Keep On Keeping On

Quote:  All four kids in school — what are you going to do with ALL THAT TIME?  (asked by like a gazillion people during the last week and a half)

Um.  Three days of pre-school is not really a lot of time.  Well, it is, but your baby didn’t sleep through the night once and suddenly you weren’t tired anymore.  A couple of days do not undo a year’s worth of waking up in the middle of the night.  Know what I mean?

Besides, I’ve got to GET those kids to school.  Let me show you what I’m dealing with here:

Grumpsters Diana and Chance got on the bus on Monday.  In the afternoon they ate my just-baked chocolate chip cookies grudgingly and answered every question with a ‘whatever’ and a ‘leave me alone.’
Tuesday the twins had their first day.  Sylvia got ready and then Evelyn came down wearing a dress.  I reminded her that she had to wear a pair of shorts underneath so nobody could see her panties.  Big fight.  Tears, even.  She goes up to change.  I’m grabbing lunch bags and making sure blankets and tier B lovies are packed.  (Tier A lovies Racoonie and Patches do NOT leave our house under any circumstances except sleepovers).  She comes down in the leotard and crown you see above. 
      I say “It’ll take too long to get that off if you have to go potty.”  She runs and hides under the dining room table.

 The bus took away the older two.  Sylvia is in and out of the back door and I think she has the keys.  “Fine.  I’m taking Sylvia.  I’ll be back,”  I say. 
She finally gives in.  We make it to school right before circle time.  I look through the pack of papers waiting for me in their cubby.  Then, in disbelief, I look around the room.  My kids are the only ones dressed.  It’s school-wide pajama day.  REALLY???  Of course my girls noticed immediately.

 I try to forget about it all during my yoga class; instead, I focus on the cracking and popping my body is doing as a reminder that it’s been way too long.

At home it’s time to break out the list of things I SHOULD HAVE done a long time ago, but didn’t.  Like fight through this insurance thing with the chemo. 
             Victory — It’s done.  After five weeks of denying the claim, insurance is paying for Evelyn’s chemo and it was delivered this morning.  Getting it into her….sigh.  That’s a fight for Monday night.  At least she takes the daily dose with no problem.
             Victory — a note that my story “Hand-Holding” has been accepted for publication by Third Wednesday.  Small check and copy forthcoming.  This was HUGE for me.
             Half-Victory — Last part arrived for audio studio.  Waiting for call back from teacher to install it. (Has he given up on me?)
             Half-Victory — Am going to AWP conference in Boston in March with writer friends.  Anyone else out there planning to go?  Here’s the link:
Pre-conference lunch is scheduled for October so we can all check in with each other.  It’s only a half-victory because the registration and hotel arrangements are still pending.
         Half-Victory — worked more on my shark story.  I wrote the first draft years ago.  I submitted it to my dream publication yesterday.  It’s been turned down twice by BIG speculative fiction outlets — the ones so big that you get your rejection notice before you’ve finished hitting the submit button.  No, that’s silly.  It takes about four days to be rejected by those guys  🙂  But I really like Abyss and Apex and it would mean A LOT to me if the story was placed there.  We’ll see.  It’s been almost twenty-four hours and no rejection yet.  Their site says three months to reply.

     I picked up our co-op share.  We’ll be having fresh lima beans tonight if I can figure out how to cook the little suckers.  Paid for school lunches on cafe prepay for Diana and Chance.  I really am going to try not to get those paper sent home to me this year.  This morning the twins and I watched Alice in Wonderland — the old animated version — and I made their decaf iced coffees in their sippy cups.  My son has been asking me to buy him a Bible so maybe we’ll go to a bookstore before his soccer practice tonight.  Trying to think of ideas for Mike’s birthday.  Basically, we’re just keeping on keeping on. 

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!!! 



Depths of Despair


But I am saying God will absolutely allow suffering, pain, and crisis in order to detach hope from other things and attach it to himself. He will use the suffering of Plan B to strengthen our faith. That is, if we will let him. If we will trust him and let him work. You’ve got to stop looking at your shattered dreams and your unmet expectations as something God is doing to you. He’s not doing something to you. But he might be doing something through you. He might be doing something in you.  (Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up The Way You Thought He Would)

On the way back from the beach the kids were watching a Barbie movie.  I could hear it, but not watch it from the front seat, but there’s this part where the two mermaids must swim to the Depths of Despair during their quest.  That phrase stuck with me this week. 

Monday was all day at Hopkins with Evie.  The day after I always struggle with depression and we just try to get through Steroid Week.  Tuesday was worse than usual.  All of my projects came to a screeching halt. 

My mind was so scattered that I had to think through everything.  I couldn’t stop crying while I was putting away the dishes.  I wondered if I would need to wash them again.  Evelyn wanted shrimp for breakfast.  Put the water on for tea.  Stand here until it boils.  The kids are shouting.  How long have they been shouting?  So many things I should be doing, but I’m just standing here. Oh, I’m waiting for the water to boil. It is boiling.  It is boiling over.  I should turn it off.  Ouch.  I’m being burned.  Where are the shrimp?  Still in the freezer.  Now Evelyn is crying.  She wants mozzerella cheese sticks too.

Project 1 — Cancer fighting.  I’ve been bugging the doctors for the end date of chemo ever since we passed the two-year mark.  There was a rumor that it would be late in October.  That meant her immune system would be strong for preschool in winter.  The older kids could get flumist instead of shots, we’d be finished soon.  On Monday we got the date:  December 9th.  It’s not that much longer, but it is.

Project 2 — I have two short stories I sent to my critique group.  One came back with ‘getting there, but needs a little more work.’  Which I knew, so I was happy.  The other  I thought was ready.  Finished.  Three critiques.  One: thumbs-up.  One: good, except the ending is unearned.  One: she felt ‘confused’ and ‘irritated’ and overall it ‘didn’t add up.’  In confirmation of the third opionion, I had a rejection e-mail sitting in my inbox from the publication to which I’d submitted. 

Project 3 — Voiceover Acting.  I’d ordered all the parts for my home-based studio.  Now the equipment needed to be put together.  This is really my idea of hell.  I’m not good at this, I don’t want to do it, there is nothing enjoyable about this process for me.  But, to get to the acting, I have to have a studio.  Here’s a picture of the boxes.


So, Tuesday was just a survivor-day.  A hold-on day.  A cry until your eyes hurt so bad that when you look at the computer you can’t read and then you think you are going blind because your Lasik surgery is ten years old and wearing off and you’re going to need bifocals or reading glasses and it’s just not fair, but makes sense with the kind of day you are having.

Wednesday was a little better.  I got my hair blown out, which helps.  That evening I tackled the studio-building.  My teacher called and was very patient.  He did tell me, at one point, “This is like Sesame Street for Sherri.  If one cord goes into an output then it has to attach to an input.”  Okay.  And then I couldn’t keep the mixer and maximizer and the multi-gate expander straight and the plugs weren’t working.  But, I kind of had that set up and it’s time to check the software I installed on my computer, but of course that won’t run because it’s missing a link because I have Windows 7 and so we’re trying to download a patch.
I was sweating so much during the 90-minute phone conversation that I had to go turn the air conditioner on and wipe off the phone.   It was nuts.  We got the software figured out, but it turns out that my laptop doesn’t have an audio input.  (FYI — the inputs with a picture of a microphone and headphones are NOT audio inputs.  Sesame Street for Sherri).  Mr. McKibben is SOOOO kind.  I have to go buy a Sound Blaster Card External and then we’ll finish the last 1/3 of the installation. 

I don’t know that I can even count that as a step forward.  A shuffle, maybe?  It just feels so hard.  And I wonder how God can give a person a dream and then just leave them.  So I prayed and I told him my feelings were hurt and I felt really angry and alone.  And I waited.  And then I said, I know you’re not a genie.  I just don’t know what I’m doing here.   Not just the plugs, any of it.  And then I said thank you for the miracle with my daughter.  Because, of course, that’s the most important.  And thank you for my house and my husband.  And then I said Amen. ‘Cause I didn’t know what else to say.

Mr. Potato Head

Quote: “I consider conversations with people to be mind exercises, but I don’t want to pull a muscle, so I stretch a lot. That’s why I’m constantly either rolling my eyes or yawning.”
Jarod Kintz, It Occurred to Me

During the heat wave a couple of weeks ago, Mike and I took the kids down to Port Discovery in Baltimore.  We had a great time at the museum and we spent the whole day in the air conditioning.  Best part was the kids didn’t fight at all and that is RARE in my house.  In fact, the only one who got in a fight was me…over a Mr. Potato Head.

 Chance and my husband went to the ground floor to play soccer and I took the three girls up to the third floor where there was a special exhibit. HUGE bin of accessories and mounted potato bodies around the outside of the bin. The girls immediately became engrossed in the game.  Other parents came by with their kids for a few moments and then wandered off to another section of the museum, but my kids kept going so I went over to a bench a few feet away.
I did some people-watching, but mostly just enjoyed sitting there watching my kids getting along.  Eventually Sylvia walks away from the table to get my hand and lead me to her creation.  But there is a problem.
She tips her head and then looks over at her neighbor’s creation.  THERE ARE THE LIPS FROM HER POTATO HEAD.  Sylvia reaches over, takes the lips, pushes them into place, nods her head and says, “Here’s the Potato-man I made, Mommy.”
     “That’s great, sweetie.  I really like it.”
Sylvia goes back to creating.
Now, it’s been a couple of weeks so I don’t remember the exact words, but this is pretty close.

Father-Dude:  That’s really great.
Me:       I’m sorry, what?
Father-Dude:  Your little girl just took a toy right off my daughter’s and you didn’t do anything.
                      I look at the cute little girl, smaller than Sylvia, and then at Sylvia.  Both are playing.  Neither is upset.  Neither is complaining.
Me:  It was on her Head first.  Your daughter took it off of my daughter’s.
Father-Dude: Well, she shouldn’t have left the table.
Me:  She left the table to come get me, to show me what she made!
Father-Dude:  Maybe you should have been right here with her.
Me:  The bench is five feet away!  It’s my height if I were laying down.  And she was playing nicely.
                    I wanted to say that I wasn’t a helicoptor parent, but I couldn’t think of the word.  So I rolled my eyes.
Father-Dude: No wonder children are rude.  They learn it from their parents.
Me:  (more eye-rolling)  Whatever.

So I cross my arms over my chest and stand there, helicoptoring, while my girls play. I do a Junie B. Jones huffy-breath a couple of times.  He leans forward to ask his daughter if she needs help.  She doesn’t.  Then Diana asks if I’ll come to her side of the table to look at her Potato-Man.
  I look at the Father-Dude.  “No,” I say in a snotty voice.  “I’m scared to move from here.”
Father-Dude sets his jaw.

Well, now I feel bad.  I’d like to apologize to Father-Dude.  Just because we disagreed didn’t give me the right to do all the theatrics and eyeball rolling.  I stated my case — my daughter didn’t “leave” the table and thus didn’t “give up” her right to the toy.  He was concerned that his child was being robbed.  I get it.
And, I also finally heard what my husband said about how we don’t have to always agree, we just have to communicate.  Dude and I were squabbling about our kids —- the ones who were ignoring the silly adults and getting down to the serious business of play.