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The Question I’ve Avoided For 14 Years.. September 24, 2013

me and kam

Until tonight.

“Mom, why did you and dad get a divorce?”

Honestly, I’ve prepared myself for this moment for the last three or four years. I’ve gone through the situation in my head over and over again until it was completely exhausting. I’ve read books, watched so many Dr. Phil shows it’s almost embarrassing, but nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for tonight when my son asked me that question.

We were just sitting around the dining room table finishing up dinner and doing social studies notes when he looked at me straight in the face and asked “why did you and dad get a divorce?”kam glasses

I sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity, it was probably only a couple of seconds, but it felt like the last fourteen years of my life has suddenly passed before my eyes. I looked across the table at Mr. D who looked as surprised as I was, anxiously waiting for me to answer. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I got my son into counseling about two months ago. He was having some anxiety about being in the eighth grade, high school, puberty, girls, friends, stress – I’m happy I found him someone to talk to, but I wasn’t expecting my usual non confrontational son to ask me about the end of our “happy” family at 7:30 on a Monday night.

The truth is, I should have seen this coming. He was questioning his dad (I use ‘dad’ very loosely) about why he didn’t get any one on one time with him. Why he wasn’t as important as his other kids. Why his “first son” wasn’t as important to him as his other children. I mean I gotta tell you, I’ve always encouraged some kid of relationship with his dad, no matter what it was, but his dad is a poor excuse for a dad. He’s an embarrassment if you want to really know the truth. If you don’t know me, I’m kind of a loud mouth, but I have made the exception with my son’s father, no matter what he says. I’ve watched enough Dr. Phil to know that children learn what they live, and saying something detrimental about his father would someday come back to bite me in the ass. He would resent me, it’s just a fact. I’ve kept my mouth shut, bitten my tongue more times than you can imagine, and it all comes down to that question.

I sat there and looked at my son waiting for him to look away, but this time he wasn’t looking away. He wanted answers, and I suppose it was high time I gave him the best answers I could. So I did.

kambo

I told him that his dad and I were married and that we were both very mean to each other. I told him that when I found out that I was pregnant with him, his dad and I were very excited and optimistic about the future. I told him that when he was born it was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me or his dad. I told him that when he was about a year old his dad and I started having problems, grown up problems, that didn’t have anything to do with him (even though I know kids have an amazing way to feel like everything is their fault.) I told him that we tried the best we could, but in the end, his dad and I decided that being together wasn’t the best thing for him. I did tell him that his dad and I did not do everything we could do to save our marriage. If I told him that we did it would be a lie, he was looking for answers, not lollipops and rainbows. I asked if he ever remembered his dad and I being together, he said no. Which I think is a blessing. I’ll admit I made mistakes, but I honestly gave my best effort the last time with his dad. In the end, he decided other things were more important, which reflects how he is today, and the relationship he has with his son.

The best part of this story is that my son has my husband Mr. D. He’s everything any kid would want in a father. He’s loving, appreciative, patient, kind, funny, responsive, active, I could go on and on, but I don’t want to inflate his ego…

Being in this position is terrible. It’s just a bad situation. The worst part is that I don’t have any answers for my son except for the answers I gave him tonight. I don’t know if that is the end of the questions, I doubt it. At least my answers now (I hope) ensures that he won’t hate me later. Maybe those answers he’s looking for he will figure out for himself, if he hasn’t already.

I know I’ve done my absolute best, I know it. I’m good with that.

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Want A New Floor For $75 Bucks? August 25, 2013

I hate the floors in my house. I mean look at this mess in our master bath.

1       2  Ugly right? I mean I’ve lived in this house with Mr. D for 6 years. I’ve painted, changed the décor as much as I could or afford, but nothing could be done about these floors. There was always some bill or something more important than spending $500 to replace the floor in the bathroom or any other room in the house for that matter.

Then I remembered brown paper bag floors. As much as I can’t stand my ex-mother-in-law I remembered a floor treatment that she did in a bathroom at a house she lived in. It was beautiful, and inexpensive. So I Googled brown paper bag floors and poof there they were. I read a blog post (I’m ashamed that I don’t have the url for it – but I do have the text to the post if you’re interested – or you could just keep reading here.) A woman that hated her floors and didn’t have the chunk of change to throw down to replace them with something fabulous, so she did this brown paper bag treatment. Easy and not expensive – right in my wheelhouse.

I’ll cut to the chase, here’s what you need:

1 roll of “builders paper” or brown shipping paper

1 gallon of Glue All

1 bucket

1 package of latex gloves (trust me – you want these)

1 gallon of polyurethane

1 measuring cup

1 paint stick (to stir the glue and water)

Patience and Ibuprofen

OK – let’s get started!!

The first thing you have to do is tear the brown paper and crumple it up into wads. Like this:  8

My suggestion – keep the straight edges separate from the other filler paper you’ll put in the middle of the floor. You’ll want to start with the edges up against the wall and work your way out – it’s a lot easier if you separate the paper (thank you OCD.)

Next, get your glue and water mixture together. Ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 cup of glue. Mix it together with your stir stick.

Now you need your latex gloves and ibuprofen.

Take the crumpled paper and submerge it into the mixture. You want to make sure that the paper is completely submerged in the mixture. Take the paper out and squeeze it like a sponge, you want the paper wet, but not sopping wet, and lay it down on your floor. That’s it – keep going… My suggestion is to tear even the pieces you’ve already torn when they’re wet, it gives depth and layers.

During pic:       3      4

Keep going until you’re done.

This is our finished product without poly on it.

5    6    7 You can also stain the paper if you want a darker finish, but I’m happy with the color!

So we can’t use this bathroom until the floor is dry. Then we’ll put the poly on it with a large paint brush. The suggestion is about 10 coats to make sure it seals properly. The plan is to poly once in the morning before work and once before going to bed.

This floor is extremely durable and the only clean up is a damp mop, which is fantastic!

You can do this treatment on any floor. You can pull up carpet and do this, I just might, by the way.

 

It’s Wicked August 22, 2013

Tonight I was chatting with my best friend Brandy that is celebrating her 18th wedding anniversary this year to her husband Lonnie. I introduced them by the way… I should get some kind of best friend credit for that.

Anyway, while we were chatting she mentioned that “Wicked” was coming to town and tickets will go on sale in September.

August and September are sketchy months for me because of my Dad. I’m over the top emotional, I take everything personally. I smile, and hide my emotions. Honestly, I just do the best I can, for everyone I can, until after September 15th.

Anyway, this was not supposed to be a “feel sorry for Stephanie moment” because there are times I can laugh about my Dad. I can remember things about him and appreciate the times that we had, and the times that were especially funny. Which brings me back to Wicked.

You see Johnno was never a “let’s go to dinner and see a show” kind of guy. He was always “there’s a football game on, and where is my damn beer and onion dip” kind of guy. So when my mother started buying tickets to Broadway shows like Wicked, well, my Dad was less than enthused.

There are many moments with my Dad that I won’t forget, and this is one of them. (If you never met my Dad you could never really appreciate this, but you could see the humor in it.)

Wicked was at the Murat, we (Dad, Mom, Mr. D, and I went.) The conversation after the performance went like this….

Mom:  Wow, what a great show!

Me:  It really was great.

Mr. D:  It was awesome!

Johnno: Yeah…

Mom: (Asking everyone) Did you cry at the end?

Me: Yes!

Johnno: I cried too..

Mom: Really? You did? (more interested in my Dad’s response than anyone else.)  (Sounding hopeful..)

Johnno: Yeah, I cried…. I was just so happy it was finally over.

Mr. D said tonight that was one of his favorite memories of my Dad.. “Johnny Carson couldn’t have written a better script, that was one of Johnno’s all time greatest lines.”

That’s a memory that still makes me laugh.

 

“Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” August 7, 2013

At least that’s what Muhammad Ali said….

How about stung by a wasp, and by the way, your momma is gonna collapse tomorrow?

That’s how I feel.

Sunday may have been the most scared I’ve ever been in a long time. Kam was out mowing the backyard and he got stung by a wasp on his ankle. When he came in he was scared, and obviously hurt, but nothing that he couldn’t recover from. As I was looking at the sting to see if there was still a stinger in his leg he started screaming and ran away from me. What I didn’t know, and found out seconds later, was that the wasp that stung his ankle crept into his shirt and continued to sting him. He became very frightened, which made me extremely frightened. He ran into his room screaming, Mr. D and I literally had to hold him down while he was twisting, screaming, and crying to pull his shirt off and kill that damn wasp.

That wasn’t the worst of it.

It hurts me, I mean it physically hurts me to be this honest. I just can’t lie, it’s just not part of my DNA anymore.

My son is damaged, and after this, there has to be something done. I’ll spare you the intimate details because he’s my son, I love him, and I would never ever do anything to hurt him. He’s hurting and I have to help him, and I’m the “CAN DO” person to the absolute extreme. I will do anything and everything to make absolutely sure that my son has the best life. It’s not negotiable.

I spent two and a half hours on Monday calling counselors. He didn’t want a female counselor, he wanted a male counselor. (By the way if you’re in college and thinking about a counseling career and you’re a upstanding male, that truly cares about children, I would highly recommend it, because you guys are in demand – big time.) The last call I made was to an out of network counselor that was accepting new people. I think the lady that I spoke to had pity on me (because after two and a half hours I was in tears) scheduled an appointment for my son because I basically begged her. I told my son that I had an appointment scheduled for him and he seemed happy about that, I was in turmoil. Questioning every move I’ve made for the last fourteen years.

“You’re only as happy as your saddest child” is what Dr. Phil says. I’ll be damned if that isn’t the truth.

I just have to believe that I’m doing the best thing for my son. I have to pray that the people around me will understand, and know that I have everyone’s best interest at heart.

But my son comes first.

 

Flakes, Impossible To Duplicate July 25, 2013

basementAnd why would you? I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to my best friend of 33 years, Brandy. (Disclaimer – yes, she still admits to knowing me and being my friend.)

I know I met Brandy when I was about seven, but I don’t remember much of it. I just remember that if I wanted to get out of my house and go somewhere else she was about nine or ten houses away, and I was almost always welcome. We grew up together. We went through everything together, from the first time I kissed a boy, to hanging out in a camper when it was well over 100 degrees (just to avoid our parents), a leaky basement that became my home when my youngest sister was born, Maid of Honor in my first wedding (that didn’t last a year), her family moving to Louisville (I felt like I lost her), later looking her up and finding out that she was literally five minutes away from where I lived. We’ve always been together, she has never left my mind or my side when it really counted. There is no one else that I could ever say that about.

That’s why she’s my best friend.

She’s also married to a great guy (that I introduced her to – by the way.) I suppose my only regret about our relationship is that I wasn’t invited to her wedding. It was a complicated situation, and I understand why things happened the way they did. I wish it could have been different, I would have really liked to have been there. It was the best outcome of an impossible situation, she’s happy, that’s all that matters. That’s all that has ever mattered to me.

Brandy is a person that I’m proud to call my best friend. I mean, come on, I’m kind of a jerk. I’ve been less than worthy of this friendship many times, Brandy has stuck with me, that means a lot more than I could ever express to her.

So I think I should thank Brandy in a “proper” way. So here goes 33ish years of dirt that I won’t explain, but Brandy knows what I’m talking about.

1. Fly swatters are a multi-purpose item
2. Ramen is good
3. Being the oldest isn’t always the best, but it prepares you for life
4. Plaid shirt are never really in style at our age
5. You can light a cigarette off of a space heater
6. You can watch a movie over a thousand times and it never gets old
7. Distance doesn’t matter
8. Popping zits can be fun
9. Spray paint is good for the soul
10. Licking the stuff off of Cool Ranch Doritoes isn’t weird
11. Bible papers don’t make good joints
12. Purple Passion
13. You can dress up any dress
14. Best friends will only tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter if you want to hear it
15. We’re only a text away
16. We’re not perfect, and we never really planned on it
17. You were the only person my mother ever believed
18. Skateboarders make horrible boyfriends
19. You can light a wall on fire with Aqua Net and a lighter
20. You can loose people too soon
21. You can forget what’s important, but remember before it’s too late
22. We’re parents??
23. You can get lost coming home from a concert
24. Fuzzy navels aren’t as spectacular as they sound
25. ET phone home
26. Restaurants aren’t the optimal place to grow up
27. When someone tells you “it’s a bad idea” you should probably listen
28. Sump pumps in Broad Ripple suck ass
29. Your braces made you more awesome
30. When I hug you I don’t want to let go
31. You believed in me when no one else ever did
32. You’re a great person/friend/mother
33. Let’s hang on for another 30 years or so, we’ll be crazy as shit, our kids
will make fun of us and we won’t care. That’s pretty awesome.

Thank you so much for being my best friend, I love you very much!

 

What I Wish I Didn’t Wear June 17, 2013

necklace sA necklace.

If you work with me or know me you might have noticed I wear a silver necklace. It’s a longer necklace so the charm on it isn’t obvious unless I pull it out or it makes its way out of my shirt. What hangs from that necklace means more to me than most things do. It can’t be replaced. It’s my Dad’s thumbprint.

It’s hard to believe that my Dad has been gone for four years in September.

People leave memories with us that will last for the rest of our lives. Some of the memories my Dad and I shared were the best times of my life. Teaching me about football, and watching me learn to love it. Kameron being born, and what a great Pop he was.  Mr. D and I getting married, knowing that the third time really was the charm.  Going to Lambeau Field together, our first trip together! Watching the Packers play in Indianapolis, tailgating with those silly Indianapolis fans.  Sunday football, coming over to my house every Sunday to watch the Packers play. Catching my first fish.  Teaching me how to jump a car. The difference between a flat head and a phillips head screwdriver. How to check a breaker and change a fuse. How to buy a car. How to make home made french fries. That Mikesell’s Rippled Potato Chips work best with Dean’s French Onion Dip. And the way to his heart was through my deviled eggs. Those are just a few of the millions of things that he taught me.

The selfish part of me missed my Dad, even though I know he’s in a better place.

The worst part about it for me now is that I know he would be so proud of me (not that he wasn’t before.)  He would be so ridiculously proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. It really has been awesome, and I thank sincerely the people that have (REALLY) supported me (Firebelly Team – Duncan Alney)  -my gratitude and your belief in me is immeasurable. I sincerely from the bottom of my heart thank you. I’m so happy!

Without my Dad there is a space in my heart that can’t be replaced. I don’t get to tell him about the awesome day I’ve had. I don’t have that smile, or pat on my shoulder anymore, he was the one person who always believed in me, no matter what the circumstances.

Things aren’t the same without you Dad, I love you and miss you so much.

I’m kicking ass Johnno, I hope you know.

 

Dogs and Spirits April 22, 2013

Johnno at Lambeau

Johnno at Lambeau

While I was dishing about my Food Network addiction earlier on Twitter something else happened. Some of you might find this a bit bizarre and that’s ok. By now I’m use to the questions or comments I get sometimes after I spill my guts all over the social media world. Don’t mind me while I spill, again.

I’ve heard more than several times in my life that dogs can see spirits, or ghosts, whatever you care to call it. I don’t like the word ghost, especially after my dad passed away. I’m sorry, I just don’t see Johnno floating around in some Casper-like state. Whenever I think of him I always think of him in jeans and a Packers or green golf shirt. That was standard issue Johnno garb. Another thing I don’t see my Dad in is wings. I can just picture my Dad entering the gates of heaven and giving a big “Hell No” to St. Peter as he tries to give my Dad wings. Wings the group he liked, the feathery things, not so much.

I believe in an after life. I believe when our time comes that we will see the loved ones that we have lost in our lifetime. I have to believe that, I have to believe that A LOT. I also believe that every once in a while spirits like to have a little fun with those of us here on earth. Us and our pets.

I have a leather couch it seats three comfortably. When my Dad was over watching a Packers game everyone had their “assigned” seats. They weren’t really assigned, but you would have thought they were if you came over to my house every Sunday. I sat in the middle, my Dad to my left, and Mr. D to my right. I still sit in the middle, and Mr. D still sits on the right. We don’t do it on purpose, we’ve just did it that way for a number of years, I guess it’s a tradition. My dog Shayla takes up Johnno’s now empty spot. It’s where she crashes out for 18 hours a day. Seriously, I think my dog is part cat.

Anyway while I was confessing my Food Network addiction on twitter Shayla was nuzzled up right next to me, which is weird. She really only does that with Mr. D or Kameron, Sam when she’s home. I really hadn’t noticed she was there until her tail started the happy thump. Then she looked up in the air and started licking the air, like someone had put their hand in the air in front of her and she started to go to town on it. I sat and watched her thinking she had lost her mind, but she kept at it, for like two minutes. I said “Shayla what are you doing” she stopped to look at me but went right back to it. I thought of my Dad, he would always pet Sha-na-na (as he called her) when he sat down and she would lick his hand. I decided to put my hand above her to see if she would lick it, nope. When I took my hand away the tail thumping and air licking continued. I closed my eyes and placed my hand on the left seat of my couch, expecting it to be cool to the touch. It was warm, like someone had been sitting there. Then Shayla stopped her licking and put her head down.

I think my Dad can sense when I need him around. Sometimes it’s an unexpected penny. Sometimes the lights go off. Sometimes he plays with my dog. Whenever those things, and other things happen I smile because I know he’s with me. Someday we’ll be together again.