For my uber stellar little Men

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You’re 17 and (almost) 15 now. And maybe this is an uber mom thing to do, but I’m going to give you some life advice. You can take it or leave it and I know it will mostly not make sense until you look back on it. I was a teen too once, like, forever ago; like 16 years ago. Lol. Okay so maybe this won’t be your traditional mom advice. I was after all the same age as Levi is now when I got pregnant and I learned a lot of things the hard way.

You are both very talented.

Devon, your drawing has improved by leaps and bounds just in the last year. I love seeing everything you come up with and the weird little drawings you sometimes make (like the box llama). I know you love playing your trombone too and I’m very proud of how well you do in band. You are very intuitive and your love of science and astronomy benefits from that. Your inquisitive mind has always amazed me. You think up the most random questions then we all have a deep and/or silly conversation about the answers.

Levi, seeing you come up with your own programs now that you’re learning about video game creation and coding has been amazing. You take what you’ve learned then extrapolate it out into something so much more complicated. The fact that you don’t take yourself too seriously is also a rare quality. You know when it’s okay to laugh about yourself. You have a steady personality that doesn’t fly off the handle about little things.

So boys: you are smart, you are capable and I totally know you could figure these things out on your own, but I’m hoping to keep you from learning a few things the hard way. ūüôā

Don’t worry about what kids at school say too much. It’s easy to get caught up in the gossip and drama of high school but in 10 years those people won’t be part of your every day life and you’ll find yourself wondering at times why you placed so much weight on their opinion (especially the girl/guy who thought they were so badass but now their life is a mess, probably because they didn’t listen to advice like this.) ūüėÄ

Speak your mind, but never with malice. Stand up for your beliefs and morals. People may not like what you have to say and that’s fine. You may not like what they have to say.

Be a feminist. We had this talk a few nights ago and I was uber proud of how much you both know already.

Always repay your debts. Especially if it’s to a friend/family member. You have no idea how much this says about your character. And while we’re talking about loans…

Never lend someone more money than you can afford. If you’ll be alright financially if it never gets repaid then go ahead, but treat every loan as if you will never see that money again and it will save you so so so many problems.

Don’t take people for granted. Some day they won’t be there and you won’t get the chance to have that long conversation with them or have another adventure together. Always appreciate the now.

Don’t judge people you don’t know too harshly. Yes they may be a complete piece of shit, but wait until you know them better to form that opinion.

Don’t let other people dictate who you are. I very much believe you are both your own weird selves but it’s easy to lose yourself when you¬†enter into a relationship or new friendship.

Don’t ever think that no one will understand what you’re going through. There are 6 billion people on this planet and chances are someone has had a similar experience. Besides the billions of strangers, you have family and friends who would gladly try to understand.

Travel. This will open your mind to many more things than if you stayed in one place your whole life. You will learn things you can’t get out of a textbook or online article. There’s plenty of time to save money and be an old fuddy duddy later.

Never give up your hobbies. No, you might not land your dream job. You might have to work in a stuffy office to make the bills, but when you get downtime do what you love.

Your heart will get broken but don’t let it break you. You are amazing people and you don’t need a significant other to make yourself worthwhile. If you have one, stellar. If not, stellar. There are so many more things to do in life so don’t focus too much on this one.

Take pictures.

Step on those crunchy fall leaves.

Listen to the silence on a winter morning after a fresh snowfall.

Buy that one really odd souvenir.

Don’t wait for other people if you want to have an adventure.

Dye your hair whatever color you want.

Wear the Brony shirt.

Never take crap from people who don’t matter.

 

 

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My accomplishments, also: Spam

My therapist,  in an effort to get me to refocus, told me I should write about my accomplishments.  Something about giving me a better perspective on life or some such.  I told her just getting myself to therapy was an accomplishment. She did not accept that answer.  So here I am. 
I suppose what pushed me to write this tonight (after I’ve taken my ambien, so I apologize if this gets weird.¬† No wait.¬† I don’t apologize. If it gets weird just go with it,¬† okay?)¬† is the fact that I just tried Spam.¬† No that’s not really an accomplishment in and of itself.¬† However the realization of the fact that spam is just a flat square hotdog is pretty life changing.¬† Now,¬† I can’t prove that is the same as a hotdog because spam,¬† at least the spam I bought, did not have an ingredients list.¬† As disgusting as hotdogs can be (they are made out of mechanically separated leftovers!) they still put the ingredients on the packages.¬† Since spam cannot be bothered to tell me what, in fact,  it is made of so I have no other choice but to conclude that spam is made of spam. 
Now,  if we’re being completely correct here and spam is the smallest component in spam wouldn’t that make it an element on the Periodic Table?  Are there spam molecules? By this logic the answer is yes. Could I draw organic chemistry reactions with it? How many valance electrons does it have? Is it radioactive? If so what is the half-life of spam? (Okay,  probably not radioactive because FDA, but given its reputation you can’t blame me for asking.)

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The answer is always resonance.

ALL of these questions flew through my mind in the few minutes it took me to eat most of one slice. (Emmex was bugging me so I gave him a few very small pieces but he was not impressed.)
It wasn’t bad,  but I don’t think I’d ever crave it. 
But this leads me into chemistry and that degree was an accomplishment. It took 6 years while juggling two toddlers,  a part-time job and teaching Sunday School to small people. I remember getting about 3/4 of the way through every semester then having a mental breakdown.  15 credits sucks when you have to come home and potty train, or make dinner,  or clean up the five pounds of flour one kid threw all over his brother. <- That one I can laugh about now. 
I finally graduated in '08 with my B.S. in Chemistry.  I was certainly not the highest achiever but I made it.  And I can hold that in my hands. 
Another accomplishment I have had,  which is technically still in progress,  is making decent human beings.  Seriously.  You push this tiny thing out of your vagina and the second air hits his or her face you worry about how good of a parent you will be.  You try not to screw them up too badly.  There have been so many times I wanted to just throw my hands up and yell,  "That's it Larissa!  You've ruined the children!"
There was the time just this last year I realized I had shown my kiddos more Dracula and Frankenstein and Zombie movies than Disney.  My youngest,  Devon,  actually pointed it out to me.  He had never seen The Lion King.  A few months later we finally sat down and watched it.  I thought I was being this awesome parent,  finally showing my 14 year old a movie all his friends had hyped up.  At the end he looked at me and said,  "I don't know why everyone said this was the best movie ever." I sighed, lamenting for half a second the fact that my kids have never been the stereotypical Disney kids. They grew up on Hellboy and Star Wars and Sherlock Holmes and Jurassic Park.  Truth be told,  while I enjoy Disney movies,  I'd really rather watch the other.  Our tradition four years running is to watch Zombieland while putting up the Christmas tree.
So far they're pretty awesome little men. They're caring and don't do drugs and get their chores done…eventually.  I'm very proud of the type of people they have become.  So yeah,  that's another accomplishment.
The rest aren't really so much accomplishments as little things I've done that aren't necessarily bad.  Like when I was going through an uber rough time this last fall I decided to do something to try and counteract all the shitty feelings by contacting a volunteer/charity group in Nepal (a country I absolutely love) and sent money to fund schooling etc for children in remote villages.  I received back a short letter and a picture of this sweet little nine year old girl. Really,  nothing will help distract you from your awful feelings better than knowing you helped someone.
I've installed a dishwasher, a thermostat,  refinished crappy thrift store furniture into decent looking pieces with sandpaper and paint,  installed a new light in the dining room,  made jewelry,  taken some seriously kickass photos, crocheted stuff that's useful like hats and sweaters….and at the end of the day I'm not satisfied with what I've done.  I should be doing more,  or doing better or just doing something. 
So okay,  I made a list of accomplishments.  This was actually pretty hard.  I know you've probably read this in just a few minutes but in full disclosure this has actually taken me four days of writing and rewriting and deleting and agonizing over whether or not to include other things.  (Also asking Emmex for advice when I was particularly stuck.  He was not very forthcoming. He did, however,  provide moral support in the form of purrs and snuggling.) So now I'm giving this list to the internet ether.  I may come back to look at it when I need a boost of morale or to remind myself that I still do not know what spam is made of. 

Stein’s Gate, a broken doorknob and Michigan winters

Michigan winters are cold. Pretty damn cold. Today I think the high was 12 and we’ve had about a foot of snow in 24 hours. Granted, this is definitely not the worst winter ever. The west side of the state gets a lot of lake effect snow and last year sucked giant donkey balls. We thought it would never end.

This year however has been unexpectedly mild. Do you have any idea how spoiled a Michigander can get with no snow until after Christmas?! We had glorious 50 degree days in December! It was like I was back in Missouri and we’d have to make sad little snowmen who were covered in leaves that were sticking out every which way because we didn’t have enough snow to make a proper one. Like seriously people. As a kid I wondered how people made these perfect looking snowmen with no leaves when there was barely any snow.

Fast-forward to 11 year old me, ¬†moved to Michigan, and finally realizing that yes Virginia there is a snowy season. We never had much money growing up so it was always plastic grocery bag lined rubber boots for snow shoes and after 11 years of not having to deal with that sort of thing I never quite got the hang of walking in them. My feet would swish around inside the boots because they were a size too big because then I could wear them the next year. Nevermind my feet wouldn’t grow again until 9th grade. (Dudes and dudettes, I’m a size 6.5 and have been since then.) Anyway, I blame those plastic bags for the fact that I am especially ungraceful even when walking on dry level ground.

So back to today. I have locked myself into my house three times. The last time I said screw it and now I’m sitting on my couch re-watching Stein’s Gate (I have a couple friends who would be very happy to learn I’ve embraced a few animes) and drinking generic ginger ale. Generic because I lost my debit card last week, the new one hasn’t arrived yet, I used up all my checks and I could only find enough change to buy 69 cent pop and a can of cheap cat food. (The cat food was for Emmex…not me. I have never eaten cat food. Okay, I tried it once but that was back when I was 13 and we never bought our kitty wet food and I was watching a neighbor’s cat and I was curious to find out if it tasted as good as it smelled. The answer is no. :/ ) I would have fixed my doorknob but once again, it’s twelve degrees outside and I really enjoy having fingers.

So why the heck am I telling you all this? ¬†Honestly I’m not completely sure, but I think it has something to do with not letting the crappy stuff get to you. Sometimes you just need to duct tape the hole in your door, pour yourself a glass of ginger ale, forget the wailing wind outside and watch a good show. Not everything needs to be fixed right away. Procrastination can be a good thing….for a little bit. Especially if you’re getting overwhelmed with a bunch of little things that keep piling up to make you want to tear your hair out.at-at-attack.jpg.jpeg

Seriously, kittens, it’s cold out there.¬†

Shirley and such

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“Here is Shirley in her pants….”

This was in a box of stuff my mom had saved from my childhood.  Look at that.  Look.  At.  That.  That,  my friends,  is nightmare fuel. 
Shirley in her pants has got to be one of the scariest things I found in that box.  (The envelope of hair from my first haircut came in a close second.)
I was a strange child.¬† I remember gluing googly eyes to plastic crayons which used to be hair ties. (Did I mention we were poor?) I was 9 and pretending my plastic crayon people were orphans because I didn’t have larger crayon people to be their parents. My oldest little brother and I also made a game about hotdogs and a chef who was going to cook them to death and a game about made up creatures called Squeakybites (How do I¬† put a trademark pending symbol in this document?) who lived in “eggs” made of our laundry baskets.¬† I’m so glad we were too broke to have a video camera.
I guess the point of me telling you all this is that kids are weird.¬† Kids are so so sooooo weird. But you have to let them have that weirdness.¬† My parents never tried to stifle my odd tendencies and quirks. They may have actually enjoyed them from time to time.¬† And I’ve tried to do the same for my boys.
My kids are weird and crazy and make me laugh.  They have awesome imaginations and great talents. 
Sorry for gushing so much but I think they’re the most stellar people I know.¬† And maybe someday I can give them a box full of nightmare fuel like Shirley in her pants so they know how much I love discovering all their weirdness.¬†

A bear, a cat, the new year and such

I feel like I should say something about the new year. Not necessarily something poignant or life changing. Just something that’s been on my mind.

I’m trying to reclaim my life little by little after an upheaval of two years. Things were not good but I feel like I’m progressing toward something good, something better. I still cannot seem to make my house look perfect or get my laundry all done. I need to rearrange somethings in life and my living room but on the whole it’s better than it was. I won’t spend this post telling you about everything that’s gone wrong because I want to focus on the positive but here’s the nutshell version: People and pets died and others let me down when I needed them most. HOWEVER through all the shittiness I found that life is still good and I CAN still be happy. I don’t think I would have learned that if hard changes hadn’t come my way.

Sometimes we (and by “we” I mean “I”) have to learn lessons the hard way. It sucks giant donkey balls but when it’s over or at least when we’ve gained a little distance it’s clear the lesson will not be easily forgotten.

Have you ever had those moments of complete clarity and everything makes sense for just two seconds? Sort of like when you realize putting your plate down on the counter for half a second wasn’t such a great idea because your asshole cat can smell that a mile away and now he’s running off with your chicken leg and leaving a Hansel and Gretel-ish trail of chicken parts and batting them around the living room floor. I had one of those and I realized that none of it mattered. I was more worried about what other people were doing and thinking about me than what I needed to do. (Mostly, take better care of myself, but other stuff¬†too. Funny how it took 35 years to figure this out.) I had been living life based on other people. What they wanted from me, how I was expected to act, and all the anxiety of trying to stay in this crappy little box I had been put in. The thing was, I thought I was happy in the crappy little box. I thought my life was¬†pretty awesome. Sure, I was having lots of panic attacks and things felt off and I was using certain people as a crutch and not dealing with things properly but I thought things were pretty okay.

Imagine there’s a bear in your room. A giant not so happy bear. (I’m not sure why he’s unhappy, perhaps because Emmex took that chicken leg when he was planning on stealing it from me, but the motivation isn’t really that important. Of course now I’m worried that I’m trivializing a fictional bear’s feelings. Dear Gd.) And your brain is refusing to see it because then you have to figure out what to do with the bear and if you should call animal control or the zoo or if you just need to get a knife from the kitchen and start defending yourself. So you throw a sheet over the bear and pretend it’s not there so no one will look at you funny for having a bear in your room. But then, something happens and the bear starts tearing your room apart. All of the sudden you can’t pretend it’s not there and everyone is like, “Sweet lord why is there a bear here? Do you know you’re crazy for keeping that thing around? You need to deal with this!” And you finally have to do something about it yourself because no one else can do anything about your bear.

I think I finally dealt with my bear. He’s not gone, but for now he’s placated with therapy and meds and a glass of wine now and then.

So! On to 2016! Even though it is just a symbolic and arbitrary definition of a new beginning it feels good to have a whole new year!

No more looking back.

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