Ventilated Undershorts

When Brian and I met, he wasn’t the pseudo-techno-nerd that he is today.* Nope, back then he sold suits for a living and, as a suit salesman, he wore a suit to work every day. My throat is sore from the snorting that comes with the memory of him, all buttoned up in his silly suits and ties everyday, but back then? All normal.

Back then too? We had security gates on all our doors, so we never locked the doors themselves and, in fact, neither of us carried keys to the doors.

When he was a seller of men’s suits, Brian worked weekends and on this particular Saturday, the kids and I went out for the day with one of my friends and her kids, all of us in her minivan. I don’t remember what we did, but I’m sure a fabulous time was had by all. What I was doing? Not germane to this discussion.

Meantime, Brian went home from work, sick. Like gastrointestinal sick. Like vomiting and diarrhea sick. Like all you want to do is get into the house and get cozy with the toilet sick.

He went home and unlocked the front security gate, but what’s this? The doorknob wouldn’t turn. One of the kids had played with the knob and locked it, this lock to which no one carried a key.

Since I had gone in my friend’s car and mine was still in the driveway, Brian thought I was home. He started by ringing the bell and knocking on the door. When he got no answer, he rang and knocked more and louder because for Brian, if a little bit is good? Lots more is lots better. Besides, you never know. Perhaps I was inside, stricken with intermittent deafness.

Brian was out there on the front porch, in dire need of a toilet, sweating and shivering and hating me, so he took off his suit jacket and hung it on the side of the flower box. Then, suddenly, he was possessed of an idea. Perhaps the doorbell was broken? Maybe I just couldn’t hear the knocking and the doorbell was broken! Yes! So he backed off the porch and into the yard and started yelling:

Adrienne! YO Adrienne! Adriiieeenne!!! (It will work better if you read that last part to yourself in your very best Rocky Balboa voice.)

No answer, and he was starting to get seriously pissed off because I wouldn’t answer the damn door. He decided he’d better break into the house, but it was hot that day and he was sick.

So he took off his pants. Socks and shoes and tie, too.

Still pretty hot, though, so he took off his shirt. My husband was in the front yard in his skivvies.

Sort of. We had a puppy at the time and the puppy had chewed out the seat of Brian’s undershorts.

You have the image? A white man with red hair, in the front yard of a nondescript suburban house, wearing nothing but his undershorts with a giant hole in the back. Good. Moving on.

He knew the best way to get into the house was to first break into the garage as that was the only door that wasn’t bolted shut against the zombie apocalypse. Seriously, the people who owned that house before us? I think they’d be happiest living in Fort Knox.

Luckily, the garage door needed replacing and we hadn’t done it yet, so Brian squatted down in front of the door, worked his fingers underneath, and started to pull. Bare ass pointed at the street, vomit and diarrhea barely contained, he pulled hard, harder, just a little more, and BAM! The door came open with a sound like a gunshot.

And knocked Brian ass over teakettle down the driveway.

Undaunted and motivated by an urgent desire for some quality toilet time, he climbed over the lawn mower and got out the biggest hammer we owned.

Our biggest hammer? More “huge” than “big,” one of half a dozen in various sizes because Brian subscribes to the theory that if it can’t be fixed with a hammer, it can’t be fixed.

Brian walked across to the front porch and started beating on that doorknob with his big-ass hammer, just pounding the crap out of it. Naked except for his ventilated undershorts he smashed his way into our house, pausing just once to vomit into the bushes.

This whole time? (And the whole thing took awhile, maybe 25 minutes.) Not one of our neighbors came over to see what was going on.

I told Brian I was writing this story and he was fine with that until he heard me laughing. He said, “People are going to start thinking I’m some kind of clown. Maybe you should tell some smart stories about me? Or at least some dumb stories about you.”

I’ll take it under advisement.

*Why pseudo? Because left to his own devices, he prefers to use no technology more advanced than a sharp stick. He goes to work and sells some seriously high-tech stuff all day and uses words I can’t hope to understand, but at home? I am in charge of every device that has buttons as part of its operation. He can’t log onto his Facebook page without my help. He doesn’t know how to use half of the features on his cell phone. If something goes wrong with the TV or the cable box? Spencer is more likely to understand what has gone wrong than Brian is.

We all need to keep our money somewhere…

When Carter was in pre-school, I loved it when the older kids had in-service days but Carter still went to school. It was (and still is) so nice to be with Jacob, Abbie, and Spencer without Carter constantly pulling at my attention!

The day in question was during Carter’s first year of pre-school so he was three, which would make Abbie 8 or 9. She rode along with me when I dropped Carter off and as we were leaving, I realized Carter’s pockets were jingling.

“Hey Carter, what’s in your pockets?” I asked. Of course, I knew damn well what was in his pockets, but I have that weird parental compulsion to ask questions to which I already know the answer.

“It’s all my moneys. I don’t have anywhere to keep them and if I don’t put the in my pockets I’ll lose them!” he said, bottom lip quivering and one hand planted firmly over each of his hip pockets to prevent me from pilfering. Sigh. Always a fight with that boy.

I assured him that, if he gave me the moneys (He didn’t stop putting an “s” on “money” until he was six years old.), I would take extremely good care of them, that in fact I would do nothing but watch those moneys, guard and protect them with my life should such become necessary, until he came home. Finally convinced, he reached into his pockets and dragged out 9 sticky coins – 8 pennies and 1 dime. His treasure. (Do you see why I’m so forgetful? My brain is jammed full of useless information like the exact coins in Carter’s pockets that day.)

With tears now, “Mama, I don’t have a special place for my moneys! Can you find me a safe place?”

I don’t know any mom, anywhere, who would say no to that. I promised him that, by the time he came home, I would have resolved the money issue. Walking out of the pre-school, Abbie and I were discussing solutions to this problem. Abbie said, “Hey Mom, I have a bunch of piggie banks at my dad’s house, all different animals. Carter can have one! Do you think he would like one that’s shaped like a shoe?”

Such a sweet girl! “Yes!” I said, “I think he’d like that.”

She was grinning when she said, “Good! My money is in the shoe now, but that’s OK, he can have it. I’ll just keep my money in my beaver.”

Poor kid was terribly hurt when I doubled over with laughter and had to sit on the curb till the spasms passed.

Just Say No

…to remodeling your kitchen.

Hate the layout? Need an island? Ugly cabinets got you down? You have three options:

  1. Learn to love it the way it is.
  2. Move.
  3. Burn the house down.

That’s it. Those are the only options.

Not convinced?

You’re not as smart as you look.

Or perhaps you have the same problem Brian and I had back in the early days of our marriage: hubris so big, it’s amazing we could get our stupid giant heads through doors. I mean really, how did we not understand how disruptive it would be to gut the cooking room in the middle of our house?

First thing we did was pack up most of the kitchen. I’m all about using almost nothing disposable, but for the kitchen remodel we went over to Costco and bought paper plates, paper towels, plastic forks, and all the rest of it. My thinking was that, if I didn’t have to wash dishes in the bathtub, the whole remodeling thing wouldn’t be so bad. It makes me snort and chortle to remember that part. There is no not so bad in kitchen remodeling.

We had this weird vanity in the hall bathroom in our old house. It was a great diaper-changing area when we had babies, but since we had no babies at that time, I set it up like a kitchenette – microwave on the counter, utensils and all that paper crap underneath. Then we got busy tearing our kitchen apart.

There’s a corollary here: just as you should never remodel a kitchen, you should also never buy a house from people whose idea of a fun Saturday is to drink a whole lot of beer and do household projects. True story: the first time I climbed into the crawl space above our house, I found hundreds of beer cans all around the new ductwork that had been, ahem, interestingly installed. Hey, we’re all about DIY around here, but I’d like to think we know when we’ve come to the limits of our abilities.

Anyway, all of that explains this next bit: the kitchen cabinets were nailed to the walls. Just dozens and dozens of giant nails through the backs of those cabinets into the drywall behind them. We took turns, one of us holding up the cabinets while the other pulled nail after nail after nail

after nail

after nail.

It went on forever.

There was abundant cussing.

When we finally got the cabinet into the yard, we broke it into as many pieces as we could manage while cussing our home’s former owners.

At which time we realized we really should save our energy because that bit of cabinetry that was nailed to the wall was maybe 20% of the total.

By the time we got all the counters and cabinets out of the house, all those nails didn’t seem so bad. When we pulled out the base cabinet and the stove, we discovered that the former owners had moved the 220 outlet into which the stove was plugged by splicing some wires and dragging the whole thing over by about 9 inches, then duct taping the damn electrical-fire-in-waiting to the back of the bathtub that was on the other side of the wall.

Safety was, apparently, not even on their list of priorities.

The mess of stove outlet told us we needed an electrician. Said electrician discovered we needed a new breaker box and the whole kitchen had to be re-wired.

After he was done with all that, we had to hire a guy to come fix the drywall.

After we had the new (gorgeous!) cabinets put in, Oops! We hadn’t measured right. We had to have someone come in and move the window.

By then, we were maybe 7 years into not having a kitchen (Or maybe it was more like 2 months; who can remember?) and one evening, as I was squatting in front of the refrigerator making a sandwich (Our refrigerator didn’t fit through the doors, so it stayed right in the kitchen the whole time, along with our kitchen table because I couldn’t find anywhere else to put it.), I had a bit of a breakdown. By “bit of a breakdown,” I mean I picked a huge fight with Brian during which I threw the kitchen table and took a chunk out of the side. I’m so proud.

When I was finished screaming at him, Brian took me to the Chinese restaurant down the street for dinner. It was my favorite restaurant for years, and it is again, but for the two years following the kitchen remodel? I wouldn’t go near the place.

By the end, all my good intentions were completely scrapped. I gave up on preparing healthy burritos in the microwave or omelets on the hot plate. Nope. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever purchased Lunchables. We were subsisting on Pop Tarts and every manner of crap you can buy in the grocery store that is meant to be cooked in the microwave. It’s amazing none of the children turned into a pizza. We made a pathetic nod to healthful eating by keeping fresh fruit and carrots in the house.

By the way, did I ever tell you about the time I came into the kitchen and found Jacob and Spencer eating carrots for breakfast? No? My kids are weird.

When we were finally exhausted from the whole project and weak from consuming mostly crap, it was time to take out the old floor. Hellooooo, asbestos!

We were so sick of the whole damn thing, we sent the kids to their grandma’s house and tore that floor out, precautions be damned. If Brian and I come down with mesothelioma in a dozen years, we’ll all know why.

Finally, when all was said and done, the only things left of the old kitchen were the faucet, the refrigerator, and the table and chairs. It was beautiful and functional and totally suited me.

I don’t like the kitchen in our new house.

I’m learning to live with it.

Southern New Mexico: How Not to See It

In the fall of 2001, the tiny private school that Jacob and Abbie attended had an all-school, three-day field trip to southern New Mexico.

Let’s get something straight right off the top: I love New Mexico. Seriously love it. There is so much that’s beautiful here, but in-between one beautiful and another beautiful? A whole hell of a lot of nothing. Vast swaths of sagebrush and blue grama cover the majority of the state. Desolate, harsh, wild, and treeless.

We left Albuquerque at 7:00 on a Saturday morning, part of a caravan of three dozen cars, and headed south toward Alamogordo. Truthfully? Alamogordo doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend it, but it’s right next door to White Sands National Monument. And White Sands, if you make sure not to go when it’s so hot you’ll blister your butt the instant you emerge from the shade, is the most fun you can have with kids this side of Disneyland.

We got to White Sands at about 11:00 and had so much fun we were all shooting out flames of happiness, though of course we couldn’t SAY that because Carter hadn’t told us yet that shooting out flames of happiness was a thing.

Bonus? The sand is ultra-fine, more like powder than like sand at a beach, and if you play in it for a few hours sans shoes? Your feet will be soft as a newborn baby’s.

When we were all exhausted from playing and laughing, it was time to pile into all those vehicles and head to Carlsbad, NM, home of the unbelievably gorgeous Carlsbad Caverns, three hours away. The caravan took off in a hurry; we were all anxious to get to the hotel for dinner. Brian drove while I passed juice boxes and snacks to the kids and we were off.

An hour later, I saw a sign that said, “Las Cruces 9 miles.”

“Hey,” I said to my beloved, “are we supposed to go through Las Cruces?”

“Dunno,” says he, “check the map.”

“Where’d you put it?” I asked, beginning to rummage through the travel debris on the floor.

“It’s in your bag,” Brian said, using his chin to indicate my purse between our two seats.

“Why did you put it in there?” I asked, groping around in my purse and coming up empty.

I didn’t put it anywhere. You’re the one who brought it.”

Well, shit.

“Should we go back, or just keep going?” says someone. I mean really, does it matter who? We decided to drive into Las Cruces and, since both of us lacked a mental map of anything larger than the inside of our own damn house, we figured we’d go through Las Cruces and arrive at Carlsbad via “the back way.”

What is this back way, you ask? No idea. Clearly both of our brains had come un-glued and were rattling, untethered, in our skulls.

We drove through Las Cruces and out the other side and we did see a few signs for Carlsbad, so we figured we were fine until we saw the sign: Welcome to Texas.

Hello? Texas? We are severely directionally challenged, but we knew we weren’t supposed to leave the damn state.

Into El Paso we went, and pretty thoroughly disgusted with ourselves, too, but also kind of punch-drunk and laughing at the whole situation. We stopped for dinner at a drive through where a young panhandler approached our car. I tried to answer something she asked me in my very limited Spanish; I think I told her, “I am a prostitute but I am not pregnant,” but I’ll never know for sure. She ran off in a big damn hurry.

It was pitch black out, it was bedtime, we were exhausted, and all we could think about was getting to the hotel in Carlsbad so we could sleep. It’s a three hour drive from El Paso to Carlsbad, so we made the kids comfortable in hopes they would sleep in their carseats and we hit the road. Back out into the dark we drove, reassured by the signs for Carlsbad that we started to see regularly when we left El Paso. (BTW, did we stop to buy a map in El Paso? No, we did not. Call me a dumb ass if you will. I pretty much deserve it.)

An hour out of El Paso, it started to rain, but not regular rain. It was a desert storm, with shocking flashes of lightning and rain that came down in sheets. Brian slowed down from 65 to 55, then 45 miles per hour as visibility got shorter. I groaned, “I’m so tired! We’re never going to get there at this rate!”

At which point our minivan said KACHUNK KACHUNK KACHUNK and ground to a not-quite stop.

Of course. DUH! What did we think would happen next?

I can’t make this shit up. Remember the Griswold family in those vacation movies? They are us on a good day.

We pulled over to the side of the road, which was no interstate highway but a two-lane state road surrounded by vast nothingness. Our surroundings didn’t matter much, though, since with all the rain and dark and whatnot, we couldn’t see a damn thing.

There we were on the side of the road, and Brian and I both got out of the car, popped the hood, and stood there in the downpour, staring at the engine.

As much as we are directionally challenged? It’s nothing compared to our mutual ineptitude when it comes to mechanical things. But we have both seen people peer into engines, so we did that.

Turns out, the peering itself? Doesn’t fix cars.

We got back in the minivan, situation entirely unchanged except that now we were soaked to the skin. Brian had a great idea, “Hey, call somebody in Carlsbad and see if they’ll come get us. We’ll get a tow truck out here in the morning.”

Great idea! Raise your hand if you don’t see what’s coming next: no cell service. Of course, because we are in the middle of freaking nowhere, some twenty miles away from the New Mexico border in a part of the US that is so desolate, New Mexico and Texas had an argument over who had to own it. (I’m totally making that up, but it actually happened to Oklahoma. Nobody wanted the panhandle and they called it No Man’s Land because nobody lived there.)

See how I did that? I told you a fascinating and little-known historical fact to distract you and make you forget that I was one of 2 dumb asses who forgot to bring a map on a road trip.

What to do? There were three sleeping children in the backseat and a downpour outside, so walking the final 65 miles to Carlsbad seemed unlikely. The cell phones didn’t work and no one was going to come looking for us because not only were we on the wrong road; we were in the wrong state. Leave it to use to turn a school field trip into a survival situation.

We had about decided to spend the night right there on the road when Brian started to car to see if it would go, and it would. In second gear.

In case you ever need to know this tidbit of information, it takes two hours and 20 minutes to drive 65 miles in second gear, in the pouring rain. Add 20 or so minutes if you have to stop so that some young children can pee in a coffee can.

When we finally arrived in Carlsbad some 7 hours after everyone else, we were too tired to tell the story, but also? Way too embarrassed. We said only that we’d had car trouble and went to bed.

The next day, we drove our second-gear-only vehicle off in search of a repair shop.

Do you know what’s open in Carlsbad, New Mexico (pop. 25,000) on a Sunday? Nothing. Not a damn thing. We panicked a little because we had to be home the next day (I don’t remember why; Brian’s job, probably.), so we decided to hobble home. We drove from Carlsbad to Albuquerque – that’s 280 miles – in 2nd gear.

If you’re driving in 2nd gear, 280 miles takes the whole day. Our kids have still never seen Carlsbad Caverns. God bless those kids, they were mostly awesome the entire time, and Spencer, who had been potty trained all of 10 or so days, didn’t have a single accident.

$2000 in car repairs later, we were far too embarrassed to tell anyone that we went to Texas accidentally. We didn’t tell a soul for several years, by which time we were so well-known as severely directionally challenged, no one was the least bit surprised.

The moral of this story? Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line. Also? Don’t forget the damn map.

Blisters and Bad Hats

I’d like to introduce you to Brian in a new way. You know how I’m always, “Oh, my husband is the bomb! He’s so smart and funny and awesome!”

He’s also a dumbass.

A redheaded man who lives on the high desert Southwest who goes outside to work in the yard for 3+ hours in May…you’ve gotta think that such a man knows he needs sunscreen, right?

Not Brian. Why? Because he’s a dumbass.

Don’t worry. I totally told him that to his face.

My friend Kim, her husband Dave, and their youngest son Mason are visiting us from Austin right now. Kim and I have been friends for over 20 years and sitting at dinner this evening, we were remembering the bad old days when we were both young, broke mothers of young babies. Back then we would scoop up our babies and go grocery shopping together, like it was a social outing or something.

Who knows? I don’t understand it now, either. There was no internet back then, neither of us had cable, and we had to do something. We were laughing about that and wondering why it took us so long. How did we turn a trip to the grocery store into a half day outing?

After dinner, Kim and I ran out to Target to pick up a few things and there, we remembered why it always took us so damn long. Did we see a single ugly article of clothing that we did not laugh at? No, we did not. Did we see anything weird, unusual, or pink that we didn’t take a moment to pick up, fiddle with, and taunt mercilessly? Nope, not a thing. And did I leave you out when we saw this hat (Yes, it’s a hat; I though it was one of those baskets you put flowers in at first, too.) by neglecting to take a picture and share it? No. No I did not. I’m just that generous.

You’re welcome.

Oh, one last thing: I wrote a guest post over at 365 Days: 30+ Mommyhood. Check it out!

Blogger Ninja

I have been mired in a slush of mucusful unpleasantness for almost two weeks now. It started with an ordinary cold, then spiraled up into a horrifying mess of hacking, choking, spitting foulness. Oh yes, it’s been a delight.

When I finally dragged myself and all my attendant putrefaction over to the urgent care two days ago, the universe saw fit to bestow upon me several gifts. First, the waiting room was EMPTY. Next, my doctor was a friend from church, which was nice because just in case the army of green horror-warriors in my head and chest finally rose up to choke me to death, I’d much rather the last face I see be that of someone I know and like rather than a stranger. The last gift? Codeine. It trims the edges off the misery and makes them all fuzzy.

Then, whaddya know? I got a blog award! Actually, I got the same award three times, which is triple the awesome, obviously. Thank you to Meagan at The Pretend Writer, Geninabug at My Beautiful 604, and Abby’s Mommy at 365 Days: 30+ Mommyhood!

This is what the award looks like. I’m not going to put it up yet. With NPS moving soon, I don’t want it to get damaged or broken so I’ll wait to put it up in the new digs.

A caveat: you see where it says “poems” on that award? Never gonna happen. I haven’t written a poem since my teenage angst phase and no force on heaven or earth would convince me to let any of those see the light of day. It makes me shudder to think of it.

There are rules for the award, of course:

  1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.

I have thanked them all, but here is a basket of virtual muffins because I am a very generous person.

It seems appropriate that the seven things have a theme, so I have chosen this:

The Seven Ways I Am a Ninja
  • I am The Folding Ninja. My towels are perfectly square, my stack of pillowcases never tips over, and my family’s underwear and t-shirt drawers look like the ones you’d find in a model home if they put clothes in the drawers in model homes which I don’t think they do but they should and they could totally hire me to arrange them. Also? I can’t tell top sheets from bottom sheets after I fold them. Brian bestowed upon me an honorary Ph.D. in Folding Sciences, which was obviously an extraordinary day that I will never forget.
  • I am The Bullshit Ninja, which I would be more proud of it weren’t so very common. Every person who had a 3.5 GPA or better as an undergraduate and majored in one of the social sciences, communications and journalism, English literature, or anything similar is, by definition, a Bullshit Ninja. (Oh, please. There are no exceptions and you know it. And anyway, bullshit skills are WAY more useful in life than knowing all about surplus transfer and the birth of capitalism, so it’s not like the time was wasted or anything.)
  • I am The Crock-Pot Ninja. It’s no big secret that I hate to cook. It’s not something I dislike or something that I don’t especially enjoy, but something I hate. Could it possibly be any more boring, standing around in the kitchen stirring, simmering, chopping, blah blah blah? No, it could not. The Crock-Pot, though, makes it all a little more bearable. Shove in some meat, jam some veggies or beans on top, pour in some water and seasonings, and 8 hours later there’s a meal that doesn’t make anyone vomit. Hooray!
  • I am The Sympathy Ninja. OK, this is one that actually matters and is, in fact, one of my favorite things about myself: Struggling with angst, anxiety, grief, or any of the other painful feelings that are, unfortunately, a part of life? I will listen, make all the right sympathetic noises, and most of all, I will actually give a shit. Also? No advice unless you want some, and maybe not even then.
  • I am The Nap Ninja, which is where the whole “Adrienne is a ninja” thing started. Years ago (75 or 80, at least), when I was very young and teaching preschool, I was known as the one teacher who could get any group of kids to take their naps. Eventually, I taught workshops and trained other teachers and I always loved the nickname, Nap Ninja. Then Carter came along and blew apart all my nap cred, but I am now reclaiming my status because really? He’s just one kid among hundreds.
  • I am The Appliance Repair Ninja. I have repaired washing machines, dryers, a refrigerator, a water heater, two evaporative coolers, garbage disposals, vacuum cleaners, and a treadmill. When I am engaged in appliance repair there is abundant vehement cussing which does not in any way reduce my status as The Appliance Repair Ninja because when I am done? The damn thing works.
  • I am The Deciding Ninja. You know how annoying it is when you’re part of a group of people who are trying to make a collective decision? Someone says, “Hey, let’s go to dinner!” And someone else says, “Good idea! Where should we go?” The first person says, “I don’t know. What sounds good to everyone?” And then there are a dozen exchanges about how nobody cares because no one wants to be the one who chooses a restaurant that someone else doesn’t like, or people are afraid of seeming bossy, or something. You know how that goes? That annoys me so much that the annoyance itself crawls right up my spine and into my skull and niggles there like a nest of noisy baby birds. I’m the one who says, “Great! Let’s all go to XYZ Restaurant. Meet you there!” Then I get in my car and drive away and there’s really nothing to do but follow me. I’m pretty sure there are a few people who hate me for this, but more people are probably secretly relieved, so it’s a wash.

Now I’m supposed to award the award to 15 other award-worthy bloggers. I’m going to focus on blogs by parents raising children with mental illness. Please support these bloggers! They are living challenging lives, raising their kids with behavioral and emotional differences and some words of love and support will mean a lot. The envelope please…

Long Summer

I got this blog award AGAIN! I’m quadruple awesome! Go visit Brandee at Chill Mama Chill to help her out. No, seriously. She’s apparently living in fear of the zombie apocalypse. That’s silly because obviously the vampires will come first and kill us all before the zombies even get started.

We are the people with whom you are trying so hard to keep up…

That’s right. We’re the Joneses. If you’re trying to keep up with us? Aim higher.

I think there are two ways that people start personal blogs like this one. The first one is, a person makes a plan, chooses a topic, sets it up, makes it pretty, gets it all in place, and launches it. The second way is my way. I thought, Hey, I’d like to have a blog! So I got on the trusty ole’ computer and threw together a blog and started writing. I gave no thought to anything, really, except the writing itself.

So as No Points for Style has gained readers and become more important for me and my emotional well-being, I thought, Hmmm…maybe I could spiff it up? Perhaps I’ll do a little of the pretty? And now that the blog isn’t something newcomers can easily read from beginning to end, I probably need an introductory page. So, although a full redesign is still in the future (I’m doing it myself, folks. That’s right; I’m diving right into the code. If I’m not back in 2 weeks, send in a rescue team.), here, for your reading pleasure (or pain; your choice), is everything you need to know about Carter and me and our family.

I’ll introduce the people in the order in which I met them. I met me first.

 

I’m Adrienne and I live a life of leisure. Truly, the luxury knows no bounds. For instance, we own two couches. I pretty much lounge on them all day and all night.

Oh, wait, before we continue with the people, you have to see where I live. There is nothing like the sky in Albuquerque.

This is the view from my office window. It takes my breath away. Those are the Sandia Mountains, which is why pretty much everything here is called Sandia something or other. My dad works for Sandia Laboratories, my mom worked for Sandia Hospice for several years, I went to Sandia High School, and Brian and I used to be members of Sandia Presbyterian Church.

Here’s me in 1988. When I was a teenager, the vent fan in my bathroom would get so clogged with hairspray, my mom had to take the whole thing apart and clean it with shampoo every 2 or 3 months. The ozone layer directly above my parents’ house is just the tiniest bit thinner than in other places. True story.

You haven’t really met me until you know that I like to read, and not just blogs. I like books, the kind with covers and words on paper. Do not tell me that such a thing will not exist in the future. That will make me cry and why would you want that?

You also don’t really know me until you know that I’m a slob. Not a hoarder or a pack rat, but an ordinary old slob. Single exception? My books. I like to arrange them and look at them when I’m not reading them. These shelves are not jammed nearly as full as the ones upstairs in my office, so I can keep them pretty.

I like tattoos. I have lots of them. (People who haven’t seen me since high school are choking and sputtering right now. Breathe, my friends. I was 30 before I learned to fly my freak flag, but it was in me all the time. In me, I tell you.)

I own this kick ass lamp. I know you’re jealous. I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with that.

This is Jacob, the boy who made me a mother. Isn’t he the handsomest thing? Aha, but what you can’t tell is that he is pretty much the world’s funniest person. No, really. When he’s on stage, the actor who delivers lines after him always gets a raw deal.

When he was four years old, Jacob was waiting in line at the bank with his dad. Picture it: people doing banking business, which is Very Serious Shit, speaking in hushed tones and observing all kinds of social conventions that Jacob hadn’t learned yet. He had a question, so he spoke up, nice and loud. “Daddy, Jesus doesn’t want us to eat our poop, does he?”

Here is Abbie, my only girl, and how I managed to produce such a devastatingly gorgeous creature I’ll never know. However, don’t even look at my girl if your intentions are not honorable. She has a dad, a stepdad, four* brothers, and me, and every one of us is quite willing to take you out to the parking lot and use harsh language on you if we have any suspicion that you are a member of the Not Nice People Tribe. Understand me? Good.

*By the way, you will only meet three of those brothers here. She and Jacob have a much older half-brother, their dad’s eldest son.

Abbie was such a fiercely independent and stubborn baby, she potty trained herself. One day right around her second birthday, she tugged on her diaper and said, “No, no backu! No mo’ backu!” I told her she could wear panties if she put all her pee and poop in the potty. She had exactly 3 accidents in the following week and never had another one.

I had Jacob in December 1993 and Abbie in December 1995, and their dad and I split on July 4, 1997. (Side bonus? Independence Day has a whole new meaning for me.) How did I get to be divorced with two babies at the ripe old age of 26? I would consider telling you those stories if they didn’t make me sound like a complete ass. (Edited to add: Ass or no ass, you can read those stories here.)

I was single for a few years, and then I met this guy:

That’s Brian and he is the bomb. For one thing, while I am living my life of leisure, he is working his ass off. He’s up and out the door to work before I even turn over and scratch my ass. He works himself to the bone all day at a job I don’t even understand (laser something-or-other), then comes home and doesn’t even complain about my sloppy ways. Also, he doesn’t mind if we eat spaghetti for dinner four times a week.

But the best thing about him? He’s even crabbier than I am. No, really! Back when he used to sell suits for a living, most of his coworkers were middle-aged gay men. They used to say to him, “How is it possible that you’re not gay? You’re such a bitch!” And it’s totally true.

Also? He sometimes makes quilts, but he does it in the garage because it’s manlier that way. I mean, come on. How could I not love this man?

We met in February, 2000 and we married in August, 2000. That was a stupid, stupid, stupid decision. Thank God it panned out because I would look like an even bigger ass than with the first divorce if it hadn’t.

Aha! But he came with this person:

That’s my stepson Spencer. If you see him on wheels (any kind: bike, skateboard, rip stick, whatever), get out of the way. He is a fiend on wheels. But the most important thing to know about Spencer? Best brother ever. Really. It can be pretty difficult to be Carter’s brother, but Spencer is amazing with him.

When Jacob and Abbie were little, my mom always kept Superman pajamas for them to sleep in when they spent the night at her house. The first time Spencer spent the night at my folks’ house (he was not quite 3), she found the pair that would fit him, put them on him, and attached the cape. He zoomed around the house for a few minutes, chasing the other kids and giggling, but suddenly he came to his dad, teary and sad. “Daddy, my cape is broken!” I’ll be darned if he wasn’t right. That kid couldn’t fly a bit.

That’s our wedding picture. Jacob was 6, Abbie was 4, and Spencer had turned 3 just 2 weeks before the wedding. Isn’t that picture sweet? When I see it I always think, “You people have no idea the shit storm that’s coming.” And it’s a good thing we didn’t know; otherwise we’d have said to hell with that! and run for the hills.

But in the beginning, it was all sweetness and light. And how could it have been otherwise? We were so very in love, and look at those gorgeous children!

On our first family vacation, Brian and I were complimented several times on our children’s excellent behavior. The irony is almost too painful to admit, but I was so proud of myself for the way those kids handled themselves. I had much to learn, but my teacher hadn’t yet arrived.

Two years after our wedding, on July 24, 2002, Carter joined our family. Our lives, which were already pretty complicated what with blending families (10,000% more challenging than we’d imagined it would be) and job and financial difficulties, turned into a nightmare. If you don’t know his story, it’s mostly what this blog is about. Carter has issues.

He screamed all day and night, but does that me he wasn’t cute? Oh no it does not!

These days, he’s a pretty good sport when we want to play the Dress Up Carter game.

He smiled, but rarely. He didn’t laugh. We tried to maintain our senses of humor by referring to him privately as The Little Fucker. Jacob’s nickname was Tooter; Spencer was Froggy; Abbie was Sweetie Petey Pie. And Carter was The Little Fucker. My dad liked to say that first child or twelfth, Carter was destined to be someone’s last child.

The screaming was hard on them. Brian’s and my relationships with Jacob, Abbie, and Spencer were changed forever. Damaged. The destructive force of a child’s disabilities on his or her siblings, parents, and all the relationships in the family is indescribable. We can never return to them all that they lost. I hope that someday, they will understand that we would have done for them everything that we have done for Carter.

Jacob and Carter still play the drums, but Spencer has moved on to the trombone. I love that because the trombone is so fun. For me, I mean. Also, it freaks out the dogs and that’s funny.

The big dog is Lolly. With the exception of a severe excess of enthusiasm, she’s the perfect dog. All our dogs love the whole family, but they all have some favorite people. For Lolly, it’s Jacob and me. She’s my companion. I would take her everywhere I go if she didn’t get motion sick and barf all over the car. She’s approximately as dangerous as a newborn kitten, but she looks scary and when I walk her people swing wide around us. Near as we can tell, she’s a shar pei/hound cross. We adopted her two years ago when she was about a year old.

The pug is Doodle. She’s dumb. How dumb? Well, for one thing, she eats rocks. We’re constantly digging them out of her mouth and trying to convince her to eat proper chews, but we’re fighting a losing battle. I fear her teeth will be gone by the time she’s 6 years old. I have never met such a wacky dog. She’s like a tiny, furry humor machine. We got her when she was a pup from a local breeder. She loves Brian and Abbie the best.

Oh, by the way? Here’s an extremely condensed version of my dog lecture: There are only two places to get a dog. You can either adopt from a shelter or buy from a reputable breeder. Spay or neuter your animals, and never, ever support puppy mills or irresponsible breeders.

And then there’s Blossom. We adopted her just about six months ago, but at 8 she’s the oldest in the pack. Lolly and Doodle love their people but are also bonded to each other. Not so for Blossom; she’s all about the people. She is a fluffy ball of love. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, she’s never further away than about 4 feet. She’s also a big fan of Spencer and Carter.

You’ve met everyone who lives here, but I want to introduce two more.

That woman in the front is my friend Kim. Why is she dancing in a tool shed? I can’t answer that. I don’t drink and rarely understand the drunk of the species. We’ve been friends for over 20 years but she doesn’t read my blog. Payback is a bitch.

This is my grandma, Margery Mae Jones. I just thought you should know that I come by my smart-ass ways and doofy sense of humor honestly. Yesterday, I found out how much I love her. My sister Erin (who is her primary care provider) is out of town, and Grandma was in terrible pain from constipation. Erin talked me through a manual disimpaction. Does that sound bad? In reality, it’s so, so much worse. But after it was all over she felt something like a billion times better, so totally worth it.

My Twitter friend @GeekyLindsay awarded me this Best Granddaughter of the Century trophy, so of course I’m very proud. Also, glad that Erin will be here to do it next time.

This is my family, and these are some of our stories.

Welcome!

A little person, his mom, and their camera…

Hey Mom, take a picture of me! I combed my hair like the cool kids!

That one’s good. Yeah, I look really pretty. Now, let’s take some silly ones!

Then, you go post them on your blog and to make people happy and I can say thank you!
Who are those people? Yeah, those Little Bean people! Why bean people and not coffee people? (Pause in story here to go downstairs and compare kidney beans to coffee beans. Discuss in depth what would happen if we ground dried kidney beans and tried to make a hot beverage. Decide to try it some other time.)
So if they give money and buy coffee and stuff, then some people will try to get more doctors and hospitals and stuff? That would be really cool! No, I don’t know what advocacy means; NO don’t tell me! Hey, take a picture with my tongue sticking out!