Laughter, Lessons, Life, Love, parenting, finances, humility, friendship, economy, family

The Laundromat Chronicles

I have to assume that most people start off the New Year with the hopes for financial stability. That is why we consume pork and sauerkraut and avoid all things bearing feathers. I could have gnawed on pork rinds, bacon, pig’s feet, pig’s intestines, pork loin, pork roast, pork eyeballs and went to a pig roast on New Year’s Day, it wasn’t going to matter.

When it rains it pours….well not in 2018. When it rains, it hails and you get caught in between two tornadoes on an Interstate in Nebraska with 3 children coming back from a much needed getaway in the mountains. Literally. In all aspects. thumbnail

Plus I also want to take a minute to offer this public service announcement that hiding under an overpass during a tornado, or two, is actually the worst place to seek shelter. I also want to thank the great state of Nebraska for posting the “next mile is this far away …” signs. Those signs saved us because we chanced driving through wind, hail, rain and debris to that next exit 2 miles away instead of continuing to hide under an overpass. I seriously felt like Hans Solo driving the Millennium Falcon. It was truly a matter of ride or die.

I promised my kids an adventurous 2018. I meant more like mountain hiking and white water rafting the Colorado. Being a storm runner away person in Tornado Alley was not part of any adventure plan. Needless to say, we survived.

Anyways, no amount of pork consuming could brace for the financial disasters that would unfold in 2018. I should start a campaign I made mention of a few years ago. How about we eat fish or sushi on New Year’s day to remind us to “go with the flow”.

In August my hot water tank caught on fire. I have three full baths and three post football foul odor goose poop covered children too. As they were all in showers screaming that the water went “freezing ice cold”, I was hopeful that the recent power outage due to extreme heat temperatures caused some sort of glitch in the circuit panel. But that was not tripped. So, like a hair dryer, I naturally assumed the red reset-like button on the water heater thermostat panel would click and instant hot water.

I want to call myself pretty “handy” these days. But “handy” and educated doesn’t always mean bright. Upon hitting the reset on the thermostat I forgot to acknowledge that 220 volts of electricity were powering the utility. Let me just say that my hair frizz that day had little to do with the August humidity. I basically electrocuted myself causing a spark to the foam insulator on the hot water tank and igniting the old B*a$tard. I want to say the $4,400 was worth the expression on the plumbers face when I told him I hoped it was a quick fix of a reset button and perhaps a new thermostat. Smoke damage and fire was an easy fix right?Maybe? Yes? And no! Damn you pork.

A few weeks later I thought I was starting menopause. I run outside the home and inside like a crazy banshee. Yet, September with the back to school craze, a work contest sale promo push to sell blitz and three boys going in different directions with shoulder pads, helmets and book bags is not the month to slow down so it was hard to tell why all the sweat. Hot flashing? Crazy mama running? Well, I wasn’t hot flashing if you will. My HVAC unit was starting to go. So on financial recoup mode from back to school supplies, uniforms and water heater purchase, we had to forego AC and eventually heat until Halloween.

I planned on some relief via my car and my many daily travels but guess what, that went too. I bought the $50 re-charge kit but would you know my model year requires a special tool adaptor only dealerships would have for re-charging. So no car relief as the recharge was actually more like a leak. New as the car may be, I am an unpaid Uber driver courtesy of my kids so I am out of warranty and out of luck. No relief, no problem. I was losing weight in sweat.

Always see the bright side of things. Always!

On my way to get the boys a few days later from a tornado lock down that suddenly hit our non tornado town, my car transmission went. Yes, right then, with tornado sky overhead. “You seriously have got to be kidding me”, I thought. I survived tornado alley and now I am going to perish 1 mile from my home 1500+ miles away from Nebraska. If heaven above was not sending some message to this mama about fear and struggle and rebirth, I do not know who was nudging me.

More money, more problems.

Just as my HVAC unit was being replaced last month in time for the snowfall, my washing machine crawled across my laundry room floor and started leaking. I seriously could do nothing more than laugh-cry.

Sybil GIF courtesy of Yahoo Images

Laugh-cry is a real thing. It is like when Sybil (love you Sally Fields) invades your body and you are angry and grateful and sad and annoyed and laughing and crying all in one instance. The boys didn’t know whether to run or hide. Instead I told them, “Get mom a solo cup!” After about 800 fill-ups, I finally emptied my washing machine, unplugged her, rang out the clothes and continued to laugh-cry for about three minutes sitting in the puddle of water. Mama power quickly restored after that. Sometimes “all we need is love” or  a good laugh-cry when Sybil is more relevant at the moment than Beatles.

So for the past 4 weeks I have been laundering (not the illegal kind) at the Laundromat. I have heat and hot water and the ability to have clean clothes. I had to get really creative to earn some money but grateful for the ability to do so. Grateful for the humility these many trips around the heavens and underworld have taken me.

I have showed my boys we can make it work. I have showed them it is okay to want to quit but never do. I showed them if there is a will, there will always be a way. I showed them sometimes we have to fall down hard to see the bigger meaning. Sometimes we have to relearn humility again from our circumstances.

At the Laundromat last week a young girl came in and immediately sat down. She had no laundry or no real purpose to be there. I even thought for a moment that maybe I should grab my phone and keys because robbery could be a real ending to 2018 for me. I hated that I was judgmental of her even for a split second. Then she started balling her eyes out with her head placed between her hands. Most people around got uncomfortable, grabbed their stuff and walked away. I grabbed a tissue and sat next to her. She looked up and said, “I am sorry.” I told her there is never a reason to apologize for having a feeling, a moment, a situation or a need.

She was 24 years old and 4 months pregnant. Her sister died in a fatal car accident in 2015 and her parents turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with their loss with multiple arrests for DUI and drug possession. She found herself as a 21 year girl then out on the streets with a small paying job and no family to turn too. She rents a room from a 77- year old woman for shelter, owns a car that is mechanically unavailable and has an abusive boyfriend who is the father of her growing baby. Sounds like a Lifetime movie in the making or a crime ring scam, right?

Unfortunately, it was neither. Her boyfriend was yelling at her and manipulating her and there was no way I was going to sit there and allow him to hurt her. She had felt she hit rock bottom. He was threatening her and manipulating her and using her neediness to take advantage of her. She felt stupid and a bother to herself and others.

I spent 5 hours with this girl.

So did Carol the Amish lady who warmed up to us after she saw me consoling her. The Chief of Police sat with us too beause the girl feared her boyfriend would return. He did. He wouldn’t leave and we told her we would not let anything happen to her and her baby. Then the police escorted him out. We spent 5 hours giving her a pep talk. The officer and I bought her beverages and food. Her story checked out so she wasn’t a scam artist. Besides who would contact the police on themselves? I knew those tears and that gut wrenching painful feeling, because I have been there. I knew this wasn’t a scam because she declined taking money from us and her struggle was real. She was just hungry and thirsty for her and her growing baby. I knew she was hurting because I could see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice and see it in her body.

By the end of the 5 hours, two off duty officers took her back home. We provided her with contacts for shelter, care and counseling. No judgment. She needed me that day. The Amish lady Carol and the Chief of Police, well she needed them too. The safety and security of just having people, she really needed that too. Had we been like every other person and walked away from her, she might not be here today nor her unborn baby.

She is getting the help she needs.

I was reminded this year from circumstance after circumstance that we should always keep our humility and look on the bright side of things. Everything is temporary.

I ordered a new washer today and feel the financial saga of 2018 turning a new leaf. I would be lying if I said I will be happy to not have to visit the Laundromat once a week. But I got to know the regulars, the people who come in with their oversize quilts, the Amish who cannot launder in the snow and the restaurant owners nearby who pop in to deliver meals to the regulars. I will miss watching my boys helping with the  laundry and how mature and responsibile I saw them becoming. I will miss catching the weekend football games with my Laundromat crew.

I could have been a snob and purchased the washer on credit. Instead I decided to show my children the power of humility and the power of saving. In doing so, I saved myself, a young girl and have forged some real nice friendships.

This Holiday Season try allowing yourself to give more than receive. Try being more empathetic to someone who you may normally judge. Try remembering that…. hurt people sometimes hurt people. Try remembering that everybody always needs that person or people to lean on. Be that person. Step away from the drama, the gossip, the status quo and the regular crowd. It is amazing what you can discover about yourself and others. All things begin at what appears to be the end. Amazing, big and beautiful things… even if delivered by fire, wind, water AND hail.

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Lessons

Seventy Times Seven

1ffaa62d05c5a2528d8737195f2a0f42[1]I love this. Seventy times seven. It could be any number realistically if you are not into spirituality and all that. I mean it can be just as effective by saying eighty times eight. In fact, you could even say Buddha times ten. It’s all relative in the grand scheme of things.

For all the big private school religion I received and my boys, I never heard seventy times seven other than in Math class. It is pretty powerful if you think about it. It just puts some real big issues into a more comical way of looking at things. It might be really sacrilegious but I kind of look at it as seventy times seven just sort of means have a ton of compassion, forgive immensely, F*it and move on.

Seventy times seven and a million more times. That’s right folks. No amount of harboring the pain and Target store panic attacking will change the bull crap. It won’t matter how many times seventy times seven you plead your case or fight your cause. If one times one didn’t get it done, seventy times seven won’t either. Sometimes you have to approach it as going in at zero and coming out at a negative five hundred.

There is real purpose here. I promise. It’s called forgiveness without the actual forgiving part. Sometimes you just cannot forgive. Sometimes you just have so much pain that the anger rips through your blood like a toxin that will never go away. It’s about acceptance because no amount of forgiveness will change it.

Forgiveness isn’t about thinking they will come to your rescue. Forgiveness isn’t about being repaired, stitched up and not having a scar. The scar remains.

F O R E VE R.

That is just how it goes. Stop giving the power to the people and give it to yourself. There is a fine line between forgiveness and feeling peace. They are not one in the same. Choosing to forgive doesn’t release you from feeling angry. Forgiveness doesn’t remove the emotion of anger for anger cannot realize what happened is now part of the past.

Anger is simply refusing to allow you to heal. You fear letting go of the anger because it will force you to be someone else once the wound closes up. The scar remains. We get it. You want your old skin back. But it is never going to happen. You are forever scarred. No amount of anger is ever going to fix that. Ever.

happiness[1]So forgive, because it is the only way to clean up the destruction. They are not doing it. Forgiving does not necessarily mean you will have a future together or ever fully make amends. Forgiveness does not mean you are laying down and accepting what they did to you. Forgiveness means you are finally done waiting for the person(s) who broke you to put you back together. It is your job to heal you, not theirs.

Forgiveness is about moving forward. Seventy times seven and again and again to infinity and back, forgive and let go. You are scarred and that is your new path now. Start a new journey and become who you are meant to be…in your new skin, with all your scars. All seventy times seven of them.

Laughter, Lessons, Life, Love, Parenting, children, humor, education, entertainment, arts

It’s Our Thing

The miniature version of me who really isn’t so me and is not so mini anymore, has caused great panic. First off, he took the path less traveled from school to my car. Now, I am a huge promoter of that path. Life happens off the beaten but not when 50 parents and 8 teacher proctors or whatever their politically correct title may be are watching you.

When school lets out, proceed to follow the path. That means the shoveled, highly salted, dry path leading from school to mother’s vehicle. Oh no, not little Peeno. He basically hurdles a bush, climbs a tree and treks through 6 inches of slushy, melting snow losing his boot. Yes oh yes, I am the parent slouching with sunglasses on and my visor down and my sun shade up and my car basically wrapped in a tarp so to not admit that rebellious child is mine.

But they ALL know….

As soon as he gets near the car I can see the stares, the giggles from his peers, the secret high fives from the junior high kids and my 2nd grader who is about to get down and out with all holiness this Spring, with that smirk. It’s that smirk that’s caught between I just won first place in track and want to stay modest and I just pulled off the unthinkable and got away with it. What he doesn’t seem to appreciate is that his mother often bears the brunt of his travels.

It gets better. Why I dared even to ask how his day was? Of course, I got the vow of silence but then I could see the light bulb flashing and him wanting so hard to speak it up. See, rear view mirrors have become my greatest friend. And seeing that I spend about 5.35 daily hours in my vehicle driving these kids to and from here and there, old rear view has been there.

He has been there when 96 school fundraising candy bars were being busted open. He sees army men’s heads getting chopped off with preschool safety scissors for fear of they and Krampus would severely injure Salvatore, our Elf on the Shelf and on the toilet and on the chandelier and in the refrigerator. Rear view has seen giggles that I knew I best pull the car over. He has warned me of footballs, basketballs, nerf pellets and Starbursts about to be launched my way. He sees truths and mischief and tears and smiles.

But this particular day he saw a big thought. Sure enough, little Peeno proceeds to tell me he gave out our address to a bunch of people at school. Why exactly you ponder? Because he is selling many things at good prices with a BOGO (thank you BIG Bird) special on certain days. Oh yes, come one, come all to the great post Holiday sale. He will even be selling homemade hot cocoa and homemade cookies.

My little entrepreneur has just launched a real life Etsy where Pinterest meets Little Debbie and Swiss Miss. Thank you my dear son. So in telling my boys to think big and build anything what I forgot to offer was my disclosure. With that being known, they would need to proceed to consult with mommy dearest first.

So it wasn’t mattering to him at the least that he just provided an entire student body, faculty and parish with our address. He was going BIG and home. My home, where his new store would be. This way he could make the money to buy all the salted caramel hot cocoas he wanted. Plus nobody was ever going to tell him “no” again when he wants a mud garden pudding from the Botanical Garden cafe.

I have to admit, I was impressed. Being a business owner and all, I get it. I realized I secretly was proud of his efforts and his drive for earning potential. I didn’t like his failure to consult with said business partner per se but nonetheless his mindset was in all the right places.

In any regards, rear view betrays me sometimes and works both ways. When I glanced back he was already in view. He just smiled and said, “Come on mom, you can’t be upset, this is our thing. This is always going to be our thing!”

And he was right. I even think rear view nodded too.

Dream big and create my child, because “Amazon”s don’t grow wild by a flashing cursor. Someone pushes go and an empire is created. May your thing always be your thing! And may your empire always be a bit out of this galaxy. Because it’s out there, off the beaten, that little ideas become BIG things!

Uncategorized

Raggedy Imperfect Perfect Mess

French braids, her raggedy mess dolly, suitcase with her life’s treasures, a path threw places not reachable by those leaking her spirit and the broken parts in the heavens, letting the light in.

They broke the wrong parts. Thinking that without her wings she couldn’t survive. Peeling her fingers back one at a time while she desperately tried to hold on. She thought in losing her grip, she would lose a part of herself too. She thought she would become someone her soul didn’t know.

They threw fire and placed thorns upon her heart. They judged without ever stepping a foot inside her shoes. They burnt her good and almost dead. They stripped her from her dignity, her ability to feel, to be seen or to be heard. They diminished her rights. They tore down her walls making her heart and soul without boundaries and exposing her fears and passions open, for all to attack.

They peeled her fingers away one by one, making her loose her grip. They laughed when she wobbled and threw stones on her unsteadiness. They played games with her heart and challenged her integrity. They carried on laughing through the broken parts of her forest. Rattling her core and cutting her roots, they rejoice in their triumphs.

Yet, the light can only shine through when the forest is broken. Roots can regrow stronger because they’ve already been severed. Wiser will protect her by being still when she sways and sway when she can’t find the wisdom to bend.

She didn’t have to cling onto those who wanted her to feel pain or didn’t make her smile. She didn’t have to fight for a spot because her beauty grew anyways. Every downpour led her to a rainbow and every cold night brought about a new day. Roads end if the only choice is to stay on the same path.

It’s your journey to travel in the way you see fit. Not everyone has to like your journey because it’s not theirs to navigate. If they silence your worry, your heart and your fears, there are still beautiful souls seeking what you have to offer. Don’t rob those souls of the one true you by forcing yourself to those who turn away for your lack of conformity.

Wings help you fly but that little girl in you that never died, that’s who will carry you when the wrong parts of you are broken. It’s the little girl who’s passion keeps you from failing. It is that little girl’s spirit who says your good enough. It is that little girl’s belief that you can be the person she saw long, long ago.

A raggedy, imperfect, perfect mess with one hand gripping your life’s treasures and the other holding onto what needs to remain imperfect. With French braids barely moving while your little soul of courage, heart of love and eyes of passion travel by way only an adventurer would dare. The little girl will always be there believing in you. Because kid, when you get where you are going, there will only be the happiest of tears. So take her broken wings, because she’s still going to fly!

Life, Love

Protein Shakes and Fumble Fakes

FullSizeRender-2Some consider summer a time of leisure and lazy days.  If you’re into that kind of lifestyle, I sure bet it’s quite like that.  Sipping lemonade and sweet tea on the porch while the sun sets and fireflies make their way across the freshly cut lawn.  The lawn that is greener than green because you actually have the time to care for it.  Then you mosey on in to your covered patio with a Sangria night cap protected from the evening bats and mosquitos.  It all seems absolutely blissful.  I often dream of this leisure way of living but right now, I am on mom mode supercharged and supersized times three.

See I envy you and your leisurely ways of life.  But right now my summer and early Fall was filled with protein shakes and fumble fakes.  We spent summer nights traveling back and forth from OTA’s and two-a-days.  We played Friday Night Lights of a different kind with baseball bats and dust covered hats.  We watched sunsets on practice fields and swatted bees and mosquitos at football games and baseball games.  We blistered in the sun, sweating in places the human body is even surprised.  The last few weeks were spent on cold, damp bleachers where Thursday summer eves FullSizeRender-5turned into Thursday Night Lights.  These nights we were fully immersed in extra layers, cozy spirit wear blankets and hot cocoa straight out of concession stands.  I can assure you it was not Polar Express kind as thick and rich and creamy as hot cocoa can get.  It was Carnation packets emptied into scolding water.  But it was football delight!

Because despite summer porch nights being replaced with team ice cream socials and protein shakes and tenth meals of the day, it was our summer and Fall life.  We wouldn’t trade it for the sweetest of teas or most glorious of sunsets.  Because there is something greater that happens beyond the football pads, baseball hats and fold-up chairs permanently affixed in your trunk.  There is this sweet little thing called a sports family.  FullSizeRender-3

It’s the people who check in to remind you what color socks to wear.  It’s the people who send you an early morning text to wish your boys good luck.  It’s the people who help you transport your kids when you have to be at another field.  It’s the grandparents of other kids who treat yours as if they are their own.  It’s every parent who catches your child in a photograph during that incredible play you missed because you got stuck in a port-a-potty.

It is the coach who runs after you post game to tell you how truly proud of your child FullSizeRenderthey were during that game today.  It is the parent who runs down to make sure your child will get up again.  It is the coach who calls you to tell you he won’t let your child miss another game for a less than stellar test score.  It’s the teachers who stay late to help make that happen and the ones who come in early.  It’s the parent who takes your child home from school and to practice so you can trek across town to watch another.

It’s everyone you least expected to be there for you and your kids that have proven to be there through thick and thin.  It is your sports family.  They don’t just disappear when the season ends and the scoreboard dims.  They ride out every hurdle, hiccup, great play and carpool need until the season begins again next year.

They share the teary eyes and wider than grin smiles with you and your children.  They share in the high fives and bumps and bruises.  They let you know your son is in an ice bath and he will be right out “so hang tight, Mom”.  It’s the parent that looks back in the stands and shares a moment because they just watched that play involving your child too.   It’s the “I got your back” moments when you just don’t have the words to express your need.

Then there’s the ones who remain silent and out of nowhere send you a text that says….”PS, you rock and NEVER stop being mom!”  It is a moment like that which melts your heart and makes you smile.  Because sometimes we get defeated being all in for our children.  We feel under appreciated and worn out.  We dream of lazy summer days and cozy Fall nights.  Then we get that wink, that high five, that hug or thank you from a player, maybe not even your own, that makes it all worth it!

Lessons, Life, Uncategorized

Little League Moment in Buddha Fashion

In one final rally, the boys tried to hold on to their lead to advance to the next round of the 9u baseball playoffs. It was not in their cards. Not this time. Not this year. Not this season.

I went over to the dugout after Noochie’s last “at bat” and saw the tears welled up in his eyes. He was never going to release them but they were there, they were real and yet he wasn’t going to let them be in charge.

He held his head up high and congratulated every member of the other team. He thanked his coaches and teammates and he looked at me in Mogwai glances and then we headed to the car.

The silence overcame us as we drove off and made our way to get his other brother at football. When we arrived, he said to me, “I’m running to the “restroom”. Which for where we were, translated to the top of the football field hill and into the woods.

As time passed it dawned on me he had not yet returned to the car. I looked up the hill and there he was, in Buddha fashion, sitting cross-legged and reflecting.

I knew exactly what he needed from the moment. I knew exactly what he was reflecting on. I knew he would work it out within himself to regroup and move on. I knew he let the tears, finally take charge.

When he returned to the vehicle he was more at peace with himself. The somber look dissipated and he was humbled. I asked him if he was alright and he replied, “I’m better now, it’s hard, I don’t want the season to end and I wanted my final game to be better than the way I performed. But I looked the other way towards my football practice field and I’m ready to transition to that game. I’m not letting myself down because I learned a lot. I’m just ready to be a better version of me next year.”

Ten years old and so wise beyond his years.

We talk a lot about mindfulness. We talk about communicating with each other and unconditionally supporting our little family of four, the boys and I.  They have seen me at both states. Those were I let the moment take control of me and other times when I stayed grounded and mindful. Yet, of all of us, he can practice this trait the best.

Mindfulness.

He is a constant reminder to me of what’s truly important. When to acknowledge it’s sometimes best to head for the hill. When to engage and when to simply just walk away; sometimes not even turning back.

The field dust will always be there behind us and the emptiness that takes over the bases, mound and plate sometimes is a reality. But what really matters is taking what you learned from every base, every hit and strike out, every walk and every run and make the next time around, a better version of you.

Love, Parenting, children, humor, education, entertainment, arts

Cloudy with a Chance of Meeting at 3:00am

Lately it’s been hectic and heavy on the schedule. Basketball games and tournaments and recreating George Washington. 100 days of school and turning 7 year olds into 100 years old by the break of dawn. Valentine’s Day crafts and treats and cards and boxes and bags and did I mention basketball?

So when you are the third ranking child, that little thing called a bedtime routine gets a little out of whack. If even existsent at all.  So my little Peeno has had a hard time winding down post basketball. While big brother struts his stuff on the court, Peeno goes from building a Lego masterpiece under the bleachers, to riding on a team mascot’s back during halftime to talking smack in an unofficial basketball match with high schoolers on the adjacent practice court.  See, where most siblings of the players range from 13 and up, I still have one of the younger ones.

And he goes and goes and goes like it’s nobody’s business. And everyone sits atop their cushy pillow in the bleacher stands reminding me how “he is gonna pass right out!”  Uh, they have no idea. It’s like a sick, twisted game of reverse psychology. The little $h*t doesn’t wind down. He winds up. And up and up.

You know that runner’s high or release of serotonin after a really, really good work out?  Well this kid mass produces that sh*t.

So, bedtime has become again, a challenge. I’m sort of embracing it though because it will be short lived. In a year or so, it won’t be this way. And I know my heart will cry out for these moments. Moments of having to use the bathroom again, maybe. Needing just one more little, itty bitty sip of water. The radio song is “creeping me out”.Needing one more good, teeny little story. And “just one more song you sing but not that doe a dear one again and can you find out the real words mommy to hush little baby….”

Because he apparently knows that if that diamond ring won’t shine, mommy is gonna crack open a bottle of wine is just me hitting survival mode and not the way the lullayabe really goes. 

And then the Three Little Bears fairytale steals the scene with somebody’s been sleeping again in my bed BS. And this bed just feels too icky. And can I have 18 more pillows and Jingle and Fury are all f’ed up. Oh and snakey. Gosh forbid we don’t have the $38.00 hook a fish carnival gem we scored. Let’s find snakey! You plush, stinky little neon thing you.

And then when it’s almost all over and almost all said and done and I snuggled just 5 more minutes, he leans into me and says, “mommy there is a 100% chance I will see you in your bed tonight at about 3:00 am. I love you more than anything mommy, but I love God, Jesus and Mary just a crumb more than you. You can go now mommy, I’m sleepy!”

And the Energizer Bunny powers down leaving me with a forecast outlook to 3:00am. Goodnight sweetheart.

These days aren’t forever. I know that. And someday I will want them back tenfold. And even when his little a$$ comes crawling into my bed at 3:00am giving me liver kicks until 5:00am, I will love him more than anything…like he makes me promise him every night! 100 times over. I hope he always knows, I will be his mommy forever! All the days of our lives! He can always fall asleep counting on that because sheep don’t work folks!

What’s your little babes bedtime ritual? Can  you appreciate my new twist on hush little baby? I think it’s a solid tune! Ba. Ba. Ba. 100 Sheep to go……………….