Category Archives: Domestic Bliss

Into the Remodel: Day 7

Sure. I say I’m going to journal more and then I make like a fart.

We “broke ground” a week ago. Suddenly the plans to finish the basement, which have been stalling out every year for the past seven, have grown legs. And wings. And a jet pack. Like “vrROOOOMMM, Bitchezz!!”

One day last week, I had the plumber, the furnace-r, an electrician, a furniture deliverer (we had ordered new recliners), and a furniture buyer (I sold an old recliner) show up basically at the same time.

Jackhammers were involved for a couple of days, one of which was a snow day so the kids and I were all cooped up in the master bedroom trying to escape the noise and vibrations. It was awesome.

No. No, it wasn’t.

It only took one week for Sparring Partner and I mutually decide that we will not finish our basement because obviously one of us is not on the same page as the other (Lord, have we ever been??). By Sunday evening, the plans were back on. I conceded and agreed that we do not need a dishwasher or an ice-maker for the basement bar. He conceded and agreed…to nothing.

Yet.

I am biding my time, rubbing my hands maniacally as I plot. I will get a goddamn broom closet even if I have to refer to it as a “Pantry” for the rest of my natural days and label it using a woodburning tool right onto the cabinet door, sohelpmegod!

Marshmallows

My daughter, Aitch (6), came to me asking for a mid-afternoon snack. I asked her what she wanted. Her reply, “Marshmallows!” When I told her no, she asked why then was the bag was already opened.

It’s a new bag, brought home Christmas Eve, and it’s the s’more style, which are rectangular in shape (genius, right?!). Both children are sneak-snackers and pantry-raiders. I have to keep candies hidden. I usually find out that the stash has been discovered when wrappers are found stuffed between couch cushions, in their bedroom trash cans, or under the coffee table.

I called both of them to the kitchen counter and explained very simply that neither of them was to get out of their seats until someone had confessed to opening the bag of marshmallows without permission. The accusations and denials streamed out of them, even going so far as to blame dad, who in fact loathes marshmallows.

As for me, I made good use of the time by emptying the dishwasher and tidying up the kitchen. After ten minutes, I was impressed neither had caved. By twenty, I was wondering if in fact the mice had somehow learned to coop their resources and used the scissors to open the bag. After all, It was crudely cut open…

Doodicus (13) worked the angle that if Aitch would just admit to the crime, her punishment wouldn’t be as severe. Aitch’s defense centered around Dood being a self-confessed sweetaholic. I had nearly cleaned up everything in the kitchen when Aitch confessed as dramatically as one could when admitting to opening a bag of marshmallows without permission after 30 minutes of duress.

I dismissed Dood from the counter. I asked Aitch to bring the bag of marshmallows over to where I stood by the sink. Once she did, I opened the cabinet to the trash and instructed her to throw them away. I saw the flush of humiliation immediately bloom from her neck to brow line. She let out a plaintive whine, “Why??” I calmly explained that it was her punishment. A couple of minutes of silence passed as she stared into what must have appeared a shiny white maw of a monster slurping eagerly for its unexpected treat; I stood looking down at the part in her hair, now also very pink with rage.

She threw the full bag into the trash and ran from the kitchen in tears.

A few minutes later, she returned to tell me that because I had made her cry, it had given her a sore throat and now hurt to talk. I said nothing. My throat hurt too.

Land Not For Sale

First, I have a back-story, but you can skip to the break if you want the short story.

In 2004 Sparring Partner and I bought 10 acres of prairie. The 20 acres adjoining ours were owned by DrC. Over the next two years we built and moved into the home where we currently live. DrC decided to sell his 20. His Realtor, in a case of mistaken identity, asked Sparring Partner’s dad if he was interested in buying the 20 acres next to him. But those acres were next to him, they were next to us. Follow?

SP’s dad, an entrepreneur to be sure, instead of correcting the Realtor that he had the wrong Surname, decided on a whim to buy the 20 acres himself. My FIL never built next to us as had intended to make arrangements to either let us buy the property outright or leave it to SP in his will. Unfortunately, he never followed up on that intent before falling terminally ill and dying a couple years ago. The property became part of the family Trust by default.

A year ago we agreed to buy the 20 acres from that Trust. It was a very difficult decision financially because if FIL had “sold” it to us before his death, he would have done so at whatever his cost had been, which relatively and frankly speaking, was almost nothing. Instead we ended up having to pay appraised value because it was part of a Trust. I agreed to this with the stipulation that we would immediately turn around and sell 10 acres off to defray the cost.

My husband, being the sentimental kind of guy he is, even though the property wasn’t anything more than an acquisition to my FIL, had our Realtor list the property exorbitantly high. He decided that if I was going to make him sell the land, he wasn’t going to let it go easily.

We are not quite to the break, if you’re still following along. This fall we received our first offer, but nearly half of what it was listed. Sparring Partner was so insulted, he refused to even counter. A couple of weeks later, the same buyer made a legitimate offer, albeit still too low. We countered. They came back a little higher. We countered. They came back a little higher. We did not counter. Yes, it was a joint decision. We determined that the potential buyer made the offer because it was their first and preferred choice. Acreage in the area with distinct advantages like ours, are rare. We were convinced we hadn’t heard the last from them.

BREAK (FINALLY!)

Last week, we received an offer to buy 10 acres we had listed for sale. It was from the same people (with the same Realtor) who had made an offer several months ago. There was some countering on both sides, but on Friday we accepted their offer. Our Realtor emailed the paperwork to us to review, and then early this afternoon she forwarded an attachment of a map confirming the property that was to be sold. As soon as I opened the file, my stomach dropped. Due to an inaccurate description, the buyers and their agent had thought they were purchasing the 10 acres adjacent to ours instead of the lot furthest away.

We immediately called our Realtor and told her of the error. I am so disappointed by what I’m sure will be this as a deal-breaker. I’m angry at how careless and irresponsible both the Realtors were for not catching it and misrepresenting the property. Finally, I am just heart-sick for the buyers themselves. We’ve seen them walking the property more than once with a couple of small children and people who were likely their parents. They are a young family hoping to build a home. They’ve stood and watched the sunset on what they thought would be the location of their deck. They probably made announcements this weekend, and even when they went to work this morning, the week of Christmas, that they finally found where they will raise their children.

I wouldn’t want to be the buyer’s representative right now trying to explain how he screwed up, but I feel even worse for that family.

Broken Bone

Doodicus turned 13 earlier this month. A week ago he broke his first bone: the middle finger of his thumb. Funnily enough, he did it playing dodgeball at school. I got the call while I was at the farm visiting my mom. It was a good excuse to clear out. I had just asked her if she knew who I was.(1) She didn’t. It confirmed my suspicisons.

The nurse said that Dood probably sprained his thumb, but he was in a lot of pain and it was swollen. He has a tendency to dramatize so I decided to just pop into a convenient clinic to have it examined. The doc’s guess was that he had hyper-extended it when the ball hit his hand, but they took x-rays to confirm. Both the doctor and nurse were surprised when the film developed and the bone was clearly broken.

He fashioned a finger splint that he can remove when he showers, and in two weeks we will see his pediatrician to see how it’s healing up.

(1) I was helping mom get together an outfit for her Christmas Party with her Red Hat Society ladies. She kept asking “What are we doing?” and I’d tell her. Over and over again she’d ask, and over and over again, I’d tell her. Even though I remained calm, inside my patience was strained. We all took her nodding and giggling as interaction and passive acknowledgement to what was going on around her. It wasn’t. It isn’t.

Grandma

I read the headline of an article on how documenting your day helps maintain your memory. I didn’t read it nor will I link to it for a couple of reasons.

1.) It’s so obviously true. Reading something that you wrote down based on personal experience returns you to that moment, even if it’s like looking through a hazy mirror.
2.) Because my memory is so foggy, I need to practice using it and not rely on the internet to fill in the blanks.
3.) I want to write more on what’s in my head right now; not what use to be or even what could be.

That means things won’t be that interesting here because they will be garbled, hashed, and more sloppily thrown into the white space than ever before. Worse, I’m going to try literally working through lost words in my vocabulary as I type instead of depending on an electronic thesauruses. I’m tired of the words always on the tip of my tongue but never passing my lips. I’m sure that has a medical term. In fact, I know I’ve looked it up before, but I’m not going to now. I will use spellcheck, so for that at least you can be grateful.

According to my TimeHop app, it was three years ago I scheduled a neurological appointment for my mom to discuss her own edge-teetering dementia. The doctor said Alzheimer’s but my sisters refuse to make that leap. There’s a difference and I suppose as an outsider you can say it’s obvious what those differences are, but I can feel it. It makes no difference when you see her hazel eyes clouded with the inability to recognize me, even if it’s for a moment or several seconds. I see confusion and hurt.

At Thanksgiving, she and my six-year-old daughter, Aitch, disappeared into her room. I was busy with prepping the meal, but later Aitch said that grandma Jean sat on the floor and watched her play, giggling at her antics. There was no conversation. I think that’s why grandma slipped away. Aitch has no expectations from her grandma to answer questions about what craft she’s been keeping herself busy with, or if she’s done Christmas shopping, or has she started baking cookies.

After we ate, I asked my mom who was seated at the table, if she wanted apple or pumpkin pie. She chose apple. I went to the kitchen and plated up a slice and added a dollop of ice cream. I then asked her if she wanted a fork or a spoon. She looked up and through me, her face blank, and shrugged. In that instant, I knew…I knew that she didn’t know why I’d ask her if she wanted a fork or a spoon. I calmly rephrased the question, “With your apple pie and ice cream, would you rather use a fork or a spoon to eat it?” Inside I crumbled.

The mother of a friend of mine died a couple weeks ago after losing a painful battle with cancer. Following the visitation as I was walking away from the church with my husband, Sparring Partner, I must have made said something trite like “I can’t imagine what she’s going through,” and in an uncharacteristically harsh response, Sparring Partner said, “No, you can’t. Some day you will.” His dad’s death a year and a half ago still leaves him raw.

The thing is I have already lost my mom. Physically she can sit beside me, warm in the way that a body pumping blood is, but she’s gone. I can’t talk to her like she’s my mom anymore. She doesn’t care that Aitch is a first grader and wants to be a clothing designer. A few years ago, she’d laugh and tell stories the hundreds magazine clippings of fashions I have glued to into tablets, or of the dozens of dress sketches I had that to were in a cardboard box in the attic. She doesn’t care that my son, Doodicus, is a year away from a school driving permit or that he went to his school dance. My son will never hear the story from grandma Jean about my first traffic ticket even though she was in the passenger seat when it happened. There’s no reflection or magnification of my pride, fear, humor in her eyes that anyone else might get when they talk about their family.

Three Months to the Day

For the past couple of months, I’ve been updating from my private group on Facebook. It’s not the same, but honestly, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Since we last talked, Aitch turned five; Doodicus started the sixth grade and his grades half-way through the first quarter were all As; and I found out that November 1st will be my last day at work for the surgeon as he has opted to retire early.

I’ve been a little consumed by the last point because I hate job-hunting. I mean, who doesn’t hate job-hunting, but for me, I hate it to the point I cry and get heart palpitations. Administrative jobs in a town of 20,000 are as rare as hen’s teeth.

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In the past two weeks, I’ve applied for one position for which I really don’t qualify, but I figured what the hell. Actually I think the worst part is the interview. All those canned, pointless questions that the interviewer has written on a form and they write down the answers without truly even listening to what I’m saying… It’s the worst. I wish that they would just invite me out for coffee and just see if we like each other personally. Speed-interviewing, if you will.

Without my job, we will also be without health insurance. For our family, the ACA is a godsend. My apologies (insincere though it may be) to those of you who disagree. I’ve never pulled punches before and I won’t start now, but the only people I’ve heard vehemently appose the ACA are those who have had their coverage provided by their white-collar employer with little or minimal contribution from their paychecks. My husband and I make a decent living and have basically been responsible for a premiums. We are a blue-collar family that pays our bills. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, we paid our medical bills in full and on time. And then after that, I was uninsurable unless through an employer, and I had to wait a year to even be eligible for benefits. I’m tired of hearing from friends and family through my social media contacts that the ACA is meant for deadbeats and people who don’t pull their weight economically. They are narrow-minded, candy asses.

With that, I bring you this in keeping with current events. It’s brilliant. It comes from Brian Krewson at “the metric ruler“.

So, Imagine that the company you work for held a poll, and asked everyone if they thought it would be a good idea to put a soda machine in the break room. The poll came back, and the majority of your colleagues said “Yes”, indicating that they would like a soda machine. Some said no, but the majority said yes. So, a week later, there’s a soda machine.

Now imagine that Bill in accounting voted against the soda machine. He has a strong hatred for caffeinated soft drinks, thinks they are bad you you, whatever. He campaigns throughout the office to get the machine removed. Well, management decides “OK, we’ll ask again” and again, the majority of people say “Yes, lets keep the soda machine.”

Bill continues to campaign, and management continues to ask the employees, and every time, the answer is in favor of the soda machine. This happens, lets say… 35 times. Eventually, Bill says “OK, I’M NOT PROCESSING PAYROLL ANYMORE UNTIL THE SODA MACHINE IS REMOVED”, so nobody will get paid unless management removes the machine.

What should we do???

Answer: Fire Bill and get someone who will do the fucking job.

Bonus: Bill tells everyone that he was willing to “Negotiate”, to come to a solution where everyone got their payroll checks, but only so long as that negotiation capitulated to his demand to remove the soda machine.

Bill is a fucking jackass.

This is my therapy.

Lots of things happening, but either not feeling the urge to blog about it or lacking the time. Right now, I’m sitting quietly next to a digital dictaphone while it records the dictation from another dictaphone because I screwed something up at work. Sparring Partner has eradicated the louder humans from the house, so I’m doing what I can with the silence gratefully acquired.

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We were on vacation a month ago. We spent a week at my Southern-living SIL’s vrbo beach house. The arrangements were perfect for us; specifically within a very short walk to the ocean and our own private pool. We had invited another couple and their two children who are close to Dood’s age, but they weren’t able to accept. Instead my single, child-free sister was crazy enough to accompany. I think by the time she got back home to her two cats, she was thankful to be both single AND child-free. I often felt torn between letting the kids dictate the schedule and making sure my sister was able to take advantage of the local offerings.

Unfortunately, the most memorable part of the trip for me was the harrowing return flight. I won’t bore you with details, but please for the love of the sweet baby Jesus, if you bring carry-on luggage with you, and even if you plan on not letting that item leave your side the entire flight, put one of those stupid little tags that are piled on top of the terminal’s check-in desk on your bag. Shit can, and will, happen if you don’t. I was so traumatized that I have cried each time I recount the details.

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I recently had a birthday. My mom sent me a birthday card and at the bottom of it she wrote, “Come get your rabbit.” I have no fucking clue what the hell that even means.

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My daughter turns five next week. I still get phantom let-down pains when I think about her infancy.

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Next month Aitch will start kindergarten. Not a big deal, certainly, but I’m mostly concerned about how my tu-tu wearing, pink! purple!, girly-girl will adjust to the navy/khaki school uniform requirements. I imagine it’s also more of a struggle with girls than it is for boys at that age. The worst part for Doodicus was teaching him how to tuck in his shirts and to button a fly. In the past year, Dood has worn one pair of pants that did NOT have an elastic waist, and that was for his grandpa’s funeral.

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Since my FIL’s death, my MIL has been holding my husband emotionally hostage. If before I didn’t care for her, I now want to kick her in her artificial hips. HARD.

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Sorry to end on what can only be the most somber of notes, but it is important to note that my son’s best friend’s dad committed suicide on July 4th. I had the chance to speak privately with Danny’s* mom the day after the funeral. While the dad probably had always had depression, it was both undiagnosed and untreated, however the circumstances that led to the self-inflicted gunwound were mostly acute in nature; an accumulation of events from the preceding handful of days. If the news hadn’t been horrific enough, Danny was the first on the scene.

I was lucky enough to be able to see Danny the day I talked to his mom, but I was utterly speechless with him. We made small talk as we admired the crucifix his pastor gave him at the funeral. While I am completely heart-broken for the family, I am also very angry at the selfishness of the dad. He left two young boys behind who are THE age they need to have dad around (not that there’s really an age a boy doesn’t need his dad…), but both currently face heavy bullying (one of the reasons my son gravitated to Danny in the first place because they were both picked on by the same kids when they first met years ago). Plus the younger child has emotional issues that likely will have to be closely monitored all his life. It all just makes my head and heart ache. It’s unimaginable the burden the mom carries. At the close of our talk, she said on top of everything else, she feels humiliated by what he did and knows that the community will judge her unfairly. Sadly, she is right. I know being there just to listen will help, but I really wish I had the ability to perform just one miracle…just the one.

*name has been changed