I’M MOVING!


The Great Migration has Begun!

 

"There was an Old Woman who lived in a shoe..."

 

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed

 

After some consideration I felt that the name of this blog, (which was selected some years ago for a different purpose) simply does not match up with the content that I am writing. And so…I have decided to pick up my entire site and move it 3 feet to the left.

I have accepted my official status as the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe. Denial is bad for the soul.  I hope all 17 of you will keep reading my posts and tell your friend about them too!

I invite you all to join me over at my new home SheLivedinaShoe.com



Lately Found and a Roundup…


So, I’m wrestling with a post that might become 4 posts. Or get condensed down to 2 posts. Jury is still out for at least another day on that.




I still wish I was Charlie Harper from Two and a Half Men. Not Charlie Sheen, he’s a mess, Charlie Harper…What?!!




I’ve been tab hording again. That happens when the availability of information on the internet turns my brain into a jittery chipmunk with an espresso IV and a crack pipe. Eventually this behavior causes Firefox to implode and collapse in on itself, as you can see here…

Tab Hoarding - Ahhhhhhhhh!




I’d like a show of hands from all you who think “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” is an abysmal piece of lyrical crap, but you still can’t stop singing it when you hear it long enough. It’s missed it’s true calling as a means to wring confessions out of prisoners at Gitmo.




I totally wish I had more time to spend on the Food52 website. The more websites I search out the more I wish my skills were more than they are, but the future is open I suppose…




I have been reading Stephen King’s book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” which has been really fabulous, considering that I’m not a reader of any of his books, but I can say that nowhere is his skill as a writer more evident than at the ending chapters when he writes about the accident when he was seriously injured by a reckless driver.




I’ve been losing sleep late at night to this…

Addiction




My Niece has changed her mind and had decided to contest the adoption of the two youngest children that we share (now you know about the posts I’ve been wrestling with), so this will only be decided with the greatest pain possible.




I still haven’t figured out how to fill the $2500 hole that opened up in my monthly income 4 months ago. But I will. Somehow. In the meantime, Reasons For Living #’s 1 through 6 are all oblivious, doing well and looking forward to their long weekend.




And lastly in the weekly round up, I am totally enjoying this site called Post Secret, which describes itself as “an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.”  It’s pretty cool. Click on these for a taste…

postsecret.com

http://www.postsecret.com/

http://www.postsecret.com/

(This one about saving the voice mails of the people you love…I have voice messages from my children on my phone from 4 years ago)

Cheers All…

Happy Long Weekend



In a Hundred Words or Less…


Dictionary Funphoto © 2007 Manchester City Library | more info (via: Wylio)


As part of the adoption process, I was asked recently to describe myself. I didn’t really know where to start. In fact, I drew a blank. Reserved, a bit tense and edgy, good in a crises, someone who uses humor to deflect, deals well with ambiguity…tenacious? Maybe.

Am I tenacious? I never thought of myself as being so. Far from it, my whole understanding of myself prior to having kids was of someone who had trouble following through on things. But then they (who is ‘they’? The Universe?) gave me three babies at once, all with medical issues, and it was a job that there was no walking away from. To make things even more challenging, they gave it to me to manage under incredibly trying personal circumstances. Then they gave me another baby and another no fail situation in a child who needed copious amounts of therapeutic interventions. And more trying personal circumstances.

And then, one by one, two more babies arrived. The first one brought with her challenges that eclipsed the previous four in their needs on a quantum scale. And while the second one came bringing nothing else but the start of the long journey to a new life, it was still a responsibility there was no walking away from. And they came with even more terribly, terribly difficult personal circumstances surrounding them. But these ones came with something else. They came at some point, with the possibility of giving the job to someone else.

You can quit this one, they said. And I considered it again and again. I told myself that I could, that I would, that it was alright not to do something this hard, that the cost was too high. I was given ‘permission’ by many people around me to put the burden down, that maybe it would even be best for the kids, all of them, if I did. But I couldn’t in the end. I just didn’t know how to quit showing up. For any of them. When did that happen I wondered?

Am I tenacious? I guess I am about the kids, the things that really, really matter to me. I don’t care strongly about much else, I’ll freely admit it. But it turns out that when it comes to the 6 most important things, I am very tenacious indeed. I have failed a thousand times as a mother, spectacularly at times. But what I’ve learned is that I have an ability to refuse not to come back to the job. I will keep showing up, at times against impossible odds.

People often mistake this part of me, because the boatload of things that I’m willing to walk away from dwarfs the QEII. If the path is blocked, there’s always another way. I won’t beat my head against a wall trying to force things to be what they aren’t. Not interested. I’m not an adherent of black and white when it comes to reality. But on those select few things where I do see a clear path, well, you walk it. More than half the battle with kids is showing up. Everyday. No matter what. Even when you’re getting it wrong. You don’t quit. You show up for more even when you think you’ll get it wrong again, because eventually, you’ve got to get it right. Marriage is much the same sometimes. Those things are clear to me.

So, am I tenacious? Every now and then. It’s a matter of what’s important. I still don’t think I know how to describe myself very well, but I’m learning. I know there is a fairly large discrepancy between how I see myself and how others see me, and I’d like to close that gap a little, because I think it leads to greater authenticity. So perhaps I could safely add tenacious to the list while I try and get closer to finding the words I should have. Have you thought lately about how good are you at describing yourself?



Far, Far Away…


Today was one of those days. One of THOSE days. The kind that by the end of it I was looking at pictures over at the Pioneer Woman’s site and wishing that I could magically be transported away into another life. One that has landscapes in it like these…

The Pioneer Woman picture

thepioneerwoman.com

Somewhere that looks like the renewing can begin.  Somewhere warm and soaked with good things and full of soul healing peace…

I spent the morning once again working on a solution to our current dilemma. In time, I’ll be able to write about it, but for now, it’s too fresh, too raw, too much. Instead, I’ll keep trying to reframe and bend the humbling forces that these tasks ask me to walk through into something soul searching and worthy. Tasks like spending four hours waiting to throw myself on the mercy of others. And then three hours among the Jerry Springer folk at the court for child support issues instituted by the county regarding our foster kids.

As I sat and watched, an entirely unwilling participant I was forced to entertain the idea that I might have to join this fray in time. I’d rather drive needles into my eyes. Money has always been one of the LAST things I was willing to fighting over. There is something absolutely gut-wrenching about listening to couples argue over the money needed to make children safe. Hearing them use phrases like “that amount is calculated on a 28% timeshare” and to know that they are referring to children.  To seeing people arguing 5 years after their relationship is over about the care and feeding of their children is demoralizing in ways I cannot describe. On the surface, knowing what the right thing to do is when it comes to your children seems about the least complicated thing in the world, but I guess I miss something.

Maybe when you’re alone you can pursue the kind of soul-intact sanctity of walking away. Once children are in the picture, however, you have to get into the trenches.  So, I will do the things that I never thought I could do…and by and by, it will be ok. But right now…it’s awful and full of indignity and fear. But it is also full of the opportunity the make the right choice and I also suspect that when I’m out the other side, I will find that I have come away with more of those character building gifts that sometimes only seem useful when the next storm comes. Whatever. Maybe, if I evolve to a high enough level, I’ll get to come back as this…

Wabbit!

I hope so. Because after the Jerry Springer show was over, I stopped and brought donuts home with the idea of creating some  good cheer to erase the trials of the day. But my newly-minted teen still ended up looking at me like she hoped I would step into a fire and die. And the baby was still peaking with his terrible two year old tantrums, and the impulse-control-challenged child still lost control and spewed rage all about, and the child who isn’t on target in science whinged his way through any attempts to study and the 5 year old and seven year old drew swords once more…and it all went round again. It was just as if the pilgrimage to hell had never ended.  And I have to admit that I couldn’t find my sense of humor about any of it, and I drove the parenting car into the ditch. Again. Those are the times when all you can seem to be able to do is call in the crews and do your best to pull it back out of the ditch, a little worse for wear, but eventually still drivable.

At the end of it all, I have to say, that even though I know it is an utterly useless, soft-headed wish, it would have been nice to have been welcomed home to some kind of tender care. Something that said we know you had a tough day, but we’re together.  You’re home now and safe and we love you. Something that looks like this…

A Hug

Once I recover, I guess I’ll have to teach them how to do this, by doing it to them.  But for now, I’m just going to bed, grateful that tomorrow will provide another 24 hours of opportunity to make amends and get it right again.

Cheers…



American Pumpkin Weirdness…A Rant.


Tis the season…when all Americans will look at one of the best vegetables ever invented by God and man, and turn it into a dessert. It must be said by the Australian in me…WTF people?  It’s true, Australians don’t understand this. Iced tea either for that matter, but let’s stick with one cultural confusion at a time.

One of the best things about growing up Australian in the time I did was that Sunday generally meant a roast dinner. All together now,  Yay! Roast leg of lamb or chicken, roast vegetables, gravy…and best of all, Roast Pumpkin! Absolutely perfectly, tender, caramelized pieces of roast Pumpkin. Maybe with a little gravy, but not necessary. Watching my Grandmother shop among varieties like Queensland Blue, Jap and Butternut at the local green grocer back before supermarkets there were the norm. Pumpkin in Australia is a weekly thing. I have yet to see it served at a meal over here. And pumpkin soup has only just entered the American menu relatively recently thanks to uber-chefs like Wolfgang Puck and his ilk.

And lets just address this confusion with names shall we? They were are called Pumpkins. Not winter squash. Pumpkins.  Squash, no matter what the season, is zucchini and patty pan and the like. All discussion on this point ends here for me. Same goes with your highly affected pronunciation of the word “Scone”. It is NOT a long O sound anywhere else in the word. Neither are they triangular. That’s just something they do here to make the bakers job easier. The English Empire, inventors of the things, do not do this. But America, I forgive you. Mostly because the Australians do not know as a country how to pronounce certain words like Monaco…or Vitamin.  But I digress…

Pumpkin, when cut into pieces and roasted in the pan with lamb or chicken until it’s natural sugars form that lovely crust of golden brown on the outside is one of the most delicious things known to man…unless you’re American. Then you have to turn it into a dessert.  Even after all these years, I do not understand pumpkin pie, in the same way that I wouldn’t understand sea bass pie if you offered it to me. Why would you do that?  It was perfect the way it was. Why?  But you’re going to do to me again pumpkin-impaired Americans, aren’t you?  And I’m going to think you’re weird.

…Just like I do when you give me Pennies…but that’s another rant.



Social Fail #5496


It happened again last Saturday night.  This time the scene of my spaz was my sons Little League pizza party. Previously, I have demonstrated my social awkwardness at various PTA and school events, kids parties, adult parties and, really, almost everywhere. I think I look normal at these parties, but my behavior is often anything but…

It had taken me a full season of Fall Ball to be able to comfortably exchange any meaningful words with more than 1 or 2 people. This is standard for me, although I have long ago learned the trick of seeming to be comfortable.  At some however,  I usually get scratched just below the surface and all the white noise of my personality leaks out.  Happened again last night. I walked into the pizza place last night and suddenly there I was on the outside again, even though I’m pretty sure that I’m the one that put myself there.  All the team parents began to gather at the long table reserved for our team and as I watched them laugh and chat, every social skill I’d ever pretended to have went south. I went into my sad, inexplicable, weirdsmobile setting and began to circle the periphery of the party shedding discomfort on people. I got the hell out of there fast, grateful to have the excuse that my older boys were stll playing their game and I had to get back. Sigh. Everyone else was looking pretty normal and I’m over there convulsing like some sort of social epileptic. Nice. Somebody please just jam a stick in my mouth please.

My children have long been a shield to me in moments like this and I have caught myself many times actually physically pulling them close around me in moments of social discomfort.  I do this even when confronted with people I know I’d like. Yes, it is probably wrong to use them like this, but I put them in no real danger I assure you. I doubt they realize what I’m really doing…and probably just think “God Mom! Stop hugging me all the time!” (I feel pretty sure that I would make myself the shield if the danger was actually physical you understand. I am their Secret Service and I would totally take a bullet for them…but how likely is that scenario I ask you?)

But there I was, alone and without cover.  Just awkwardly unable to ask if we were supposed to buy our own food or if the team was handling the pizza purchases. Some people have the knack for fitting in…and some people have the knack for being a complete social spaz.  Meet me…



Bass Line


I might be wrong, but I think most people have that inner bass line that tells them who they are and what they are willing to accept. They don’t seek permission. They don’t take polls  to see if they are living their life in a way that’s socially compatible with the majority of other people. And while Litmus tests may come from time to time, they mostly live, within reason, by their own lights.

My light is more like one of Edison’s original models. Flickering, unreliable and given to surprising, but unsteady flashes of both brilliance and darkness.  I don’t always know how to live by it myself.

Am I more tired than I’m supposed to be, is my house less organized than somebody elses would be in a similar position. Am I lazy or do I do better than the circumstances would have dictated? Am I more neurotic than I should be or am I remarkable in some way for having managed to come this far?  I question it constantly and I often don’t know where I stand relative to anything else. I exist in a sort of continuous feeling of social sensory deprivation.  As if I have utterly no context for what I’m doing…and I don’t I suppose I will ever.  The situation is too unique.  But I would give a lot to be one of those people who feels sure of the ground they walk on.



Teams and Opportunities


My boy is more than his autism. He is an opportunity. I have learned from watching how other people come to him that he is an opportunity to stretch their comfort zone when it comes to behavior they expect.

There is at least one boy on the team who doesn’t like him. He finds some of his mannerisms annoying and abrupt. I watch, and largely let the coaches deal with it and  I try to tamp down my visceral dislike for anyone being mean to one of my kids and think of how they could both come out of their interaction together improved. Because I’m positive that this won’t be the last time we see this.

At the heart of it, my boy is an opportunity for real leadership. It’s all about team and how you lift each other up. Leadership is how you come to the least qualified at times and hold out your hand to bring them to the next level. Leadership is useless if the playing field is level. And it never is, that’s why we get to cheer.



Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell


I did something this year that rests uncomfortably.  I withheld information about one of my kids.  My 7 year old is high functioning autistic, and this year he began to mainstream into the general education population…and into sports, which he loves.  And I was faced with the dilemma of how to present him to the world at large, having lost the safety of his insulated, special ed world.

He’s never played organized sports before this year, and after a summer round of T-ball, he was chomping at the bit to play some more. His two older brothers play in different leagues almost year round and Fall Ball, I was told was a good time to be brand new at it.  So I signed him up, with every intention of mentioning quietly to his coach that he has some special needs, and we weren’t sure how they would present themselves in this kind of setting (if at all.)

And yet, somehow, the first practice came and went…with my silence. I would write him an email, I reasoned. Let him get to know the child first. That way he wouldn’t be prejudiced by any preconceived ideas about a special needs child.

That first practice seemed to go really well, and I found my jaw still strangely locked shut. He played the first game and his skill level was on par with a couple of the other boys who had never played much before. Maybe I’ll just let him play I thought. Maybe I would only be labeling him for no reason.  Maybe he’ll surprise us all and show a talent for it.  He hadn’t been awful at T-Ball, who knew how this would go.  He seems a little quirky, but hey, some kids just have more personality than others.

Well, we’re halfway through the season now and I’m trapped by my own silence. If I mention it now, will I seem to have perpetrated a fraud on these coaches?  He hasn’t lit up the Little League baseball world with his extraordinary skills, despite obsessively watching it and talking about it 24 hours a day. I also imagine that some people have caught on to the fact that he’s just a little bit different than the other boys he plays with. Have there been discussions about it between the coaches or the other parents?  Have they caught on and think I’m in denial? Do they know and respect this as a deliberate choice not to differentiate him? Do they know and think I should have said something?

I am left questioning my own unplanned response. What was the origin of my silence here? Was it the germ of my own hope that he is so borderline that he will outgrow the autism someday? Was it my desire for him to have a normal experience like all the other boys? Was it my own refusal to accept that his experience will take him outside the most well-travelled pathways.

Another question is was I particularly influenced by the testosterone, the strongly male-dominated environment? Did I trust these men a little, or even a lot less to withhold judgement and to see his uniqueness in terms of opportunity for everyone rather than a weakness they would be uncomfortable around?

I guess it was all those things. I still don’t any better what the right decision was, and I don’t know what I will do in the future. I don’t know what decision other parents in this situation make.  It’s hard when the lines are blurred.

At the end, I have no road map for this. I only know I will face it again and again in the coming years. Do I define him or let him define himself. And if I do need to define his challenges, what will dictate that decision?

In the meantime,  I root for him every minute to develop enough skills to let him feel some sense of capability and play the game he loves…and I question the causes of my own silence.  And I hope I am making the kind of judgements he needs me to make. But mostly, I hope he gets to play ball…or do anything else that he loves his whole life.



This Hat…


I live in this hat. Everyday, or almost.  It represents a lot of things. Like how I don’t have the time or the energy to care for 8 people full time, and how I choose them over the time it would take to take better care of my appearance, and how a huge portion of my life has been dominated in one form or another by appearance, though you’d never know it by looking at me now.

It also represents that I no longer believe that my only value lay in my appearance. Now I have all this other value, but no kind of appearance at all. That’s called “Irony”.  I bathe in irony. It is my life’s blood

It’s probably a crime of some kind here in Southern California, but it also hides the fact that I missed my biannual haircut. Again. That my hair is showing it’s gray.  That I won’t look at myself in the mirror again till night.  I guess it represents my complete removal from myself in the midst of raising all these young children.  I miss being pretty, and I wonder if I ever will be again. Logic tells me it will be attainable again some day, but my emotions are a bit fragile about it all I guess.

I have travelled from one side of the pendulum swing to the other when it comes to appearance, and as usual, I rarely reside at the bit in the middle where good mental health resides.  As a very young girl, I would spend a couple of shaky hours in front of the mirror, painstakingly applying “the mask”. I was very, very good at using makeup to enhance my appearance. I thought of it as armor, not me. I still do in ways, and so my carelessness about wearing now has some homage to better mental states to it. The  “Me” underneath was always an awkward, unattractive mess and the make-up hid that.  It took two hours to cover that person and the fear that she would bleed through.

17 years old = 2+ hours
44 years old = 5 minutes (maybe)

I am a creature of extremes.

I miss the days when I had a hairstyle.  I miss looking better than I do. But to accomplish what needs to be done and not be under enough stress to wholly guarantee a stroke, I have elected to surrender make-up and hair for now. (I surrendered exercise as well of late).  But I miss it. And the best I hope for is to be kind of invisible as I facilitate my kids through their day.  It’s one of the things that I hope will pay off…and will still be there when I come back to it again.