Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bri's 2011 List of Trials and Tribulations

Awww, the last day of 2011.  I can't say that I'll miss it.  In all honesty, it wasn't that much of a thriller.  Lately, the years seem to fly by at such velocity that when I look up after dragging the last box of Christmas ornaments away, it's almost time to pull them out again.  I never did get around to putting my winter gear up from last year.  Miraculously the season came around again before I had the chance. 

I think I'm going to attempt a couple of annual blogs, this post being one of them. Tomorrow, if I'm not green around the edges, suffering from sugar shock from my family's traditional New Year's Day breakfast, or a combination of both, I'll post my second of the two.  I'll have to play it by ear.  If you like this one, make a note to check in this same time next year and see what I have to say.  Maybe I should mark my calendar now too.  Geez, if I can only figure out how to use that new electronic scheduler...drat technology!

Trial:  It was determined that our beautiful house that Eric and I purchased in 2006, along with many other houses in our community, were built on "shaky" ground (literally).  The manufacturers came through, dug the foundation out from under us, and placed the whole kit and caboodle on jacks while securing the house to bedrock below.  Where were the Potts' family during this process?  Oh, we lived in the house.  And - let me say - there was nothing quite so unnerving as the hours when the jacks were being removed.  The boys were at school, Eric was at work, and I was in bed, under the covers, cowering.  I remember that, sort of.  Thank goodness for prescription muscle relaxants.

Tribulation:  I've rediscovered an old friend.  Since I was a kiddo I've been a scribbler.  I've kept journals, notebooks, poetry - you name it, I have it.  When I was in school, my aspirations were to become a copy writer for television or radio, perhaps be the voice behind my words.  I went to a broadcasting trade school and interned at CNN Entertainment Studios in Hollywood, California. I even went so far as to obtain an FCC licence.  At the same time, I was going to a small city college and worked as a writer for the campus newspaper.  I've submitted and had commentaries printed in local editorial papers and special editions. 

Somewhere along the road, that dream, that friend, that scribe faded away into the obscurity of office work.  She never finished trade school, dropped her internship, and didn't complete college.  This year, she took a leap of faith and started a blog.  She held her breath and hoped that someone would be interested.  So far, since March, I've had hits from readers from over 26 different countries around the world with my greatest contingency coming from the US, Russia, Malaysia, Germany, Canada, the UK, Denmark, Japan, India, and Singapore.  Thank you, my friends.  Thank you for giving me the courage to continue.

Trial:  Two teenagers with Aspergers.  Need I say more?


TV Mom, June Cleaver from "Leave it to Beaver"
 Tribulation:  I have come to terms with who I am.  I am not perfect.  I don't need to be.  I am not a size 8.  I'll never be.  I am a curvy, sexy lady who knows what turns her on.  I am not June Cleaver.  I love leftover pizza for breakfast and when my boys call me a bitch I say, "And, your point is?".  Despite what most people think, my house is not always clean.  In extreme emergencies, I have been known to blow my nose in the closest thing to me, be it a dirty sock or a crusty, week old tissue.  I'll drink coffee with more cream, sugar, and chocolate in it than actual coffee and then I'll have such terrible shakes that I can't concentrate until I have another cup.  I'll lie only in times of dire need for instance, when trying to solve an issue with the Federal Government or while losing badly at a game of Cribbage.  I'm finally at peace with my addled, bi-polar, silly self. 

Be safe tonight where ever this last eve of 2011 takes you.  I'll be next door, hanging out with some dear friends, and pouting that I can never win at a game of Speed Scrabble.  Perhaps tonight may call for some Rosie Ruiz techniques..??  Ya'll remember that I'm a cheater too, right? 



   

Friday, December 30, 2011

Can bad dates get badder? Is "badder" a word? It should be.

Eric and I don't get too many opportunities as a couple to go out on the town and be goofy.  Normally we have a few limitations such as money and how long we can leave our boys together without one) killing each other, two) burning down the house, or three) remembering that there are two small animals under their care.  The first two concerns are critical, the latter - well, our poor critters are normally fed a healthy meal before we leave.  My husband and I also do our best to make reminder phone calls commenting on the unfortunate consequences that would arise should either mom or dad step in dog poop upon our return.

Today was one of those lovely opportunities.   Eric took a much needed day off from work and we played in downtown Denver.  We roamed LoDo, window shopped, took in a leisurely lunch, reminisced at a local coffee house, walked through art galleries, and got hopelessly lost in a dangerous part of town.  How is it with my GPS navigation that I still manage to get turned around?  Completely typical of me.

I've been on a lot of dates in my time.  At 44 years of age, I look back at some of them and can't believe I agreed to go out with a few of those dudes.  I know I've mentioned "How To" handbooks in the past, but one handbook which is critical before a girl starts dating is: "What Not to Wear" combined with "Whom Not to Date".  I'm thinking part two of this handbook would have saved me so much grief.

First of all, never, ever go out with someone because you feel sorry for him.  This is just a bad idea.  If you feel sorry for him, well duh - THERE'S A REASON!

I agreed to go out with a guy who used to hang out at one of the restaurants I worked at.  He'd sit with a group of strange dudes and out of all of these guys, he was the goofiest.  They begged me, "Bri, he has such a crush on you, just go out with him once."  Really?  What was I thinking?

HONK, HONK!

Oh, lovely.  This guy (and for obvious reasons I can't remember his name), who had such a crush on me, was laying on his horn in my parent's driveway.  Hmm.  Thanks for coming to the door asshole.   Off we went  in a filthy, yellow Ford something or other stuffed to the gills with empty fast food containers and cigarette cartons. "Sorry, I'm late."

"Yeah, ok."  (Whatever.)

He picked me up at 6:00pm.  I don't know.  I was thinking dinner, a movie?  No.  He drove me out in Friday night traffic to Hollywood, California, parked five blocks away from our destination to avoid valet fees, and took me to the Improv Comedy Club.  Ok, the Improv was a fun idea.  Valet's expensive, I get it.  The club served dinner inside.  It was all good.  The waitress came by and asked what we'd like to order.

"Nothing."  (My eyes almost exploded out of my head.)

"I'm sorry sir, but if you're not going to order off the menu, you need to know that there's at least a 2 drink minimum per guest."

"What the fuck is this all about?  Nobody said nothin' to me about this when I bought the tickets.  You can't force me to buy drinks I don't want!"

Oh my God.  At this point all I wanted to do was curl up into a fetal position and hide.  It also occurred to me that he probably didn't have any money.  I had enough cash for the drinks but only the drinks and a tip.  Not enough for dinner.  This date couldn't get any worse, or so I thought.  "I've got it."

"Hey man, are you sure?"

"Yeah.  No problem."  Of course he ordered a couple of expensive beers, I ended up with cokes.

We got through the show with me pushing his hand off my butt only a few times.  Jay Leno was the headliner but I wasn't laughing.  All I could think of was going home and heating up a bowl of leftover spaghetti.  The evening couldn't end fast enough.  Unfortunately, I had one more hurdle to overcome...his filthy, yellow Ford something or other had died.  Kaput. We were stuck in a nasty back alley of Hollywood with no money and a broken down car.  He had no towing service and was at a loss as to what to do.

"Can you get your dad or someone to help you?"

"Are you fucking kidding me?"  Really?  Why would I be?  I don't know anything about you, and please don't start sharing your story now!  MORON!

"Hey, where are you going?"

If I had a gun, and I'm a pacifist mind you, I would have killed him.  "To find a pay phone, to call a taxi, to take my ass home."

"What about my car?"

I'm assuming by the look I gave him, he decided not to continue with his problems. Very meekly he asked, "Can I hitch a ride back with you?"

I owed my dad $85.00 for the cab back to the suburbs.  In the 80's, that was a pretty expensive fare.  I told the dude he could use the phone in the garage and arrange to have one of his friends pick him up at the restaurant where we met.  I would drop him off there - no further.  I didn't want to know where he lived.  And then, to top it all off, he tried to kiss me good-night.  Not a peck, mind you, but a full on wet, open-mouth, nasty tongue-down-the-throat kind of a thing.

Oh no, that was just not going to happen. 

"Are you fucking kidding me?!  I don't think so.  Would you get the Hell out of my car already?  Good night."

I'm so glad I'm not single anymore.  I had a really nice date with my husband today.  Thanks, Eric. 


 







   

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Glossy versus Glazed

 
Glossy, the dogs' ball after fifteen minutes of play time.
Glazed, a wonderfully sinful type of doughnut containing more calories than I care to investigate at this time.




Glossy, my eyes after watching the hospital scene in the movie, Terms of Endearment.
Glazed, my eyes while stuck in traffic with the kids in the backseat.


Scene from movie, "Terms of Endearment"












Glossy, the way my face feels after a lovely spa facial.
Glazed, the way my body feels after a hot day standing in lines at amusement parks surrounded by screaming children and overpriced novelty items.

Glossy, my heart after I make love to my husband.
Glazed, my brain after I eat the apple I smoked the "medicinal" marijuana from.

Glossy, snuggling up during a snow storm to read a good book.
Glazed, listening to anyone discuss banking, fine wine, or old Star Trek episodes.


The cast from the original "Star Trek" TV Series














Glossy, being invited to a great holiday party with dinner and dancing.
Glazed, being invited to a Tupperware Party and then afterwards, being asked to host one.

And finally...the difference between one Peach Vodka Martini and one too many.  Cheers! 





Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If I had a crystal ball, I wouldn't be afraid of finger pricks.

In a little while I'll be leaving for the blood bank.  Donating blood has always been a given for me, in many ways, it's on the same level as voting.  In my opinion, it's my civic duty.  I have plenty to spare, a rare type (O negative), and a belief that there are always people in need of it.

The same can be said for plasma - I suppose - but this is a more difficult and time consuming donation. Because of this, plasma banks actually pay people for coming in.  Unfortunately, donating plasma isn't so much a "gift" but oftentimes a means of support for folks that are down and out on their luck.  How do I know this?  Because I still have plasma scars to show for it.

Everyone hits rock bottom in their lives at least once; a time when they either come out stronger and learn some powerful lessons, or flounder and sink.  I've hit rock bottom.  I'm hoping it will be my only experience and am grateful, of course that I survived it.  I have physical scars yes, but the memories are far more painful.  I think that's how this awful business is supposed to work; if we don't drown in it, we float just above the murky, sad memories and fight like Hell never to go there again.

When Jeff and I dropped that fateful penny on the map of our lives (refer to my prior blog, Drop a penny on a map and you'll find cosmic answers to the universe) and left everyone we knew in California, we had no idea what was ahead of us. Certainly, a crystal ball would have worked out nicely but I'm Catholic and God doesn't believe in dropping those sorts of things in my lap.

Our little Honda Civic broke down during our first Colorado winter.  Prepared only with Southern California clothing and absolutely no savings to repair the car or purchase warm weather gear, we were forced to walk to work in subfreezing temperatures.  We could not afford health insurance.  At the height of our financial crisis, Jeff's appendix ruptured.  He went into septic shock and almost died.  Our apartment, located in a beautiful 1800's Victorian house, was being taken out from under us.  The owner had decided to convert the building into a bed and breakfast.  We, along with the other tenants, were given only 3 weeks to vacate the premises. Our Security Deposit, by lease agreement, would not be returned for at least 2 months.

My parents and friends were always asking how we were doing.  I lied.  I wasn't prepared to share that we were dodging creditors, I was walking through snow drifts in black flats stretched out by three pairs of socks, or that Jeff and I considered Hamburger Helper a feast.  No.  No one needed to know our business.  No one needed to know we were sinking.

When Jeff's appendix ruptured, we couldn't hide any longer.  I had to call his mother and my family.  He was in the hospital and out of work.  Both mothers flew in together and asked that I pick them up at the airport.  Secret's out.  No can do.  No car.  No money.

That night, my mom and I had a conference call with my dad in California.  How many bills did Jeff and I have?  How much money was owed?  How much did we bring in every month?  What dollar amount could we live off of on a weekly basis?  Mom will take me to get my car fixed tomorrow...and so on and so forth.  As a 25 year old, this conversation was devastating.  I had hit rock bottom - or so I thought.  I failed.

Once our mothers left and Jeff was recovering at home, we survived off of a weekly allowance.  My father had taken over our finances and set us on track towards paying off our debt.  It helped but it didn't.  I never asked for a penny more than was sent even when we absolutely needed it.  I remember pawning a camera for a special Thanksgiving dinner.  Our marriage was crumbling.  I was miserable at my job at the local newspaper and literally walked away from it. I had no close, personal friends to rely on.  I started depending on fast food for comfort and Jeff was a chain smoker.  We needed money to support our habits.

Twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, we would drive to the local plasma donation center, sit in the waiting room with other desperate folks, wait for a finger prick blood test, and then spend an hour for either $10 (first donation) or $15 (second donation).  I came to hate those days.  This was the beginning of my anxiety attacks.  Finally,  I couldn't go any longer.  $25 a week was making me sick.

Eventually the money situation became very ugly.  Jeff and I were fighting over where the next pack of cigarettes were coming from or if I had shoved too much food down my gullet.  In fact, our last horrible fight - the one which caused my inner voice to say, "enough" - was over a measily $10.

To this day, as I mentioned before, I still have scars on my arms from the plasma needles.  They're a constant reminder of my past.  Sometimes, when the weather is extremely muggy, small blisters from the needle pricks will haunt my fingertips. This will send my mood plummeting.

"Mrs. Potts, this is American Red Cross calling.  Would you like to donate blood this week?"

"Blood yes, but sorry -- no plasma -- ever again."





Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A love letter returned...



*play this music while reading blog

write, write, write, write...

This song was dedicated to me this morning by my husband and I quote,

"Bri this is how I feel about you through the music of a piano. This song speaks words of love; not limited by speech. This is like the emotion I feel when I am with you.

I love you with all of my heart and all of my soul."

How do I compete with feelings like this? 

Last night I sat for what seemed like hours in a dark, cold car sipping luke-warm coffee from my local coffee house wanting to drive my broken down Ford Taurus through the parking lot, into the middle of traffic, and collide with unsuspecting drivers in front of me.  I played the scene out in my head.  The sounds, the smells, the smoke, the reactions...what stopped me from turning the key forward and pumping the gas?  His face.  The look in his clear blue eyes.  The sadness and desperation that would completely overtake him when he received the phone call. 

As I type my blog and listen to the music, hearing my husband's expression of love for me, I'm overwhelmed and once again, I wonder...why? 

I am nothing more than a broken, confused, and tragically lost soul.  Everyday, when I'm not pumped up on anti-depressants cleaning corners of baseboards with Q-tips or trying to ignore my autistic children accusing me of one maternal crime or another, I find myself wandering from window pane to window pane looking out and beyond.  What's out there?  What have I missed?  Where is it that I'm supposed to be? 

My bed?  Take me to my bed.  Hide me deep beneath heavy, warm blankets where I can't hear anything but my own breathing - where I'm not expected to open my eyes and look beyond the what could ofs or should have beens.

No.  No bed today.  The baseboards will be cleaner than usual and the boys' sarcasm will go unheeded.  Today I will bask in the music of my husband's love.  I will avoid the sad, grease smeared window panes and instead hold steady to the notion that there is a wonderful man who cherishes my awkward, broken mind and finds it beautiful. 

This evening, my husband - my best friend, will walk through the back door, take me by the hand, wrap his arms around me, and remind me once again the whys and what fors I ended up by his side.

I love you, Eric.





Monday, December 26, 2011

The day after...

The day after.  What?  Did something happen yesterday?  Something must have because there are small clues still lingering about the house.  Bits and pieces of wrapping paper that never made it into the trash bag, twist ties from ridiculously packaged autobot toys, half eaten boxes of cherry cordial candies, direction booklets to e-readers, possible but not probable recycled gift bags, boxes, and bows lining my hallway stairs..oh, yes - that's right, it was Christmas.  That would explain why everyone in my house is lounging about in their pajamas and robes at 10:30 in the morning and most likely will continue to do so for the remainder of the afternoon.

I will be moving shortly because I have some errands to run.  No, not to the store.  I am not one of those crazy folks (and, my apologies to those who are) who run to the malls for the after holiday sales.  I have an intense aversion to crowds.  I need to take care of some less harrowing projects; however, the process of getting out of my 4x too big sweat pants, ugly blue t-shirt (sans bra), and my crappy, ratty, flannel over-sized sweater jacket thing, and facing the big, cold world of Thornton, Colorado seems challenging.

My dear husband knows me so well.  He's brought me some eggs on toast with fruit as I'm writing because, after all, Eric is aware that I need protein and I'm too stubborn or lazy or self-absorbed to take care of myself.  How does he find me beautiful?  How can he possibly love me?  People, go out and find yourself an amazing partner who understands you better than you do yourself.  Who, when they look at you wearing something comparable to a pair of 4x too big sweat pants, an ugly blue t-shirt (sans bra - if you're a gal), and a crappy, ratty, flannel over-sized sweater jacket thing, still think you're hotter than the sexiest models out there.  He amazes me.

I digress.  My sugar must have plummeted.  The orange juice is helping.  Thank you, Eric.

So yes, today is the day after a holiday.  A big one, Christmas.  The shutters are in a half open state, the house smells like four people who have not attempted to brush their teeth or move past the bathroom or the gaming stations since they've rolled out of bed.

As the matriarch of this family, I feel somewhat compelled to make everyone get up and do 25 jumping jacks.  As the lazy queen bee partially responsible for this state of affairs and reluctant myself to move away from my bowl of coffee and tall glass of orange juice, I will allow things to continue as they are.  My husband will remain a happy sloth in his recliner upstairs, watching mindless hours of the Sci-Fi channel with our small dogs curled cozily around his feet.  I will stay in my office chair, glued to the glow of my lap top screen, in a semi-dark room, listening to my boys fight over who's turn it is to play Wii for the next four hours.  I will only move when I hear the threat of bloodshed. 

Happy Holidays to all my dear friends and loyal blog followers from around the world!  I truly cherish your support.  Please feel free to submit comments from time to time.  I'd love to hear from you. 






Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our inn is open, I hope He saw the candle.

Another Christmas morning has come and gone.  This time, I've lost the Baby Jesus.  I can say with all honesty that I feel very badly about this. 

Over the years, in addition to having Chinese food for our holiday eve dinner, another family tradition has been to replace the Christ Child in our family manger scene with a candle and hide him until Christmas morning.  When the boys were little, before any gifts could be opened, Baby Jesus needed to be found and then we'd sing Happy Birthday and place Him in His rightful place. 

This morning, no mention has been made of our tradition.  I don't believe anyone has noticed other than myself.  The irony here is that it seems somehow befitting of this year's holiday.  For the first time in seventeen years, I have not felt the joy of the season.

Shopping for the boys' gifts was a last minute chore.  I could barely find the energy to walk through the aisles.  In fact, I could care less.  The truth is, the kids have been extremely difficult this year.  Their behaviors have escalated to the point whereas for the first time in their lives with us, I didn't want to purchase them anything.  There was no happiness in the giving, just a sour feeling in my stomach that their expectations where too high and that they were truly undeserving.

I didn't feel like baking.  No annual pumpkin bread smells came wafting from my oven.  The gingerbread men were not made and assembled for the tree.  I didn't even place the holiday music in the CD player.  Eric and I found ourselves wrapping the few gifts we purchased for the boys just a couple of nights ago.  Everything rang hollow this year.  There was no happiness in our projects.

The only peace I felt was lighting the Christmas Eve candle. 

We live on top of a hill facing north towards Wyoming.  There is nothing for a hundred miles blocking the view from our guest room window.  Every year, Eric and I light a single, solitary candle to light His way and keep it lit throughout the night.  Jesus is welcome in our home.  There is always room in our inn.  There may be screaming and crying, cursing and general mayhem, but He is always welcome.

So perhaps, I lost the Baby Jesus for the manger on our mantle, but I'm hoping that last night, with the warm, bright light of our candle shining against the snow covered Colorado northern front range,  He found His way into our home.  That as of today, tomorrow, and 2012 - the Colorado Potts' Family will find the peace we've been so desperately looking for.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hey, corporate monsters...close your doors!

Come on now, really?  Close the doors.  Open until midnight or 10:00pm on Christmas Eve?  Seriously?

I can see restaurants that are normally open late or 24 hours a day, I understand this.  Not everyone is Christian.  There are people expecting a place to go for a warm meal and a friendly face tonight. 

On a personal note, Eric and I have no family in the Denver area and it's become a tradition to have Chinese food and force our children to whine through a couple of hours of holiday lights afterwards.  My husband and I suffer a drive in our local neighborhoods looking at the houses bedecked in festive multi-colored LED lighting and cheerful Christmas tunes while our boys ungraciously huff and puff in the backseat.

"How much longer 'til we get home?"

"Why do we have to do this, isn't Christmas supposed to be about what we want?"

This is about the time when I want to escort them to my guest room, have them haul their hidden presents to the back of the truck, and drive them straight to the Salvation Army.  When did Christmas become all about them?

This happens every year of course.  By the time we finish dinner and look at the lights, Eric and I are thoroughly finished with our lovely family moment.  Ironically, we know that when our boys are adults, this will become their special holiday tradition.  They'll look fondly back on it and not remember how awful they were but instead force their kids to do the same thing.  We know because this is how it worked when we were children. They're excited.  There are gifts waiting for them under the tree.

Aren't there gifts waiting at home for the store clerks from JC Penney and other store clerks across the country?  I'm sorry, but if there are idiots out there who waited until the last possible moment to buy a gift for their wife or a stocking stuffer for their daughter, then that's their problem not the employee who drew the short straw working the late shift. 

A request to the big corporate monsters, CLOSE YOUR DOORS!  Let your employees go home to their families.  Stop squeezing every retail dollar you can out of the last minute shopping losers of this country.  Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas.   

Friday, December 23, 2011

Time to get organized...uh oh!

This is the time of year when my husband always has us promise one another "no gifts" for Christmas and yet every season he's the first one to wrap something and hide it under the tree. 

He makes me laugh.  This promise is usually made because we're broke by the holiday.  Christmas is for the kids so we try our best not to add to our financial woes.  Obviously, he always fails miserably. 

This season, he's determined to get me organized and away from my paper scheduler.  Without having opened my gift yet, I'm certain it's an electronic organizer.  For the past ten years or so, I've been toting around a large leather satchel which contains a month-to-month calendar, notes section, phone book, assorted areas for business cards, and other miscellaneous important paperwork.  It drives my poor husband crazy because I take care of the family day-to-day planning.  I consider this scheduler my life line, the one thing that keeps my days somewhat organized; however, for the "average Joe", the husband who's attached to the gal who totes this monstrosity around, there's no rhyme or reason to anything inside of it.  I'm the only human being who can make sense of the silliness within its pages.

If I need a number of a friend who's last name ends with the letter "T" but they live within our neighborhood, the information can be found under a tab labeled, "friends and neighbors", somewhere in the front of the book.  School information is not listed under the school name but instead under a specific tab.  This just saves me time.  Pet Groomers are listed under, "D" for "Dogs" - or is it, "V" for "Vet"?  I can't remember.  Sometimes I just have to search around a bit.

And, my scheduling...I must admit, I have missed an appointment or two.  I have a tendency to write down an appointment time with nothing else next to it, no name, no information, just a very intricate circle doodle.  If I'm having a good telephone moment, I'll write a W, A, B, or E, and place a circle around it indicating whose appointment it is.  This always impresses me.  Sometimes I'll write the information in the margins of the calendar but invariably, I'll take another phone call and I'll doodle over it.  Damn, I hate it when I do that.

Maybe this electronic scheduling isn't such a bad idea.  But what will I do with all of my scraps of paper?  My directions?  My doctor's notes?  My bits and pieces??  Good grief, I'm already a nervous wreck just thinking about it.  Perhaps he didn't buy me an electronic scheduler after all?  Maybe he purchased me a paper phone book refill?  I could really use a new one of those.  I've doodled over quite a few of the numbers.  I need to re-write them...those that I can read anyway.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cheap, recycled holiday garland.

Are there enough dates in a year to hold the meanings of what each one represents?  Does this sentence make any sense?  Probably not.  It makes complete sense to me but then, I'm the one writing it - and I'm a rambling lunatic, oh...housewife.  That's right, I mustn't forget my entire title. 

December dates seem to hold the most meaning to me.  I can't look at the calendar without thinking oh, today is the 15th, this was my wedding day to Jeff or tomorrow is the 22nd, my Dad passed away eight years ago tomorrow, or, so on and so forth.  Craziness.  Why can't we just let these days go?  Especially the sad ones?

I'm not necessarily saying my first wedding day was a sad day, on the contrary - it was amazing.  It held so much promise.  Everything was beautiful.  White roses, gardenias, and red tulips.  Green holly and Christmas Trees. But in the back of my mind, the smallest of voices called out and said, is this the right thing to do?  And so, like every stubborn 23 year old who's planned her fairy tale wedding from start to finish, I wasn't ready to listen to my father before he walked me down the aisle.  He said, "Maria, I don't care about the money.  I don't care about any of it.  Don't go through with this if you don't think it's right."

"Of course it's right, dad.  I love, Jeff.  It's all good."

Five years and three states later, it turned out that Jeff didn't love me.

Eight years ago tomorrow, that same wise voice and strong hand who escorted me down the aisle the first time and grinned knowingly the second time, died.  This wonderful, loving man who didn't give advice too often.  Usually, he sat back and either laughed at the ridiculousness of his family or growled at the noise level.  It saddens me to think that one of the few times he counseled me, I didn't listen. Of course, he was right.  He always was.

Dates, dates, dates...miserable dates attached with memories which for me come creeping up around the holidays every year.  Dates which hang loosely on the calendar like the cheap, recycled garland draped across the doctor's office waiting room this morning.  It reminded me of another waiting room with cheap, recycled garland so many years ago.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I was a rotten, miserable teenager.

We were all rotten kids, weren't we?  Well, I don't know about you, my friends and loyal blog readers, but I was actually quite a miserable teenager.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because I walked out of my therapist's office this morning feeling completely refreshed after having told her all the wicked things my sixteen year old has pulled on me for the last two weeks, and I thought, "oh geez...he has nothing on me when I was his age".  The only difference is that I wasn't autistic so therefore I knew how to conceal my behavior.  I would never have the social  miscues to call my mother an idiot in public or drop the f-bomb in the middle of chemistry class due to a broken pencil.  No, my naughtiness was due to being the youngest of three daughters who was expected to be the behaved one.  The one who didn't throw temper tantrums or fail classes in school.  The daughter who didn't experiment with drugs or run away from home.  I was the good kid, the sweet one.  Seriously?  These are the daughters parents should worry about the most.

I started drinking at an early age.  Not heavily, but out of rebellion.  My parents always had plenty of hard liquor available. When my parents had parties, I was asked to mixed the cocktails.  Gin and Tonics, Chivas and Soda, Screw Drivers, glasses of wine, everything...I knew what pieces of lime went with what drinks, what a shaker was, how much ice was too much, I knew exactly what to make my grandfather the minute he walked in the door and I knew he liked his drinks strong.  I was mixing drinks from an early age, probably from about 12 on. 

When my mom hosted bridal and baby showers, I was asked to keep the wine glasses full.  I remember one particular party - which I did not want to attend but was forced to anyway - every time I made the rounds with the wine bottle, I poured myself a healthy glass and quickly downed it in the kitchen.  I was (pardon my French), shit faced.  I'm surprised my mom didn't notice.  By the end of the party, I could barely stand.  I was just 17.

The only thing keeping me from becoming a full blown alcoholic was that I hated the taste of liquor. Also, it was no fun drinking alone.  The only time I drank like that was at my parent's house.  There were other times when my mom and I would fight - mean, terrible fights - I'd have no where to go, nothing to say - so instead I would go to her cherished sitting room, where her surly teenagers were not allowed, and I would drink from her bottle of imported Sake. In all the years we lived in that house, she never touched it; however, I did.  Quite a few times actually.  Years later, on moving day, when she picked up that God awful bottle, she noticed it had very little left...oops.  My bad.  To this day, I will never order Sake at a Japanese restaurant.

I survived my teenage years.  So did my mother.  She had five of us.  Bless her heart. 

Lord, please let me just get through the next four or so years with my two kiddos.  I beg You.

P.S.  I'm sorry for all the horrible things I did when I was sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen.  I know this is Your way of getting back at me but Kathleen and Ellenmary were much naughtier.  I've done a little better since those days, so do you think You can cut me some slack with my kiddos?   Thanks.      


Monday, December 19, 2011

It's football mayhem in Denver...

I love watching professional football and during the last seven weeks here in the Denver area, it has been complete mayhem.  Most people who follow football know immediately what I'm talking about and, funny because of the amount of news coverage this poor quarterback has been receiving, so will the other folks.  I'm referring to the story about Tim Tebow.

I hate hooking onto a topic that's been entirely overplayed but I will due to the strangeness of this phenomenon.

Here's this good looking, young kid who's had an amazing streak of good luck in the final few minutes of the games.  I have to say, as a football watcher and a fan for the team Tebow is on, he's made my watching the sport totally entertaining.  I might add, it's not all luck.  He has some raw ability and the determination to set the guys around him on fire.  In a few years, he will be absolutely amazing.  I'm glad he's on our team.

Now, let's get to the weird stuff.

He gives praise to his Lord.  Ok, so what?  So do a lot of other players.  If he hadn't had this crazy streak of wild wins he wouldn't have been all over the news.  He hasn't asked to have every pastor in the land to wear his number 15 jersey during Sunday services.  Why jump all over his ass?  Let's give the kid a break.  I've even heard some of my friends make fun of him.  He's just a guy playing football.  Why is everybody talking about it like he's making it some sort of personal attack against them?

Jesus Freaks.  Lighten up, people!  I love the Lord too, but my goodness I don't wear my faith on my sleeve and I certainly don't wear it on the back of my jersey.  What's with that?  God has no control over who wins a football game.  I'm guessin' he has a few more important things to do up there, for instance...hmmm...world hunger, a billion or two prayers, I don't know...just thinkin'...  Wow.  Football?  Really?  Tebow seems like a sweet kid and I'm sure the Lord appreciates this thankin' business but seriously, I don't think he has a lot to do with Willis McGahee running the ball in for a touch down.  That's just skill.

So, everybody just needs to settle down.  Tebow lovers, love away but love him because he's a nice kid who's fun to watch, loves the game, and doesn't drop the F-bomb on national television.  Tebow haters.  Hate him because he ruins your team's chances to get into the playoffs - not because he mentions the Lord's name on post game interviews.  That's just dumb.  



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Welcome to my family, sweetheart.

As Eric and I were lying in bed this morning, he reminded me of his first Christmas Eve with my side of the family. I laughed out loud as we recounted it because our families are so different.  Of course now that Eric and I have become our own family unit, we have developed our unique traditions which our children will come to remember, hopefully fondly, as they grow into young men.  Still, I have to giggle as I recount Eric's face on that Christmas Eve seventeen years ago.  He had no idea what to expect - though one would think that because it was with my family - it would certainly be quirky.

My husband's family enjoys a lovely Christmas Eve meal around a large table.  It's a somewhat calm event with the sound of football in the background, grandparents chatting in the family room, and nieces and nephews playing quietly outside.  His home is the picture of a Norman Rockwell family holiday.  Eric relishes these get-togethers.    

This particular year, my dear, soon-to-be fiance chose to forgo his Christmas Eve ritual and share it with my family.  Oh my.  It wasn't that he was walking into any less people, we both come from large families; however, it was the chaos factor that startled him.  My family has always been a little insane.

My parent's house had an extremely large family room with a wooden beamed 20 foot ceiling.  When Eric walked in, I was sitting at one end of the room in front of the Christmas tree and surrounded by several nieces and nephews.  There were mounds of torn wrapping paper on the floor, loud discussions from several family members over one another, high pitched, squealing laughter from my older brother, my dad was yelling at my brother to stop laughing, and my mom was asking deaf ears if anyone would like egg nog.  Complete and utter craziness.  Our eyes met, I saw the look of confusion on Eric's face, and I laughed outloud.  Welcome to my family, sweetheart.

I loved it.  The whole unnerving enchilada.  I wouldn't want my family any other way.  I could see how this would startle even the strongest of personalities, but if Eric loved me, he'd have to learn to love this too.

As the evening wore on and gifts were continued to be opened, I could sense Eric's wondering about dinner.  Nothing was in the oven.  All we were eating were crackers with Easy Cheese and mixed nuts.  Oh, Easy Cheese!  The moment this wondrous bottle came out and the processed goo started oozing onto our Wheat Thins, I thought Eric was going to run screaming into the night.  He remained steady. When the processed salami came out, my dear food snob even attempted a bite, but when my mother announced to put on our coats so we could head out for pizza - that was it.  He finally spoke up.  

"Um, excuse me?  We're having pizza for dinner?"

"Oh, Yeah.  We go every year, it's a tradition."

I almost pee'd my pants when I saw the look on his face.  He had given up his mother's roast turkey and stuffing for pepperoni pizza.  We drove to the restaurant in the pouring rain.  He was speechless. 

Uh oh, the place was closed!  For the first time in the history of the Bryant Family Christmas Eve Pizza Eating Tradition, our favorite pizza haunt had decided to close for the evening.  Rats!!  We ended up eating at McDonald's that night.  Big Mac Combo Meals and Hot Fudge Sundaes for everyone!  And, in classic Bryant style, because we were the only ones nutty enough to enjoy fast food for our holiday feast, we sang Christmas carols in the restaurant until we finished our meal.

Eric will never forget that Christmas Eve.  And why should he?  It was one of the best ones ever. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Season's Greetings and Bah Humbug!

As I was hanging my five holiday cards yesterday, I found myself laughing at the hypocrisy of it all.  What happened to the dozens of happy notes and cards my family received last year?  This is my theory...we're off the lists; however, for the few of you who have sent us greetings, thank you.
 
Last year I couldn't afford to send holiday letters so this season I believe the Colorado Potts' have been scratched off.  Our address has been removed from countless mailing lists from around the country.  I may be assuming too much but I'm calling it like I see it.  (Uh oh, my husband is squirming as he's reading this.  I'm sorry, my dear, but you know me, I'm going to type what's on my mind.)

That's ok.  I've always found the holiday card exchange a bit lame and hypocritical for the following reasons:

  • If you send them, write something more then just your name.  Include a note, let us know what you've been up to.  Even if it's a short form letter, we want to know what's going on in your life.  
  •  
  • If you're sending a family picture, then let it be a family picture!  Yes, your kids are cute, but dammit - I know you - not your kids.  I'd like to remember what your goofy face looks like.  Who cares if you've developed a facial wart, look like Friar Tuck, or gained 80 pounds.  I have too (except the Friar Tuck thing - thank goodness.).  Get over it, we're friends. 
  •   
  • Ok, speaking of kids - if you have four, five, holy cow...even eight (God bless your loins!), please for the love of all that is good, don't tell me what part they played in last February's stage rendition of Snow White or if little Timmy kicked 3 field goals in last Saturday's soccer game.  I DON'T CARE.  And, because you're my friend, I'm going to tell you the truth (this may hurt) - no one else besides your mother is interested.  Save us the agony.  We won't read past the first four lines.  Trust me, it's a complete waste of printer ink. 
  •  
  • No personal poetry.  We all suck at it. 
  •  
  • I'm sorry your dog died, you had your left foot amputated, and your great uncle Paul died of tongue cancer; however, it doesn't make for a happy holiday letter especially when I'm running out to the local drugstore and looking for a strong rope to hang myself with.
  •  
  • AND FINALLY, do me a favor, when I send you a holiday greeting, it's not a tit-for-tat game.  I'm sending you one because you're honestly on my mind.  Isn't this what the holidays are about; thinking warm and loving thoughts about people we haven't called or contacted for awhile?  I've always found it very disheartening when I send out a letter and suddenly my mailbox is inundated with cards as if to say, "Oops, Bri and Eric sent me something. I better send them a card back."  Totally unnecessary.

So now that I've pissed everyone off, I'll expect absolutely no cards or letters next year.  Happy holidays from my family to yours.  Bah Humbug and lots of hugs and kisses too.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'll take a lifetime supply of Vitameatavegamin, please.

Lucille "McGillicuddy" selling Vitameatavegamin
I'm a pill popper.  Not in a bad way.  Don't pick up the phone and call Narcanon just yet.  If there's an herbal supplement which promises to to promote heart health and shiny hair - I'm all over it.  Yes, I'm a sucker.  If I were alive during the 1950's and Lucille McGillicuddy were a non-fictional character selling me Vitameatavegamin, I would have been her first customer.  No wonder Eric and I often find ourselves sitting in Denny's trying to figure out where our next $1.00 is coming from.  I'm too busy spending the $1.50 we don't have keeping my crazy, dyed red hair from falling out.

I'd love to say that this is an inherited trait - that my mother has something to do with it.  In some ways, I think she does.  She's always concerned with some sickness or another taking over her life.  This is just a goofy concern based on the fact that we're all mortal.  No one disease is foolproof be it cancer or the malady that hits us when we cross the street while we're not looking.  Oops!  That was a bus, wasn't it?  Silly me. 

The reality is that we're all going to die eventually.  Whether it's today or sometime down the road, there's no escaping it.  The only things we can hope for is that it's somewhat painless and we go with as much dignity as possible.  That whatever we've left behind isn't a mess and the people we love know how we feel about them.  And finally, that we've completed something; be it a song, story, or helping another human being in such a way that our lives carry on through them.

What purpose do I serve?  I put food on the table for the people packaging and labeling Omega 3 Fish Oil Tablets.  That's a given.  I'm their biggest contributor.  Was I placed on this planet to be Eric's wife when he survived his brain tumor surgery?  Was I meant to adopt two brothers who may not have otherwise had a mother?  Am I meant to be some one's special Hospice caretaker?  Perhaps I haven't fulfilled my destiny yet?

We all have a place in this universe - a reason for our existence.  If I'm lucky, I may still have time to figure it out.  Longevity is in my genes. My mother's mother lived until she was nearly 100 years old.  I bet she took supplements too or at least ate a lot of fresh fish.
 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buckle up, Breezy. It's going to be one Hell of a ride.

My sixteen year-old son, William, is convinced that I'm worthless.  Lately, I just take him with a grain of salt. 

Yesterday, I was sitting in Austynn's weekly Occupational Therapy office sitting with another friend along with countless other people, when he stated in his awkward, loud, Aspergian way that I would never be hired again, that I know absolutely nothing about computers, and that I was lucky to have a job before my husband and I adopted him.  Here you go son, here are my keys, go sit in in the car. 

"But it's cold outside, Mom."

"I'm sure with all your hot air, you'll have plenty enough warmth to keep you comfy in the car for the next fifteen minutes or so."

"Ooookaaay."  (Nice "boo boo" face.)

He played it up for at least five minutes getting to the car.  He acted the part of the silly kid; standing outside the window looking dejected and goofy - making my friend laugh until he was eventually out of eye sight.  He's a wonderful clown but at the same time, he's cruel and hurtful and knows my buttons.  He knew he had an audience and he knew one of them was my best friend. 

Later that evening, he had my husband.  We were on the way to our religious education class when he pulled another whopper.

"Mom said she had enough time this week to buy me the book I want."

Whoooaaaa, Nellie!!  We had discussed this several times, no - many times - earlier in the week and the same day that I would specifically take him on Friday when I went shopping.  I would not make a special trip to the book store for him.  Boy, he was telling a queen size fib and was setting me up in front of his Dad.  I lost it.   All Hell broke loose.  I let him have it.  I told him under no circumstances that I would take him to buy the book now.  He called me a liar.  I used a nasty four-letter word and told him to be quiet.  Poor Eric.  Poor Austynn.  I closed my mouth.  What else could be said?  William was on a roll.  Eric could say nothing to get our son to stop shouting.  What a lovely way to start our holiday party for our second graders. 

Why does William do this?  Why does he set me up?  He knew I had said, "no" until Friday.  He knew I would eventually take him shopping with me.  I wasn't going to change my mind.  Did he really think by calling me a liar that this was going to help?  Good grief.

When I was sixteen I remember having a lot of angst towards my mom.  It had the typical teenage, hormonal rage. She didn't understand me, I didn't understand her.  The lines of communication weren't open.  My mom wasn't available to me.  We didn't have home therapists, the open door policy, or Love and Logic techniques based on years of parental training courses for children who came from abused or neglected backgrounds.

I learned about sex from other pre-teen girls and from the almost successful rape of my first high school boyfriend. The first 4-letter word I uttered in front of my parents was "crap" and that was when I was 16.  My father looked so shocked that I didn't attempt it again until I was well into my thirties.  I hardly ever talked back to my parents.  I didn't want to make them unhappy.  When I did, it was usually with my mom, they were ugly fights, and I normally felt miserable afterwards.  I never cursed at her (or at least audibly) and I didn't pin my mom against my dad.  I knew my parents were a united front.  That what one said, the other backed-up.  Eric and I have always been this way with our boys.  William has been with us for over ten years now.  I can't believe he tried to convince Eric that I lied last night.

The teen years.  I'm right smack dab in the middle of them and not only am I in them but I'm in them with two, autistic spectrum boys who have come from backgrounds riddled with horrific physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect.  Buckle up, Breezy.  It's going to be one Hell of a ride.      




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To poop or not to poop.

I'm freezing!  My crappy, ratty, flannel, over-sized, sweater, jacket thing is just not doing it for me this morning.  Neither is my coffee bowl.  There are just some mornings that nothing can keep me warm in this front study.  I'm honestly surprised that my little Zebra Finches are alive and chattering.  They're small and moving.  I'm fluffy and stationary.  I'll certainly be the first to die of frost bite. 

Last night my thirteen year old sat on the toilet and obsessed about pooping.  Sorry, I should have warned you about this before you took your first sip of coffee.

Austy obsesses about everything.  His teeth, his skin, his food.  He'll obsess about his blankets.  Lately, he's been very concerned about his bowel movements.  If he doesn't have a healthy poop in let's say, one or two days, he'll think something is wrong with him.  This all stems from a very difficult constipation issue he had about three weeks ago.  I don't blame him.  It was his first scare with this problem and it quite frankly terrified him.

You see, my sons are very healthy guys.  Outside of simple head colds, they've never been sick.  Every year I've been certain to get them flu shots and because they don't have a lot of friends they're not exposed to a lot of germs - even at school.  They've never been sick; no diarrhea, no constipation, no ear infections - nothing.  It's hard to imagine this from a parent's perspective, but it's true. So, not too long ago, Austy started cramping after dinner.  He had no idea what it was.  Up to the bathroom and onto the toilet.  First scream...

"Dude!  What's wrong?"

Austynn looked at me incredulously, terrified.  "I need to go to the hospital." 

Sweat started pouring down his face.  I could tell he was in pain.  Another scream.  Two more.  Austynn's thirteen year-old voice hadn't changed yet in pitch.  I thought I heard a couple of my Grandmother's crystal glasses break in the cabinets below.  I also looked out the door and saw my husband's face at the bottom of the stairs contort in twisted rage questioning the intensity of the screams.  My smile and my calming hand said, I've got it.  Leave the house if necessary.

"Is the poo liquid or hard?"

Screaming, "LIQUID!"  As he was bending over holding his tummy.

I didn't hear liquid pouring out of him. I didn't smell it either (my apologies for the detail this early in the morning) so I had him stand up so I could investigate.  The poor kiddo.  He couldn't even explain what was happening to him.  Yes, something had come out but he was bound up.  He was very much constipated.

Still screaming, I left him for just a moment and retreated to my bathroom to get a hot water bottle, liquid laxative, and a wash cloth.  When I returned, I dabbed off his face and body, and explained to him in full detail what was happening.  Because of Austynn's Asperger's syndrome, he understands how the digestive track works. As he held the hot water bottle against his tummy and took the laxative, he listened in amazement that he wasn't at death's door, but instead, his intestines were merely blocked and that it would take just a little while for the medicine to do it's job and clear his system out.  He also enjoyed my stories of when I was a little girl and had similar problems.  In a matter of an hour all was right again in the Potts' house.

As of last evening, if he hasn't had a healthy poop in two days, he's concerned that he needs the liquid laxative.  Do you see where this is going?  If he can't sleep, he needs a sleeping aide.  If he scratches his leg, he needs anti-bacterial ointment.  If he overhears me discussing the bone spur in my heel, he's developing one.  If he has a bug bite, it's a bee sting.  If he has a head ache, it's a migraine

My life with Austynn...never a dull moment. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tulip! Really?! It's 3:00am!!

Tulip (Tootie), Shih Tzu
My dog, Tulip has a love for all toys that squeak.  When we first discovered this fetish, my family thought it was hysterical, sweet...endearing.  Not so much anymore.  

You see, our Shih Tzu has no concept for time or appropriateness.  If she sees her green, squeaky ball at 3:00am on a Tuesday and the mood suits her, Eric and I will be blasted awake by the high pitched squeal and chomping of her toy.  Yes, we have attempted to remove all noisy play things before the lights go out but invariably she finds a way to hide something beneath the bed or between the chest and mattress towards the end of our feet.

Bad timing not only occurs when we're sound asleep, but also, for instance, when we're having a lovely dinner party.  It's as if she knows exactly when to bite down on a horrifying toy and scare the living breath out of a guest - normally mid-bite precisely when the Heimlich maneuver would be necessary.  

Tank, Lhasa Apso
One would think we would stop purchasing these ridiculous toys for her.  Not so. I'm the one who goes shopping and tends to bring home new treats every time I walk in from the grocery store.  I swear I have more doggie toys on the tile than dust bunnies and that's primarily because the dogs inhale them when they suck up their play things.  I can't help myself.  The look on their faces, in particular Tulip's, when she discovers the new and distinctive sound of a toy's squeak - I can't describe the joy it gives me.  

I do feel badly for her though.  It's not her fault, this obsession.  The family will be absorbed in an intense movie, Tootie (her nickname) will sit down for a good toy chomp, and the next thing she knows she'll have four of her favorite people snapping at her to knock it off.  Then, as if that isn't bad enough, someone will throw the ball and her arch nemesis, Tank - the Lhasa Apso - will chase it and not give it back to her.  Sad Tulip.  All she wanted to do was kill the squeaky thing.  Poor itty girlie.  Someone needs to give her a treat...

I love animals.  I love my dogs.  Is it obvious?  Good grief.   


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Popsicle Stick Christmas Tree

No divorce yesterday.  Eric was too busy cursing at the fact that the discount Christmas Tree we purchased (sight unseen) from our large wholesale box store, Costco came frozen shut.  Yes, that's right - frozen shut like a Popsicle stick.  I'll get to this tragic, yet highly humorous story in a moment.

Saturday morning started out pleasant enough.  I had planned on taking my men out for a lovely late breakfast before looking for the "perfect" holiday tree.  I had some extra money tucked away and I thought this would be a nice way to start the day.  Of course Austynn had already raided my kitchen pantry of Pop-Tarts while watching Saturday morning cartoons. 

Several weeks ago, I had sworn off purchasing these nasty fast food breakfast treats for this very purpose.  William and Austynn will ask me on a daily basis for Pop-Tarts.  In fact, sometimes while they're eating a rather large serving of spaghetti for dinner, they'll request them for breakfast the next morning.  This drives me crazy.  However, I'm all about squeezing out the most value for my morning.  This has nothing to do with dollar savings and everything to do with my coveted quiet time with my coffee bowl.  So yes, I in my selfish parental need to have a few extra uninterrupted moments in front on my computer monitor, have opted to keep these foul, addicting, sugar-laden products in my pantry for last minute breakfast fixes on the go.  Bad mama.  I digress.

Who knew that the local Village Inn Restaurant on a Saturday morning would be so crowded with holiday shoppers?  I certainly did not; however, I was determined to make the best of a bad situation.  Besides, I was hungry -- I wanted french toast, eggs, bacon, orange juice, and coffee.  Eric was ready to leave when he saw the people ahead of us but I was in a good mood.  It was manageable.  We could wait five, ten, fifteen minutes, couldn't we?  Most families could.  Ours, not so much.  William and Austynn don't do well in crowds and because of this, neither do I.  Austynn tends to hang on me and strokes my hair.  He kisses my cheeks repeatedly.  This may sound sweet to many of my readers but I must explain that Austy is a 175 pound 13 year old.  One kiss is sweet - fifteen to twenty - not so much.  Plus, he had just eaten a sucker from the counter.  My face and hair was a sticky, slobbery mess by the time we sat down.

Austy still loves to color in the children's menus.  When we sat down, he had discovered that there was an extra crayon from a prior diner below the table.  Despite my repeated requests to leave the crayon where it was, he went for it.  This is when all Hell broke loose.  William, my oldest son, can be cruel when it comes to his younger brother plus he often doesn't use a lot of common sense.  When Austynn dove under the booth to get the crayon, Will pinned Austy's head hard against the table with his knee.  My 13 year old screamed as William simultaneously yelled denial.  When I type, "screamed", I'm not sugar coating it.  It was horrible.  Eric immediately removed Austy from the restaurant and I took control of William severely scolding him.

Why are there such awful people in the world?  At the moment when this crisis occurred, a nasty, red-headed, older woman turned around directly behind us and yelled something to the effect, "What are you people doing?  You're killing my ears!"

Now, I can understand if we had a screaming child whom we were not removing from the restaurant and ruining her meal; however, we had a one time, quick incident with two autistic boys which we handled immediately.  I was enraged.  So much for my pleasant mood.

I asked the hostess to move us to another booth across the restaurant as I proceeded to tell the nasty, red head and her friends that I had two autistic kids and I hoped to Hell her ear would be ringing for the rest of the day.  Oops, I guess I need to go to Confession again.  I was hot.  As I walked away, I could hear her responding with something like, "it wasn't her problem."  Of course it wasn't but based on the embarrassed looks of her friends, I'm certain they were mortified that their companion didn't show a little more compassion for a family who was obviously doing their best.

When we were ready to pay our bill for breakfast, the waitress grinned and said that someone sitting near us had left and paid for our meal.  Apparently, they had seen what had happened and understood.  I wanted to cry.  Sometimes in my little world of being a special needs parent, I forget that there are others who actually have empathy.  This lovely person must have overheard us discuss that our family's autism isn't always clear to others and that people don't understand the outbursts when they happen.  We discussed that Dad and I don't accept that having Asperger's is an excuse for screaming in restaurants.  That even though William and Austynn have special needs, we expect them to work harder at their behavior in public.  I'm also guessing that this person may have overheard our prayer over breakfast, when we joined hands and William asked God to help him not take his family for granted and Austynn asked the Lord to help him listen more to his parents and not scream in restaurants.  Dad asked for more patience with his boys and I thanked God for the beautiful day, the food before us and the family beside us.  God bless this person and thank You.

So now we get to the Christmas Tree purchase.  By the time breakfast was over, we were done with the morning.  We just wanted to make a quick, cheap purchase of a tree and go home.  Costco, our large wholesale box store, sells trees at extremely reasonable prices from the back of a truck trailer.  These trees have been sitting in the back of the trailers since the beginning of the holiday season.  This is probably why they are so inexpensive.  Throw in the fact that we buy them wrapped and have no idea what they look like, well - the Potts' family was just asking for trouble.

When we got home, we hosed the tree off in the back yard and shook it, and shook it, and shook it again.  We picked it up and dropped it.  Uh oh. We bought a frozen Popsicle stick Christmas Tree.  It had been so cold the last few weeks in Thornton that the trees in the back of the Costco truck trailer were frozen shut.  Oh well.  It will open up eventually.  We'll let it defrost on our family room rug, in the heavy, metal stand that won't let the tree fall over three times this year in a mess of broken ornaments.

Today will be an ugly, messy, unorganized disaster with dishes everywhere, pine needles on every tile, and puddles of defrosted Popsicle stick Christmas Tree all over the carpet.  Laundry in mid-sort, dinner in mid-preparation, the vacuum on the middle of the floor, everything in the middle of the way, and dogs in mid confusion...poor critters.  Absolute lunacy.  I feel right at home, go figure?  This is home.

God bless us everyone - even the nasty, red-headed, older woman at Village Inn Restaurant yesterday.