Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The bubbles of marriage

This has been an odd couple of days. No, really, it has. Sunday, Emme, who LOVES the Stirring, had a meltdown. We were a few minutes late (oh, yeah - I ran into my ex-husband's ex-girlfriend at Walmart, so we had to chat a while) and as we arrived, a few of the kids were crying, so of course she had to join in. She refused to stay with her class, and insisted she wanted to go in with the grown-ups and "hear the man."

So, of course, we got inside, and she decided it was too loud, and she wanted to go back with the kids. Then Jake wouldn't go to his class. Arggh.

Then, Monday Jake had to have a myringotomy tube removed. He had his first set of ear tubes placed when he was three (he had his adenoids out at the same time). They fell out, as they were designed to, in 18-24 months, and he immediately filled up with fluid again. So, when he was five, he had to get a new set. They served him well, and the right one fell out as it should have, but the left one remained. We kept waiting. He would fuss at his ear constantly, saying it was itchy inside.

The doctor assured us that it was routine. That he would reach in and pull it out, then patch the eardrum. Jake got to sit in the big "Ear Room" at the doctor's office. It took the good doctor several tries, with a few different instruments to get the sucker out. It was forming granular tissue around the tube, basically gluing it into the eardrum. There was even a hair stuck in the tissue! No wonder it was bothering him! And it's kind of scary how big the thing was that the doctor pulled out of his eardrum, and the size of the hole that it left.

But the good doctor patched it, and we go back in a month to have his hearing checked, and he may be released! After five years of visits to the specialists, that would be a good thing.

So of course I had to take him to Coldstone, as he was very, very brave. He laid on the table, kind of scared, and he asked me to hold his head so he couldn't move it. He held onto my hands, and I told him to squeeze as hard as he needed to. And he did. But he didn't cry...he just kept saying, "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.)

As we were driving home, he announced:

"Mommy, I have the bubbles of marriage." I don't know why it cracked me up the way it did. It just sounded so formal.

Of course, it was a little bottle of bubbles that couples hand out as favors. One of his schoolmates brought them in, as her mom had gotten remarried over the weekend. He knew that I love bubbles so he wanted me to have them.

Later that evening, he got into HUGE trouble. He and a neighbor boy walked down to the main street (off limits) and the other boy was throwing rocks at a car! Everyone admits that Jake didn't throw any, and he says he was trying to get his friend to stop, but the fact remains that he was an accessory and he was somewhere he SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN! He could have been kidnapped, or hit by a car. Or the other boy could have been hurt, and Jake is bigger than him, and should have known better.

And I feel so helpless. Discipline sucks when you're a single parent. I had to call his dad and see what he thought. And then of course, he didn't see it as anything bad, because he didn't actually throw the rock. But he doesn't know the friend's parents, who expect me to pay half the bill because Jake was there. And he doesn't know the fear I felt when I went out to look for Jake and couldn't find him in the place he was supposed to be. And frankly, he doesn't see it as one part of the teaching of morals that we need to do (guess he doesn't see the importance of those pesky things anymore).

That's my vent for today. I'm going to go outside and blow bubbles now. That always makes me feel better.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Disturbed, to say the least

I have a friend (yeah, yeah, I have lots of friends, but I'm not talking about them here & now). I've known her since my divorce - met her at belly dance class. She seemed so....together, when I was so....falling apart. I was trying to do something for me, after sublimating for too long. Something that would make me feel like a woman. (Nothing like someone you've loved for 11 years looking you in the eye and telling you that you are not attractive to make you feel like worm poop). Women have been doing this for years, dancing more for each other.....some people think the dance form is vulgar, and it can be, but it's not meant to. Anyway, I loved it - and I love balancing a sword on my head.

Back on track: this woman has helped lots of people. She's kind, and funny, and talented. She goes off on tangents now and then, but we all have our quirks. A couple years ago she was terrified of avian flu, and was CONVINCED she and her family would be heading for the hills at any moment, when the worldwide pandemic hit Redding. She stockpiled food, and researched places to go.

Now, I spent my high school years with foster parents who just happened to be LDS. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormons. Yeah. Anything you want to know? Just ask me. We stored food. All the time - one to two years worth. Partly in case of WORLD WAR, and partly, just because it's a good idea. You never know when someone is going to get sick, or lose a job, and just knowing that you have 200 lbs. of wheat and rice is so comforting. After all, those CARBS will soothe the depression of knowing the world is coming to an end, right? I actually know how to make hard tack, and fruit leather, and jerky, because they keep well. Living in a house with upwards of 20 people, and the amount of food we needed just to get through a day, with food storage on top of this meant that we had food EVERYWHERE. A huge pantry, as big as my kitchen is now. Food under beds, and in closets. In the storage shed.

So I really didn't think that was so weird.

But now she's posted a bulletin on MySpace that reads,

"I am planning on taking on some combat training this Summer starting with Boot Camp in May and then on to the shooting range starting first week of June. Anyone with me? I am seeing this as a necessity. If you are interested, contact me.

A well regul
ated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." --Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution"

Now, I think the Constitution is a wonderful thing.

But, forgive me. Maybe I seem cold and callous, but if something were to happen that required me to shoot someone to feed me and my kids, I would rather starve. Yes, you really read that. I've shot guns before - it's rather fun. But to shoot a person? I couldn't do it. EVEN IF MY CHILDREN AND I DIED BECAUSE I WOULDN'T SHOOT SOMEONE.

Maybe it's because I'm not afraid of what comes after this life. Maybe it's because I've seen too many people die. Maybe it's because I would forever feel guilty and ashamed. Maybe I'd wonder if that other person didn't need my stuff more than I did. Maybe it's because I'm too busy trying to live my life, and raise my kids, and do my small insignificant part to try and make this a better place. A kinder place. A more welcoming and loving place. I don't do it well, but I can try.

Someone To Love

Someone To Love
Originally uploaded by Paula Wirth
Here's the pic from yesterday - it didn't post then.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy birthday, Uncle Costia!

Wow. Love those Google alerts. Reminded me that today would be my Uncle Costia's birthday. His 110th.

Love this picture, though.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I'm in real trouble

So, I'm reading this amazing book by Shane Claiborne. A couple Sundays ago, Nate recommended his books. Now I'm reading "The Irresistible Revolution." It's good. Boy, that sounds half-baked. But nothing I can say would really express how much this books catches me. Takes hold of me. Throws me on the floor and says, "WHAT. HAVE. YOU. BEEN. DOING. ALL. YOUR. LIFE?"

As Shane says, it's a lot like CPR. You can learn it, and you can believe it works, but you have to do it. If someone has a heart attack, you can't just stand there and tell them that CPR will save their life - believing it doesn't make it so. You have to get down on the ground and do it.

Having kids is amazing and wonderful, but because of them, there are things I want to do that will have to wait.

Until then, I'll do what I can - performing CPR from a distance, if you will. So I've sat in a tent at the Convention Center and recorded videos for the children of Darfur. I've hosted the African Childrens' Choir members in my home (I'll never forget the night I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. talking with the chaperone - her views on singleness and serving were shocking to me then but make more sense as time goes by). I've taken shoes to some wonderful kids. Heck, I adopted some wonderful kids. I'm always sharing a couple bucks with the folks I see around town - I don't care what they use the money for, I just love to spend a few minutes listening to them. I do listen well.

I've always known this, but now I KNOW THIS. Make sense? No, I know. Never mind. I'll shut up now. If you want to know more, read the book.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Today started out as one of those days. Gloomy outside and in. The kids were sleeping. I got up and fed the dog & the cat, and started my coffee.

After my shower, I was drying my hair and reading. One of the weird things I do. I aim the blow dryer at my head with one hand, and turn pages with the other. I'm reading "The Irrestistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. I started crying - the beauty of his words and his work, moved me to tears. This is a book that will change my life.

The kids got up. They dawdled. They complained - okay, just Emme. She wants to wear this skirt, but it doesn't have pockets. She wants to wear this shirt, but I won't let her.

Driving to work, I just felt overwhelmed. I know so many people have it so much harder, but it's not easy being a single mom. Yes, their dad is involved, and I'm thankful, but I hate the fact that my son doesn't have a strong man of God to lead him at home. What I do just doesn't seem but a shadow of what he needs.

But Jake gave me the biggest hug ever when I dropped him off today. And I got to work and two drug reps had brought in breakfast treats for us. And one of the Medical Assistants asked if I was okay and gave me a hug. And my neighbor is in the paper.

I'm so blessed to have Justin as a neighbor. He was right there my first day in the complex to offer to help. He's helped me lug in groceries, loaned me extension cords, and his shop-vac. He's always got a smile, and is always willing to help anyone. The work he does is amazing, and not many people can do it. The article is actually a tribute to his employer, but I think it shows the pride he takes in his work.

So, today is looking up.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Life changes in an instant

This morning I'd promised a coworker I'd help her move. We were up bright and early. The day was beautiful. Though it didn't feel that cold, it must have been, as there was hail, and a bit of snow. And the sun was shining.

Then we heard. Another coworker had traveled to southern California to visit family - to celebrate a big birthday. Her husband was excited to ride down there - he's a bicycle maniac. There was an accident - the details are still fuzzy, but he was hurt yesterday, and died last night. They are about my age. They had one of the best marriages I've seen...their kids are grown, and they were so close, as many couples whose kids have left the nest are.

I'm exhausted, physically and mentally. I've called a few friends, to tell them how much I love and appreciate them. Times like these make us realize the fragility of life.

I know I need the Stirring tonight, but I don't know that we'll make it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yesterday was so much fun. Okay, I'm not a car buff. My interest in cars stops when they do. But Kool April Nites is a BIG.BIG.DEAL. here in Redding.

My first April in Redding, John and I went to Applebee's for dinner the night of the cruise. Don't ask me how we did it, but we ended up with a booth right by the windows, and watched the whole thing in perfect comfort. And for me, perfect boredom.

Zip forward many years - Kool April Nites became a reason to stay home and off the roads. And then, I had a son who is a car nut. He takes after my big brother, Billy that way. Bill used to have a '55 1/2 Thunderbird. He had one of those funny little BMWs with the door IN THE FRONT WHERE THE ENGINE IS SUPPOSED TO BE! He now has probably 1,500 toy cars. Okay, not exactly toy cars. They are 1:18 scale models. People send them to him. He reviews them. My son thinks this is the COOLEST. JOB. EVER.

So last year, we braved the crowds for the cruise. I have to admit, it was pretty fun. Fun in that way that Rodeo Week is fun, even if you're not really into rodeos. There is something about an event like these that makes Redding still feel small. It makes me feel like Laura, in her Little House series. Everyone is happy, and smiling, and talking to people they don't know. Buying treats, and sitting in the sunshine, and just enjoying the moment.

When I learned the shopping center I work in was having a big blow-out for Kool April Nites, and they welcomed non-profits selling goodies, I called up our school's Parent Club. There were some hiccups, but we had a booth right on Churn Creek Road selling cotton candy, popcorn, water, juice, and other snacks (too many to list).

We started setting up about 1:00 p.m. There were gymnastic demonstrations, martial arts demonstrations, and a bunch of guys riding little motorcycles doing amazing tricks. A great band called weR1 - part of Redding Transformation. I made friends with the folks in the booth next to ours - they were from Destiny Fellowship in Anderson, and they were selling nachos. We bonded over a generator.

And amazingly, I learned that a fellow mom and I both used to live in Sonoma County, and have a mutual friend!

And I have advice for everyone I know. RENT A COTTON CANDY MACHINE! It is amazingly fun. This thing takes a bit of colored, flavored sugar and turns it into a thing of mystery. It's fun to figure out the best technique (we were all cotton candy virgins, and the thing didn't come with instructions). It's fun to see the faces of kids when they see the fluffy, sweet stuff. It's fun to laugh and pick strands of sugar off each other's hair. And then you put a bit of it in your mouth, and it's light and fluffy and crackly and melty and sweet and wonderful.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From 60 to 0 - in under 60 seconds

That's how quickly things can change.

My dearest friend is soon to be a grandmother. I remember her daughter's wedding just last year, in early fall - the young couple so full of hope and love. They have wonderful dreams for their future. Within a month, she was pregnant, and they were sooooo excited.

Then came the sonogram that showed a serious, but treatable, birth defect. No doctors in Redding would touch her. But there are wonderful doctors at UC Davis, and the defect can be corrected shortly after birth. Okay, maybe he'll be in the hospital for a few months, but the outcome looks good.

Until today. Another sonogram. Another defect, not even related to the first. One that, when combined with other structural malformations (see above) very often, most often, has an adverse prognosis. And an unthinking tech, who said the unthinkable, "Too bad it's too late to abort."

This mom-to-be has shown such strength and love for her child. This is one of those times that I have to ask - why does this have to happen? I know they love this baby so much. I know that God will comfort them. I know that it's at times like this - when things are about as awful as you can imagine - that's God's compassion is shown. I know with all my heart that God can work anything that happens for His good. But sometimes it's hard to see what you know. It's hard to say the right thing. Is there a right thing?

So I'll do the only things I know how. I'll take them dinner tonight. And I'll pray. And I'll cry with them, if that's what they need. And I'll even question God, because I know He's big enough to take it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Shoe shopping!

I had so much fun tonight. My new life group gifted a bunch of wonderful children with new shoes. I have a feeling that some of these kids have NEVER had a new pair of shoes before. What a wonderful time we had. Those beautiful kids gifted us with amazing smiles, thanks, and even some hugs.

My family has been blessed. We have a warm and cozy home with terrific neighbors. I have a bathtub. I have a full kitchen. My cupboards are full of food that I can easily prepare. It never dawned on me until tonight just how much the folks that must live in motels must miss. I can choose which room to watch my favorite TV programs in. I can use my microwave, my BBQ, my oven, my lovely gas stove. Laundry? Two steps out my garage door. My kids need new clothes? Maybe I can't afford designer labels, but I can run to any nearby store and buy them a couple new outfits.

Birthday? My kids have a party. Sick? The doctor is always available, and I can afford the copay.

Thanks, Chris, for organizing this. I know I got a bigger gift than those kids did tonight.

Family Braggin'

I subscribe to Google alerts. It's a fun thing I do to learn more about my family. Thanks to these alerts, I found my aunt & uncle's tablecloth in a museum and some other really cool stuff.

Today in my inbox I found a great article about my father in the New York Times.

Yes, my father lived in tzarist Russia. Yes, he arrived in the US in 1926. No, I'm not 90 years old. My father was 68 when I was born. Awesome! My mom was 39....they married when she was 25 and he was 54. They met in Los Angeles, at the Trocodero. I've been told that the Daily Variety had an article the next day, as my father stood up and said - in his loud, Russian voice, "My heart is on fire." Truly a great love story.

The picture above was taken before I was born. The little imp on the left is my brother, Bill. He was 16 when I was born. this is what he looks like now: The other boy, gazing lovingly at my mom, was my brother, Tony. He died in 1991 of bone cancer. He was 19 when I was born! At the hospital, the nurses thought HE was my father!

Thanks to the internet, I've learned more about my wonderful, unusual family.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Can I just use the title from my last post?

I was the one in the senior yearbook that said I wanted to be a mom - with 12 kids.

Unfortunately, I had a few issues.

I didn't marry until I was 38 years old. Let's just say I had some abandonment issues that led me to push people away before they could leave me. Let's just hope I'm over that one.....

I married a man with a step-daughter. His ex-wife and step-daughter had left town, so he didn't get to see her, but he always carried her picture.

I'd struggled for years with endometriosis. I'll spare you the details, but I was left with poor odds according to my doctor: 25% chance of ever getting pregnant, and a 25% chance of carrying that child to term. And my age only made it worse. My ex-husband was born with a birth defect that, while not life-threatening, required numerous painful surgeries to correct. He had the first at age 3, and the last in high school. He was left self-conscious of the scars, and with constant pain, and didn't want to pass it down.

We decided that maybe kids weren't for us. We were busy with our careers and extremely active in theatre. That's how we met, actually. I had just moved to Redding, and auditioned for a play, and we were both in the same cast. So that's what we did - one show after another.

About 4 1/2 years later, his ex-wife and her daughter moved back to town. At least I got to be a stepmom. I first met Jen when she was 14. Tall, and beautiful, with braces and bony knees. She's still so close to my heart and we talk all the time.

Not long after she came back into our lives, I thought of adopting. Not wanting to overwhelm my husband, I prayed about it. Less than two weeks later, he came to me and asked if maybe we could adopt a little one.

We were in the middle of building a home, so decided to wait until we moved in. In the meantime, I researched everything on adoption I could find. We were seriously looking into a Russian adoption, since each of us happened to be half Russian.

One day, at a local event, we ran into some old theatre friends who had adopted. I asked them what agency they'd used. Turned out it was Shasta County - fost-adopt. A light went on in my head, and I looked at my husband and we both smiled. I'd been a foster child for five years. What better way to enlarge our family?

Two days after we moved into our new home, we called (it would have been one day, but it was a holiday!). We found they were having an informational meeting in just a few weeks.

Soon we were wrapped up in classes, and forms, and new friends. Home studies, and so many questions. We decided that health problems didn't scare us, nor did mental problems. We decided that at our age, an infant wasn't "necessary."

We went down on the list for a boy, aged one to four.

While we waited, we got a phone call. A three-year-old boy was living in a guardianship. His guardian was overwhelmed with his behaviors, and it was decided he should be offered for adoption. They wanted a home without kids to observe him for a few weeks.

He had the biggest smile I'd ever seen. And was the only child I'd met who could scream for 8 - 10 hours a day. His mother had used cocaine during her pregnancy (her 9th) causing her baby to have mini-strokes while still in utero. She drank to come down from the high, causing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Who knows what caused the cerebral palsy, or the retardation.

He blossomed in our home, but we knew that he needed far more experienced parents that we were. Love doesn't fix everything. An adoptive home was found within a day of his internet posting (I wrote it!), but it would take months for the paperwork to go through. Of course, he would stay with us until it happened. No way were we going to have him move again. I eventually (eight months later) traveled with him to his new home in Missouri, and remain close to his adoptive family.

One day, a few months later, I got a call. Though I took notes, I don't need to refer to them, because I remember every word. The worker who'd done our home study wanted to tell us about a little boy.

He was a little younger than we were on the list for - only six months old. He'd been in care since birth, since his birth mother struggled with tremendous demons, and the hospital feared for his safety. While pregnant, the birth mother had attempted suicide. During his first six months, the county had tried to reunify him with his birth mother twice, only to have to remove him again due to abuse. It didn't look like she'd be able to parent him, ever.

His birth father was in jail, and wouldn't be released for at least a year. They weren't a "couple."

He was blond (not really) and blue-eyed (ok, she got that one wrong completely).

And he was so serious. He rarely smiled, and had never laughed. He could pull himself up to standing already, but he didn't have a single tooth. And he couldn't bear to ride in a car.

We met him a few days later. He sat solemnly on his foster mom's lap, thumb in mouth, gazing at us like he was trying to figure out why we were there. I asked to hold him. A few minutes later, a worker asked if we wanted to consider taking him home. I answered honestly. I'd fallen in love with him the minute he'd been placed on my lap.

His long, lovely lashes, his hazel eyes (just like mine). His serious expression.

It didn't take much longer for my ex-husband to fall in love with him, too.

It wasn't an easy road. His birth-father got out of jail much earlier than anticipated, and decided he wanted to parent our little one. His mother was pushing him hard, as she'd been adopted at birth, and they declared they'd never let our little one be adopted. We spent months trying to help him reunify, months of dread, prayers, and tears. Eventually, his demons got the best of him, and even he decided that we could offer a better home.

At nine months, our son finally laughed. At ten months, he got his first tooth. At a year, he walked. At age two, we finalized the adoption, and I finally thought he might have bonded to us. But 18 months before that, he'd walked right into my heart. My little boy. My Jacob Elliot.

And today he is eight years old. I love him beyond measure. And he loves me, too. I love his thick hair, his loving heart, the freckle on his knee. I love his determination to collect and identify rocks. His love for animals. His care for those younger and smaller than him. His long silky lashes that frame hazel eyes, just like mine. And when he smiles, and laughs, I'm reminded of those days long ago when he never smiled, never laughed. And I thank God that He has entrusted him to me.

Sometimes life doesn't work out like you planned

Friday night, the Stirring planned "Erase the Dark," a music, art and film festival to benefit Cypress School.

Close to my heart, it is. Last summer, my ex-husband and I hired a nanny for our kids. Less than a month in, she decided she didn't want to spend her summer working. She offered up her sister, who lasted about two weeks. We were stuck. Have you ever tried to find summer child care well into July? Not easy. We found that Cypress School offered a summer childcare program, had openings, and was surprisingly affordable. I went there, and met the director, and she was fabulous! Caring, well-educated, and with a true heart for the kids. We made plans for them to start there.

I picked up the kids after the first day, and Jake asked me if I could make him two lunches the next day. Now, he is NOT a big eater, so my curiosity was peaked. He wanted to share one of the lunches with his new friend, K. K's lunch that day had been a rice cake. I spend the rest of the summer packing each of the kids' lunchboxes with several sandwiches and snacks.

One Wednesday they had planned an outing to the Aquatic Center. All the kids were so excited, but the day broke cold and drizzly. A quick change to the skating rink was made, but there was a problem. As the teachers called the parents to let them know of the change, it was discovered that half of them didn't have socks - required for the rink. I made a quick trip to K-Mart, and the trip went on.

Several of Jake's favorite toys disappeared that summer. The mystery was solved when I saw Jake putting them into his backpack to give to his friends who he'd found had no toys.

That's how our summer went - with my kids receiving a greater gift than I'd planned. Sure, they were in a safe place, filled with laughter, learning, crafts, and play. But they learned that there are kids right here in our town who don't have toys. Who don't have food. Who don't have clothes.

So, here the Stirring was having this incredible event meant not only to entertain, but to enrich Cypress School. I was really looking forward to it.

One of my co-workers came to work Friday complaining that she'd spent the night with food poisoning. About 4:00, I realized maybe she didn't have food poisoning, but stomach flu. How did I know? Because food poisoning isn't contagious.

There went my Friday night.

I'm still not feeling great, but I felt well enough to host Jake's 8th birthday party yesterday afternoon. It was a roaring success. For the first time, every single guest was there. And his dad stayed for two whole hours, and actually played with him, which was probably the greatest gift Jake received.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

So I was reading Hal's blog over here and it reminded me of the day I returned to school after the Christmas vacation (yes, Virginia, there used to be a Christmas vacation) in the 5th grade.

I was in Mrs. Tidball's class. She was my favorite elementary school teacher. My mother had died on December 5, and my stepfather and his sister kept me out of school until after the break ended. I was sent to Fullerton to stay with his family. I was anxious to return to class, to my friends, to my favorite teacher. She showed me a larger world, and was the first I'd met besides my mother and me to be a FANATIC reader. And, of course, she showed me that people could have really odd mannerisms (I'd be happy to show show you sometime) and have a really lovely heart.

I remember the day as though it were yesterday. I walked into the room, and across to Mrs. Tidball's desk. I handed her the note my Aunt Bunnie (not making that up, folks) had written to excuse my lengthy absence. I'd been afraid to read it. Apparently, it said:

Dear Mrs. Tidball,

Please excuse Annie's absence from school due to a family emergency.


The Grinch (ok, that's not how she signed it. but she should have)

Of course, Mrs. Tidball looked at me and asked me what had happened.

I was a very small, very timid, barely 10 year old 5th grader. And I had to stand up in the front of the class and say,

"My mother died."

You could have heard a pin drop. And echo.

"Okay. Well then, Annie. Take your seat. You have a lot of work to make up."

And as I slowly made my way to my desk, choking back the hot tears, I wished someone would have told the school what happened. I wished that Mrs. Tidball would have put her arms around me and told me it was going to be okay. I wished that my mom was there. I wished that someone would let me talk about her. But no one did.

Kudos to the teacher in Hal's story.

This boy knocks me out

Yesterday the Prince had a doctor's appointment. My ex offered to take him, as I had a meeting scheduled at work. The appointment was at 2:30.

At 2:45 I got out of my meeting, and noticed a voice mail on my cell phone. Yup, it's his dad. "Sorry, I lost track of time, I'm leaving my office right now. Can you call the doctor and tell him we'll be late?" They arrived at the doctor's office promptly at 3:10. Thankfully, the doctor was still able to see him. I wish I'd been there - my motherwit tells me I need to talk to the doctor about something he brushed off yesterday, and my ex didn't pursue. But anyway....

After the appointment, the ex was to bring Jake to my work to hang out with me until 5. He'd never been here before, so you'd think he'd walk his son in to the office. We're located in a pretty busy strip mall. Jake's only been here with me, and I use the employee's entrance, always kept locked. But, no. He dropped him off right in front of the door Jake told him to, and drove away before realizing Jake couldn't get in a locked door. Thankfully, my son is smart enough to walk around the building until he found the front door.

I left Jake in my office while I attended to some work. He wanted to use my typewriter, so I got him some paper. He asked to use one of my stamps. When I returned, he forbid me to look at his work until it was ready.

He is so awesome.

I am so blessed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We are Family

So, Sunday night Nate was talking about family. This hits me hard. Family has always been - well, foreign to me.

Both my parents came to this country before I was mother with her parents and younger sister, all of whom died before I was born. My father came over with his first wife and daughter (his wife died when my half-sister Victoria was 15). His two brothers and a sister all joined him here - Uncle Costia in Los Angeles, where he was music director for RKO (not far from my dad's work at Columbia), Aunt Nadia taught voice in LA, and Uncle Vladya and Aunt Julia ended up in Pittsburgh, where he headed the symphony orchestra. But close they were not.

My father died when I was two. My mother remarried a man who was a wonderful father to me when I was four.

And then when I was ten, my mother died. I've dealt with the outcomes and emotions from this all my life. Hope Edelman even interviewed me for her book, "Motherless Mothers." If you're a woman, and you lost your mom during the years your personality is still forming, it effects you in profound ways.

Unfortunately, my stepfather didn't deal well with this loss, and drank himself to death in about three years. I ended up in foster care, as an OWNAO (pronounced O-NOW). Orphaned with no adult relatives. Not really true. I had two half-brothers from my mother's first marriage who were both adults, and my half-sister, Victoria. But due to strained relations between my stepfather and all of them, I hadn't seen any of them in years.

We did later reunite - but my brother Tony died in 1991 and my sister in 1994.

When I adopted my wonderful kids, I really had no idea if I knew how to be a mother. I know that lots of women feel this way, but it was almost paralyzing to me. Okay, maybe I could mother them when they are little, but what about after they are 10? I don't even have an example.

But I do.

The women that have mothered me along the way (even though some are younger than I) have taught me so much. And I am surrounded by friends that have become family to me. And God leads me, and comforts me, and loves me.

So maybe I can extend my arms and do some more mothering. I've mothered my stepdaughter Jeni since she was 14 (25 now, and on her own in San Francisco). But maybe there's a Life Group that needs a mother. I'm doing okay with the munchkins. And I still have time and love to mother more.....

Anyone at the Stirring need a good home-cooked meal????

It ain't your mamma's Bible, bay-bee

What a weekend. In fact, it was such a weekend, I couldn't even write about it yesterday.

My beautiful, talented, clumsy Dr. Fairy Princess (also known as Princess Jelly Bean, or simply Emme) is already wearing an ankle support. She sprained her right ankle a while back, and keeps twisting it, so we're trying to keep her from having an eternally unstable ankle. Her knees are always scabby. If there's a glass of juice or milk near her - it's goin' down. A plate of food? Upside down, baby (this is probably why we have a dog).

Saturday afternoon we ventured to the movies to see "Horton Hears a Who." Loved it. Then we went over to Park Marina Drive to feed the ducks and geese (and pigeons and seagulls) our leftover popcorn. I look, and Emme is climbing the chain link fence! Now, it's probably not even four feet high, but SHE HAS A SPRAINED ANKLE ALREADY. I immediately order the munchkin down. Unfortunately, her forearm chose to get too close to the raw end of the fence at the top (I'm sure there's a technical term for this, but I really don't care). As she begins her climb down, the end of this pointed, deadly fence goes right into the skin. Of course, her instinct is to keep climbing down, at the exact rate of speed her voice is going up. As she climbs down, the fence is going deeper into her arm. That's right, HER ARM! I immediately try to pull her back up to unhook her arm, but she doesn't realize what I'm trying to do and is fighting me like a demon. I finally get her unhooked (the stupid thing probably went in to her arm a half inch).

I call their dad - he lives only a couple minutes from Park Marina....he's not home. Knowing I have only a couple bandaids left at home, I go to a local pharmacy. The pharmacist took one look at her arm and said that we needed to get into a professional right away.

Now, every urgent care in town is closed this late on a Saturday (well, except for one - and I wouldn't take my dog there). So, of course I call my boss (perks - gotta love 'em). He meets us at Crossroads and cleans up her wound. Emme made me leave the treatment room. Later, I ask her why...."because there was lots of blood, Mommy, and I didn't want you to cry."

Sunday we relaxed. I played Martha Stewart and made pancakes, pot roast and pie (coincidentally, Emme's class is studying P this week). We went to the Stirring at 5. As I'm sitting there, listening to Nate, I open my Bible. As I said in the title, this isn't your mother's Bible. I've got notes written everywhere. Anyway, on the title page for the New Testament, I find a young child's writing.

"I live you so mush!"

I don't know when one of them got hold of my Bible and wrote this, but it just made my day.