The Hangover

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I have a hangover. It’s not an alcohol induced hangover. It’s a holiday induced hangover. Rather, it’s a family induced hangover.

Because the boys were sick, we were home for the holidays. And, I don’t mean, we packed up and flew back to our birthplace. No. We were home. We did not pass ‘Go’, and we did not collect $200. Christmas Eve was to be spent at church; that didn’t happen. Christmas day was to be spent at Rob’s parents in the morning and my Mom’s house in the afternoon; that didn’t happen. And the day after Christmas? Yet another day at home.

I’ve referred to my siblings in previous posts. We love each other, and while loving each other, we get on each other’s nerves from time to time. It’s true. Can you relate? Do you get along swimmingly with your siblings all the time? Yes? No? Anyway …

Since my husband, two kids and I have been ‘isolated’ at home for the past several days, I am reminded of the bickering my siblings and I did over the years.

Poor Charlie. Joe has been on Charlie for three days straight. The kid, Charlie, cannot catch a break. And, Joe? Man, I am all over him for being all over Charlie. And Rob? Well, Rob has the gift of being “Dad”. Seriously, this man can tune out anything and everything. Unless … seems being stuck at home with family for several days straight can make even the ‘Tune out’ pro twitch with frustration. I must admit, it is entertaining to see a speck of an Achilles’ heal on this wonderful man.

Fortunately for us, we have family. See? Even when families drive you crazy, you can still turn to your family to find sanity. And, because Joe was no longer sick, he had a ‘Get out of jail free!’ card. So, with the ‘Get out of jail’ card firmly in hand, we phoned Grandma, and we sent Joe to Grandma’s house. After all, Grandma (and Grandpa) is cheaper than boarding school; plus, there is no long term contract.

Because Charlie is sick, it was easy to explain the planned separation to him. (The hard part was not saying, “Honestly Charlie, don’t you want a break from this guy that has been all over you these past several days?!”) Initially, Charlie was bummed to see Joe leave. But Joe? Joe was toe-tapping his way to Grandma’s with a huge grin. And Rob and me? We were happy knowing our boys were happy. And, both boys were happy today.

We’ll spring Joe from boarding school – er – Grandma’s in the morning. He’ll return a happier kid, having had time without his annoying little brother; and, we’ll greet him with open arms, having missed his smiling, cool self.

Yeah, the family/holiday hangover paid a visit to our house without the consumption of any adult beverages. And, if we’re lucky, the family/holiday hangover will pay a visit next year and countless years to come. After all, some things are worth the headache.

The Crazy Behind the Curtain

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Getting up and heading to church on Sundays is something we do more often than not. The morning pace is slow, but we manage to make it to the church on time. The boys go to their Sunday school classes, and Rob and I go to our Sunday school class. This past Sunday was different. We were given the task (honor, really) to light the first candle of the advent season. We were to light the candle during the 9:30 am church service.

Our morning routine was a little more rushed, wanting to look our very best for the congregation. I wanted to make sure the boys wore their pants without holes, and shirts/sweaters that actually matched their pants. On this particular Sunday – socks and sandals would not be acceptable. We were rushing around in an attempt to look like the ‘perfect’ family.

As we were heading to church, I noticed several other cars on the road. And, from what I could see, many of the cars had folks dressed in their ‘Sunday’ best. I reflected back to Thanksgiving, when my niece took a picture of me, Rob and the boys, because the holiday season typically brings with it greeting cards. Many greeting cards. And, many of the greeting cards include a picture of the family. Most pictures show a happy family, smiling beautifully in their best holiday clothes. Or perhaps, the picture was taken at the beach, and they are donning similar outfits – white tops and blue bottoms. Regardless of the pose or the clothes, taking the perfect holiday picture is a ritual for many families. And, wanting to include a picture of our perfect family in our holiday card, I made sure our family took part in the ritual.

Perhaps, if you peel back the curtain in our family you may find: the rushing around the house; the bickering and snapping over this and that, because of this and that; the pull in the pantyhose that leads to a run, because of an attempt to chase the dog off the bed and out of the bedroom, while also trying to get dressed; the grape jelly that falls off the toast and lands on a clean Sunday shirt, as a 4yr old eats while also bouncing in his chair; the glitter glue picture that had to be completed by a 5yr old and ends up in his lap – leaving globs of glue behind on his Sunday pants; etc.

Then again, you may find a perfectly composed family, clean and neat, with freshly washed and pressed clothes, brushed teeth and hair, all smiles and ready to please. Though, as I shake a Magic 8 Ball, I’m not at all surprised to find, “Looks Doubtful.”

What follows is a series of photo mishaps, in the effort of getting the ‘perfect’ shot. Starting with my boys, in a series of pictures where one realizes he is tickling the other to the point of no return. And, I am not including the perfect shots, because really, there is more fun to be had while living in the crazy.

Look. Charlie is a little ticklish.

Charlie is ticklish, Mom.

This is kind of fun!

And, we're done!

While positioning the kids, my friend (and photographer) saw a chance and took it.

How many more pictures do we have to take?!

Be kind, take care of yourself and each other, and make sure you have fun while living in the crazy!

Regrets Possibly Pending

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I have received many comments about my blog. Not surprisingly, some people worry that I share too much. When I started writing the blog, my husband’s main request was that I maintain a line of privacy – of sorts – with regards to how much information I share. And, according to my husband, I have not yet crossed the line (though I’ve come close); but recently, my husband did ask me to delete one picture I included in a post, and I deleted the photo without hesitation.

Earlier this week, I read another blogger’s post about things best left unsaid or unpublished. In fact, I read the post several times. And, though I do not fully agree with the author, I understand the points she is trying to make. And, I do believe her words should be heard, if only to keep things in perspective. So, I made myself hear her, and I made myself reflect on my writings. Are my regrets pending? Will I look back, when my boys are teenagers, college students, etc. and feel regretful for exposing my life (and the lives of my family) to countless people? Will the feelings of my sons be hurt, because I wrote about a day (or month) when they drove me crazy?

No, the boys do not have a say in what I choose to share. No, I am not asking them for permission to write about their life. Does this make me a bad Mom? Some may answer ‘yes’, but I answer ‘no’. I don’t know what my boys will think about what I have written and what I will write. I hope the boys find my writing funny and entertaining. And, I hope my boys find the serious posts heartfelt and honest, even if it hurts. [Note to self: Be prepared to read the previous sentence directed at you, when the boys release their ‘Tell All’.]

This life of mine is my reality. I am living my reality. And, I am doing the best I can for myself, my husband and my kids. There is not a doubt in my mind that my current reality is manageable because I write about it. This blog was created the beginning of this year, and though the I still run into speed bumps, I am in a far better place today, in part, because of my writing.

Today – October 20, 2010 – hundreds of thousands of young people across the USA are wearing purple to call attention to the deaths of six youths who committed suicide after they were bullied or harassed because they were gay or were thought to be gay. I mention the ‘day of purple’, because many of the bullying takes place in cyberspace via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. One need not be gay to be bullied; moreover, one need not be bullied or gay to consider and/or commit suicide.

What does the above have to do with my writing? I believe one benefit to writing is letting others know they are not alone. In the past, I’ve written about my own suicidal thoughts. In fact, when I wrote my blog about that dark period, some of my friends reminded me they didn’t like it when I went through that stage the first time, and they didn’t like reading about it again. Why? Because it made them uncomfortable. Words are powerful, whether spoken or written. Words are supportive, whether spoken or written. As cheesy as this may sound, words can be used for good or evil. When I write, I am trying to use my words for good. And, I hope my boys will learn something from my experiences, regardless of the actual experience. [Note to my boys: The previous sentence is not to be used as an excuse for you to feel it is OK to experience everything you want to in life, not while you are living under your parents’ roof. Keep it legal and safe, boys; and, follow directions.]

The blog I read earlier this week, that inspired my post today, dealt with a girl stumbling across a Christmas letter her Mom had written. The girl was hurt by the words her Mom wrote. I think it is important to add that this person found her Mom’s letter by accessing the Word document and figuring out the secret password. This was not some random letter her Mom left out for all to see; although, it was the Christmas letter . . .

Still, it brings me to another point, when your feelings are hurt because you went out of your way to find the meanness, you looked in nooks and crannies that did not belong to you, you picked the locked which was intended to keep the thoughts private – is it fair to attack the writer? And, that is a question I ask myself, because I wrote You are what you seek after I felt bullied by someone. But, in my post, I made the point that I was responsible for going out of my way to find the mean words. I sought it out – found it – didn’t like it – and wrote about it. In addition to calling out the person, I was calling out myself. I was holding myself accountable for actively putting my nose where it didn’t belong.

Being a bully is wrong. Using words (spoken or written) to hurt is wrong. Again I ask myself, will I regret these posts in the future? I don’t think I will. And, I don’t think my boys will react negatively to what I have written or may write in the future. Time will tell. In the meantime, I will continue to live this reality as I know it, making sure my husband and boys know I love them with all my heart, even when I have bad days.

Then again, aside from knowing I love my family, what do I know? I currently have two part-time jobs, one of which is from 11pm until 7am, two nights a week. The lack of sleep is turning my brain to mush. When I started this post, I am sure I had a point, but the point may have been lost – like my sleep. Oh, and if you are interested in reading the post I mentioned titled “Things best left unsaid (or at least unpublished), you may do so by clicking here. Good night. Oh wait. I’m working tonight. *sigh*