Friday, August 27, 2010

Blog, interrupted

I've been a little absent, I know. My internet was down for a week. I guess Charter really likes to get paid...

Anyway, made it through the 22nd. Once more around the sun, and still not a day goes by without at least a whisper of sadness in my heart. Some days the whisper's got a megaphone and it's yellin' into it. Shhh, I say. It'll be okay.

We were at the Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend, because Jet Ski does a body good. Elliot took his first ride, but I didn't take us out into the causeway - just idled around the cove. He's getting so much more aware of things, and able to express himself. He's solemnly informed me of several constants recently; "Red is on top, Green is on bottom." as we passed a stoplight, "I love getting wet." as he splashed in the reflection pool at mobot, and "You will get me juice. . . when you finish that row." when requesting a drink while I was knitting.

Back to another time around the sun - it was my birthday yesterday, and I had a great day. Mom and David had us over for french toast, then Jen and I went for pedicures, then Ted Drews, and finally I had a nice night with the knitted sisters. Tomorrow we celebrate with my dad's side of the family and my nephew, who shares the 26th (or, rather, stole it from me when I was 19) as his birthday too. It's 16 for him, and he celebrated with a tattoo.

I'm still going to make Elliot wait till he's 18, and my new rule is I can only get tattooed on Aug 22nds. So another year for me to fight the urge to collect tattoos, another year for me to fight the whisper and shout joy into the megaphone, another year to live, love, laugh, and generally follow bumper sticker philosophies.

Onward, little planet. Once again around the sun.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

No Patience for Whiners

I was on a chat tonight, and didn't say anything because I couldn't be nice. Everybody was like "Poor Me. My spouse died suddenly, and I'm angry." Or "Poor Me. I can't find anybody who understands me and I just Feel things so much!" Or "Poor Me. I have to raise my kids alone."

And I'm all like, "Really? You're going to complain to a chatroom full of widows that you're a WIDOW? Not asking for help, not looking for ideas, not trying to improve your life, but just whining? And wanting *hugs* and ((awww)) and 'I'm so sorry.' REALLY?"

My husband didn't get to see his son walk or hear his beautiful voice, but I'm grateful every day that he got to be a dad before he died. I don't have to raise my son alone, I get to have a strong and joyful bond with him because I'm his only parent - I'm one of a kind! I can't find anybody who "gets" me either, but it took me 30 years to find Karl. Am I really going to find somebody equally worthy in under 2? Don't think it likely.

The people who are happy in the world choose to be happy. I saw a great bumper sticker the other day - "Life is not about finding a way to avoid the storms. It's about learning to dance in the rain."

So quit whining and dance, dammit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Real Change...

A couple weeks ago I went in for an oil change, tire rotation, and "courtesy check" on my car. A few friends had pointed out some cracks in the sidewall of my front passenger tire, and I thought I'd have it checked. At the service station, they gave me back a sheet that said everything checked out fine, so I figured it was an expense that could wait.

Wrong, of course.

On my way home from Knitting tonight, I suddenly had a very loud front end. It turns out nobody at Skinker and Delmar is interested in helping a well dressed white girl change her tire, but they do enjoy the show. I got a lot of stares as I bounced on the tire iron (in wedges, mind you), and a round of applause with a "You go, Nascar!" from a passing man and his son.

I've changed more tires than I can remember, on at least 5 different vehicles, so it was really no big deal, but this was the first time since my "girly girl" style kicked in. It is a bit more daunting in a beaded top, white button down, and pedal pusher slacks than my old jeans and tees, but I managed well. I even had wipes in the car, so my hands were clean and fresh moments after the last lug nut was wrenched back down.

Post change - note, white shirt: still white!

Tomorrow I plan to drive my little doughnut back in to the station and express my disappointment in their "courtesy" check, but really I will likely just meekly ask for a new tire. Which is what I should have done all along.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Little Moments, Little Memories

We had such a great weekend with the Kopitske crew in MN, I can't really describe it all. It would take pages and pages, and hours to write. So I'll recap, not necessarily chronologically. Photos can be found at flickr.

The first moment that pops into my mind as I think about the trip was fairly private. It wasn't anything I shared with the family at the time, because I may have broken down.

I was sitting downstairs with Elliot and his cousin Jake, and Karl's brother Andy (Jake's dad) walked by. Jake said "Hey Dad."

Elliot looked up, looked at Jake, looked back at Andy, and said (very quietly, like trying it on) "Hey, Dad."

Deep breath, and moving on.


I was so proud of Elliot as he and Michael walked down the aisle with their little ring pillows, both wearing black tuxes and serious, weighty expressions. Not grumpy, just very focused.

Had we bribed them? Of course. But when it came down to it, Elliot didn't want the promised chocolate when he got to my seat. Instead, he wanted juice, which, of course, I didn't have. So we caused only a minor disruption as we sneaked out the side and went off in search of the reward he wanted.


I rode up with my friend Amber, who was in an art fair in MN. I was very touched that her mother had sent along a treat bag for Elliot - 3 beanie babies, 2 toy cars, and several age appropriate snacks. Nothing thrills a kid as much as new toys (except, of course, the packaging they came in) and El spent nearly half of the 10 hour drive happily playing with those surprise gifts.


Elliot spent a few hours Sunday afternoon without me hovering, as my brother in law insisted that I get a little time to myself to go see my friend's booth at the art fair. My niece and I headed out for an afternoon of heat, humidity, art and smoothies, and Elliot played happily with his Kopitske relations. I like to think it's a good sign that he never minds me leaving him as long as I stick to the routine - tell him where I'm going, that I'll be back, and give him a bye-bye kiss.


We borrowed my niece's car to go back and forth to our hotel at night, and as we got out the first night, Elliot looked at it and said, "It's not mommy's car. It's a rental car." I loved that he remembered the car we drove in Boston was called a 'rental' and so this must be one too.


One of Elliot's two meltdowns happened while trying on the tuxes Thursday. He didn't want to take off his shiny shoes. He did want to take off his underwear. In front of the public mirror, with the sales girls watching. And yes, I have pictures. And if he's not very nice to me, I will show them to his first girlfriend.


Throughout the weekend, he played well with his cousins, shared food and toys, listened and cooperated, and generally made me feel like I was doing things right*. He slow danced with the bride. He gave hugs and kisses to his aunts, uncles, and cousins. He continues to be the greatest source of joy in the world for me, and I'm grateful for him every day. watching him with his father's side of the family, it's easy to see where so much of his buoyant, enthusiastic personality comes from. I'm not saying it's all Kopitske, but they sure do have blessings in spades.

*with one notable exception

Saying Farewell to the Curls...

I like to think it's not goodbye, but only a temporary parting. As Elliot had a role in his cousin's wedding this past weekend, I decided the wild child curls had to go.

So Tuesday last, we went in for Elliot's first non-home haircut.

He went in like this:

and came out like this:

And here's a shot in the middle:

*the one notable exception

We had one major meltdown on the trip. Sunday morning when we got to Phil's house, Elliot wanted to go out and play by the pool. Everybody was trying to enjoy some family togetherness and adult conversation, so he was told he'd have to wait a bit. I offered him breakfast, which he refused. He's two. He refuses everything the first time. Unfortunately, his little foibles are not well known to the whole family, and Phil tried to carry him and his banana to the table.

Elliot does not tolerate being physically moved. It's kinda funny, because I once had a huge argument with a then boyfriend because he (gently) moved me aside as he was coming through the room with a box or something. I lost it, and went on for hours about not being part of the furniture, and demanding that I be spoken to, not shoved about... So maybe I'm a little too tolerant of Elliot's behavior, but whatever the reason, he too lost it when Phil moved him.

First I ignored him, hoping he'd come around. Usually this works at home, but with a bigger audience, he was digging his heels in a bit. 5 minutes in, half my in-laws had left the table for quieter parts of the house. Feeling guilty, and a bit of a failure already, I took him into the other room for a little time out.

Instead of calming down, he escalated. He began the "NoMommyNoMommyNoMommy" chant, and tried to squirm off of my lap. At home, my rule is he cannot come out of time out until he is calm, and he wasn't getting calmer. as he screamed at me, I questioned myself, my parenting, my patience, my decision not to spank... I held him gently and occasionally reminded him, calmly, that he would not get down until he stopped yelling.

Finally, half an hour after the initial screams, he took a deep breath and collapsed on my shoulder. He gave me a hug, then slid off my lap. As he crawled up on the couch beside me, Uncle Phil came in and said "Let's go outside and play!"

I shot him a disapproving look, and he said "No? I thought maybe that would end it." While it was true that it would end it, I felt like it was both too soon after the bad behavior for a reward, and also that I had just had a miserable time, and I should get to have fun with him and re-establish our happy relationship before he was whisked away.

"Oh. I see. You need to win." Phil said.

My stomach hit the floor, and my eyes welled up, but I managed to say, "It's not about winning, it's about establishing patterns of behavior. If he cries and throws fits, and gets rewarded, he will cry more and throw more fits... but you've offered, and he's calm, so go ahead."

Phil is so much like Karl. I don't know if it was what he said, or that I heard Karl saying the same thing in my head, but suddenly I felt mean and small and ineffective. I KNOW I'm not - I know I'm a good mom and Elliot and I have a strong bond, but in that moment I questioned everything. They were barely out the door when I started sobbing, and retreated to the bathroom.
When I finally emerged from hiding, it wasn’t to looks of accusation or annoyance from my family, but sympathy and understanding. Elliot is the youngest of 12 grandkids, and my sisters-in-law reassured me that they had all been there, and that this is hard. Being the mom means you’re often the bad guy, even when (or maybe especially when?) dad is in the picture.
My brother in law, the only man there to defend his gender, simply said this:
“Yeah, but when they win the super bowl, who do they say hi to?”
That’s the truth.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I can't even tell you why i'm so tired, but I don't have the energy to get Elliot to bed, so he's running around at 11PM, playing with the dog and generally causing mayhem.

And I'm not yet packed for the trip tomorrow, tho I am nearly packed, so that's something.

I just want to go to sleep, but I have to get a little more done first. So I'll now get the eff off the computer and get 'er done.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Numbers Game

So far, dating kinda sucks
but at least i have this to come home to:

The whole dating widowed mom thing is going to take some figuring out. It seems I'm in a "vulnerable place" (which, really, i think, means "upfront about not likely to put out") right now, and so I don't merit a third date to my recent second date, who had been my first second date since Karl died. The date was preceded by my third first date, the first to leave me actually feeling I might be ready to deal with dating at all.

He was intelligent and articulate, and seemed willing to talk about things in a straightforward way. I really enjoyed talking to him, and when the topic of whether or not I was "ready to date" came up, I explained that I felt very ready to date, but would have to know my partner well and have a pretty trusting relationship before I would be comfortable with physical intimacy.

In theory, when we talked about it, he was all for the idea of getting to know each other, hanging out, going slow. In practice, he walked me back to my car after dinner and tried to talk me into going home with him.

I refused, as politely and gently as I could.

The next day, I got a the "You're vulnerable, i don't want you to get hurt. We shouldn't date right now" message.

Yeah. Two dates + no nookie = i have a vulnerability problem? If you don't even know somebody's last name yet you probably shouldn't sleep with them - widowed or no.

Buy hey, two dates! That's twice as many as the last guy, and if I can just double the numbers every other time, eventually I'll find something long term, right?

So, who wants to set me up with somebody looking for a 4 date romance?