Black Fried Day

“Soooo, when do you have to head back home?”

“Mom, I live here.”

“Oh.”

Today is Black Fried Day, that special day of the year when I start wondering when they are all going back to where they came from: the land of bickering butt faces. 

Unfortunately that land is HERE, where they were created and this is the gathering season where they conglomerate and feast off each other’s worst traits and cackle with delight. I have no one else to blame but myself for them being butt faces. Because their dad has been hiding in the bathroom pretending to poop for the last two hours. 

It’s probably just my pre-pre-pre to the pre-diabetes kicking in. Yesterday I ate all the food and drank all the wine, so today I am fog-brained, without humor or personal space. The happy glow of yesterday has worn off,  when a loud and colorful fight over the youngest using the oldest’s coffee cup for his hot chocolate would have been funny.

The fight interrupted crucial recovery time in my office where I was waiting for the ibuprofen and coffee to give me some hope of being a nice person today. 

Stomping out to the living room, I threatened to take the youngest’s technology away for the rest of his life if he didn’t stop swearing and smack talking at his brother. But when I looked at the oldest, I paused. Stumped. There was nothing I could do to punish the oldest. He already lives in hell, otherwise known as a corner of our basement with no door, while he ‘gathers himself’. 

Still, I felt the need to get him where it hurts the most (because that is what we do here). 

“Actually that’s MY coffee cup. ALL of the cups in the cupboard are mine. Except the one that is your dad’s. You’re welcome for getting to use them.”

My daughter, who was sitting in the living room ALSO drinking from one of MY coffee cups, said with a self righteous smirk on her face “Really mom? You’re only fueling this.” 

This same girl asked us yesterday what Grant and I talked about when no kids were around. “Do you run out of things to say when we aren’t around? Do you just go silent?”

The always witty fifth born said we probably just sit next to each other in our tv chairs and show each other funnies on our phones and guffaw. (He didn’t actually say guffaw-that’s creative embellishment on my end.) 

I imagine it’s probably weird for the kids to think we have a life outside of them. How dull for us it must be in their eyes. 

Little do they know we have a very cool life that doesn’t include any of them.

The secret society of Grant and Heather.

Picture us this coming Sunday night, the half three who still live with us have gone to their separate corners for the night, the other three finally gone to their home away from home. Me sipping wine from the oldest’s coffee cup with wicked pleasure. 

We both sigh heavily. 

“I miss them so much when they aren’t all in the same room.” I say. 

We sigh again. 

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” we both say in unison, Grant with a raised eyebrow and me with a knowing smirk as we hunker down all comfy next to each other in our tv chairs and start peacefully scrolling on our phones, sharing funnies and guffawing.

A Full House

I am up early this morning. Not to get the bird on. That’s Grant’s job. Though the way I wrote that it sounds like his job is to flip the world off. Close, considering the turkey is a whopping 27 pounds, requiring a custom made piece for the Weber so that the lid closes. 

My job is the pies

Which I can do with closed eyes. 

Plus a bunch of sides

A Thanksgiving Haiku. Sort of. 

No, I’m up early not to peel potatoes, but to write this blog post while my heart is full. Not that it won’t be full later. It just won’t be a peaceful full. More like pandemonium full. 

Yesterday, I was happy to have the task of making the eleven pies (Siwinski Dozen) because it kept me partially distracted from being anxious. Maria was traveling home from Portland with Jackson and Grant took Dave to go get Daniel from Pullman and there were warnings of fifty-five mile an hour winds plus some snow. We have had many a thing go wonky from wind in our lives so I was having visions of cars being blown off the road. 

But everyone is safe and sound and last night the house had volume again, only a reving up for today’s full decibel level. It’s interesting, I just did the math and it won’t be until the year 2021 that I will have been living with children as long as I lived without them, assuming I don’t kick the bucket by then. Or run away. So technically I have not had enough time to get used to the noise yet. 

BUT this will more than likely be the last year we have us all here for Thanksgiving. We didn’t expect Dan to be here this year because of his football equipment manager job at WSU. We have two kids who have found their person: Maria and Dillin and with that comes obligations for them to be at other family celebrations. It’s inevitable. One by one they will build their own lives and their own traditions and Grant and I will have a smaller and smaller crew for holidays until it’s just us and the dogs. 

OMG. I’m crying. 

Fucking full heart.

The dogs will be so sad!

So today, I’m going to capture the noise level and keep it inside me, like fireflies in a jar. 

Only the fireflies really need to be set free at some point in time so the rest of the world can enjoy their light. 

Sticks and Stones

I quit work early today and have been making pies since 1 pm so as to avoid kitchen chaos tomorrow: 

  • Four pumpkin pies. 
  • Three fireball whiskey pumpkin pies (as an experiment)
  • Four Tollhouse Pies

Grant and I got the food shopping done yesterday, which is a miracle in and of itself, especially because there was very little of our normal bickering. Though it did take a long time just to MAKE the list because Grant kept interrupting me when I was trying to write something down by saying something HE wanted written down, which then made me keep forgetting what I was about to write and then we would both stare at each other with these blank looks: a clash of things forgotten. Somewhere up in the universe are little floating cartoon thought bubbles with works like “butter” and “charcoal” colliding into each other.   

There are a lot of things to remember for our holiday food traditions and we didn’t want a repeat of the “Cool Whip Incident of 2018”. 

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday of the entire year. Food, Family, Football and the traditional Thanksgiving Day FIGHT where at least one of us loses their cool every year because they are not able to overcome someone else’s snarky words.

Whoever wrote the poem…

Sticks and stones may break my bones

But works can never hurt me. 

…has not met any west coast Siwinskis. Sticks and stones are soothing compared to the trash talk that happens in our household, especially during the holidays. It usually involves a board game or the mad rush to get the food prepared and unburned but fully cooked in perfect synchronicity (which has happened maybe 5 out of 28 times.) 

One of the boys has a video from a few years ago when our youngest Mitchel blew his cool and spewed a very gruesome but quite epic threat upon his gloating oldest brother Duncan who was I’m sure taunting him relentlessly with words “that can hurt you” during a game of Monopoly. To tell you exactly what he said would mark me publically for potential Bad Mother Prison because it’s always the mother’s fault when the child does or says bad things. 

But one thing is for certain about these Siwinskis of mine: they are not fragile people who are easily offended. Most of the world’s nonsense (and there is a lot of it) rolls off them like water on a duck because their skin has grown thick from rude word calluses. Unless of course the words are from one of their own. Those still sting.

I just hope it’s not me on video this year. I’m generally pretty joyful (wine) on Thanksgiving, unless of course SOMEONE doesn’t give me enough warning about when the turkey will be done, which can result in lumpy mashed potatoes. Like the Tragic Thanksgiving of 2017.

Same But Different

Bella chewed up my Fitbitch today. When I held the pieces in front of her she did her weird front teeth grin that she does when she’s anxious. And guilty.

“Now we can’t WALK Bella!” I scolded. “You don’t realize that you have harmed YOURSELF with your insatiable need to chew up my stuff. Why can’t you have more self control? You have 35 bones and 15 tennis balls!”

Secretly I was kind of relieved. At first it was fun to have a fitbitch again and I thought enough time had passed since my distance running mania that I could keep myself in check. I bought one for both Grant and me, thinking we could have some fun competitions on who could do the most steps. Fun because I knew I would win every single time and then feel good about myself. But Grant refuses to compete with me on ANYTHING which kind of sucks the joy out of beating him.

Case in point the ‘drink a gallon of water a day’ challenge. I had to pour some of MY water into his dwindling gallon just to see if he was even paying ATTENTION to the contest.

Plus, I sprained my good ankle over a month ago and it’s not healing very fast, mostly because of my fitbitch taunting me with her obnoxious buzzing every hour if I haven’t done at least 250 steps. She is pretty much a step-tramp.

WAS I mean.

I should not speak ill of the dead.

So I repeated to Bella “No walk for you missy. Take THAT.” And she went and sulked until it was the normal time that David and I take Cooper and Bella on their same but different walks. Then she started hopping up and down and whining in expectation.

Dave and I have started taking them at the same time but in different directions because Cooper just wants to chase the ball at the park and have fun. But Bella wants to chase Cooper. And bite his face. In a loving and competitive way mind you, but it still wrecks Cooper’s fun. Hence the same but different walks.

Anyhow, despite my scolding Bella still got to go on her same but different walk and while at first I didn’t see the point without having the number of steps recorded I eventually found myself enjoying the walk more. It felt more contemplative and soul soothing. I notice Bella was less business like as well, stopping more often for deep sniff investigations.

When we got home I solemnly apologized to Grant for biting his face when he was just trying to have fun but I also told him I probably wont stop chasing and more than likely would catch him.

Should he decide to run.

R.I.P. FB

Something You Need to Know

I’m a little worried about my tongue right now. I was cleaning the turtle tank and I had a brand new bottle of ‘Poo be Gone’ (it’s actually called Sludge Destroyer) and could not get off the little foil cover over the top because I keep my nails short. I’m too reckless for pretty nails. Anyhow, I could HEAR my mother: “DON’T USE YOUR TEETH TO OPEN THINGS.”

Her voice was super loud even though she’s dead.

So I actually looked over my shoulder to make sure she wasn’t there before I used my teeth. 

To open a liquid product called SLUDGE DESTROYER. 

In my defense I was trying to get a lot of things done in a short period of time and did not have time to walk the ten steps into the kitchen to get a pokey thing.  I was just hoping to get a start on that little piece of foil with my teeth and then use my fingers for the rest. But the foil thing pulled off quite abruptly and then somehow (and I have tried to mimic this in my mind several times since and can not see how it could have happened) landed “wet side down” on my tongue. 

I keep trying to tell myself that so far TurdZilla has managed to thrive in water containing a heck of a lot more sludge destroyer than what landed on my tongue. She has been with us almost seven years of her twenty to thirty year life expectancy and thus far has shown zero signs of an early death. No one likes her, by the way, except me. So it’s gonna be me and TurdZilla at the old folks home even though she is David’s turtle. Grant will be across the hall because I’m probably not going to live with him when we are in a nursing home. I’m thinking we will just steady date each other then, to add a little spice. Besides, I only promised forty years of actual marriage. 

But I got a lot of that stuff on my tongue and it did NOT feel or taste good at all. My theory is that because I had just brushed my teeth there was no sludge on my tongue from a long night’s sleep for a good defense barrier to the ‘poo be gone’. I ended up spitting a bunch of times right into the newly cleaned turtle tank, mostly out of shock but also (once again) the kitchen sink was a whole ten steps away. And that made me feel bad for the turtle because that’s pretty rude, but more importantly, it’s been a whole day and the sludge destroyer spot on my tongue is slightly rougher than the rest of my tongue. And while this could be because I have been dragging my teeth across it since the incident, I’m still a little worried.

The lesson here is of course that land turtles are much easier to take care of than aquatic turtles. 

You’re welcome. 

P.S. My mom just told me to also tell you to not open things with your teeth. She too says you’re welcome.

Music Meloncholy

Today I put all of our CD’s in storage.

Music CD’s not Money CD’s in case you were confused. (As if.)

I found it really hard to do. 

But I’m on a quest for de-cluttering my house before the holidays start. Those babies are nothing but dust collectors and space taker uppers. 

But they also symbolize over twenty five years of Grant’s and my life together. 

When we first met I think we were both still listening to the occasional cassette tape. I still have two huge cases filled with cassettes including some of my favorite mixes that I had recorded in high school using a recorder sitting NEXT to the RADIO. You had to totally pay attention if you wanted to cut out the commercials. The Walkman was the greatest invention of all time and pencils were not just for writing with: they were, with their erasers, the trick to winding messy mayhem back into crucial life tunes. 

We also both had (and still have) an extensive collection of records that we combined with our vows of ‘till death parts us unless you decide suddenly you don’t like music-then you’re OUT’. I have known a couple of really nice people in my life who don’t care all that much about music but I would NEVER have married one. 

Did you KNOW that the invention of the compact disc is mostly credited to James T Russell who was born in Bremerton Washington in 1931? He lives in MY STATE! Who knew?! In 1965 he joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the Battelle Memorial Institute in Richland Washington. He is still alive as of right now but I’m not sure where he is living. I’d like to write him a thank you letter. Anyhow, that is your history lesson for the day. You’re welcome. 

Putting the CD’s away I was filled with melancholy. There were SO MANY homemade playlists: ones we made for our kids and ones our kids made for us when they got tech savy. “Stuff Mom Will Like”. Hundreds of purchased CD’s, used until they skipped from the scratches. Thousands of songs that would take a book to list, because of the memories they bring to the light.

When I was working in Montana for a week, super pregnant with Maria, I came home to a major event: Grant had traded his beloved truck in for a fifteen passenger van, later named The Rambuski. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen and I honestly thought he had lost his mind. “I just thought it was time to show you that I’m ALL IN with this kid thing. I’m down. But I also spent two thousand dollars on a stereo system with six speakers.”

That van rocked Spokane and we filled it up with kids, their friends, football teams, soccer players cub scouts and there was NEVER a time when the stereo was not playing full blast, little heads and big heads bouncing up and down to request of the minute. Oh those memories, they just fill my eyes. Every kid remembers that rocking van, and the white one we bought later, the Whitebuski, that was traded in this year, with a Tom Petty CD still stuck in the player, for Grant’s dream truck. It took fifteen years to come full circle, complete with Bluetooth to play songs on his phone. 

We can put the CD’s away because now we have a family Spotify account. I lied about the Walkman being the greatest invention of all time: it’s second. To be able to listen to any piece of music on the face of the planet with a 4 second search? 

An epic gift from the universe. 

I can climb into history, take myself to a life moment that comes back in full color and smell from a song. Or into the minds of my children when then send me a song they love via text. I love to try to feel what they feel when they listen to a song. 

I will put the CD’s next to the box of records and cassettes and we will play them for the grandchildren and they will be in AWE of our ancient and strange artifacts.   

Plus, just in case there is a zombie apocalypse we will still have music to listen to, provided there’s gas for a generator. It’s good to be prepared. 

Home Sweet Hurricane

I washed my windows today, inside and out. Now before you start feeling bad about yourself because maybe your windows are still dirty, DON’T. I do this one time a year tops, sometimes only every other year if we don’t put up Christmas lights, which tends to emphasize the grime, bird poop, dog slobber and the broken one right in the front. (We get a lot of window salespeople knocking on our door.) This year the windows were dirtier on the inside than they were on the outside, which tells you how good of a housekeeper I have been lately.

You see, I promised my daughter we would put up the Christmas decorations on the Friday after Thanksgiving. And I’m determined to do this. So this is why I cleaned the windows today: so the coffee filter snowflakes will stick to them and not fall off from the scotch tape being made unsticky by dirt.

I need to explain (mostly to myself) that the activity of decorating for Christmas strongly accentuates the shame I feel about my worn out, cluttered and almost always dirty home. I don’t really like admitting my shame. It goes against the very core value that I try to keep sacred which is to always be grateful for what I have. But I think that this might actually be part of what brings on the shame: I don’t take care of what I DO have all that well. I have been putting my time, talent and treasure elsewhere and not on my home.

Most of the time I’m just fine with things as they are and where I choose to invest the resources I have. But every so often, usually during the holidays, I find myself comparing my home to pictures people post on social media of THEIR homes, with all the pretty, orderly decorations and serene atmosphere. And that’s when I usually go on a cleaning frenzy to at least try to momentarily conquer the clutter and dirt, which can at least make the ‘worn out’ look loved instead of abandoned. 

I don’t think we talk about this kind of comparison shaming all that much: home shame. 

So I’m gonna come out of the closet and talk about it. Well, I WOULD come out of the closet accept I can’t get IN any of my closets because they are all  filled with too much shit. You can’t come OUT of something you were never IN to begin with. 

My home so often looks like a hurricane hit it. It’s all these people and pets.

But here is something for you (and me) to ponder if you ever feel embarrassed about your home and look at the perfect pictures on social media or visit your friends gorgeous home with a little green monster on your shoulder: 

Some people are just GOOD at making their homes beautiful: be it from plenty of money, lots of time or just natural talent and desire. Admire this. Enjoy it. Visit them often! Validate them! For this is their way of being in the world and it takes effort and diligence to make and keep things so nice.

But I believe that there are more people than not whose homes are dirty, cluttered or worn out. Sometimes it’s all three at the same time. They’re just careful how they take their social media pictures and crop out peeling paint or broken windows or dirty floors. But it’s a HOME. So let us validate them as well. They are more than likely putting their resources elsewhere and everyone’s priorities are relative. When it’s important enough to them they will wash their windows, not because other people are washing their windows or judging them for not doing so, but because they just want to have a little clarity.

And make sure the coffee filter snowflakes stick this year.