Another Thanksgiving In the Books

It’s past midnight so technically it’s no longer Thanksgiving but I thought I’d write a Thanksgiving post anyway.

I got up and ran 3.25 miles so I could justify having some pumpkin pie and all the carbs I was going to consume. When I got back, even before jumping in the shower, I started cooking. My mom and I split the cooking. She did a new recipe for cranberries which was really good. She also made the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, the turkey, and deviled eggs.

For as long as I can remember every holiday meal has included my mom’s deviled eggs. With the exception of Picasso, and maybe my nephew, we all love them. Some years we even fight over them. She’s learned from her mistakes though and makes quite a few of them so we don’t have to fight to the death for the last one.

The turkey was actually pretty good this year. I’ve often said it’s my least favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. I could easily have a Thanksgiving feast with only sides. Stuffing? Love it! Green bean casserole? Oh, give me a heaping pile of that. Pumpkin pie? Yes, please! I’ll even take the mashed potatoes and dumplings over the turkey usually. But this year it was good.

For my part I made the obligatory corn casserole, dumplings, stuffing, and a meatloaf. I think it’s now a tradition for me to make a meatloaf along with the turkey. This is the second year now that I’ve made a meatloaf. Last year I made one because my niece asked me to and buttered me up by telling me how much she loved my meatloaf. Of course, she also does not like turkey. This year my mom asked me to make one because she wasn’t sure that the FOURTEEN POUND turkey would feed the seven of us. The bonus was my niece was not expecting it so she was very excited when she found out there was meatloaf.

I am contractually bound to make corn casserole and dumplings every Thanksgiving. One year I didn’t make it and I thought my brother was going to grieve himself to death. “It’s just not Thanksgiving dinner without your corn casserole!” The funny part is I don’t even eat it. It’s something everyone else seems to like though.

My brother is a funny one. He is never the one to cook but he frequently likes to plan the menu. I keep trying to sell soup and salad for a holiday meal and he’s having none of it. This year he checked to make sure the corn casserole and green bean casserole were going to be on the table. I told him I was making the corn casserole and I thought Mom was going to make the green bean casserole. He told me if she wasn’t planning on doing so to let him know what all was in it and he’d do it himself.

What all is in it? How is the man in his 40s and ignorant of what all goes into green bean casserole? It’s not a complicated recipe. Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, dried french onions. Boom! There’s your recipe. Does it really need to be spelled out as to how to assemble it? I don’t think so.

I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to know he approved the menu and said that this would do nicely for Christmas Eve, just switch out the turkey with ham, and maybe I could also make my cheesy broccoli and rice casserole.

It was a fairly small gathering but that’s nothing new. Typically on Thanksgiving it’s only me, my mom, my two kids and then my brother and his family. My sister-in-law was working today so it was just the seven of us. Sweet J was invited but she’s been under the weather this past week so she didn’t attend. No, she doesn’t have Covid-19; she’s been tested twice now and both tests were negative. She’s just sick.

Picasso went home with my brother because they’re going out hunting again tomorrow. He’ll be gone all weekend unless they both get a deer the first day. 

I’m not clear on Rock Star’s timeline but I think she’s going back to school before Sunday. Tomorrow we are supposed to go shopping. She thinks she’s going to con me into buying her lots of clothes and shoes. She’s not. It’s way too close to Christmas for me to be taking her clothes shopping. So this ought to be an interesting shopping trip tomorrow (or rather, later today).

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Santa is coming!

This Shit’s Magical

It’s not a very nice title, is it? I should watch my mouth. Nonetheless, the fact remains: This shit is magical. What shit, you ask? Christmas music.

Oh, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving; however, I don’t care. 

I’ve been in a mood lately. Probably since Covid-19 hit, but we’ll say the last few weeks. Between a pandemic, the CDC telling me to have Thanksgiving with only the people in my household (that’s a whole other post itself), politics, my daughter, my daughter and politics, people on Facebook pissing me off about politics and the pandemic, trying to lose weight, and my job I’m mostly in a bad mood. It’s a lot to deal with. But today I took my iPod into work, put an earbud in and listened to Christmas music all day long. Like magic I was in a better mood. I didn’t think it was going to work. I really didn’t. But it did. By the end of the day I was ready to start working out hard again and celebrate the holidays regardless of who might be around and who might not be.

I’m going to download some more songs tonight so that I’m not listening to the same 60 songs for the next 6 weeks because I fully plan on listening to Christmas music again tomorrow. As my new Christmas t-shirt advises: In a world of Grinches, be a Griswold. I’m trying!

I’m Alive, Part 2

My lovely daughter has started therapy and seems to really like her therapist so far. It’s been one session but she didn’t hate her and said that things went really well. She doesn’t have another session until November 10th, I believe, but then she’ll meet weekly at least for the first month.

I’m trying to get a handle on how often she will be going because I have an HSA account. Currently I put a huge $20 in every paycheck. I have another $20 going into a former direct deposit account. I was going to just have them deposit my entire paycheck into my regular account but then I thought, “Hey! I could double my contribution and I would never miss it.” Then I realized, these therapy bills are going to have to get paid one way or another. It would probably be wiser to up my contribution and put that money into my HSA account, instead of paying for it out of my regular account. Money that goes into my HSA account isn’t taxed. If I raise my contribution to $150 or more per paycheck that’s $3900 going into my HSA, and it’s $3900 that I don’t have to pay taxes on. I don’t know that it would make a huge difference at tax time but every little bit helps. It’s a little scary because as I’ve often mentioned I don’t make much money at my job. So losing another $300 per month is going to mean that when I finally pay my car off I’ll still have about $250-$300 left from my paycheck after bills are paid. I will be completely at the mercy of spousal and child support. Eh, actually no more than I am now. I was just looking forward to having a little bit more money. That never seems to happen for me. There’s always something new coming up which diverts my money from my bank account.

Speaking of money, does it surprise anyone that I still don’t have the money that was taken by Mississippi on August 31st? I finally emailed Jerry Lee to see if he had received it. He says he has not. I contacted the caseworker. Much to my surprise she emailed me back that same day. She has now reached out to the caseworker down in Mississippi, so we’ll see what happens.

I had somewhat of a rough week a week or so ago. One of my co-workers is moving departments. This move is not a huge promotion or anything like that. She’s simply moving from being a rep in our department to being a rep in their department. But the move to this department comes with a $3/hour raise. 

That’s an actual raise. That’s over $100 a week more. Over $400 more per month. I am happy for her; however, it just highlights how very little we are valued in our department. I’ve been in that department for almost 3 years and I do not make $3 more per hour than what I did when i first started back there. I barely make $3 more an hour from when I started four years ago!

Most of us (I believe) tend to get fifty cent raises each year. It ends up being a little over $1000 for the entire year. When I moved from my former desk to the overdraft desk I got seventy cents more for that. I know. That’s very close to $3; I shouldn’t complain.

At the beginning of the year I was told by my former supervisor that she wanted to bump me up to a Rep II but because the person who is over our department head wouldn’t go for such a substantial raise that she was going to do that in May before she retired. Well, as you all know, Covid-19 hit, and supposedly all raises have been frozen. I have not been bumped up to Rep II. I have not been given another raise. And to be fair, while my initial yearly raise is usually a little more than 50 cents, we do tend to get another raise later on in the year. I got three one year. I got a whole 24 cents more as an incentive to stay, and then I moved over to the overdraft desk. So last year was actually quite nice. Still no $3/hour nice.

It also bugs me that I’m still only a Rep I. Most everyone in the department is made a Rep II within 2 years. A few of us have not. We should have been promoted this year but we haven’t been. Hell, after everything we went through after our first six months I think we should have been promoted at the one year mark.

We were a pod of four. After six months they moved the two most experienced people in our group into the brand new Fraud Department, leaving me and the other newbie to do the job on our own. What took 4 people to do was now being given to 2 people. We had to ask for help from everyone in order to get our reports done. And then, another 6 months later our reports changed and we went from mostly paper reports to a brand new system where everything was electronic.

Another thing that I didn’t share with everyone is that back in July I applied for the open supervisor position. Didn’t get it obviously, but I put myself out there. About a month later the Deposit Services manager schedules a meeting with me to catch up. I thought it had been scheduled because of the new boss who has come on board. She had met with all of us via computer chat and I had told her that being downtown was kind of lonely and isolating. I thought our boss was just trying to stay in touch.

Instead she told me how impressed she was with me as a candidate. She said that she and the HR lady that does the recruitment for our area were both amazed at all I have done and that I was like a hidden gem. She told me that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with the supervisor position because this was a chance to completely restructure our department. She asked me if I would be interested in perhaps being a project manager instead of a supervisor. She also assured me she was trying to get me more money.

This was back in July. I am not a project manager. I am not getting paid more. I have not been promoted to even Rep II. At this point I’m not even sure I’ll get my normal fifty cent raise come February or March. They finally hired a supervisor for that spot, but our other supervisor quit and now they’ve posted the job for that position.

Between the slow pace in which they operate and the fact that I know this co-worker of mine is getting $3 more an hour in her new department I’m really thinking I need to make a change. I’m not confident that I will ever get hired on in a different department so that means I’m going to have to start looking outside of the bank.

The problem of course is that I’m not qualified to do much of anything. I have a Bachelors Degree in communications which is almost 30 years old. I have a lot of volunteer experience but it’s mainly through PTA and most people that are hiring don’t really seem to think that’s anything to brag about. I have supervisory experience from twenty-five years ago but my previous work experiences don’t seem to matter either. That leaves me with my nearly four years at the bank. 

I was a teller and then I found and identified fraud among other things, and now I’m working at the overdraft desk. That doesn’t really translate into marketable skills. It’s a pretty narrow focus. Although, considering that the new person they brought on board has absolutely no banking experience whatsoever and she is now over our Deposit Services manager and has most of us in the department reporting to her maybe experience is highly overrated. Then again, perhaps when you get to a certain level it doesn’t matter. Apparently if you have no idea what you’re doing they’re willing to put you in charge of things, but they’re not willing to take you on as an entry level person.

They also really don’t seem to give a shit about attendance. I’ve missed zero days of work due to illness since I’ve been back in the workforce. I have missed for the occasional kid’s doctor’s appointment. I did go with my daughter when the Health Department notified her she had tested positive for Hepatitis C antibodies (she did not have Hepatitis C, nor did she have the antibodies; it was a false positive test) and I went with my son to ensure he got put on anti-anxiety meds this past summer when he was saying he had nothing to live for. I also left early once when my daughter ended up in the ER, and I took the next day off because I had been with her until almost midnight and it was a three hour drive back from her apartment to my house. I’ve also missed a couple of hours due to appointments of my own. I’d say all total I’ve used maybe three days of sick time. Doesn’t seem to matter though.

Anyway, all of that to say I was in a funk a few weeks ago knowing that my co-worker is making a hell of a lot more than me now. I’m sitting here realizing how very little we’re valued in that department, and knowing that nothing will ever change. So I will have to make a change, and I’m really tired of change after this year. It sucks.

I’m Alive, Part 1

How y’all doin’? Making it through 2020 month by month? Is that too much? Week by week?  Maybe day by day? The good news is it’s November so we only have two months left in this shit fest we call 2020. Sadly, 2021 isn’t projected to be much better.

I occasionally like to just throw random thoughts up here. Today is such a day.

For starters, I am *almost* at the 50 pound loss mark. I have lost 49.6 pounds. Hooray for me! This is where it gets tricky. Since the weight loss challenge ended on July 3rd I’ve lost around 12 more pounds. Twelve. In damn near four months. What is that? Three pounds a month?

I was actually on a high Saturday because I lost weight last week. I have a spreadsheet because I can be anal retentive about things like this. I started tracking my weight for the weight loss challenge so I knew where I was and which goals I was meeting. I went on to add another tab for the next 3 months (which ended September 26th, I believe) and then another one for fourteen weeks which took me to January 1st. At the time I made the spreadsheet I thought I’d be at my goal weight at the end of the year, or at least damn near it. I have now added on a fourth tab which runs for another 2 months and ends at the one year mark of me eating low carb.

Those numbers are not going down much anymore. And with my weekends with the mobster I end up gaining 2 or 3 pounds and it takes another 2 weeks to take it off and by the time I’ve finally lost another .5 pounds we’re meeting up again.

I did do very well the last time we were together. I realized i just can’t go hog wild every weekend we’re together. So, I saved my carbs for things I really wanted. I may have had a stupid chicken Caesar salad from Wendy’s that Friday night but I thoroughly enjoyed my white chocolate mocha from Starbucks the next day. I also indulged in a few bites of the mobster’s cinnamon roll (not Starbucks; it was so much better!), had a piece of banana bread, and gave myself permission to have some fried mushrooms and French fries. I did order my burger without a bun though.

I was having a real tough time last week, wanting to grab a custard cone at Culver’s, maybe even a cheeseburger or fries. 

I have to tell everyone Culver’s is probably the best fast food out there. It’s made to order so it’s always fresh. Their custard is amazing. I was all set to have some this past weekend and when I got on the scale I was down 2.2 pounds. That’s the biggest weight loss I’ve had in a while. So I’m keeping on the low carb path.

Don’t worry. I treat myself plenty judging by the dismal 3 pound per month weight loss (and the list of things I ate the last time I was with the mobster). I even had chips and salsa last Saturday. And again last night.

The mobster likes to keep saying “we” have slacked off in the last few months. I keep repeating to him that *I* have not slacked off. I am still eating low carb. I don’t make the stop at Culver’s. I don’t have the custard. I don’t run down to Nothing Bundt Cakes and get one of their fabulous bundt cakes. I don’t stop at Starbucks and treat myself to a coffee drink. I save my carbs for when I’m with him for the most part. 

I’m also still running. Speaking of which, I am now losing toenails. It’s gross. So far I’ve only lost two and the second one isn’t actually off my toe. When I went to get a pedicure a month ago the person doing my pedicure told me what I thought was the nail coming off was actually the new nail pushing the old nail away. I’m not sure how that’s working because my old nail is still intact. Anyway it’s getting worse and I’m not eager to lose my big toenail. I feel like that will be painful.

Did you know Aunt Millie’s has recently come out with some low carb bread options? I bought the 5 seed low carb bread and it is very good. It does have 1 gram of net carbs per slice, unlike Aldi’s and Costco brands which are both zero carbs. But, if you’re at the grocery store and out of low carb bread there’s another option for you instead of having to run to one of those stores. My wish is that Aunt Millie’s would make low carb bagels as well. I would definitely eat those.

Did you also know that moisturizer expires? I had no idea. I certainly thought it was possible but truthfully I didn’t think about it much. Until I went to use some night moisturizer this past week. I didn’t see an expiration date on it so I asked the mobster if he had any idea if it expired and when he didn’t I decided to consult the mighty Google.

Whoever invented that deserves every penny he or she made. It is amazing the amount of information at your fingertips.

So… it does expire. Usually it won’t hurt you if you continue to use it. The ingredients that are supposed to do wonderful things for your skin might not work as well, so if you think you’re using an acne product or an anti-aging product you’re probably not because the ingredients are no longer active. However, they did say when it comes to moisturizers in a jar you should throw them out after 6 months. Because your finger goes into that jar on a regular basis it is easy for bacteria to grow in it. My mother will be so happy to learn that I’ve tossed 2 jars of moisturizing cream!

Election Day

I hate this new WordPress. I thought I hit “publish” last night. Obviously I didn’t. It’s a two step process now and I’m always forgetting the second part. Here is the post I thought I posted yesterday. Doesn’t really mean as much because now it’s the day after, but I don’t want to throw it out and I’m not going to sit on this post for another four years.

It’s Election Day here in the States. Well, perhaps I should say it *was* Election Day; all the polls are closed and the results should be coming in.

Election Day always makes me think of my Mamaw. As long as I can remember she worked the polls every election day. All day long. I don’t know how involved she was with politics but I do know the former governor knew her by name. Not sure how that happened but it did.

For years I believed I would do the same and work the polls on Election Day. But first I was working. Then I had kids. It’s hard to work a polling site when you have two little kids and a husband who would never in a million years take a day off of work to watch them while I volunteered my time. As the kids got older they were busy with sports and again, their dad was not a big help when it came to running them around. Now would be a perfect time to volunteer what with Rock Star in college and Picasso is finishing up his senior year in quarantine. But alas, I have a job now.

Perhaps next time around I’ll take a vacation day and use it to volunteer at the polls. Actually, maybe I’ll plan on taking 2 days- one on election day and the one the following day! It would be a lovely way to honor her memory.

In the meantime I’m going to leave this note to myself here so that in the coming years I can read this and heed my words of wisdom.

Dear Sam,

Whatever you do do not go vote in the morning. I know it sounds like a good idea but it’s not. I don’t know if it’s because everyone who works 8-5 is up early and trying to vote before work, or if all the 3rd shift workers are already standing in line, or if it’s simply all the early birds who have already been up since 5 am and have nothing better to do, but it is a madhouse out there! The lines are insane.

Go at lunch instead. Remember how you went to a completely different high school on the west side and there was no line. You walked right in, showed your ID, and were directed to the gym. All total it took you about 10 minutes from the time you parked until the time you walked out the doors. They even had water and snacks! It was a much better experience for you than the lines that were clear out of the building and snaking back to and around the tennis courts.

Or, judging by what you saw as you passed several schools on your way home, vote *after* work. No lines at either of the schools that had long, long lines in the morning.

Remember this in four years: No morning voting! Afternoon or early evening voting only! Although if I do volunteer at the polls next election year it won’t matter…

Those Magic Changes

Rock Star returns to college on Sunday. It was going to be Monday but she misses her friends and at least one of her roommates is moving in on Saturday. I feel like I’ve barely seen her this summer. Between 12 hour shifts at the hospital and every weekend spent with her new boyfriend we haven’t spent much time together.

I told her yesterday she was leaving me; she didn’t want to be with me anymore. Don’t worry. I’m only joking with her. But she told me, “I’m growing up. I’m spreading my wings.”

Yeah, she’s growing up all right. Until she needs cat litter, gas money, groceries, rent, cat food, books… Then she’s a wee wisp of a girl.

We’re supposed to go shopping Friday night after I get home from work. Saturday is Community Day for Pokemon Go but at some point we’re going to go get pedicures and do some more fun stuff. Sunday I’m going to load up my own car to help move the rest of her stuff down to her new house and then I’m taking her to dinner at her favorite Mexican restaurant down there.

She is growing up. Last year she didn’t come home for Spring Break. Hell, when the campus shut down she didn’t come home. She and her roommate remained down there until finals were over. She’s supposed to be coming home more frequently to work but I’m going to wait until I see that happen. I won’t be surprised when the day comes that she tells me she got a job down in Muncie and won’t be coming home over the summer.

I told her last night she was very lucky she had me as a mom because there was no way on earth my mother would have ever agreed to let me go back to school even a day early! School starts on Monday? You can move down on Saturday. Spring Break not spent at home? Oh hell no! That will not do.

It won’t be long until she’s gone for good. I know she has no desire to live in Indiana after school is done.  She’s talking about living in Michigan now but where she thinks she wants to move is still a good two hours away. I doubt I’ll see her much.

I’m not being ridiculous. I’m being practical. I still work Monday-Friday, 8-5. That leaves the weekends. If she’s working a 12 hour weekend shift I won’t get to see her. Chances are when she’s not working she will be spending time with her friends and/or boyfriend. I’ll see her at Thanksgiving and Christmas, if I’m lucky.

This was the child that I swore was never going to sleep in her own bed. She finally made it into her own room on a consistent basis around age 10 or so. I remember she insisted she wanted her room down in the basement. I swore up and down she was going to spend one night there and then move right back up. She proved me wrong, though. That’s where she remained until we moved to Virginia.

This was the child that showered with me until she was four or five. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t take a shower by herself. Oh no. She did that. She just didn’t want me out of her sight.

She refused to spend the night at anyone’s house until around the time she was in second grade. She wanted to. She actually went with the intentions of spending the night. But then she would talk to me and decide she missed me and start crying and beg to come home.

I remember telling people I didn’t think she would ever go out with friends. She’d be one of those kids that insisted I come along to the movies with her and her friends.

I took her and her friends to a wedding one time about six or seven years ago. They were discussing another girl who attended the same gym. I said, “Wow- I wonder what you say about me when I’m not around.” Her friend looked at me and immediately replied, “Oh my God! She tells us all the time how much she loves you. That’s all she says. ‘I love my mom so much!’” Ah, those were the days.

I know she still loves me. I just never see her anymore. And I will see her even less in the next few years.

It took her twenty years but she’s finally grown up and no longer needs her momma. This is one sucky change!

Yankee Doodle Dandy

I came home the other day and while helping out in the kitchen announced to my mom, “I finally found out what Yankee Doodle meant when he stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni!”

She looked at me and replied, “With all that’s been going on, that’s what’s been bothering you?”

Well, not bothering me. But it doesn’t make sense and I just saw a meme about it not that long ago.

Yankee Doodle (sticking a feather in his cap): This is called macaroni.

Yankee’s friend: Yankee, we’re worried about you.

You all know I love words. Tickety-boo, the bissextus. One day I found out that the word “fard” means to apply make-up. I laughed hysterically and announced, “Now every time Rock Star is putting on her make-up I can ask her if she’s farding and she has to say yes!”

So as you can imagine this story piqued my interest. Macaroni does not mean pasta in this instance. It was a term used at the time to refer to a particular men’s fashion from England. It was “fancy”, for lack of better term, although it eventually grew to mean “flashy, over-the-top, and androgynous.” Some say it actually came to mean gay. But originally it was another word for fancy, or fashionable. When he stuck that feather in his cap he was really saying, ‘This feather adds flair and hence, is fashionable. This is macaroni.”

Did you know that the entire song is basically an insult to us Americans? Some of you may already know this but I had had no clue; I found it all fascinating. As I continued to click on links to articles I found that the origins of the song came from those in England looking down on the colonists as “yankee doodles.” They thought we were just backwards hicks. Naturally we were so unsophisticated that when we rode our horse (or pony) into England we would stick a simple feather in our hat and think that was the height of fashion. The whole song is a mockery that backfired terribly.

We were like, “Hey! That’s an awesome song! Love the beat.” We sing it in school. We sing it at parades. We play it at baseball games. Kids learn to play it on the piano, the recorder, the flute. Hell, it’s one of our most popular songs. It’s right up there with baseball, bald eagles, and apple pie. Their insult did not hit their intended mark. We made it our own.

That was not the only vocabulary word I found. I came across a whole list of words used back in colonial days. I’m going to share a few more of them with you.

The next time I’m hungry I’m going to use this one. I’m gut-foundered. It means very hungry. I can see it replacing, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” or “I’m starving.”

I think we could all agree that Jerry Lee’s behavior has been chuffy in the past. If he didn’t know what begrudge meant he’s really going to be stumped with this one. It means surly or impolite. In other words, a jerk.

Another fantastic one is twistical. It means unfair or immoral. I feel like it should mean dishonest or a slippery slope. Then again, I think if I said that Jerry Lee was twistical we could all agree, whether that meant dishonest or immoral.

Finally, I have for you circumbendibus. I love this word! It’s fun to say. It means unnecessarily roundabout. Such as the way I got to Harrisonburg this last time. That was a circumbendibus route. It can also refer to a long, rambling story.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope it was as informative and fun for you as it was for me.

Look At the Trees, Sam! Look At the Trees!

I have a confession to make. Last Monday was the first day in a very long time that my alarm went off and I just shut it down and reset it for another hour. Did not feel like getting out of bed and running at the crack of dawn. So I didn’t. That’s how I roll.

Anyone still watch The Walking Dead? I was never a big fan. I found it too violent. I like to laugh, not cringe. Jerry Lee was a big fan so I did happen to see a couple episodes.

The one that stuck with me through the years was the one called The Grove. If you’ve never watched TWD, or don’t remember this particular episode by it’s name alone let me give you a little synopsis.

Carol and Tyreese are in charge of 2 young sisters, Lizzie and Mika, and baby Judith, who is Rick Grimes’ daughter. One day they are out hunting and when they come back Mika is dead. Turns out her sister is a psychopath, or sociopath, not sure which. Lizzie lists feeding walkers and playing tag with them as her hobbies. She’s so distraught over the idea of the walkers being killed that she has decided to prove to Carol and Tyreese that they are “good” by virtue of killing her younger sister and letting her “come back”. Just to prove that she’s a little psychopath she admits she was about to kill baby Judith. And pulls a gun on the adults so they don’t try to prevent Mika from becoming a walker. This kid is so bonkers she thinks Carol is upset with her because she pulled a gun on her. Uh, no; you killed your little sister. That’s the real issue.

Anyway, Carol takes Lizzie out to a field and shoots her in the head. So she doesn’t become a zombie, of course. As Lizzie is crying and asking her not to be mad at her; she didn’t mean to pull a gun on her, Carol keeps telling her, “Just look at the flowers, Lizzie. Just look at the flowers. Just look at the flowers.”

I know you must be thinking, “What on earth does this have to do with anything?” I will tell you.

Back in the beginning of the year when he was totally gung-ho about exercising and I was not, I avoided hills like the plague. I mean, obviously if there was one in front of me I would run it but I would actively go out of my way to make sure I didn’t find one. I was telling him about running this hill and how horrible it was so he told me he had read that when you’re running up hills you should focus on an object in front of you instead of focusing on the hill.

The mobster is the smartest man I know. Far smarter than that guy I knew who claimed his IQ was so high he could qualify for Mensa. So when he told me that I figured I would give it a shot. Now whenever I have hill to run I always try to focus on a tree up ahead. Sometimes I have to switch focus to a different tree because I get too close to the first one I’m focusing on. But I focus on the trees. Because of that damn episode every time I’m running up a hill and I’m focusing on the trees I can hear a voice saying, “Just look at the trees, Sam. Just look at the trees!”

Oy! And vey. The things I think about while I’m running. This is why I never should have started running with no music. No time for whackadoodle thoughts like this when you’re running along to Dierks Bentley singing about being drunk on a plane, or Little Big Town singing about the beer, the wine, the whiskey.

Good news is I don’t think I’m at a high risk for suffering a bullet wound while I run. I could get ran over by a car though. The streets are narrow. But I’ll take my chances as I look at the trees. And watch for cars- even the sneaky ones that might come up behind me.

There’s That Word Again- Change

A few weeks ago I was teasing my daughter, telling her that now that she had a new boyfriend she was going to leave me and move in with him and I would never see her again. She told me not to be ridiculous and that she intended to live with me for at least two years after college graduation. Then the other night we were out to dinner and she announces that she’s going to be looking for jobs at hospitals further south in our state. Apparently they pay more.

I know it’s not unexpected. Children grow up and they leave the nest. It’s what we’re meant to do as parents. It’s a sign of successfully raising our children, not a sign of failure.

Meanwhile, Picasso has long spoken of his desire to get an apartment and be on his own shortly after high school. Who knows how that will play out? Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. I’m not rushing it by any means.

Nonetheless it resulted in me thinking about this whole parenthood thing and how it changes.

They start out as these little babies who are completely dependent upon you, and then grow into toddlers who must be watched constantly so that they’re not painting your walls or climbing on top of refrigerators, or cutting their brother’s hair. Or was that just my experience with toddlers? You get to that point where you think you’re never going to eat a meal without interruption again. You may never go to the bathroom again without an audience. I swore for the first three years or so of my daughter’s life that I was never going to take a shower by myself again. I was really really looking forward to having one in kindergarten and the other in preschool so that I could have two hours to myself again.

Then school begins. If you’re like me you get weepy eyed and start projecting into the future where your five year old is now going off to college instead of into kindergarten at the school two miles away. But you adjust. You begin to volunteer at the school and you run your kid around to various extracurricular activities. Even in kindergarten Miss Rock Star was a busy one. She had Bible Club, gymnastics, dance. Eventually Picasso was signed up for gymnastics as well, although he didn’t stick with it.

You’re busy with classroom parties, book fairs, talent shows, volunteering at Career Day, and helping them make Valentine’s Day boxes. You’re helping them get together an outfit for the Wax Museum, overseeing them at the 6th grade Valentine’s Day dance, and picking up cards, and Christmas gifts, and school supplies and all those little items you don’t even think about until your child is in school.

Before you know it you’re escorting your baby into the middle school so they can figure out their locker combinations and tour this new school. You think the world is ending and your poor baby is in peril from all these “big” kids.

The real shock comes when they enter high school. You listen at orientation as the seniors assure both them and you that they’ll love it here; it will become their new home and that those four years will fly by.

They’re not lying. Those high school years really do fly by. Next thing you know you’re attending their graduation, planning their graduation party, and shopping for items for their dorm room. Then you drive them down to that big school, help them unload their things, maybe shop for a few groceries with them. Finally you drive away, holding back your tears, knowing they’re entering a brand new phase in their life, and that things will never be the same again. 

All this time you’ve been running kids around. You’ve invested your time, your money, your life into these little humans who are not so little anymore.

There were so many things I didn’t do because I had kids. So many things I would have liked to have tried or participated in, but I didn’t because I put my kids first and I was always busy with them and their activities. 

I don’t want it to seem like I did nothing because I did have a pretty full life. As the kids got older I volunteered. I had friends. I played Bunko. I met people for lunch and breakfast. There were definitely things I couldn’t do though because I had to think of my kids. Jerry Lee was not much help and would whine and pout whenever he was left with the kids by himself, so I never had a girl’s weekend with my friends. I didn’t go out in the evening much, especially when the kids were little. The only reason I was able to throw myself a birthday party years ago was because my brother was willing to come up and watch all of the kids. It got easier as they got older, but there were still things I wouldn’t do because they needed me and they came first. This entire life after divorce has been about them and their needs.

Now, in another 2-3 years I won’t have any kids at home more than likely. Rock Star will probably have an amazing job offer before she’s even graduated. May of 2022 will be here before I know it. I’ll attend her pinning ceremony and she’ll probably move directly from her little house she’s renting with her friends, into an apartment of her own. If her plans pan out she’s going to be a good 2 1/2-3 hours away. I will rarely get to see her. I know it’s not a huge distance considering I moved 23 hours away from my own mom, but she’s a busy girl. I don’t see her coming home frequently. She already doesn’t come home frequently. 

Oh, I know. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s yet another change. I’ll go from being a mom first to being a person first. No more will I have to consider my kids before making plans. I’ve long said that by the time I’m finally able to buy a house my kids won’t be living with me any longer. That makes me sad.

You put so much time and effort into being a parent. So much money. I think back on all the things I did without so that my kids could have what they wanted and needed. I think about all the times my days or weekends were filled with their activities. Even looking back on our summers, which I fully enjoyed, I realize they were all centered around entertaining them. Long days at the amusement park, the water parks, hikes, the rollerskating rink, the museums. And then one day it’s over. Your job is done. They leave the nest and you’re all alone, trying to figure out the next step.

I’m not as traumatized as this is making it seem. I know you never stop being a parent. I know that in many cases they return home or they still need you for advice and support. I am exhibit A, after all. Nevertheless, it’s a huge change. One that I’m trying to wrap my mind around. Once both of my kids are out of the house and on their own a large part of my identity is going to leave with them. The only constant seems to be change.

My Son

I know I always tend to write about Rock Star. Mainly because she’s the one who has a lot going on. Picasso sticks to his room, playing online video games with friends far and wide and organizing Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.

This pandemic has not been easy on him. As much as he hates school he said it’s so much easier when he’s in a physical building and knows he has to do the work. We did make it though. I sat with him night after night after realizing just how far behind he was and he passed the semester with nary a D or F in sight. I’ll take it!

Within the last 6 months or so he’s expressed an interest in getting his driver’s license and getting a job. Him driving scares the shit out of me. Oh, I’m fine with the idea of him finally getting his license and him driving off on his own; I just don’t want to be in the car with him. That scares me. I think it’s because he was so terrified of driving for such a long time. Rock Star was easy. She was confident and she was itching to drive even before she was legally able. Picasso was in absolutely no rush. He only got his learner’s permit when his cousin tried to get his.

Recently he applied for a job. One of his good friends and her mom both work at this place. It’s a grocery store. No need to be super secretive. Anyway, her mom pulled his application and made sure he got called for an interview. The interview was on Saturday. He got the job offer today and has orientation tomorrow.  I’m so excited for him.

I know he really struggles with his social anxiety. It manifests itself in a much different way than Rock Star’s does. But he went to that interview and did a great job and now he’s a working man! I hope this job gives him some new friends and a newfound confidence. The mobster was a grocery man before he left it behind. He has told him store managers can make some really great money.

Picasso also went to a graduation party and out with some friends these last two weekends. Both were major scores, simply in getting him out of his room.

He’s a very interesting boy. He keeps to himself and plays online with friends most of the time but if you get him out of his room and talking he won’t shut up. He’ll talk for an hour straight once he finally gets going. I have learned so many interesting things about him lately. For example, he thinks he would like to live in Alaska. He wants to go fishing again. He would like to go tent camping. He’s really looking forward to our weekend away with the mobster (we’re renting a cabin). He thought fencing seemed like an interesting thing to do although he didn’t want to sign up for a class. He thinks he will appreciate road trips more now as an older teen than he did when he was much younger. Because of that we plan on taking a trip after he graduates to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Maybe a few other states. We’ll have to see. He really wants to go to Maine though.

He remains the same sweet boy as always. He’ll give me hugs without me asking. Tells me he loves me. Just the other day when we were talking about our weekend getaway I mentioned checking into horseback riding. He started talking about the summer he and his sister took riding lessons and how much he had enjoyed that. He told me I had provided some really great experiences for him growing up. I sighed and replied, “I used to be a good mom.” He was quick to tell me I was still a good mom; I just didn’t have the same mom budget through no fault of my own. He went on to say that he thought they probably took it all for granted back then because it was so plentiful.

This sweet, gentle, not so giant boy turns 18 in a few weeks. It’s hard to believe that both of my kids will be legal adults. I’ve got one more year of him being in school. Who knows what he will accomplish after graduation? I’m looking forward to hanging around for the ride.