Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Sleepless Night: An In-Law Rant

So as I start this post, I am telling myself to not turn it into as complain session. IN that case, I should probably just stop now. But doesn't everyone need a good little in-law rant once in awhile?

Disclaimer: I generally do not swear or lash out, but this subject has been sending me over the edge for a long time now, and it's really come to a head and I've had it.

I am so fricking sick of the crap that they pull. They think they are so high and mighty, when really they're just a bunch of ultra-conservative, spoiled, demeaning, selfish a-holes that don't care about anyone unless they make high 6 figures and conform to the standards that they believe make a person worthwhile.

Here are the words that I wold love to come flying out of my mouth..

"No, we're NOT coming to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving because we think it's more important to try to save our house from foreclosure than to waste money that we don't have on gas and hotel. We WON'T spend the few dollars we have to give our kids a nice Christmas on your over indulged kids who get $3oo cell phones for birthday presents and laptops for Christmas because you can't think of anything else to give them (yes, that was a direct quote from one of the SILs). By the way, I'm sorry you're embarrassed that we are the white trash of the family, but we are still very smart people who are working just as hard as you are, even if we're not succeeding. Get your heads out of your a@*es and get off your fricking high horse. If you have no intention of being civil, than quit pretending that you are! Oh, and by the way, just because my husband doesn't want to spend every family gathering standing around in the garage smoking cigars, that doesn't make him less of an adult. Oh, and if you want to do a 'white elephant' gift exchange, don't trick people into bringing decent presents and then they leave with big piece of crap cookie jar and foot lotion."

That's what I would LOVE to be able to say. But do I really say? "We're trying to work it out." Not adding of course that it will mean another month of no car payment, since we had to spend this month's car payment on a car repair for said car instead. Even saying that we're trying to work it out is met with majorly snotty FB messages between all of the SILs this morning.

My sleepless night was plagued my numerous problems last night, but I really think I could deal with all of this other crap if I didn't feel the disgusting sheer of in-law nose raising just hanging over our heads. I've put up with if 14 years, and I will continue to put up with it, because I don't intend for this marriage to end any time soon but I am just so sick of the fakeness of that "family" and that all of these nasty people think that WE'RE the ones that don't see things clearly.

Okay, now that everyone knows the bad person that I really am, I will go back to trying to be a good person again. I guess I am a fake too.

I guess I didn't succeed in the "no complain post" after all. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Top Five

It was a weekend at home for the Wheelz Family. And a pretty good one as well. I think I have a top five, but I will be posting a separate post about one of them later this week.

5. Ouch
Friday afternoon about fifteen minutes before I got to school to pick up the boys my phone rang. It was Aaron's teacher wanting to know if I was in the parking lot yet and could I come in. Aaron had cut his finger with scissors during Buddy Time and she wanted me to see the cut. If it had been anywhere on his finger other than where it was, we would have been heading to the med center for stitches. But it was right in the crease of his finger. It was deep and bled a ton, but really nothing could be done. If he bent his finger, it would eventually stop bleeding but when he straightened it, it would start again. So we spent the entire evening on finger duty watching for blood and covering it. After awhile, I decided that it was never going to dry up if we kept covering it and by Saturday we were leaving the band aid off. It broke open a few more times over the weekend but this morning when Mrs. T asked him about it, he proudly showed his finger, ready for action. I really hope that is the extent of injuries for this year.

4. ArtPrize
This is the biggy. I will be posting more about the ArtPrize experience later. It is essentially an international art contest that completely takes over the city of Grand Rapids for 10 days. I was so excited to go check it out. The three boys were less than enthused, but they admitted afterward that they enjoyed it. They lasted four hours and were done. I came home and wanted more so I invited Deb to go back with me Saturday night. We visited a few of the venues that we missed in the afternoon. As a matter of fact, I still want to see more and am excited that I was invited to go again today again. I think we may have even gotten our Christmas card picture during this event. What do you think?

3. The Last Playdate
Our neighbors who have two kids, one of them almost the exact same age as Noah are moving away. They have been in the process for quite a long time now. Noah and the son, B, have been friends since they were born. We have so many pictures of them together through the years. So, during the last day of packing up the house, we had the two kids over all day on Sunday, both to help keep them out of the hair while they were packing, and also so the kids could have one last day to play together. And boy did they make the most of it. Inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs, all over the place for hours they played. And danced. And argued. And made plans for how to stay in touch after they move. Noah and B exchanged addresses and I really hope that they follow through on letter writing to each other. I think it would do them both a lot of good. They found a CD player downstairs with an old Halloween CD and danced off and on all day, especially Aaron and B's little sister, G.

2. Clearing Out the Junk
While the neighbors were packing, I noticed a pick up truck in their driveway advertising the free haul away of anything with metal on it. I mentioned it to Steve and he wondered if they had space in the truck for some of our stuff. We have had a broken dishwasher in our garage for well over a year now, taking up space so he went over and asked if they would take it. They chucked it clear on top of all of the neighbors' stuff. Then, they said, "Hey, if you're ever looking to get rid of a washer or dryer, let us know." We cracked up and then said, "Well, actually...." My parents got us an early Christmas present a few weeks ago and got us a used washer and dryer from some friends. Our washer had been broken for a very long time and it was taking a toll on our pocketbook (laundromat) and my health (my back from the non spun clothes). So a few weeks ago Steve and I went and picked up the new appliances and brought them into the basement. Meanwhile, we gave up before trying to move the old washer back up the stairs and it has been laying sideways on our basement floor for weeks. When we told them, they gladly came back a few hours later, brought it up themselves and took it away. They also took an old gas grill that someone gave to us that needed repairs that would have cost more than a new grill, and also a fan that Aaron broke. There is a huge satisfaction when I am cleaning and more and more old junk gets out of the house. I also packed up four bags of clothing to give away. No more saving for garage sales. I just want it out of my house.

1. Homework
When Noah was in first grade, I didn't even give spelling tests a second thought. He knew all the words, he knew all the letters, he was fine. But with Aaron, the reason I put him in this class was so that he could work on fine motor skills, namely his writing. Each day when he comes home, we sit at the table for a few minutes and re do the letters that they worked on in class. This weekend, he also had a project that was due today. He needed to cut out words that describe him and glue them onto a wrapping paper covered cereal box. We worked on it for quite awhile and then decided it was time to at least write a few times the spelling words he had this week. Last Sunday, it was a bit of a battle. He didn't want to do it and I was frustrated at how far behind he seemed. But this week, it was completely different. I think we just approached it a little differently and he did great. I picked several of the words that looked the weakest from his pre-test and had him re-write them a few times. I was truly blown away by how well he did. Hopefully he will do well on the real pre-test in school today.

So, it was a weekend full of getting stuff done. I have so much more to share about ArtPrize but I wanted to wait until I go again today, and probably at least once more. There is one venue outside of Grand Rapids that I am going to stop by after my rehearsal tonight since it is on the way home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Whole Week

My hubby mentioned to me the other night that it's been quite awhile since my last post. I thought it was funny that he was the one who mentioned it. Could it be that he actually ENJOYS reading my little tidbits of useless chatter? :)

It's been an interesting week. I realized that I have very few pictures to share. As a matter of fact, I have very few pictures in general at the moment. I guess the kids being back to school gives me much less to photograph, other than the dog and cat. And really, how many pictures can one take of the animals before they all start looking the same?

So anyway, what has the Wheelz home been up to lately? A lot in our minds, but not really much of interest to the bloggy world, which is why I've been a stalker lately, rather than a contributor.
We got the puppy spayed last week, which pretty much consumed the second half of the week. Add to that the fact that her little incision seemed to have come open and bled off and on all weekend, and I was pretty much a big ball of stress. Why is it that when we are stressed, we tend to take it out on the ones whom we love most? Namely, the poor hubby and boys who by Sunday night had had enough of hearing mommy panic about the dog. Luckily, by Monday the incision seemed to have dried up for good.

So just about the same time things settled down with the puppy, the van died. AGAIN. It is so frustrating to know that we got swindled with this piece of junk car and we're still stuck with it for as long as it takes us to pay thousands of dollars we still owe for it, even though it has 160K miles on it. It wouldn't have been so bad except that after we were quoted a repair of over $300, we then heard from them three days later that it was going to be even more because after three days, they couldn't even GET to the piece that needed to be replaced. They finally had to cut a tube that controlled the entire engine and jerry rig it back together in order to fix it. GRRRR!

In school news, things seem to be settling down for both boys. Monday this week was rough on Aaron and I left him in the hallway crying as I left the school. I didn't stress it too much though since I recall the same situation with Noah in first grade too. The start of first grade and the start of a new school year is very overwhelming. Luckily, since that day, Aaron has been cry free and seems to be getting the hang of things. His first spelling test is tomorrow. He can spell all of the words just fine, it's just the task of forming all of the letters correctly and fast enough that becomes a challenge for him. That is the precise reason I put him in first grade though. So that he would be practicing his writing skills more than just the two days a week that this school's kindergarten had to offer. From what I understand, there is a tutor that is working with him and several other kids and I am glad he's getting the help he needs BEFORE he really needs it.

As for Noah, the math homework is starting to get challenging for him for the first time in his life. After I worked with him on it last night, I felt as if he really didn't get it and it bothered me the entire time I was at the store teaching. So when I got home last night, I pulled him aside and made up problems for him relating to the homework for at least a half hour. After it ended, he was definitely more relaxed and even said , "Mom, that was kind of fun." I'm not sure if he thought the math was fun, or that he got the one on one time with me that he craves so much. Or maybe he was just relieved that he understood the homework. He was baffled though when I told him that I personally LOVE math and actually think it's fun. Yup, I am THAT kind of nerd.

In job news, I have been filling out tons of job school applications for para pros and other non-certified positions in the public schools. I decided a few months ago that I am ready to get back into teaching, but there seem to be enough hurdles in my way to make it seem not possible at the moment. Even subbing is delayed for various reasons. It is frustrating that now that I am finally ready, willing, and actually desiring to go to work, I can't get a job. I even found a posting online last night for a job that I was essentially offered last year as an accompanist for a local school district. I am beating myself up though because the dummy that I am, I didn't save the email from the director whom I could have emailed directly when I saw the posting last night.
I keep trying to tell myself that I can't tell God which job is right for me. That even though these would all be great jobs for me at this time, I am willing to trust that He has a plan for me. I know there is a plan. But I am struggling with the patience of waiting for His time. I need this in MY time so that we can get our life in order. Faith is definitely a difficult thing sometimes, but I do trust that eventually I will see the purpose in this time.

I am also struggling with in-law Drama. Major Drama. I will not apologize for marrying their son, nor will he apologize for marrying me. If in 14 years, you people have not figured out that we're a team, then I don't think you'll ever get it.

So that's my life this week. Doubtful that anyone has read all the way through this, but at least I have a record of this week. I am looking forward to the weekend. Hopefully we will go apple picking at one of my favorite small orchards by our house that the four of us visit every year. And of course, ArtPrize, which is a huge art competition all of the city of Grand Rapids. I will most likely have a lot of pictures next week of cool art if we get out to see some of it.

There you go Honey. My take on the week. Now off to stalk people again :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Noah's Solution

Noah and I were having a conversation this morning about our neighbor who's moving away. They have a boy who is almost exactly Noah's age and they have grown up together.

Noah asked me this morning if B was completely moved yet. I told him that no, his family is probably going to finish moving this weekend and they could probably play together this weekend for the last time. I have told him that they could write to each other and Lansing is only an hour away so we could even go visit at some point. His mom and I have even talked about a possible sleep over over Christmas vacation.

But this morning in the car while we were talking about it, Noah came up with a new solution.

And this solution solved TWO problems in his mind.

"Mommy, why don't we just get enough helium balloons and lift our house into the air like the movie Up. Then we can go to see B in Lansing AND they can't find us and we won't have to make the house payment anymore."

Putting aside that an eight year old shouldn't be worrying about our house payment and has apparently heard us talk about our current situation a little too often, I still thought it was a funny and creative solution in his mind.

Monday, September 13, 2010

He Wants to be Cool

Yup, it happened this morning. Noah has finally asked to be "cool". I knew this day would come sooner or later. I think I need to be grateful that we made it into third grade before it came.

I have always been pretty picky about what the kids wear. Many people think overly picky. When Noah was in kindergarten, I insisted on him wearing "nice" clothes to school, which usually means shirts with collars (polo-ish).

Then, somewhere around the first grade year, the protests began, no longer willing to wear collar shirts every day. I gave in and got him some more regular type shirts. But I have stuck to my opinions on "attitude" shirts and "character" shirts. As the boys started asking for shirts with their favorite characters, I relented a little bit more, allowing them to wear them on the weekends or other non-school days.

But I have still stuck to the no character shirt rule for school.

Now, I must stop to say that this rule is much easier for girls than for boys. Girls have the options of flowers and designs without having to go straight to charcters. Plus, girl characters run along the lines of princesses. With boys, when you subtract attitude and characters, you
are pretty much left with solid colors and stripes. I don't like it, but it is the way of things. So the boys have closets full of shirts with strpes on them.

And sure enough, this morning, Noah came out for breakfast with a very unhappy look on his face. "Mommy, it's not fair that I have to wear stripes every day. Everyone else has cool shirts with words and characters."

The problem is, he's right. It really isn't fair. But at the same time, I believe that how the world sees you is directly affected by what you're wearing, especially when you're a school age boy. So I am conflicted. I really don't like the idea of him wearing characters to school. I also refuse to allow the attitude shirts. You know, the ones that say things like "I'm not deaf, I'm ignoring you" That kind of stuff. But if that's what everyone else is wearing, don't I owe it to him to find a way for him to blend in a little without compromising my beliefs.

So I told him I would spend the day trying to think of a compromise. After asking what the word meant, he seemed to be a little appeased. Putting aside my beliefs, the money for school clothes shopping is gone and I can't afford to go buy a new wardrobe for the child. But at the same time, I grew up with not only the most un-cool wardrobe possible, but also with a mom who called me a nerd pretty much every day because all I wore were jeans and t shirts.

I still am a nerd, and that's okay. But I really do want to do better for my kids. Where is the happy medium between spending huge dollars for a shirt just because it has a certain brand name on it and wearing the same stripes every day? I wonder if I need to take a trip to wander the mall today just to see what else is out there that I may have missed, even if I can't afford to buy that stuff today.

Yeah, I knew this day was coming. And now that it's here, I have to deal with it. I guess we all have to find where pop culture and personal beliefs meet and decide how far we're willing to let that line slide in one direction of the other.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What A Week

As I sit here in the silence this morning, I am reflecting on the crazy week that just passed. I'm actually shocked that school has only been in session a few days with how much has happened. Things went so crazy with school that I didn't even get to share my adventurous weekend last weekend, and here it is dawning on a new weekend.

My parents took my step brother and and me the U of M, Connecticut game in Ann Arbor last Saturday. It was the most awesome day. I had never been to the Big House, and it was even more special because they were honoring a local hero and also a re dedication of the field due to its newest construction. I can't do it justice but it was just an incredible experience. 113,090 people in the stadium, blue and yellow (although I'm supposed to say gold) everywhere. It was just massive. And so much fun. And how nice of the Woverines to win the game for us just to make the experience more wonderful. I found myself smiling all night and all the next day just thinking about it. And let's hope they at least make a good showing tomorrow against Notre Dame, huh?

Sunday we took another step toward joining our new church by attending "Pizza with the Pastors" which was kind of like an informal get-to-know-you type session that everyone is encouraged to take before they join. We definitely feel that we've found our home and are looking forward to taking the final joining class in October. It's kind of funny. When we left our old church, I told people that I wanted to take a year until we joined somewhere new. Without even planning it, we will be joining our new church in November, exactly a year after we left the old.

After the meeting, we went for a short and quite uncomfortable shopping trip with my MIL for school clothes for the kids. She wanted to have "special time" with each of the boys. What she doesn't understand is that the boys didn't really care about "special time", they just wanted to get clothes shopping over with. It was definitely a strange afternoon.

Sunday night I rented a new Wii game for family game night. It was all about circus games and very fun. I like being able to rent games before we buy them to find out if they will actually be something that we will play long term. Not sure if this one will make the cut or not but we had a lot of fun while we had it.

Monday Labor Day was yet another very strange day. Steve had told the director of the singing group that he is in that we would attend his backyard barbecue since we had missed the last several that we had been invited to. When we got there, we were the only ones there. Very strange. After a short time, of course, the boys got restless and I sent them outside in the back yard to find something to do. They found MUD! Lots of it. And proceeded to track it onto the director's brand new deck. After that, the director got out the two big huge water cannon blasters to fill them for the boys. Through the process, one of them EXPLODED and now they only had one. Mr. P's solution...give one of the kids the HOSE with a sprayer. Well, not much description is needed if you know Aaron. Half hour later, both kids are soaked to the bone, it's barely 70 degrees outside and Noah is complaining about being cold. Of course, I had no extra clothes so Mr. P's wife grabbed a towel and Noah stripped down to his nothing and I put the clothes in the dryer. Meanwhile, Aaron spent another 45 minutes just re-soaking himself. There's nothing like going to someone's house for the first time only to have both of your children sitting naked in towels as a greeting when other people arrive for a BBQ. Very strange!

You know what happened the rest of this week. School chaos that seems to be settling down finally. Homework started, after school schedules being tweaked, etc. Aaron woke up yesterday morning and asked, "Mommy, how many more days until the next summer vacation?" and Noah's first words this morning were, "Mom, I thought today was going to be a sleep in day." Yup, they're exhausted. Unfortunately, we don't get to relax tomorrow either. After Noah's scout pack does it's scheduled salute downtown in remembrance of 9/11, it's off to yet another strange and probably uncomfortable afternoon evening with the in-laws and Steve's singing group. I really am happy that Steve has found a group to sing with, but it really seems to take over our life a lot of the time. We actually have to miss my niece and nephew's birthday party for this one tomorrow.

So yes, the past week has definitely been an adventure. I knew that things were starting to settle yesterday though when I spent over two hours cleaning and re-organizing the boys' bedrooms. I also got numerous bill collection phone calls finally done and today it's cleaning out the car, getting more bill situation's taken care of, and for the first time in three months, a chance to get grocery shopping done in the day time when I can actually think straight without two other appendages begging for everything they see.

Yup, definitely starting to finally fall into a pattern. I really hope we can stay even keel for awhile before the next big crisis comes along.

We can only hope.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Personal Blog Rules Re-Visited

So the past 48 hours have been insane. But as I sit here re-reading the posts I've written and all of the FB chatter, I realize that I kind of broke my own rule. Three years ago, when Noah was in kindergarten and really struggling, I vowed to no longer air all of his trials on school on the blog. And I was really good about it for the past few years.

I realized in the past few minutes that I have not extended that same courtesy to Aaron. His struggles are and will be completely different, but they are still HIS struggles that we need to deal with and I shouldn't be airing them out for the world to hear.

Yes, it means that some of my worries have to be in silent. But that's okay. Some of the posting I've done about these situations with school have been for my own benefit, to get things sorted out in my own brain.

But I don't think it's a good idea to continue and I need to revisit the rules I set forth several years ago on my old blog.

1. Protect identities and private matters of those people who I know personally
This I have done well with. Ever since I accidentally hurt someone important to me years ago with a picture, I have no longer posted pictures or names (other than a first initial) of anyone who has not given me specific permission to do so

2. Protect personal matters of blog friends
I enjoy reading others and sharing with them my thoughts if I feel they will help another friend in the blogosphere. But I do not repeat what I read in other people's blogs here, unless otherwise given permission.

3. Protect Marriage Struggles
Not that our disagreements are major, but every couple has them and I have always made an effort to not air grievances about my hubby. He loves us too much and he deserves the respect of others, even when I'm mad at him :)

4. Protect private matters of my children
Here is my FAILURE! In trying to sort out things in my own mind, I have shared too much of my struggles with my children. I like to write out my stresses and work them out, but I fear that I have sacrificed my children's privacy. Also, I know that family members who read the things I post are left to wonder about more information and it just makes things hard. So I vow from this day forward to do a better job of protecting the kids private matters.

I know there are others but I am drawing a blank on other ones, but these are the biggest. Our struggles with this school year I am quite sure are not over, but I will try to be more careful about how much I divulge if it is DIRECTLY about the boys.

PS. This goes for FB as well. I had already been a little more careful about facebook because my in-laws friended me and I didn't have a chance but to accept. But even there, being cryptic just makes people upset too, so I will be more careful all around the internet world.

Will I be completely successful? Probably not. But I am going to try.

I assume there will still be plenty to share. After all, I am a mom.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thursday Thirteen Volume II: What Makes Me Smile

I started this last week with 13 things that make me smile and couldn't believe that when I got to 13, I still had more running through my mind.

How about 13 more?

1. Playing piano just for me

2. Watching my hubby cradle the little dog in his big arms

3. Our first three day stretch ever with no dog poop or pee in the house (I think)

4. Knowing that WHATEVER grade or school Aaron starts next week, he's excited to learn

5. Super hot scalding baths

6. Chocolate and caramel combined in anything

7. Noah taking initiative to help anyone with something

8. Falling asleep in bed (not the couch) and sleeping through the night

9. That it gets darker earlier

10. That it's going to get cooler this weekend, truly making it feel like fall

11. Reading a bible passage during devotions that makes Steve or me remember a song we like (Last night it was On Eagle's Wings)

12. Talking to family members on the phone when we haven't spoken in awhile, even if I have to get off to go to work.

13. Finding extremely good deals on school clothes

These are so incredibly random, I'll have to keep going next week :)

What Matters

I am piano teacher.

I have taken probably a hundred students over the last 15 years and brought them out of musical illiteracy

I created programs for over 400 kids in schools that were mind boggling and awesome.

I single handedly started a hand bell choir that is no longer my own.

I used to think that what I did mattered.

I used to take pride in what I did.

I used to think that I was leaving some kind of legacy.

I used to think that the little piece that I contributed to a person's life would make them happier in the future.

That's what I used to think.

I still think I am am good at what I do.

I still think I can be proud of what I accomplished professionally in the past.

But I no longer think that what I do REALLY matters.

I am really a blip in someone's week.

A milli-blip in someone's life.

Years from now I will be "some lady who taught me piano once"

Is that a legacy?


So what does matter?

My family.

How I treat others.

The good deeds I do that are not be known by another soul.

Why do they matter?

On the day I am put to rest, what will be remembered?

Will anyone remember me anyway?

Who knows?

I know that I no longer need to live in what I used to be and wonder why no one cared.

I know know that I can live from this day forward for others.

Can I bring a smile to someone's face?

That's what matters.

For today, I will stop worrying about what I've accomplished in the past and WHY it didn't matter.

For today, I will live for making someone smile, even if that smile is only for today.

When I breathe my last breath, I will face it knowing I cared.

That's what matters.