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Thursday, September 18, 2014


I swear.... we moved to Mayberry.

And I mean that in the best possible way.

The boys have gotten into a routine after school. The girls are always at volleyball practice for the first few after-school hours, so the boys come home, grab a snack, do homework and whatever else I need them to do, and then they're gone.

They are back outside as fast as they can possibly be. They grab their bikes and that's it. I don't see them again until I hunt them down after I pick the girls up from practice. They ride up and down the street, or to the park that's a few blocks away, or to any number of friends' houses. If I don't spot them right away, I usually spot their bikes parked in front of someone's house - and it's never just one or two bikes. There's usually a whole pile of bikes and scooters with random footballs and hoodies nearby.

Today, a bunch of their friends showed up here, and then they all took off and disappeared. I heard them say something about going to the park. A little while later, there was a knock at my door. There was a man who looked vaguely familiar standing there, and he asked if his daughter was still here playing with Alex. I said no, that they had all taken off toward the park a little bit ago. He laughed, we introduced ourselves to each other, and then he said he was going to go to the park to get her for supper - so I asked him to send my boys back when he saw them. He smiled and waved as he got in his car and drove down the street. Sure enough they boys came zooming back a few minutes later. "Mom, did you need us?" I told them I just wanted them to check in with me and sent them back on their way again.

A little later, I looked out the kitchen window and saw them climbing the cottonwood tree and playing in the dirt.

All 3 of them were covered in filth from head to toe. I made them come inside one by one and actually gave them baths instead of letting them do it on their own - because I knew that there was no way that they were going to get the dirt out of their hair by themselves.

And then I scrubbed every inch of the bathroom, from top to bottom.

This is it. This is why we moved. This is the way that life is supposed to be - knowing that I can send my kids outside and not worry about them and they can play with their friends and have fun and get dirty and not be sitting inside with their noses stuck in a video game.

Sure, they get into arguments with each other while they're out running around. But you know what? They resolve it on their own. They know that if they have to come running to me to tattle or settle a fight, I'm going to make them come inside. They know that if anyone strange happens to approach them, they are to stick together and either come get me or get to a friend's house, whichever is closer. Same thing if someone gets hurt. They are learning to cooperate with each other and to look out for each other and to amuse themselves. They problem solve and brainstorm and meet new friends and play new versions of old games.

And they get to be kids. If that means that I have to scrub the bathroom every single day, I'm ok with it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I Stayed

After I got the boys off to school this morning, I came back home and sat down in front of the laptop as I often do, trying to finish waking up. I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed and I saw a link that several people had posted, and it caught my attention.

If you haven't read that article yet, do it. Do it now.

Read the tweets. All of them. 

Read the last paragraph.

Now think about what you just read. I mean, really think about it.

How many times have you heard about a domestic violence situation, and questioned why the victim didn't just leave? How many times have you said something along the lines of "If that was me, I'd kick him in the junk and walk out the door"? 

Do you know how many times I said that before?

Trust me when I say that it's not that easy. It's hard. Staying in a bad situation is hard, but leaving is even harder.

A bike ride with this kind of scenery -
perfect therapy.
I went for a bike ride after I read that article. I needed to get out of the house and away from the computer and get some fresh air and quit crying. I ended up going about 6 miles, which is about 5 miles longer than any ride I've done recently, and even with a minor spill along the way, it did me good to work through my thoughts.

It has been 5 years, 4 months, and 3 days since I left my second marriage. And reading tweets like that can still bring me to tears, remembering exactly how it felt. I could feel the pain in those tweets. I can still feel the pain of what I went through - both physically and mentally.

Why did I stay for so long?

We He made the decision that I should quit my job and stay home with the kids. I had no job, no income, no way to support myself and my kids if I left. So I stayed.

I knew that I could file for child support and apply for assistance and things like that, but knowing the bureaucracy and red tape of the system, I wouldn't get it immediately - and landlords don't accept "I'll pay you in a couple of months" before they offer you a lease on your own place away from the abuse. So I stayed.

When we bought the van, he put it in his name because it was "easier" - leaving me with no transportation if I walked out. So I stayed.

Sure, he was mean when he drank. But he was nice to us when he was sober. So I stayed.

He worked hard at his job all day, so when he came home and the house wasn't clean enough, it was definitely my fault because I didn't work hard enough to clean it. But I knew that I could do better to make him happy. So I stayed.

I just needed to be a better wife and mother, and he'd stop drinking and treat me better. I could fix everything that was wrong. So I stayed.

When he dozed off on the couch and I finally figured out that he was hiding flasks of booze in his boots, he responded by kicking me as hard as he could. But really, I had just startled him and it was a reflex, and he didn't really mean to do it. So I stayed.

He choked me in a drunken rage when I was 6 months pregnant with our son. But I had made him angry when I grabbed his shirt to make him look me in the eyes and be honest with me. After I bailed him out of jail that night, he swore that it would never happen again. So I stayed.

He really didn't mean to knock me down and fling my glasses across the floor when he hit me upside the head. I was already crouching down so I was off-balance when he hit me - otherwise it wouldn't have happened. And he really didn't mean to hit me - it was accidental. Honest. So I stayed.

He was with his first wife for close to 20 years. Obviously, if she stayed with him for that long, things must have been fine and this behavior must have started when he married me. I must have somehow broken him - so I had to fix him. So I stayed.

If I left, who would take care of him? I loved him, and I didn't want to hurt him. So I stayed.

I loved him. So I stayed.

It finally took him pulling a knife to get me to realize that I didn't deserve this anymore. My kids didn't deserve it either. No one deserves it - men, women, children, young, old, black, white - it doesn't matter.

If you know of someone who is being abused - the last thing that he/she needs is your judgment. That person needs your support and your love more than anything. It's so hard to get out of those situations - contrary to popular belief, resources are not always readily available. It is not something that most victims are willing to discuss with just anyone, and so often the allegations of abuse come as a surprise to those around them - and they're not always believed, making it harder to get the support that is needed to get out of the situation.

Stop judging the victims. Support them. Love them. Be there for them. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why do I push?

I spent pretty much the entire day outside cutting firewood and cleaning up the corner of the yard and the firepit area. The general firewood area has needed to be cleaned up for a while, but the firepit area really needed it after I tore down the fence the other day - since I just chucked all of the old fence over the remaining fence into that area rather than dragging it all the way around and into the gate.

I got to work early this morning and started knocking stuff out fairly quickly. But as time went on, I started to get tired. After tearing part of the fence down two days ago, and tearing the old gate down yesterday, my body was just tired.

I stopped occasionally to catch my breath and move into the shade, and I'd occasionally check the notifications on my phone. There were a couple of notifications on the pictures that I had posted of the work that I've done, and there were some comments that were complimenting me on what I've accomplished.

In typical brain dump fashion, my thoughts started to go in a few different directions. I started thinking about different reactions that I've gotten to various accomplishments that I've posted about in the past. Everything from variations of "good job" to "you've inspired me because...." Those thoughts made me start thinking about why I post these kind of things.

It's not for attention. It's not for the virtual pats on the back. It's not to brag or to show off or to gloat or anything like that. Honestly, it's not for me at all.

Every now and then, I get a message from someone who says "I've felt so hopeless because of my situation, but then I see what you can accomplish and I know that you've been in my shoes and so if you can do it, so can I".

That is why I do it. That is why I post the things that I do.

For the person who has hit rock bottom and doesn't know it it's possible to get back up again.

For the person who is so broke that pennies found on the ground are hoarded like gold coins.

For the person who has gotten smacked around by an alcoholic partner one too many times.

For the person who battles depression and struggles to get out of bed and function.

For the person whose kids have said "I don't like you right now, so I'm moving out for a while."

For the person who is struggling in any way.

If by some chance, someone is inspired by the things that I do and post, then that is all that I need. That makes all of this work - and blogging about it - worth it. And it gives me a reason to get the work done - the inspiration that people get from looking at my work inspires me to do even more.

Pay it forward, one positive thought at a time.

If I can do it, anyone can.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Got a few things done today...

I started out putting the finishing touches on the dining room curtains, which included washing the drapes. They came with the house, so there's no telling how old they actually are - but they're old. I was feeling brave so I tossed them into the washer on the 'handwash' cycle and hung them out on the line to dry. They survived, although the linings needed to be repaired because the fabric shredded in places.

But, they are hanging back up, complete with the new sheers that I made. I got regular sheers at the Dollar Store and shortened them and added the pleats, and got the full set for about $10.

Someday I might actually hang the birdhouses outside.

Then I went outside. The Dude and I planted some raspberry and blueberry bushes before we went on vacation, and then we just kind of tossed the bricks over there so that we had an idea of how many we needed to do the edging, but that was as far as we got. I finished that project up rather quickly, before the sun hit that part of the yard.


Then - for some bizarre reason - I decided to tackle the fence around the shed. I've been working on getting this corner of the yard cleaned up because with it being outside of the fence, it looks awful as people are driving past. The fence right there was useless - most of it was just leaning against the shed, and what was still attached to anything was rotten.

Side. Isn't that a lovely fence?

Back - this section of fence was actually in the best condition.
Go figure.
It really didn't take much effort to pull the fencing down. I eventually got a hammer to break apart a few pieces, but most of it was so rotten that I could just pull it down. The posts had rotted off at the bases and I was able to just knock them down too - although they did take a little more effort. I took all of the wood and just tossed it over the fence into the firepit area - we'll pull the nails and burn it all eventually.

What was left of the window had a couple of pieces of screen just nailed over it, so I pulled those off and found out that the entire window was coming out of the wall, so I beat that back in with the hammer and then pulled out the broken glass so that I could put plexiglass in instead.

Obviously, we need to paint it. And plant stuff.

So much better.

Pulling out the glass to put in plexiglass.

We have a little bit of firewood to cut and stack.

Once I got all of that done, it was shower time and then time to pick up all 3 boys from school. We came home and did homework and then ran back into town to get the Traverse from the shop and then grabbed pizzas and then picked Sarah up from volleyball practice.....

Starting tomorrow, life gets more interesting. The girls are already into the swing of volleyball, and with one in high school and one in middle school they no longer play at the same time and the same place - instead it's twice as much running to get to as many of their games as possible. Alex and Daniel start soccer practice tomorrow night, and of course - they're on different teams. The Dude and I are now sharing a calendar so that we can keep track of what we're both doing and can tag team to get everyone where they need to be.

It's a good thing that I "binge slept" last week - because there won't be any more of that happening for a long time.