6.16.2013

Fathers with daughters

There’s a special kind of panic that boils up in my soul when I run out of toilet paper on a Sunday, a residual effect of living in a small town during my childhood.  It’s such a silly thing, but if I think about it for any more than a second, it makes me a little sad and nostalgic.

The memories of darting to the store with my father last minute on a Saturday afternoon for beer, chips and toilet paper – for the following day’s Packer game, of course – have stuck with me over the decades.

So much of my childhood revolved around moments like this with my father.

Spending Saturdays at my grandma’s house, watching as my dad scooped dead bats out of buckets in her attic, fixed her 1950s green flecked dishwasher hose that was always coming loose and shooting water across her floor, mowed her lawn, shoveled her sidewalks, repaired boards in her garage floor…

Stomping pop cans with the pick-axe and taking them to the store, and later when the local grocer installed one of those pop can return machines, leaving them whole and pushing them into the chutes one-at-a-time.  I can still hear that sucking sound.

Building “bird houses” with Dad’s tools, although I’m sure the masterpieces were more treasure in my mind than in reality.

Hanging out watching the guys play poker around our plywood and veneer dining room table, fetching beer and learning what a bluff was.

Going out on errands to Trantow Do-It Center, Cup-N-Cone for mini golf, the dump (and seeing my first in-real-life grown bear in the middle of the road), Grund’s Bar, and gravel roads to bleed the brakes on his pickup truck.

Smuggling a fluffy calico kitten in my winter coat and out of my grandparents’ farmhouse and – once discovered – being told that in no uncertain terms was it GOING BACK the very next day.  Crying the whole day at school.  Coming home to find my father petting Gus Gus, who would be with us for many more years.

My sister was close with my mother while growing up, and I never had that bond with her.  I had it with my dad.  Which might explain why I grew up a tomboy, why I never worried about my hair or my makeup, why I stood on the deck and waved to Dad when he left for work, and why I cried when my dad worked nights on my birthday, leaving a note in an envelope for me to find in the morning.

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I will always feel “okay” with myself and equal to men in my abilities thanks to my father treating me as such.

I know people claim that women marry men like their father, and I never saw it until after I had children of my own.

My husband is the same guy, snuggling with the kids, watching Star Wars movies and playing with Nerf guns.

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He makes them “special” meals of Mac-N-Cheese (blasphemous in our house).  He drives over the lawn to drop the girls off at the front door, laughing hysterically when they beat Mommy and their sister in our never-ending competition to get home first.

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He steals them on errands to Target and of course to get ice cream.

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He tickles and wrestles and chases and does everything that irritates me in the moment from the screeching laughter it produces, but I’m so thankful for it.

From the moment we saw the three beating blurs on the ultrasound, that 23-year-old Mike dove head-first into parenting and has never looked back.

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I hope my girls are lucky enough to have someone so loyal and loving in their lives some day.

So thank you, to both the fathers in my life.

For daughters past, present and future.

6.03.2013

The vomit was just the icing

I come from a looooong line of do-it-yourself, suck-it-up, volunteer martyrs.  I remember my mother always having something she was planning or doing for someone else, and the woman NEVER – through the duration of my formative years – did anything for or bought anything to treat herself.

Too much guilt.

(The woman was Lutheran but must have become Catholic through osmosis.  Good Samaritan shtick, and whatnot.  At least now, she’ll do the favors you ask of her, but then she gets a good bitching in in the meantime.)

I remember when she bought herself a dress from JCPenney’s that was from the Pretty Woman line – that brown polka-dotted dress – and I was so excited for her.  We didn’t have a ton of money, so that was a pretty big deal for me.

My dad spent every single weekend with me in tow fixing up my grandmother’s house.  Everything from chasing bats from the attic or trimming trees or fixing her garage.

It is genetically IMPOSSIBLE for me to turn down a plea for help without a good excuse.

It’s frustrating for Mike because he has no sympathy for anyone.  He reads the news online and every story he shares could end with his commentary: “They should just shoot people like that.  Take him out in the street and execute him.”  I am not exaggerating.  You should hear him during election season.

I’m like: STOP READING.  Everyone is just THE WORST on the internet.  The internet should be reserved for kittens, porn and watching Tosh.0.

There are a few exceptions with Mike’s charity.  Like my sister.  And probably my parents.  And a handful of friends and neighbors.  And probably any woman anywhere who is having car trouble.  Other than that, he’s the polar opposite of my charity whore persona.  Suck it up, folks, Mike says you’re on your own.

Now you know where Jesus REALLY stands.

I know my girls are getting the shit end of the stick with all of this.  They know how to use Netflix on their own, if that tells you anything.  Total and complete neglect.

Even Mike has been sidelined.  We finally got out to a best ball golf tournament for work and had a blast.  Here we are: looking chubby and tired and probably a little bit “happy” on PBR.




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Those breaks are few and far between.  And yet, I can’t justify it, somehow, in my brain.  I feel so guilty for doing anything that isn’t cleaning.  I don’t even watch TELEVISION.  You guys.  I’m telling you.  I watch ten minutes of Judge Judy or Maury each week because that’s on the one or two times I eat LUNCH each week.

I don’t even fucking EAT.

I was multi-tasking cleaning the cat litter while the girls and I were in the basement for a tornado warning, which I’m pretty sure was the low point for me.  “Died while scooping cat shit.  You were loved. RIP.”

It’s like some kind of weird, charitable, busy-bodied, self-deprivation mental illness.

You know how many times over the last six months I have just about typed ‘I am taking the week off,’ just to LITERALLY be asked to do a favor before I could type the words out?  And then I don’t want to look like an asshole, so I delete and carry on.  Maybe next week...

The problem is: I LIKE HELPING PEOPLE.  It’s not necessarily that I enjoy the tasks I’m assigned as much as I like being there for my friends and family.  I have the shoulders of a giant – I am never “too busy” to do anything, trust me.

I just need a mini vacation.  Like two weeks paid from my life.  I don’t know if I’ve been a very good wife, mother, friend, sister… because I have completely checked out mentally.

I think I’m happy and having fun, but I can’t remember.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but this is cutting into Mike’s homemade meals and though he claims it doesn’t matter, he turns into a crabby old coot when he doesn’t get fed.  He went on a tirade a few weeks ago, stomping around, demanding that I tell him WHAT IT IS I DO ALL DAY that prevented the dishes from being done for two solid days.

Ehrmagehrd.

Hmmm… honey, I’m not really sure WHAT I’m doing.

I took inventory for the first time.

And kept a list.

It was downright disturbing.

Aside from going to the gym or my trainer every other day, each week I work twelve hours at the internship, volunteer a few hours at Kristin’s classroom, attend meetings and plan and make phone calls for Urbanarama 2013, help out a couple friends by cleaning houses for their business, work at my sister’s hoop house…

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With my free time, I am:
making cedar and twine planters for my sister’s first Uptown Marion Market,

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doing laundry,
shopping for groceries,
paying bills,

helping the girls with homework and attending their special events, like when Emma received an award that I told her wasn’t coming because I thought they’d forgotten her – just her, out of the whole school – and I told her to essentially “suck it up” (the cycle continues) when the REST of the school had gotten awards ALL YEAR LONG, then BAM she gets one on the very last assembly,

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cooking,
cleaning,
mowing our hayfield lawn,
bringing food to Jeff’s house while they cut down the trees he lost in a storm,

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planting flowers with the girls on our property,

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perpetually flushing and unplugging toilets,
making beds,
donating hand-made items for friends’ fundraisers,

driving out to our land to do ‘checks’ and finding myself wanting to lie down and sleep where NO ONE CAN FIND ME (that’s normal, right?),

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GIVING OUR KIDS SOMETHING THAT RESEMBLES A REAL CHILDHOOD,

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(yes that is a teeny tiny fish that Emma is “swimming” through the air by grasping it’s tail, their first time fishing ever because I suck as a mother – with uncle Jeff and Elliotter)

and
trying
not
to
kill
Mike
when
he
asks

WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY?

I admit… I have fantasized about faking my own death.

I’ve heard other people say the same thing about feeling pulled 1,000 directions with no end in sight, and they STILL volunteer at schools or as coaches or for local charities, etc…  Are we all completely NUTS???

I miss the days when all I had to do was go to work for eight or ten hours then come home and eat crappy Mac-N-Cheese dinners and fall asleep watching Rescue Me or Sex and the City.  Hell, I miss the days I can read a book with not a single page devoured while hiding on the toilet.  I fear those days are long gone.

This is all coming to a crux because I’ve begun looking for gainful employment, and things have not been going well in my brain.  I literally forgot EVERY SINGLE PAYMENT last month aside from our home and land loans.  EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

And I didn’t know it until they started calling.

“Oops, sorry ‘bout that!”  “How many days late?”  “Gee, I really would LOVE if you wouldn’t shut our power off.  That would be GREAT.”

The thought of adding a job to all of the above makes me physically ill.  I want a career, so something has got to give.

Or I need to adopt a stronger stimulant to my diet.

Like METH.

Until then, though, I’m going to work on taking time for my life.

Starting tomorrow?


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I particularly enjoy that saying: NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED.

I picked up my nephew Saturday night at the request of my sister, with the plan that I would take him to his ball game at noon on Sunday.

Around 1:30 AM, Kristin walked out of the bed the four kids were sharing, calmly saying, “Mom? Elliott won’t stop spitting.”

Apparently, they don’t recognize vomit, even when it covers their bed and two of the children from head to toe.  It took three loads of laundry, throwing the sheet and two pillows away, and two showers with four kids at 2AM to rid the house of puke stench.

Today when asking my sister how Elliott was feeling after his theatrical interpretation of The Exorcist, we both burst out laughing like maniacs.

I’m pretty sure we’ve reached the end of our sanity.

5.09.2013

My paradise is paste and glitter

It’s amazing how quickly life can change!  It’s taken me until now to take a deep breath and organize my thoughts.

I’ve gone from a stay-at-home mom to… whatever it is that I’ve turned into.  A lunatic?

Six weeks ago, I took a part-time internship (or: “fake job” as Mike calls it) with a local Chamber of Commerce.  It’s a grab bag of event planning, paperwork, miscellaneous lifting, and today, I wrote my first press release.  Now, before you get TOO excited, it was a dozen sentences and 90% of them were templated, so… yeah.  But I really really like it.  And I’m lucky that I like the people I’m working with.

(I hear that that doesn’t always happen.)

Anyway, about that same time, I joined a “boxing” gym with my sister.  I was just telling Mike that I need to spend more time with her.  It was fun, even though I wanted to die every time I went to class, and still get sick when I am on my way there.  I break out in sweats just thinking about going.

And then she turned into a self-proclaimed slacker and quit going with me two weeks ago.  Which is such a sad story, leaving me to work out all alone with the eye candy.  *Cry*

In her defense, she just reopened her hoophouse, so I SUPPOSE I can let her off the hook.  I’m ecstatic for her that she’s doing something she loves.  Plus the girls love nothing more than to hang out with auntie Stephie and the flowers and eat gas station food all day long, something we will hopefully get done this weekend!

Along with the gym membership, I’m meeting a personal trainer twice a week.  The first words out of my mouth: I am 200 pounds.  I am NOT trying to lose weight.  I just don’t want to jiggle quite so much.  And in pure Loren style, after six weeks I haven’t lost a freakin’ pound.  I’m definitely shape-shifting.  I even got a thumbs up from someone today while heading through downtown, so I must be doing something right, right?

And the other ladies (yes, mostly ladies, I wonder why?) laugh at me because I get Exercise Tourette’s and then immediately apologize.  My trainer punishes me with pushups every time I say “sorry” for cursing.  He says if I don’t swear, we’re not working hard enough.  (Or pass gas.  I’m totally serious.  Those workouts SUCK, especially when I had intestinal issues, to put it nicely.)

I signed up to do the Urbana festival again.  We’ve been meeting as a committee and at the third meeting, someone pointed at me and said something like “you’re pretty much committee chair.”  And as of right now, that’s all I’m prepared to say about THAT…

Let’s see, Mike got promoted and moved from A-Team to B-Team.  We missed some fabulous opportunities for Mr. T references, for sure.  He’s still working some overtime, leaving the girls and I home alone for girls’ nights when we paint nails, eat popcorn, and watch movies.  I think I like girls’ nights more than the girls do, but don’t tell THEM that.

Girls

If being busy has taught me anything, it’s to find quality time with the kids so that I can have quality time alone without the guilty.  I admit it, I love my alone time, too.

We bought just over 3 acres on the edge of Cedar Rapids back in November, so I ran the girls out to plant seeds.  While you might have a visual of three cute little girls sifting seeds through their fingers, in actuality, it was three giggling monkeys overhand pitching the seeds into the wilderness.

The girls can’t wait to move there, even though it’s likely 2 years away and they’re already sad about leaving their friends.  And with the amount of dandelions growing in our current yard, I’m anxious for the days when landscaping will involve very little if any LAWN.

We try to get out there now and again in our spare time, but it doesn’t happen as much as we’d like.  Plus, we both keep taking on fun projects.  Like painting the rooms in our house.  Or going on bicycle rides to the next town over on the trail.  And I’ve been doing fun stuff like earning a couple bucks with my friend who owns a cleaning company.  Since I have no motivation to clean my OWN house, I’ve been cleaning other peoples’.  (This makes sense in my head somehow.)

The more I read about other people’s lives with kids the girls’ age, the more inclined I am to keep them out of organized sports and limit our other obligations for a few more years.  I don’t know how you all do it with 30 different sports going at the same time!  I would be nutters.  I love being able to chuck the girls outside and let them run like a pack of wild dogs with the other neighbor kids.

Plus – if we’re honest – the girls inherited Mike’s coordination.  The WNBA won’t be knocking down our door tomorrow.

The girls have been honing talents in other ways, though.  Kristin has been writing the most creative stories lately.  And as my neighbor pointed out, in true Poe fashion, she is always writing about danger, death, dying, or spiders.  She is a mini me.

Kristin story

The mini Mike of the house, on the other hand, is all glitter and energy.  She wants to be a firefighter.  Or an artist.  Or something else exciting.  I see her as going into acting someday.

Emma thinks farts are funny and she giggles until she pees herself.  So pretty much my mother reincarnated.  And she loves frogs.  I’m sure there’s a career in there somewhere.

Emma frog

We’re still in the age when the kids are excited to see me at school, rather than mortified, so I have gone back to volunteering once a week in Kristin’s room.  It’s funny to see how many of the kids remember me from my days of doing art every week two years ago.  Such a good feeling to know you have an impact like that.

Except now we don’t do art.  We make change and tell time.  Still having an impact, but I have to admit I miss the paste and glitter…

I wish I could go back to the days that paste and glitter were the most important problems I had.  Sigh.

And because I’m so classy, I’ll leave y’all with this find, which I would like to point out was on the side of a minivan outside of a VERY classy store:

Love My Weiner

You’re welcome.