Thursday, May 26, 2011

On The Anniversary Of Your Execution

Since beginning my blog, I've met a few people along the way that use their blog in a much more useful fashion than I do.


Motivated by an event in their life, they use it as a platform to bring light and energy to a specific cause.  I've seen March of Dimes, the struggle of infertility, post-partum depression and loss all documented by people who write with amazing grace considering what they have experienced in life.  

One of these blogs is written by a woman who has always supported my blog, and I'm so glad because I came to know her story.  

Kim, from My Inner Chick,has suffered the unbearable loss of her sister due to domestic violence.

Her story touches me because I am so close to my own sister.  I also have a friend I consider a sister, and two sisters in law; none of whom I can not fathom losing in this senseless manner.  

It also touches me because, although I have a background in social work, nothing has left me as shocked and in fear for girls as my work in a high school.  


We had many wonderful kids, but my office was stationed right off of a hallway lined with lockers, and as the kids passed I heard things that scared the hell out of me.  

The way a boy would in passing call a girl fat, and she'd giggle and laugh it off.  The way a boy would tell a girl to "Shut the hell up, you bitch" during a daily exchange.  The way kids in my office would tell me of something that occurred that would send me to the guidance office hoping the counselors could drag the truth of a girl who would likely hide it.  

These situations were rare, however to me they were scarier than just what happened in the moment.  It meant this girl was accepting this behavior and would probably continue to do so in future relationships. 

I imagined her being beat down mentally further each time, leading to one final bad relationship.  

Kim's sister, Kay, was murdered by her own husband and father of their children.  Kim's sister was a normal person, like you and me, who had recently decided to get out of a bad relationship.  A decision that was unacceptable by her husband, who instead ended both of their lives. 

Today is the one year anniversary of Kay's senseless passing.  I asked Kim if I could post something in her memory today because the light of her memory should overpower the sadness of her death.


Please know what happened to Kay, happens all the time.  



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Day I Ruined Mass

The end of the world got me thinking about the time that I screwed up communion for an entire church full of Catholics.  Because I just know that God is going to bring it up.

My first job during high school was working after school and on the weekends at our church.  I know, I'm such a good girl.  I'm glad you think that, because you are about to see how I screwed up  and made a liar out of a perfectly good priest.

During the week my evening hours consisted of answering the phone and taking messages.  This usually turned into me transferring the call to the wrong person, because I never really figured out how to get the transfer part of the phone to work.  

I figured as long as the person got to someone's voice mail box then things were good because the offices were so close to each other they could really just shout down the hall and deliver the message to the correct person.  I'm sure they seriously appreciated my handling their phone calls in that manner. 

We also stuffed envelopes and got 4,004,493,000,930 bulletins stuffed and ready for church each week.  OK, it may not have been that many, but when you are sitting in a freaking quiet church office after regular hours, well let's just say things get a bit long and monotonous . I mean, I totally had the Lord with me, but for the most part it felt super quiet and alone.

The weekends were an extra special time.  It meant that I got to open the church up at the butt ass crack of dawn using a skeleton key.  In case you are not familiar with skeleton keys, they are a special kind of key that don't actually work.  

There were a series of things you needed to do in order for the skeleton key to actually work and keep the doors opened.  You had to tap something and bang on something like The Fonz and then use the key and wah la!  I'm not as cool as The Fonz, so I don't think that I ever ever ever ever once opened the doors successfully.  Sooner or later someone else with a skeleton key and a Fonzie-esque nature would show up and open the door for the people gathering in wait to enter the church.  But each week, I dutifully went to every.single.door and thought I was correctly unlocking them.

Next, we would prepare a few things for the upcoming Masses.  We needed to make sure that wine and communion wafers were present and ready to bring  up for communion.  We also, and here's where it got tricky for me, check this special little area of the church, called the Tabernacle, where any remaining consecrated communion wafers were put if they were not used during a mass. 

If there were no Eucharist in the Tabernacle, it was a sign that we needed to send up more than usual in the plate that was brought up during mass.

In my head, I got that a little wrong.

This one particular morning I checked, and there were no Eucharist in the Tabernacle.  So I went back to the office, grabbed a bag, tore it open and put some wafers in the Tabernacle.  If there are any true blue Catholics reading this you already know what I did wrong.

So the morning moved along and several masses took place.  Hundreds of people received communion, which in the Catholic church is a very big deal as we believe it actually becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  

Afterwards I asked the priest if there had been enough communion to distribute, and he answered yes.  He said that there were Eucharist in the Tabernacle so it had not been a problem, when he ran out he just brought those out.  

I said, "Oh, I know.  I put those in there because I saw it was running low."  

This is when the priest just stared at me.  He asked me to repeat what I just said.

Apparently.....the Tabernacle is a very special place.  The ONLY thing to ever reside within it's walls are consecrated communion wafers, meaning they have undergone transubstantiation which is the complete change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ's body and blood by a validly ordained priest during the consecration at Mass.  It's pretty big stuff.

So, thanks to me,  a large percentage of the Catholics who went to Mass that day, hoping to receive the sacrament of communion, basically received a plain wafer that I had torn out of a plastic bag that we ordered in bulk.  In other words, I ruined it.

The priest at first looked perturbed, then he just laughed and said there was nothing to be done about it now.   He then asked that I please not leave the church unlocked like I had the previous week.  Stupid skeleton key.

So, there you have it.  That has been weighing on my conscience since I was 15.  

Well, that and the time I was 5 and tried to steal a pack of fruit stripe gum by putting it down into my tank top while shopping with my mom after I saw Daisy Duke put stuff down her shirt on the Dukes of Hazzard.  

And that, my friends, is what Catholic guilt is all about.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Honey, Where Are Our Snake Waders? I'd Like To Take A Walk.

So, here's the deal.  I've rolled with the punches of this move pretty well.  Other than the pouting about missing my friends and family.  


But I've rallied.  


I totally bought face moisturizer with a SPF of 30 instead of 15. 


I've enjoyed time and time again how very different the space within our own country can be, in terms of basic culture and sites.  


I've loved driving along and seeing cows roaming in the pasture next to a shopping strip.  


I've defended the boiling summer to everyone by saying it will be a small price to pay considering the rest of the year we will be sitting pretty.


But yesterday I hit a wall.  It involved poop, a playground, and the terrifying knowledge that The Internets can bring us with just a few taps of our fingers.


I met at a local park for a play date and was enjoying my conversation with another adult, when suddenly her daughter came up to us pointing at her foot and crying.  We thought she hurt herself, but no she was upset because she had stepped in some animal "droppings".  


I will try to keep this less gross, by just saying, it was obviously not a domestic animal nor was it a human's.  Thank God for that I guess.  But the mom said, "I bet it's a bobcat.".






*sound of a record scratching*






Um.....a who now?  






Turns out, we have bobcats in this area.  You may be picturing me living out in an area with sprawling acreage for every home, and although the city we live in certainly does have a lot of wooded areas and nature, it is very much a city.  In fact, when this scene took place we were right outside a school and also within a subdivision. 


You see, this area's population has absolutely exploded in the last several years, which also means that the natural habitat rapidly lost the spaces that used to be theirs.  


Later that day we had walk through of our new home with our Realtor and builder.  


I gazed out the window of our new home at the walking path surrounding our subdivision.  The path lies next to a wooded area, and I thought about how last time I looked at the path, I pictured walking in the mornings and riding bikes amongst the natural quiet that comes with a tree lined space. 


Now I saw it as an opportunity to go on one of those jungle safari's, just on foot and with no one to help you when faced with an animal that would like to make out with your head using it's teeth.


"Tell me about bobcats", I whispered to my Realtor.  


I saw her contemplate how much she should share with me.  A little part of my soul died during that silence.


She and the builder went on to assure me that while there are bobcats in the area, they will surely do me no harm.  They did tell me to keep an eye on outside cats and small dogs.  I'm also not to feed birds or squirrels in my yard lest I create a feeding frenzy in my own backyard.  I sat in silence contemplating this, feeling my husband's dread over the fact that I had this to obsess over.  I thought of the wiener dog my daughter would so love to have.  It would actually be a hot dog for some bobcat.  


Then the conversation took an ugly turn.  I came out of my reverie to this:

Builder:  My advice is to not worry, just watch where you step.  Because there are snakes, and some are poisonous.  However they won't bite you unless you step on them. 



UNLESS I STEP ON THEM?  


He assured me that I could wear something called snake waders if I wanted.  I think he was making fun of me.  A joke was made about this being why Texan's carried guns.  My mind reeled and suddenly spiders came to mind.


"Tarantulas!"  I screamed.  "What about tarantulas??". 


Builder:  You don't need to worry about tarantulas.
Realtor:  Um....
Builder:  You've seen tarantulas?
Realtor:  Twice. 
Builder:  See, I thought the only thing to worry about was black widows.  If you go to reach for something in your garage or off a shelf, you need to just make sure there's no black widow there because that is how people get bit. 
Husband:  Yeah, a guy at work reached onto a shelf that is rarely used in the factory and he was bit by a black widow.  We had to get him to the hospital.


Dying.  I'm dying.  Tarantulas.  Bobcats.  Snakes.  


I went home and immediately consulted The Google Machine.  I entered my city's name and the word 'bobcats'.  Several past community warnings came up....along with these photos of an area a few blocks from our current location. 


Please enjoy the following photos while clinging to your loved ones:







In case you are not absorbing my reality, these special fellars are climbing around on fences in a local subdivision.  You know, around the backyards that our children frolic in.


So, if you come to Texas you'll probably hear about the girl from Wisconsin who walks around the subdivision paths wearing snake waders, carrying a gun, and looks insane as her eyes dart between the ground before her, avoiding snakes, to the woods around her....waiting to be pounced on.


Sounds relaxing doesn't it?

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Survived Catholic School

Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit our daughter's new school and meet the kindergarten team.  

Nora felt a bit nervous, understandably, so when this happens she takes on some sort of goofy cartoon character persona.  I guess I would compare her, in this mode only, to those tragically brain washed children on Barney. 

This involves a lot of animated speaking and sweeping hand gestures and overly dramatic happy reactions.  In other words, it's possible they thought that Nora had been drinking before the Kindergarten Popsicle Social.

This did not last too long, although it came back a few times during the event.  But overall it was a fun and happy occasion for everyone.

My husband and I were relieved to see that we can finally start the, "You better appreciate this because I had NOTHING as a child" speeches.  We had been wondering when those could start.  So far we discipline and stay on her behavior like our parents did and we don't have enough money to buy her one of those train sets that Ricky Schroeder had going through his house in Silver Spoons.  I know you remember it too.

My parent's didn't love me this much.


So imagine our glee when we saw Smart boards in every classroom!  A playground designed specifically for the kindergarten classrooms, so they have their own space!  An entire section of the school devoted to their needs alone.


I went to 12 years of Catholic school.  So my Smart board was a projector that had to be checked out, and if two other teachers in the school were using them that day, our teacher was crap out of luck.  My playground was a parking lot that had some piddly stuff painted on it for Four Square and Hop Scotch. 


It couldn't be more than that because it was also the parking lot for the church.  Which meant when funerals were going on we had no recess, instead we were sequestered to our classrooms to play Heads Up Seven Up.  


I bet my daughters will never know the joy of slipping through a hallway because it was raining and it was leaking through the roof into our class rooms and hallways.  Then, after you fell on your head, you noticed that they addressed the leak with the ultimate in plumbing technology- the Kemp's ice cream gallon bucket.  


As much as I loved Nora's new school, and I am excited for her, I am also saddened that she will not experience a Catholic education.  


She'll never hear her cords going "RIP ROP RIP ROP RIP ROP" as she brings the gifts down the aisle for communion.  


She will never experience getting to gather in the auditorium/cafeteria/gym/etc.  room when some sort of tragedy occurs, and have adults help her find some peace amongst her fear by leading the student body in prayer.  When I remember the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, I remember the entire school gathering in the church.  I felt safe in that small, familiar space after having felt out of control and scared as a child when the news broke.


She'll never know what it's like to be sitting on the pew during Mass, and having your BFF make you laugh so hard that in order to keep silent your shoulders are shaking with quiet laughter and then suddenly you can't hold it anymore and you make a horrible gasping noise and then your 3rd grade teacher grabs you by your arm and plunks you down next to her where you sit in fear that you will not be going out to recess and will instead by stuck washing the desks.  And you  just know that one jack ass kid totally drew in pen all over his!  Not to mention what the naughty CCD kids did to them.


She won't know what it's like to have a favorite priest that all the kids called "Padre".  You know, because we were just that cool.


She'll never own a collection of peter pan collared shirts in yellow, light blue, and white to pair with her green plaid jumper.  And she'll never know how cool it was to finally reach 6th grade, where you could trade your nerdy jumper in for a nerdy plaid skirt.













                             Perception  Vs.  Reality

Sometimes I wonder if the smart board is worth it....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Trying Out Wordless Wednesday

This is the stuff I love about living in Texas!  

I sort of wish I had a reason to utilize their services.



Monday, May 9, 2011

Can't They Make Cars That Drive Themselves? I'm Sick Of Living Like An Animal

Our weekends have been filled with exploring our new town.  Since my husband looked at a map of the United States one time 13 years ago and has since known where every single highway, street and Buffalo Wild Wings in the country is, we have taken to letting me drive hoping it will help bring it together for me. 


I'm more of a learn from experience kind of girl.  And by that I mean, about 5 years from now the city's basic grid will begin to seem vaguely familiar to me. 


I hate that my downfall reinforces the general stereotype that women have no sense of direction, but I can swear like a sailor, and they aren't supposed to do that either, so I feel like it all evens out.


Last Sunday our little car trip went something like this:


OK, so I'm near 121.  If I were to take this to the new house I would follow those signs that say they head to Sherman.  Right?


Well, you are talking about heading one direction but pointing to the opposite way with your finger.  Which do you mean?

Whatever, I meant to point the way the sign pointed. I would follow signs to Sherman, right?



No, you'd follow the signs to Dallas.  Going the opposite direction.


OK.  So I will turn left up here, right?


*Trying not to scream*  Um, no....here's the map I drew you to keep in the car.  It's very clear what you would do.


He hands me the map.  It shows three main roads which are all I really need to know to travel through our town correctly.  


The problem is, I can't be bothered with that little map he made me.  


Then he can't help it.

I really wish maps would just make sense in your head!  



Well, I wish you wouldn't pretend to know things that you don't!  And then afterwards when the truth comes out we have to fix the situation.  I wish you could just be ok with NOT knowing something for once.


OK, that has nothing to do with what's happening right now.  Why are you bringing that up?


Because I thought we were talking about what frustrates us about each other?


Just turn left.


Towards Sherman, right? 


NOOOOO!


I've noticed on these drives that my husband tends to get the same look on his face that all the people who tried unsuccessfully to teach me to drive stick did by the end of those lessons.  


I can't be bothered with such drivel as directions and what not.  I have so many other things to worry about.  The radio, noticing a new Super Target, getting the AC to blow the right way out of the vents, whether or not the guy behind me is actually picking his nose or just sort of rubbing it a little with his finger.  Let's not even talk about when someone drives in front of me with some sort of bumper sticker that takes all my focus by riling me up.  Not to mention the funny ones- "My kid can beat up your honor kid"?  How can you not take time to relish that thought?


These things are not my fault.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mama Cup Runneth Over

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mamas and Mother figures out there!


For everyone missing their Mom on Mother's Day, I feel you. There's just no one in this world like your Mama.

A Prayer For My Daughters
By Tina Fey 

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.


May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
 And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
 And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
”My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” 


And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. 


But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Love You

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Give A Brother Some Warning

Yesterday our day was spent at Children's Hospital checking our youngest daughter's progress and scheduling her palate repair surgery.  We received lots of positive information regarding her surgery and recovery, and it sounds as though it may actually go smoother than we'd originally planned.  This was obviously excellent to hear.  

We had several appointments in the morning, which took us to about 10am.  Afterwards we had nothing until 2:45.  Driving in Dallas traffic is sort of like the fun you would have if you shoved a spoon directly into your eye, so I decided to remain for the 2:45 appointment rather than return home and then back again for the appointment.  So we had some time to kill. 

And, really, time to kill is what you want when you have a 5 year old and 7 month old for companions.

Children's is a great place.  They put so much effort into making their hospital a place that is welcoming, and even fun, for their patients.  The ceilings are covered with various themes, some rooms have butterflies hanging down, another has lights that look like stars- complete with shooting stars- all across the room.  They have trains that run through rooms, popcorn being popped in various nooks and crannies, art rooms, and the big winner for us- a children's library.  We spent hours in there.

Unfortunately, one thing they can not do is help who comes through their doors.   One of my favorite sites all day was a pasty white gangly looking thug-esque beauty of a man.  He was walking like a fool with his pants on the ground wearing this shirt:



Isn't that brilliant?  You may be thinking that I'm being cruel, that some teenager suffering a sickness should not be picked on.  Let me put your fears to rest, this man was a grown adult who has procreated and had a child with him.  Feel better?  

I thought about yelling out, "COPS!  COPS!"  right by him just to see what the brother would do with some warning.  

The day was a little rough.  My oldest hung in there as best she could, but her sassy pants took over every now and then.  My baby slept for a total of 30 minutes all day.  

My daughter took to trying to be funny, and she's gotten into a bad habit of repeating things she's heard and trying them out.  These things are usually inappropriate and make me want to crawl in a hole and die.  

Yesterdays little nugget occurred when I dropped a toy on the way into an exam room .  A nurse helped me pick it up and Nora yelled out, "My mom's a loser!".  The nurse looked at me like I was obviously a solid parent.  I've never heard Nora say that so I obviously scolded her and assured she would never say it again.  

She looked at me teary and said, "You and Aunt Julia said it to each other." 

Mother of the year!  Holla!

After much waiting, it was finally time for our 2:45 appointment, which was a hearing test.  When I checked in the nurse chirped happily, "Oh, I was wondering when you'd get here!  I saw that you were here this morning for appointments, they should have sent you right up.  Often times we try to squeeze families with appointments that far apart in!  Otherwise it makes for a long day!  They must have forgotten to mention that".  This is when I jumped over the desk and pulled her hair.  

Afterwards, we had one more appointment to see the ENT.  It was at 3pm.  So at 4:30 were were called in and we saw a DR for a total of 6 minutes.  He told me the things I already know and quickly left the room.  Totally worth the wait!

This got us into the car in time to join the Dallas after work traffic.  I was so relieved to have my children strapped into the car that I did not care.   

And that was my day.  But honestly, it was full of good news and we all made it.  So as far as a day goes in Children's Hospital, we were of the luckiest people there yesterday and I know it.  

I would like to end this with a love letter to my GPS though:

Dear Tom Tom,

You couldn't find your ass with both hands and a map.

Fondly,

Amanda

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The One Where My Cat Died




Well, we went to my brother's wedding.  He's married!  Oh, and my cat died.

We came home from our fun weekend to find a sickly kitty.  I'll spare you the details, but after a night in the Emergency Pet Hospital ($$$$) and then a follow up with a regular vet visit, x-rays$$, IV fluids, money, and more bad news we decided to have her put to sleep. 

I'm not into animals suffering the way people do, and the next step was a feeding tube and more invasive procedures.  The choice was not easy, but clear to me.  The vet said it was the right thing to do.  

So, really Gladys Keri The Kitty got the last laugh.  As you may remember in this post, at the last minute we figured out that we would need to cancel our flight to Texas and instead drive 16 fun loving hours, as our cat was not welcome on the flight.  

We were told Texas, being on the border and struggling with illegal immigration issues, has more stringent animal transfer laws than most states.  We had to have her health certificate in our hands 30 days before we flew, and our appointment was not until a week before.  

Join me, won't you, in admiring the ridonkulous nature of what I have just shared with you.

Of the estimated 11.1 million illegal immigrants who found a way to enter into the United States in the last decade, approximately 60% of them are from Mexico.  BUT, breathe easy my friends, as they certainly have figured out a way to save the country from my 11 year old 12 lb, indoor cat crossing over into Texas.  

Anyway, after all that hoopla...after the animal products I hastily bought to make her drive in the car better, the hours of dealing with two children on an endless car trip, the gas money, the icky road food and the sanity my husband and I will never get back that was lost somewhere around Missouri....after all that- she kicked it 4 weeks later.  

Well played, Gladys.  Well played.


Goodbye, Gladiola

Goodbye to our timid, stubborn, lazy, loud, strange little kitty.  Sorry that we had two loud babies that sort of destroyed your world, Gladys.  Know that we shed many tears for you the last two days.  I hope Heaven has people to scratch your head between your ears, just how you like it.

P.S.- If there is anything in the suitcase in the picture, that may be embarrassing, I didn't notice it before sending it out to the world.  If you spot something good, just share it amongst yourselves because I never want to know.