rooted, but still growing

Archive for June 2008

Life progresses with relative ease here in my world, and for that I am grateful. We are still waiting for one piece of documentation before we can officially close on the new house. I doubt we’ll be able to get completely moved in before N and K1 leave, simply because the next few weeks will be so busy. We’re leaving for the beach Friday morning and won’t be back until the following weekend. That leaves just one week before they fly back to their respective homes for the start of their school years. I’m not looking forward to them leaving, but I am a bit relieved we probably won’t have them in our hair as we try to pack and move. I’d sort of like to get our house set up on our own. It’s immature I know, but there are times I feel rather robbed of having my own life with Steve because of his kids. It can’t be helped – they’re always going to be his kids – but there are just some things I’d prefer to keep between the two of us.

 

We took the boys camping this weekend at a place where Steve and his brother grew up. There was a lot of rain but I think everyone had a good time. It meant so much to Steve to see his boys fishing in the same river he and Shawn did as kids. I took tons of photos – I try to document as much of their summer as I can so they always have good memories. As our complicated situation grows more and more into a family structure, it’s important to me that the boys know that they have a home with us and that we love them. It’s especially important to me that they know how important they are to their father – that he wants to spend time and build memories with them. I don’t want them to think he’s an absent father or that he doesn’t care just because he can’t be there for their day-to-day lives.

 

I wish he could have more input on how they’re being raised – not that they haven’t been raised well. There are just some areas that are in dire need of improvement. N is in dire need of etiquette training, and he has a terrible time focusing … on anything. He will ask a question and before you can get three words into the answer, his mind is off somewhere else. He doesn’t listen well. And despite him having a stepfather, I don’t think he has a decent male role model to teach him how to grow up into a respectable adult. His main interests are guns and the military … which would be fine if he would take the time to actually learn about these things instead of thinking they’re cool simply because they’re dangerous. I’d like to see him foster these interests by learning about history. In fact, I may just give him a little assignment tonight. Steve is out of town for work and won’t be back until tomorrow. I might make him write an essay on something historical or military related… just to get his brain working.

 

K1 is the exact opposite. Where N will argue because he doesn’t know the correct answer, K1 will argue because it’s practically inconceivable in his mind to think that he could actually be wrong. He’s very intelligent, but also very sensitive. Steve has a difficult time reprimanding him because he gets so wounded – and it absolutely drives me nuts. He’s a bit of a baby. He woke us up at 2:30 a.m. claiming to have a fever and complaining that N was “picking on” him. This has happened before and it’s annoying to say the least. I think I may also give him some sort of assignment tonight, though I’ll have to get creative because as I said, he’s very smart.

 

I hate complaining about the boys because, really, they’re both good kids and they certainly are unique. And as much as they aggravate me sometimes, I try not to say too much to Steve because he’s naturally protective of his children. There’s also a very fine line we stepmothers have to walk – I don’t have to put up with bad behavior, but I can’t go too far in correcting them lest their actual mothers become upset. I try to consider what I would do with my own children in the same situation … and truthfully I hold back more with N and K1 than I would with my own so I guess I’m doing all right. Maybe?

 

Anyway, back to the camping trip. Steve’s dad came and spent most of Saturday with us. I have some nice photos of him fishing with the boys that I plan to send him. I fear a storm is brewing, however, because we didn’t take the boys by to see Steve’s mother. It was a conscious decision, based not in anger but years of hurt. See, Steve’s parents have never taken much of an interest in his life. In fact, in the three-plus years we’ve been together, they’ve never even come to visit. Not once. Despite repeated invitations. There are other transgressions but frankly they’re too numerous to list here. Let’s just say they are pretty much absent from their children and grandchildren’s lives – by their own choosing. They have been given plenty of opportunities to become involved and they do not. Regardless of this, we all try very hard to maintain a family relationship. There are no bitter arguments, no shouting matches, nothing like that. We choose to engage in quiet protests. For example, I’m no longer inviting them to family functions. It’s not that I don’t want them to come – I’m just tired of wasting the effort. They never come. And we deliberately did not take the boys to see her. If she cannot get out of her chair and drive 20 minutes to see the grandchildren she only has the opportunity to see once a year, well that’s her fault. We were busy making our own memories. I’m glad his dad made the effort. At least the boys will think one of their paternal grandparents cares. My parents are more than ready to make up for it, too, at least as much as their mothers will allow.

 

Anyway. I didn’t mean to fill this post with such dysfunctional mumbo jumbo. Things are actually going pretty well right now. I’m so excited for our beach vacation that I can’t see straight – I don’t think I’m going to know what to do with myself. An entire week of just relaxing? Heaven. I can’t wait.

 

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Previously on Rooted, our heroine was enjoying a night of solitude in a fancy hotel room in our nation’s capital. It was quiet – no potato chip chomping, arguments over who gets to use the computer, or loud telephone conversations between the hard-of-hearing. Just the sound of silence and the occasional turning of a book page. Heaven. Ah, but it was not to last.

 

The very next day after writing about what a nice time I was having on my own on my trip to Washington, I experienced a sickness more violent than any I’ve ever had. It started just prior to 9 a.m. while standing outside the historic Christ Church in Arlington (the church George Washington and Robert E. Lee attended) with a terrible pain on my inner left thigh, which progressed into nausea and a near-panic attack because the leg pain made it difficult to stand or walk. I spent an hour sitting on a chair outside the church (I’m sure everyone who passed by thought I was some kind of atheistic heathen) waiting for the service to conclude so my group could be released and we could get back on the bus. I stayed on the bus while everyone ate lunch, and also opted to remain on said bus while the group toured Mount Vernon. It was a wise decision, for not more than one minute after everyone got off the bus for the tour, I was puking in a garbage bag. The vomiting continued for the next 2 ½ hours until the driver could take me back to the hotel, where I desperately yet fitfully tried to sleep but instead spent the evening plagued by tossing, turning and some weird Groundhog Day-type revolving dream about the priest in The Thorn Birds, which I’d taken along to read. My stomach started feeling better, though, which was definitely a good sign.

 

Au contraire. The next day I had the distinct pleasure of spending about 6 hours in a piss-poor urgent care facility in Arlington, Va., having fallen victim to an infected blister that in the opinion of the youth tour nurses had developed into cellulitis. After waiting nearly three hours just to see the doctor, I then endured the pain of having several needles plunged into my swollen, inflamed, oozing big toe so it would be numb enough for her to squeeze out the gunk. I’m not afraid of needles, but let me tell you, it freaking hurt. Add to my misery a terrible rain and wind storm that knocked out urgent care’s power, my first-ever big-city taxi rides, a $200 bill because urgent care didn’t accept my health insurance, and the sheer humiliation that all my troubles were rooted in a flippin’ blister. A blister, for God’s sake!

 

Thankfully the antibiotics I was prescribed worked quickly and effectively. I was back on the tour on Tuesday. Exhausted, embarrassed, and struggling to walk, but by golly I fulfilled my duties. I was never so happy to be home when I finally pulled in my driveway, threw on a pair of pajamas and sank into my nice, familiar bed …. Only to be woken up two hours later by a pair of stalker girls sitting and screaming on my back patio for the boys to come out and play. The boys, by the way, most decidedly did NOT want to go out and play and tried everything they could to get the stalker girls to leave. One look at my angry face out the patio doors did the trick, and I haven’t seen them since. Crazies.

 

It was an interesting trip.

 

The next few days were spent catching up on work and home stuff. Things have calmed considerably, though there’s still a lot going on. The house is almost ours; we’re just waiting for one piece of paperwork to come through before we can sign the papers and move in. We’re leaving for the beach in a week and a half, so there are some things to do to prepare for that. Steve and I are still working on our master’s degrees, which has been a drag because all we really want to do is hang out with the boys.  I’m ahead of the homework game this week, though, because we’re going camping this weekend and I do not want to spend what little down time I have worrying about having to get my homework done. Tonight is also a homework-free night, as I have plans to make homemade pizza, pumpkin pie and peach cobbler with the boys. Such simple things, but in a busy life they’re luxuries. A person’s got to get some enjoyment once in a while!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s 11:34 p.m. I’m in a hotel room in Washington, D.C., with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. It’s wonderful. 

I’m not really all alone … just for the night. I’m helping chaperone a Youth Tour trip, which is a program operated by an organization my company is involved in. Being a West Virginian, it’s rather odd to be representing Ohio. It’s even more odd to think I actually volunteered to be responsible for a group of 35 sophomores and juniors … but so far everything has been great. The kids are well behaved and getting along and we haven’t had any trouble. We left Columbus yesterday afternoon, stayed in Gettysburg, Pa., last night and did the battlefield thing this morning before driving on into the city.

Washington is different from what I expected … It’s hard to string together an accurate mental picture from just a series of photographs in schoolbooks and such. It’s nice, though … so much history crammed into one space. I could probably spend months here and still not see everything it has to offer. Incidentally, we’ll be here until Wednesday night and our tour director is determined to show us as much as can fit within that time frame. Just this afternoon we saw the World War II Memorial, the National Archives and Union Station. Tomorrow it’s Mount Vernon and … gosh, now I can’t remember. 

It seems I’ve overcome my inability to fall asleep in moving vehicles. Nearly every time we’re on the chartered bus for any length of time, I doze off. It’s been heavenly. Yesterday evening I experienced the first real period of peace and solitude in about four weeks — ever since the boys arrived. Even surrounded by more than 30 other people on a bus, I actually felt calm and relaxed. Somehow, wrangling 35 kids around battlefields and national capitals is easier than trying to keep two kids quiet in a living room. Can someone please explain that???

I guess it’s just nice to be doing something kind of on my own. I usually don’t — at least not things like this. Not that I don’t miss them, because I do. I keep thinking “Ky would really like to see that”, or “Nate would totally wig if he were here”, and I especially keep wishing Steve were with me. It doesn’t seem right that he isn’t here experiencing everything with me. I miss him a lot. They’re all camping this weekend and I’m sure haven’t even given me one thought, which is fine. It’s kind a guy’s weekend for them, up on the mountain doing manly things like peeing in the woods and stuffing roasted hot dogs down their throats. I haven’t even talked to them since Friday morning … which is strange indeed. I don’t think I’ve ever gone 24 hours without talking to Steve since we met. 

But, again, it’s nice to be here on my own. I have time to think and learn … and just kind of catch up to a life that as of late was feeling a bit out of control. This trip is just what I need to get reacquainted with myself, get some perspective on some of the issues (not major) that are going on at home, and to push beyond my comfort zone. At the very least I’m doing something new and having fun …. and who could complain about that?

 

It seems our esteemed vice president Dick recently made a remark alluding to alleged inbreeding in the state of West Virginia. As a lifelong resident of West Virginia, I’m not as offended by the joke as I am the person who said it. Funny as it may be to some people, this is not appropriate language for someone who holds the second-highest office in the United States. Not at all.

 

This insulting comment perpetuates a stereotype many in this country have of this state and its residents – that we’re all a bunch of poor, fat, toothless welfare recipients jonesing for the next chance to hump our sisters. That we don’t wear shoes, know how to read or have even heard of the Internet, much less know how to use it. I could go on, but I’m sure I don’t need to because most of you already have your own preconceived ideas about the people in West Virginia.

 

In hearing the news of good old Dick’s most recent blunder, I conducted subsequent research to see how the rest of the nation received this tasty tidbit. After careful consideration I have decided that I’m not as offended by the vice president’s statement as I am what the rest of the country had to say about it. Among their ideas:

 

The state deserves the remarks (and the shitty government leadership we’ve gotten in the past 7 years) because a majority of its people voted for George Bush in 2000 and 2004.

 

The state deserves the remarks because “it’s true.”

 

The state deserves the remarks because West Virginians could only have voted for Hillary Clinton because they’re all racist.

 

Sen. Robert Byrd should not and cannot claim offense because he’s too old.

 

I will not deny that there are people living in this state who are less than reputable. We have our share of criminals, check collectors and baby-touchers. We are not proud of them. What we are proud of is our sense of community, our long-affirmed resourcefulness, and our ability to persevere in times of adversity. West Virginia is one of the most beautiful states in this nation, providing millions of tourists each year a scenic playground among our rolling hills.

 

This is not a political issue. This is but another example of how we the people choose to continue dividing ourselves. It’s not about Dick, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain or George Bush. These are Americans turning on each other, pointing fingers in desperate attempts to pin the blame for countless grievances on someone else. Upset that there are uneducated people in this country? Blame West Virginia. Disturbed that some people are deranged enough to rape a child? Blame West Virginia. Find it unfathomable that our economy is sinking into the depths of despair? Blame those idiots in West Virginia, or Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama or any of the other states who are unfairly knocked around anytime some elitist asshole deems it fitting to spew prejudice from far upon his high horse. At least Dick apologized, which is far more than we’ll ever receive from the narrow-minded pigs who believe themselves superior because they live elsewhere.

 

I am a West Virginian. I wear shoes, I have all my teeth, and I bathe religiously. My most serious legal offense was a speeding ticket in 2006. I graduated from high school and college and am well on my way to a master’s degree. I plan to obtain a doctorate. I have health insurance, a good-paying job and educated friends. I am respected among my peers. I drive a fuel-efficient car, and I do not (nor have ever) live in a trailer. I am a taxpayer, and I deserve more from my country than the rhetoric and bigotry I’ve been shown by my government and fellow citizens.

 

I am a West Virginian, and I am proud.

Steve and I made an official offer on the house this past Friday. The seller has until noon today to accept or reject – and let me tell ya, if he accepts we’ll have made one heckuva deal. We actually expected to hear something from our realtor over the weekend but didn’t, so we’re both kind of anxious. We’re confident things are going to go smoothly, but you can just never tell what might happen in these situations. I’m trying not to worry about it too much – after all, the seller still has time (40 minutes, to be exact) to consider the offer.

 

We’re just so excited. It’s been hard for me to fathom the idea of owning our own house. Not counting my parents’ house, I’ve never had a home of my own – we’ve always rented. The thought of painting our walls, having yard, doing whatever we want … well, it’s rather exhilarating. In fact, I’m ready to pack. I’ve already reduced the number of items in my closet/drawers and have plans to stash my winter clothing and shoes into a few plastic tubs so they’ll be ready for transport when the time comes. The good thing about this house is it’s only eight miles away from where we currently live, so we won’t have to waste a lot of time and money in physically moving all of our stuff.

 

The only troublesome spot (other than having to wait to make sure the deal goes through) than I can predict a possible shortage on time. If everything goes according to plan, we should close on the property by Monday, June 30. We’re scheduled to head to the beach on July 3 or 4 and not be back until the 12th or 13th. N’s plane back to Arizona leaves on the 19th. In other words, available weekend time is not abundant. I *think*, though, if we can keep it organized we won’t have too much trouble. My mom has already pledged her help, and I’m fairly certain our neighbors and some of the guys who work for Steve will pitch in, too. There really won’t be that much – it just appears that way because our townhouse is small. The furniture will be the most difficult things, simply because of their weight and bulkiness.

 

And so that’s where we stand. Waiting for the seller to decide on the offer, and then waiting for closing. In the meantime, we’ll stay busy with homework and the boys. K1 has officially been here for a week and things are going well. He’s much better adjusted this time around. The only problem I’m having is the little scamp is so arrogant! He’s very smart and mature, but also a terribly sore loser and somewhat of a drama king. I’m glad that he’s got so much self-confidence because that will really carry him far in life and is, overall, a very good characteristic. But sometimes it borders on downright rude, which can work to his disadvantage – especially around strangers or new acquaintances. Granted, he’s only 11 and a lot of this comes with being a child. On the other hand, I’m about to put my boot in his booty … and it’s been difficult getting Steve to understand where I’m coming from. That protective dad thing kicks in. But you know what? If that’s the worst thing we have to deal with from this kid, we’re pretty darn lucky.

 

N is the one I’m concerned about. He arrives late Saturday night and I’m not sure I’m prepared. Where K1 shines in the confidence and maturity department, N sorely lacks. The confidence thing we can work on (and have been), but teaching him how to be mature is much, much more difficult. He has made improvements over the last year, most notably making his school’s honor roll, which is fantastic. We’ll have to work on reigning him in, though, as he doesn’t quite understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior in certain situations. The teenage-boy-hormone issue is another matter entirely. Eh hem.

 

** Update. Steve has spoken with the realtor and the seller has accepted our offer. Yippee! The realtor also spoke with our financing agent who told her there shouldn’t be any reason we couldn’t close by the 30th. Hello, new house!