Cheese!

Owners of classic cars (beauties!) joined together one recent Saturday to raise funds for a local historic site. It was a hot, sunny afternoon, and the scents of grilled beef and car exhaust wafted through downtown. There is a sizeable fountain at one of the main intersections, and it was too irresistable not to let my son play in the water on such a stifling day.

a month with no job

Desperation will set in soon. I can feel it mounting.

It’s not like I’m not searching for employment. Maybe I’m just looking in all the wrong places. At any rate, I just put the child in day care this week. The structure and social setting have done him worlds of good. He kept saying, “I wanna go work.” He calls day care “work.” It’s toe-curlingly cute; his vocabulary and sentence structure are growing every day! He sorely misses the day care he was in before we moved, and I regret having to remove him from such a great environment. But here we’re paying half the tuition, which is great.

I miss my work, too. Finding a new job is scary — all the unknown factors. I don’t know if I’ll find something in this town that’s as good as the job I just left. Certainly I can hope for that or better, but at this point my hope is waning. I hate the task of having to sell myself just to get a frickin’ job.

Here’s a pic of my son from Father’s Day 2007, age 1.5 year:


 

bring out your dead

I’m not dead!

For those of you unfamiliar with Monty Python, a scene from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

I haven’t been online much in the past month. Well, blogging anyway. Moving back to my parents’ has been interesting. My two year old son takes up every bit of oxygen and energy when he’s conscious, so my parents and I haven’t really had much of a chance to get in each other’s hair. My son is very active and very curious. He can’t just leave well enough alone when he’s told, so he has to be watched every second. When he isn’t under sharp supervision, he wanders off or he gets into dangerous/ destructive circumstances. Oh, the child. Most of the time he wants 100% attention anyway, so simply watching him won’t do. He makes me smile, that rotten little boy. :)

Time has slipped away so quickly. I’ve spent so much time dallying that I’m ashamed to admit how little I’ve done in the way of searching for new employment.

There was a tornado in the neighborhood just before sunrise on Mother’s Day. Two times in my life I’ve been so scared that my body shook uncontrollably. The first was when I was being rolled down a hospital corridor to have a C-section and all the cords had been unplugged and I couldn’t hear my baby’s heartbeat and I was scared for both our lives. The second was the morning of Mother’s Day this year when the wind was so loud and the only other thing we could hear were the loud cracks and enormous thuds of trees. Mom and Dad were awakened upstairs by the falling of limbs onto the roof. They quickly grabbed the baby and brought him to the basement (he had gone to sleep upstairs the night before). We emptied a safe closet of spare luggage and huddled in fear; listening to the wind made every second feel like an eternity. Mom told me to run to my room and get shoes and something to go over my gown. I stood with the flash light for a moment and stared at the window, listening to the wind howl. My knees and legs were trembling. I forced myself to go into the bedroom, but I couldn’t make my mind focus on grabbing anything, so I ran back to the safe closet with nothing but the light. The worst of the wind lasted only a few minutes. My son was still disoriented from being abruptly awakened, and he was scared because of the palpable fear emanating from the three adults; he stayed in my mother’s arms without complaint. How long we stayed near the closet after the wind died down, I do not know. We were frightened that the tornado might come back. Times like those are what make me realize how very precious life is.

As dawn approached we disbanded into our corners of the house, dressing for the day, preparing for what we knew would be a long one. I peaked out the window on what used to be a lovely thick horizon of trees at the far end of the back yard. Only a few tall trees were silhouetted against the dark gray sky. A new cherry tree, which we planted only the day before had been blown to perfect diagonal in its muddy spot. As the light grew stronger, the scenery grew increasingly grotesque as more and more of the aftermath became visible.

Nature is awesome and stunning. Thankfully, the house and the cars were untouched, but several large trees in the yard were either snapped like twigs midway up their trunks or had been completely uprooted in the wind. All of the day was spent recovering as best we could. Other home owners in the neighborhood were not so fortunate. We learned that a married couple just a few houses down were barely out of their bed during the tornado when a tree landed in the middle of their bedroom. We think our houses and our lives are untouchable until something like this comes along. We have been very blessed to have very good friends and members of my parents’ church come to help with all the trees in the back yard.  It has been amazing to see how people have come together to help each other in this disaster.

All this to say: there has been quite a bit of upheaval and complete disarray keeping me from updating the blog in recent weeks. Things will settle down eventually, but not any time in the near future, I think.

oh baby

The genius and I dated happily for seven months before we conceived a child. We were mushy, sappy, goofy, young and stupid; we didn’t stop to ask the all-important questions about ourselves or each other. We both wanted children; we agreed on many principles and we saw our lives taking shape as a singular entity rather than the two very different human beings that we were. I made my decision about him rather early — that I wanted to spend my life with him; not such a smart idea, but I was living intuitively.

We weren’t ready to jump immediately into having a family, but we weren’t careful enough. We really wanted to be more financially stable with a couple of graduate degrees to our names before there were any babies, but we weren’t committed enough to ourselves to ensure that pregnancy wouldn’t happen. I fault myself for not implementing any kind of contraceptive measures. I was too accommodating to insist he help me out in that regard, and he was one to actually drop the line that every girl is warned of.  You know the one, don’t you? Of course you do! There are even commercials about it on every kind of media, for crying out loud.

Ready or not, a tiny life was created. I knew within days . There were the usual symptoms of the monthly ordeal exquisite joy of being a woman, but there were other symptoms, too. I did minor research about the body weirdness, then proceeded to the nearest store for their stock of pee-stick tests. The test results were all positive, of course. When I shared the news with the genius, he was quietly happy. He assured me that he would not run away from the responsibility. He asked me to marry him shortly after I told him about the baby. We decided to get married because our respective upbringings dictated that this was how an unmarried couple should handle pregnancy.

I was terrified of what my parents would think of me. I knew it would break their hearts that their only child (and only daughter) had gone against their will and against their God, and conceived a child in her iniquitous living. I kept the pregnancy from my parents for three months because I was delaying the inevitable. I was in shock and still dealing with the magnitude of suddenly having a family of my own; I wasn’t ready for the disappointment that I knew I would cause my parents, and the unbearable guilt I knew I would feel when their unhappy faces saw the truth in me. The news wasn’t met with celebration when we finally did fess up. It didn’t take them long to get excited about the coming of their first grandchild, but that first night was a big upset. Mom had a few questions and choice comments, but Dad simply crossed his arms and frowned.

Dad had recently been ordained as a deacon at the church, and all through the ceremony I was burning with the knowledge that I was a blemish on his record as a father (in this particular belief, that means head of household who should be in control of the actions of the family). Truth be told, mom is really the one who has always worn the pants in the family, so it was her disapproval and pain that burrowed deepest into me. The guilt of being a blight to my family reputation burned in me like seering coals. I cried rather harder than maybe I would have at the ordination if there hadn’t been a tiny human growing in my unwed womb. I have since come to terms with why I felt so guilty, and I’ve let go of the severe expectation upon myself to be perfect and live by such a hampering set of rules. To hem myself in with all those crazy Do’s and Don’t’s is to set myself up for failure on too many levels. I now embrace my humanity, which is not to say that I’m purposefully Living In Sin; I’m taking a page from Sally‘s book of wisdom — I’m being empathetic to myself. I’m taking loving care of me (or at least trying my damnedest to), which I haven’t done in a long time, if ever I did to begin with. 

Dad and I don’t have to verbalize our thoughts to communicate with each other. It has always been this way. Subtle facial expressions, or eye contact alone is how most of our personal communication goes. When dad shored himself up that day (Father’s Day!) behind folded arms, the sadness in his eyes made me want to run and hide. He was hurt. And mad. And disappointed. And afraid for me. I had become accustomed to being a big disappointment to my mother because she’s always had such high hopes and expectations for me. At some point in time I accepted the fact that I could either do everything she wants me to do, and possibly still have her want and expect more for/ from me, or I could live with being the constant disappointment. I love my mother dearly (love you mom), but I’ve had to draw personal boundaries that I’m learning to live by so I can be sure I’m doing what’s right for me. I hate to make it sound like me, Me, ME, but right now I’m working on finding my center. I still take into consideration my responsibilities and the expectations put upon me, but I’m learning to make my decisions for me – not based on how someone else will react or judge. This is my one life; I can’t waste any more time scrambling in circles trying please everyone else. If ever I get back to biblical living, this self-love, self-care thing will benefit others, in terms of “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I’m not trying to go about this in a selfish way, but I do want to be happy. Isn’t that a basic need?

Looking up into dad’s hurt eyes was exactly why I waited to tell my parents about the baby. It may, in fact, have been the biggest Facing The Music moment in my life. We all lived to tell.

weeeeeee!

Pounds lost in eight months: 32

:D

And for what it’s worth: 5 pounds to BMI 30.

Now, more than ever, yes.

I was emptying drawers yesterday afternoon. I know I haven’t given you the novel I promised on why things with the genius are falling apart. It will still come, just not before I interject: I’m moving back to my home town. I do not wish to pay another month’s rent here, so I’ve got the rest of April to put all the pieces together. 

Six months of intense soul-searching has brought me to this strange precipice. I’ve known it was coming, this life-altering decision I would have to make. I was afraid that there wouldn’t be any sign-posts along the way and that I would just have to leap, terrified, into the unknown. Clinging to the hope that I wouldn’t have to go so blindly, I was bouyed and I’ve been rewarded.

When I finally started to do something about all the mess I’m in, puzzle pieces came into view. I don’t want to say I’m jaded, but with each little step I have to keep questioning and doubting and hoping. It’s a new life. I don’t want to lose the urgency to live wide open. There is much to do. There is much to hope for.

I raised a sport purse out of a deep drawer, and when I opened the purse, a fortune cookie fortune greeted me from a clear pocket: “Your dearest wish will come true.” It’s not really one wish in particular. It’s a schema of wishes. At a time when everything seems ripe, I want to say yes to life. I still waver with uncertainty, but I’m now taking steps, no matter the measure, instead of lying stagnant in fear and confusion.

(The link to “yes” in the previous paragraph is one of the best stories ever. Read it. It’s worth it.)

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

For some reason, this post is giving me fits to republish from the old blog, so I’m re-entering the whole shebang:

This is my favorite cookie recipe from childhood. It brings to memory the dark brown kitchen cabinets of the house of my youth. The yellow linoleum and its golden glow reflecting under the light of the over-the-stove vent. The warm, cocoa-rich aroma and the fun of helping mom cook. It’s a very good memory, and so are the cookies.

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients 
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 to 4 tablespoons peanut butter, optional
3 cups quick oats (or old-fashioned)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation
Combine chocolate chips, peanut butter (if used), oats, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Combine the margarine, milk, and sugar in a saucepan; bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Combine the hot mixture with the oatmeal and chocolate chip mixture; stir well. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper; let cool. Voila. Disperse as desired.

Note: quantities of this recipe’s ingredients can be tweaked, and other complementary ingredients can be added to taste. Love it!