Thursday, December 10, 2009


Ok, here we go....I know this is going to be disorganized but I don't have my normal amount of time to spend thinking about it so you're just going to have to muddle your way through....or not. I hope it makes some sense..

This isn't my first Christmas as a single woman. I was single last year as well. However, the divorce wasn't final and my fabulous ex sent plant tickets to Alaska to the kids that live here and kept the ones that went with him....I had no legal recourse since there was no divorce agreement and there was nothing I could do so I spent my first Christmas alone...alone. Fortunately, I was distracted by a terrible stomach virus that relieved me of almost 8 lbs in two days so I didn't have to think too much about the fact that I was spending my first Christmas ever away from my children since they were born. So that one doesn't count. This year is my Christmas and I get to have all the kids. Well, that's not strictly true....I don't have any claim at all to Bobby Christie and Becca but we had our Holiday dinner and I will just have to let them see their Dad for Christmas this year. But I am guaranteed Kyle, Jessie and Katie and it only cost me $3000.00 to bring my daughters home for the holiday!

Again....before I go any further, some history is in order here....

I grew up in the most wonderful family and we always had the best Christmases. No matter how high my expectations were, our Christmases were always beautiful and exceeded anything that I wished for. We always had our stockings with a pile of gifts that we could have before church. Our stockings were always stuffed with candy, nuts, fruit and small gifts but our real "stocking" gifts sat there with our stockings and while sometimes, when I was little, that gift was an outfit hand made by Grandma for me to wear to church (boring...) it was usually something that we loved and were satisfied enough by to get us through church....After church, we all got to open the rest of our gifts, one at a time, watching each other the whole time. I can't remember a year that I didn't get everything I wanted, and, I remember BOTH years that we got encyclopedias as a gift......(some of you younger readers probably don't even know what encyclopedias are....they are sort of like a hard back version of everything you could ever look up on google and boring as hell....but necessary for reports etc before the Internet was invented...)

Even with all of that, our Christmases were so much more. There was the decorating and the traditions that we had every year. What I remember most was the Advent Wreath that we had on the dinner table during Advent and singing "Oh Come oh Come Emmanuel" every night and lighting the candles before dinner. Also, the Nativity scene that Mom had (still has actually) and always took so much time and care to set up with real evergreens and lights. The wise men were off to the right until Christmas Eve and JC never appeared in the manger until Christmas day. I remember what kind of tree we always had, but not the specific ornaments, except for the ones that Marty made with our names on them. I very clearly remember the tree stand....don't ask me why.

When I was a very little girl, I remember Mom working on our stockings. She made them from felt and the decorations were intricate and amazing. Our stockings were always one of my favorite things about Christmas. They were beautiful, mine has an angel on it (no laughing). I also remember the baking. Applesauce Gumdrop cake is still one of my favorites. There was always banana nut bread (or Nana butt bread, as Katie calls it) different treats and candies and cookies.

Christmas usually took place at our house, after the first few years when we lived in Tulsa and had to drag all over to Grandparents houses to visit. Sometimes we had family come but it was always a real family event for us and usually took place at our house. As we grew older, Mom started having us visit Nursing homes and homes for challenged children to help bring them some Christmas cheer. It was good for us, even if we didn't want to admit it.

As my children were born and I began to raise a family I discovered that I couldn't make Christmas for my family the way I wanted to, or the way that it had always been for me. Not only were Christmas decorations expensive, baking supplies cost a lot too and having to buy presents for six kids made any other gifts for family or friends impossible. It became a huge strain....A time of year to be dreaded for months and months ahead of time. I was only comfortable for about 5 months after Christmas was over and the rest of the time I was dreading the coming holiday and worrying about where the money would come from and how we would get through it. For several years, we bought day old baby calves and hand raised them so that we could sell them for slaughter in the fall to get money for Christmas gifts. Not the easiest way to make extra money, and often hard to explain to the kids......"Yes baby, I'm sorry but Elmer has to go bye bye" and "No honey, these aren't REALLY burgers made from Brown-Brown..."

All of that combined with the differences between my husband and I made Christmas a time to be dreaded. Although Rob was raised Catholic like me, he claimed to be an atheist, and was very adamant about not allowing the kids to have any religious influence in their lives. So church was out of the question. Despite his religious views, he did bring home the most obnoxious life sized, light up Nativity scene one year and insisted on putting it in front of the barn every year after that. The hypocritical nature of that mixed with the pure white trashiness of it just horrified me.

I did try to make our own traditions however, even though they were different than what I remembered. We had a set of sleigh bells that were always hanging around in one of the barns. One year, I took them and ran around the house with them right when I thought the kids would be falling asleep.....The girls were gone but Kyle heard the bells and looked out the window, only to see "something" out in the snow.....He was convinced that it was Santa. He went to school after the break and insisted with renewed conviction that Santa was real and Kyle had seen him!! Well, he was about 8 or 9 at the time so his insistence got him into a fight and nearly suspended from school. A couple of painful days later, I was forced to tell him the truth and admit that his mom was a terrible liar and had caused all of his problems.....I had to tell him the truth about the bells. Needless to say, I never did that again and after that year, Kyle's favorite part of Christmas was getting to stay up late, eat the cookies left out for Santa and help me fill the girls stockings....I think Katie still believes in Santa, and she's 16 now....(sorry, baby, if you're reading this)

My husband and I both worked in retail so Christmas for us was always more like a day than a season. Often, Christmas day was my only day off. Fortunately, his job was with Lowe's, not a traditional Christmas store so he could take some time off during Christmas, even take a vacation if he wanted. What I remember the most from the last 20 Christmases, is being exhausted, overworked, stressed and worried. I really hated it. I hated everything about it, even the music. Even after we started to make money, Christmas was just too busy of a time to allow me any freedom to do it the way I wanted.

I was all set to go through the same stuff this year as well. Even though I'm so very happy to get to have my girls home for the first time in almost 6 months, I knew that there wouldn't be a lot of gifts for them after what I had to pay for their plane tickets. After I found out what their father had given them for Christmas, I was just a little hopeless about the whole thing. The last several years have been very good ones for my kids in terms of gifts....We were doing very well financially before the divorce and after so many years of being destitute, it was hard not to go overboard with presents for them. They got everything they wanted and had sort of become spoiled.

Since this has been such a year of change for me, I guess I just wasn't happy with having to deal with all those crappy old emotions left over from my past. I want Christmas to be different this year. I don't want to be stressed and miserable and I want to be able to give my kids a Christmas to remember. Since I can't buy them the world like their father can, I thought maybe I could give them something that he can't give them, something that might last longer than a computer or a camera or some clothes. I can give them some Christmas spirit and a memory to take with them when they leave.

And so Christmas will be different this year. I concentrated on all the things that I missed so much from the last 20 years. I did lots of baking, using baked goods as gifts for friends and family, I even gave them to my managers instead of their usual gifts from me. Most people that I gave gifts to got something made by me with love instead of a bought gift. It wasn't easy....I had to make so much stuff, and Kyle and his friends kept eating the fruits of my labor before I could wrap them up and I would have to make more....That didn't really bother me though. I liked it that my efforts were a success and that the boys couldn't keep their hands off of the goodies.

I've been concentrating on the true meaning of Christmas. I started going to church before Rob left but I actually joined my church about a year ago and I have been trying to re-familiarize myself with the traditions and meaning behind Christmas. I had to make myself an Advent Wreath, as I guess that's not the sort of thing you can just walk into WalMart and buy....And instead of buying my kids a bunch of expensive presents I picked four cards off the Angel Tree at Church (selfish til the end, I couldn't bring myself to pick the card for clothing....all the ones I picked out were for toys). One each for Becca, Kyle, Jessie and Katie. I explained to them that we were buying gifts this year for people who had less than we did. They were terrific about it. Katie even wanted to go buy stuff for her Angel Tree kid herself and mail it (she has a job and her own money and I was sooo proud of her for that) but there wasn't time so I had to do it all, not that I minded. It's the thought that counts and I knew that I could impress my children with the thought behind the gifts, even if they weren't here to help shop for them and wrap them. I did the best I could and when my presents joined the others beneath the tree at church today I felt so happy and satisfied. Becca even went with me today so the joy was even greater.

I have decorated the inside of my house as well as I can. My tree is filled with ornaments made by Aunt Amy over the years. I left all the other ornaments in their boxes so I really feel that my whole tree is decorated with love. For those of you who don't know, Amy has hand made ornaments for each of her nieces and nephews every year. I have ornaments made by her from 1990 until now....That's 19 years....anywhere from 4 to 6 a year so that's somewhere around 50 to 60 ornaments. Some have disappeared, some were broken but most remain and it's more than enough to decorate a 4 ft tree. I have bought some new stuff, but not much. I have a lot of lights and most of my decorations are seasonal and festive without being centered on "Santa" or snowmen or the like. Like my mother, I have at least 6 or 7 different Nativity scenes around the house along with lots of candles.

In addition to these more superficial preparations I have made our plans for Christmas as well. We will attend Midnight mass (one of the most beautiful ceremonies in the Catholic religion) at my church. I won't force anyone to go but I will encourage and welcome those who chose to participate. After that, we will drive to Bartlesville to work the Christmas day dinner with my Mom. She puts this together every year. A dinner for those who are alone, or unable to get out, or who don't have the means. Kyle will wash dishes, Jessie and Katie will serve and I will do some unknown computer thing.....But we will work on Christmas day. We will work to bring some joy and spirit to those who have less than we do.

I'm sort of looking forward to Christmas, and I really can't remember the last time I felt like this. I have been less stressed about it this year and I think it might actually be a good one. So....Merry Christmas everyone, and I REALLY mean it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

There's no place like home

Alice and the Cheshire Cat

Alice: Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cat: That depends a great deal on where you want to get to

Alice: I don't much care where.
Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: So long as I get somewhere.
Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

Six months into being divorced, 14 months of living alone. I have muddled my way through many of the issues and faced a lot of demons. I have, in a relatively short time and with the help of some very good friends and family members remembered who I am and what I used to be....before I got married. The days of being scared to death, glued to the couch, frozen and unsure are over (I hope) and I guess that I have found myself in a position that not many people my age find themselves in. I have the power to choose my future. I mean, everyone does, really but most people have obligations, chosen or not and are living their lives to support decisions made years before. Many are happy and satisfied with that but I wasn't and so now I am in a place usually occupied by 22 year old's..What comes next?

Let me backtrack a little bit here. Most of you know my history but let my give you my perspective on my life....I was born in Guam, then lived in Tulsa until 2 years old, St Louis for the next five years. Then London for two years and on to Los Angeles for five years. Then back to St Louis for 4 years, four years in Tulsa going to TU and then I moved to Kansas City to "start" my life. That's where I got married and Becca, Kyle and Jessie were born. By this time, I was 27. Life in KC wasn't so great so we moved back to Tulsa for a few months, and then to Bartlesville where I spent almost 10 years and where Katie was born. By far the longest that I ever lived anywhere. I loved it there and having to leave was one of the major heartbreaks of my life. But, on to Omaha Nebraska for 18 months, then Alta Loma California for about 3 years, and a quick 100 mile move to La Quinta for the next two years. I hated, hated hated California and actually welcomed the move to Arkansas three years ago even though it was as miserable and painful as every other move has always been.

All I ever wanted was to be able to answer that question "where are you from?" with a place, and not a 20 minute story. I know, I know....It could have been worse. But everything is relative right? If the worst thing that ever happened to you is that your cat died, then that's still the worst thing...The worst thing for me was having to move. (My hat is off to you Marianne, if you read this...I could never, ever do what you do and you do it so well and with such calm and confidence that you and yours will make any place you end up in "home") It takes me two years to settle into a place at least, figure out the lay of the land and find a good dry cleaner and vet. Get doctors for everyone, enroll in new schools, and the worst part.....find and start ANOTHER new job.

Through all of my life, there was one thing that I knew for sure, one thing that never changed and that I could really count on. That thing was that my family was from Oklahoma, Tulsa to be specific. I was from Oklahoma! Both of my parents grew up there, all of my Grandparents lived there and it's were we always went back to. We spent a lot of summers in Colorado with Mom's sisters and their families who all had relocated there. I grew up spending lots of time with my Leroux cousins in the Rockies and ohhhhh, what stories we could tell.....But most of the family reunions were in Tulsa. I went to the same University that both of my parents graduated from and my Grandmother's house was the closest thing to "home" that I ever knew. My parents always made sure that we had a comfortable and beautiful home, wherever we went but Grandma's was a place that I knew would always be there, and could never be ripped away from me.

The end of my marriage was almost perfectly timed with the death of my last Grandparent, the two events were only 3 weeks apart. It had been happening slowly, it took about 5 years to occur but I didn't realize it and one day shortly after I got divorced I discovered that no matter how much I wanted it not to be true, my family was no longer based out of Tulsa. Grandma was gone, Meemaw was gone. Grandma's house was sold and driving by there was actually a more exquisite pain than thinking about the ranch in Bartlesville (which, to this day, I have never been able to drive past, since the day we left). There would never again be a Lucas or Leroux family reunion in Tulsa because the Matriarchs had passed and the new rulers lived in different places. The Queen is dead....Long live the Queen! Just as I was starting to feel comfortable and "at home" in Arkansas, there was suddenly no real reason for me to have to be here. For those of you who don't already know, where I live in Arkansas is about an hour and a half from Tulsa and about two and a half hours from Bartlesville. The perfect distance, close enough to visit often but not close enough to be in each others faces.....My Mom still lives in Bartlesville and has survived two separate bouts with cancer in the last five years so being close was important to me. My Dad had moved to Tulsa two years ago for medical reasons from New Mexico.

Now, you might think that my parents living this close would be reason enough for me to stay in a place but Mom has been talking about moving to Ohio ever since my family moved away from Bartlesville. She would really like to be around my sister Kelly's kids while they are growing up. Dad and Ellen have a very nice life with a lot of friends and obligations (and dogs) and I have never really gotten the idea that my presence or absence from their lives made much difference at all to their quality of life at all.

I never would have considered moving to Ohio with my Mom for a lot of reasons even though she's been talking about me going with her since I became single. The first reason was that I never liked Ohio....Every time I was there it was cold, cloudy and humid in the winter, hot and humid in the summer. There are way, way too many people in Ohio for me. I've lived in some really big cities and some really small towns and I much prefer to have the term "traffic" mean that there is a John Deere in front of you at the stop sign instead of that there has been a ten car pile up and the freeway is backed up for miles.....All of that was just excuses, really. I just never, ever wanted to move again. It's late in life, but I want some roots already!! I want to live where I'm comfortable and happy and I was really starting to feel at home in Northwest Arkansas. It's beautiful here (compared to Oklahoma), the weather is good, (I hate cold weather) and it's close to where I always considered myself to be "from".

I guess the most important thing that happened over the last year was that I was able to connect, or reconnect to many of my Lucas relatives. Don (UD) and Max played a very important roll in my recovery and the beginning of my single life. We spent a lot of time together in Grandma's hospital room getting to know each other and they gave me such a wonderful gift....When Kyle graduated from high school, they came all the way from Ohio to Arkansas for the event. Now, if you're a faithful reader, I'm sure you remember the Graduation episodes of this blog....and let me tell you now, I never fooled myself for one second that they came all that way to sit through the most horrible and boring event ever invented by mankind (outside of the family vacation slideshow) which is a highschool graduation. They came for me, because I asked them to. Let me say that again....They came for ME! It meant so much to me that they were here. I got to entertain them in my own way and for the first time in a very very long time, I felt like I mattered to someone other than my parents and my children.

There were a lot of people who lent themselves to my recovery and the beginning of my new life. Some were new friends, some old. My best friend from High School, Jean has always been there when I needed her. I have always had my family...(they HAVE to love you, right?) and I made some new friends along the way. I can't really go any farther into this without giving credit where credit is due....Kevin Daniels, my cousin Mary's husband was there for me in a very unique way. He was a person whom I had never met but who became my friend on the computer due to our shared insomnia. We connected on FB and for some reason he became the sounding board for me for all of the problems in my marriage that I didn't have the courage to discuss with anyone else. He provided me with a non threatening and non judgemental personality that I could talk to without fear. Not only that, but he provided a conduit for me to become closer to many of my other family members at the same time. No matter what else, I will always have Kevin to thank for being there for me during that time. I also must thank Mary, my young and beautiful cousin who has also become such a terrific, loving and caring friend to me and who has shared her two amazing children with me, helping me to bridge the gap between myself and all the lost memories of my own children's childhood. Thanks, guys, I love you.

So I guess it boils down to this....It's not really about where I want to live but how I want to live...Do I want to spend this part of my life living in a place where I can concentrate on my career and wish that I could be where the party is all the time? Do I spend the next however many years longing to be around my family, or actually being around them? I have the luxury of being able to make that choice. My job will transfer me, and if it won't I can find a new one. The job thing is only as much of an issue as I want it to be. It can be huge or it can be choice. I used to think I was a career girl, made from the same mold as Dad and Uncle Ron but I have learned in the last year that I only need my job because I need money. I would be delighted to spend my days in the yard, the garden or at the gym...and I would be just as busy as I am now and much happier. It's a strange thing to realize, but better to understand that now than to wake up at 80 and wonder where my life went because I spent 18 hours a day at work and didn't have time for anything else.

And sooooo, Ohio? It's looking good. It will take a year or more for me to get there. I have to get one child out and independent....not an easy task. I have to find a position or a job in my desired location. I have to save enough money to move my self (for the first time since 1990 thank God for company relocation packages...) and I have to find a house in a strange town that I know little about. The best thing is that I know I'll have plenty of support. Lots of loved ones who will help me and be there for me and THAT is a first.

For the first time ever, I might actually be moving toward something instead of away from something.

That's all that really matters, right?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Things I Don't Remember

Most of you know already how many members of my family are runners. In my opinion, they're nuts but they seem to love it...My sisters and cousins on both sides push themselves to run for miles and miles, participating in marathons, duathalons and triathlons. I, on the other hand, couldn't run 10 steps to escape from a hired assassin but I do try to get my exercise anyway. I love to work out and while I don't run very much I spend a lot of time at the gym. I've been trying to take advantage of the terrific weather we've had this summer by getting outside and I found a trail that winds around a small lake, through some wooded areas and around a couple of kiddie parks.

Things have really perked up there the last few weeks, birthday parties, football practice, people fishing, biking, walking...and yes, running. The other day, I saw a young dad teaching his daughter how to ride a 2 wheeler. She had a sparkly pink helmet on and her bike had all the fancy accoutrement's from handle bar streamers to a purple flag on the back.. It was classic, he ran behind her, holding onto the back until she got up some speed and then let go, keeping up with her, yelling encouragement and hiding the fact that he was no longer holding on to the back of her seat. She would squeal as she started to wobble and Dad would catch her before she could fall. I walked around that section of the park several times and they were still at it every time I passed them, gradually moving from the grass to the paved path as she gained confidence and skill.

While I was watching them, I felt happy and I thought back to my own six kids, all of whom were with me through the learning-to-ride-a-bike-years. The funny think is, I couldn't remember teaching any of them how to ride a bike...I remember buying them bikes for birthdays and Christmases, picking them out when the kids were little and looking for the requested model when they got older. Now, it could be that I actually didn't teach any of them how to ride a bike, they mostly grew up with me, their father and Momo in constant attendance so maybe I just wasn't the one that did that job, but it got me thinking....I've know for a long time that my memories of my marriage and my children's childhood were incomplete. I began to realize it one day, many years ago at Grandma's house. There was a picture of the cutest baby, about 6 months old on her mantle. I asked who it was and was shocked to discover that it was my own youngest child, Katie. At that moment, I realized that I had taken so few pictures of her during her babyhood that I had no reference point and that I actually didn't remember what she looked like. (Katie, if you're reading this, I'm sorry and you know I love you so very much....)

Over the years, I have realized more and more things that I don't remember, I remember very little about the 18 months that we lived in Omaha, that whole time is sort of a hazy blur. The almost 10 years that I spent in Oklahoma is marked mostly by the different jobs that I had and pictures. I actually thought I had a lot of memories of when my kids were young. I've come to realize lately that those memories aren't real memories of events that happened, like Birthdays, first days of school etc but rather what I am remembering is seeing a picture of that event...

I've been such a picture hound for the last 20 years, looking at pictures over and over again, putting different ones up on the fridge, keeping old pics around forever. I always just thought that I liked pictures but I now know that what I was doing was trying to develop a working knowledge of my own life. I remember the Christmas that Jessie got the Barbie makeup table because there's a picture of her sitting at it in her Barbie night gown. I remember the birthday parties that Grandma and Grandpa came to because there was always a picture of them with the kids.

Not to say that I don't remember anything, I do remember a lot. Most of it is stuff that any sane and normal human being would choose to forget though. I remember everything that was bad and hurtful, I remember when the kids were sick or hurt or when something went terribly wrong. I remember being scared, worried, helpless and powerless. I remember when Kyle had strep that settled in his joints and he couldn't move for days and no doctor could tell us why. I remember when I picked Jessie up by her arm and dislocated her elbow, when she choked on a piece of candy from Santa and when I rolled the car window up on her head...(Sorry baby, you seemed to be accident prone) I remember taking Katie to the doctor because she had no hair and finding out that she had Loose Andogen syndrome (which she has since outgrown).

So why is it that I can only remember the bad stuff, and that I seemed to be in a coma when anything good happened? Even when I look back at videos from then, I seemed to be made from stone. I never smiled or laughed and I could only be touched by worry or fear. Why would any person choose to toss out the good memories and keep the bad ones? I suppose I could spend thousands of dollars on therepy to find out why I am the way I am, maybe I'll even get back some of those memories. For now, it's enough that I'm starting to understand some things about myself and I'm not at all anxious to find out why. That would just bring up too many questions that I don't really want answers for.

For now, I've been thinking back a lot, grasping at small memories and trying to make them grow. I might remember buying a certain dress for one of the girls, so I try to expand that, and remember what it was for, when it was worn and what we did when she was wearing it. I remember taking the kids to see Meemaw in their Halloween costumes every year, so I've been looking for the memories of making those costumes, going trick or treating and carving pumpkins. It's working a little bit, I'm getting some stuff back a little bit at a time and since I spend so much time every day in the car, I have a lot of time to dedicate to the project. I think we all just need to sit down together for a good healthy dose of "Remember that time...." Luckily, I get the kids for Christmas this year so we'll have a chance to do that. Maybe, if I'm lucky I'll be able to get their childhood back.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Spa Day in Arkansas

Well, the girls are gone and life is getting back to normal here, or what has become normal for me. Having them here was everything I expected it would be, wonderful, stressful, expensive, hectic, frustrating, and fun. Most of all, it was a chance for my girls to get to know me, the real me. The person that I used to be before I got married, the person that I am becoming again. It was an experience for all of us, and not always easy but we got through it and I think they're beginning to see their Mother as a real person instead of just the person who yelled at them and did the cooking and laundry... They may not always like it that I have a life of my own and my own agenda but they're getting used to it, I think, and I hope that they can love me anyway.

Jessie and Cameron (her boyfriend from Alaska) were here for five weeks and left on June 26, Katie wasn't quite ready to go home and we extended her ticket and she got to stay for an extra 14 days flying back with Becca who went up to visit her Dad for a while. The extra time with Katie was terrific, very relaxed and fun for both of us. She doesn't have any girlfriends in Alaska, and although she loves it there she really missed her group of friends her in Ark and had lots of fun hanging out with them. She has a wonderful group of friends here, really great girls, and while they have the usual amount of "teen drama" they are really sweet beautiful girls and I love having them hang around the house. Seems I've missed them too.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that while they were here we did a lot of fun stuff. Just hanging out at the pool with some teen aged girls was fun for me, but I am not at all particular so I think it was all fun...We went to a really cool cave, (I might blog about that later), spent time with Momo in Bartlesville, and Dad and Ellen in Tulsa. It got really hot and humid here and they were DYING of heat stroke, especially Cameron who had only been out of Alaska once before but they bucked up and did the yard work for me and sweated it out... One of the more interesting things we did was have a "spa day".

Now in most places that means a massage, facial, maybe a mani-pedi. Perhaps a visit to the hair salon etc.. But we're in Arkansas so going to the spa has a slightly different meaning. We spent a day hanging out with my tattoo and piercing specialist, Burg. Burg hasn't done all of my tattoos but he has done or touched up all of the ink that I have on my body so I would have to say that he is responsible for all of my tattoos. Seeing as how my kids are older now, Kyle is almost 19 and Jess will be 17 at the end of the month, I can give advice and help to keep them safe but they get to make most of their own choices in life at this point. One of Kyles "big decisions" was to get a tattoo. I made him wait until he was 18 to do so and legally able to get one without my permission. I was 21 when I got my first and have now had 8. Kyles dad has a similar amount so It's hard to come up with a convincing reason why he can't get one. I'm not really into piercing but Jess is and her Dad already let her get one on her lip so I couldn't come up with a ason why she couldn't get one more on her ear. Kelly has one in the same spot so who was I to pass judgement? Anyway, I trust Burg and he always does a good job for me so I knew he'd take care of my kids, he even did one for Mom several months ago..

Tattoo Artist Steven Burg. He has the most beautiful long white hair (plus he has a small crush on me so I trust him to take good care of my loved ones...)

Jessie getting ready to have her ear pierced. This was her 17th birthday present from me.

Burg was gentle with her, this piercing requires a very large gauge curved needle...

When put the needle went through her ear she let out a few expletives, but she is such a tough chick, she tends to laugh at pain, sort of like her mother....The cork keeps the business end of the needle covered until the earring can be attached from the other side.

As per Usual, Jessie was back to her normal self seconds after the piercing and now has a purple ring in her ear to match the streak in her hair...

Kyle wanted a fishing hook on his upper left arm. It took some searching to find the right tattoo for him but he did his due diligence and ended up with a design that he was happy with even though it had to be altered some to suit him.

He looked so bored through the whole process...I think he was expecting some pain but it doesn't hurt that much and the place on his arm where it was done doesn't hurt at all. I've had two there and I fell asleep during both of them..

This pic is a little blurry but that's Kyle's new tattoo, and his graduation gift from his mother.
I got a new tattoo as well but I don't have pics of it yet so you will all have to come see me and see it in person. I have sent so much business his way that Burg did mine for free. It's part of a really large piece that I have envisioned as the final product.
So that was our Arkansas "Spa Day". Anyone who can't make it to NYC to have Michael Bellamy do their work can always some here and have Burg take care of them. It was a fun, sort of adult activity that I got to share with my kids. Just a part of our first summer as divorced people....And how you have a Spa day in Arkansas....

Friday, June 19, 2009

Episode #3, Sunday

Yeah, I know, I've put this off for far too long, not because it's hard to write but just because I've been so busy.

After everyone left the graduation party Saturday night, you'd think I would be way too tired to do anything but sleep but alas, no, grandma's insomnia kicked in good and hard and I spent the night anticipating the day to come. I finally gave up trying to sleep around 5am and got up to make sure the house was ready for us to cook breakfast.

Don and Max brought lots of good stuff, free range eggs, sausage, bacon, cinnamon rolls and bagels and Don and I got to work making breakfast for the crew... The day started with wonderful news, Brandy had gone to the hospital to have her baby and I got to spend the day with Max and Don as they anxiously awaited news of the new arrival. Max was occupied with phone calls and updates and it was so incredible to get to share her excitement and anticipation. I have never met Brandy but being able to watch Max wait for her daughters first baby was an amazing insight into a part of the family that I was trying to get to know.

I was so excited about this day, Don and Max's visit had been the highlight of the occasion for me and I was anxious to get to spend some time with them, catching up and learning about each other. We passed the day with lots of different activities, from napping on the couch to driving around Springdale to see the limited sights. At one point Don and I took the dogs for a walk in the rain, well, I walked Buellar while Tiny walked Don.....Don did a very good job of pretending that he was in charge of my 170 lb English Mastiff but having walked Tiny myself, I knew the truth. At any second, Tiny could have made up his mind to go a different way and Don would have been helpless to stop him. It was fun and the dogs loved the exercise but the best part was getting to spend a little bit of time with my new favorite uncle and adopted father....a guy who has all the wonderful qualities of my own father paired with a realistic perspective, and honest affection for family and the most important quality of all, he loves me and my sisters and he shows it. Seems we have needed that in our lives and all three of us are thankful for our relationship with our uncle.

Later in the day things started to speed up with Brandy and the baby and I worked on dinner while Don and Max and I really started to get into the conversations that I had been waiting for... in depth, person by person detailing of each of their seven kids, themselves, me and my family for the last 20 years. I got to ask all the questions I wanted and they filled in the details, never backing down, even when I asked about their relationship, the end of Don's marriage, Max's marriage how they got together etc... It was a wonderful evening for me and the highlight, of course, was the birth of Brandy's daughter, Mickala Wren, not their first grandchild by far but the first born of Brandy and Will and a special moment for everyone.

Looking back at that day now, five weeks later, I am so very glad that Don and Max came all that way to celebrate Kyles graduation with me and most of all, to give us all a chance to catch up with each other and realize how very important family is. Especially those family members that you might end up letting go of if you're not careful.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Graduate, Episode 2, The Dinner Party

After the graduation was over we all ran through pounding rain for the cars and back to my house. It rained off and on but my porch is covered and we were able to sit outside comfortably and have a cocktail and some cheese and crackers before dinner

What a cheesy couple...
I made Grandma's beef Stroganoff for dinner, a specialty of mine. I make it for Momo on her Birthday and usually a couple of other times during the year. It's easy and everyone likes it, at least they tell me they do and that's just as good. We had salad and bread and everyone seemed to enjoy dinner.

I was so thrilled just to have family around my table, in my house that I didn't even sit down, I took pics and made sure everyone was taken care of, just a throw back to my waitress days I guess. I was blissfully happy to have them all there with me and it couldn't have gone better. The conversation was easy and fun, the kids that were there didn't display any of that nasty teenage attitude that they seem to carry around with them in bags...

Not all the kids were there though, Kyle, Becca, Christy and Bobby (the "locals") were with their father who had flown in for just one day for the graduation. Bobby managed to put in a couple of short appearances and say Hi to everyone and Kyle stopped by between his dinner with Dad and his graduation shin dig that happened at a friends house. The Alaska people and their friends were with us however and as tired as they were from their overnight flight they managed to stay fairly sociable through the evening.

Around the table

So dinner was a success and folks started to leave around 9pm or so. It was a wonderful evening but the best is yet to come. Stay tuned for Episode #3, "The Next Day"

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Graduation Party, Part One

The Thoughtful Graduate...

Kyle in his cap and gown

The pics will be muddled because I'm a blog-website moron, the story starts below...

Grabbing a moment to have a little "livation" before going to the graduation


Slick and Denise from England

UD and Max from Ohio
I'm going to have to do this blog in pieces because there is no way I can get all of this out at once. So stick with me, it might take a while to get all the little stories told. First of all, about six weeks ago I started planning Kyles Graduation party. I had invited Don and Max to attend and they agreed to come! Really, they were going to drive all the way from Ohio to Arkansas just to see us and I was thrilled.

As you all know, I have been in my own house since last September, and my divorce was final a couple of weeks ago. During my marriage, I had little contact with my extended family and parties and reunions were NOT encouraged so this was a very big first for me. Even though I used Kyles graduation as an excuse to have this party, it was, in so many ways MY celebration of getting my life back. Don't tell Kyle, but it really was all about me....
The guest list for the graduation was this: Don and Max from Ohio, Dad from Tulsa, Mom from Bartlesville, Slick and Denise Durham from England and Jessie, Katie and Cameron (Jessie's boyfriend) from Alaska. The arrival of my daughters from Alaska was a huge highlight, I hadn't seen them in more than a month and they get to stay for five weeks with me. After they go back I won't get to see them again until Christmas so I have to make sure I get good and sick of them before they leave.

My preparations had been going on for quite some time. Several weeks ago I bought a patio table and chairs, I have a nice little covered patio and I thought it would be a nice place to sit plus we would need the extra spots for people to eat. My front flower garden was nothing but 4 ft tall weeds so for Mothers day I asked for a wheel barrow which I got from Becca and got to work. It took me four days to dig up the flower bed, pull the weeds, shop for and buy flowers and soil to mix in with the dirt and mulch. I was quite proud of it when I was done but my hands were so sore from the hoe that it hurt to clap at the ceremony.
I took Friday off to clean the house. Momo agreed to come in on Friday and spend the night so that she could pick the girls up at the airport on Saturday. I was up at six am on Saturday trying to shop for groceries and get all the details taken care in an attempt to minimize the panic that I knew would soon set in. People began to arrive at about 11:30 am. Everyone came in and got organized and went to lunch at AQ chicken leaving me and the girls, who had been on a plane for 15 hours, to clean up and get dressed for the graduation.

The Graduation itself was at the University of Arkansas, Bud Walton Arena (It is Arkansas...Walmart MUST be involved..) I took a few photos but left most of the pics to the others so I could actually see my son graduate. Of course, I got choked up at first. When they were little, I would cry at every school play, music program, whatever, even if they weren't in it. It's pathetic, I know, Lucas family easy tears....

Mom is a crybaby

Kyle getting his diploma

My with my girls and Momo, ready to go

It's fuzzy, I know, but it's him
The ceremony was a typical graduation, about an hour of pure boredom with 30 seconds of wild excitement and cheering. We were all a little confused by the speech, given by a car salesman who never went to college. I kept wondering where Obama was, surely MY baby was important enough to warrant his presence and words! But I guess not. We walked through the pouring down rain to get back to our cars.
I am so happy and grateful for everyone who came to the graduation. I hate to go to them and for others to suffer through one for my child is just amazing to me. Just getting Kyle there was a challenge. He didn't want to walk at all but I made him. If you could have only been there when I first found out that he turned down his invitation into the National Honor Society and then refused his honors collar and the cord he should have worn for his AP classes. He actually graduated with a 3.8 and college credit for four classes. He didn't think it was "fair" for some to look smarter than others when they were all graduating. I guess I didn't hit him hard enough with the "LIFE isn't fair" hammer when he was growing up.....
Anyway, this is only a small part of the weekend, stay tuned for episode two, "The Dinner Party"