Nearly Normal

I toted Sean to an ‘unfamiliar to us’ playground. We gathered our things, exited the car and headed for the location.

As we walk through the gate and onto the splash pad, I instantly feel something is different. This is a completely foreign experience and I am not used to it.

Mom’s keep talking to each other, and no one turns around. Not one little kid stops in their tracks to watch us as we come through the gate. There is no undo attention. He simply joins the other kids.

No one pretends that they are not looking at us.

This is because it is the right season to be out of school. Not one person – never mind three – ask him ‘What, no school today?’ He is not a teenager, missing some class period, in the middle of the day. He has just the right skin color for no one to be concerned that he is at the park alone. He matches me perfectly and no one asks ‘is that your son’ or where I got him. He has all of his hair and no one gives him that pitiful looks reserved for children with cancer. He has just the right number of chromosomes and his behavior falls into pretty acceptable social norms.

So we blend.

It is incredibly strange. I don’t often realize the way that I steel myself for the situations I will find myself when I am in the company of several or all of my boys. I get it, and I don’t. Some days I have more tolerance for it and some days less. It’s always there, but during this experience, in it’s absence, I feel a hard time relaxing and settling into quiet oblivion.

It’s odd being nearly normal.

Ethan Goes Fast

I did say that 20 years seems to have gone fast…but not faster than this Lamborghini-ride-birthday-present Ethan received from my mom.

They went so fast. On a precarious part of the course, I looked away! He loved every minute of it.

CJPH6234Cool day for a really cool guy.

I need to thank Cloud 9 Exotics for a really great day…they threw in a couple of extra laps as a gift. Ethan has that effect on people :)

Sunday Scenes – Good Stuff

I like this exercise of reminding myself to take photos on Sunday’s and think about the really good things in life. Not all Sundays are perfect, and even that reminds me of how truly ‘good’ I have it.

DSC06944

Why? I don’t know. Found him here & took a picture.

I LOVE to bake a cake. Love it. If it is old-fashioned, requires sifting, ingredients at room temperature and the alternating of wet and dry additions – even better. I thoroughly enjoyed baking a cake this Sunday.

I did NOT enjoy pulling said cake with my hands out of the cake pan after it sat there 5 hours too long. It is being served in ‘hunks’ instead of slices. Oh well.

My favorite supplies for one of my favorite activities.

My favorite supplies for one of my favorite activities.

Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool

DSC06993 (1)

Somebody may have rec’d a 100-mile-an-hour ride in a Lamborghini for his 20th Birthday. THAT needs its own post.

DSC07037And any night that ends with a fire…safely burning in the firepit…is good.

DSC07056

Kondo-ing

Have you read it? Do you know about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I’ve read it and now I am putting into practice the wisdom of the magnificent Marie Kondo.

But, I did not always feel this way about Ms. Kondo. She wasn’t jiving with me. I didn’t feel her. The videos I watched on Youtube did not do her and her theories justice – or I just couldn’t ‘hear’ it yet. Then, some interesting things happened. First, although I was on the waiting list for her book at the library (36 of 52!) I found the book on the ‘It’s Your Lucky Day’ table. And it was indeed. Her written words found their way to my heart. Not coincidentally, I have also decided to engage in a particular type of therapy (the kind with a therapist) that has a lot to do with ‘unburdening’ parts of yourself.

People, if you don’t think things and clutter are all mixed up with the ‘things’ and ‘clutter’ inside of you…well, they are. This sister is more than ready to part with all the issues and stuff that rears it’s ugly head in both therapy and in the ‘Kondo’ing of my home.

So top to bottom, I am clearing out the crap. And it’s not all crap – but that doesn’t mean you have to own it. Some things are useful, some things seem sentimental, some things can still be used – none of that means you need to keep it.

“From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change. That’s why the task of putting your house in order should be done quickly. It allows you to confront the issues that are really important. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
Marie Kondo

Do not take anyone else’s word for how to sort your things with the KonMari Method – you really need to let her words sink into your psyche on their own. I thought I was good at this – not so much.

Her method is better. I have done my clothes, my dresser, closet, pantry, china closet, and most of the kitchen cabinets. I am doing the bathrooms, attic and linen closets.

Here are my beloved baking supplies. I don’t even think the first picture ‘looks’ that bad. I have assumed for a really long time that all was well in that cabinet. But, Ms. Kondo has you empty the entirety of the cabinet to assess what’s going on. I swear – I thought I had this.

Above, is my spice/cooking cabinet. I thought the same thing about that. Turns out I took a whole tash bag full of things out these cabinets. I found multiple items that were grotesquely expired. I found things I had three of and donated or gifted them to friends and family. I found things that I thought I would use someday – it just doesn’t happen and it is time to accept that. Because being ‘unburdened’ feels…well…like being unburdened.

This is a small example of Kondoing – and yes, I am using it as a verb – because it feels like a verb.

She explains that this ‘cleaning’ up time is an event. You should not have to do it forever. Those methods of slow, progessive decluttering only prolong an event that could be over & done with. She says ‘organizers’ are hoarders ~ gasp!

As an chronic organizer, I have to agree. So I quit.

I am over here, Kondoing. Even the books. Yes, even those. So far, no regrets. I feel lighter, I feel freer. I just know that this is step in the right direction for whatever is coming next.

Do you think that is from the cleaning or the therapy? Maybe they are one in the same :)

“All you need to do is take the time to sit down and examine each item you own, decide whether you want to keep or discard it, and then choose where to put what you keep.”

Sunday Scenes – Bye, Bye Boy Scout

Bright & early on Sunday morning, Gavin left for a six-week stint as a staff member at Boy Scout camp.

DSC06858 DSC06862People keep asking me if I am going to miss him. I suppose that I am. He is very helpful and keeps us all laughing, but I think camp is exactly where he should be and he is doing exactly what he wants to do be doing. I am more happy than sad!

Breakfast brought cooking lessons. I am trying very hard to work my way out of a job.

The results were stupendous.

DSC06880

Summertime is also an awesome time to learn new chores. I’ve got a list of things to teach Mikey & Sean – and just wait until Gavin gets home….

DSC06884 (1) DSC06886 DSC06885I am a gardener by no means. I have no talent for it and hardly enjoy it. But I dream of being good at it and enjoying it – so I keep trying. So far, the payoff is good.

Apparently, we also have a burgeoning comic book writer.

DSC06909 (1)Overall, these are my favorite scenes of any day, not just a Sunday. Keep ’em coming.

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James

Beach Brawl

There are times I say nothing. There are times I decide that I’m going to let it go, rise above and turn the other cheek.

There are times I decide that I am not going to do that.

Ethan was having a particularly hard time on the beach last night. He is apt to do that. He went from ‘happy man’ to ‘I’m going home’ within the hour. Doritos and a coke had no bribery value. I believe he was using the ploy to visit the men’s room as a mode to get closer to the parking lot. He asked that I not come with him. So, I went incognito and followed at a distance. That’s when I saw it unfolding.

There were a group of what looked like 20-somethings following closely behind him. I saw the nudges and pointing before the comments started. I know how this goes. I’ve seen it far too many times.

There was laughing and whispering, pointing and a girl shrieking ‘stop it – you’re so mean!’

‘I want to buy the poor guy a donut’

‘Look at his head’

‘Nice shorts’

Then, ‘Fat r-word’

I waited for Ethan to walk ahead and enter the men’s room. Then it was my turn.

‘I hear you running your mouth you ignorant piece of crap! You must be some tough guy to pick on someone like him! Yeah, you – keep your head down and keep walking.’ Some more followed.

But from him and his pathetic, little group there was only more laughing and shoving of one another and looks of shock. They thought he was alone and they could carry on their recreational mocking in private. How dare I talk back, right?

Bullies count on you to be quiet. I explain it to the boys all the time. They expect you to be hurt and embarrassed. They expect complacency. They count on you to be placid. I tell them to meet those kind of people where they’re at – head up and mouth open.

On our way back from our journey, I noticed the same guy sitting with a large group of people. I expected it was his family. When Ethan was a safe distance toward our group, I approached him.

‘You know, jackass, his life is hard on a good day, on a bad day it is something that a piece of garbage like yourself wouldn’t know what to do with. People like you make my whole family’s life harder. He deals with more shit then you probably ever will and you need to know that ‘what comes around truly does go around’. I hope your family here knows what a scumbag you are.’

He said he didn’t do it. He said he didn’t say anything. He said he was ‘trying to help’. Lying sack of crap.

That’s when his dad got up and used ‘fat’ in front of the B-word. He said I was making a scene. I informed him that if his son wanted to make Ethan a spectacle, that I’d give the same back. Let’s make a scene. I may have referenced his height. I may have made my sailor-father proud with the string of swear words I put together.

And then, I walked away. Tears welled up and I started to break down. But that was ok, because by then I was back with the people who care deeply for me and Ethan and the rest of my family. I am glad they were there and that I was not alone.

I am writing about this scene, because it is rattling around in my head. It brings up my worse fears and greatest disappointments. I become sickly aware that someday Ethan will be a grown up and I will not always be there to defend him. Then I remember, that he has three brothers, being raised by me.

I am still debriefing this situation. I play out alternative endings and rehash my tirade. I am thinking about how I want these things to play out in the future.

I wondered ‘what would Jesus do?’

Jesus did some yelling and table-flipping.

I am not Jesus.

Theresa Giudice did some yelling and table flipping.

Oh well. I am glad I got this off my chest. Thanks for listening.

sunset

This is the sunset the boys and I pulled over to enjoy after we left the beach. Terrible picture, fabulous moments.

7 Weeks Away

Gavin will be spending 7 weeks away from home this summer. The first week will be spent at high-adventure Boy Scout Camp and the additional six weeks as a staff member at another BSA camp.

There will be a seismic shift on the Costello household with Gavin gone. He is often a bastion of reliability, he is a good conversationalist, and he is full of fun & frivolity. He is the only one who can hold down the whole fort, besides Dennis & I.

He is also a teen…and well, things can get a little hard when your a teen. And things can get a little hard when you are the parent of a teen. You know – the ‘regular’ stuff.

But, truth be told, I am really glad he is leaving.

I am glad he will be leaving behind the monotony and mundane tasks that winter brought us. I’m glad Algebra & Anatomy have been put on hold for firebuilding, metal-working, ecology, and canoeing.

I am glad that he will be disengaged from all his gadgets, screens, the internet and TV for a period of time.

I am glad that he will be surrounded by fresh air and lake water, trees and grass, bugs, birds, forest creatures and nature sounds.

I am glad he is carving out a space where he can cultivate his independence – where he will be responsible, solely, for himself, including his own health and hygiene. Please tell me he will be responsible for his own hygiene :)

I am glad that he will experience a time to discover who he is outside of the circle of his three brothers. I am glad he can investigate who he is outside of the centrifugal force of family life.

I am glad he will be developing serious leadership skills in a structured and progressive program like BSA. I am glad that he will be forming new relationships and navigating the balance of the responsibilities he’s been given with personal time & relaxation.

See, I’m glad he’s leaving.

“In scouting, a boy is encouraged to educate himself
instead of being instructed”

~ Sir Robert Baden Powell