Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Leaving for the Wild Island Today.

I figured if I just disappeared for the next 5 days without a word, you would assume the Stalker Congregants got me. We haven't seen anymore from them, although now I am looking over my shoulder everywhere I go again. Damn!

But I am leaving today to go to the Wild Island that does not have much internet access. I'll be able to check my email 15 minutes everyday, but I won't be able to blog, so look for me again Monday. Hopefully I'll be rested and relaxed and won't even think about the fact that I'll be going back to work for the woman who says I don't compliment her enough.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Stalker Congregants

were spotted at our church today!

For those of you just joining this blog, I need to give you some background information. Several years ago our church was infiltrated by con-artists. They were an older couple with a "Bless your heart" kind of attitude. They both dyed their hair with the same jet-black color and they were loud and outgoing. He claimed to be a former funeral director and she claimed to be a former officer in the Salvation Army. Our church had been struggling for years with low attendance and lack of participation, so when this couple started attending, they jumped right in and planned church dinners and get-togethers and socials. People loved them.

They told a story about an inheritance that was always "coming" to them. It kept getting held up for some reason or other. But when they got it, they said, they were going to buy things for people. They promised one woman a car. They promised to put a new roof on the church. They even told me they had bought the school building that was for sale on the corner of my subdivision for me so that I could start my own school. And yet, something always happened to these promises. The day after they told me they bought the school for me, the sale of the school WAS announced, but not to them, to local school district to start a pre-k.

Because their money was always "held-up", they always had to borrow money. They would tell a sob story to select people and these very wealthy and kind-hearted souls would "lend" them several thousand dollars. Only to this day the money has never been returned. We started to discover that they were opening accounts in the church name, saying they were the vice president (our church doesn't HAVE a vice president) and then letting the accounts fall into delinquency. Hubby started to question them and they started to spread rumors and lies about Hubby. They interfered with his authority and tried to have him removed from the church.

But the worst things were not any of these things. The worst things were what they did to me personally. I have a sixth sense about people. I always have. The day I met them I knew they were con-artists and I warned Hubby. He didn't believe me at first. They bought my daughter gifts, trying to win me over when I didn't warm up to them. But then strange things started happening to me at church. My stuff would start to disappear. CD's that I was supposed to sing to, Vacation Bible School materials or Sunday School lessons I was supposed to teach that day, little things. Or my song that I was supposed to sing that day in church that had been perfectly cued in the tape deck would be completely run to the end of the tape when it was time for me to sing during the service. Or the man would find me when I was alone and yell and scream at me and slam doors in my face, but deny it ever happened to others. They even stalked me at my house. E was 3 when this all started and they found out when her nap time was and called every single day at nap time, purposely trying to wake her up. They came to my door when I wouldn't answer the phone and knocked for 20 minutes, drove around the block and repeated several times a day.

Finally I did some sleuthing and found out the woman was using an alias and the couple had a long criminal history. The woman had spent 9 years in jail. At this point there's so much more I could write. We kept a file on everything they did to us andwhat we learned about them and the file is 53 pages long, but I won't bore you with any more detail. Anywho, this couple pulled a final straw and Hubby threw them out of the church. It took 6 months after and an off the books visit from a local sheriff friend to get them to leave ME alone before they finally seemed to be gone for good.

Until today. Today a church member said that she saw them driving very slowly by the outside of the church as she was walking in. They didn't say anything to her, but you have to wonder, what do they want? Maybe they just wanted to see if Hubby's name was still on the post outside. Maybe they were just there coincidentally. Or maybe, just maybe, they are planning to try to cause trouble again. But I'll tell you, if I see them, they won't get a second chance from me, I'll be calling 911 and having them removed from the premises. They messed with my sense of safety for too long. I will not go through that again. I played nice last time around, but that won't happen again! Pastor's wives get pissed off, too!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Watch Out for Flying Pigs!

Many years ago I fell in love with a good 'ol Southern boy. He was charming and attractive and treated me like his world would stop if I experienced one moment of discomfort. He was kind and attentive and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. It didn't matter to me that he was from a very hot climate and I was from a very cold climate. I was willing to move to a middle ground so neither of us would suffer. It didn't matter that he didn't have a lot of money. Money just bought you things, not a man who could and would write 2 page love letters and send flowers "just because."

I thought for sure that this Southern boy came from a genteel old world Southern family who drank mint juleps and wore crisply lined poplin pants and oozed that charm you always see on TV.

I was wrong. Hubby's parents are quirky. They like Jeff Foxworthy and they are LIKE Jeff Foxworthy and...well...the exact opposite of Hubby. Now I can see them for who they are. But it has taken 15 years for us to find a place where they don't think I hate them and I don't feel like they disapprove of Hubby marrying me. And it all started Christmas day in 1995.

Hubby and I lived 10 hours away by car from my midwestern family and 10 hours by car from his Southern family. That first Christmas we were married we didn't have enough money to travel to either homeplace nor could we take the time off of work to do so, but we didn't know who to invite to our house. We didn't want to offend either set of parents, so we invited both sets to spend Christmas with us. That turned out to be a huge mistake.

Both parents came to us that year, mine stayed in a hotel two blocks away and Hubby's stayed in our guest room. All was going well until Hubby's parents rented the movie "The Shawshank Redemption." This is a great movie. I have watched this movie several times. Heck, it was filmed in Ohio, I know some of the extras in it. But this movie has a very heart wrenching suicide scene in it and this was only our second Christmas after my brother had committed suicide. While by then we had moved on in our grief, the holidays still made us tender.

Anywho, I asked my in-laws not to watch the movie while my parents were around, but my in-laws chose to ignore my request. One thing led to another, things got very tense, and my parents ended up hiding out in my kitchen while I sat in my closet crying and whisper-screaming at my husband about how insensitive his parents were being to my family's feelings for not being more sensitive about the movie. Of course my apartment was very small and my parents could still hear the movie in the kitchen, so when the aforementioned scene came on, my dad lost his temper, took my mom and stormed out, swearing he would never again be in the same room with my in-laws. It was a horrible day in my life.

My dad was true to his word. When E was born the grandparents took turns sharing events in her life. My mom got the actual birth but the in-laws got the baptism (they're more religious). But now that my parents live so close, it is not so easy to explain to E why she couldn't have all 4 grandparents in the same room. So today, my dad conceded and we all went to lunch together. All last night I made myself sick with worry about what was going to happen. Was my dad going to say something rude and start an argument? Was my father-in-law going to try to manhandle me (as he has a tendency to do) and piss my parents off? Was I going to make it?

Do you know what happened? Nothing. They were all civil and polite and pleasant towards each other. No one was exactly ecstatic to be there, but for the love of E, they were all trying their best to just get along.

And now you'll excuse me while I go watch the pigs fly over while Hell freezes below.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All is Quiet!

Shhh...Do you hear that? It's the sound of silence. It is 6:34 PM and...

I
am
completely
and
utterly
ALONE!!!!

Don't feel sorry for me, this is the best Christmas gift ever. Uncle Junior rallied and is off of all wires and tubes. He will forevermore have to be on dialysis, but his heart and blood/oxygen levels are back to normal and the infection is responding to treatment. But because of his reversal in health, my in-laws did make the trip and arrived here safely yesterday.

So how, you might ask, have I ended up sitting here all by myself on Christmas Eve? Why am I not at church and singing the perfect Christmas song at our wonderful/ most well-attended service of the year? Well, I came down with a nasty chest cold on Sunday (don't feel sorry for me, I always do at this time of year) and then my in-laws brought their big, fuzzy, long-haired, chow mix allergy dog into my house and basically destroyed my chances of feeling better. So they took care of E all day and I cooked some of tomorrow's food a little bit, rested a little bit, cooked a little bit more for tomorrow, rested a little bit more. I read "The Water is Wide" by Pat Conroy and have started on "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Eiren-something or other. Aside from the raging fever, it's been wonderful. I haven't had time to read in months. I took a nap with my head in Hubby's lap and I took an hour long bath. These are all luxuries that I had forgotten existed. Maybe I am milking being sick for all it is worth and I feel like crap, but I think I earned a little bit of R & R.

So that being said, in this quiet moment in my life, I would like to take a moment to share what I think are the greatest gifts in my life, things that can't be bought with money.

1. I am thankful that I have a daughter who decided she wanted to feed the homeless for Christmas and didn't just assume someone else would do it. She gathered her friends together and went Christmas caroling through the neighborhood to raise money for the local food bank and made $22.11.

2. I am thankful for friends who heard the tale of her caroling and mailed her blank checks to add to her cause, raising the total she collected to $102.11.

3. I am thankful that when my daughter asked me to buy her fresh cherries in the grocery store, I didn't have to stop and say "I'm sorry, honey, we can't afford to pay 7.00 for fresh fruit." Last year at this time, that would not have been the case.

4. I am thankful that I have a husband who, instead of taking shelter and hiding, is not afraid to face head on into the storm when I start to rage and feel turbulent. He has a way of soothing my savage soul when no one else can.

5. I am thankful that I have managed to reconnect with some old friends this year. They help remind me that who I was is not lost.

6. I am thankful that I have made some new friends this year, albeit online. It's been a tough year for my emotional self and all of your comments have made me realize that others feel exactly like I do, so maybe I'm not as crazy as I thought. So thanks.

So I hope you won't be offended if I wish you a Merry Christmas (my husband is a pastor after all). But whatever your beliefs, I hope the spirit of the season brings you peace, joy and laughter.

Namaste!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

All Advent season I have been moaning and groaning about everything I have to do and how stressed out I am and how all I really want is to have a quiet Christmas all to myself with just Hubby and E. My in-laws are supposed to be arriving from another southern state tomorrow, but I knew that if I could just make it to next week, my life would become so much easier. For you see, next Wednesday we are supposed to leave for one of the very few perks we get as a clergy couple. We get to spend 5 free days at a condo on an exclusive remote Wild Island if Hubby only agrees to officiate at the Sunday service. That's it. He has to work two hours and we get 5 days in a 2 bedroom condo, two bikes and golf cart plus ferry tickets to the island- FREE! It's heaven! I know we already live by the ocean, but it's different. Our congregants can't get to us!

But this morning Hubby got a call from his mom preparing him for bad news. Hubby's Uncle Junior (yes, he's that Southern) is a diabetic who has had a foot wound that has refused to heal. A few days ago, he was admitted to the hospital for more intense treatment. Today his wound turned deadly and has started to attack his bones. His kidneys shut down completely and his heart is only functioning at 20%. No one is saying MRSA, but since my family has all had MRSA, I really think that is what it is. (Did you know pastors are at a high risk for MRSA since they make so many hospital visits? Hubby has a special nose medicine just to protect him.)

Anywho, now we are in a holding pattern. Hubby's parents may or may not make the drive tomorrow. We may or may not have our family Christmas. We may or may not have our Island vacation. So many ifs. Sorry. I just don't have anything witty or acerbic to say about this and it wouldn't be right to complain. I love my husband too much.

But I do have something of interest. We have someone in our neighborhood who is going through the mailboxes and opening Christmas cards looking for money and such. It has gotten so bad that I called the sheriff and filed a report. Sadly, the sheriff said there wasn't anything he could do, but he suggested I talk to the neighborhood association. Which I did. The VP of the association asked me to tell any neighbors I saw about what was going on so we could all keep an eye out. She asked me if I had any suspicions about who it was and I said no, even though I did. There is a man who lives down the street from us with a golden retriever. He's a nice man and he has lived in the neighborhood longer than we have. I talk to him occasionally and he is always SO friendly. But lately he has changed his dog walking habits. I don't know why that seemed odd to me. After all, he's so NICE.

Hubby and I were heading out for dinner last night and we saw the man walking his dog. He is a neighbor and I had been asked to spread the news, so I told Hubby to pull up to him to talk to him. After all, I was just being silly. He was walking his dog at a different time of day. That was no reason to suspect him of being a thief. Right?

But as Hubby and I are pulling up to him, I am grabbing at Hubby's leg, desperately trying to get him to drive on and keep going, trying to get him not to say anything because damned if that man wasn't opening our other neighbor's mailbox! The man had his hand in the mailbox but closed the door quickly as Hubby, who had failed to comprehend the situation (gift of hindsight thing), started telling him about the mail thief. Hubby and the man exchanged pleasantries, Hubby told the man where we lived and then we drove off with me smacking him across the shoulder going "DIDN'T YOU SEE HIM IN THE MAILBOX?"

We haven't called the police...yet. We're hoping we have scared him, or at the least, he will leave our house alone since he doesn't know if we saw him or not. But my next door neighbor has outdoor cameras (he keeps a lot of work equipment around) and is turning them out onto the street. Hopefully, if he does come around again, we'll get him on tape.

Ah the intrigue at Muddy Waters Lane.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Importance of the Clanger

Yesterday was our last day of school before the winter break (oops, I almost slipped and typed "brake".) Anywho, we had the children and their parents gather for a singalong and cookie social. Earlier that morning, before the parents had gotten there, the lead teacher read all of our kids The Polar Express. I figure almost everybody knows what the book is about, so I won't rehash it's plot, but the eventual lesson of the story is that as long as the main character can hear his little bell from Santa's sleigh ring, he'll always believe in Santa. Preschool children interpret this lesson as Santa will always believe in THEM.

Well, for the very last song of our singalong, the lead teacher handed out a small gift of a large jingle bell to each child. Only one child, who just happens to be named a very Christmas-y name, went to ring his bell and...nothing happened. I saw this little boy's face fall out of the corner of my eye as he shook the bell again, even harder, and still no sound came out. Suddenly, the little boys mouth twisted into a tiny, puckered pout and he let out the most heart-wrenching wail I had ever heard:

"DADDY! I CAN'T HEAR THE BELL!!!!"

Luckily his daddy was one of those completely in tune and on the ball types and saw this horrible event unfolding and told his son that Santa knew that he still believed in him. We replaced the bell with a working one and all was well. But I have to say, I think I will hear that horrified cry for the rest of this Christmas season.

And on another note, thanks to Wide Lawns for mentioning me in her blog. I have been a fan since I read a wonderful post she wrote about a redneck and a trampoline. That was actually one I read out loud to Hubby. I wanted to let everyone new know that I did not write the little blurb to the left about Living in Muddy Waters. That came from a pastor's sermon at a progressive church in the mountains. I thanked him in the very first post of this blog, but I can't remember his name now at this moment. I'm cursed with being scrupulously honest, so when I started to see new names popping up reading my blog, I thought I better mention it again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smarter Than A Second Grade Teacher?

My daughter's second grade teacher is a real piece of work. I have nothing good to say about her and now she can do nothing right in my eyes. But tonight I really blew a gasket when my daughter came home and told me that she was told she got a sentence wrong on her spelling homework. Her word was "brake." She was supposed to use brake in reference to a device that stops a machine or vehicle. Her sentence was:

"Alice lost the brake off of her scooter. "
Alice can't stop now because she DOESN'T HAVE A BRAKE! She was marked wrong for that and for using the word "brand" incorrectly. Her sentence was:
"I got brand new Christmas stockings."
That one I might overlook, but BRAKE! ARGH!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And In Conclusion...

Essentially my boss told me today in our meeting that she didn't like or trust me because I don't give her enough positive affirmations, that since I never tell her that she is doing a good job she doesn't know what I think of her. Those are her words not mine. And that's all I am going to say on that.

So last night I dreamed about my dead brother and my husband had to shake me awake because I was screaming in my sleep. In my dream my husband was leading my brother's walking, decomposing body into my room and my brother was saying "Mom...Dad" in this low gutteral tone. I was so freaked out when I woke up that I had to keep telling myself over and over that we had my brother cremated.

How many days until Christmas?

Monday, December 15, 2008

As If It Wasn't Enough

My boss told me today that we need to sit down and talk in the morning tomorrow because she "doesn't enjoy working with me. That I am unapproachable, stern and that she doesn't feel like she can talk to me." This is the same woman who told me that when I wore my hair in a ponytail I made her uncomfortable because I looked too "stern" (again with the stern). I stopped wearing my hair up to try to appease her but refuse to do that anymore after the lice scare.

I don't even know what to do now. This is like the pot calling the kettle black. I have tried to enage this woman in conversation. I have asked her questions. I have tried to make her laugh. She has always remained standoffish. She has been critical of me and made me feel two feet tall. Maybe I do look stern, but wouldn't you? So now do I just sit there tomorrow morning and take whatever she has to say and just try to get through it or do I fight back, have my say but make my situation miserable until my contract runs out in June? It's not like this is exactly the best economy to be looking to a new job in even then.

I can't breathe. Will somebody please open the lid to this box I am in and let me out?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In a Nutshell

If you know me or had been reading my former blog, you know that I suffer from low self-esteem. I always have and I probably always will. I usually manage to compensate fairly well and get by in life without it being a huge issue, but like the strange alignment of the planets recently, things in my life have changed and I have been taking a beating.

First and foremost, my parents moved to town. This has been the worst thing in the world for my self-esteem. I am now within a stone's throw of their constant criticism and I get to experience it first hand at least once a week. And it comes from both parents, not just one. If E has a cold, or a bruise or bumps her head, my mom essentially calls me a bad parent for not rushing her to the ER. If I took E to the ER everytime my mom told me to, I would be suspected of child abuse or Munchausen's syndrome. Seriously! My dad watches every single bit of food that I put in my mouth. If I don't eat, he comments. If I do eat and it is not a leafy vegetable, he comments. And then they both make those comments. You know the kind. The veiled, trying to be supportive but really knocking you to the ground, kind of comments. "Well, you've been heavy all of your life, of course you can't lose weight."

Next my boss is hypercritical. I can't do anything right. Actually, it is not just me, it is everyone in her world. She corrects all of the other teachers and parents as well. It's just that I am the one who works day in and day out with her and it takes every ounce of energy I have to keep a civil tongue in my head when I am being constantly criticized. I am a good employee. I am a damn good employee. And yet, she constantly finds fault. That does not help my self-esteem issues. I have been trying to not complain but it has been chipping away at me, especially this past couple of weeks because...

Lately people have found it alright to raise their voice and yell at me. It's weird. I seem to be fair game for people to take some strange internal wrath out on. First it was the Santa incident at church. Then yesterday Hubby got irrationally frustrated with me that I bought the wrong Christmas lights and even E told him that his tone of voice was "very stern." Lastly, a woman in choir yelled at me for jumping a note during warm-up for our Christmas cantata. I made a mistake in practice. A mistake I had never made before, but she saw fit to raise her voice like a harridan and screech at me in front of all of the choir. I was flabbergasted and just not able to shake it off because of all of the other issues I am having. She hit me where it hurt. I am afraid to make mistakes, especially when it comes to my singing, and she called me out on it.

So all of this is coming to a head now at Christmas time because I hate Christmas. And I hate Christmas because, really, I make Christmas for so many other people. My friend the Assassin calls me the Arranger in our relationship. That's who I am in the world. I am the Arranger. My parents, husband and family rely on me to create the right Christmas magic, cook the perfect meal, bake the perfect goodies, sing the perfect song on Christmas Eve, buy the nicest gifts, wrap all the presents, and still find time to smile. I am the Christmas spirit provider in my house. Right now, and in this time in my life, it is just too much pressure. I am suffering in myself and not able to rise to the challenge. I am afraid I am going to fail and let everyone down. I never do, but this year I have all of these added things tugging away at my psyche making me feel crazy and I can't even stand to smell all those 72 sugar cookies I made yesterday, much less eat one to make myself feel better. But I am tired of all of this responsibility for other people. And I am tired of other people yelling at me unprovoked. And I am tired of not being able to accept that I am who I am and that should be good enough. I am tired of not feeling like I am good enough.

So there. Go ahead and order your cheese. I have provided the whine. But I just needed to get it out. So please. No more yelling at me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two Thumbs Up

If you are looking for a good movie to watch with a loved one this holiday season, check out Elizabethtown. It stars Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. The first 15 minutes are complete drivel and mind-numbing, but if you make it through that, it turns into a really funny and heartfelt movie that perfectly shows my relationship with my in-laws to a T.

I'm still struggling through some stuff so I don't have a lot to post, but a high point of my week was when the lead teacher decided to put a lit candle in a little self-contained lantern on a small table at waist level with the 3, 4 and 5 year olds. I didn't think it was a good idea, but she overruled me, of course. So do you want to guess how many children were burnt? Two children burned their hands and one of my little 4 years olds whose own mother says she is a space cadet burned her MOUTH. Why she put her mouth on it, I don't know, but again I say: WHY WON'T PEOPLE EVER LISTEN TO ME?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bleh

I'm still here. The angst is back with a vengeance. It seems that now that the Topamax has taken away my ability to eat, I no longer have a means of soothing myself since I used food as my crutch. I feel like a baby who has lost her binky. I'm suffering from some mid-life crisis stuff and when I can write about something that doesn't make you want to ask for some cheese with my whine, I will return.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Read Wednesday and then come here

I purposely failed to mention that my little girl who put the bead up her nose is also the girl I am convinced has OCD. But...as I have been accused of labeling children too easily, AND as my request to put the beads away was denied, AND as the girl was allowed to continue to work on her project that she started yesterday...

Do you see where I am going here?

I turned just in time to see her sticking a bright blue bead up her nose again. I barked her name so quickly she dropped it and the stunned look on her face spoke volumes. Luckily this time I saw the bright blue bead drop out.

WHY, WHY, WHY won't people listen to me?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Really NOT Funny...and yet....

I live in a miniature world. All day long I am surrounded by tiny people who work at tiny tables and sit in tiny chairs. They have tiny fingers and tiny noses. They are oh, so cute, and yet, sometimes they lack the ability to use good judgment.

Take today for example, I was kneeling at a tiny table working with a child when I felt another child whoosh up on me in a sheer panic. Her face was distorted, she was breathing hard and I really thought she was going to tell me she had cut some body part off with scissors. I turned towards her, told her to take a breath and asked her what was wrong. In a very high pitched wail she said:

"I PUT A BEAD UP MY NOSE AND NOW I CAN'T GET IT OUT!!!!" This wail immediately caused all of the other children to turn into shelties and they started running in circles, screaming my name wondering what I was going to do. The girl had been working with perler beads and decided to see how it would feel to put the bead up her nostril. The thing is, this girl is a nose picker, so I didn't even need to ask her why she did it. I grabbed a tissue, held the non-bead filled nostril closed and told her to blow, but alas, the bead was stuck.

The poor girl started to cry even harder, terrified that the bead was going to be stuck forever and even more terrified when I told her we were going to call her dad to come get her and take her to the doctor. I explained to her that this was no big deal, really. That while she should never again put something up her nose, she is not the first nor will she be the last child to put something up her nose. She was fascinated when I told her that I had a kid who stuck a raisin up her nose and another who put a black bean up her nose. She was completely calm when the lead teacher walked back into the room, asked me what was going on and, when she found out, started berating the child. All hell broke loose again. The poor girl's nose was whistling from the bead, the other children were anxiously clustered around and I was once again trying to calm the scene.

The girl's dad arrived, took the child to the doctor and she was back within 2 hours. When he arrived back, he told me that "In the future when that happens, you should try to close one nostril and tell her to blow through the other." To which I replied, "Well, hopefully she has learned her lesson and this WON'T happen again, but I did try doing that and it didn't work at the time."

Ah, the joy of the preschool class.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'll Show You Santa!!!

I probably should have titled this post "Don't Abuse the Pastor's Wife!" but that's just laughable. No one is ever going to stop and think before they yell at the pastor's wife for something she HAS NO CONTROL OVER! Do you have your hot chocolate in hand? Are you seated in your comfy chair? Ready for a good story? Good. Then I shall begin.

Once upon a time, about 8 years ago, a tradition started at our church. Santa arrived on the last Sunday before Christmas and handed out small gifts to each child in the church. This started after we had left for Hubby to attend the Most Expensive Seminary in the World and before we returned for him to become The Pastor. I have been told it started to ensure that a few of the children (who normally went without presents) got something each year. At the time, it was a wonderful gesture and our church could financially afford it. After all, there were only 5 or so kids. But, slowly and with great effort, the church has been growing. There are now about 20 children who attend the "Santa Sunday." Not all of them are seen any other time of the year, but... While our church has been growing, the 150 year old foundation, 75 year old roof and 50 year old heating system all decided to show their age this year and the bills are truly threatening to swamp the church and take it under. There is no money to buy unnecessary gifts for children who already get plenty at Christmas.

Let me stop here to say one thing. The children who come from homes that can't provide Christmas WILL still be taken care of, they will not be forgotten. Hubby always makes sure to get presents for them and delivers it to their houses.

Anywho, the past three years, the "Santa Sunday" has been akin to pulling teeth. We have actually had to go outside of our church to find a man to dress up as Santa (even though we have a suit) because none of the men were willing to do it. The head of the Nurture Committee had to arrange to get all the presents even though she was also singing in the Christmas Cantata, helping me with the children's Christmas program and also doing her own Toys for Tots thing with her school kids. Her plate was full and no one would help her. When we did finally do it last year, she ended up giving about 20 of the 30 bags she had prepared away because so few people actually showed up. It just seemed that "Santa Sunday" had run its course and the time had come to extinguish it.

I am not on the Nurture Committee. I knew about the decision to cancel Santa, and I agreed with it, but I had nothing to do with it. But I knew, oh I knew this was going to come back and smack ME in the face. And it did. And it had to be today, of all days.

For you see, for the first time in a very long time, I finally felt like I was coming to an understanding with Christmas. I hate holidays. I use to love Christmas, but it hasn't held joy for me in a very long time. But this year I felt like I could really appreciate that Christmas wasn't about me. E wants to feed the homeless, which means I have done my job as a mom and given her a real world vision. Hubby and I have no money and very few things, but I am completely okay with that and he says that makes me really hard to shop for, because I don't want anything. So I found a website (The Hunger Site) where you can purchase artisan made crafts and each purchase pays for 25 to 50 cups of food for that country where the craft was made. I went through and picked out some of the things I would like and I FELT GOOD!! I wasn't going to be bogged down with stuff that made me feel, well, bogged down. By this morning I had convinced myself that if I could just make it through the Pastor/Spouse Christmas Party next week, I would be okay and I might actually enjoy this holiday season.

So I was at church today and the kids and I practiced their Christmas program. It's the kids up to age 7, so they are antsy and don't sing when they're supposed to and I'm not sure they're going to do what they are supposed to do, but that was fine with me. I didn't care. I still had my good mood. The woman who forced me to run away from my old blog showed up at church today and cornered me and I was civil and polite. It was all fine, I still had my good mood. And then I talked to the Assassin, also known as the head of the Nurture Committee.

She told me she had been stopped and asked about the Santa Sunday. She told me to tell people that if they wanted to donate, they should donate to the local foster home. We never argue or disagree. Honestly. If anything, we are always this united wall that people find very disconcerting. But I dug my heels in and insisted she send an email around to the church and say that the Nurture Committee had decided not to have Santa this year. I told her to do this because I knew that somehow this was going to come back around and people were going to say that Hubby or I were trying to get Santa out of the church. That WE had cancelled Santa because we have been quite vocal about the consumerism of Christmas. She wasn't happy with me but agreed that she would do it and left. MY VERY NEXT CONVERSATION I was trapped at a table with a very angry man asking me why Santa was cancelled. I tried to explain to him that all of our children receive so much and that the church was in financial straits, yadda yadda yadda. The man started to yell at me and spouted off something about taking chocolate bunnies out of Easter next.

Here is where I have really changed as a pastor's wife. Up until recently, I would have stood there and tried to appease the man. As soon as he started lifting his hands up in my face, I walked away and left him to bluster with the three other people who walked up to join him in his anger. I walked away, but OH, I was seething inside. I was just mad all around. It was just wrong on so many levels. Here I was getting yelled at IN CHURCH because SANTA wasn't showing up. SANTA? Should Santa even BE in church? Excuse me, but can you please point out in the nativity where Santa is standing, because I sure haven't seen that bowl full of jelly belly standing out by the shepherds. And then the fact that I have NOTHING to do with the Santa decision. Nothing. The man was yelling at the wrong person. Although he had no reason to yell at all. But now he has a small Santa army on his side and it looks like this is going to be the next be debate in the church. How's that for irony? Hubby is going to have to fight the battle as to whether or not a church needs a Santa.

For crying out loud. Whatever happened to "Hey, unto you a child is born!"?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Last One Standing

Sometimes I think I am meant to be living alone in the wilderness. If the world ended today and I was the last person left on Earth, that would probably be okay with me. I am the most antisocial person in the world. How in the world I have made it this far in a civilized society is besides me.

Case in point: Thanksgiving. I don't like holidays. I don't like holidays because inevitably they mean someone, usually more than one person, is coming to my house OR I must travel across the country and smile nicely at a barrage of people I barely know who always want to hug my neck. When people come to my house, like this week, I turn into a different person and my stress level shoots through the roof. I try to be a good hostess and I want to please my guests, but for crying out loud, I get so sick of the passive aggressive crap that people pull.

For example, I will ask someone if they want me to make them breakfast. I offer them a choice of pancakes and sausage or eggs and toast. They answer, "What are you going to have?" That's not what I asked now, is it? I asked what they wanted. Or I will ask what if they want to go for a walk on the beach and they will answer, "I don't care, what do you want to do?" THAT'S NOT WHAT I ASKED! I get so fed up with that. If we were doing what I wanted, everyone would just eat cereal and E would be outside playing with her friends while I got to finish my very weird book by Lolita Files.

I'm really grumpy today. My parents finally left after spending two days here. They live an hour away, why do they have to spend two days here? Hubby is at church working and I am just really tired with no end to the mommy-dom requirements in sight. And Monday starts Advent. Lovely Advent. The time of year when I have to really kick it in gear and pretend to be a good pastor's wife; baking for the shut-ins, preparing the children's Christmas pageant, singing in the Christmas Cantata, GOING TO THE REQUIRED CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR PASTORS AND THEIR SPOUSES! God help me. The first pastor to approach me at the party and ask "Is this seat SAVED?" is going to get more than he bargained for. I'll show him saved.

Mrrble, mubble, meh.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Daughter Wants to Feed the Homeless

I swear to you, I really am not trying to turn into a philanthropical blogsite. It just seems to be the direction things have been going lately. BUT....that being said, I have a silly request. My daughter is learning about Frida Kahlo in her art class. She found it very intriguing that Frida had polio. It was very coincidental that she learned this on the same day she had to go to her well-child doctor's appointment and get 2 booster shots. While consoling her afterwards, I was trying to explain to her that getting these shots now would prevent her from getting sick later and that she was actually very lucky, because all over the world, lots of children didn't get these shots and they still got sick. She asked me specifically about polio and I said, yes, polio still exists.

One thing led to another and we started talking about how many people all over the world and even in America are starving and don't have enough to eat and this really struck a nerve with her. She told me right then and there that while, yes, she did still want presents this year, she was willing to give up some presents if it meant some homeless people got more food. Of course I thought this was all just a child's short-term memory talk and that thought would fly by and be done with by the next Word Girl episode, but it wasn't. E sat down the other night to make her Santa list (this is probably my last year with Santa *sigh*, but that's another post) and on her list she said she wanted to feed the homeless. I was shocked. But still, I thought this too would pass, until today when we went to the dreaded WALMART! I hate Walmart, but I especially hate it the day before Thanksgiving.

Anyway, we were getting out of the car and she heard the familiar ring of the Salvation Army bells and she grabbed the change out of my console (without even asking, I might add) and headed straight for the bell ringer. Once she gave the bucket the money, she asked me what they used the money for. So I told her they bought toys for kids, clothes for people, hotel rooms for people who lost their homes to fire and food for the hungry. She asked if she could be a bell ringer and I told her I would do it with her if she really wanted to do it. She's incredibly shy, so the verdict's still out on that one, but here's my request: The next time you pass by a Salvation Army bell ringer, will you put an extra quarter in for E and then put a little note on my blog that I can share with her? Say Santa told you a little girl asked you to help feed the homeless. And if you have a blog, even if you are a grinchy type, would you be willing to ask others to do this, just this once and help pass it on?

I am not someone who passes on chain memes or lots of questions, and I don't rant and rave at others. I'm really a very mild-mannered blogger with a dark and twisty attitude. In fact, I have convinced myself no one will really do this. And I'm not trying to draw more people to my blog or be a do-gooder in a dark world, I'm just trying to let my daughter know that she is right, one person can make a difference.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I Might Be Overreacting

If you read the previous post about the possible bathroom pedophile, there is another story that just recently happened, or at least, resolved itself, that may explain why I am so skeeved out by what occurred in the bathroom.

Several years ago, E and I had been at the World's Most Dangerous Playground. As we were on our way back to my van, we were stopped by an older gentleman. He had on dark glasses, a white t-shirt, white shorts, white socks and white shoes and he was using a blind man's cane. It was hard to miss him. He asked me for directions to some local place and as I was giving him directions, he kept getting closer and closer to me and to E. I put E behind me, opened the van door and shoved her in, closing the door all the while keeping my body between her and the man. At the time I couldn't have explained why I felt so scared of an old, blind man.

It was just as I was about to open my driver side door that the man said, "Your daughter has such lovely blue eyes." He walked over to a bike, got on the bike and rode off. I started to shake and realized that I had just avoided something very bad.

I have never forgotten that day or that man's face. So you can imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I saw the man's face on my local news. He had just been arrested at the World's Most Dangerous Playground for parole violations. It seems that this man is a repeat offender pedophile who takes indecent liberties with minors. He was sent back to jail and posted bond the next day.

There has been one other incident where someone has tried to take E (they actually tried to take the grocery cart her car seat was sitting on), so you can understand why I am so sensitive to these things. She has such a vibrant, shining personality, people- both good and bad- are drawn to her. So you'll excuse me if I overreact, but better safe than sorry, I say.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Overprotective Mom or Right on Time Mom

What's your opinion?

So I am at church today, as always on a Sunday. You know, I should get paid since my attendance at church is kind of mandatory...but anywho, I digress. Our church is actually made up of two mammoth old brick buildings. There is only one set of bathrooms for both buildings and both buildings are adjoined by a back hallway. The bathrooms are in this back hallway of the buildings and located within eyesight of the nursery. I was in the nursery after the service watching a child for another parent when E decided she needed to go to the bathroom. She left the nursery, went down the hall and went to the women's restroom. She's 7 and most of the people had left for the day, so I really wasn't worried about her going by herself.

Coincidentally, I was watching a child because his dad had to take his sister to the restroom. But the dad took his daughter to the men's restroom because he is, well, a man and that's his comfort zone obviously. Anywho, the child I was watching decided he wanted to go to the bathroom as well so I walked out of the nursery with him just in time to see a male church member walk into the women's restroom. I waited for a second, but he didn't walk out.

Now, it is not unusual at the end of a service to see a man throw a piece of trash away in the women's room since the trash can is right by the door, so I didn't panic at first. Maybe the man was checking something out in the mirror? I don't know. I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but I quickly crossed the 20 or so feet to the bathroom. As soon as this man saw me, he left the bathroom without a word to me and walked into the fellowship hall. E was still using the toilet and never knew the man was there (or at least, that he was a man.)

I know this man. Not well, but I have had conversations with him. I wasn't too nervous about him being in the bathroom until he walked out without saying a word to me. I wanted him to offer some sort of explanation as to why he was alone with a 7 year old girl in a restroom. Even if he had a urinary emergency and needed to use the toilet, I would have rather heard that then be thinking what I am thinking now. He has 4 children, you would think he would know how this appears. But his lack of speech, to me, makes me feel like he was up to no good and now I am worried. Was he up to no good?

Opinions, anyone?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Place Where it All Began

Hi there.

I've been absent.

I know.

My life is pretty boring right now. Except for the continuous battle against the lice, which now extends to E's best friend (but still not me or her...yet)...and Hubby meeting with E's guidance counselor to discuss the idiocy of removing E from class during math to go to the Academically Gifted program for writing but failing to tell us about it and leave us wondering why no one can answer our questions as to why my brilliantly intelligent child is failing math. DUH! She kind of needs to be in the math lesson to learn how to do the math, one would think. But that's all small stuff that is what makes up life. If she gets lice, she gets lice. I am teaching her math and she still gets to go to her AIG class. It's all good.

The Topamax has taken my creative muse. My wanderlust, for the first time in my memory, is gone. There is no sense of angst, restlessness, or lost soul wandering loose in me. I haven't been able to write or create, and I don't even really have a desire to sing. I know this should be creating a sense of panic in me, really. But it doesn't. I have completely hidden a huge chunk of my personality, an important part of what makes up who I am and yet, I am at peace for the fist time in a very long time.

I think if I thought this was going to be permanent, I might worry. After all, I have aligned myself with the arts my entire adult life I have always been a tethered soul struggling to break free. I've always had 12,000 stories going on in my head and 12,001 ideas that I wanted to pursue calling my name. I only have about 6 more months on the medicine and then it will all go back to the way it was. But for now, I am breathing. Just....breathing.

Hubby and I went to the restaurant where our married life began. We had our reception there, we decided to get married in this town while eating dinner there, we have had several anniversaries there. Tonight, we went there on a whim. I was feeling light-hearted and free and Hubby got a glimpse of the girl he married. I made up stories about three other couples who were also eating dinner at the restaurant. There was Cro-Magnon man and Dainty Girl, the Inter-racial couple on their third (you know what that means) date and then the "Why is she married to him?" couple. I haven't done that with Hubby in years. And we had fun. And for as much as I am not me any more, or right now, I was the me that I was when I was the me that I am. And I miss that me, a lot.

So you'll excuse me if my posts are not as frequent or as entertaining. Bear with me, please. I will go back to normal. But you know what? I think, in some small way, my soul is healing some ancient wounds and instead if fighting it and derailing myself the way I always do when it comes to taking care of myself, I am going with it and finding out just where this rabbit hole leads.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Momma Bear, Momma Bear, What Do You See?

I am not going to make it though motherhood.

I'm not.

One day I am going to grab my next door neighbor's girl-child by the scruff of the neck, shake her until the chicken nuggets come out her nose and scream in her face, "WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN?" She is tormenting my daughter and I am about to come out of my corner with both gloves on. Sit down in your comfy chair, this story takes a minute to unfold.

We moved here almost five years ago. At the time, Evil Genius Neighbor was going through a bitter divorce from his bipolar wife. He had a 2 1/2 year old daughter as well who was a brute and we helped care for her since the mother did not. She spent many days at my house and I spent a lot of time working with her and socializing her and I did a damn good job, I might add. This has been the case over the years.

About two 1/2 years ago One Upper neighbor and her husband moved in with their daughters and usurped my role, which is fine. Although, there does appear to be a little bit of inappropriate feelings being bandied about between OU and EG, so much so that EG's daughter has made mention of the relationship. So now we have 4 girls that range from 4 to 7 that all play together. Only EG's daughter is in therapy to deal with all that is going on in her life. And she needs it, because over the course of the past 6 months she has become, for lack of a better word, a tiny 7 year old bitch.

She has targeted E as her scratching post. She hates her and goes out of her way to make her miserable and come between her and her other friends. They were in the same class this year until Mean Girl was demoted back to 1st grade. But while they were in class, she would tell all the kids that E played with herself, which didn't bother E as bad as the other insult, that (gasp) E watched Elmo! She constantly screams and yells and if she doesn't get her way she pouts and resorts to the ever popular "Well, I'm never going to be your friend again!"

E steadfastly marched through all of this like a trooper. She knows that MG has a hard life and she just tried to let it roll off her back. But I will say, E was beside herself with giddiness when she found out MG was no longer in class with her.

Well, MG is only in our neighborhood every other week as a result of the custody agreement. MG arrived Friday and E and MG were playing alone outside yesterday and everything was going smoothly. EG left to run an errand and OU brought her girls out and all hell broke loose. Suddenly it was like watching a coyote try to cut the weak, sick animal from the herd. MG's face just changed and looked hateful, she started screaming at my daughter and the 4 girls split into two groups. I was outside watching the whole thing. I promise you, my daughter did not do a thing. I would tell you if she did, I swear. Trust me, I know my daughter is not perfect. But I tried to stay out of it. I believe that unless they all melted into tears, they needed to try to work it out. They seemed content to play in two pairs of two, so I let it be until EG returned.

When he returned, he heard his daughter yell at mine. He knows that his daughter is a bitch and says he is worried about it, but when I asked him to deal with it, because by this time it was reaching a fevered pitch, he half-heartedly called his daughter over, told her to apologize and said "Go play." You can imagine the eye rolling, stomping off scene that followed and didn't resolve anything. Then he got on the phone. Well, the screaming started again at E and this time I had to step in. I can't allow my daughter to be a doormat. I sat the girls down and had all 4 talk and had them decide what to do. While I mediated and made sure everyone had a chance to talk, I did not interfere or put one tiny iota of my opinion into the discuss. They all talked things out and decided they wanted to stay in their pairs, but E and her friend wanted to come into our house and play dress-up (which I had promised and cleared with the other parents earlier) and the other two wanted to go into EG's house. Fine.

We went over to EG who by this time had been joined by OU and told him the plans and he refused to let his daughter and his friend in his house. Not my problem. He and OU thought the girls should all have to play together. They didn't say this, but they have in the past. Their answer is to yell at the girls to make it happen. OU takes pride in saying that she has made MG cry on several occasions for her bad attitude. I stuck to my guns, made myself very unpopular amongst the in-crowd and took my two assigned children inside.

As far as I am concerned, I asked the dad to step up and he didn't. Yelling to solve this problem is not going to solve this problem. I tried to set a good example and allow the girls to talk. Plus, I don't think they always have to play together all the time. But you should have still seen the adults faces. Now I am in the dog house.

But you know what? I refuse to be THAT parent. I refuse to be the one who completely ignores the situation until yelling is the only answer. Or who thinks it is okay to that this Mean Girl attitude proliferates throughout our schools.

I am not going to make it through motherhood.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Recipe for Complete and Utter Exhaustion

Take 22 children and put them in a preschool classroom.

Add lice to one child's head. Marinate well.

Now add 2 full rainy days that prevent children from going outside to play.

Do 22 head checks once a day for 5 days.

Field questions from 22 sets of parents while respecting student confidentiality.

Check own head every day all week. Find three suspicious things, but nothing official. Hot oil hair twice, nit pick with comb twice a day every day.

Add one full moon.

Find out own child, who tested off the charts last year, is failing math.

Add incompetent and idiotic own child's teacher on list of things to confront. (another blog post another day, but I promise, this is the story of incompetent teaching to end all stories)

Go to choir, go to skating event, take daughter and three other girls to another city for birthday outing, do the dishes, do the laundry, Cinderella (oops, sorry), wash all blankets and things that might have lice.

Come home at end of work on Friday and find laundry not folded, diswasher not done and Hubby, who is going out with the boys tonight, napping.

Oh, wait, I said this was a recipe for exhaustion, not murder.

Anywho....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Attack of the Killer Lice

I have never in my entire life had lice. Not once. My mom confirmed that fact again for me yesterday. I have worked with kids for 18 years and never seen a louse nor nit. Until yesterday.

Most schools have "No Nits" policy. This policy states that a child having lice may not return to school until all signs of lice, eggs or nits on his or her head have been removed. That's all fine and dandy as long as the parent TELLS THE SCHOOL THE CHILD HAS LICE!

About three weeks ago the woman I work for stated that when I wear my hair up in a ponytail, I look severe and unapproachable. It made her uncomfortable. So, even though I have always worn my hair up around children, I started wearing it down. About this time one of my students started scratching her head...a lot. I am new to this school so I didn't know that this family has been struggling on and off with lice for the past year. Last year their children spread it to nine other kids in the school. I had no reason to mention the itchy child because, well, children get itchy.

Until yesterday. This child's older sister was sent home from school. Another student's mom had called in to tell the school she would be keeping her daughter home from school due to lice. This automatically starts a shool wide head check. This was how we found out that my student's older sister not only had lice BUT SHE HAS HAD IT FOR THREE WEEKS! The parents didn't bother to tell the school because they couldn't afford to take the time off from work to keep her home.

Okay, I am stopping my story right here for a moment to insert my opinion. I completely understand where they are coming from. I am (now) an hourly employee and can't afford to take time off. I am even okay with the child being in the classroom. But I am not okay with them not telling us. Had we known, we would have implemented preventative measure in our classroom to help stop the spread of the lice. I myself would have worn my hair up. But the family felt the need to hide this from us and THAT I don't appreciate!

Anywho, you would think the story ends there, but it doesn't. It gets worse. We tried to send our student home yesterday when we found two nits and the father went ballistic. He was furious and swore they had been treating it and that there were no live animals on her head and he couldn't afford to take off work and...and...and. But, he was required to come get her, so he did.

Fast forward to this morning. The dad brings his daughter in, understandably defensive, claims he has checked her hair himself and declared her nit free. While we were doing the head checks on our students that we must now do everyday for a week, I checked our child with lice and found about 25 nits. My lead teacher told me to get a second opinion. Another teacher yanked a piece of hair out of the child's head and put the hair and nit in an envelope to show the parent, assuming the child was going to be picked up. My lead teacher (not wanting to be yelled at again by the father) and the preschool division head spoke and decided since the nit appeared empty, they would allow the child to stay in school. I was fine with that decision since all of our students and myself now had our hair up.

Finally, we had a staff meeting today and the issue of lice came up, of course. My lead teacher didn't mean to, but she essentially made me look like an idiot while trying to cover her ass. She told the whole faculty that she looked in the child's hair and saw nothing, I looked and thought I saw "something" but the division head person looked and didn't see anything so they decided to keep the child in school. Remember the envelope? Anyway, another teacher went to bat and told the truth and I kept my mouth shut. But I was very glad to get home today, even if my head is itchy. And no, I don't have lice...at least...not yet.

But I bet your head is itchy now, too.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

WHAT????

"NEW ORLEANS – People with low cholesterol and no big risk for heart disease had dramatically lower rates of heart attacks, death and stroke if they took the cholesterol pill Crestor, a large study found."

What? Are you telling me that doctors are actually trying to say that people who don't have the risk factors for heart disease should take this medicine to prevent something that probably wouldn't happen to them anyway? Is that really what I am reading?

The article goes on to talk about Crestor causing a rise in the onset in high blood sugar and diabetes. MY BLOOD SUGAR was rising when I have never been diabetic before. I kept mentioning that fact to Evil Doctor and he kept brushing me off. He told me that it was still in normal ranges it. It was 99. 99 was the top of the range. 100 would have been considered pre-diabetic. It was never like that before Crestor and was not like that after Crestor. ARGH! I hate Evil Doctor.

The article also goes on to say that Crestor had more incidences of the serious muscle reactions. Uh, DUH!! I could have told you that. But did ED listen to me? NO! And they want EVERYONE to take it? Are you kidding me?

RUN AWAY!!!

You have got to be kidding me! I'm so angry right now I could spit. I hate this medicine. I hate this medicine. I HATE THIS MEDICINE!!

Do not take medicine for needless reasons and do not let doctors intimidate you into taking needless medicines for needless reasons. That is why there are Superbugs in the world. This has been a non-medical report brought to you by Living in Muddy Waters who has no medical degree whatsoever, just a whole lot of horse sense!

GRRRR!!!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Am a Chicken Shit and Keyboard Courage

Dear mom in the dressing room next to me today,

I should have called DSS today and had your 6 month old son taken away from you today. I sat there in my dressing room with my phone in my hand, ready to call 911, ready to just hold the phone up in the air and let the dispatcher hear you and your friend scream obscenities at your son. You were mad at your son because he woke up while you were shopping in a brightly lit store after only sleeping 20 minutes. You were mad because he had dared to poop in his diaper and you had neglected to bring another one in the store. Your friend told you to "just let him sit in his own shit, that'll teach him." HE WAS A BABY!!

You were mad because your husband called you for the fourth time that day and you refused to answer the phone. You yelled obscenities at the unanswered phone. You were mad when your son started to cry when you were yelling obscenities at him, and you started yelling louder when he started crying harder when your friend joined in the yelling.

You told him you couldn't have a life with him. You couldn't even go shopping and have 20 minutes to yourself without hearing him cry or dealing with his shit. You told him that nobody wanted him, that you were the only one that would take care of him, no one would help. No one would give you a break. You were tired.

You are tired and I am a chicken shit.

I know you are tired.

I know.

I should have knocked on the door and told you and your friend to go and get some coffee and I would take care of the boy. You didn't know me, but I suspect you wouldn't have cared at that point. But I didn't. I was afraid of you yelling at me. I was afraid of you taking your anger at my interference out on your child. I was afraid of getting involved.

If you truly hate your son, I have three words: Safe Haven Laws. Use it. No one will judge you.

If you love your son and are just too tired to cope, seek help. PLEASE. Every single mom has days where she hates her child. None of us wants to admit it because what if that is the day something horrible happens and we can never take it back, but we all have those days. Those days when we don't know how we can be the mommy one more minute without prying our eyes out with a screwdriver. You are not alone.

I know you will never read this. But I should have done something and now I can't. People google the strangest things and read blogs looking for support, so I hope karma leads someone here one day who needs to hear these words so I can right my wrong.

Love,

Muddy Waters

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Making Amends and Growing Up

Growing up my parents had no money, therefore I had no money. None. Nada. Zip. Until I was about 12, my parents floated checks from pay period to pay period and creditors were always calling.

We bought cars for two dollars and they blew up going up the small hills of Ohio.

My mom sewed all my clothes from scraps of the fabric she used to sew her clothes, so we always matched whether I liked it or not.

Eating out occured once every three or four months and I remember eating a lot of rice, because it was cheap.

We had very little, but we had a lot of love. Regardless of what is happening now in my life, I grew up knowing my parents loved me and would do anything for me and be there for me no matter what.

So I was somewhat surprised and hurt when my dad got mad at me for buying a used couch off of Craigslist. I have been watching Craigslist for the past year and keeping my eye out for a quality couch. One finally came along. It was $200.00 and in really good shape. It is so much nicer and better quality than anything we could buy new but all my dad could hear was I was buying it used. In fact he moaned "How do you know someone hasn't died on that couch?" I was shocked and hurt. If anyone understands buying used stuff, he should. Here I thought I was being thrifty and responsible with my money.

E heard me talking to Hubby about my conversation with my dad after it happened and it must have made quite an impression on her, because she held it inside until this past week. She had Monday and Tuesday off from school and I had it off from work but I wanted a little time to myself so I sent her off to spend the night with my parents. My dad brought her back on Tuesday. I was sitting on my front porch with my dad and Elena when out of nowhere my dad apologized for what he said.

Dad: MW, I'm sorry for what I said about the couch. It's a nice couch. I just feel bad that you grew up without anything and I hate to think of E going through the same thing.

E: Grand-dad, I told you, my mom doesn't think she grew up without anything and I don't either. We may not have any money, but we have a LOT of love! And that's all I need!

Have I said lately what an amazing person I think my daughter is?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Have a Friend

I have a friend.

She's one of those people whom, if you don't know her, you look at and think she's as tough as stone. But she's really not. She's also one of those people who always gets asked to do things because she always says yes. She never really wants to say yes, but she has a deep sense of commitment to things, so she usually leads the charge.

So it is no surprise to me that every year for the past five or six years, she has headed up a program in our area that collects food for the food bank. She does it as part of the national organization of drama teachers. She doesn't have to do it. It's not part of her job description. She doesn't get paid for it. No one even checks to see if she is going to do it. Knowing her, she probably read about it in a drama magazine, thought it was a cool idea and just decided to add it to her already busy schedule. And in fact, it comes at the worst time of year for her as she has a school play and drama tournament rehearsal going on, as well as a Haunted House program her theater troupe takes part in. She spends extra hours organizing her school kids, sorting through the food and delivering it to the food bank. She even misses out on trick or treating with her own son because this is something she feels so strongly about. She does it without complaint and without recognition. She just does it.

This year her kids collected so much food that it wouldn't all fit in her truck, so I volunteered my van to help deliver the food. She's done so much for me and for my church that I try to look for opportunities to help her any chance I get. We loaded up my van until I was afraid of turning for fear of shifting the weight and causing my car to tip. The food was unloaded and weighed and because of her, the food bank received 1896 pounds of food.

Let me say that again:

ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED NINETY-SIX POUNDS OF FOOD.

That's approximately 1066 servings of Kraft macaroni and cheese.
Or 3,792 servings of Beefaroni.
Or 5688 servings of tuna.

In other words, four families of four will eat for 10 weeks on the amount of food that my friend collected. And no, she didn't do it alone. But it was done because she did it. She chose to step up and say "I will lead when no one else will." Because she has chosen to say yes instead of no when she has been called, or felt called, or simply been asked, others lives will be just a little bit easier. I wonder how many of us, myself included, don't answer our calls? How many of us say "Why should I do that, I'm just one person, I can't do much?"


ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED NINETY-SIX POUNDS OF FOOD.


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Saints Day and Yet Another Bad Pastor's Wife Incident

I think this Topamax has caused some sort of psychic schism.

But more on that in a minute. Today was Homecoming in our church, complete with a covered dish dinner and Hubby's new boss delivering the sermon. Being the good and dutiful pastor's wife and wanting to make a good first impression on Hubby's new boss, I set out to be the Good Pastor's Wife. I agreed to sing special music, I put on a SKIRT complete with PANTY HOSE. I wore MAKEUP and even tried very hard to tame my wild mane by spending 20 minutes blow drying it down. I had all the best intentions.

Yesterday, when planning for today, I had looked through my cookbook and come up with a recipe for apple cake to make and bring as my contribution for the covered dish meal. Only I didn't have butter or eggs. Hubby and E were out yard sale-ing so I called him to ask him to pick up those things. Only, as luck would have it, the two of them were at a church yard sale that just also happened to have a bake sale going on. Lo and Behold, there was APPLE CAKE! Hubby asked me if I just wanted him to pick up some apple cake there and then I wouldn't even have to worry about making it and I could still bring something homemade. I, of course, thought that was a wonderful idea.

Fast forward to this morning. Hubby had gotten to church first and dropped the still-wrapped cake off on the food table. When I got there with my skirted, pantyhosed, made up and tamed maned self, two of the old biddies where clucking over the "bought" apple cake going "What does she think this is, a bake sale?" in a very nasty tone. I just deflated right there. I politely interrupted them and informed them that this is E's birthday weekend and I had a lot on my plate and Hubby just happened to be at a bake sale but I didn't want to deceive anybody so we brought it still wrapped. I would love to be retired so that I could cook something from scratch at anytime, but I'm actually quite busy. I was so upset. That's what I get for trying to be something I'm not.

Okay, now for the freaky thing. Today is All Saints Day, where you remember the people who have died, particularly the church members who died this year. I was standing in the pew all by myself (as I always do since Hubby kind of leads the service) and I was wearing my puffy sleeved choir robe. We were coming to the end of the service and singing the last hymn. I was being silly and juvenile and laughing to myself because the words of the hymn were written by someone whose name was "Lesbia." That name and the contrived words just cracked me up and I was just giggling away when I felt someone reach around and in a very friendly way grab my arm. The sleeve of my choir robe crinkled in and I turned my head to the person I thought was standing there to give them an appropriate "Hey" (Southern for: How are you, it's good to see you again). Only....there was NO ONE THERE!

I was so taken back that I turned around, sure that a prankster had snuck up and hugged me and then ducked under the pews, but one of my friends was staring at me from across the sanctuary and swore she didn't see anyone. But several people saw my sleeve move. When I went back to the choir room to take off my robe, several of the other choir members mentioned seeing me turn around in surprise. It was so very strange. Whoever it was knew me and liked me, of that I am sure, but I am not sure I want to experience it again for a long time to come.

So that was my day. Biddies berating me and ghosts hugging my neck. All in a day's work.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hmmm..

I've been finding it hard to blog lately. There's a lot of reasons why. One is the Topamax. I really feel numb all over it from it. I appreciate that it calms people down, but I really didn't need to be made any calmer. Although I am thankful that the eye tracking problem Topamax causes has resolved itself. I would turn my head and it would take a second or two for my eyes to follow. That was a little offsetting. I had to back off on the dosage because it was making me so sick. I did lose 8 pounds, however. The weight loss stopped, so last night I went back up to the prescribed dose. We'll see how I do. The doctor eventually wants to get me up to 100 mg and I only just took 50 mg last night.

But the real reason I have been reluctant to blog is because something significant has been happening between Hubby and I lately and it is in an area I never blog about, our sex life. Most people don't like to think of pastors having sex. So, if you are one of those people, stop reading here. Although this is not about the hows as much as the whys.

I was raised in a fairly open family (remember the condom candy bowl idea?) I was not a sexually promiscuous person, but I wasn't afraid of it either. Hubby and I always had a good sex life and we are a normal couple, I think. But the past couple of years, everything seemed to get in the way of sex. We were too busy, one of us had to work, there was something on tv we wanted to watch and then we were too tired. Sex was getting farther and farther apart. We just weren't making it a priority. And other things were happening, too. Hubby would sit on the couch and I would curl up in my blue comfy chair all night. I would leave the house and forget to kiss Hubby goodbye. Hubby would call me on the phone less and less. Our relationship just wasn't as close. It was still good, it just wasn't as close.

Then Hubby went away for 8 days. He went away for business and for some purposeful soul searching, but I had already been doing some soul searching as well. Was I eating to fill a need that wasn't getting filled? Was my angst and loss of self coming from an imbalance in my relationship with the man I love more than anyone else in the world? Where were we missing pieces in our relationship when we had worked so hard this past year to rebuild our marriage that we had almost lost? It all came back to sex.

The lack of sex is mostly my fault. As I have gained weight, I have become more and more reluctant to participate, embarrassed by my body. Hubby would ask and I would say no and he would ask less and less and I would feel rejected when I wanted him to ask and he wouldn't. But why should he? He was tired of being rejected, too.

But remember my vow to say yes more to life than no? I decided to try that with sex as well. Hubby returned from his retreat and I said yes every time he asked. And when he realized what I was doing, he asked a lot. (I think he wants to drink as much water as he can before the well runs dry, because, knowing me, it will probably run dry.) Sometimes I wasn't necessarily interested, but I still said yes. Most times I was. In fact, the more I said yes, the more I wanted to say yes the next time.

And things started happening. I lost most of that weight I mentioned earlier before I started the Topamax. I wasn't eating as much to soothe myself. Hubby started putting his hand on the small of my back when we walked through a doorway (remember those days?). We stole small kisses all day long. When he called me, I could hear him smile. We turned off the tv and talked. We felt closer to each other. We felt connected in a way that we haven't felt for years. I know that I am the one who has done the most changing and that it was me causing our sex life to stutter and falter, but the change I see in my Hubby is amazing and encouraging and makes me feel sad that I spent so much time saying no.

So, I am sorry if this was inappapropriate blog fodder for some of you, but I am one of those writers who obsess about things and have to get things out of my head before I move on. And by the way, this post has been approved by Hubby, which really surprised me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A True Spooky Story for Halloween

Since it is Halloween, I thought I would dabble in the unknown and share one of the true, weird stories that has happened to me.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Nah, it wasn't, but isn't that how they should all start?

Anywho, I used to live in one side of this old German style brick double. It had two livable floors, an attic and the scariest basement you have ever seen. The attic was actually one floor, so both apartments were combined in that section of the house. I had two roomates and there were two guys next door. The guys next door where genuinely nice guys, so we never worried about them.

One day, when I was in my house all by myself and the guys next door were out of town, I heard a sound in my basement. Unfortunately, this house was 150 years old and had mice, so I thought I just heard vermin scurrying about. This didn't make me feel great, but I could accept it. But the sound got louder. Whatever was making the sound was bigger than a mouse.

I was kind of getting scared in this big old house all by myself now. We didn't live in a bad neighborhood, but it wasn't the best. My car had been damaged a few days before by vandals and people had been mugged in the grocery store across the street, so I was afraid someone was breaking in through the basement windows, although I thought it would have had to be the world's skinniest robber to fit through those teeny, tiny windows.

I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep that night if I didn't go check it out, so I mustered my courage and very cautiously opened the basement door. I switched on the light, the one swinging overhead light bulb that lit the dirt floor and hand hewn brick walls. Walking into our basement was like walking back into time 150 years ago. It was used for cold storage when the house was first built and showed the age of the house. I slowly walked down the wood stairs, hoping no hand was going to reach between the gaps and grab my ankles. When I got to the basement, I took a good look around and it was then I saw him.

And it was a him. It was a very thin, very weary looking, very tall and lanky Civil War soldier leaning against the wall, breathing heavily as if he couldn't walk another step. He was holding a matted and dirty piece of fabric against his side where he appeared wounded and looked at me with the most lost and pained eyes I had ever seen. I felt this immense sadness just flood my soul. Surpisingly I wasn't scared. But in just a moment's breath he was gone and I was just left with this overwhelming feeling of loss. I later learned that the house I lived in was part of the Underground Railroad. I'm not sure, but I think I saw a Southern soldier trying to escape. Whoever he was, I am sure that I saw him and I feel positive that he saw me.

And whoever he was... I hope he finished his journey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Parenting 101

I have sat all day in a tiny little wooden chair talking to parents of preschool children, filling their heads with images of their smiling darlings hard at work and doing nothing but gently gliding through our classroom and joyfully sharing classroom materials all day long with nary a word of discontent. I listened as the lead teacher glossed over the incident with the boy who tried to shove a tack in his eye because he didn't want to do his Kindergarten work. Or as she told the parents of the boy that I shall not label that he is coming around socially when he isn't, even as the mom expressed her concern that her son might not be progressing normally. I smiled and nodded because that is what I am paid to do. But here is what I really wanted to say. These are my parenting rules to live by:

Rule #1: A clean child is a sign of a sick parent. A child who never has dirty finger nails, spilled food on his shirt or a swatch of dirt smeared across his forehead is not being allowed to explore his world or feed himself. Let the kid get exposed to germs. He will be healthier for it.

Rule #2: If your child falls and there is no blood or obviously distorted bone, don't rush in to save your child. Chances are your child does not have a broken bone or a gaping wound and will be better off for picking herself up off the ground. If you always rescue her, she will NEED to always be rescued.

Rule #3: Children must experience danger. They must climb tall things and swing great heights. They must cross a street. If they never experience danger, they will never learn to think before they leap.

Rule #4: Children must play outside without adult interaction everyday. Period. Let them play. Only interfere when absolutely necessary.

Rule #5: Children must be allowed to experience boredom. No child needs to be entertained every second of every minute of every day. Let them be bored. Tell them to entertain themself and leave all electrical appliances OFF!

Rule #6: Children must be read to or with every night. No excuses. I don't care how busy you are, how tired you are, how overscheduled you are, how resistant your child is. I DON'T CARE! You are the parent and it is your responsibility to read to your child. It matters to their development. Trust me, IT MATTERS!

Rule #7: No means no. If you are going to use this word, mean it! Don't waffle back and forth and cave in the end. You make it impossible on a teacher.

Rule #8: Do not tell you child Santa won't bring anything if they are not good. This sets him or her up for failure. He or she tries so hard to be good around you, that they have to melt down someplace else safe, usually school.

Lastly, Rule #9: If you think there is something wrong with your child, trust your instincts. You know your child best. But if a teacher is trying to tell you that a second opinion is needed, listen. A second opinion never hurts and can only help, especially if the teacher is wrong.

Phweww, I feel better. Feel free to add your own parenting rules. I'm sure Anonymous thinks I am being Rude and Angry again, and maybe I am. But I'll tell you, I follow my own rules. I love the children I work with in spite of some of the parenting they have received. Over the years I have seen the best and the worst of parents. And don't think I am targeting one specific kind of parent. Today I sat talking to a 20 year old mom who has the best 3 year old girl in the world and the mom is the most grounded, responsible, caring mom I've ever met. If a 20 year old can pull it together to parent, why can't we all?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not the Adult

I..........am..........so.......t...i...r...e...d...!

There is a very nasty, albeit fast moving stomach flu going through my classroom right now. Each day about 4 children are staying home throwing up. Last Wednesday (class picture day) my stomach suddenly started to hurt, my skin turned frighteningly green and I had an overwhelming need to lie prostrate on the floor. I was down for the count. Luckily I have an iron stomach and have only thrown up 5 times in my entire life. I was miserable and sick, but not vomiting like every other person being infected with the malaise. I went home from work two hours early and put Hubby on single parent duty. My fever broke at 3:00 AM that morning and I was back at work by 7:45 AM on very little sleep. I worked my full day and then went back for an Open House until 7:00PM. I was exhausted.

That night we took in a puppy for a couple that went out of town and couldn't kennel her because she hadn't had her full round of shots. Did you know puppies don't let you sleep at night? So here I am, no sleep from the night before and still no sleep (puppy finally went home today.)

In the meantime, my classroom kids are just melting down all over the place because they are either getting sick or getting over being sick. It got so bad and I felt so bad that on Friday at dismissal, my kid-who I am not supposed to label as Asperger's- and my drama queen girl started screaming and crying at each other and I was the last adult left in the vicinity to deal with it. I swear I almost started crying, too. I really didn't want to be the adult.

The weekend was puppylong and I was getting more and more sleep deprived. Remember, no one takes my flu seriously since I don't actually throw up. I was SO looking forward to getting to sleep at 9:00 last night and trying to sleep, even with the puppy. But Hubby came out from putting E to sleep and told me his stomach hurt. Then he started feeling ill. Then the proverbial and literal shit hit the fan. I have been with Hubby over 14 years and I have never seen that man laid low. I have seen him sick, in the hospital, feeling miserable and just downright puny. But I have never seen him as sick as he was last night. But my husband threw up at least 10 times last night, ALL NIGHT LONG! There went my sleep.

So excuse me while I feel sorry for myself, because I am actually so tired that I hurt and I can't breathe and I feel like I am an inch away from a panic attack at any moment. I am hoping against hope that tonight is the night I get to sleep. Hubby is better, puppy is gone. I just hope and pray E makes it through the night without telling me her tummy hurts.

Friday, October 24, 2008

From an Anonymous Commenter

"Very rude for you to judge people. That's not what christ taught at all. To each their own, God is the only judge. You are a very angry RUDE person!"

Just When I Thought I Had Seen it All

SO...

I have been working with kids now in various functions for nigh going on 20 years. All ages of kids, all kinds of kids. That means I have been working with all kinds of parents. But today...today I saw it all.

Today one of my sweetest and most lovable kindergarteners brought in a show and tell for class (one child is chosen for each day.) Out of the show and tell bag comes a clipping from a branch with dark blue berries on it. Then out comes a plastic baggy full of dark blue berries to share. This little boy and his mom had gone out into his yard and collected enough dark blue berries for EVERYONE in the classroom to sample some. Only, notice how I placed a space between blue and berries? I did this because he didn't bring in blueberries, he brought in the dark blue berries of the Virginia Creeper. The POISONOUS dark blue berries of the Virginia Creeper.

I swear, people should be required to take a parental training class before being allowed to have a kid.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Topamax and Me

For several years I went to a very scary doctor. At first I thought scary doctor was good for me. He made me take my high blood pressure seriously. He talked to me about nutrition and dieting. He scared the crap out of me, but at the time I listened to him.

After a year of being his patient and dieting, I lost 27 pounds. Not bad for a year. But he wasn't happy with my cholesterol. My bad cholesterol was normal, but my good cholesterol was low and no matter what I did, it wouldn't budge. So he kept trying to talk me into taking cholesterol meds and I kept saying no. Finally he said it was not an option if I wanted to stay his patient so I caved and took the meds. The first cholesterol medicine attacked my joints within days and caused me unbearable pain. He took me off of that immediately and prescribed another one. I dutifully took it and, oh, how I wish I had stood my ground.

I started to be unable to sleep. I had panic attacks again. Worst of all, I started to gain weight, even though I was still maintaining 1200 calories a day and exercising regularly. I gained 29 pounds. I went to scary doctor in tears and told him the Crestor was destroying my quality of life. I researched this medicine online and found others suffering the same side effects. I needed to come off of it. He basically told me I was an idiot and refused to take me off of it. I stopped taking it and found a new doctor. Not only a new doctor, but one recognized as one of the top 100 internal medicine doctors in the US and a specialist in Metabolic Syndrome.

Two weeks after stopping the Crestor, the weight gain stopped. My new doctor flagged me as statin-intolerant and told me to never again let any doctor put me on cholesterol medicine. He took a battery of tests, ordered all of my old records and gave my body another month to try to right itself from the statin damage. I lost a whopping 1 pound. My body was in trouble. My doctor told me it needed help.

Enter Topamax. Topamax is a medicine used for anti-seizure and migraines but it has a peculiar side-effect of causing rapid weight loss. It also has a lot of other not very pleasant side effects. It's nickname is "Dopamax" and I see why. You have to understand, I didn't come to the decision to take this medication lightly. Bipolar disorder runs in my family and this medicine also has "mood stabilizing" effects. I have no desire to see that gene suddenly activated in my body. But I also can't stand being this weight and suffering from weight related illnesses. I took my first dose last night and have been slightly miserable all day.

When I was younger I tried pot a few times and really didn't like it all that much. I drink occasionally and enjoy being tipsy, but only once in a while. I'm just not someone who thrives on being "out of it." And that's exactly how I feel. I can deal with all of the other side effects, but the one thing I can't stand is not being on top of things. I am always the person who sees things before they happen and prevents mishaps. I think things through and offer solutions before anyone realizes there might be a problem. Today, I completely lost Monday. I thought it WAS Monday, not Tuesday (a listed side effect.) I know this will all dissipate, but...

But then I thought, maybe this is meant to be right now. I always feel so much stress at being so totally in charge and in control. Maybe I need to take these few months and accept that I can't be that person and just see if the world ceases to spin on its axis. So, I just wanted to give you a head's up if my future posts have a lot more typos or seem fairly fuzzy, they're coming from a muted brain right now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Here We Go

A woman appeared at our church today. Not just any woman. That kind of woman. The prostelytizing, fast-talking, trying to save my soul while she looks around for something to steal, kind. And here we go again.

I can spot a religious con-artist before I even hear them speak. It's just a talent I have. I first noticed this woman in the church kitchen this morning. Her eyes were darting around everywhere and she was talking to anyone who came within 5 feet of her, talking about what a hard life she had, how she had been run out of her last church and then put in a mental institution in another county because someone mistook her for another woman. She was telling every one! I walked as far away as possible from her.

But fast forward to this afternoon. Our church had an afternoon picnic and there she was, fast talking at one of our more shy congregants who I happened to like until I heard my so-called friend say "Let me introduce you to the pastor's wife." I had no where to run and no tree to hide behind before the woman was passed off to me. She immediately started talking about her three ex-husbands and Lucifer throwing trials in her path and how dark-haired men are the devil and she just wanted me to know where she was coming from and...and...and...URGH!

Hubby came up and just stared at the woman-watching my head get bigger and bigger- just smirking as he thought of it exploding any minute. But did he save me? NO! I would manage to slip away from her and she would start attacking someone else and they would bring her back over to me. I couldn't get away. No one wanted to be near her.

I know her though. I don't know her personally, but I have been a pastor's wife going on 10 years now and I have seen people just like her. She tries too hard to fit in. She wants people to think she is so pious because in her mental state she thinks that is what we want to hear. She is trying to gain the trust of the church people and when she thinks she has it, things will start to disappear. Not much at first, the money in the church alms box that is unguarded in the narthex. Then the DVD player will suddenly be gone. Finally, she will approach someone in the church and try to get a large sum of money with a pity story. The person will see her for who she is (because she is definitely not in the league of the Stalker Congregants) and she will steal one last big thing and be gone.

I just hate that we are going to go through this again. But that is the thing about church, you get all types. The sad thing is, there are some mentally unstable people with really good hearts and no criminal history who could really use church as a stabilizing force, but because there are so many pschizophrenic religious zealot con-artists out there, they get pushed aside.

We had one woman in our church who said she was ADD AND (And what she never said). Talking to her was really hard, but she was such a pure light of a soul, you hung in with her because you knew she needed you. She left the church because she felt like she made people uncomfortable, and that made me sad. But this person, who I know is eventually going to cause Hubby and the church grief, this person is going to drive me crazy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And yet another former blog transfer

Hubby does not have the gift of foresight. Most of his life lessons have been learned the hard way, using hindsight. I, thank goodness, have the ability to look at a situation and say, "Oh, this is bad, abort!" However, I can not be with Hubby 24/7, it's just not possible or healthy.

Well, before Hubby decided to become an ordained minister, we lived in a very small town (population 259) smack dab in the middle of the country. The nearest McDonald's was 45 minutes away, the nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away. We got our water from a well and it went into a septic tank. This town was so small, the only restaurant in town was the little grill attached to the gas station. You could fill up your car, get a greasy burger and buy bait all in one stop. This town was so small that the biggest news for 3 weeks running was the beaver problem up river. The beavers kept damming up the river and with hurricane season, it was threatening to flood the area. It was BIG news, let me tell you.

The other thing about this town was the drainage system. We didn't have sewers, or water lines, or any fancy way of directing water when it rained. Our entire town had 3-4 foot ditches dug along the roads. The few places where the ditches couldn't be dug, due to walkways or large tree roots, had big metal pipes for the water to run through. Each person in the town was responsible for keeping their "ditch" clear of weeds and debris. Hubby took this task very seriously and maintained our ditch religiously, especially since our ditch joined up with one of the few drainage pipes that ran behind the neighboring church.

Eventually, however, he got bored with the process and one day decided to try to speed it up by doing a controlled burn. The ground was a little wet and the gasoline he used wouldn't catch the weeds. At this point, impatient Hubby got the bright idea to go and get the Coleman fuel we kept in case of hurricanes and use that to throw on the weeds. He poured a large amount on it and stepped closer to look. Still, the grass didn't catch, so he poured just a little more gasoline on it.

I was in the house when I heard it. It was the loudest boom I have ever heard in my life and the house shook like the foundation was going to crumble in on itself. I rushed outside, honestly thinking a crop duster had crashed in our little back half-acre. And there was Hubby..... He was standing, amazed that he was still alive, albeit a little singed, just staring at the home-made cannon he had created. The Coleman fuel had finally caught on fire and, all at one time and with a mighty roar, lit up the ditch and created a fireball that shot the half a block through the water pipe that traveled under the church property, erupting out in a poof of fire and smoke on the other side. Neighbors came running out of their houses to see what had happened. When I saw that Hubby was still alive and the fire had been so explosive as to burn itself out, I went back inside with a shake of my head and ordered another 50,000 be added to Hubby's life insurance.

This is all a true story, except for the life insurance, Hubby is already well-insured and you can see why.

Still Transferring

Hubby had to work today so I took E to the local mammoth playground. It's one of the last, great, death defying structures in our area. All the other playgrounds have been stripped of anything that could cause potential harm to children. Ramps instead of climbing bars, seatbelts on the swings, prison bar railings to prevent falls. But not this one. This one is 12 feet off the ground with firemen's poles and climbing walls and lots of places to fall. E loves it and I love it for her. I think kids need these kind of playgrounds to learn common sense. If we sanitize every environment they are ever in, they are never going to learn caution and consequence.But I digress, this post is not about that.

This post is about the seemingly very nice dad I met while waiting for E to fall head first from the unsecured twisty slide. His daughter, C, and E very nicely hit it off and played for almost two hours together. Inevitably, as Southern social custom seems to dictate, the dad and I struck up a friendly, superficial conversation. We talked about our kids's schooling, places that we have taken them, yadda yadda yadda. But then the dad asked me if E had a Wii. To be honest., although I have heard that term being bandied about, I don't even know what a Wii is. I know it has something to do with video games and such, but, no, we don't have one. I simply said that no, E is more of an outdoor child and we like it that way. She doesn't have an interest in such things. She does like the computer, but we limit her time on it.

Then the father asked me if I attended a church. Warning bells started going off in my head. I very politely answered that yes, my husband was a pastor of such and such church. To which the dad responded, "I could tell that you are someone with a lot of morals and very traditional values." Well, yes, as a matter of fact I am, but not because of church. I knew at that point I was in trouble. He started to tell me about the Yay God, mega church he attended. From there he talked about how he felt that when he gets to heaven he is going to be able to meet up with his deceased animals and his childhood cat was going to pin him to a wall for owning a dog in his adult life.

Somewhere in all of this Hubby showed up at the playground. C's dad started talking to him and pointedly looked past me (as in this was no realm for a woman to be involved in) and asked him about his politics. Hubby has this great way of brushing that question off where you think he is answering you, but when you walk away if you ponder the conversation you'll go, wait, he didn't answer me. So, Hubby did that. Then the man started talking about Huckabee and wondering if he was really what he appeared to be. (Hubby has a friend who worked for him and said, yes, he really is what he appears to be. that doesn't mean we are going to vote for him! Ah, but I wandered off the path.) The kicker came when C's dad said, "Really, when people ask me about politics, what I answer is, Jesus is my commander-in-chief!" That's a new one for me. I came so close to saying back "Yes, and DOG is my co-pilot!"

You would think I would be use to it by now; the proselytizing, the assumptions, the outrageous comments people make to me. Do I believe I'll see my dead dog again? I don't know. I like Hubby's explanation of heaven, it is the only one that so far has made sense to my scientific mind. He says Heaven is just your energy, or your soul, joining the presence of God. You may not be a body, have a sense of being whole or even thought, but your energy is in the presence of God. I don't know if I believe it or not, but at least I can say energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed, so his explanation makes some sense. But I have no desire to even get into that conversation with someone who has a bowl cut and probably will send his child to Jesus Camp ( a very disturbing film, by the way). But I was polite and said very little and I am sure the man walked away feeling better for having spent time in the presence of a fellow pious Christian. He angled to try to get our phone number so we could arrange a playdate for our girls. I played dumb and he eventually went away. Thank goodness.