Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Motherhood in Menopause

I was never one of those little girls that dreamed of her wedding and having children. I never discounted it; I just didn't think about it. When I found out I was pregnant the first time, I was pleasantly shocked. I thought, "this seems right". I loved being a mom, and I couldn't wait to do it again. Fast forward through a divorce, a remarriage, and to the eagerly waiting to get pregnant with the new husband. I knew I wanted it. I knew what to do. I had a good marriage. I was not prepared.

We moved out of my "after divorce little house" to the dream fixer-upper. We were there for one week, and quickly realized we were in over our heads. We had booked a vacation to California months before we found a house, and we figured, what the hell, so what if we have a lot of work to do in our new house, let's keep our vacation plans. California was great fun and we left our oldest to spend an extra two weeks with the grandparents. We figured we could a lot of work done while she was gone. Little did we know that I would have our bundle of joy just one day after returning. He was three months early.

Now this story is a very long story, so I will save most of it for later. What I have to express right now is what is going on right now with this miracle child.

Motherhood is a battlefield. I always thought if I could just get this kid through "fill in the blank", he will have a full life. How could I have forgotten what it is like to raise a teenager? There is irony in that question. I teach teenagers all day in a high school. This child struggles. This child is sad. This child has no hope.

This child is mine. I will be his champion, but not at the cost of him learning a lesson. I will let him fail, but not fail miserably. I will listen to him tell me things that are difficult to hear, but I will not condone his bad choices. I will tell him that he really is smart, but I will not falsely tell him he can do anything. I will worry about him for the rest of my life.

Bottom line: he is smart, funny, irreverent, handsome, naturally lucky, likable (when he wants to be), and really does care. He's a teenager. His bad luck is that he is going through this time while his mother is peri-menopausal. I cry anytime I talk to one of his teachers or counselors. I cry when his dad and I talk about him privately. I cry in the car on the way home from work. I cry when I'm proud of him. I cry when his behavior is less than desirable. I cry. But I try not to let him see my cry about him. Just like any man, he cannot abide to see his mother cry. It's funny, I have never really been a cryer before, but apparently my 50s will be spent with a glass of wine in one hand and a Kleenex in the other. Ah, motherhood and menopause. I didn't sign up for this.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A fond memory...

I had a wonderful childhood, and I realize that not everybody can say that. So I'm grateful. One of the best memories stem from the fact that my dad owned a donut shop. Yes, you heard me correctly, a donut shop! Now we were not rich like some of my other classmates, but when you are in elementary school a donut shop trumps a mansion.

Of course, being a child, at didn't appreciate it so much. To me it was just were my dad worked. In fact, I really wasn't that fond of donuts. But boy, did I love that donut shop. I loved rolling out scrap dough, sweeping the floors, watching my dad decorate cakes, running the delivery route at four in the morning, and helping customers. I would go in to the shop with my dad very early in the morning. My brother and I would still be asleep in the car and my dad would scoop us up and carry us in the shop and lay our little, snuffly, warm bodies on huge pallets of flour bags so we could finish our naps. The bakery would be warm and yeasty. The smell of yeast still makes me feel drowsy. When we woke up we would grab a freshly glazed donut and a carton of milk. Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing better than a hot puffy fried piece of dough with melted sugar dipping down its circular sides.

If I was having a lucky day, Dad would be decorating a wedding cake. He would pull up a stool for Bubba and me, and we would sit there for hours watching him sculpt blue roses from icing or making lacy ribbons to wrap the cake. Who ever heard of blue roses?! It seemed like he did a lot of them, but perhaps it is just my child's memory being amazed by the blue. Maybe he only did it once, but I like to remember that it was always blue roses.

When it came time for lunch, Dad would take us across the street to a real, old fashion, grocery store. It was the kind of mercantile that you had the clerks get the items off the shelves for you, and I swear there was a pickle barrel. This grocery had a full butcher counter where they made from scratch all their sausages. Dad would order four or five hot links (you know the bright red fat wieners) and the clerk would grab a couple of big dill pickles for the bubba and me. We would trot back across the street, and my dad would drop those hot links in the bubbling hot oil that we fried the donuts in. Oh my stars! What deliciousness! They were so hot in every sense of that word. They were spicy, fire hot, and they were temperature hot. I think they were about 1,000 degrees. This is what happens when men are in charge of small children all day. I was about five years old. Bubba was three.

Now, the first bakery was really owned by my grandparents, and my dad joined as a junior partner. He was being groomed to take over after they retired. This meant that I spent my days not only with my dad, but my extended family as well. My grandmother, Anna Mae, ruled that bakery with an iron fist. Everything was to be her way. To put it plainly, she was pushy. She, of course, ran the cash register. I think only half of all sales were rung up. All rare coins were put in her pocket. As a result, she had a lot of cash hid from the IRS in strange places in her house. Money was in the freezer, in books, taped to the bottom of drawers, in the attic, buried in the backyard, etc. My grandparents never were in debt. They paid cash for everything they ever owned. They saved enough money to live into their old age, and both of them spent a long period time in nursing homes that their money (that was maybe partly IRS money) paid for.

My grandfather was a quiet man (perhaps because Anna Mae was so chatty). He worked all night, slept all day, got up for supper, watched an hour or so of T.V. then went back to bed until he had to make the donuts. But I suppose, now that I look back on it, he had another side. A "darker" side. There was this machine in the back of the bakery that dripped a clear liquid. When my little self asked what it was, my father told me that Grandpa was distilling water. It was suppose to be healthy. Drip, drip, drip. Well I wanted to taste distilled water. My dad assured me that I would not like it. It's just water, right? He let me have a sip, and it was awful! I am a grown woman now, and I know for a fact that distilled water tastes just like water. If my memory serves me right, this water tasted like fire! Like firewater! I think my grandpa was distilling spirits. He had his own private stash of hooch! I think he shared with my father. Maybe it was my father's still. Who knows?

After my grandfather retired, my dad opened his own donut shop in a "nice" part of town. My grandmother still worked for him in the front. Grandpa retired to playing golf and fishing for bass. This bakery almost killed my father. He was not made to work nights. He sold it when I was in the fifth grade, and he moved on to the trucking business. I moved out of childhood into puberty at the same time. I was becoming a young woman, and I left the warm, yeasty environment of childhood and moved to the hard metal dirty business of trucking and adolescence.

Monday, August 2, 2010


This was the summer of the World Cup in Soccer, and even though I am not a soccer fan, I did get sucked in. So this was literally the summer of goals. My first goal was to drop a few unwanted pounds. Goooooal! I did it, and I feel great. My second goal was to get a handle on this mess I call my house. Goooooal! I feel good enough about my home that I have volunteered to host the back to school party for my peers. My third goal was a purely selfish one, and that was to read 20 books this summer. Well guess what? Gooooal!

I have had the most diverse reading experience this summer. I started off the summer with a pile of young adult literature from the school library. Even though I will not be teaching a reading for pleasure class this year, I still wanted to read some of the more popular books that my students enjoy. Then I moved on to some modern fiction, and I sprinkled fiction through out the entire summer. While laying on the beach in Mexico, I devoured 7 books on my most beloved Kindle. Traveling is totally different with the Kindle. Of course, I had to load up my selections before we left the country, but that was fun trying map out my reading. One of the selections from the beach was Sh*t My Dad Says. This short, quick read was laugh-out-loud funny, and I can't wait to see the ABC TV series based on it (starring William Shatner!). My husband even read this book, and I believe it was the first book he read in its entirety in the 16 years of our marriage.

While in Mexico, some of the other ladies were passing around Kathy Griffin's new book. Well as soon as I got home I hit the Edmond library and read it in one day. She is my favorite, and her book sounded like she was sitting next to me telling me these funny, sweet, and sad stories. Griffin inspired me to read some other biographies/memoirs of comedians so I read about Lisa Lampinelli and the late George Carlin. If you hear me listening to a lot of Judy Garland songs, it is because I read her biography Get Happy, and it made me want to watch all her old movies and sing all her songs.

Because of goal #1 (weight loss), I read several books about superfoods. I have found them very helpful and confirmed my instincts about what is "good and whole" foods. So don't be surprised to see me carrying around my Greek yogurt and fresh fruit.

So I unofficially officially start back to work tomorrow, and my three goals have been met by my own set deadline. It feels good to accomplish goals. What goals did you accomplish this summer?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Anglo Girl Not Techno Girl

Technology, smechology! Pardon me for being so disgusted, but really, I'm tired of fighting it on a daily basis. In case you don't know, I'm middle-aged, and I am not a digital native. So it is a concerted effort on my part to embrace technology. And I will toot my own horn for just a minute. I do better than most my age or older. I mean, I get "it" most of the time. But here is where I get all cranky: "they" tell me to use technology, "they" tell me it will make me more interesting, "they" tell me it is a requirement, and then "they" can't supply me with the technology I need! Does this seem wrong at some level?

Here's the scenario: I'm standing in front of my class with my lesson plans firmly clutched in my sweaty hands. I have planned the most awesome, fantastical, and totally wicked lesson that is technology based. I test it all out the night before. Everything worked! It is the most beautiful lesson I have ever seen. Just to be on the safe side, I check it again before class and my results are even more impressive than I remembered. I am totally the best teacher in the entire universe! My students begin to filter in. I am giddy with anticipation of how they will be blown away by some old chick that can totally rock like a youngster on the tech. I begin...I try to begin...the Smartboard won't turn on...oh wait, my fault, let me fix it (it is just nerves)...there, it's on won't respond to touch! What?! (mind reeling out of control now) back to desk and use a's not perfect but it works. It is definately not awesome, fantastical and wicked anymore. I look old, foolish, inept, and really, quite sad.

The next day: I have researched my little heart out. I have found the best websites on a subject that is so cool and cutting edge that my students are going to be inspired to be the best readers in the world! All of sudden, it occurs to me: will my students have access to these sites? OMG, OMG! After all that work will I hit a technological brickwall? The answer is, YES. My students do not have access to any sites that sell items. This includes book retailers, yes, you know which online book retailers I mean. Oh well, start over again.

Oh, and by the way, I don't text either.

Anglo Girl

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here We Go Again!

Wow! I'm starting year seven of my second career, teaching. Today I gave my first writing assignment to my senior class, and I just can't believe how much I still like teaching English. I showed the students how to use online resources for their textbooks, and then we quickly reviewed the actual textbook. I actually got excited about my lecture over Anglo-Saxon England that I will be giving tomorrow. I truly am the biggest nerd I know when it comes to English history. I know some of my students are really passionate about history, and some are really interested in literature and writing. But I think the rest of them just think I'm crazy.

Will my students ever understand the importance of social literacy? Will they have to be in their 30's before they can appreciate it? Are they going to learn anything in this class? Will I be fired? In the future, I plan on pointing out when I notice references to literature in the media and in life. This blog might just be my perfect forum for my obsession for all things old and British. And even though I am a fan of all things old and British, Queen Elizabeth II is not included on that list. I know, I know...she's old and she's British, but come on! How can she even compare to the Renaissance Elizabeth I?

I'm off to conclude my mission to convert non-reading teenagers into teenagers and adults that read for entertainment. If I just win over one, my work here is done.

Your superheroine of literacy,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trash or Treasure?

You never know what you are going to find when your cleaning out someone else's house. Over the last few months I have been pleasantly surprised, dumbfounded, confused, outraged, humored, shocked, disgusted, baffled, and yes, sometimes horrified. I have thrown away thousands of dollars worth of food and countless "free gifts" from sweepstakes companies. I have researched countless pieces of china and glassware on the Internet that, quite frankly, I find tacky and wonder why anyone would ever collect such awful items. I have found dead mice in unexpected places. I have laughed my butt off when I have found circa 1970's pictures of loved ones. I have found a few treasures--nothing of monetary value--but treasures all the same: a hand-painted wedding invitation from the 1950's, dusty old books (my first love), a Frankoma bee hive honeypot, dog tags from the family pet that died in 1969, baby shoes, a huge conch shell (that is now sitting beside my pool), kitschy bar ware, funky prints of Paris, and cast iron skillets.

I would like to strangle the sweepstakes people for leading the elderly down a primrose path of promised fortunes. And who told my mother-in-law that she should could retire one day on the proceeds of her Beanie Baby collection?! That person ought to be shot. What am I going to do with 5,678 Beanie Babies? Also, what makes a person want to hoard items? Now, I'm not talking about "collecting" items, but hoarding items. What would compel a person to save all the detergent scoops that they ever got? I mean I understand that you could buy a box of Tide and by some cosmic mistake, the company could have not put a scoop in the box. For this reason alone, I think that everyone should keep one extra scoop above the washing machine. But really, do you need 157? What is with old people and marbles?! My mother-in-law really "lost her marbles". I filled a coffee can with marbles I found in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, and I found these marbles ONE AT A TIME!!! Why did she need the marbles in the kitchen and bathroom? I also found $687.32 in change in the kitchen, and you guessed it, I found it one coin at a time.

One person's trash is another person's treasure. Who am I to judge?

Anglo Girl