Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A trip to see Santa

It’s been less than a year since I first met Robby, and all I can think is “I’m glad I decided to open my mind to love.”
Some of you know the story of how I met Robby. I used to refer to him as Mr. EHarmony and some of my friends still call him that. We met online at the beginning of March, took our time getting to know each other, and fell head-over-heels in love by summer. 
Family photo with Santa

Robby first met the kids at the end of April. It was Easter weekend and my sister had picked up the kids and me from the airport. We had just returned from Texas after Veronica’s foot surgery. Robby had offered to make us Easter dinner and leave it at the front door. I decided it was time for him to meet the kids and I thought it would seem more comfortable if my sister was there, too.

After Robby left that evening, my sister and I did our usual—put the kids to bed, made martinis, and played cards for the remainder of the night. Amy liked Robby and she could tell I really liked him. She asked, “Do you think you guys will get married?”

I laughed and said, “No, I’m never getting married again.” I was totally serious and I truly believed it. Amy was so mad at me. “Why would you say that?” she asked with tears in her eyes.

“Because marriage is horrible,” I said. “I will never do that again.”

But as time passed, I began to realize that it was wrong for me to base my future decisions on my past relationships. Robby and I talked about marriage several times. I told him what I thought about marriage and he listened.

Then he said, “I understand why you feel that way, but you have to remember that we can’t base marriage off of our past experiences because those people we were married to weren’t capable of loving us back in a normal way. Those weren’t real marriages.”

Over time I began to understand what he was talking about. I began to open myself up to trusting him. When we first met, I wouldn’t accept his friend request on Facebook because I was afraid of letting him into my “bubble.” Now, I can’t imagine not hearing his voice on the phone first thing in the morning.

And I said, "Yes."

Robby asked me to marry him on Dec. 23rd and I said, “yes!” The proposal was a complete surprise to me, but I had no hesitations—there was no doubt in my voice when I said “yes.”
Here is what happened…Apparently Robby had been planning the engagement since September. Somewhere along the way he decided to make it a Christmas proposal. His sister and his friends were involved in the planning and things just seemed to take off from there.
Robby described the proposal in his blog, so I will tell you my side of things. I was under the impression that Robby’s sister Mary wanted us to go have our picture taken with Santa while she was in town. It was supposed to be a surprise to Robby’s mom. This all seemed reasonable to me.
Robby told me that he and Veronica had some more shopping to finish and that he would drop off Jude and me at Target so they could finish shopping and then we would meet at 1:00 at Bass Pro Shop to have our photo taken with Santa. Robby’s mom called last minute and wanted to be a part of the photo, too. I believed every word. Again, this all seemed reasonable to me.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus were teary-eyed

Jude and I showed up at Bass Pro Shop and I saw that Mary and Robby’s mom were waiting for us. Robby’s best friend Dave was also there. Again, this all seems reasonable—no red flags.

We went into Bass Pro Shop and got in line to see Santa for our family photo which will now include Robby, Mary, his mom, Dave, Veronica, Jude, and me. We got our photo made and I walked over to pick up my purse that I placed near the exit.
“Hey, Kim, I have something for you,” said Mrs. Claus. I froze. She reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out a small box wrapped in red paper with a red bow—red is my favorite color.
She handed the gift to me and I looked at Robby who was standing beside Santa. My first thought was, “if this is a pair of earrings then I will hurt somebody.”
Santa said, “Come here and sit on my knee, Kim. Let’s see what is inside the box.”
I walked over and sat on Santa’s knee. My hands were trembling and I was not sure if I could open the box. Santa gave me a hand and held the wrapping paper so I could see what was inside the box.
I finally realized that Robby was on one knee at my side. “Kim, will you do me the honor of marrying me?” he asked with tears in his eyes.
I opened the box and saw the ring—it was perfect. I reached out and grabbed Robby’s face in my hands and held his face close to mine. “Yes, I will marry you.”
Perfect ring for the perfect proposal
At this point, we were all crying—especially Santa. “This is this sweetest thing I have ever seen,” Santa sobbed. I forgot about Robby and hugged Santa and told him to stop crying because he was making me cry even harder.
Then Mrs. Claus walked over and I noticed that she was also crying. “I’m so happy for you two,” she said.
I finally realized that everyone in the store was looking at us. They were smiling and some were crying. Veronica and Jude were standing with Mary and Robby’s mom and they were obviously happy. “I have a new family,” I thought to myself.

Then I noticed that two camera men from the local news stations were filming everything. And then it all hit me—Robby just asked me to marry him. And I said yes and I didn’t secretly regret it.

My first proposal was horrible and my first marriage was even worse. This proposal was perfect. This was the kind of proposal that all girls wish for. This was the kind of proposal that I deserved.
I never thought I would get married again. I always thought I would be the cool woman who was the swinging bachelorette in the group. I would never be tied down to one man—I would just go out on a lot of dates and have fun. I wanted to be that girl that all her friends envied because she had this carefree lifestyle. And as fun as that life could be, it was becoming a lonely existence.
But I decided to give love a second chance. I decided to trust someone again. I decided not to base my future decisions on past disappointments. But most importantly, I decided to love myself again. Thank you, Robby, for loving me back.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Neighborhood vigilante

Apparently my newfound sense of self-confidence may end up getting me into trouble. I don’t consider myself a trouble maker, either. Unlike my boyfriend who tends to get kicked out of places, I like to fly under the radar and go unnoticed in a crowd.

But this week I did something that surprised me. I’m not ashamed of what I did—as a matter of fact, I’m pretty proud of myself.

We live in one of the older neighborhoods of Richmond Hill. It’s small and self-contained—only two streets and they come together in a loop near the back end and we are surrounded by a small creek and wooded tree line. My house is on the back end of the loop.

Jude and Veronica take the bus to and from school every day. Veronica rides the special ed bus to accommodate her wheelchair, so it stops at the end of my driveway each day to pick her up and drop her off. Jude has the option to walk down to the end of either side of our road to catch the bus. He chooses to ride his scooter or bike down to his friends’ house each morning so they can hang out and shoot some hoops while they wait for the bus.

The problem is that in order for Jude to get to his friends’ house he must go around a corner where some idiot planted a row of evergreen trees. Over the past few years these trees have grown a lot and now they completely block the view on either side of the curve. Every day one of the children in our neighborhood has a close call with oncoming traffic because drivers can’t see the children on the road until after they pass the trees.
About a month ago, a driver had to slam on her brakes in order to not hit Jude and his pals riding their bikes. I saw the entire incident unfold and for a brief moment, I thought my child was going to be killed by a speeding teenager.

The trees sit on a foreclosed property. So, I dialed the number on the realtor’s sign in the yard and spoke to the person in charge of selling the home for the bank. I explained the situation about the trees and she came to the house the next day and took pictures to send the bank. The bank’s response was, “We’ll think about it, but removing trees is expensive.”

Last week, I called the city and explained the situation. Their response was, “We don’t cut down trees in people’s yards.” So, I called someone else at City Hall. Their response was, “We don’t remove trees unless they are in danger of falling on power lines. And in that case, the electric company would take care of the trees.”

My response was, “What is your stance on paying for funerals of dead children?”

I hung up my phone and decided that I wasn’t going to wait for one of the children on my street to be hit by a car. My garage is filled with tree cutting devices—hand saws, axes, and clippers. With the weapon chosen, I decided to wait until dark and make my move on the trees.

On Wednesday night, I put the kids to bed. I washed the dishes, folded the laundry, and organized the mail. At 10:00, I sat down to watch an episode of Dexter. At the end of the show, I put on my boots, jacket, and gloves. I grabbed my flashlight and handsaw and walked down the street.

I’m not good at sneaking around so I was a nervous wreck. I kept thinking that I heard a car coming or someone walking up behind me. I crouched down on my knees and laid the flashlight on the ground so the light was focused on the base of the biggest tree. I began sawing through the wood like my life depended on it.

It seemed like the creak, creak, creak sound of the saw was going to wake up the neighborhood, but I began to calm down and focus on the task at hand. My arms were beginning to tire and I realized that I was being stupid for fearing someone would catch me in the act.

“I’m doing them a favor,” I thought. “This is the right thing to do and I should have done it months ago.”

I sat back on my heels and wiped the sweat that was running down into my eyes. “This is ridiculous,” I thought. “I’m coming back tomorrow and finishing the job during the day.”

I stuck my flashlight in my pocket and walked home with the saw in my hand. “I hope the cops don’t drive by right now.”

Yesterday afternoon I finally finished the job I started—I finished it in broad daylight and not a soul noticed. In the end, I cut down 3 trees and I stacked them in the driveway of the foreclosed home. I’m not sure if what I did was illegal, but I know it was the right thing to do.

On my way home, I stopped by my neighbor’s house and told her what I did. “Good for you,” she said. “I hate those trees.”

I guess we’ll never know if I saved any lives—I wasn’t willing to “wait and see” what would happen. I told Veronica and Jude what I did and explained to them why I did it. “I’m proud of you, Mom,” Veronica told me.

This morning, we got up to leave the house for Jude’s karate class and the kids noticed our neighbor’s had also cut down their trees in their front yard (completely unrelated to my trees). Jude’s eyes got big and said, “Whoa, Mom, did you do that, too?”

I laughed and said, “No, honey, my tree cutting days are over for now.”

Even though I shouldn’t need to cut down any more trees for a while, I hope I continue to remember that it is easy to “wait and see” if others around me are willing to step-up and do the right thing. It’s hard for me to step out of my comfort zone and do what I know is right. Doing the right thing is usually never easy, and I may end up getting into trouble for what I did. But I don’t regret a thing and I would cut down a hundred trees if that is what it takes to keep my children safe.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Foo Fighters are my co-pilot

A few days ago, the kids and I were taking Robby home. I was driving my beloved “soccer mom” minivan. The children know the rules of the van—no throwing stuff, no screaming, no milk products, and no talking while I’m listening to the Foo Fighters.

After we hit the road, I turned on the radio and “All My Life” was about half-way through. Veronica lives to listen to her pop music in the car. I’m fine with that, but if my song is on then don’t even think about asking me to change the station.

Veronica immediately starts screaming from the back seat, “Please change the station to Kiss FM!”

Robby assumed I would change the station to suit her, so he was surprised when I said, “no” as my free hand cranked up the volume a little louder.

I looked at her in the rearview mirror and said, “Who is singing right now?”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Foo Fighters
I hear Jude’s little voice say, “Foo Fighters.”

Veronica was mad. She wanted her way so she began to scream, “Please change the station!”

In order to drown out her plea for pop, I turned the music up even louder. She got louder, too. So I turned the knob again and then started singing along. For those of you who have heard me sing, you realize that this is the worst punishment I could ever inflict on my children.

Later that night, Robby laughed about the entire scene. He seemed surprised by my reaction. I really hadn’t put much thought into the whole episode—it happens often and I always react the same.

I am generally pretty lax with my children and they know that. But music is a big deal to me and I refuse to let anyone ruin that for me. The “Foo Fighters rule” in the car is one of those unbreakable laws. It’s one of the few times when I draw a line in the sand and establish my boundaries with the children.

Music has always been a big deal to me. My sister and I inherited my mom’s old record player/stereo when I was about 9 years old. I would sit in our room for hours every day and listen to records and the radio. When I got older—maybe 11 or 12—I started putting together one of the most awesome cassette tape collections in town.

My sister and I would scour the flea markets in the summer looking for cheap bootlegs. I loved everything from Metallica to Milli Vanilli (gasp), but I never cared much for country. As the years progressed, my collection expanded. I had my stereo running all the time—even at night. I couldn’t sleep without music. I couldn’t focus without music. I couldn’t ride in the car without music.

When I was 16, I saved up my money and bought my first CD player from Radio Shack. The first CD I bought was The Cure’s Disintegration “Pictures of You” never sounded so amazing.

My brother Luke, who is a brilliant musician, once told me that I was one of the biggest musical influences in his life—I was the first person he knew who owned a CD player and I always gave him my extra CDs when I needed to make room on my shelf for new ones.

I gave him Collective Soul, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Green Day, and Stone Temple Pilots—he loved them as much as I did.

I loved good musicians and I loved terrible ones. I had a life-sized poster of Sebastian Bach from Skid Row on my closet door for about 8 months when I was a freshman in high school. I wanted to marry both of the Nelson twins when I was 15—I didn't think I could "Live Without Their Love and Affection."
I’ve been known to do a chest bump to Milli Vanilli and did a few fist pumps to Metallica—I now hate both groups and rightfully so—they disappoint me on a personal level. I spent the entire summer before my freshman year in college watching “Pure Country” and listening to George Strait—he almost turned me on to country (almost is the key word here).

But I’m also quick to point out that I am no music expert. I know this and I gladly accept it. Music snobs bother me. They act like you are stupid for liking pop music. I enjoy pop music—and yes, I can hear you chuckling.

There are many times in my day when I need to turn on the music and lose myself for a while. Sometimes I need music that doesn’t make me think. But sometimes I need music that makes me feel something.

Foo Fighters carry me through my 6 mile run on the treadmill. Red Hot Chili Peppers cheer me up on the long rainy drive to school in the morning. The Beastie Boys keep me company during my lunch break in the library. The Black Eyed Peas make the kids jump around in the living room which makes me smile at the end of a long day. And Robby’s classical music soothes me to sleep when we get the chance to spend the night together.

So if you pass me on the road and you see me singing while the kids look distressed, then you will know what is up—the Foo Fighters are on and I don’t feel like putting up with anyone’s crap today. And no, I will not turn it down.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The truth is a beautiful thing

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32 NIV
When I first learned the truth about my marriage several years ago, it took me over 6 months to begin to accept the truth. I was embarrassed that I was headed to divorce.
I was ashamed that my husband had been cheating on me. But most of all, I was humiliated by the notion that everyone knew about my ex's infidelity except for me.

I didn’t tell anyone what was going on for a very long time. I confided in my parents, but that was it. Several months later, I finally told a friend what was going on. Before I packed my bags and headed home, I finally told my sister the truth.

I soon realized that the more open I became about my divorce, the more liberated I felt. After attending several S-Anon meetings, I learned that “we are only as sick as our secrets.” That phrase really struck a chord with me. In order to heal, I had to start being honest with myself and everyone around me.

Writing this blog and putting the truth out there for everyone to see has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. But it has freed me from the chains of secrecy and shame.

I used to have a lot of secrets and I was very sick because of those secrets. I felt tired all of the time and I eventually had to be treated for stomach ulcers. Now that I have been able to slowly shed myself of those secrets, I feel better than ever.

It has taken me over a year to get to the point where I don’t breakout in a full sweat when I want to be honest with someone. Now I find it hard to “fake it” and I find myself saying, “I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, but I have to be honest…”

I know I will have to continually remind myself that I am only as sick as my secrets. Coveting secrets and living in shame is a hard habit to break.

I thought the truth would set me free immediately—but I soon learned that these things take time. When I first learned about my ex’s secret life, I was devastated. I wished I had never found out the truth.

But here I sit—2 years, 10 months, and 14 days later and I can honestly say that the truth did set me free. The secrets that destroyed our marriage and the secrets that I chose to continue to carry with me made me sick—physically and mentally.

I have also discovered that this new-found honesty I display makes it impossible for my ex to control me. So now I know that I am free—free from control and free of fear. I am now free to live my life the way it was meant to be lived.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A new friend

What a difference a week makes. Or maybe I should say, “What difference does a week make?”

I guess for me, this week has made a lot of difference. This time last week, I was sitting at home getting things ready for Veronica’s surgery in Jacksonville. My sister came to town to take care of Jude and get him to school. She was also a big help in taking my mind off of things. I am happiest when my sister is with me.

Amy and I on vacation--laughed so hard I hurt myself...

The surgery went amazing—the hospital, doctors, and staff were incredible. It was one of the best hospital stays we have ever had.

My ex showed up and decided that he was not speaking to me and it made me very uncomfortable. He was the only person who showed up at the hospital, so my loneliness was overwhelming.

Of course I had people calling my cell phone and checking in so I felt the love from the outside world. And one of the best things that happened was Robby’s sister reached out to me through email. We emailed back and forth while I was sitting in Veronica’s dark room watching her sleep.

She sent me the most hilarious stories about co-workers and her survival strategies of dealing with the “public” at her job at the library. Despite the humor we portrayed on the surface of our emails, there was this underlying sense of connection that began to develop through our communication. I realized that I have the unique opportunity to gain another close sister relationship. I only have one sister and our relationship is the most remarkable connection I share with anyone.

My sister Amy and I are very close. We share the most devoted bond that I have with another person. We have always been that way and I know that nothing will ever change that. We talk at least once per day on the phone and I never get tired of our conversations.

Robby and his sister are extremely close as well. He adores her. She is, without a doubt, the most important person in his life.

Even though we have never met face to face, I now feel a very strong bond with this woman. We both adore Robby and she knows that he adores the kids and me. But more importantly, we connected in our bizarre sense of humor. That doesn’t happen often to me, so it makes an impact.

So, while I realized this week that I will most likely lose my home and a large portion of my already depleted savings, I realized that I gained a new friend—perhaps a sister. And that relationship means more to me than the material objects that have held me hostage over the past few years.

So, in one week I went from sad, depressed, and distraught to encouraged, hopeful, and accepting. While a week may make a huge difference in my view on life, I have a feeling that this new relationship will once again change my life for the better.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

God, you knew this would make me mad at you

Veronica getting ready for ropes course

Things have changed drastically since my last post. While in Texas, I took my daughter to Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children (if you have money then give it to this place) for Camp Just Like Me (also needs money). This a camp sponsored by Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, TX  and is for children with Arthrogryposis (if you have more extra money then give it to this place, too).

To say that Veronica and I love this place is a total understatement. This was our third year as campers and it has changed our lives.

For one week, we get to forget the outside world. Veronica gets a chance to be the “cool kid.” And I get a chance to just be a regular mom with a regular kid. Veronica was able to SCUBA, do a high swing and zip line, watch movies in the private theater, play unlimited air hockey and arcade games, swim, practice her archery, and make friends that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

The last night of camp Veronica fell on stage during the talent show and broke her left knee and fractured her right leg. I cannot even begin to describe this nightmare.

Veronica getting ready for archery

I sat in the audience and watched the entire scene unfold. When you have a child that is prone to bad falls, you quickly learn that she needs a lot of open space to walk. I guess everyone got caught up in the fun of watching these children shine on stage and forgot to clear the stage.

I knew the set-up on stage was a mistake from the start. I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach that things were getting out of control too quickly. I watched Veronica and her best friend walk too closely to each other and then I did something—I lowered my video camera and watched the horror unfold in slow motion.

The girls fell and Veronica’s legs got pinned underneath her. She began screaming, “Oh my Gosh, oh my gosh!” I don’t remember much after that. I ran onstage and grabbed my little girl and I could tell her little legs were twisted in an unusual shape.

I held her close to my chest and whispered in her ear, “it’s okay baby, Mommy’s got you.” I looked over her shoulder and mouthed the words, “her leg is broken” to the nurse—she nodded in confirmation.
Veronica's SCUBA lesson

All of the sudden I realized that everything was very quiet and everyone was looking at us. The young camp counselors seemed to be in shock. But the parents in the room seemed to know exactly what was going on—this scene was all too familiar to them. We all know what it is like to watch your child fall down and break an arm or a leg or both—their joints are static and it leaves them vulnerable to these types of injuries.

I have been told that I have an amazing ability to appear to be a very composed and rational person despite the fact that my world is constantly throwing me curveballs. For some reason, I was able to keep my composure again despite the anxiety. But for the first time in a long time I wanted to hold my child to my chest and scream at the top of my lungs.

Veronica's first catch

At that moment I hated God. If he had been standing in front of me I would have told him to “fuck off.” I would have asked him, “Is this some sort of sick joke?  Has this child not suffered enough for you?”

But I kept my wits and held in the tears and waited for our ride to yet another emergency room. The camp is in a rural area of Texas, so I had time to calm myself on the 30 minute ride to the ER. 

I kept thinking, “Why is this happening? What will I say to Veronica?”

While Veronica and I were hanging out in the back of the ER waiting to see the doctor, I felt it was time to address the reality of the situation.

“Honey, I’m not sure if your leg is broken, but you have obviously done something bad to your knee.”

She began to cry again. “Mommy, why does bad stuff always happen to me?”

I held back the tears and took a deep breath, “I don’t know, sweetie. But I do know that everything happens for a reason so let’s try to look at this situation and see what God is trying to tell us.”

We sat silent for a moment and then I said, “Sweetheart, you want to know what I think? I think it’s time that you and I come to terms with the fact that you are disabled and that falling and hurting yourself is just going to be a fact of life. But you can’t let this destroy you—you have to find the strength inside yourself to overcome this pain and frustration and become a bright light in a dark world.”

Dinner in the lodge

Veronica sat quietly in her wheelchair for a few moments—she seemed to be soaking in my words. “I guess, but I’m just so tired of all of this. I just want to be normal.”

“I know you do sweetie, but you are not. You are special for a reason and you have to keep on living so you can find out what your purpose is.”

She nodded. “Don’t worry, Mom. Even if I never walk again, I will still be okay because my friends from camp will always like me just the way I am.”

I held in my tears until I got back to Savannah. Robby picked us up at the airport. After he hugged the kids, he turned and looked me in the eyes and hugged me. I cried like a baby. It felt good to let it all out.  He whispered in my ear, “it’s okay baby, I got you.”
Veronica having fun at camp

I’ve learned something from this tragedy—it’s okay to be mad at God. He knows that I am mad at him right now and that I don’t understand why my sweet baby has to have 2 broken legs after she has finally recovered from a very intense foot surgery.

He also knows that one day all of this drama will make sense to me. But until then, I will be mad at the world and he will just have to be understanding of me for a change.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The man in the van

Dad painting in North Carolina--
probably in the 80s

Yesterday I woke up early and decided to get dressed and get the kids ready for church and then I remembered it was Father’s Day. I hate dragging the kids to church on Father’s Day where they will be forced to sit in a room with other children and make crafts and hand-drawn cards for their dads. Those used to be fun things to do—we would pack up the hand-drawn pictures and crafts and send them to my ex in Iraq or save them on the kitchen counter until he got home from where ever he was.

Now it’s just a blah day that I try to ignore unless I have the great pleasure of being near my own dad. For those of you who know my dad, you know that he is freaking hilarious and most the time he isn’t even trying. But for those of you who haven’t met my dad, allow me to introduce you to the man who raised me (did I mention that he's not even my biological father?)

Dad is an artist—meaning he paints pictures for a living (I use the term “living” loosely). I don’t remember him ever wearing clothes that didn’t have paint drips all over them. Mom always cut his hair and apparently he told her he wanted the “I just walked out of the cave after 100 years” look. His facial hair paled only slightly to Abe Lincoln’s and his boisterous laughter paled only to the explosion of a fireworks warehouse.

The white rapist van revealed...

Due to the nature of his work, he drove a white rapist van that sported a wood floor—it’s easier to transport paintings to the gallery that way. Probably not the best way to transport your 4 children, but we enjoyed the way we could slide on our bottoms from the back of the van to the front when he had to slam on the brakes.

The only time I ever fully appreciated that van was when we went to the local drive-in movie theater. I could hear the gasp of the jealous crowd when we backed into our spot and opened the large double doors and everyone could see us kids already laid out on our futon—homemade popcorn in paper grocery sacks in hand.

The shagging wagon minus the hand-painted curtains

My pride in the van began to wane about the time I started getting boobs. It’s hard to look cool when you have to jump out of the side of a rapist van in front of the school. I can’t tell you how happy I was to know that Dad was finally getting rid of that big white van. But my excitement turned to horror the day he drove up in a bright orange Volkswagen camper.

My younger brothers squealed and jumped in joy as the small bus pulled into our gravel driveway. I can still remember my Dad’s first words after he set the parking brake and jumped out of the front seat, “Who wants to help me paint the curtains for this shagging wagon?”

By this point in my life, I was too much of a bitchy teen to appreciate the fun the “shagging wagon” had to offer. I can’t imagine a vehicle that fit my Dad’s personality more than that orange nightmare.

He loved the bus so much that he bought a white camper just like it—except it didn’t run as well (which was hard to believe that was possible). Poor Dad decided to drive my brothers down to Big Bend National Park to camp in the white camper for Spring Break. Somehow the van made it down there, but coming home was a whole different story.

Dad and I in Taos, NM. We almost moved there in the early 90s
until Dad decided there was too much stucco there...

Not only did the van run like total shit on a good day, but the latches that hold the camper top down to the van had broken during their trip. Dad had to drive about 45 miles per hour with his left arm out the window in hopes of holding down the camper top all the way home—his usual 8 hour trip out of the South Texas desert took about 20 hours.
I have never seen an arm more sunburned in my life. Dad was defeated and he ended up selling both vans soon after that failed trip.
As much as I hated those vans, one thing is for sure--no good stories ever come out of a good car. Some of the best stories my sister and I have revolve around that white rapist van without the seats.

Dad and I when I was about 4 years old in Dublin, TX.

And it’s safe to say that no one has great stories to tell about a boring dad who followed all the rules and drove a simple car. Maybe some of the memories from my childhood are less than perfect, but they make great stories. I can’t help but laugh when I think about my Dad and the way he raised us.

So thank you Dad for giving me a life worth talking about. I owe you big time—you have no idea how popular I am at dinner parties.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How did ya'll meet?

A dear friend of mine named Holly is getting married tomorrow. This will be her third marriage and the fact that she had enough faith to give true love a chance gives me hope. She and her soon-to-be husband Kevin made a Webpage with their wedding information and one of the topics they wrote about is how they met.

I found it interesting that they grew up in the same area so they met when he was 21 and she was 13 through a group of mutual friends. But at the time neither took much notice of the other. How could they ever know that so many years later they would be soul mates raising a blended family together? I’m so happy for them.

Tarleton State Univeristy--rodeo captial of the world
Holly and I had a similar experience in our friendship. We met in college at Tarleton State University working at the school newspaper, The J-TAC. We grew up near each other and we felt like we knew each other for some reason. Then one day we discovered that we went to the same church when we were kids and we hung out with the same circle of kids.

There was a priest named Father Denison who took a bunch of us around to go to fun events in town. Apparently he had been good friends with Holly’s parents. Father Denison always gave me the creeps and my sister and I spent a lot of time alone with him.

My last memory of him was he was chasing Amy and I up a tree in our backyard while we were waiting for my parents to get home. For some reason we were scared to death of him and I remember he had been biting on my ear and rubbing on my legs all day—I was about 6 years old at the time.

Holly told me he ended up getting accused of molesting children and everyone who knew him was devastated by the news. She and I both agreed that there was something weird about that guy. But the thought of knowing each other at such a young age made us feel a little closer—like we were destined to be best friends.

I find myself thinking about fate a lot lately. These days Robby and I get the “how did ya’ll meet?” question a lot. Most of you know that we met online through EHarmony (which I would highly recommend). But there are times when we wonder if we ever crossed each other’s path here in Savannah before we met. We also wonder if we would have met without EHarmony.

Ellie and Carl falling in love in "Up."

The other day we were talking about the Disney Pixar movie “Up.” Robby said he went to see that movie the first day it opened at 5:00—I also took the kids the exact same day at the same time at the same theater.

It gave me chills, but Robby just shrugged his shoulders and said that he would have remembered seeing me there. I doubted it—I kept a pretty low profile back in those days. I had no desire to date or meet anyone during that time in my life and I think I did a pretty good job keeping men away.

Either way, it made me realize that there is a plan set up for all of us. I could have run into Robby a year ago, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s hard to know if a chance encounter will turn into a life-long friendship or just a one-time meeting. I doubt Holly would ever believe that some random guy she met when she was 13 would become her husband 23 years later.

And for me, I cannot believe that over a year ago the same man who has turned my life around and made me believe in love again was sitting in the same theater with me and my children—both of us crying over the fact that the old man from “Up” had lost the love of his life. Little did we know that we were destined to be together and we would find each other online.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I have a date to the prom

My senior prom with my
brother David (1993)

So, for the first time in almost 20 years I can finally say, "I have a date to the prom!" Mr. EHarmony is a special ed teacher at a local high school and he was sweet enough to ask me to be his date. Luckily he asked in a text message so he couldn't hear me squeal in excitement.

I don't get the chance to get dressed up and hang out with adults in a social setting often (if ever). I'm normally a pretty laid back person but for some reason I'm so excited about going to prom and I can't wait until tonight.

Last night Mr. EHarmony and I reminisced on proms of our youth. I told him the story about how I went with the superintendent’s son one year. First of all, the superintendent and his wife (who was the bitchy secretary at the junior high) were like Ward and June Cleaver--if the Cleavers were older, rude, and duller.

Dueling prom dates

I had to stand in the photo line by myself while he posed for pictures with his parents. His mom kept patting his face and telling him he was so handsome. I saw images of them owning a creepy motel in the desert together.

 This awkward moment paled in comparison to the fact that my ex-boyfriend was standing behind me making out with his new girlfriend and the large corsage on her hand kept messing up the back of my hair.

I'm sure this couple whipped out
 some wicked break dancing moves
 I was not-so-pleasantly surprised to know that my date's mother and father would be sitting at our table all night.

 "Don't the chaperones have their own table?" I asked him. "Yeah, but I was afraid Mom and Dad would be bored sitting there so I asked them to sit with us." I didn't even bother to act like it was a sweet gesture.

While this story makes for a funny tale, it also marked the beginning of my quest to date "bad boys." So the next year I went to the prom with a guy who ditched his "sissy" tux and wore torn jeans, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket.
We only stayed at the prom for about 30 minutes because the whole scene was so lame to him. "That's why I dropped out of this place," he said.  
I was not aware it
 was time for PETA prom again

Apparently, being around high school kids made him need to get really high with his boys. He dropped me off at my house at 9:30 and I spent the rest of the night watching cartoons with my little brothers. I had to admit that I had more fun with Young Norman Bates the year before--being cool was overrated.

I didn't know Beyonce's mom
 made prom dresses

I'm sure tonight will be my prom redemption night. I don't foresee creepy parents crashing our party or being dropped off early. But I do foresee a lot of bad dance moves and tacky outfits, because that's what prom is really all about.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A sack of flour and a stomach full of guilt

Today in my New Media class we had to present our ideas for a video game concept. A gal in the class (let’s call her Ida) presented an idea about a phone app that would simulate a baby. It could be used as a teaching tool for teens to show them the responsibility involved in raising a baby—perhaps even help guide them away from premarital sex?

A sack of flour in a dress can't prepare you for this kind of love

Before there were apps and computerized babies, I had the pleasure of lugging around a 5 pound sack of flour in a dress for a week when I was a senior in high school. Of course I got paired up to co-parent this dusty-bundle of joy with the weirdest guy in school and sadly it did nothing (Dad don’t read this) to slow my teenaged libido.

I did learn you need a lot of patience and planning to raise your children right. But what I didn’t learn was how much guilt I would take on once they are born.

I feel guilty for everything that happens under my roof. Let me list a few items off the top of my head
·       Divorce
·       No milk in the fridge
·       Forgetting they were serving meatloaf in the cafeteria and not packing a lunch
·       My son’s favorite shirt is not clean and he couldn’t wear it to school     
·       Dog chewed up a favorite toy
·       Dog threw up in daughter’s room
·       Son used daughter’s toothbrush to clean the dog’s throw-up breath
·       No money to buy (insert favorite toy/video game here)
·       Mommy has a new boyfriend
·       Daddy never calls
·       Divorce
This is actually a short list—most days the list can go on forever. Why? Because I feel guilty about everything. Let me rephrase that—I used to feel guilty for everything. I’m really working on the whole guilt thing and I can tell that I am getting better.

Can your app do that?

I realized something very important this morning while I was sitting in family counseling with my daughter, who is very mad at me right now for having a new boyfriend at the same time she is stuck in a wheelchair from her recent foot surgery and her dad hasn’t called her in over a month.

I realized that my life needs to more about me and less about making everyone else feel good about themselves. I realized that I am a good mom and I make good decisions. I realized that God put this very special man in my life to give me some of that happiness that I have so desired over the past years.

Yes, I hate to see my daughter so sad. But I know that her happiness depends on my happiness—not the other way around. I am the mother. I am the adult in this relationship. I am the one who needs to shed the guilt and lift her up when she is down. But I can’t do this if I am not happy.

A sack of flour never made me this tired...
I guess there are things about motherhood that no one can teach you with a sack of flour or a cell phone—you have to figure these things out for yourself.  But, if Apple could make an app to alert me when my guilt levels are getting too high and unnecessary then I would download it, back it up on my hard drive, worship it, and share it with all my friends.