Because I think you all should be subject to my lunacy

Ordering a pizza is stressing me out.

Seriously.

Here’s the deal, Jeff is going to be home late tonight. Very late. He has to handle some family business. His family doesn’t own a business but he has to handle some business that is family related…anyhow, he emailed me today to order a pizza and wings and write a check for dinner. No big deal, right?

Except, it is. Because for reasons too nuanced (I like that word “nuanced” it sounds so much more sophisticated than “complicated) to go into here, Jeff has a checking account and I do not. I have a paypal like card my employer deposits my paychecks to. Better for me, I don’t have to worry about minimum balances and the money I bring in is so small, it just works out better this way. That’s the not the complicated part. The complicated part is that my name appears nowhere on Jeff’s checking account. He usually leaves a check or two signed for me in case of an emergency or something like this.

So, why can’t I just used the check he left signed for me? The following conversation is why:

Me (to manager of national pizza chain on the phone): I was wondering if I might be able to use a check for payment.

Manager: As long as you can provide photo id, we can gladly accept your check.

Me: Well, the check is my husband’s and he’s not home but he left it for me to use.

Manager: Is your name on the check?

Me: No.

Manager: Then we would have to have your husband’s ID to accept the check.

Me: I can provide you with my ID stating I am who I say I am and my marriage license and as back-up my social security card. And my birth certificate too if you want it.

Manager: I’m sorry ma’am, it’s against our company check acceptance policy to take a check without the account holder’s photo id.

Sooooo. Let me get over the being called “ma’am” part first. Okay, I’m over it. I understand why companies have this policy and it is probably unusual for a couple who has been married as long as we have to not have a joint checking account. And I do have money in my account that I can use and cash to make the payment. (The cash is money I am giving to Jeff to cover some bills, but I can use it if I need to.) So, what, Kristen, if anything, is your problem? It certainly looks like I don’t have a problem. The problem is, Jeff likes things done a certain way. And that way, for this situation, is by a personal check. And if I do it some other way, he won’t be mad, but it will just throw him off dramatically. He is a creature of routine and that’s okay, most of the time. But it causes me anxiety to throw his routine off because he will get all squirrely about it and I don’t feel like dealing with squirrely, I just don’t. So, now I contemplate, debit card (better because I can order online and include tip there and everything is good). Or cash, where I will have to count out the tip on the spot and hope I remember and hope the drive has change.

As you can see, I am completely devoid of having normal person problems. No, no, something as simple as ordering a pizza will cause me to break out in a rash.

Yesterday

Wow. In a word, that might just sum it up.

The day started when Jeff and I woke up 20 minutes after he was supposed to leave (which means 40 minutes after he normally wakes up) because the boys had been playing in our bedroom the day before and had turned my alarm clock off and reset Jeff’s alarm an hour later than it had been set. Good times, good times. Thankfully Jeff made it to school on time.

Also Shelby got out the door and on the school bus with relatively little drama. That was all good.

Joey was returning to school after two weeks out with various asthma issues. And, of course, both he and Will argued about getting out of bed. And then Will argued about breakfast choices. I allowed them five extra minutes to sleep which somehow became ten. Those extra five minutes are on me…I’ll take those.

We finally made it out to the car only for Will to set the car alarm off. My car has issues. Lots of them. One of them is that the driver’s side passenger door does not always lock when you lock the car. But it will trip the alarm if you open it while the rest of the car is locked. Which is what Will did. At 7:30 AM when a lot of people in my neighborhood are still in bed.

I got the alarm disabled and got the kids in. We were over five minutes late. This was not a good thing.

Traffic was heavier than usual and, you know we were late, so we managed somehow to get Joey to school. Oh, he had to have a breathing treatment that morning too. Because although he’s not wheezing or having attacks now, pollen counts are high and the weather still schizophrenic, so has to be done as preventative action.

We managed to get home, Will and I and Will fell asleep in the car. So, he was jolly-olly when we got home. NOT.

Will took a two hour nap before we had to get Joey and I somehow managed to get laundry caught up and some random other housework done before getting Joey.

Upon arriving at Joey’s school, I was told the other kids fought over him “like a piece of salt water taffy.” Apparently he was missed. A lot.

I got home, got Shelby on the bus and dinner made. I was exhausted from all our morning rushing.

It was one of those days when you feel completely blown apart by the end but have no real recollection of doing almost anything. The countdown is on. School ends in 7 days.

Five Favorites

five-favorites-moxie-wife-1

1) Chobani Yogurt

First off, Greek yogurt should have that slightly sour taste. If it doesn’t, it’s got a ton of sugar in it. And not naturally occurring sugars from fruit but ADDED sugar. And sometimes that added sugar comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Now as long as it’s real sugar, stevia or cane juice, I’m pretty forgiving. Chobani does add some cane juice to their fruit flavored offerings but then they have their 0% plain that has no sweeteners and which I can add my own fruit to and get my real Greek experience plus the fruit I am craving.

Second, Chobani is the culmination of the American dream and revived a town. Chobani was created by a Kurdish immigrant who bought a closing Kraft plant in New Berlin, NY. My father’s family is from a town not far from New Berlin and these types of plants closing decimate the local economy. Not only did the plant get a new life thanks to Chobani, but nearly all the Kraft staff were hired back!

Third, they are proud supporters of our US Olympic teams.

Finally, I can use the 0% plain like sour cream and in so many great recipes!

2. OFF! brand Botanicals Lotion

Uh, yeah, have a child with autism who is also allergic to mosquito bites. Live in a neighborhood with wet lands in the back which are mosquito breeding grounds. Child with autism hates the smell and feel of conventional spray on insect repellent. Solution, a good smelling, natural, plant based lotion. She loves lotion and the smell and no bites, no hives, no skin scratched raw. Win, win, win!

3. Super late Spring

This year we actually get a spring at all and it showed up, in MAY! We are used to 90 degree temps already around now typically, but this year…we are doing well in the 60s and that is awesome. Just freakin’ awesome.

4. This Mother’s Day message

Eunice and Sargent Shriver did something remarkable when they created Special Olympics. Hearing Maria tell the story of how it was created from Camp Shriver in their backyard and seeing Eunice in her later years coaching a young man in swimming are loving testimonies to the people her parents were, particularly her mother. Eunice loved her sister Rosemary and she knew Rosemary had worth no matter what the world said and she was determined to teach the rest of the world what those of us who are mothers to special needs children know. Maria talks about how through Special Olympics her mother gave mothers of those with special needs a chance to see their children compete and excel when the rest of the world can tell them it can’t be done. For two years I’ve been the mom of a Special Olympics “Young Athlete.” Shelby can’t compete yet but through Special Olympics she has had chances she wouldn’t have had otherwise. And as her mother, I’ve been blessed to see her grow and blossom thanks to their programs.

5. Can I be totally superficial here (as if I haven’t been already??)? How about air conditioning. Yeah, I’m gonna say it, this allergy-ridden and totally sweaty mama loves it.

Giveaway!

Hallie Lord, the adorable wife and mama behind Moxie Wife has a great give away for Father’s Day…her husband Dan’s book Choosing Joy! 

It’s still on my Amazon wishlist so while I’m hoping to win it, I want to make sure y’all get a chance too. Enter here! 

 

 

Spoiler Alert

If you have not watched last night’s series finale of The Office or the hour long retrospective that aired prior, STOP READING THIS NOW.

 

Okay, you have been warned, now I proceed. Unlike a cranky critic at people.com, I LOVED this beautiful finale and the retrospective that appeared before it.

First, on the retrospective. It was an hour that included scenes from the wrap-party put on by Scranton, PA. Very, very sweet to see Steve Carell in attendance and all of the stars so gracious to their “adopted home town.” It included interviews with Pam (Jenna Fisher), Jim (John Krasinski), Oscar (Oscar Nunez), Angela (Angela Kinsey), Ryan (BJ Novak), Kelly (Mindy Kaling), Andy (Ed Helms) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson). It also included show creators Ricky Gervais (who starred in the BBC original version of The Office as the manager David Brent), Greg Daniels, and Ben Silverman.

It was endearing to hear John and Jenna discuss how they came to love the characters of Jim and Pam and how emotionally attached they had become to those characters. Particularly Jenna Fisher to her character Pam Beesley Halpert. She talks about how emotional it was to create the proposal scene and how, unbeknownst to all of us, the entire cast was off camera watching and getting very emotional. She also describes the scene when Pam bids Michael farewell at the airport and how it was “her moment with Steve” and because there was no sound, she was able to say her own personal goodbye.

Krasinski confirms what most of us came to our own conclusion about anyway, that when they called “Action” in the scene where Jim realizes Michael is leaving that day and Jim gets to say his good-bye (which included the memorable line, “then I would tell you what a great boss you have been,”) that the tears were immediate for both himself and Steve Carell and real and did not end after hearing “cut.”

Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak were added to the cast from the writers room. Kelly added in episode two when the script required Michael to be “slapped by a minority.” And BJ cast as Ryan Howard for the pilot. The two’s on camera “chemistry” was generated from the writers room. Kaling and Novak are long time best friends but would fight endlessly as writers in the writers room and the other writers jumped at the chance to move that dynamic on screen. They both talked about some of their favorite moments directing and writing as well with Novak actually showing us the writers room which looked like it could have been a room at Dunder Mifflin. Probably my favorite moment of their interviews came when Novak described writing the scene in which DeAngelo Vickers (guest star Will Ferrell) and Michael Scott meet for the first time at a bar. Novak said it was so much fun to write a scene where the writers got to play around and see how long these “two idiots” could talk to each other before finding out who the other was.

To be able to see into the minds of the writers and creators also confirmed what made the show so great, it started with great writing and as the characters fleshed out the combination was a slam dunk. Many, including myself, worried after the departure of Michael Scott that the show would be canceled immediately. But on the  backs of the strong writing and the fact that although the show did somewhat revolve around Michael and his antics there were very strong characters in support (including Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Vance, Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson, Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer, and Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone among others) in addition to the other principals (Jim, Pam and Dwight) which made the series last two more seasons. But after the conclusion of season 8, the cast was adamant, only one more season. One final hurrah.

The interviews with Angela Kinsey and Ed Helms were fun and confirmed that Angela and Ed are nothing like “Angela and Andy.” Kinsey has often  been described as opposite of her character and has been quoted as saying it was fun to play someone so opposite of whom she is in real life.

Probably most poignant was the analysis of Rainn Wilson aka Dwight K Schrute who felt that audiences connected intimately with the sweet love story of Pam and Jim, of Michael’s desperation to be accepted and Dwight’s naked ambition. Everyone wanted Jim to be with Pam and we were all rooting for Michael despite all his bumbling and while Dwight might have been rather annoying at times, you had to hand it to the guy, he was ballsy.

Onto the finale episode which was an hour and fifteen minutes. It began a year after the previous episode on the eve of Dwight and Angela’s wedding and with a panel for the PBS documentary. Dwight has asked Jim to be his “Bestest Mensch” for his wedding and as we have watched over nine seasons Jim prank Dwight, Jim pulls off a series of pranks before the wedding, all of which were for Dwight’s enjoyment this go-round including getting Dwight to fire a bazooka as he has always wanted to, surprising him with Andy and Darrel coming back which Dwight had been told they could not make it, and enlisting Moze to “kidnap” Angela and take her to a bar in a Schrute tradition. That tradition also allowed him to reunite with Kevin whom he had fired and let them resolve their issues (Kevin owns the bar they are at).

But the best prank of all, Jim pulls just before the wedding. He tells Dwight that he cannot be bestest mensch because that role must go to someone who is older than the groom. Dwight is stricken til he sees Jim look over his shoulder and turns to see Michael Scott standing in the doorway.

After the wedding and reception (which also brought back Ryan and Kelly) and the panel the group came back to the warehouse for a party and shows Pam’s finished mural of all of all the staff and a group picture which shows the writers and creators of the show in it. Finally the cast members go up to the floor joined by Creed (who had been in disguise at the wedding as he is a fugitive from the law) who plays guitar and sings as they reminisce in confessionals. Those reminiscences include Jim talking about having these years preserved of him growing up, falling in love, getting married and becoming a father. For Pam, she talks about it taking four years to discover happiness was just feet from her desk and hoping that would inspire others not to wait. And for Andy, to ask why we can’t be told we’re in the good ol’ days while they are happening through tears.

What I probably loved best about this episode (which I am leaving lots of parts out of) is that  this episode showed us the best of the characters we had grown to love. It showed them at their most authentic. Dwight was bound to tradition. Angela was uptight as ever but happy for real now. Jim was playing pranks. Pam was fixing everything as usual. Erin was naive as could be during panel when Joan Cusack and Ed Begley Jr appeared as her parents (not a dry eye in that scene!). Meredith’s son made an appearance as the stripper at Angela’s batchelorette party but we get to see Meredith in all her drunk and less than noble glory. Toby is still hopeless. Ryan and Kelly are still in love and at each others throats. Nellie gets her dream come true when Ryan abandons his son at the wedding. Creed is still crazy. Kevin is still hapless. Phyllis is still office “mom.” Stanley, while retired, is laid back as ever. Oscar has his life in order again. Philip’s Godfather is now running for state senate.

And Michael. His scenes were brief but showed he hadn’t changed. He was still his silly, fun, and awkward self. According to Pam, he has children he is in love with and has two phones to hold all the pictures with two different contract plans. And as he watched Jim, Pam, Dwight and Angela together at the reception he is true to all things Michael Scott when he says, “It’s like all my kids have grown up. And married each other.”

I was somewhat surprised not to see Roy (who we’ve seen since David Denman left the show, most noticably when Jim and Pam attend his wedding), Gabe (Zach Woods), or Robert California (James Spader) at the round table. David Wallace was present and Gabe was a cast regular for a couple of seasons. I did not like the storyline of Robert California or the “Saber” years of Dunder Mifflin but it would have shown some continuity. Also absent was Holly Flax or Holly Flax-Scott or Holly Scott, I have no idea how she calls herself. Of course, I think that had to do with the writers not wanting the finale to be overwhelmed by Steve Carell and the Michael Scott story-line. Because if Holly was there, the kids would have to be there and we would have had to see some other direction for the finale. Interestingly, we see Devon, who was downsized in the first season, was rehired by Dwight after Creed, Toby and Kevin were fired.

I’ve seen some great series finale’s—The Cosby Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, and That 70’s Show come to mind as especially good as well as Cheers. Others, ahem, Seinfeld, were awful. The Office‘s finale, to me, was the embodiment of what the series was overall. We saw the characters as their most authentic and therefore best. We had resolution to some of the more teasing issues. And we saw where the future was for these characters: in Austin for Jim and Pam and their kids as well as Darrel, NY for Toby, Europe for Nellie, in the bar with Kevin, in politics and still accounting for Oscar, on the farm for Dwight, Angela and Phillip as well as still at Dunder Mifflin, in retirement in Florida with Stanley, Erin’s new relationship with her parents as well as with Pete, Andy at Cornell, prison for Creed, Bob and Phyllis happy in Scranton at their respective businesses, Meredith still a bad girl at heart and Ryan and Kelly off in the sunset together where they can break-up and make-up eternally. What began as something we related to as office workers in real life, ended with us missing these characters as we had grown to love them like family. And as Semisonic sang in “Closing Time” (which Andy Bernard played when he was manager every day at 5pm): every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Drawn

Lately I have been drawn to blogs about redemption. Mostly from alcoholism. They are all rather well-known blogs, well, except for me knowing about them until recently.

Redemption. Christ died on the cross in the most horrific way imaginable (at least at the time) to redeem us. I celebrate it every single week. Every Sunday at pretty much the same time in fact. I pray for Christ to redeem me by His body and blood. I pray for Him to release me from the sins of sloth and gluttony. From my wrath toward certain people or situation. My envy. All those deadly, deadly sins that I struggle with so deeply it feels.

I wonder as a struggle and sometimes fail with sin, if I am not  being drawn toward these blogs because Christ is showing me it is possible to feel that big wonderful redemption in this life. Or even just many small ones. Or if He’s showing me, yeah, everyone screws up, but it is still worth it to ask and beg forgiveness and try to do better the next go-round.

I have times when I feel spiritually gutted. As if my entire soul is being wrenched from my body and I am lost at which way to turn. I refuse the ennui. I force myself to pray. I force myself to go to mass. I fake it til I make it all the time crying out, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). I guess the gutted feeling is my version of spiritual dryness and I am determined to not give into it. I am desperate not to allow it to control me. I surrender to God to use this time in some way, somehow, to make me better. To make me whole. These are not lies I tell myself to help me sleep. This is the truth I embrace to keep myself awake. Awake in Him. In His love.

I am drawn to stories of redemption in the hope of knowing my own.

Sometimes, the words fail you

So, I can barely piece together a five favorites or seven quick takes post of late. Words, it appears, are my enemy right now. They defy me at every paragraph strophe and then mock me in others’ blog posts.

Well, it could be worse, right?

A friend who is also enduring secondary infertility (longer for her than me…her first and only child was born 10 years ago) and I were talking recently about life in general and how these seasons seem more difficult rather than less some years. We both recounted how during National Infertility Awareness week we got more pregnancy announcements and births than the rest of 2013 combined (this week Mother’s Day week, is a close second) and how exhausting it can be to smile with the invisible veil of tears on the inside and that exhaustion forces us to retreat.

And it doesn’t help in my case that Joey will go to kindergarten this fall and Will will go to pre-K so I’ll have all my kids in school and yeah, there is one still in diapers, but it’s not like it is with an actual physical baby.

I try to cheer myself up and stop the “woe is me business” and chastise myself, “But you have THREE kids! You were told one was a pipe dream.” But somedays it works better than others. It totally didn’t work the day a friend who is a state social worker told me on the strict promise of anonymity that we probably should focus our attentions elsewhere than adopting from foster care because not only is the goal to reunite the child with his or her biological family but we wouldn’t get placed with a child because of Shelby’s autism (autism, the gift that keeps on giving). And she wasn’t crass in telling me this, and not just stating a fact, she was trying to protect us and I realize that. After a lot of discernment, we decided it was the only way we could possibly pursue adoption and knew it was a long shot. Well, turns out it wasn’t shooting blanks, it was never loaded.

As my other friend (the one going ten years and counting between kids) said to me, “We practice NFP dutifully to conceive, we’ve been to the Pope Paul Institute, have a pro-life OB-GYN locally and there is no human answer. When do I get to assume God is saying, ‘no?’ When is it officially considered acceptance of divine will and not giving up?” I know her pain. I have no answers. I have been told it’s a lack of faith to consider myself “done” or consider that “no” might be the answer. I have been praying the same novenas for over three years now…with all this prayer, isn’t it possible God’s said, “Three is enough,” ?

How I started writing this about writer’s block and ended up  here, I have no idea. Stream of consciousness, I guess. I try not to talk about these struggles because I know no one wants to hear them. Everyone wants us to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and soldier on. Get a British stiff upper lip and keep calm and carry on.

I wish it were that easy. I’m tired of feeling like an ungrateful child. And I certainly am not going to God saying, “Send us another baby or at least make my heart so grateful for what it has that any ‘want/need’ for another child is overwhelmed by the gratitude.” So, if I retreat, it’s to keep myself fresh for whatever challenge lies ahead and allow myself time to grieve and marvel over my blessings. To rest my smile and ensure it’s not forced. To rest my heart and mend the places it is broken.