Calamity Jennye

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

where do you turn for help?

I think last month was abuse awareness month and I was really torn when I read the BlogHer plea for people to raise awareness by sharing their stories. In the end I decided that was not a part of my marriage I was ready to share yet.

The truth is it took me 10 of our 12 years together to figure out the constant strain and fear I was living in was abuse. 10 years to realize that it's not normal in a marriage for one person to bear the full responsibility that everything meet their partner's expectation of perfect at all times. I shouldn't have had to be the only consistent breadwinner, responsible for all practical aspects of every endeavor we attempted, who was then also completely to blame if even the smallest thing didn't go exactly the way my husband desired. Oh and did I mention there must be alcohol in the house at all times?

It wasn't until his family found me crying in the corner of a public restroom, because he was about to find out I messed up a plan, the repair of which would cut into cocktail hour, that I realized perhaps this pressure was too much.

I finally brought myself, months later, to discuss with him that I felt like I was living in an abusive relationship.

As I'm able to reflect now on the results of the conversation I realize that is when the abuse got more subtle.

The emotional side became more about keeping things from me rather than punishing me after the fact and that is when the emotional strain I had all but accepted as part of my life became sheer mental abuse and anguish.

My marriage became a constant guessing game. Every decision, nearly all of which I consistently had to make on my own, was a gamble. Is this the time I will choose wrong? What will he withhold this time if I don't get this to work out perfectly?

Every day felt like a precarious balancing act and every decision a gamble filled with sheer terror.

When I think of the adjustments I made over our twelve years to make this all feel like a normal way to live I am astounded!

I mention this all now, a month late, because yesterday my mantra of the last year: "at least I made it out with my life." Suddenly became all to real.

Yesterday my husband's girlfriend attempted suicide. I hate to say I was not surprised to get the news. So many facets of her new life, for which she sacrificed so much, had to be utterly miserable.

What I hate the most though is the thought that anyone, especially someone who used to be a close friend, someone I can't help but care about, could find themselves in a place where this feels like their only option.

Convincing myself I was abused has been much harder than convincing those who know my story. In fact it is my friends and family who opened my eyes and gave me the strength and support to get out. I am so sad that She severed those important ties in order to pursue this love and found herself in such a horrific situation all alone.

I am relieved to know that her family is there with her, determined to take her home and help her get healthy.

And now in an ultimate stroke of irony I am off to "the happiest place on earth" to celebrate my daughter and family and love that is pure and without expectation.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

You don't have to be Freud

I hate that I haven't had a lot to say lately. It's been a rough couple weeks and I'm really tired of sharing all the bad stuff. I feel like a broken record, or that friend you're scared to ask too many questions... for fear they might actually answer them. And lately no one would like the answers.

I've hit a wall again. Suddenly it seems everywhere I turn in town I'm confronted with my husband's girlfriend. I'm not sure what suddenly changed. Tourists being gone, less places open in town to go, she's getting more comfortable here... I have no idea but suddenly she's everywhere.

Taking Esme to the pool alone on days she's supposed to be with my husband. Dropping off forgotten clothes to Esme's daycare when I asked my husband to go. Coming over to kiss Esme goodbye at the coffee shop when we all happen to be there at the same time. I hate to say it but after a week filled with nightmares it's clearly more than I can handle.

In the first nightmare I nearly drowned in Lake Superior trying to swim to an island in the middle and the majority of the dream was spent in a quandary about whether to go forward and die of exposure on the island, or try to swim back through the sudden all enveloping fog. I swam forward and lived thanks to an unexpected resort on the island that took me in, but....who should be staying there? You guessed it my husband. Life saved hurrah!! I think?

A few nights later I talked my way out of being shot by a gunman in the middle of a city. I was hiding, he grabbed me and we were face to face. All I could think was "I'm supposed to humanize it, if I make him see me as an individual person he won't be able to shoot me." It worked and as he sprinted off and I turned to collapse in a heap from the rush of adrenaline I was shot in the back by his friend.

You'd think that would be enough but oh no, it got worse. The night before my birthday I woke hyperventilating with tears streaming down my cheeks. I had dreamed Grand Marais was actually a college campus and there was some track and field style sporting event going on. Everywhere I went in town there was the girlfriend competing in some different event. Finally I cornered my husband in the bleachers and told him we had to talk about this. Just as we began talking she came walking towards us and he had to leave.
That night I had to attend a dinner, as I arrived late there was only one seat open and you guessed it, it was right next to her. I made it through dinner but then there was some sort of talent show thing that she was in and I had a full on meltdown.  I couldn't get to my shoes, coat or purse without walking right past her in the hallway where she was getting ready. So even though it was about 12 degrees out I just left, bare foot and freezing. Shaking my head and muttering "I just can't do this" over and over to myself the whole way.
That was when I sat up with no breath and a wet pillow.

So you can see, I began my birthday week with a bang. It took me until about 10:30 on my birthday to have any sort of conversation with anyone without crying. I was so exhausted from these stupid dreams and mentally such a mess.

I hate most that I really love everything about this place. I just had one of the best birthdays of my life surrounded by people who love me like family and went out of their way to show their support for me and for Esme. There is nothing I don't like about living here (except the snow) and Them. I want to want to move. There are places I would love to live. SO many places I would love to live. I'm just hoping for a cosmic sign to coincide with the right timing...I guess, so I can finally begin to sort me out.

Outfit of the Day

It just seemed wrong to not give Esme's "flower tail" a place in the outfit hall of fame.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today is the day I begin life with a four year old. As she exited the dinner table proclaiming herself done (with half a bowl of food still in front of her) and answered my question "What do you say at the end of a meal?" with "thank you" instead of "may I be excused" then followed that up by choosing not to clear her place...I said "Well, here we go! Four looks like fun!"

She redeemed herself by clearing her dessert dish without being asked and generally returning to her pleasant self. But all day I've been thinking how did I get a four year old? She's like a person now. She has her own thoughts, about everything, she asks insightful questions, uses big words, buckles herself into a seatbelt, has phone conversations (sometimes with people she's called herself without my knowledge). No more baby, no more toddler. Person, small person, but fairly fully formed, right here in my house. So of course every year at this time I have to remember how it all began:

Four years ago this morning I got up at 4am to pee just like I did every morning of the month before that. I lay back down, and immediately had to get up to pee again. This is odd I thought, but I got up again, parted with a few more drops and lay back down. I had to get up again... okay, this really is weird I thought. And as I sat down on the toilet for the third time in like 4 minutes, a little light bulb went off. I remembered reading somewhere that most women's water doesn't break in a gush like the movies. It's more like a trickle... feels like you have to pee all the time.
So this is it I thought, my water is breaking. This Is It...My Water Is Breaking! And the pack and play isn't assembled, and we're not packed for the hospital, and the dog sitters haven't been trained, and I still have a full week of work to get done....
Okay. Pack and play it is!
So I stayed up. Assembled the pack and play, packed the hospital bag then planted myself on the couch with a heavy bathrobe and towel under me, prepared to do as many hours of work as possible. I'd been told by many people that staying still was the enemy of labor progressing. Technically there was no labor yet so I figured if I could just stay as still as possible I could make it at least a few hours.
At about 7 I finally woke my husband "Don't panic, really, it's okay, I think my water broke this morning." [Bleary eyes pop open wide as sand dollars] "No really don't panic, it's just that the water keeps leaking and I need you to go to the pharmacy and get me pads or something."
"But we haven't even trained the dog sitters!"
"It's okay we have plenty of time, like hours, we'll be fine. I just need you to go to the pharmacy."
He returns 15 minutes later "they don't open til 8."
"We live in Manhattan for pete's sake, you can't walk a few extra blocks to the 24 hour pharmacy? Never mind, I'll make it another hour."
So I stay planted doing my work while he goes on with his day. Training the dog sitters, attending some lunch thing.
Finally just after noon when everyone (husband and the dog walkers) has just returned from the lunch thing I feel the first pains. I finally decide I should call my boss and tell her what's going on and I also call the co-worker taking over for me while I'm gone. They both hustle me off the phone just as I'm experiencing my first inability to breathe moments.
I still have a couple e mails to send off before my work is done and my sister always told me that all she wanted while in labor was a hot bath, and that it really eased the pain of contractions. Nothing had ever sounded better than a shower did at that moment so one of our dog sitters (they're god-mothers now by the way) followed me into the bathroom to finish typing up the e mails while I showered.
Upon entering the shower my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. The doctor told me not to call until they were about 5 minutes apart. Husband popped his head in and timed about two contractions in the 15 minutes I was in the shower and when they suddenly hit 5 minutes he panicked. No problem I said, that's just when we're supposed to call the doctor, we've got plenty of time.
They forced me out of the shower, into some clothes, and wouldn't even let me blow dry my hair. The four of us rushed downstairs and out to the corner where our fearless native New Yorker in the ranks nearly accosted a woman about to get into a cab.
"This woman's in labor" [and about to faint from embarrassment rather than pain] "Can they please take your cab to the hospital?"
As a look of confusion crossed the woman's face (perhaps it was the please) she slowly agreed and we hopped in. The cabbie surely heard the whole exchange and after one look at me, which must have been more telling than I would have guessed, said "We're not going to be on the evening news are we?" I have to say that was by far the cheapest cab ride we had our entire time in Manhattan!
I'm guessing it was about 2:30 when we got to the hospital and no one seemed any too concerned about the woman writhing in pain on her chair in the maternity check-in. Finally a nurse on her fifth or sixth pass through the room. Stopped, looked closely at me and said we better get you into a room. Seemed like a great idea to me.
I think we got into that room at about 3:30. The anesthesiologist stopped by, looked at me, whispered something to the nurse and left. The nurse gave me a few nervous, side-long glances and I said "I'm not getting an epidural am I?"
"No, you're too far along she said."
"Okay! Ooookay."
I think the biggest blessing I experienced that day was to stumble into the hands of a nurse mid-wife on her last day in labor and delivery." Without her my labor experience would have been much more mentally painful. She knew just when to cheer, when to encourage, when to be forceful. She was calming, insightful, and patient.
I barely remember the pushing. I remember standing at a high counter in the room, hanging from it with my arms straight. I remember my husband being told to hold a leg, I remember the ice chips, I remember there was some screaming, I remember the pain of being sewn up afterwards (at which point there was a multitude of screaming, including the first swear words uttered all day).
I have this sensation somewhere in the back of my mind that it all must have been excruciating. But for the life of me I can't remember that it actually was.
I remember most clearly the moment they placed Esme on my chest. She immediately began to nurse like it was what she was born to do. I think that is the moment that every other memory, about what it took to get her there, simply disappeared.

Outfit of the Day

Four Year Old

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Esme Top Ten

My S-I-L is having a baby and my M-I-L asked me for "words of wisdom" to take to her shower:
so here's my top ten:

Susannah Don't read this if you want to be surprised at your shower!

1) Always talk in full sentences (if you want a talker), just tell them what you're doing as you move through your day, talk away, engage them. Always.

2) Don't ever let them fall down a flight of stairs, it's the worst feeling ever, but if it happens always remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

3) You don't have to have a "scheduled baby" unless you want one.

4) Breast feeding lying down is the best thing no one ever tells you about.

5) Your boob is portable...every other night time routine, not so much. Bedtime is always a trade-off, it will always suck... Your boob is portable.

6) Bedtime will always suck.
(if it doesn't you may not want to have child #2)

7) "Sleep when the baby sleeps" is ridiculous. Sleep when someone else is there to take care of the kid when it wakes up in the middle of your sleeping. some laundry
(sad to say you'll thank me for this huh?)

8) The squirt bottle of water they send you home from the hospital's like crack. Crack bottle.

9) Even if you hate your voice, sing to your kid. Hearing them sing is so worth it.

10) Do what feels right. You'll know what right is for you. Ask around, get advice, use what you like. You'll know what's right immediately. That's the best thing about a baby, all the feeling.

Do what feels right!

It's Esme's Birthday more to come on babies!

Outfit of the Day

More like outfit of the month lately huh?

Can you believe this is my (nearly) four year old?

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Homily

Our church is lay led and that means everyone takes turns doing everything (well pretty much everything) including the sermon. I was asked to preach this past sunday and that is part of why I haven't had many blog posts lately. I think all my brain cells were working together to create this:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto you O God.”

I sat down to start collecting some of my thoughts for today and Esme asked what I was doing. I explained that I would be telling the story at church this week, immediately she wanted to know what it was about.

Perfect! I thought, maybe retelling this gospel at a four year old level will help clarify some of my thoughts about things.
So, I explained how there was a shepherd with sheep and goats. That he asked all the sheep to go to one side of him and all the goats to the other.

I tried to gloss over the first obvious difficulty in this passage by saying “then Jesus compares the sheep and goats to humans” – quick pause – no questions, okay that was successful.

Next I explained how the sheep took good care of the other sheep around them; when their friends were sick they took care of them, if someone needed clothes or food they shared anything that person needed.

“Wait, mom, the sheep had clothes?”
Should have seen that coming…
”remember? It’s a comparison, Jesus is just using the sheep and goats to explain how he wants us to act.”

I wrapped up with a couple quick sentences about how the sheep got rewarded with a really great surprise and that the goats who didn’t take care of their friends got… well … you know how we talk about “I love you infinity?” They got the opposite of that, pretty much an eternity without love.
She didn’t even miss a beat as her eyes got really big

“Why did the goats not share?”

I knew it was in there somewhere. I sit here thinking about the misery of an eternity without love, how do you even begin to talk about that? We may just have to ignore those goats…She goes right to root of the problem.

Why did the goats not share?
Why did the man last week bury his money?

I can only come up with one answer:


I think there are a million things we can fear; loss, anger, betrayal, endangerment, not having enough for ourselves. But like that man we see once again where giving in to that fear gets you.

Jesus is showing us the opposite of fear is risk.
We must risk!

There are some frightening images that flash before my eyes even as I say that.  
Oh wait, I actually am standing here.

The first time I read through this passage I was immediately struck with thoughts of hypocrisy and the age-old dilemma of words vs. deeds.

I feel somehow confident, especially given the goats shock at their judgment; that they thought they were doing all the right things. They were probably assuredly saying all the right things. But the part of me who listened last Sunday realizing that risk is a mandate, can’t seem to stop with just deeds. It seems to me it has to be about relationship.

Perhaps this notion of caring for those around us, for doing unto the least of these is not just about doing.  I can go to the lunch and dinner serving of empty bowls and donate twice at each one. But if I’ve overlooked an acquaintance who really needed a friend and missed a chance to invite them to come with me for that bowl of soup then I might as well have done nothing.

This is where we realize that Christianity, that faith, is about relationship. Not just with God but also with the community around me.

It may seem a leap but… We’ve been watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood lately and Alyssa and I have been so marveling at the draw that he has for all children that we recently spent an evening reading about him on Wikipedia. You don’t have to read half of what’s there, coupled with an ounce of experience watching the show to realize why everyone is so drawn in.

Mister Rogers was genuine. He addressed kids with an earnestness that no one can miss. There was no condescension, or patronizing. He simply picked things he thought truly mattered to kids and talked to them honestly about those topics.

When I think about the message Jesus is trying to send in this gospel I think about Mister Rogers. We are called to risk, to face up to our fears and address our friends, family, neighbors, honestly. To risk every bit of ourselves in honest interactions with those around us, and just hope that if we can be half as genuine as Mister Rogers we can’t help but also be meeting their needs.

May the God who calls us into relationship with all; bless us with the desire to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and to risk boldly in the face of our fears.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More on my opinions of myself coming soon

Here's the Story of the Day:
Original Drawing #1900-Boxed Book Set
Today she decided to be suitably ambiguous, so you can think whatever you like about her (Amount of time scheduled for the opinions of others = Zero)

Monday, November 7, 2011

A woman who stands for nothing will fall...

"When you're a kid you go down the road you go down. You don't get to choose. You emulate what you see. And you learn what you stand for... and what you'll fall for."

This is my biggest fear. That my daughter, like all of us is being tossed down a road not of her choosing. A road that will teach her to tolerate the intolerable and stand for things no woman should ever choose. I worry that instead of having distinct experiences of things she wants to stand for vs. things she will fall for. That those experiences will instead be so inextricable that as an adult she will think she's standing upright, tall and proud. Simply to wonder moments later what it was that knocked her out.

Like any mom I worry about my own issues being ones my daughter also will not easily overcome. When I think about how we all want our children's lives to be easier than our own I don't think about money, or ipads or organic food. I think about the simultaneous love of two parents, the knowledge that you are good enough, smart enough and gosh darn-it people like you.

I've spent the week composing an e mail in response to a particularly vicious one from my husband. He leaves me constantly questioning myself, the experience I know to be reality. He, more than anyone I know can construct alternate realities from the shifting sand beneath him. It is more than enough to leave anyone wondering where the sanity lies and I find it takes every ounce of my being to not get sucked in, to not be completely overwhelmed by the anger and insecurity of it all.

Because that's the real secret. If he can make his enemies more angry and more insecure than he is then he wins.
And that is my biggest fear. Raising a daughter who is so angry, and so insecure that she can never be sure who she actually is. I don't care who, or what Esme grows up to be. As long as she is a genuine creature who continues to care about the well-being of others. She can grow up to be Oscar the Grouch or Ariel for all I care. I just want her to care, about everything and be engaged enough in things outside herself that she can be healthy. Even Oscar had friends he cared about.

And that brings us full circle back to the episode of Parenthood that spawned that quote. Some of us are more healthy than we ever will be again, at  4, or at 16. For some of us it takes a lifetime. How do you begin to know when, where, how you are healthy? And how do you claim that, retain it and move forward through the rest of your life? How do you help your children do the same? Eternal questions.

This is one where I would love thoughts...What makes you healthy? Whole? How do you raise your children to be the people you want running the world?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Just the beginning of a happy holiday season

Here's to a very successful Halloween!
Esme was very happy with her choice of a cat costume. And she really loved my face paint.
We had fun walking the neighborhood with friends. She came home with a bag of candy practically heavier than she is.
I walked more today than I have in a week and didn't even get dizzy! And I had a glass of red wine tonight which sounded good for the first time in a week.

All in all I deem this holiday a great success.
As a little health update I'll just share that I haven't passed out since the episodes last week but I have continued to experience extreme dizziness especially when laying down. I go back to the doctor tomorrow and they are going to check on the possibility of anemia as well as inner ear/vertigo issues.

We also celebrated the churchy version of Halloween with an All Saints service in church on Sunday. People were supposed to bring a picture of anyone they wanted to remember and then there was a time where we could also remember them aloud.
Many of us did not get the memo about bringing a photograph and so were encouraged to write the name of a loved one and place that on the alter with the photographs. In true Jennye fashion I went back and forth about how I felt about including my mom's name but decided at the last minute it would be nice for Esme to place her grandma's name on the alter.
Then it came to the sharing...People somehow drifted into a pattern of sharing something their loved one had taught them and so my thoughts frantically steered in that direction as could I sum up one thing my mother taught me in our short life together? I just couldn't.
So with tears I could not hold back, I shared how there wasn't just one thing my mother had taught me. How lucky I had been to have her as my only teacher and my mother until I was eight. That more than just one thing it felt like she taught me everything I knew, right up until the day she died.

I've continued to think about this since church and to realize how much, more than I could ever know, she did in those early years to make me the person I am now. I think because of her I spend a lot of days interacting with Esme and thinking if this is all she has of me what do I want it to be.
I don't mean that to sound morbid at all (or lasseiz faire) but it really is a formative thought as a parent. How do you infuse into each day, each interaction, the values you want your child to grow up cherishing?
I can't help but think that thoughts similar to those must have weighed heavily on my mom in her last years. I remember times when she seemed demanding and her standards seemed high. I also know she had me involved in every activity under the sun.
And now I can thank her, for helping me to have so many options for becoming the person I am, and for, at the same time giving me distinct direction in the important things. The how to be a good person, friend, mother things.

So, on that note;
Happy Halloween!

Outfit of the Day

Meet Olivia and Elizabeth
(To avoid confusion...Olivia is the Pumpkin Moonshine and Elizabeth is the kitty)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I thought my kid was supposed to take care of me in my OLD age?

Just when I thought my luck was turning...
Someone (okay probably more than one someone) once mentioned to me that perhaps my blog is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps there are so many calamities because I'm calling them into being.
Well after this week I may be inclined to agree.

Wee in the hours of Wednesday morning I woke up from a sound sleep thanks to cramps that felt exactly like the ones I experienced a year and a half ago when I had a cyst rupture. Back then the pain was so intense that the doctor I saw scheduled me for an appendectomy. I had even the met the team of surgeons when the tests they did showed that it was instead a ruptured cyst (those guys looked so broken hearted).

Anyway...I lay in bed thinking this is not good. I got up to get advil and a heating pad and in the course of my tasks I woke up twice laying on my bathroom floor. The second time I distinctly remember waking up thinking, "Why do I keep laying down on this floor... it is not even comfortable?" That was the moment it hit me that I was not laying down.

I was fainting!

I made it back to bed with the heating pad, having taken the advil, and woke up the next morning feeling much the worse for the wear but with the cramps gone. I made it to work, but felt very off all morning. Everyone said I looked pale and my head felt fuzzy. But I didn't really have any other "symptoms" so I carried on with my day determined to ignore my "offness".

About mid-day I ran an errand for work and as I was getting back in my car I suddenly felt it start moving. I panicked thinking "why on earth is my car moving" and braced myself as hard as I could between the door and the body to stop it's descent down the driveway. As my vision came back and the world spun around me I realized the car hadn't budged an inch, and had I not braced myself so solidly I would have been back down on the ground.

I finally gave in and called the clinic. I saw a doctor who of course was mostly at a loss as to what could be causing this. She was great! She listened to me and asked really thoughtful questions that helped me realize things I wouldn't have thought to include. They ran some tests (good news, I'm not pregnant!) and discovered we really just need to run some more tests. The doctor has some good ideas of things that might be causing this and apologized for "sending me back out into the world to faint left and right" but I'll be back in the clinic next week to look further into some of her theories.

In the meantime I got to come home and teach my daughter whose picture to look for on my phone (thank God for smart phones) if I seem to be "sleeping" at a funny time or in a funny place. I then taught her how to dial 911. She handled it all really well. She got just a bit nervous that something really bad might happen but then she was so excited to learn how to handle it. She spend the whole evening saying "can I practice the numbers again mom?"

Today I have felt like I'm running at about 80% for most of the day. I've felt almost normal right up until these out of the blue moments where I feel so exhausted I could just lay my head down and fall asleep anywhere. Then that passes and I feel pretty good again. I've only had to slow down my steps or brace myself about twice and I've only felt nauseous once. So all that to say, I guess this isn't nothing, but I haven't fainted again and that at least seems like good news.

I'll keep you all posted on the results of things as they come in. And if you get a call from Esme in the next couple days... well... stay calm, have her put the phone up to my ear and yell really loud!

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's not like I'm going to melt

Well, I guess it goes without saying that Friday night was a bit of a rough night...
I went back and forth about posting, and then I went back and forth about deleting the post once I had.
But as I re-read it on Saturday I realized I actually felt really good about being honest. This is a roller coaster I'm on and if the reality of my emotions can help someone else feel less crazy in a similar situation then I definitely want to share them. It's no fun to feel crazy.

I can't thank those of you who commented enough, for what you said. Your words were helpful and I really appreciated that you took the time. It takes a village!

I do want to clarify a couple things from my little meltdown.
First, and most important...I'm not feeling like I need someone right now. In fact quite the opposite, I'm well aware I'm not ready for someone. I just know I want someone eventually and that's enough pressure all in itself.
Second, I did realize at some point on Saturday that I was asked out on a date once. One time. I mean, I guess that's 100% better than what I posted on Friday so huzzah! Way to blow things out of proportion me, clearly I've over-reacted about nothing.
Also along those lines, I wanted to clarify that this predicament I think about when I'm feeling lonely and down about myself is not a new one. These are the same thoughts I had for all the years of high school... and college... and after... when my friends were dating and I was not.

I'm not sure how to explain it, but, I feel very secure about myself as a business woman, as a mom, as a sister, or a friend. I just don't understand (and thus don't feel secure when it comes to) how men see me. And there aren't a lot of men you can ask about this, Who's going to speak up and say: "well, you're too clingy, you're psychotic, maybe if you fixed your lazy eye or your uni-brow". You see my point.

If this were some new, post wrecking ball vs marriage situation I don't think I'd even be thinking about it. But instead it's the one lingering insecurity left from my adolescent years. I was just hoping I'd never have to face it again.

So none of this feels pressing. I'm not in a race to find a new man. It all just lingers...

It is like being on a theme park roller coaster, only this special, ahh-mazing roller coaster was built entirely in a big pool of water, and it's a drizzly, just slightly too cold, overcast day outside (you know the kind where the whole family goes home with those florescent tie-dyed sweatshirts cause no one dressed appropriately). Anyway as you race toward the bottom of a big hill and you see the pool of water that the coaster sits in you know you're going to be even more wet as soon as you get down there. Normally you can ignore the wet. Hell, on a sunny day that water can feel divine. But today... more water is just not what you need. So the drop is even more dramatic than normal, you're screaming not just because it's all happening so fast but because you're really tired of being wet.

Friday night I just really didn't want to be wet, and I really hate those damn sweatshirts. But, after a few days of sunshine, friends and time with my daughter I realized things are fine, they will always be fine. The peaks wouldn't be nearly as great without the valleys... and what's a little water? I mean I did grow up in Oregon after all.

Outfit of the Day

Puppy Edition:

Apparently it's puppy week here in Grand Marais. At least 4 times a day Esme asks, "When can we get a puppy, mama?" So thanks ya'll!
Last weekend our friends adopted little Ruby Junebug from a shelter in the cities.
And this weekend our favorite family adopted a Bernese Mountain Dog, Statia Bubbles:

And my M-I-L and her partner adopted a Golden Retriever they named Sophia:

Friday, October 21, 2011


there are these moments...
moments where life just feels too weird...where I have to wonder what caused it.
This morning. I went for a jog and the best song on my pandora "running" station. The song where I jogged from the red car in the driveway past the hospital (ps that's a long way, longer than the song itself actually) But the song that started it all was...
"all the other kids in their pumped up kicks better run, better run faster than my bullet.."
I don't know the title but it's about a shooter at a school.

Then tonight, I'm having a feel sorry for myself night. It's been a few days of "do I stay in this Godforsaken town where I will probably never meet another man...can I be happy here...sometimes I'm happy here...where woulld I go?"

Anyway it's one of those nights and I'm watching my addiction. Nay, my obsession, Greys Anatomy, I wish I even understood why I love this show so much...but the episode I watch tonight is a school shooter.

And I don't even know what to think..."all  you other kids with the pumped up kicks". And all the people on the show are rekindling love and really I feel like "all the other kids" because you know what. You know what I the middle of this episode?

I've never, never ever, in my entire life, been asked out on a date.

So what chance do I have?

There clearly must be something wrong with me. I have honestly no idea what it could be. But, I make bad choices and I've NEVER been asked out on a date.

I'm screwed! Or really not, never ever going to be screwed which is what seems more important in this current scenario.

So...what do I do?
Any ideas?...please submit them...there is a comments section. I get about 35 hits a day, at least 5 of you must have some idea what's wrong with me.

Lay it on me...I'm open, wide open. What's a soon to be single girl to do? My kicks clearly ain't pumped up, how am I going to outrun this bullet?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A little bit o' luck

Last Sunday Esme and I went for a walk before church.
We have had the windiest week here and as we turned back onto our road about half a block from home we could feel the full force of the wind immediately.

Seconds later a large branch blew off the tree five feet in front of us and crashed to the ground.

As soon as it hit I started laughing out loud...
Look how our luck is changing, that branch did not crash onto our stroller and impale my daughter!
It didn't even come crashing down on my head rendering me unconscious and leaving the stroller free to careen down the hill with Esme inside!

It's going to be a good week, things are really turning around up here  :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

damned if you do damned if you don't

So last night I had a bit of a meltdown. A crying on the couch all alone meltdown.

It's not like it's a revelation that I'm all alone...if I'm not with Esme these days I'm alone. And I feel very alone. And that was the breakdown. I know this is what everyone says in these circumstances but it's very true...this is not what I planned/envisioned for my life. I wanted to be married for a long time (and only once) I wanted to have multiple kids. I guess really when it comes right down to it that was all I had planned (not actually a lot to ask one would think).

Obviously I'm not immensely picky about where I live, I've been equally happy in hundred degree heat and 30 below. I've survived the jungles of New York and the forest of Northern Minnesota. I love the ocean and the mountains. As long as it's not Wisconsin or Indiana I've been pretty happy, really.

But last night it just hit me all over again, I'm where I would not choose to be, and my life is not where I want it to be. I left what I didn't want and ended up stuck in something I really didn't want.

So I had this horrible thought, maybe I just leave. Esme would be fine, really she might barely remember me, she would have her dad and his girlfriend, who I know love her. Maybe I just leave and start over again. And then it hit me...if I did that I WOULD DIE! Literally, I don't think I could stand to be without her, I barely make it the two days a week I am without her.

Really the important story here, that I haven't been able to tell yet,(you know it's big when I need processing time before sharing) is what prompted this breakdown...

Last Saturday (as I've already mentioned) was our friend Ella's 8th birthday. About a month ago her mom asked me to help chaperone the 6 girls at the pool portion of the party, she thought it would be helpful to have two adults keeping eyes on all those girls.  I said no problem, as I generally have fridays very free.
Our friends go to the pool every friday afternoon after school. And it just so happened that the week before the party my husband and his girlfriend took Esme to the pool on Friday. Alyssa filled filled me in on a bit of the pain of watching them playing, looking every bit the happy family...told me how glad she was I hadn't been there.
Then the next thursday she said "You know, you may not want to chaperone, what if they're at the pool again?"
"Well, dollar night at the pool is probably a pretty tempting cheap shower for two people who don't have running water." Said I "But I can't imagine they'll be there two weeks in a row, and I'm not altering my life for them...this was my town first. I'll be there."

So I was. And 20 minutes after we got there so did they. And it was painful. But not as much as I thought it would be. The happy, splashing family wasn't painful because I've been there, was there for years with this man and I know it's not real. I know he's not capable of real, that part just made me sad for the other woman, who doesn't know it yet.

The hard part came at the end. Esme did pretty good the whole time, aside from asking me to watch her do things every now and then she pretty much ignored me. Alyssa even commented on how odd it was that she already seemed to know the rules of a game so new to all of us.

But then, just as it was time to leave, when my husband had already left and Esme was still there with the girlfriend, she came over to give me a hug goodbye which quickly turned into the clinginess of a drowning child. "I don't want to leave mama, I want to stay with you. I won't leave you."

I peeled her fingers off, trying not to make eye contact with the girlfriend, attempting to keep her distance but clearly close enough to hear every word. I told Esme very seriously that she had to finish her time with daddy, I would see her later that night, she would still sleep at my house, everything would be fine. Then the girlfriend came and pulled her away.
Esme quickly darted away and jumped back in the she played on the steps, insisting that she wasn't leaving the girlfriend did what Alyssa assured me would come naturally to anyone who had observed even a minimal amount of my parenting:

"Esme Beverly, you need to start being a good listener right now!.."

Let me tell you it took every fiber of my being to not stand up on the deck of that pool and scream "I never want to hear my mother's name come out of your mouth to discipline my daughter, ever again."

That was what put me over the edge. You already made yourself right at home with my husband. My daughter has no idea why she shouldn't love you just as much as she always has. And now, now, as if that weren't enough you're going to throw out my dead mother's name as if you have every right to that too.

It was the first moment where I truly thought "This town is not big enough".

And so, last night I cried, sobbed actually, on the couch as I thought:
I can't possibly leave this town. But I can't possibly stay.
What is a girl to do?

Outfit of the Day

My new computer wallpaper
I have nothing more to say

Monday, October 17, 2011

spinning right out of control

Every now and then I forget how much I hate trying to create art.
All my life I've had great friends who are great at art...I just am not!

It's too much pressure, to try to create something beautiful, creative, unique, appreciated by others. I can never handle it. I end up failing every time, and then it is no fun.

Last week I let my mother-in-law talk me into taking Esme to this bowl making event. There's a local fundraiser they do every year where people in town donate money to make bowls, then there's a big soup dinner and at the dinner you can buy the bowls people made. I love the idea of all of it so I got talked into going...Also ME (the M-I-L) and Esme do art projects together all the time. She is the arty influence in my daughter's life and I am so grateful for it (takes a lot of pressure off me).

So I thought how bad can this be? We'll take Esme together, there will be two of us to help her, it'll be fun. And I have always wanted to try a pottery this is a good excuse, plus ME will make sure everyone knows it was her idea to bring Esme so I won't look like the crazy one showing up with a three year old.

Well...mid-last week ME and her partner came down with the plague...or something equally debilitating, seriously, they've both been really sick. But I didn't actually think at all about how that might impact this evening. Then! Today at work I came down with what I think might be the second migraine I've ever had in my life. So painful I left work early, came home and took a nap.

By 6 my head was still slightly pulsating so I started trying to call ME to tell her I couldn't go and she should swing by and get Esme on her way. As she is one of the only houses left on the face of the planet without call waiting, her phone was busy the first five times I tried. Before I could try again my phone rang and it was her calling to say she couldn't go (thanks plague).

These are the moments where I truly love being a mom. Pop two more advil...and reiterate to the concerned child how excited you actually are to go embarrass yourself in front of a group of people you barely know  learn a new and exciting form of art!

Needless to say I was the one with the crazy idea to bring a three year old bowl making.

So off we went...and let me tell you, high school memories do not always fade...I still suck at art. And there I was, in class with all the cool kids who knew exactly what they were doing with their perfectly round bowls, smoothing the sides as they raised higher...while mine?
Well...there was the one time where my nail sliced the top of the bowl right off the bottom as the wheel spun around. Then there was the attempt where Esme and my fingers went right through the bottom of the bowl, then there was the time where the bowl got so out of center (don't be deceived the bowl was out of center every time, this one was just really bad) that one side folded over on itself in this really cool wave design.

That was the time Esme said really loudly "look what my mom's bowl just did, that's a cool wave!"
I have to say honestly if I hadn't lost all confidence by that point I would have left the cool design and tried to salvage my pride and my bowl. That wave action had a lot of potential. But as the woman was teaching us she had talked about people filling their bowls with soup, and nourishment, and our contribution, and I looked at my bowl and thought no one can eat out of that.

I guess what I should have thought was that  people need beauty as well as nourishment and maybe this is a funky bowl...maybe they drink out of this bowl. But my confidence was too far gone and yet again I forgot that I was still in control.

I did leave determined of one thing. I'm going to try again, someday when I've trimmed my nails and don't feel like all 12 people standing around are watching and judging. I definitely want to try again. I guess I'll just have to leave my fear  of failure at home.

On the upside, by the time we left my migraine was gone!

I realize a picture of our clay caked selves would have been the perfect addition to this post but we were both so exhausted by being there 1/2 an hour past Esme's bedtime the idea slipped right past me...ah well.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Who ever said I couldn't be a farm wife?

I haven’t had much to say lately because I really haven’t been feeling like myself.

Esme’s best friend is exactly a year and a day older than she is. The two of them are like siblings. So much so that they play really well almost all of the time, but when they don’t play well together, boy oh boy you better watch out. That’s where we’ve been this week and we’ve been teasing Liv about being a grumpapotamus (one of my favorite words for extreme, unexplained grumpiness).

That is exactly how I feel. So grumpy as to fill a whole room with my grumpiness, I could squeeze all the oxygen right out and fill it back up with my discontent. The problem is that I’m mostly discontent with myself and not matter what I do I’m still right there in the room with me.

Lately I’ve been a grumpapotamus about my husband’s girlfriend. I’ve spent way too much time fixating on my husband and his girlfriend and the way their existing screws up my life. I’ve been wallowing, feeling bitter and angry. I hate it most because I barely recognize myself when I’m this person. This is not me. It does not feel good but I just can’t stop.

So yesterday I decided I would stop. 
It was doing me no good! 
This decision was the result of, ironically enough, the girlfriend’s husband’s (or ex or soon to be ex) blog. He had a great post about being in control. How we are often more in control than we realize, even when we feel like we are merely reacting to what life is throwing at us…
“I feel like in life we are often on our heels, cornered into a place where we are on the defensive and forced to react. It’s only when we realize that we actually do have control that we can take charge and move on.”

So I think he may have posted this just for me…As I read his words I realized I have given them way too much power. I let them suck all the oxygen out of my room. And I got nothing out of it. It did not feel good at all to be angry. I really didn’t like it. I think there were some real situations that I needed to be angry about and I think it’s important to feel that emotion in a situation like this.

But, Boy! Did it not get me anywhere. And just as I was trying to figure out how to move myself past this emotion I was torturing myself with, I read my friend’s blog. And I realized it was so obvious. 
I am in control. 
Of all of it. 
I get to choose what bothers me about their actions, their lack of apologies, his lack of support for his daughter…better yet, I can take Sandra Boynton’s advice and Be Like a Duck.
So that’s what I’m going to do: 
“Maybe you stroll, maybe you fly, maybe just float and let the river roll by.” 
“When the rain starts fallin’ let it roll off your back. Just open up your beak and go quack, quack, quack.”

So, I’m taking control. My life is mine again. Apparently I’m kicking the grumpapotamus out and replacing him with a duck. It’s animal week here at the Ashcroft homestead…

Outfit of the Day

These are the daughters of the family that has mostly adopted 
Esme and I.

Tomorrow is Ella's birthday so I thought it only fitting
that today's picture be all three girls...
They were playing school just before I took this picture.
Luckily this picture was taken the night before we walked in on 
all of them playing naked school :)
I do have to draw the line somewhere for what I post right?

I figured if we're celebrating Ella for a minute here it wouldn't be right
to leave off this wonderful ode to childhood I photographed
in the Hedstrom basement a few nights ago.
nothing worse than a maen dab :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

I think I should be awake soon!

Sorting through old cards today I found one from this company:
I'm a sucker for cards and when I went to the website this one really got me

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dial 0 for O- S-H-I-T

Today was another one of those horribly adult days for me. A couple months ago I got a letter from the IRS about my income being reported incorrectly for 2008. They had apparently been attempting to get a hold of me for two years but with all the address changes and poor mail delivery in this area (read: my husband’s inability to pass my mail on) I was unaware this problem existed until a couple months ago.

I finally tracked down someone at the IRS (after an entire lunch hour on hold) and learned that a company I had never heard of issued me a W2 for the year 2008. Turns out my old company contracted with a third party for my maternity leave and given said maternity leave/new baby haze I did not remember that the leave check I received was from a third party. Thus I did not miss the W2’s I never received from that company.

Anyway, two + years and $500 + fines later (oh and did I mention that entire lunch hour) my 2008 taxes were finally sorted out. The other fun news that resulted from that same call was the very kind man I talked to (the one who noticed from the information on his screen that my husband and I now have different addresses on file, and commented on it in a very appropriate and understanding way that I can’t quite recall) who told me at the end that it was his job to ensure I knew everything about my tax status and did I know that we had never filed our 2009 taxes? I could tell just by the way he asked the question that he had already presumed the answer; you know, given the differing addresses, my lack of mail delivery and all.

So for the past two weeks I’ve been tackling the 2009 taxes. Turned out they were mostly completed. My husband had just needed to complete one, one page form and get it approved before we sent them in. I’m not sure about your husband’s but for mine, this took nearly two years! Yes….TWO. YEARS.

With form (finally) in hand I called H&R Block and played phone tag over the last two weeks with an essentially very kind, although also very confused woman who helped me get the taxes completed. Thank God we could do this over the phone as the closest office to me is 2 ½ hours away and I just needed this to be behind me.

So after another full lunch hour on the phone it is now officially behind me. For the first time in years I will be a tax payer in good standing soon and can continue to move forward with the rest of the financial wreck that is my divorcing life.

Speaking of which, having tackled the taxes with such great results I felt I should push my luck by attempting to call the hospital and sort out the confusion that is my bill there, from my ER visit for my broken ankle. Now…I heard a rumor from the most reliable source in my life (three year olds hear every word you say, you know that right?) that my husband’s girlfriend is now working at the hospital here in town. No one I know is sure what department or even if it’s true but today, when I had to call about my bill I got a recording that said “This extension is no longer in service, please dial 0 to be redirected to the correct party.”

I pressed 0 and as the phone rang I felt a fear grip me…What if SHE is the correct party? I couldn’t face it. Before the operator came on I slammed down the phone.

So…anyone wanna call the hospital and find out who the new person in billing is?

Outfit of the Day

So it's very hard to see in the picture but the brown color you can see on E's right sock...
That is the color of her entire previously white outfit.
They play hard on Babka day's...let me tell you.
This is why I say I should own stock in Oxi-Clean :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Otherwise, you'd cry your eyes out...

This weekend was great. The kind of great where you start to think things are really turning around!

I got to go shopping on Friday for 12 hours. Any of you who actually know me, know that that is a dream come true. My best friend, Alyssa and I got to head down to the cities, kid free on Thursday night and then had all day Friday to shop. We also had a great chance to sleep in, and where were we at 7am Friday morning? In the living room, looking at each other, saying, seriously??
So, we had a great breakfast and were waiting outside Nordstrom Rack as they rolled the gate up. It was a great day. A great day made even better the only way you can, by including the purchase of a new bra that actually puts those puppies where they belong.
The whole weekend was really so great in a just normal life kind of way, great with the little things, that I started to feel like life was on the upswing. It was a culmination of the whole last week. There have been a lot of ups and downs. But overall it’s all up.

And that of course, is always when a challenging day comes along. One of the landlords from the house my husband and I rented was in our office today. Before she even made it out of the waiting room she was already having a conversation with someone about the state of the house after he left (he lived there alone, with just his name on the lease, for 6 months). I couldn’t hear the details of what they were saying, then or when the conversation continued later between three of them.
All I could feel was the panic moving through my body. It wasn’t just that I felt so horrible about the way he treated their house, it was mostly that I couldn’t believe that was my husband. My mind was racing, feeling so horrible about myself, wondering how I could have been the person who sticks around for that? What must people think of me? People must think I’m as crazy as him if I could stick around as many years as I did.
I’m well aware these are not wholly rational thoughts. Like I said I could feel the panic moving through my body, and it felt horrible. At the end of her visit the landlord sat at my desk to checkout, as I choked back my tears, trying to convince myself I was fine, she mentioned that if I ever need it she would be happy to come testify in court about the ways in which the house they saw after he moved out was not suitable for a child.

Later, I was able to get a rundown on the conversation and of course the conversation was not what I imagined it to be. In fact, this woman who had met my husband a total of two times, maybe. Just based on the contents of his house after he moved out, was able to tell my co-workers things they had only ever heard from me (things very few people have heard, and even fewer believed). As my friend repeated the things she had said this amazing light dawned for me. It was like the night I talked with the two therapists. I had another, “maybe I’m not crazy” moment.
Maybe I didn’t imagine these things that made my marriage an uphill battle for so many years. And to hear this woman talk in detail about the state of the house, my friend said, “can you imagine you held that much together for that many years?”  “Yes, I can imagine it, because it felt like it for so many years, felt like an uphill battle, almost every day, for so many years”. Like I was just barely holding on, and I never quite knew when it would just slip through my fingers.

Maybe I laugh so hard at the image of those damn chickens running around the basement because I feared for so long that I would lose that battle, things would slip, and before I knew it there would be chickens in my basement. I can laugh because I escaped with just months to spare.
I have to laugh…because we all know the alternative!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An early Thanksgiving

I had this great realization on the way to work today:

This week I was supposed to appear in court for an inattentive driving charge from my car accident earlier this summer. I pled not guilty to the citation because I simply did not feel that I was driving inattentively. What happened was a terrible accident, someone nearly died (which is why the officer felt the need to cite someone). But he didn't die. Everyone was okay. And there were four separate things all contributing to the cause of the accident. I just happened to be the last thing.

That's what got me thinking. Any of these decisions/happenings could have been the thing that actually led to the accident:

The dump truck driving a bit faster than he should have.
Causing the pickup in front of him to feel he needed to immediately pull into a driveway he clearly could not proceed down and thus blocking my view.
Same dump truck causing the motorcycle coming in the other lane (which I now could not see because of said truck) to hug the white line in order to be as far from the truck as possible.
All of this causing me to begin edging out not knowing any other way to break the gridlock the truck and I had going in the driveway.

Ending in me not seeing the motorcycle soon enough (since he was really hugging the white line) and him not being able to swerve, since the dump truck was now practically even with us in the other lane.

So yes, without me beginning to edge out, the accident would not have happened. But what came clear to me suddenly, is that this is how decisions in life work. If you don't take a second to really think through the impact of your decisions, before you know it you've arrived at the decision that actually brings it all tumbling down. And if you haven't stopped to think about the little decisions before that one. Or worse yet, if you've actively kept yourself from thinking about the little decisions, you will not think before acting on that last decision either.

And that will be the decision that you will live to regret.

I was extremely blessed to have collided with a generous, honest, forgiving man. One who wrote a letter to the court saying that from his perspective I, indeed may have ultimately caused the accident, but my driving was not inattentive. Thanks to his thoughtful, careful decision to speak up on my behalf my citation was dismissed.

And I've walked away certain that I want to be that careful and thoughtful in my future decisions. I want to take an extra moment more often than not. Not just to look both ways an extra time at intersections. But to, metaphorically speaking get out of my car and walk a circle around it when my view is blocked. In hopes that in those extra seconds, which really don't cost me anything, I will gain invaluable perspective.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid.

I'm still trying to sort out how to deal with that phone call last week.

The one thing I've never talked about here, for better or for worse, is that my husband is an Episcopal Priest. I know there is much that is inherently built in to any conversation around priests and misconduct and there are many ways in which his vocation does not matter to 90% of what I've been dealing with.

But last week, the phone call I received was from the bishop of the diocese that ordained my husband. He was calling because, while he was not the bishop that ordained my husband, while he has never met us, and while my husband has never actually served as a priest in that diocese, word had reached him of what was going on with my husband and he was concerned.

While it is clear that he is concerned because his job compels him to be, it also seems clear from the conversations that he's had with me and with others, that he is concerned because he truly understands that the things my husband has done give cause for concern. Both on a priestly and a personal level.

I felt stymied in my conversation with the bishop, too stunned to actually figure out what were the right things to say. I agree whole-heartedly that my husband is in no place to be leading, counseling, caring for any group of people, but I also feel that the degree of his dysfunction goes much deeper than that. I couldn't actually find any words (shocking I know, to those of you that know me) that would adequately convey the depth of my concern for my husband without first sounding like a vindictive, betrayed woman.
This is just not a situation that lends itself easily to genuine-ness of emotion, especially when that emotion is concern for the other party.

While I feel extreme concern for any "flock" that my husband would try to lead I also feel greater concern for him, for his girlfriend, for friends that are mislead by the diplomas and ordination certificates he has hanging on his walls in their expensive frames. I feel concerned because they don't know how we ate almost nothing for a week after he spent so much to frame those useless documents without telling me about it. And I feel concerned because that makes it so much clearer to me in ways almost no one else can see, the lengths he will go to for the preservation of that facade. Lengths he was never willing to go to for something so much more tangible and life giving.

I've heard rumors my husband is going to meet with this bishop and that leaves me with so much mixed emotion. It leaves me hoping that someone will see the depths of the help that he needs. And then it just leaves me depressed, feeling that this is just another person who will walk away dazzled by the stories he is able to spin into such convincing replicas of the truth.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I want him to pay. But not exactly how that sounds. There has been no one yet who has been able to call my husband to account for his actions. Throughout a year long affair with a married woman, throughout all the lies and pain for so many people, there has been no point where he has taken even an ounce of responsibility for a single one of his actions. That is not healthy for any human being, in any vocation.

My husband should not have to be more perfect because he is a priest, we are all human and flawed and bound to make mistakes along the way. What he should be is more willing to take responsibility for his actions. I think that is what the bible calls us to over and over again in story after story. Accountability. Give what you can, throw the first stone if you are blameless, find the place in yourself where you so believe in forgiveness and God that you can be willing to sacrifice what's most important to you for the things you believe are right. Be honest, and true and God will provide.

Nowhere does it say life will be perfect or easy. We will all make mistakes.But over and over again the bible also shows how it takes a community to fix those mistakes. Life isn't something we were created to do alone. If you brush your mistakes away, lie about them, refuse to admit you've made any, you can't honestly contribute to a community much less lead one.

And I guess there is one way in which he does have to be a bit more perfect as a priest. He took a vow not only to our marriage but to the church and to all of it's sacraments. What he's done was a clear choice to violate multiple vows. Our marriage vow, the marriage vow of someone he helped to wed, and vows he took during his ordination. There is one section of the ordination service that sums it up for me:

Will you do you best to pattern your life [and that
of your family, or household, or community] in
accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you
may be a wholesome example to your people?

 Could you all say a little prayer for the bishop as he hears my husband out, pray that somewhere in the midst of it all he will hear the truth?

Outfit of the Day

Sunday was a cold and rainy day here. And for some reason it was one of those days where Esme and I were really getting on each other's nerves. Luckily about halfway through the day her friend Liv came over. They were like happy little tornadoes around our tiny house then settled on the couch to watch a movie. It turned out to be a great day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Analyze This...

So I got a very unexpected phone call while I was at work yesterday. And while I'm not quite ready to deal with the phone call itself I have to say that the brainwaves it set off, coupled with the impossibility of sleeping comfortably on hard ground while strategizing how best to save my child from a bear, (these things happen in the woods all the time you know) made for some very odd dreams last night.

In the first dream my husband came to me distraught because someone had given him an ultimatum. Face up to what he's done, fix our marriage, or lose something he values as part of his identity. He was in tears because he honestly couldn't figure out what to do. I felt bad for him, we both ended up in tears and before I could reach a resolution for the dream, the hard ground won out and I was on to another variation which was him being told he could keep that part of his identity if he just moved to a different country. My first response was dismay, but even in the dream I quickly thought, "their loss, have a nice trip."

After these dreams I lay awake for what seemed like an hour or two, thinking what would I do if this turn of events prompted such a confrontation. If he came to me and admitted things, asked forgiveness, wanted it all back. It honestly took me a while to work through all the iterations and land on the one answer I could feel good about.

"Find a way, a place, to go work on things. Someone to make you face it all, talk about every single part, relive it in all the vivid detail I've had to face things in for months. Then figure out what it is you want back. Make a list in detail. At what points in our marriage did we have things the way you still want them to be. What were those things specifically and how are you going to work for them? Then, maybe then, we'll start to talk." The thing that felt so different about this was that in the past when I've lain awake re-analyzing these possibilities somewhere deep in my mind I thought it might be a possibility.

Last night. I merely had to think it through because I'm the woman who also has to have a plan for a bear attack before she can go to sleep. I'm 99% confident the bear will never attack. But if he did and I hadn't thought through the best possible scenario to save my child it would really suck.
(PS tomorrow I'm teaching Esme how to dial 911. Because after I'm dead and she's locked herself in the car someone's going to have to come finish saving her.)

So the dream after that was this long rambling bizarre one where I started at some kind of fashion show/ party, in Denver, at this rich persons house/store. We were able to pick anything we wanted to wear, it was all designer. I chose these platform boots that took me an hour to get on because they had so many straps. I don't really remember what we did once we had the clothes on but later in the dream, Esme was with me and we were trying to get to the main area of this mall. Only we were stuck in the icky back hallways. We could not get out of this crazy maze and every time we thought we had the right door it was a pool. This was the one time in our lives we didn't want to swim. We just wanted to get to the mall. We even snuck into the men's locker room because we were convinced there was a door in there that went straight to the mall....nope, pool!
That portion of the dream somehow transitioned into this friend of mine from Philly (I have to say he's one of the most straight laced people I know) calling me out of the blue to say he'd found this great new way to make money:
"When there are lots of people in town for a concert or whatever there's this place where you can buy cigarettes really cheap then resell them and make a great profit...Only I don't have a lot of capital right now, would you like to invest?"
"Ummm...sure I guess, I've got some money we could start with."
"Okay great, meet me at the mall, bring the money, and do you feel about heroine?"
"I am not selling heroine!!"

And then the sun started coming up. Anyone want to analyze that dream?

Outfit of the Day

Esme's Babka took her on her first camping trip last night. We took a great picture of her in the tent in this beautiful sleeping bag that her Babka made for her, but somehow because we were out of range of my phone or something, the picture did not save. So we had to recreate the scene here in our living room.
Esme had a marvelous time camping. I drove an hour through a hail storm after work yesterday to meet them at their campsite, where miraculously they had had no storm at all. We ate dinner, roasted marshmallows, went for a quick paddle this morning and left early enough for me to be at work by nine.
Do I love my kid or what? Camping and two extra hours of driving...hold your applause, please hold your applause!
And Esme...believe me, I'll be redeeming these points some day!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

Everyone else seems to be interrupting their regular schedule for 9/11 remembrances so I figured I would join suit.
I hate 9/11 remembrances. I say this with all apologies to those who lost loved ones and with the utmost respect and gratitude for those who sacrificed to save others on that day. I lost nothing on that day. In fact I gained a ton because of that day and I’ve always been extremely grateful. But just now, remembering it, is the last thing I want to do.
My husband was in seminary in 2001, in New Haven, CT. Back before he was my husband, we were dating and I lived in Boston. He and some seminary friends, one of whom had done an internship with the New Orleans Police Dept. dressed in that friend’s chaplain garb and headed down to ground zero late afternoon on 9/11.
They spent 24 hours digging through rubble, sorting parts, bagging things up and talking with the rescue personnel. It was a life changing experience for all three. One became an alcoholic (I believe), one took up healthy forms of release like sky diving and deep sea diving. My husband came straight to my house, shared a little bit about his experience, slept, then told me he was leaving seminary and he thought we should get married.
We talked a lot about things before he made an ultimate decision but what was clear to me on that day was that he had experienced something that profoundly impacted him. I knew him well enough by this point to know that those things are rare for him. In the coming year, as the choices his friends made became clear I felt thankful mine had chosen the path he did. So glad that this experience caused him to realize the value of life rather than choosing to throw it away.
In retrospect, who knows. The decisions he made that day were potentially as reckless for him as skydiving was for his friend. At the time I felt thankful he came to his senses and realized how good I was for him.
Now, I have to spend days like this thinking about the aftermath in my life. Thinking of that changed man that I remember from the days just after. Remembering how different that man is from the one I lived with for the last few years. Hoping it doesn’t take another tragedy the magnitude of 9/11 for him to remember the things he once decided were important.

Outfit of the Day

We had a music festival in Grand Marais this weekend.
Coupled with temperatures in the high 70's for two days.
I think it was a dream come true for me, I could not get enough!
Esme got her face painted as a witch, with a flower and a heart she was quick to point out!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's all about the hair

Esme had her first act of truly reckless behavior today. You know...the kind of behavior that's a precursor to the denial of the effect that one extra drink is going to have on you, that one extra drink you never actually ask for but it just appears and you drink it without thinking and next thing you know thinking is the last thing you're capable of, and then next thing you know you're on someones boat with vomit in your ear and...oh wait, sorry we were talking about Esme...

Anyway, while I was in the kitchen making dinner Esme opened the drawer where we keep our scissors, got them out and cut the special Rapunzel hair that came attached to a barrette with her Rapunzel Barbie. Esme is "dying" to have long hair (just ask her, she'll tell you, it's slowly killing her) and so she loves clipping this barrette in her hair and swishing it over her shoulder.  Suddenly from across the room I heard a gasp, I looked over and Esme was holding the barrett in one hand and most of the hair in the other.

"Esme" I said (perhaps a bit too sternly) "You are going to be so sorry you did that, you know that hair won't grow back right?"

"I know mom, I don't even care" she grumped, and then seconds before she broke down in sobs that lasted for the next 40 minutes, she said "My heart is just dead".

She spun away stalked out of the room and I went a few minutes later to find her collapsed on her bed racked with tears because she couldn't get her Rapunzel barrette back.

I just love witnessing these experiences that are so formative to our character for later life. I'd never thought much about it before tonight but how you learn to respond to these things as a little kid definitely forms your choices as an adult.

I mean, lets say hypothetically I woke up one morning with vomit in my own ear (I mean TOTALLY hypothetically) I would want to throw myself on my bed and sob...and sob...and sob. First I would definitely want to say it didn't matter, I mean who hasn't woken up in such a state at least once, and who wouldn't want to justify it by having a heart that is dead, or some equally life altering ailment.

But what I did for my daughter in that moment is the same thing I do for myself (I mean would do for myself, you know, if such a thing ever happened to me). I stood her in front of the mirror, with Rapunzel doll in hand and we looked at all the good hair that we still had left between the three of us. Then I sent her into the shower (mostly because she was a mess from daycare and really needed a shower, and we don't have a bathtub) and I told her to sit down, cry a little bit more if she needed to and just let the water wash over her. That would help!

And it sure did, I went in five minutes later to find her industriously cleaning the walls of the shower with my loofah. I think we'll all be okay!
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Outfit of the Day

I have a fabulous video of Esme singing one of her favorite songs but my phone keeps telling me the file is too large to attach/download/ while I figure that out you'll have to make do with a picture of my sister and I.
I know...not nearly as great as Esme...but today is all about dealing with disappointment here at Calamity Jennye.  ^   ^
              .    .


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Family Ties

I think what I've firmly established is that I'm not a travel blogger.

I just can't find the time to blog when I'm at other's homes, doing too many things, running around. So, I know you've all been waiting for an update on the family reunion that had me so nervous...

It was GREAT! For a group of people who had never all been in the same room as adults, who didn't all grow up together and have that completely shared history, and for whom there has been some tension in the past. We did a great job.

It poured rain the entire time we were at the resort, so there was an abundance of alcohol, lots of time logged on the WII and at the indoor pool. Esme loved all the attention.

There were of course a few tense or awkward moments. What would family be without those. But all in all it was a great time and we decided maybe we should try this again in 5 years rather than 25 next time.

My sister drove home with me and is visiting for the week so I'll get another update out as soon as I can...

Have a great week everyone and thanks for your prayers, thoughts and support.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The things that get you through the day...

Thor went into a bar one night, met a woman and took her home.

They woke up in the morning. He went over to the window, threw the shutters open and said:
"I - AM - THOR"

She sat up on the bed, looked at him and said:
"You think you're thor..."

and we've been laughing all day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's just a phase, but they say that about teenagers too

I haven't had many of these phases in my life but I'm in a phase where little things really easily drive me crazy. Lately there are tons of these little things that feel like they are slowly pecking away at the very fiber of my being.
Negativity, bad attitudes, limited perspectives, people inserting themselves into conversations where they don't belong (I've been guilty of this one lately which means I'm practically gnawing on my own arm or something), my daughter calling me stupid or saying she hates me, then becoming inconsolable when we have to discuss how that's not okay.

Every - little - thing is making me crazy. The real problem is that I know what's actually making me crazy. These things don't normally get to me so easily, I'm quite adept at dodging all these little beaks. The problem these days is that I'm not me.

My husband and his girlfriend both got to make these life changing decisions. Decisions that changed not just their lives but also dramatically changed mine in every way. Decisions that took away my two best friends, that took away my daughter 30% of the time, that fundamentally changed nearly every aspect of my life. And in no way did I get to be a part of those decisions. I didn't even know the decisions were being made. Not only did they make these decisions back when I knew nothing about them. But they are here, unapologetically rubbing their decisions in my face (or flaunting them behind my back) on a daily basis.

I've spent months working through so many things but the one thing left festering deep down, is all that disenfranchisement. I got no say. And now, I feel so debilitated by their decisions that I don't even know who I am.

This is the thing that I can't seem to get around. I feel like I've tried crawling over, sneaking under, faking left and running right. I can't escape it.

I'm really ready to have a new me, one that has so many of the traits I used to have (joy, patience, memory, stability, confidence), combined with all these new things (gardening, independence, peace, loyalty) I've cultivated in my journey around this angst. I'm ready, I just don't know what it takes to get there.

Outfit of the Day

Things that don't drive me crazy?

Pictures of little girls having fun!
Ahh...the Ferris Wheel
Always makes me feel a bit pensive too.

This weekend was Fisherman's Picnic, the big celebration here in GM
These girls had a blast on all the rides

The happy pilot!

And another one.
I don't know about you but I'm ready to fly this airline!