Timeless Children’s Books

Have you thought about the books you read as a child that helped shape the person you are today?

One of my most fond memories is of being in first grade, sitting cross-legged on the floor, listening intently to my teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeMy imagination soared as I followed the quest of the Pevensie children to defeat the White Witch and deliver Narnia from eternal winter.  I was right there as Edmund was tempted by Turkish delight (which, in reality, tastes nothing like I’d imagined), ultimately betraying his siblings by helping the White Witch.  I cried when Aslan died.

This story is what made me become a reader;  I couldn’t get enough.  As the years went on I read the series several times and tried to get my own kids to read it.  I suppose they have different tastes but I do highly recommend you read this to your own children.  I think it would be a great bonding experience and will certainly keep their attention.

At age ten I was obsessed with horses, like many young girls are.  I’m not sure how I found it but I imagine I discovered Black Beauty on a trip to the book store with my mom and anything with a horse on the cover caught my attention.  It was a thick book but that only meant longer for me to stay transfixed in a story.  Thankfully, my mom never discouraged me from any book-either for being too long or for troubling content.  I had free reign over books.

The story of Black Beauty and her many owners-from cruel to kind and gentle, stayed with me.  I feel that it helped nurture my love of animals and perhaps gave me a better understanding of how to treat them.  I find teaching children how to be caring towards animals incredibly important as it spills over into all aspects of life.  Black Beauty is certainly a character building story.

My love for horses found me yet another treasure in Can I Get There By Candlelight? My mom was a teacher at the elementary school I attended from Kindergarten through fourth grade and so I went to her classroom each day after school.  She had a fairly good-sized library of books and I found this story one afternoon.  I was hooked-time travel, horses, English gardens…everything I loved all wrapped up in one book!  I’m sure I devoured it in a few days.  If I can still recall elements of this story after 32 years, that should tell you something.  I suppose it hit me at just the right time and place I needed it, I just wish I could have gotten my daughter interested to read it.  We didn’t have tablets and Snapchat back then to interfere…

Here are a few more books I’d recommend to any parent to help grow their child’s love of reading:

  • Bunniculano child can resist the tale of a vampire bunny!
  • The Mouse and the Motorcyclean amusing story about a mouse who, well, rides a motorcycle.  My teacher read the first book to me and I read the rest of the series myself.  That’s how you build a reader.
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing-I could certainly relate to having a pesky younger brother and so this was another book I loved.  It’s the first in Beverley Cleary’s ‘Fudge’ series and very enjoyable.
  • How to Eat Fried Worms-there are so many ways to make worms into a meal if you’re trying to win a challenge.
  • Where the Red Fern Growsa story of perseverance and a child’s bond with his dogs.  Boy did I cry reading this one.

I suppose some of these books may be on a list of banned books but all I can say is that they’re treasures and I will always suggest them as an important childhood read.  Speaking from my experience, I believe they helped mold me into a kinder hearted person.

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You can count on Mom

I got a call last week from the oldest son wanting me to pick him up because he was hurting and hungry.  Many emotions swam over me at once-panic, dread, sorrow, heartache…my child has been in trouble for so long and it’s impossible for me to turn my back when he clearly needs me for the most basic essentials.  I drove about a half an hour to a sketchy part of town and waited for him to come out to my car.  The first thing I noticed was how gaunt his face looked.  His pretty blue eyes did not shine and he was very pale.  He was looking far older than his mere twenty-one years.  He put his back-pack in the trunk and off we went.

Not knowing what to talk about, I left it up to him to speak first.  He started telling me about how bad his legs hurt and how his head had been throbbing for days.  He looked like a lost puppy.  I didn’t bother asking him if he was hungry, instead driving straight to a drive thru.  He wanted a double western bacon cheese burger.  I got him the large combo and he was done with the fries within five minutes.

We got to the house and I suggested he shower and take a long hot one to wash away some of the filth that had surely attached itself to his wounded legs.  He happily obliged.  As he showered, many questions went through my head:

  • what am I going to do with him?
  • how long will he stay?
  • is he going to try to break into the garage again?
  • when are they going to have room for him at rehab?

I needed to get some laundry done and seeing as I’ve been house sitting for my mom, I could do it at her house.  I told him that if he wanted to sleep here  he should get me the sheets and blankets off his bed because I hadn’t touched anything since he’d left previously.  His friend had given him some skateboard guts so that he could put his back together and he wondered if I’d take him to the skate shop so they’d put it together for him.

We got that done and I wondered if he’d turn around and sell it for drugs.

He left for awhile, happy, because he had a functioning skateboard again.  It’s nice to see him with a genuine smile, even if it’s small because he’s exhausted.

Please don’t go get meth.

I got all of his bedding and clothing washed and left it folded in a bag in his room.  I didn’t want to do too much because I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t want to be disappointed.  And, as sorry as I felt for him, I didn’t want to bend over backwards just to be shat on again.  He didn’t come home that night but showed up the next morning, put his sheets on his bed and promptly went to sleep.  I asked him one time if he was doing alright and he said sleepily, “I haven’t been in a bed in so long.”

I checked on him periodically but he slept for almost five days.  He got up to use the bathroom occasionally and I gave him a gallon of cran-raspberry juice to keep by his bed so he wouldn’t drink out of the container in the refrigerator.  I didn’t see or hear much from him but I was content knowing he was safe and not in jail.

He wasn’t getting beat up by the police.

I assume that those five days were spent detoxing from meth and who knows what else. He swears he has not, nor will he ever, use heroin.  Who knows.  I told him they make that shit with so many chemicals that he may have inadvertently used it at one point.  Of course, that’s a great way to get people even more hooked, right?

His legs are infected and draining. I brought him some antiseptic liquid that his supposed to clean the wounds and relieve some pain but if they still look the same tomorrow I’ll have to get him in to see a doctor.  I’m not quite sure why the hospital spent thousands getting him cat-scans but wouldn’t bother to bandage his bleeding legs.  He went directly to jail after the hospital and staph is a popular infection to pick up-especially having open wounds.

I try to make sense of the nonsensical and it leaves me frustrated.

For now, he is at home and I’m thankful.  Relieved.  He’s my firstborn.  I had so many dreams and desires for him as I cradled him all those nights, years ago.  My only wish now?

Stay alive.


I didn’t post the other pictures showing the infected areas because they aren’t pleasant.

A midday hike to clear my head

I’m getting increasingly stressed about the idea of my husband switching jobs-the company he is currently with is making certain changes which are not conducive to a good working environment and so he is looking at his options.  This means we will no longer have the same insurance and we’ll most likely take a financial hit.  He’s in the trucking industry and is away for long stretches of time.  While he’s been away, two of the kids have moved out, the other three are rapidly moving closer to adulthood, and his own health has declined.  I’d love to see him find employment that has him home in the evenings or at the very least, the weekends.  We all miss him and want him to be healthy and happy.

In order for him to possibly have a local job, he would most likely be forced to take a serious pay cut which would mean we would have to pick up the slack somewhere…this means me.  Somehow, I need to make some money.  I haven’t worked since 2010 when I was a home health aide.  Before that, I taught for a year at a private school, was a substitute teacher, and was in college completing my degree in English.  Honestly, I have no clue what I would even be good at, let alone where to begin my search.  I would absolutely love to work from home but is there even such a thing anymore?  I know people somehow manage to earn money off of their blogging and various other social media ventures but I’m completely out of my element in that area.  How exactly does one do that?

So here I am-what does an unemployed 42 year old mother of five kids do when faced with the challenge of finding supplemental income?

I grabbed my daughter and we went for a hike yesterday.  I needed to get some nature in my lungs, be off of my bed, outside of my house, away from the noise in my head.  I needed some pine trees, wildflowers, and bugs crawling in my socks-some sweat, slippery dirt, and climbing.  I also realized quickly just how out of shape I’d gotten.


 

About halfway up, I realized I had worn the wrong shoes.  Converse sneakers do not have the tread needed to navigate through the slippery surfaces and I easily envisioned myself landing with my feet over my head and having to be helicoptered out of there. We’d be easy to find between my heavy breathing and Hannah’s lime green socks.

We spotted several lizards that seemed to be trying to race us down the hill and only encountered a handful of people, which was very nice.  There was quite a collection of poops along the trail and I’m sure at least one was from the mountain lion the sign at the gate warned us about.

The sun felt good on my bare arms and the breeze helped relax me somewhat.  Bonding with my girl was a great escape-exactly what I needed.  She’ll be twelve in August and I relish the time we spend together while I’m still in her good favor;  before I turn into the woman that no longer knows anything.

As for extra money and me gaining employment, who knows, I don’t know what I’m qualified to do other than possibly work at Taco Bell.  What does a B.A. in English get you nowadays other than snickers and giggles from engineers?

Laughter is the bees knees

My kids are a constant source of amusement, whether they’re creating comic strips, drawing, writing stories-you name it, they keep me entertained.

They took this little snippet while staying at my mom’s for a visit and I laugh out loud each time I watch it. I think they need their own Youtube channel.

Wino more wine…

Day 15

I’ve done it.  I’ve gotten over the hump.

The “hump”, as I call it, is the first three days getting my mind adjusted to the fact that there will not be overflowing glasses of wine while I cook dinner, or two or three martinis while I watch a movie before falling asleep for the night.  The hump is hard.

I have to constantly remind myself that I, in fact, do not have to have a drink.  That there will still be opportunities for drinks in the future, if I so choose, and the world hasn’t suddenly depleted its wine reserves.  It’s a whole body transformation.

My Navy son has come home to visit before joining the fleet and I’ve been his chauffeur.  Normally, I’d have to gauge when I could pop open the wine bottle by when I’d be done driving for the day. “Just three more hours, then I can drop him off and relax with some drinks.”  I’ve had to alter that thinking completely.

What I’ve noticed since I’ve quit drinking:

  • I have more energy
  • I wake up earlier
  • I sleep better
  • I can drive whenever I want
  • My memory is improving
  • I’m able to be fully present in the moment
  • I’m able to deal with my problems-my head will NOT implode
  • I’ve developed an obsession for iced tea

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure I could do it-I did not set a time frame as to how long I’d quit.  I just let myself go with the flow and that seems to be working for me.  So far, the benefits outweigh my desire to have a warm comfy buzz and I love that!  I feel the need to become healthy, and I will go back on a diet once my son leaves at the end of the week.  I wanted to be kind to myself so I’ve had ice cream twice and a couple of other treats.

I think the biggest misconception I had about not drinking is my weight-I thought for sure I’d be dropping some pounds.  Sadly, no, this hasn’t happened.  On the contrary, I’ve been gaining and it’s not the ice cream.  Somehow, I think because alcohol dehydrates the body, I’m showing what my actual weight is on the scale.  I weighed more while I was drinking but since I was in a constant state of dehydration, I was less on the scale.  Well, now that I’ve replaced alcohol with iced tea, I’m no longer dehydrated and now find myself faced with the fact that I’m just plain fat.  But that’s alright!  I can do this!  I can face obstacles better now that my mind is clear.

I draw on the strength of my grandma.  She was an alcoholic who drank throughout the day, everyday, to deal with my grandpa’s health issues.  He wasn’t alway kind to her, and quite often would say hurtful things to her.  She drank more and more until she found herself in the hospital with her doctor telling her to quit the booze or die.  She’d developed diabetes and her numbers were sky-high, as well as her blood pressure.  She decided then and there that she’d quit drinking and never go back.  I admire my grandma for so many things and this is one of them.  I do think that there was a certain determination that one only achieved after having survived The Great Depression.

I have a lot going on.  I’m dealing with a criminal/drug infestation in the property next door that seems impossible to overcome.  My husband had just pulled into the driveway and heard a commotion in the garage so he shouted at them to shut the fuck up and as soon as those words left his mouth, several people ran out of the garage and towards the alley where one guy started beating on his girlfriend.  My son and his macho buddies with their crowbars, knives, and various other instruments just stood there while they waved their objects but didn’t do a damn thing.  This “friend” of theirs continued to wail on the girl as my husband ran up, pulled the guy off of her, and proceeded to go Marine on him.  He didn’t need to lay a finger on him-the drill instructor shouting as he was nose to nose with this piece of trash was enough.  He told him to get out of here and never come back and the punk said  he was taking his girlfriend with him.  Robert said that, in fact, she would not be leaving with him and that he’d better take a hike.  I’m paraphrasing, of course.

This is just one of many instances of the activity I deal with on an almost daily basis.

The oldest son’s court date has been pushed back until May 30 because the D.A. brought in a new prosecutor.  It’s basically starting from the beginning and I’m so frustrated with the state.  The county is willing to bend over backwards to help him get on some sort of aid-a phone, housing, etc., but they aren’t willing to make him have some real consequences.  The kid needs rehab.  I refused to pay for it with our insurance because:

  1. Kaiser has ridiculous rehab services
  2. Our particular plan is outrageously expensive
  3. If the county wants to support him, let them pay for rehab
  4. He’d be better off in a Salvation Army rehab where he has to work to earn his keep
  5. I’m not going to be his damn taxi

I talked to his social worker/assessment coordinator yesterday-I didn’t care for her tone.  You’d think with a degree in Social Work, a person might develop skills to be social.  She failed that class, apparently,  because she basically ordered me to call Kaiser and find out what the insurance would pay for as far as drug rehab services.  I obliged, but when she called back to find out what I’d discovered, I told her forget it, I’m not paying for it.  She told me she had a long list of places she could try to as she said this I’m thinking to myself,  Bitch, why didn’t you just start there instead of me doing your damn job? I wasn’t feeling especially social, either.

With alcohol, I can numb my mind, relax my body, feel less inhibited.  I’m finding that I don’t need or want that as much.  I need to be more aware, especially when finding myself in a den of thieves and addicts-I need to keep my wits about me.

I poured out the remaining contents of the wine bottle sitting atop my counter.  Then I made some bacon.

I haven’t had one drop in 2 weeks.

None

Do not disturb

“Mommy, why do you have a garden flag that says ‘Welcome’ when you don’t actually mean it?”

I had to think about that for a minute.

“I’ve had it in the closet for a couple of years and figured I should use it at least once.  And besides, I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I’m cranky.”

If I were to make a list,  things that don’t make me cranky would be much shorter,  but I’m trying to work on that.

Being in my 40’s makes me exceedingly cranky.

Discovering an empty wine bottle when it’s much too late to go buy another.

Opening the front door on a lovely rainy morning only to have it ruined by my neighbor blaring  Banda music.

Finding a dog poop stuck to the rug.

Slow internet connections that cause pixelated movies.

Being excited to read a new book only to realize I’ve read the same sentence 29 times.

People knocking on my front door.

Yes, the Welcome garden flag is probably not the best choice for me but I was in a particularly good mood when I bought it and had decided I would try to become more friendly.  I’d have people over, we’d sit and chat.  But no, the dog hair and poop prevent that from happening and I remember why I’m cranky again.

“Mommy, this flag is better for you.”

Cranky

My son, the meth addict

I’m not sure how to start this;  I don’t know where to begin.  How do you tell the world that your son uses drugs?

 

My son is addicted to meth.

 

I returned from my trip to Vegas feeling refreshed, inspired, relaxed…

Those feelings didn’t last long.

I came back to my house after being gone a week-I’m not the best housekeeper, but I try.  I knew I was leaving my 21-year-old son in charge of the house-I spent the weekend cleaning.  I mopped, cleaned the bathroom, did the dishes, vacuumed, stocked the refrigerator…he was set.  I knew he would probably have a few friends over, which I dreaded, but I needed him to be around the house to care for the dogs and cats.  I didn’t ask him to do anything but make sure they were all fed, could go out to relieve themselves, and keep the house locked up.  I don’t think this was too much to ask.

While I was gone, I would text him periodically to get a status report.  I wanted some peace of mind.  He’d respond when he felt like it to say, “Yes, the dogs have food. Yes, I locked the house.  Yes, I have not been abducted by aliens.”

The floors were covered in black footprints, the sink was full of dirty dishes, there were clothes strewn about (not his, but stranger’s clothes), and the door was not locked.  I found a broken meth pipe in my kitchen sink as well as two miniature plastic baggies.  I looked inside the refrigerator and found that someone had broken off one of the cubbies on the door.  I don’t know what the hell happened.

My son and I spend more time arguing and fighting than we do having any sort of meaningful relationship that a mother and son should have.  He’s lived in this house his entire life.  I would find out years later that some kids at school introduced him to marijuana in 6th grade. You can say all you want about marijuana-tell me how great it is for cancer patients, how it is the cure for all that ails you, that it will bring world peace.  But don’t try to tell me that it is not a gateway drug.  My experience with my son tells me the complete opposite.

Before I told my boy that he could stay in the house and have a couple of friends over, I had kicked him out.  I told him that he could stay next door in the garage (my deceased Grandmother’s house, long story) because I was sick of all of his drug buddies disturbing my household at all hours of the day;  it was nonstop.  Unfortunately, his living in the garage turned into hordes of people also living in the garage.  So now, instead of these undesirables coming to my door, they were frequenting the garage directly next door to me and entering the premises from both the front yard and the alley.  The garage had turned into a drug den.  I couldn’t catch a break-there were people walking and driving at all hours of the night in order to do God knows what besides just getting high.  There was even a mom who would drop off her 17-year-old son next door, and I’m quite sure she knew what was going on.

I confronted him.  I told him I was done, I couldn’t put up with this.  How could he bring his drugs into my house when he has younger siblings that live here with me (thankfully they are old enough to know better than to pick things up and put them in their mouths)?  Back to the garage, ye go!  We argued, it got animated.  I told him I’d call the police on him to which he replied, “Go ahead, I’ll slit my throat!”  He said that twice so I called the local police department and told them that my son was suicidal-they promptly appeared on my property and said they’d talk to him.  One officer was very smiley which I felt was inappropriate, given the circumstances.  They talked to him for less than five minutes and then left with no further contact with me.  Nothing.  That left my son free to return to the garage.

Sunday morning, my son showed up at the front door.  I asked him what he wanted and he said he was hungry.  Fine.  I let him in and he went to the kitchen where he proceeded to try to pour a bowl of cereal from an empty box.  He kept shaking it over the bowl and, of course, nothing came out.  I opened a new box and poured some for him, all the while taking mental notes of his strange behavior.   He began to take a bite full of dry cereal and said, “Hey, don’t you want any milk?  Your cereal is dry.”  He said it was fine but I poured some milk on it anyway.  He stood in the kitchen doorway eating his cereal as it spilled all over himself and the floor, which he didn’t notice or didn’t care about.

“You’re either drunk or high, which is it?”

“I’m not.”

“What are you on, you’re on something.”

“No, I’m not.”

He set his bowl down and went to his room and shut the door.  I went to check on him a few minutes later and caught him semi upright on his bed swaying from side to side. I took video as proof to show him later.  I told him to lie down and gave him a nudge so he’d roll on his side.  At this point I decided to call my husband and ask his advice and show him the video because he was acting out of character.  He told me I should call 911 because it seemed that he was overdosing on something.  Cue 911.

While the paramedics were tending to my son,  one of the officers asked me to go outside so he could ask me some questions about the events leading up to this.  I explained that he’d threatened suicide and nothing was done, and that I was at my wit’s end with this drug culture he’d brought into my house, into my family, and into the garage next door.  I’d spoken to this particular officer on a separate occasion pertaining to my son and he was well aware of the situation.  Out of all of this chaos, I was struck by his kindness.  He gave me some background information on some of the kids that were hanging out next door, gave me some advice, and above all, made me feel like I didn’t totally suck as a human being.

The ambulance whisked my son away to our local hospital.  It’s about a five minute walk from here but I’m sure the bill is in the thousands just for the gas to propel them forward.  I waited for two hours in the emergency waiting room before they found him a bed.  Sunday is a busy time in the ER, apparently, or at least this particular Sunday was.  One man decided that he needed his leg checked out.  He’d hurt it recently and could walk on it but it just didn’t feel quite right yet.  A mother brought her young son in whose head hurt-I don’t know if he fell or what but as she was standing in line, I heard him say with tears in his eyes, “Mommy, my head really hurts.”  Her reply?  “And tears help you how?  Why are you crying?  Stop it and go sit down.”  She was busy updating her social media while her son sat, alone, on the furthest chair he could find from her.

I was wondering who, out of the entire waiting room, was actually there for an emergency.  Were any of them waiting to hear about their son who was possibly overdosing?

So many thoughts go through your head.

If only I’d done things differently.

As a Mom, torturing yourelf isn’t going to help.  You didn’t force your child to use drugs.  It won’t change anything.  You have to move forward.

The doctor asked him if he’d used any drugs, he told me.  I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me?  He lies to me, his mom, do you really think he’s going to be honest with you?”  I wish I’d said that, but I didn’t.  They ran a urine test, did an EKG, blood tests…they don’t wait for the blood tests to come back, apparently.  The urinalysis showed marijuana and meth.  I told the doctor about the threats of suicide and he said, “Well, that was a week ago, we can’t do anything.”

I’m ready to scream at this point.  Nobody listens.  Nobody cares.

I’m witnessing first hand why there are so many homeless in my area.

 

To Be Continued.