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Category Archives: Crazy Little Thing Called Life

The Two Little Piggies

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I have a love-hate relationship with teaching. The hours are horrible. The pay is a pittance. The work never stops – nights, weekends, vacations. There are times where it is as if no one wants to hear a word I am saying, and all I am doing is putting out one behavior fire after another. Not to mention all the times I have had to tell  the Three Monkeys that I can’t do something with them or for them because I have had something to do for the class.

It is EXHAUSTING.

And then there are times when it all is so incredibly breathtakingly amazing.

This is the story of the two little piggies – guinea piggies that is – and how an act of kindness lifted my heart in so many ways.

Way back in August, my students and I decided we wanted to get guinea pigs for our classroom. We had everything we needed. Cage? Check. Food? Check. Hay? Check. Guinea pigs? Ummm…

It’s not that I didn’t want them. I did! But, guinea pigs cost money. And with the pay cut I took in order to work at this little piece of academic heaven, I never had the spare change to go get them.

That damned empty cage sitting in my classroom mocked me every single day.

And then this week something serendipitous happened. I came across a listing for two male guinea pigs (cage included) FREE to a good home. Needless to say, I jumped on it. FINALLY we were going to get our piggies! I went to school the next day and excitedly told my class the news. The squeals of delight filled the room. We couldn’t wait!

That evening I took Monkey #1 (now 15 1/2, if you can believe it) and The Middle Monkey (almost 14!) to go pick up our new furry friends, Sergeant and Lieutenant – AKA Sarge and Louie. Together, the boys and I loaded the cage into the car and headed home. Upon arriving, we unloaded the cage to the kitchen table where they would wait until the next day when I would move them to their new home – my classroom.

There was just one little hitch in the plan. Something unexpected happened. In the span of about 10 minutes, Monkey #1 fell head=over-heels-hopelessly-in-love with Sarge and Louie. The very guinea pigs that were destined to go to my class the very next day.

All Wednesday evening, Monkey 1, my sweet little Aspie Monkey, was crouched on a kitchen chair, arms wrapped around his knees, gazing through the open cage door at Sarge and Louie.  He was so calm. So peaceful. Nothing, not meds wearing off, not his brother being very 13, was ruffling him. Occasionally he would tentatively extend one finger and stroke one of the piggies.

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“But, I love them,”

And then came the words that broke my heart. “I wish I could keep them,” he quietly whispered.

“But, baby, I’ve already told my class about them, and they are very excited about the piggies coming. You know they are meant to go to school.”

“I know,” he sighed. “But, I love them. I know I just met them. I can’t explain it. I love them.”

Oy.

I tried to make light, but I could tell, this was no ordinary love. This was a deep piggy love, and I – the worst mother in the whole wide world – was ripping them away from him. Not that he told me that. But he might as well have, because that is exactly how I felt.

The next morning, I brought the piggies to school. More squeals of delight. I told my school kiddos the story of Monkey 1 and his love of the piggies and how he had wanted to keep them. I don’t know why I told them. Except that maybe I have a case of verbal diarrhea and just talk even when I shouldn’t. But I did.

Today I got a message from one of my parents. Her daughter had told her about Monkey 1 falling in love with the piggies. Then the sweet girl asks her mother if there was a way that we could get other pets for the class and return the piggies to my son. Because obviously God wanted my sweet son and the sweet piggies to be together. The piggies belonged to him. Not the class.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was literally speechless. All that came were tears.

In the hours that followed, that mother asked and searched, and has now located another pair of guinea pigs for my class to have. All so my sweet Aspie Monkey can keep Sarge and Louie.

His response when I told him was to bury his head in my shoulder and repeatedly say, “I get to keep my boys. I get to keep my piggies.”

Yes you do, my sweet boy. Yes you do.

So while it means there will be more living things in my house, every single time I see those little furballs, every time I see that little smile on Monkey #1’s face, I will think of the sweet girl who knew it was meant to be – even when I didn’t.

And I’ll remember the time my student and her family taught me a lesson in kindness and compassion I’ll never forget.

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Happy Birthday

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Yesterday was my mother’s birthday.  And with all the craziness of the past couple of days (you know, what with the break-in and all), I failed to mention it when I dropped the monkeys off at her house yesterday morning.  Not exactly a stellar moment. I was well on my way to work when I remembered and gave her a quick call to send birthday greetings.  She was in the car, on her way back to her house after taking the Girl Child to school to then pick up Monkey #1 to then take him to school.

You see, that’s what she does. She ferries the monkeys for me on my days with them. Well, that’s just one of the things she does. She does ever so much more for me – for all the monkeys – and I am afraid I don’t let her know how much we all appreciate it.

Among the many things she does, she:

Is a chauffeur for the monkeys. She takes them to school.  She picks them up from school. She takes them to the doctor and to the orthodontist. She takes the Girl Child to dance three days a week. She puts miles and miles on her car every week – and never asks for gas money.

She is the homework manager.  She keeps track of missing assignments and project due dates and science fairs and…and…and…well, everything.

She is a teacher. When it was decided that the Middle Monkey had not transitioned well to middle school and perhaps needed to try on-line learning,  she has stepped out of her retirement and is serving as his learning coach. She spends all day cajoling an at times quite reticent (and quite loud about it) 12 year-old to complete his tasks. She is having to relearn high school algebra (yes, he was placed in a math class 2 grade levels above his own), just so she can assist him. I know it hasn’t been fun, but she’s doing it – for him. Because he needed it.

She is my errand runner. Dropping off prescriptions, dropping off the dry cleaning, picking up things I might need from the store but forgot to get.

She is a Dance Nonna. She takes care of all things dance related for the Girl Child. Other than ferrying her to class, she makes sure there are tights and shoes and costumes and rehearsal schedules.

She’ll bring us dinners and does the laundry and sometimes even surprise me by cleaning my kitchen.

Why, you might ask, does she do these things?  Well, because she wants to help and to feel the she matters.

And, yes. I repaid her by forgetting her birthday.

Ugh.

So, my sweet Momma. Our sweet Nonna Monkey. Thank you for all you do for me. Thank you for all you do for us. I know there are times when I don’t express how very much I appreciate you. I know there are times when I seem annoyed. But, I could not manage my life or the lives of The Monkeys without you. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Happy birthday.

I love you.

You Can’t Take That Away From Me

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 We were robbed.

I mean that in the literal sense. Not in the idiomatic “We were robbed” after one’s favorite team has lost (yes, FSU, I’m talking to you).

I mean our home, Happy Monkey Land itself, was broken into, searched, and had things removed from it. Someone we do not know smashed a window, crawled through, slinked through our safe haven, rifled through our drawers, and took our THINGS.

I know we were lucky.

We could have been home. But, we weren’t. We were at our respective schools.

We could have walked in on the offender. But, we didn’t. We came home to discover the broken carport door window, well after the event.

We could have walked in to find everything we own had been loaded into a truck and carried away. But, we didn’t. We are missing only the electronics the offender could load into the backpack he found in my room and carry out with him.

The Wii, the games, the girl child’s DS, my camera, and yes – even my laptop – can all be replaced. The THINGS can be replaced. But, yet, I mourn.

I mourn that someone, some criminal, touched my things. I am tempted to burn all the panties that had been in my top drawer, but were carelessly tossed to the floor, all because he touched them whilst looking for hidden gems. (Thank you, Mr. Burglar, for leaving my vintage silver jewelry collection)

I mourn the pictures “saved” in my laptop. Pictures of our past two and a half years. Pictures of birthdays and special events and field trips. Pictures of our vacation this summer to Washington and New York. Pictures from the vacation my former love and I took with our children. That amazing week on the beach. Not that I looked at those images from that summer. I didn’t. Why dwell? Those pictures were tucked away in their own little folder, but they were there. Visual proof of what we once were to each other. And while I no longer mourn the loss of the relationship, the fact that I no longer have that proof, that data, that EVIDENCE, has hit me harder than I ever could have imagined. It is as if it never happened. I have lost them all over again.

But, mostly, I mourn the loss of The Monkeys’ sense of security in their home.

The Girl Child didn’t want to sleep in her own room last night because the offender was in there. He took her DS from off her bed. She made sure I not only reported the DS as being gone, but also its Hello Kitty case. She counted all her American Girl dolls and has proclaimed them all present and accounted for. She wants to inventory the “buddies” on her bed, just in case some rogue stuffed-animal-thief comes and takes THEM, she’ll know what is missing. You, my dear baby girl, know what is important in life.

The Middle Monkey is quieter than usual, none of the trademark arguing with his sister. He quickly ran upstairs to count his books, and check to see if the Kindle and HIS DS were there (everything was, the boys’ rooms were unscathed). He will randomly come up to me and hug me and say, “I hate burglars.” It’s happened about 10 times since yesterday. I understand, baby. Really, I do. So do I.

Monkey #1 has taken it upon himself to be The Man of the House. He has been updating me on the value of all the missing items, especially the missing games, “so we get the right amount back.” He allowed his little sister to sleep on his futon last night, even though what he really wanted was to be left alone. When I came out of my room this morning to let the dogs out, he was standing in his doorway, holding the dowel that keeps his window shut, standing guard. “Just let anyone try to come in.” He has spent the day with his Nerf gun always by his side, threatening to “shoot in the brain anyone who tries to hurt my brother or sister.” My sweet little man. Excuse me. My sweet almost-full-grown-man-who-shouldn’t-have-to-feel-the-weight-of-the-world-on-his-very-narrow-shoulders.

We all took the day off from school today, The Monkeys and I. A day to clean-up and call insurance and make lists of missing items. But, most importantly, a day to heal and cuddle and to try feel comfortable in our own skins again. A day to reclaim Happy Monkey Land as our own.

So, Mr. Burglar, you may have broken our door. You may have taken our things. You may have pawned them for a quick buck. But, Mr. Burglar, you will NEVER take our love for one another. For, you see, we are the Mighty Monkeys of Happy Monkey Land, and no matter what happens to us, no matter what is taken, we will ALWAYS have each other.

No, no. You CAN’T take that away from us.

Not now.

Not ever.

Wedding Wishes

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There’s a song in the musical Wicked in which Glinda and Ephelba sing about how meeting one another has changed their lives (“For Good”). In it Glinda sings:

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
(Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz)

People come and people go – and if we are lucky, they come back.  If we are very lucky.

When LeaTreacia came into my life, she was the ripe old age of nine – bubbly, full of laughter, exuding joy, and oh so wise for her years. My mother was teaching at Treace’s school and had been assigned to be her mentor. Before too long, I was brought into the mix, and it was love at first meeting. I adored her. We would take her on outings, and eventually she would come to our house for weekends. She filled our house with her exuberance. She was the little sister I had always wanted. We were two peas in a pod.

As the years passed, our bond grew tighter. When it was time for Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, I brought her – after all, she was the closest thing I had to one. She was there when the Monkey Daddy proposed (well, the night he surprised me with my ring…another story for another time). And when it came time for my wedding, I knew she had to be a part of it. She was my junior bridesmaid.

LeaTreacia and I at my wedding

LeaTreacia and me at my wedding

Smooches

Smooches – also known as how to embarrass a teenager in a picture.

I loved her.  More than a little sister.  I loved her like a mother loves a child.  She was a part of me.  And I was a part of her.   We knew we were in this for life.

I lost track of her when she left for college.  She and I haven’t spoken about why it happened, but it did.  I was a new mother.  She was miles and miles away.   And life happened.  But there was always a hole in my heart.  A LeaTreacia size one.  I never stopped wondering about her.  I would try, desperately, to find her.  I had to know she was ok.   I knew in my heart that one day I would find her.   And through the miracle that is Facebook, one day it happened.  There she was.  My girl.  All grown up, but there was my girl.

Today, she got married.  I was to be there.  I was going to drive the eight hours from Atlanta to Indianapolis and I was going to be there.  She needed me there – and I needed to be there.  The years of separation didn’t matter.  All that mattered was that my girl was getting married, and damn it I was going to be there.

And as much as it killed me, last week I had to tell her that I was not going to be able to come.  I cried as I told her.  I cried because sometimes life is so damn unfair.  I cried because I felt that once again someone she loves let her down.   I cried because I wanted to be there to see for myself that she was ok.  I cried because I love her and wanted to be there to share in her joy.  I cried because, well…because I cried.

And I cried again today, at the time the wedding was to start, because I wasn’t there crying tears of happiness.

So, my dear LeaTreacia, (with tears streaming down my cheeks) I want to say here’s to your wedding day.  I wish you all the happiness you have always deserved, and yet sometimes found out of your grasp.  I wish you someone who appreciates and understands all the things that make you you.   I wish you years of joy and only moments of sorrow.

But mostly, I want you to know this:

I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as I’m living, my Treace you’ll be.

Happy wedding day, my sweet girl.  Best wishes on this new journey.  It can be smooth.  It can be bumpy.  But like a roller coaster, it’s a hell of a ride.  Hang on tight and enjoy the trip.

He Put My Ring In His Pocket!!!


Daily Prompt: Tainted Love..

Ever been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend? Was it a total surprise, or something you saw coming? Tell us your best worst breakup story. Never been the dumpee, always the dumper? Relate the story of a friend who got unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Change the names to protect the innocent if you must.

I swear, I laughed out loud when I read this prompt.  Loud guffaws.  Tell about a break-up?!?  Hell, this blog was STARTED as a way for me to work through the rambling musings bouncing around in my brain post-break-up with my former love!  I have written mmmaaaannnnyyyy posts about the very subject.  Well, more about the aftermath than of the actual event, but still.  I’ve also written about the end of my marriage.  May haps I should just link my whole damn blog!?

But, I shan’t.  As while those are interesting stories, they are not one of those epic “Oh. My. God.  Are you kidding me?!?” break-up stories.  But, honey, have I got one for you.  Buckle up!

I have mentioned before that I was engaged TWICE in my early twenties, neither of which “took.”  I am not three times divorced.  Just once, thank you very much.

So, here is the story of my break-up with fiancé #1 – AKA Fratboy.

Fratboy and I met my first year of college.  Became engaged my second year, and were planning a wedding the summer I graduated.  Right on schedule.

Fast forward to the summer before my final year.  We were in the homestretch!  10 months before we were to be married!  Life was perfect…or so I thought.

I show back up to school for my senior year, my head full of plans for the future, and a U-Haul trailer full of my stuff.  Fratboy meets me at my dorm to help me unload and to help carry all my things up three flights of stairs.  WHAT A SWEET BOYFRIEND!!!  Was I lucky OR WHAT?!?!?

*snort*

Back and forth we go for 45 minutes.  Everything seemed fine.  We had  spoken the night before and he told me how happy he was I was going to be back the next day and how happy he was that I was going to be back in the same town with him and how much he missed me and loved me.  Blah blah blah.  While I had chattered on about how I had just gotten my ring professionally cleaned and how sparkly it was and how I couldn’t wait for him to see it.  Ah…bliss.

So, here we are on the final trip down the stairs to get a few more things, when about half way down Fratboy says to me, “Hey, let me see the ring.”

I grin and hold my hand out for him to see the sparkle.  “Isn’t it beautiful?!?”

“No, let me SEE it,” he replied.

Being the trusting young thing I was, I slid the ring off my finger and held it out to him to look at.  Makes sense, right?  I mean, we were GETTING MARRIED!!!!!  Weren’t we?

He takes the ring from me, and then…

(ready for it?)

PUTS IT IN HIS POCKET!!!!!

My ring.  It was no longer on my finger.  It was no longer in his hands.  IT WAS IN HIS DAMNED POCKET!!!  What the hell?!?

My two-thirds of a carat heart-shaped diamond on a gold band FREAKIN’ CUSTOM-MADE FOR ME engagement ring WAS IN HIS POCKET!

Ok.  In retrospect, the ring was incredibly cheesy, and I want to go back and slap the shit out of my 20-year-old self for ever loving it in the first place.  But, HE PUT MY RING IN HIS POCKET AND I WANTED IT BACK!

I remember I kinda laughed and said, “Hey!  Give it back!”

“No,” he said.  “I’m going to keep it.  I don’t think I want to do this any more.”

(BTW, gentlemen, “I THINK” is a passive statement.  If you are in the process of breaking up with someone, passive terms do not sugar coat the situation.  Use plain language.  A helpful little hint from me to you.  You are welcome.)

All this happened as we were walking down the three flights of stairs to go back out to the parking lot of my dorm.

At this point I am somewhat hysterical.  Standing, by now, in the parking lot next to my 1974 orange Volvo SOBBING.  He asked if I needed him to bring my things up to my room.

I just answered, “NO!  I WANT MY RING BACK!”

“I’m sorry, but I just can’t do that right now,” and he got in his car and drove away.

Somehow I made it back upstairs and into the arms of my best friends who started calling him every name in the book, and how they never liked him, and how I was better off, etc., etc.

And how right they were.

If I had married him, I know for a fact that I would have either divorced him, or killed him.  Either way, I would not be with him now.

Ironically, he ended up marrying another girl from my college.  She is Facebook friends with several of my Facebook friends.  I can not tell you how badly I want to stalk her pictures and see if she has a cheesy two-thirds of a carat heart-shaped diamond in a yellow gold band engagement ring sitting on her finger.  Just so I can laugh, and know how she was given the ring that was custom-made for ME!

Oh, and to be ever so grateful for the day that Fratboy took it back.

Being a Mother Can Suck


There. I’ve said it. Being a mother can suck.

Please understand, I am not saying that it sucks to be a mother. I love the monkeys with all my heart and soul.  But, there are times when it sucks to be the mommy.

This morning was one of those times.   One of those mornings when I wanted to throw in the towel and just give up.  One of those mornings when I want to call the Monkey Daddy or the Nonna Monkey (my own mother) and admit my defeat and beg for them to simply raise them.  One of those mornings when I found myself envious of the childless.

Even as I write this, I understand how horrible that sounds. I understand there are those who are childless who desperately want to not be.  I understand there are those that due to custody issues would kill to have time with their children. I understand there are those who as they read this are looking up the number for Child Protective Services.

But, I also understand there are those who as they read this are thinking, “Finally!  Someone who has the guts to say it!”

This morning I found myself asking what I had done to deserve this. What kind of bad Karma I had brought upon myself?  What god had I angered to incur such a punishment?  And for how long was I to endure it?

I felt like Nancy Kerrigan, after she had been whacked on the knee, crying out to the heavens, “Why? Why? Why me?”

And the question wasn’t just rhetorical. I really wanted an answer, damn it!

Alas.  None came.  And I am fairly confident none will come.

So, I’ll say it again. Sometimes motherhood sucks.

But, I also know that when the Middle Monkey comes and sits next to me after Sunday School, he will snuggle up next to me, and say in that sweet little lisp, “I am sorry for screaming at you this morning.  I love you.”

And my heart will melt and I once again be reminded how much I love him and all will be right with the world.

At least until the next time.

*sigh*

The Middle Monkey and me, in a time where being a mother did not suck

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Lessons from Sochi


I haven’t written in a while.  Not just here on the blog (to those who followed me, and have missed me, I am deeply sorry), but NOT AT ALL.  It just seemed like the prolific words which flowed off of my fingertips simply vanished.  Nothing.

Ok.  Well, maybe some of it was intentional.  I needed to keep some thoughts private.  And you know me – once I start writing, there ain’t much I keep private.

With that being said, something did come to me tonight.

Like most of the world, I have been watching the Olympic Games in Sochi.  Not that I am a huge winter sports fan, or anything like that.  I mean, I grew up in South Florida, for God’s sake!  I still can’t handle the “cold” of Atlanta!  But, there is something about watching people put on the uniform for their country and “go for the gold” – even if their “gold” is the simple fact that they are in Sochi – and not at home.

And while it is always lovely to see someone win, I am particularly taken by those athletes who don’t.  Those who falter, yet some how manage to pick themselves up and go on.

Jeremy Abbott

During the men’s figure skating short program, one such event happened to a US athlete,  Jeremy Abbott.  He went up for a jump, missed the landing, fell on the ice, skidded about 10 feet and SLAMMED into the wall.  The poor man was obviously in pain.  He laid on the ice for a few moments, clutching his ribs – as his music continued playing.  When he got up off the ice, he appeared to be skating towards the judges to withdraw.  You could see the process running through his mind.  As his music continued playing.  But, then the most amazing thing happened.  The audience started cheering him on, encouraging him to continue.   And he did.  He finished his program.  Oh sure, his scores weren’t great, but he finished.  And the next night, he set a personal best for his long program.

He finished.  In the face of injury.  In the face of the humiliation of lying on the ice in front of the world.  He finished.

Those moments were repeated time and time again during these past two weeks.  Snowboarders who fell from the top of the half-pipe getting back up for their next run.  Bobsled teams flipping their sleds getting back in for the next run.

How many of them wanted to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  I’m done” and call it a day?

There’s a lesson for me to be learned in this.  To get back up.  To not let that fall, that setback, that disappointment, keep me down.  It is far to easy for me to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  I’m done, and have no intention of ever doing it again so I won’t get hurt (disappointed, etc.) again.”  Especially when it seems like every time I set foot on to the proverbial ice, I slam into the wall.

Maybe the next time it will be a personal best.