mere INCHES from their actual cubby home. Riiiiiiight. Bend down, pick up and put away. Then my vision settles on the living room to the couch pillows on the floor, the cups, bowls and wrappers from after school snacks, probably some socks, jackets and periodically a body or 2. I circle the coffee table, grabbing everything on my pass thru, kiss any lounging kids, put pillows back on the couch, gather dirty clothes in one arm and trash in the other. I make my way to the kitchen to drop off the dishes and trash and my purse and work bag that I am STILL carrying then go back towards bedrooms and drop off dirty clothes. It’s really quite graceful.

This is only the futzing that happens right after work. There is continuous futzing throughout the rest of the evening. Brendan will yell from the couch, “Nice Futz, Honey!” cheering me on. I am just not relaxed completely when things are not in their proper place. I literally find it hard to sit down and zone out if the kitchen isn’t tidied up, if there is random shit lying around on the floor. Damn cats NEVER stay where I put them. When I cook, I put stuff away as I go, whereas Brendan thinks “bigger mess, better meal.” He does clean up when he’s done though, so no complaints there. He even cleans the stove top, which I LOATHE, so he gets bonus points for that 🙂 I rarely will go from one spot in the house to another without taking care of something along the path. Typically 2 or 3 things.  And it is mindless, I just do it. And it probably explains why I forget what I actually wanted to do in the first place once I reach my destination!  I don’t get angry about it (unless I am first angry about something else, then there is carryover. Not my fault.) I actually feel good after doing it. More settled, like I have a better chance of getting into heaven if I get this paperwork put away. Right or wrong, who knows. It just needs to get done.

Another example… Brendan’s thing is not shutting his dresser drawers all the way. I seriously think he closes them 90% of the way JUST so he can watch me close them the remaining 10% of the way.  Does it NEED to be shut all the way for the world to keep spinning on its axis?  No, but don’t you think you’ll feel better if it IS shut all the way?  I know I will feel better. Just shut the drawer.  MOVE, I’ll do it!

Until recently, I was convinced the kids simply don’t register the problem. It’s not even on their radar. Do the smaller human beings in my house just not SEE the stuff that needs futzed? What appears to me as small fires scattered around my house that need putting out, are simply part of the decor to them. When Architectural Digest visits my home one day, this is how it will play out–Why yes, Mrs. Arble, we love the Italian Renaissance Dirty Sock and Nutri-Grain bar wrapper style you have going on here.  And the classic Towel Strewn on the Floor rustic theme in the bathroom just accents it beautifully!  How ever did you come up with these ideas?

The boys are so singly focused. Eat, watch TV, Twitter, Instragram, homework, whatever. I’ve seen them make an ice cream shake and leave a dirty blender, melting ice cream, chocolate sauce, dirty spoon and milk on the counter, while they float off to la-la land enjoying their creation. They just focus on THEIR world, not all the white noise stuff that Mom takes care of. Because they know the magic futzing fairy will come by and clean up what’s left in their wake (see previous Mom enables kids post). Like a tsunami and I am the Red Cross. Although USUALLY with a quiet reminder, they will come back and clean up quickly. As a Mom, I guess I don’t need a reminder, it’s auto-pilot futzing.  See=Do.

UNTIL recently. There is hope, my friends. I saw Riley futz. I almost cried. It appeared to be an absent minded putting away of some water bottles and pushing in a chair on the way by. It was GLORIOUS! I ran downstairs and told Brendan
“Riley is futzing, Riley is futzing!”  Granted he is the cleanest of the 3 boys in general, but I feel like we really turned a corner here, people.

So maybe it just comes with age, an awareness of the people and things around you as you become less self absorbed. For example, I’ve found that kids are much more aware of your driving once THEY are drivers (damnit). Kids will imitate what they see their parents do more than what they say, for better or worse. So I will happily keep futzing away, moving, wiping, cleaning, shifting, doing my little futzing dance, knowing full well, the second I turn my back, it will all spring out of its happy little home and need to be futzed again. Because maybe one day I will have 3 little futzers of my very own.

Second Chances – Version 2

Remember when you took pictures using film? 24 exposures on a roll, that’s it sister!  What about WAY WAY long ago when you bought flashbulbs for your camera, you’d only have 4 on a strip, then you were done taking pictures. You had to wait to take the film to the store, get it developed, go back to pick up the prints in 4 days and pray to the picture Gods that you had something that resembled a good memory of your trip or special occasion. Today? You can take pictures of anything and everything, with your phone!!!! Hot damn! I have 84 pictures of our 2 cats.

From February.

12th.

You get an unlimited number of chances to get the picture right (which incidentally my husband and kids LOVE about digital cameras, Mom gets to take LOTS of shots…good times).  My boys’ teachers often will allow 2nd chances on quizzes, papers, in order to improve their grade.  Riley was a c-section baby, then Alex was a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian, for those who are gynocologically challenged), literally a 2nd chance at having a “normal” birth.  Pretty cool stuff.

Have you ever given someone a 2nd chance? I have. It’s hard work and emotionally taxing to hold a grudge, to hold onto anger. I’ve also NOT given someone a 2nd chance.  Although in retrospect, if I made an actual list, it probably was about the 16th chance when I finally said “done.”  How many chances do we give our kids?  Depends on the violation, right? I told you 3 times to empty the dishwasher, now you lose computer privileges for the night.  You came home 2 hours past curfew, grounded for a week.  Buuuuutttt, then we let them leave the house at some point, that qualifies as a 2nd chance.  I would venture to say that there are actually very few times in my life where I just walked away from someone or something because I felt wronged somehow.  It’s gotta be pretty serious for me to call it quits. Plus, it just feels better to let it go and move on.

Have you ever been given a 2nd chance? I’d bet a million dollars you have. I know I have.  And from lots of different people and events in my life.  Most are little 2nd chances, some are really, really huge.  Size of Texas huge.  I’ve hurt people, knowingly and unknowingly.  I’m not perfect by any stretch.  By definition, you won’t know a 2nd chance is in your future. You may have to ask for it.  Ask for forgiveness. Forgive yourself. In the midst of your personal disaster, whether you brought it on, or you were the unwitting victim, all you feel is the anger or pain. Not knowing that around the corner, one day, is sweet redemption and happiness.  Being given a 2nd chance is a blessing. And so is giving one.

This past weekend, I witnessed a 2nd chance. It was a 2nd chance for both parties.  A 2nd marriage for both.  It’s so easy to judge and speculate about a divorced person from a distance. They cheated, they gave up too easy, they should have stayed for the kids, etc. I personally am working on not judging someone until I’ve been in their shoes.  And not just similar shoes, their ACTUAL shoes.  And since that will never happen, I guess I should just stop judging altogether. Tough gig. I digress…so to see 2 people who went through their own separate 1st chance marriage “failures” come together so beautifully, gives me all the more reason to celebrate the grace of 2nd chances.  They are most certainly different people than when they first married, they learned and matured and have grown into true to life adults.  Perhaps learned what really matters to them and what really doesn’t.  Become more tolerant, become more honest. Isn’t that what 2nd chances are all about?  Looking inside and making a better choice.

“Sometimes you need a second chance because you weren’t quite ready for the first.” -Unknown

We can all learn from our mistakes, change, be better, be different, smarter, true to ourselves and truer to those who are in our lives.  The only constant in life is change, right?  Knowing I am capable of that positive change gives me all the more reason to believe in 2nd chances for everyone.  I know I need them and I know I need to give them.  We all deserve them.

I took 412 pictures of that wedding on Saturday.  85% of those were 2nd chance pictures 🙂

Home Improvement? We got this.

Home improvement for the married couple.  Always sounds like a good idea.  Watch a little Property Brothers, DIY Network, and your everyday numskull has delusions of grandeur.  I’m going to get the Palace of Versaille from my 3 piece 6′ x 7′ bathroom  They suck you in with drop dead gorgeous twin hosts and words like “cheap, easy, save time, and any idiot can do it.”  The problem is they have dozens of experienced, amazing, and constructionally expertic tradesmen working behind the scenes making it possible to redo a gourmet kitchen from the ground up in 36 hours.  And I’m pretty sure these guys don’t have other jobs, kids’ soccer practice, dinner to make, or homework to oversee that impedes the construction process. So what do we have in our house?  We have uh-mazing Brendan, who is a man of few words when it comes to home repair. Those words being “shit, fuck, damn it, and seriously?” And then there’s me, I look pretty and can paint. I’ve also recently deemed myself Caulking Extraordinaire.  Oh, we also have 3 boys who are relatively adequate at taking debris to the curb and fetching water for clean up.  So right from the get go, we are at a serious disadvantage to achieving success.

But yet we continue to undertake the seemingly impossible.  Over the last 17 years or so, we’ve done myriad of home projects, and we’ve done them all ourselves (including friends and family help), with the exception of a few downright dangerous tasks and jobs that require ladders; we are Happy F-ing Family Construction, Inc.  We’ve torn out and rebuilt a kitchen, 3 bathrooms, a deck, a tile floor, and millions of other little projects. With grit, some basic know-how and a shit-ton of youtube videos, there isn’t much that Brendan isn’t willing to tackle. He’s been in the scary attic several times, done some fairly disgusting plumbing, been doused with water, almost killed Alan with a flying hammer, slightly electrocuted, sliced, bruised, stained, pinched, and I think at one point, he had an unexpected colonoscopy. He truly is inspiring, he has the patience of a turtle. That is, until he doesn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame him. Construction is an art, you can’t manhandle plumbing pieces, or hammer an electrical socket; which are both things I feel like doing after a solid 90 seconds trying to get something to work.  He will work for hours, often doing and redoing the same task until it’s perfect.   There comes a point sometimes though, when he’s had enough.  Then I call for backup or buy a new one, for whatever issue that has pushed him over the edge into Mr. Hyde territory.

This weekend it was a sink faucet.  3 of them. 3. And each one is differently made with fun, new, peculiar parts and mechanisms. The print size on the directions is as tiny as some of the plastic pieces that are as critical to a working faucet as pot is to Cheech and Chong being funny. To save money, we wanted to use the old faucet that we purchased a few years ago.  It went in the new sink ok, but one handle was a little too wobbly. One piece needed replacing…trip 1 to Home Depot.  Put the sink on the new vanity…water lines too short…trip 2 to Home Depot. Then the other handle started wobbling…insert cursing…..trip 3 to Home Depot–to buy a new faucet. Installs new faucet, attaches water lines, one comes flying off, spraying water everywhere.  Turns out, one piece on the new faucet was already broken, not fixable.  Trip 4 to Home Depot to buy same faucet.  Sold out.  SHIT!  SERIOUSLY!?!?  Closest store that has one in stock?  Egypt.  At this point we are considering going back to the bowl of water from the pump out back days.  But we don’t have a water pump.  So instead of figuring out how to install one of those, we buy another new faucet.  Brendan declares he is not laying head to pillow tonight until that bathroom has running water, through a faucet (not the leaking kind of running water).

7:00 pm, almost 11 hours after starting work on the bathroom that morning, the faucet is in and working and very pretty.  He and I did lots of other finishing touches on the bathroom, and it takes another 1 1/2 hours to put up the mirror and medicine chest. Did I mention the new floor is 1/2 inch lower than the old floor and so now the toilet is kind of a weeble wobble experience, resting on a flange that sticks up way too high?  Hoping the plumber can fix that, along with the shower head that has a mystery coupling stuck on it. Sorry for throwing out all this technical jargon, I don’t mean to confuse you poor laymen. There were 2 other trips to Lowe’s involved for miscellaneous forgotten items.  The stack of receipts for this bathroom remodel rivals the height of the leaning tower of Pisa.  Which incidentally is probably more plumb than our bathroom walls.

What does doing a bathroom remodel with your spouse mean for your marriage?  He got the blue paint he wanted, but not the slate flooring he has tried to install during every remodel we’ve ever done. I got the bronze fixtures I wanted, but not as much glass tile in the tub that I would have liked.  I don’t work nearly as fast as he does, he drags me alongside him on the timeline, whereas I’d rather browse and meander.  In the end I appreciate his need to quickly finish every project he starts.  He HATES unchecked boxes. I don’t like them either, but I am definitely more apt to let time slip by in front of the TV or Words with Friends. Like anything in marriage…compromise.  It’s the name of the game.

So, things to consider before taking on a home remodel project with your significant other:

1.  Plan at least 50% of your timeline for trips to your local home improvement store. Possibly THE most annoying part of every project we do.  Our car can drive itself there.

2.  It’s true what they say, you budgeted $2500?  Plan on $3500. I’d say a solid $100 of that was spackle.  An important tool for the “do it yourselfer.”

3.  Have friends and family with skills.  Likewise, it’s important for YOU and your spouse to have skills you can offer in trade for their help.  After this project, Brendan has 7 computers to fix and I have 4 lap dances to perform.

4. Buy a brand new house instead and then move at the first sign of peeling paint.

The bathroom is 98% done and I have Brendan to thank for all the hard work he put in to it.  It looks fabulous and our marriage is still in tact.  I’m gonna call this one a win.