Mandatory Day Off

I could have cried this morning, I was so tired. I’ve been getting about five hours sleep each night for the last few weeks, and it’s just not enough. Luckily, I had to go to the dentist. I’ve never been so grateful for general anesthesia. Spike waited for me and took me home after where I promptly fell back to sleep. I woke up around noon, ready for pain meds and mashed potatoes, then back to sleep for a few hours. 

I started the six-hour, BBC version of Pride and Prejudice when I woke up in the afternoon and slept through most of it. I woke up again at 11, more pills, shower, and back to bed again. My head aches and my jaw is tender, but other than that, it’s been the best day off I’ve had in months! I have eight pages to write before Wednesday night, but it will have to wait. My mind is in a happy fog, and it’s gonna stay there for now. 

Good night, responsibilities. The chaos can resume tomorrow!

Guardians of a Dysfunctional Family

I would say today was bittersweet, but I like dark chocolate, so I can’t. It was more like being handed a giant box of grief as a reward for over two years of round the clock volunteer work.

The guardianship was granted.

In the same breath the court informed us that we would have to drive the girls to and from their father’s house for visitation. He literally lives 500 miles away, and we have now been ordered to drive to and from the filthy city he moved to so he can see them.

It felt like, “Congratulations on being a stellar human being. You’ll need to step that up about 50 notches now.”

Of course the first and most obvious argument is why, if he’s so interested in being part of their lives, do we have to go to him?  But you can’t ask the judge that question when the opposition has stretched the court’s patience to the breaking point. 

In 30 minutes we said a sum total of about 10 sentences. The rest of the time was monopolized by completely useless bantering between the father and the judge about the fact that his opposition was not enough to keep the judge from granting our petition for guardianship.
It was an emotional morning, but I waited until the courtroom cleared to burst into tears. Spike held me and said it was going to be alright. I held him and told him it was going to be alright. We only ate half our lunch. How could the court make us do this? 

We thought having the petition granted would quell the issues, but now we’re responsible for getting the father to compromise with us about visitation. Why won’t the court just decide? Why put us all through this? He won’t negotiate with us. He’s placed the blame for his whole damn life at our door. He can’t see anything past his rage.

We had the bailiff join us in the hall while we were trying to work out visitation, since the father was literally raising his angry, shaking fist in fury over the fact that we had to discuss it at all. He wouldn’t talk about anything except his anger.

Thankfully the bailiff turned out to be part-chaplain (seemed like) and  talked the father down from the enraged ledge he was teetering on.

This is why people give up. Dealing with this kind of pure insanity is the reason people lose faith in humanity. If we were dealing with anything else I’ve ever been given to take care of – a pet, a home, every last dime in my bank accounts – I would have given it up today.

But it isn’t just money or a dog I like. It’s the lives of two girls whose father is more concerned about righting all his past mistakes than about what’s truly best for the kids.

Genesis

In the beginning… the universe was created with order. In its original, natural state, it was created with perfect Form, as the Greeks described.

My faith was rejected by more than one person in the past based on the idea that a Christian life would meddle with and subdue and dictate the course of his or her life. It’s a common enough thought. Religion has a pronounced reputation for condemning certain behaviors. The Bible is then seen as the codified book of those pronouncements, and “all fall short” if they don’t follow it to the letter.

But what if the Bible didn’t stand to judge and condemn but describe what creation is and how it was intended to balance itself? (Christians: Don’t freak out at an idea that sounds Buddhist. There are plenty of scriptures that say we are each given gifts that are meant for the building up of the body – to balance the needs and resources of a community.) What if we began to see the Bible, not as a book of laws, but as a schematic?

…a representation of the elements of a system using abstract, graphic symbols rather than realistic pictures. A schematic usually omits all details that are not relevant to the information the schematic is intended to convey, and may add unrealistic elements that aid comprehension. – Wikipedia

Again, don’t freak out. Not everyone who lacks faith in the stories is excluded from having faith in God. Yes, I said it. You can have faith in God and not believe Noah’s Ark really happened. You’re allowed to doubt! Faith in God is not contingent on you believing everything in the Bible.

What if, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ”? What if those who judge could see the pain people suffer, which drives them to seek Substance for comfort. The Form they were created to live in has obviously failed them. Maybe it was because of their own misguided actions. Maybe it was because of the actions of others, but their relationship to mankind is disjointed. Substance is all that is left. Only their senses can be trusted – what is felt, heard, tasted – because they cannot perceive the Spirit. Those that judge believe that inability is the fault of the Sensor. But since when do we hold fire alarms responsible for spiritual warfare?

This is the true miracle of God With Us. Without Christ, there is no hope for reintegration… for anyone. We cannot have holistic relationships with each other or with Him without reconciling what-is with what-was-created-to-be. The world around us, around the Spirit within us, is degrading. Our minds can only perceive four of the multiple, universal dimensions, and it can only physically exist within three.

These relationships teach us what our perfect state is. They refine us to become more of what we were created to be: How we can live in perfect harmony with the world created for us, and how to interact with other creations that are not striving for their original, intended state.

Personally, I believe the stories actually happened, not because they’re in the Bible, but because I know God could have orchestrated those events, and I believe He did. However, the fact that I believe it doesn’t make more any more spiritual than anyone else. Faith is a gift. So is mercy, which I struggle with, but others don’t. We are all given natural abilities which bring us together. If we all had all the spiritual gifts, none of us would need anyone else.

But we weren’t created to live alone. Man was made in the image of God, fully integrated and whole, but in physical form, he was incomplete. God’s image was incomplete. Man existed without the ability to relate – to have relationship with someone else. He tended the world he was given, but his equal did not exist. God’s image was made complete in the creation of woman. Being in relationship with her became the perfect, “good” state of mankind. As Christians, being in relationship with each other is the perfect, good state of the Body of Christ.

Marriage Scenes

Just a warning… Slightly more adult content. I don’t believe it’s anything graphic, but please accept my apologies if you’re offended.


Sunday

It was six-thirty in the evening. The gremlins would be getting hungry soon and I wasn’t really up for making a full-size meal. I logged off WordPress to see if I could quickly throw something together. Tortillas. Sold!

“Honey, do we have any rice?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Spike called back from the living room.

“Kay, could you make a batch and I’ll put the rest of the stuff together to make burritos for dinner?”

He got up from his desk and wandered over to the kitchen. I was still standing in front of the pantry, so he naturally was drawn to the fridge. He opened the door and stared inside.

“There’s no rice in there,” I laughed.

“You don’t know,” he play-argued back. He tried to reach around me to get to the rice in the pantry, but I didn’t move. His hands started roaming for what they could reach; my waist, shoulders… other places.

My arms reached over my head and I placed a hand on the back of his neck. His lips were on my ear, my neck, my shoulder. I pulled his face to mine and kissed him deeply. Without a word, he lead me back to our bedroom, shutting the door to the gremlins’ room. They were engrossed in a video game, and didn’t even notice. He closed our bedroom door and we wasted no time undressing each other, hardly breaking our locked lips…

When it was over I laughed as I snuggled against him.

“So, should I make the rice?”

Kaizen: Continuous Improvement

It’s no secret [in my quiet world of reflection] that I’m discouraged about the way I treat my body. It’s rarely sick, it stays up late, gets up early, stares at screens for countless hours, and provides on-demand inspiration for work, school, and family needs. Why I can’t manage to be nice to it, feed it good things, take it out to smell the freakin’ roses… I cannot fathom. My naturopath distilled the frustrations as my simply not caring enough about myself; taking care of everyone else before I take care of myself. Well, that inspiration has lost its effectiveness.

So here’s some new inspiration akin to the tortoise and the hare: A post about Kaizen.

I’ve created a spread in my journal, and I’ve been intentional about setting it up for success. I have not listed the next 100 days. No, I’ve listed the next 59% with the intention of writing the date when I’ve done something to achieve 1% improvement. Maybe it will turn out to be a “nice try,” or maybe it will change my life, but I have to do something. Standing still cannot be my life.

I refuse to be passed my prime.

  

Hot Chocolate and French Pastries

Something’s happened. It seems overnight I’ve bonded with the baby of our little family. She’s been going to coffee shops and the french bakery with me when I need some uninterrupted time away from the house to do homework. She sits quietly and sips hot chocolate and reads a book while I study. Both the girls are engrossed with the Warriors series. With their cat obsession, I’m surprised it didn’t start sooner. They were a bit tied up with Harry Potter for awhile I guess.

But something is definitely different. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what might have happened, then I realized something did happen last weekend. We were at church talking to a friend of mine who’s had the girls over to spend the night a couple times and we started talking about last Christmas when she invited the girls to help decorate at her house. The baby piped up: “Yeah, [Mama Spike] made us choose between going to your house and going to the last movie night of the year at school. We were only allowed to do one, even though nothing else was going on.” She looked at me with a big smile like she’d just told on me. I then reminded her that she was actually grounded that week. She was only allowed to do one, but she shouldn’t have been allowed to do either.

Later when just the two of us were in the car together I told her that her comment really hurt my feelings. I explained the last several months have been hard for me because I’ve been accused of being mean and selfish and not having the girls’ best interests at heart. (Of all the people we know, only three people are against us having Legal Guardianship, but the comments from those three have been hard on me.) I was careful to tell her that I didn’t believe it was her fault and I was able to handle it. I am very conscious about maintaining emotional boundaries with both the girls, as in “These are the feelings people have that you’re responsible for, and these are not.” I explained to her that it hurt me to hear that people thought I was mean. It hurt me to hear that she thought I was mean too.

She said she had forgotten that she was grounded that week and asked if she could apologize. My heart melted. Her stubbornness has made her a challenge since early on, but after two years I finally feel her softening. This past week she’s run to hug me when I get home from work. She’s asked me what I think of her drawings. She’s politely asked permission to go on the internet and play video games and make tea. She lets me hug her without pulling away right away. One night she even asked if I would snuggle with her before bed. We’ve done that several times, but this was the first time she knocked on my bedroom door to ask.

With her sister growing up so fast, I feel like I need to savor every little girl moment. I tell the baby all the time that she’s a strong, natural leader. A lot of my parenting her so far has nurtured those things, but now I think we’re transitioning into a more compassionate relationship. She’s lonely without her sister at the same school as her. She’s an introvert and doesn’t like change. She doesn’t like to meet new people like her sister does. She would rather read in the library. I’m a little anxious about her being a bookworm, but school just started a couple weeks ago. I told myself I’d give her some time to adjust and not push her to make new friends right away.

That one has to make changes on her terms. She won’t have it any other way.

It was the way you said it.

Loss by ChiccaNeko | deviantart.com

I was sitting a cafe, waiting for Spike to join me for lunch when he called to say he would be a few minutes late. “Hey,” he said when I answered the phone. Who ever knew such a small word said in just the right way could stir up so many feelings? I had completely forgotten the way my ex-husband used to say that; like an Italian mobster, but cut short.

I was so disoriented through the short call. I couldn’t get my head straight. Who was I talking to? Then I heard myself say, “I love you too,” and I was wrought with grief when I put the phone down. How many times did I have that same conversation in my previous marriage? That relationship hasn’t caused me grief like that in years, but remembering him in that moment, like a casualty of war, was painful. It’s painful now, two days later, to think about.

We met in December 2003. My best friend was finally marrying his best friend, and they recruited me to help plan the wedding. They wanted a short engagement: two months. I was frantic to get everything in order, but he steadied me. He joined me on errands to put it together and stayed up late talking to me like we were old friends. It didn’t take long to fall in love with him. Three years later we were married in the church I grew up in. Three years after that I asked him to move out. He had betrayed me to such a degree that I couldn’t even recognize him.

Divorcing him was an easy decision compared to the decision to lose his friendship. I couldn’t be married to him, but cutting him out of my life was like surgically removing my lungs. I didn’t know how my heart would continue to beat without him. He was everything to me for the sum total of my adult life from age 19 to 25. I don’t regret the divorce, but it doesn’t make me immune to how much I loved him.

It gives me hope to know the loss didn’t turn me to ice. My heart grew larger for lack of air, not weaker. Today I can assure myself that even if my heart must accept another path, my loyalty to its keepers will never fade.

They Grow Up So Fast

It’s a common thing for people to say, but what they don’t tell you is that it can all happen in a matter of two weeks! Our older goddaughter is 12 now. She started junior high on August 24th, and announced her list of boys “crushing on her” three days later. She got her first visit from Aunt Flo (TMI probably, but it’s a major milestone in a girl’s life!) on August 30th, and I took her out to dinner that night to celebrate.

We talked that night about the kids she met during her first week at school and the boys that like her. I asked her if she like anyone, and she said no, but I kept the conversation going. “So what happens when a boy likes you and you like him?” Standard, pre-teen answer: “I don’t know.”

“Well, what would you want to happen?”

“I don’t know. We get together?”

“And then what?”

“I don’t know. Go to Jamba Juice?”

“And then what?”

“I don’t know. This is embarrassing.”

I remember being boy crazy at 12, but there wasn’t a lot of reciprocity. There were only eight kids in my class at a small, K-8, private, Christian school. By the time we had hormones, we’d spent so much time together we were more like siblings. I didn’t go to my first dance until freshman homecoming. In contrast, our 12-year-old is in a school of 1,000 kids her age. It’s glaringly different from the time I spent in junior high.

We bought her a new dress for her first dance this past Thursday and summarily denied her permission to post videos from the dance on YouTube that night. She got in trouble for being home late the next day (it was only a few minutes, but it was the first time we let her go alone) from a neighbor’s house, and later we found out she was there without any adults. Consequently, she’s not allowed to go over there for a week.

Side note: Why the hell are parents allowing their 11 and 12-year-olds to be on social media sites!? The EULAs for all the majors – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. – say kids under 13 are not allowed because they’re unable to comply with the COPPA laws! Keep your freakin’ kids off the internet until they’re older! We in our 30s forget those things weren’t available until we were in high school. We had MySpace and Yahoo and MSN instant messengers, but we couldn’t tag a picture of ourselves in a specific location for any creeper to find us! It took some effort then. Now it’s stupid-easy! There are 50,000 predators online looking for easy targets (Child Rescue Network).

I bought the girls The Care and Keeping of You last summer and reading through it was a lifesaver when it came to talking to them about important care-taking topics. There’s a second, more sensitive, advanced book that I’ve decided to walk through with our 12-year-old, and all I can do is pray for the wisdom to keep the conversation easy, open, and honest. Her sister is only 16 months younger. Between social media and the polarization of genders in the last 20 years, creating a paradigm of freedom and expression is going to be the crowning achievement of raising these girls. There are too many ways to keep secrets and feel ashamed. They have to be able to talk to me about things they see and hear and experience. And I have to be able to shepherd them.

I’m not allowed to be a bad parent.

That’s another thing they don’t tell Foster parents and Legal Guardians. Bio parents are allowed to screw up themselves and their kids and people just say, “It’s hard to be a parent.” But if you’re raising someone else’s kids, you have a to be a pro. It’s like being an estate manager. You’re allowed to go bankrupt if it’s your house, and people say, “Times are tough.” But if you fail to properly steward someone else’s assets, you can be charged with criminal intent!

Asking questions seems to be the most effective method way to parent. I wanted to send her to a nunnery at dinner last week when she answered, “I don’t know. We get together?” I think I stayed cool. I asked her again yesterday about what happens when a boy likes her and she likes him, and I got the same response:

“I don’t know.”

“It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it right now – if you feel like it’s embarrassing. But if you’re not ready to talk about it, then you’re probably not ready to ‘get together’ with anyone and start dating.”

All the while I’m thinking, “Oh dear God, why am I talking to my 12-year-old about dating!? How did this happen!? She was a baby… yesterday! Now I’m explaining hormones and personal hygiene when you’re on your period and why we’re going to wait a while to use tampons. And I have to talk about it like it’s the most natural thing. She has to know that it’s normal. She has to not be ashamed of talking about it. How the hell do I do this!? What words do I use? The world is changed and I have to protect her, but how much do I say? She’s just a child!”

But she isn’t anymore. Is she?

Taking the Night Off

  

I’ve declared a glass of red wine and no homework tonight for me! I’ll tackle the 12 pages of papers and 8 hours of reading I need to do this weekend. I usually spend Thursday nights at a friend’s house, drinking decaf coffee and catching up on life; otherwise I would never see her or the other friend I meet there.

The three of us are completely maxed out at the moment. One of them is an adjunct professor and she’s in a doctorate program. The other is a nurse, has four kids, two of whom she’s recently adopted, and her husband is in a doctorate program. They’ve become my sounding boards over the last few years. I don’t know what I would do without them. Between their crazy lives and mine, we have plenty of empathy to go around.

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about: I chose this crazy life of constant activity, so why not own it? Why complain about being busy, when really, I chose to do everything I’m doing. No one forced me to go back to school. No one is poking me with a cattle prod at work telling me to be awesome. No one would judge me if I just did a simple birthday party for the girls instead of the elaborately planned days I put together at least a month ahead of time. No one would think less of me if I didn’t get straight-As.

I’m this great on purpose, so I’ve stopped complaining about how busy I am, and I’ve started sharing the joy of my full and happy life. I’m healthy enough to keep up with it. My mind is buzzing with intellectual ideas. My relationship with the girls has never been better. Spike and I are doing an incredible job supporting each other (seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without him). Life is stellar! But nothing!

I could talk about how I’d love to have a self-cleaning house, but that’s really just another point of productive pride for me. I can be this awesome, and keep the house from looking like a catastrophe… most of the time. This week is a joke since our new plumbing sprang a leak. I’m sitting in the living room listening to the whirr of the carpet restoration fan (#thankgodwerent). My desk and its piles of books are pulled away from the wall. All the activity of the week can be told in the items strewn about the couches and tables. I’m not cleaning tonight, though. I’m writing. It’s taking some willpower, but I’m doing it!

Have I mentioned I’m an early-riser now? Our older goddaughter decided she wanted to be in choir and orchestra this year, so she starts school at 6:45. My alarm goes off at 5:45, which has never happened more than one day at a time in all my life. The truly awesome part about it though is that I work 7 am to 4 pm. The extra hour in the evenings to skip traffic, spend time with the family, and run errands is definitely contributing to my happiness factor. It’s also giving me an hour at work every morning with absolutely no interruptions. My stress levels have fallen out of sight! Who knew? Going to bed at 10:30 is weird for me, though. I don’t know when I’m going to get used to yawning at 9:00.

That about does it. I’ve run out of steam. Thank you for your comments and encouragements and thoughts. Here’s to you and your superb writing! I think about you all often.

School and Entrepreneur Ramblings

I’ve spent morning noon and night on the computer now for weeks, but seldom does a day go by that I don’t wish I could be blogging. I realized tonight that I have this little baby Acer laptop with Windows XP that I’ve barely ever used, but would be perfect for blogging in bed. I miss writing for fun, but not enough to continue to sit at my desk after a full day of work and a full night of school.

Continue reading School and Entrepreneur Ramblings