Monday, October 28, 2013

Adult Child of...

...a Narcissist? Alcoholic? Divorced Parents?  These are 'things' now??

I suppose if I check, I could probably add Philanderer/Philander-ee and Nowork-aholic to the list, too.

(A brief history...and why these labels don't define me.)

Me...trying to escape? 

So, if we're counting, I guess I'm still adding stuff to the list of reasons I should be totally screwed up and in therapy for as a grown-up, but so far I'm doing great at either being a modern psychological miracle of achieving adulthood without packing around a bunch of baggage from my childhood to screw with my everyday life and my marriage.  Or I'm in complete denial and waiting to go completely off my rocker any day now. 

Or how about this?  I'm more of a "If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it" kind of person.  And faith.  Lots of faith.

No one in my family (including the narcissistic, alcoholic, philandering, divorced parent who is my dad but I won't name, even though the chance of him reading this is ZERO), can believe that Shane and I have such a normal, happy life together.  We don't fight.  We don't have any weird issues with self-esteem or trust or abandonment.  Neither of us is demanding or passive-aggressive or thoughtless of each other.  We are each other's best friend and biggest support system.  We talk about everything, all the time.  We go on dates and hold hands and kiss and embarrass our kids sometimes.  We are still crazy attracted to each other (I'll spare you the details), yes, after 26 years.  We make each other laugh.  We were each other's first and only loves, and truly, it only gets better if you stay friends and never take each for grantedWe have wonderful children who are not *difficult*, whose company we enjoy, and who (we hope) enjoy our company, and who are growing up into beautiful, well-adjusted people who we are proud of and amazed by, all the time.

Every day that goes by, we know our marriage and our little family makes up a statistic that is growing smaller, and smaller and smaller and smaller.  Which is sad.  Or maybe it's just true what they say...that what God allows you to go through in your life, He also gives you the strength to get through.  If that's true, I'm the biggest wuss that ever lived, because so far I haven't had to "go through" much. 


Except being a poor hippie kid with a usually-hung-over dad who was always kicking and breaking things and throwing things and cursing (though he never physically harmed any of us--yay, score).  Also having him turn out to be a total philandering, unemployed, emotionally (and physically) unavailable parent and husband was an interesting revelation.  But I didn't realize it until I was older--As a kid, he was totally a superhero to me (when he wasn't throwing stuff and cursing).  So I can say that I basically had a happy childhood, which I just didn't know was screwed up, at the time.  Good job shielding us from all the crap, Mom...

(Does it *not* count, if you don't know your childhood sucked until after the fact?  Maybe.  At the time, I thought it was great.)

I always think she should have bailed WAY sooner with me and my brother.  But then I wouldn't have met Shane.  Which is like saying "Sorry you went through all that and it sucked, but it turned out great for ME...If that makes it any better." (Selfish? Probably...Sorry).

Other than that, I guess I had the same issues growing up as many kids in the 70s, except we also had basically no family income that I can recall.  Or maybe most of us hippie-types had no income.  Like, ever.  ("too...'Establishment', man.  We just gotta, y'know, live..."). Except for that time Mom worked as a waitress for a season. Oh, and I think my dad worked in a pawn shop for 6 months, but that still leaves kind of a lot of whole years of no work.  Did we actually live on Love? I doubt it.  We did a lot of gardening, out of necessity, and venison was our main source of meat (not a delicacy and certainly not an 'in season only' kind of thing), and we bartered for a lot of other stuff, so I guess it worked out.

I was always aware of being that dorky hippie kid with hand-me-down clothes and bony elbows and stringy hair, whole-wheat bread sandwiches in my sack lunch (ew), and no Kool-Aid. Ever.  Who knows? I was probably also that kid who everyone thought caused the lice outbreak at school in 2nd grade. (sorry, Mrs. Koble!) She made up for it by whacking me on the back of the calves with her stupid folding yardstick whenever she felt like it, though, so we're even.
On the list of my other not-the-usual-childhood-things, our house, which we built from scratch in the middle of nowhere (with no power, running water, or phone at various times spanning 1977-1986), burned down when I was 16.  I met Shane the next summer at 17,  and my parents separated the following spring just before my 18th birthday, leaving me (thankfully) to depend on his parents for support and advice, as mine literally split up and went their separate ways (and both moved out of town).  They both made it back for my graduation, and divorced shortly afterwards. 

I went into what I suppose was a rough patch after that.  At the time my mom helpfully suggested that I get counselling (I was like yeah, that is SO NOT HAPPENING. I'M FINE!).  I refused on principle--because 18-year-olds know everything, and also because I couldn't afford a phone line, let alone a therapist.  So-- I was miserable and sad and angry all.the.time.  Shane and I fought a lot over stupid stuff, which mostly revolved around me just being a total hag.  We would have conversations like this:

Him:  Hey, let's go hang out at my parents house and have a big home-cooked dinner with all my brothers this Sunday, and then we can watch football and nap on Mom's big comfy couch by the fire.

Me:  I don't WANT to go there.  I HATE going there.  I don't want to go ANYwhere.  I'd rather sit here on this beanbag chair and eat Top Ramen.  No, wait.  YOU can't go either, because I don't want to spend Sunday by MYSELF either.  I hate everything.

We had a lot of those conversations.

I guess my low point was a night when I was getting ready to drive home from his house, and I found myself wondering, what if I just...drove my car off a steep part of the road where there was no guard-rail?  Looking back, I can say that was a TOTALLY stupid idea.  With my luck, I would probably have just driven down the bank and been maimed enough to be miserable for the rest of my life, but not enough to need an actual funeral, with people standing around being sad and everything.  (Ok, I know that's not funny, but my point is, it was a really dumb idea, and I knew it was, even as I thought it.  But I did think it.)

We broke up for a couple of months when I was 20, when Shane realized he couldn't be a parent figure to me while I sorted out my problems (which I didn't admit existed), AND try to be my boyfriend, though we stayed friends and talked a lot.  And fought.  And talked some more.  And got through everything somehow and back to being great friends, then got engaged.  We grew up, through it and past it.  

My mom spent about the next 10 years after the divorce in one kind of therapy or another, sometimes with an actual therapist, sometimes working with other women going through the same crap, and sometimes just by talking nonstop about the events of the past 21 years to everyone who would listen, including her kids, so,, whatever works. 

Shane and I got married just before I turned 21.  My parents had been separated for about three years by then, and my dad had moved on and moved in with his then-current girlfriend.  (Actually, he had overlapped them a bit...which did NOT endear her to our family, but I ended up realizing that she was really a sweet lady, albeit unwise with men, who I came to like immensely, and kept in touch with her for awhile after they broke up.) By the time of our wedding, my mom had gotten past the part where she considered buying a gun and just shooting him to put him out of her misery, but not to the point where she was happy that he was still using up good oxygen.  The wedding rehearsal dinner was an epic attempt to keep everyone smiling and keep my mom from not lunging across the table with a butter knife. We solved that by putting them on the same side of the table (like maybe she'll forget that he's down there), with us and some bridal party members between them, but still, the wedding photos are a bit...tense.

I don't look back on my life and blame anyone for anything.  I don't feel like I'm packing around a bunch of repressed weirdness.  I don't hate my dad, though I suppose I could, or I should.  He's been enough of a lackluster parent to deserve it, but it seems like a waste of my time.  (Writing THIS much about him seems like a waste of my time, actually...I have a wheelbarrow-full of tomatoes to can today, and yet, here I sit).  I've given up on keeping in touch with him, and it seems like a waste of time to bother being annoyed any more, that he forgot my birthday, my kids' names, or a Christmas card (again. WhatEVER).  It's just who he is...Just some really intelligent, oddly self-centered guy who I happen to be related to, who has missed out on some of the FREAKING COOLEST KIDS EVER.   

(ok, deep, cleansing breath...)

Well, on a positive note--I think, if every single thing that happened to me along the way, made me who I am, then I guess I needed all that crap to happen, in exactly the order that it happened, for everything to turn out the way it did.

I also always think, today, I will write something just light-hearted and funny.  And SHORT.  But then--No. 

Maybe next time, though...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bite Off More Than You Can Chew, Much?--A Shout Out to Multitasking Moms and Women

Last night I couldn't sleep, or rather I fell asleep but then woke back up, which is a fairly regular pattern for me.  Being awake at 1 a.m. (again), I grabbed a shot of Fireball Whiskey in an espresso cup to sip on and a notebook to jot down some seasonal to-do lists, which is my own personal way of avoiding taking Tylenol PM.  (Don't judge)

I like to flip through my old notebooks and see what my to-do lists from prior years looked like, to see how ambitious I was, and to see what (if any) of the stuff got done.  This particular notebook has garden notes and lists back to 2003, but to my surprise, I found a page sandwiched between two garden spring to-do lists, where I had scribbled an attempt to organize my schedule for the first 3 weeks of May 2012.  As I skimmed it, I realized again how crazy my schedule had become and how it is definitely possible for us, as moms/businesswomen/wives, to bite off more than we can chew, BUT STILL PULL IT OFF WITHOUT (VISIBLY) BREAKING A SWEAT.
 Here's what it had actually written on it.  Bear in mind that this does NOT include the regular daily stuff like driving both kids to school and back 4-1/2 days a week, taking them to extracurricular stuff, all the regular cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc. at home, running the admin and secretarial side of my husband's business, and answering the phone and doing all the bookkeeping for both his business and my busy wedding cake bakery.  This was just a list of OTHER stuff I had signed up for in May 2012.
For context:  I had volunteered to host AND fully cater our highschool's prom and dinner at our house originally on Friday, May 18 (which, mercifully, was rescheduled, as you will see later).  Our property was a mess, since I was never home to do any yard work while running a bakery, and I had 3 events--2 wedding cakes and a giant sweet 16 birthday--to deliver and set up on Saturday the 19th.  Oh, and I was working on a cake for a wedding photo shoot on the 10th and coaching our jr. high girls team for an Iron Chef competition the 11th. 
Here's where I built a timeline to make sense of it all:
May 2: Nails.  Pay all bills due, online or by phone.  Sketch for photo shoot and 19th events, figure out how to make glow-in-the-dark icing for sweet 16 birthday party? tonic water?
Thur May 3: Yard work! (after nails? Hmm). 
Fri May 4:  Yard.  Ingredients shopping.  Iron chef practice, our house,  all jr. high girls at 4:30.
Sat May 5: Mail mom a Mother's day gift! Yard work, lay pavers, setup gazebo, clean BBQ.
Mon May 7:  Get ingredients, bake for 19th!
Tue May 8:  Yard work.  Call wedding planner re photo shoot cake.
Wed May 9:  Decorate photo shoot cake, pipe lacework.  Get Iron Chef competition ingredients.
Thur May 10:  Deliver photo shoot cake.  Bake for Sat tasting.
Fri May 11:  Iron Chef competition 4-9 pm.
May 12:  Wedding cake tasting 1 pm.  Yard work, defrost chicken and bake, freeze (for next weekend Prom for 40 kids, chicken dish)
May 13:  Mother's Day.
May 14:  Finish all baking for Sat events.  Bake for tasting tomorrow.  Get Friday prom dinner/appetizer/dessert ingredients.  Bake 3 kinds of cookies and Russian black bread for Friday prom, freeze. 
May 15:  Wedding cake tasting 12:30 pm.  Make all fillings for Sat 3 event cakes.  Make cake bases, wrap boards, get boxes, assemble cupcake boxes for 400 cupcakes.  Pick up dishes and catering supplies from school for prom.

Sure.  I can totally do this...

Wed May 16:  Crumb coat and fill cakes for Saturday.  Arrange for ASB team from school to have access to our house tomorrow so they can remove all furniture from our living room and turn it into a dance floor.  Move dining room furniture to accommodate catering for 40.  Make any do-ahead stuff for Fri.  Make and decorate dozen cupcakes for pickup tomorrow.
Thur May 17:  Cupcake dozen pickup, noon.  Decorate ALL 3 cakes for Saturday, box up 400 cupcakes.  Call event venues and/or wedding planners and coordinate delivery times (so I can deliver all 3, MYSELF, ON TIME).   Costco for remaining prom groceries.  Do prep work for prom food for 40 guests. 
Fri. May 18:  Make ceasar salad and chicken paprika for 40.  Set out appetizers, bread, desserts, drinks for PROM.  Be home for setup, cooking, and serving by 2 pm.  Prom 5-midnight.  Cleanup.
Sat. May 19:  Deliver: 200-cupcake Sweet 16 party to CDA Resort at 11 am, 200-cupcake wedding to Beacon Hill 1 pm, 4-tiered wedding cake to CDA 4 pm.  (These venues represent a round trip from the shop to CDA of 40 minutes; a trip from the shop to Beacon Hill and back, plus set up, of 2 hours; and another trip to CDA from the shop, another 30-40 minutes, so this day had at least 2.5 hours of just driving in it, not counting carrying cupcake stands and 400 boxed cupcakes and setting them up). 
May 20:  Stare at sky from hammock.  (yes, I wrote that).
May 21:  Lunch at Belle Victorian Gardens with Pam and take a car full of potted-up rose starts from my gardens.  Pot up starts WHEN?  (Saturday?)  (yes, really. I did this at some point…) 
Flash foward to present day:  Today I woke up still wondering, did I really do all that?  So I looked back on my actual bakery schedule from May 2012 and saw that the ASB kids rescheduled the prom to Friday June 1, and everything went great.  Instead of 3 events the day after the prom, that was a week where we had come back from camping Monday (unpack camper, do all laundry etc),  and I had an anniversary cake to deliver Wednesday, and only one wedding the following day on Sat June 2, so, that was much more do-able.  But still.
Lesson:  Never let anyone (including *you*) tell you that you don't get enough done.  Because--You rock, baby. 
P.S.  It's never a bad thing to pull the plug on ALL OF THAT, and only say yes to the Really Good Stuff.

 *High five*

Friday, October 11, 2013

Clumsiness Runs Downhill in Our Family

I'm spending a weekend AWAY from technology, meaning no cel service, no internet, no laptop, no customers, even though I'm taking those things with me (ok, not the customers, but the tech stuff), with all their various cords and chargers, you know, just in case.  And I need the laptop to charge my e-book thing, and...what if the mood strikes and I feel like writing? What if we find cel service 75 miles up on a mountain somewhere, and there's a rude customer email waiting to ruin my ONE WEEKEND OFF that I can.not.miss? I should be merciless and leave this crap at home, 

Since I can't think of anything else fun or funny to tell you before I go, and there's totally no time to make something up, here's a funny link to one of my daughter's own blog posts, proving, once again, that yes--klutziness IS hereditary:

Running With Cookies
  (If you're bored, check out her other posts--her drawings make me laugh so hard!)

Have a great weekend everybody!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nuts and Berries...

Random garden notes:

Oh, if Martha could see me now.  Our property has surprised us with the following "bonus food" this year.  I think I was actually dressed like Martha when these things were all planted, so, you know, I'm thinking that totally helped. 

Our lone filbert (hazelnut-type) nut tree has been in our yard for more than 10 years, and this year it HAS ACTUAL NUTS ON IT.  omg.  Too cool!  Not just a few, either--We already picked and have eaten quite a few, but today I sent our youngest out to see what else she could find to gather, and she brought back a small laundry basket full.  sa-weet 

The single formerly non-fruiting black walnut tree we have, dropped one...single...walnut today.  Ok.  But still, it's something--

I found a stray volunteer bush in the front yard and realized it's a elderberry, which can be used to make an awesome medicinal cold/flu syrup.  *check*  Plus, they say fairies gather under elderberry bushes at night or something, so now I have an excuse to be in the garden at midnight.  (bonus!) <~~that's a joke, people.

A "flowering plum" tree that has just...flowered..., for years, was covered in FRUIT this year. 

Downside:  Of the FOUR apple trees we have, NONE of them have fruit.  No, wait.  I picked a total of 8 off the one, and got two spider bites on my head for my trouble, which caused me to dream that I had a spider in my hair and wake up thinking there was one in my bed (not cool. at all).  The apple trees are 11 years old and usually produce more apples than I really need, especially since I'm not a fan of apple products (no pun intended).  Maybe I should wear Martha-ish stuff when I prune in the spring or something.  I can only assume we had a killing frost late in the spring...everything else about them looks fine.  Not that I'm any sort of expert; they could have some rare apple tree disease, and I'd be the last to know.
Yep, that's most of the apples. And a hair clip that almost caused me to hang myself from an apple branch

And, in case you've ever tried drying your own fruit leather for the first time (you remember, that stuff mom made when we were kids, which we gobbled up the same day it was made), but then you forgot to take it out of the oven/dryer overnight and cooked it somewhat into almost oblivion, where the (also experimental) wax paper has more or less molecularly fused onto the leather...I would just like to point out that you can save it by gradually brushing it with water and allowing it to sort of rehydrate.  Once you have added enough moisture back to it, it will no longer qualify as fruit "chips" (or rock candy, or charcoal), and the wax paper will also now magically be able to be removed, so don't throw out the fruit leather, lady.

I'm going to be starting over on another batch soon, but I am so glad I did NOT just totally waste yesterday by stirring plum puree ALL DAY, only to wake up to ruined leather this morning.

Sorry.  Just had to write this all down for future reference. 

Carry on

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bad Medicine .. Dr. Mom Is "In"

Taking a break from canning soup from the garden and scoring spare change in the bottom of the washing machine, today I was pondering (not surprisingly): Health Care.

Just to clarify, if anything ever comes up that requires any of our family to need actual Medical Care performed on them, I will be ON it.  Until then...I will continue to fill in the blank on the school forms for "Family Doctor" with the word:   (nothing)

When our kids were little, we worried about everysinglething, every sniffle, every cough. We went through their early years attending ALL the recommended yearly or biannual or q.3 monthly Well-Baby Check Ups, immunizations, growth diagrams and percentiles charting how fast our babies were growing, teething, sleeping through the night, spitting up, sitting up, pulling up, walking, talking, learning advanced math, etc.  But after the second baby, though, doesn't it all just kind of seem like …WHATEVER?  After affixing the last "Required" gold star on my imaginary parenting progress sheet under the column of "You must take your child to the doctor, whether they are sick or not, at least several times a year, FOREVER", I just sort of…quit, after about age 3, or 5, or whenever that last 'required' shot was due.  It's been awhile--they're in high school now...
And guess what?  We're all still fine.  Having faced sometimes horrified looks of new mothers who ask me, "OMG. You haven't take your kids in for a physical in HOW long?!?" with the answer of "And why not? They're fine.  I don't have an extra $200 to give to someone to tell me that…yes, they're still fine.  I know this…I live with them."  Of course, sometimes there's always that fear that, what if I'm missing something?  What if we *seem* fine, but if we go in and see a doctor and get that X-Ray, MRI, CT scan, biopsy, and/or full blood panel, we find out that we're not fine?  What if *seeming* fine is a cover for OMGyou'reSOsick? 
Well, I guess I'd rather just *seem* fine, and save that money for a trip to the doctor for when I know I am NOT fine.  I'm pretty sure that, if I go in and ask for a million tests of everycellinmybody…pretty much guaranteed, they will probably find something that needs medicating or injecting or removing or watching or biopsying or having some form of Medical Science performed on it, and then suddenly I'll feel queasy and ill, and omigoshimsick, and then tah-dah--you're Sick and taking a giant list of meds (with side effects like "seizures", "blindness", and "death"--really?) out of one of those nifty color-coded, day-labeled pill dispensers, and your life now revolves around your next doctor appointment and whether you can eat this or that, how many times you've peed today, and whether today is a "good day" or a "bad day", medically speaking...
No.Thank.You.  I'll keep enjoying the garden a little longer, if you don't mind.
Like many people I know these days, our family is on the new (and fairly common) all-American health plan, (especially as we happen to be self-employed to boot), which I like to call the DGS Plan.  Which means:  DON'T GET SICK.  (ever).  I also worked for 16 years in the medical field, more than 12 of those as a medical transcriptionist for high-traffic hospitals, like Cedars Sinai Medical Center in L.A. and Boston Medical Center, so I have seen me some weird medical stuff, y'all.  Trust me.  If it can be dragged into the ER or the OR, there is a transcribed report for that, and I have typed hundreds of thousands of them. 
I have typed reports for every surgery and medical condition you can imagine, and probably many (many) that you'd never dream of.  I have typed reports for everyone from homeless people to celebrities, for everything from a common cold to a report that started with "She seemed fine when she came in" and ended three paragraphs later with "Time of Death:  0600". 
I have typed psychiatric notes, x-ray reports, brain surgeries, open-heart surgeries, transplants, replacements, amputations, augmentations, reductions, cataract removals, back surgeries, joint replacements, gastric bypasses, and gangrene treatments.  I can't think of a single medical procedure I haven't heard through headphones, dictated by this country's best physicians.
I have typed ER visits for everything from attempted suicides to trampoline accidents, car-versus-pedestrian injuries, stabbings, shootings, domestic violence, a guy who accidentally nailed his arm with a nail gun, and a woman who was afraid she was being robbed and hid her wedding ring somewhere she really should NOT have and then couldn't retrieve it.  Also, FYI: concerning Viagra…do not believe "if some is good, more is better"…that scenario is not pretty, and very painful, two days later… Just sayin'.
So...dont' get me wrong:  I have a lot of faith in doctors.  I love doctors.  I loved working with them, and I appreciate them in every way--when they're needed.
However.  I also grew up in the hippied-out 70s with a family who did the whole Back to Nature thing.  I grew up with organic everything, and I have seen the successful use of non-medical treatment for just about everything you can experience (outside of broken bones and severe trauma), with herbal and natural remedies, so I trust what I know, too.  I'd rather treat a flu or a cold, aches and pains anytime with lots of rest, tea, Vitamin C, goldenseal, echinacea, ice packs, hot packs, etc., rather than a trip to the doctor, where you won't get much more (and I don't like prescriptions, just because I think they're overdone to infinity, unless they are really really necessary), but you may come home with something much more serious than your initial complaint, just from sitting in the waiting room.  (Hello--they're all they're because they're also SICK).  I'd rather stay home and fight stuff in the safety of our own environment, thanks anyway. 
Plus we now own a collection to rival most medical closets, of almost every brace and/or support known to man, including an ankle brace, combo foot/ankle brace, knee supports, full leg brace, back braces, Ace wraps, wrist brace, carpal tunnel wrist support, finger splints in all sizes, and a thumb brace/wrist wrap.  I think the only things we don't have are a cervical collar and a walking boot/cast thing.  Oh, and a shoulder sling.  Which should tell you...our family has been fairly blessed with mainly non-serious prior injuries...
I think my kids thought I was crazy, or just a terrible parent, when they were younger, because they'd come to me pointing at their arm or leg or side or wherever and saying "This feels like something is really wrong.  I think I have a disease.  Or the bone is broken.  Or dislocated.  Or diseased and dislocated.  Or it could be a rare new condition unknown to medical science.  We should probably have a doctor look at this."  And I'd look at it, and say, "Well, it looks fine to me.  Give it a rest for a bit, take some Motrin/herb tea/ice pack/etc., and see how you do."  And sure enough…they're fine.  Wonder of wonders.  Other than ear infections, which I know better than to mess with, pretty much every ailment they went through as children, worked itself out just fine without a trip to the ER or the pediatrician's office.  Except for the time our youngest broke her thumb riding the mechanical bull at the fair...and when our oldest fell straight down into the crack between the back of the U-Haul truck and the unloading hoist mechanism, and stopped the fall--with her jaw...
I also laugh sometimes because I hear my mom in my replies to them when they were younger and said, "It hurts whenever I do THIS," and I'd say "So, don't DO that…" Ahmigash, that's my MOM…sorry, girls. 
I know I may err too far on the side of  "Unless you're currently carrying your severed ear in a box, bleeding out an artery, or have a bone protruding from the skin, you're probably FINE."  But when I say this, it's because I am certain (truly) that the doctor, who will charge us $200.00 to see him, will also tell you:  You're FINE.  Rest, ice and elevate.  Or… bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.  Or…stay home from school and get lots of fluids.  Or, don't ride your skateboard barefoot next time.  I KNOW THESE THINGS.
I am also lucky that one of my dearest and oldest friends (who was right there with me, through those hippie childhood years) has been an RN for over 20 years, so whenever I think I'm being a bad mother and I might be missing some truly medically necessary trip to a doctor or an ER, even without a bone protruding from the skin, I can call and run the symptoms by her and get Real Medical Advice from her.
So...thanks Mom for all the natural remedies growing up, and thanks Teirza, for all the Actual Medical Advice ever since.  I owe you some soup, but the spare change in the washer is mine, baby.   :)