6 Little Men

For Christmas, a friend got me six little plastic men that are designed to work as drink markers. My “Drinking Buddies.” They literally hang off the side of a glass by their hands. Please note (see above) that these men are largely nude, wearing basically a speedo. They are named and everything.

They day she gave them to me, we quickly discovered that these guys can actually hang off of all kinds of things. We immediatly hung almost all of them in various and random places around the apartment, and when my daughter got home, we challenged her to find them all. The 6 Little Men Game was born.

At first, my son would simply move one or two of them every few days and announce such to me. (Let me say right up front … I am really, really, REALLY bad at this game. Now, I don’t have a large apartment at all. Small living space, small-ish kitchen, 3 bedrooms, and a bath. There is a limited supply of places to hang these little men … and I can NEVER find them without some serious help.)

Last week he took the game to a whole new level. We have a whiteboard on the fridge, for messages, shopping lists, and what not. He has started using it for little nerdy games he creates, or just straight up sarcasm and shenanigans. One evening last week I came home from work to find this on the fridge:

I spent two evenings on my own searching for these damned plastic men. To the point where I was frustrated and approaching outright anger at myself. I am clearly blind as a fucking bat.

After two nights on my own, I ask for some clarification. “Which rooms are they in?” is always my first question. And, as I’ve learned to pay attention to detail, I asked “Are they all ‘hanging’ or are some of them simply ‘hidden?”

He answered that they were all in the living room and that only one of them was actually hanging from something.

I did a bit more looking on my own that night and then break down and start asking help, to which he starts giving me hints. Sarcastic, archaic, and sometimes hysterical, hints.

It took most of an evening, but with a lot of help and hints and some research on the internet (yes … that happened … see below

I managed to find them all. He got pretty creative with his placement and I laughed at the places he found to hide them.

I also got super pissed at myself for being so bad at it.

Blind. As. A. Fucking. Bat.

To circle back on his hints: I had found all but one of them. His hit for the last guy was: “What disease peaks in February?” Now, I don’t know if it was the unbelievably random and seemingly unrelated nature of the hint that threw me …but I suddenly became the stupidest person on earth. I had zero clue where he was going with this and my brain went to all of the most ridiculous places. He continued with “You can control this with a shot.” and so … naturally … I immediately went to things like Diabetes and Allergies. Because that makes total sense. I’m an idiot. His last hint was “It was very popular in Spain.” and that that point I was done. This did the exact opposite of helping me. It also made me realize two things 1) when I finally figured this out I was gonna hate myself forever, and 2) my son has an amazing brain.

After some more questions, a shit-ton of laughing, and some internet research I finally figured out the disease he was speaking of was THE FREAKING FLU and the last guy was hiding in a box of tissues.

I had now spent three full days humiliating myself with my son and my total ineptitude at this game. But I had found all four of the men, in “easy mode” mind you, and checked the boxes off the white board.

The next morning I wake up to this:

This kid. He’s the best thing ever.

180 in 365

* NaBloPoMo: Day 17 *

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Looking back to one year from today, I still find it kind of surreal, the life I’m currently living. A lot has happened. A whole lot. Some really shitty stuff and some really great stuff and a crap ton of just general life stuff in between. My life right now is good. It’s not perfect. It’s not amazing. In some ways it’s better than it was a year ago. In some ways it is really, really, really bad. I have amazing days and I have horrible days. However, the one thing that is different from the amazing and horrible days I have now, compared to the amazing and horrible days I had then is this: I like myself and where I am going.

A year ago I was not in a great place. I was probably the unhappiest I have ever been in my life and at that point had been pretty damn unhappy for a very long time. I was at potentially the lowest point I have ever experienced it took me getting there to finally grow the balls to say to myself: “Hey dumbass … you don’t have to continue to live like this.” Now, this was a conversation I’d been having with myself for a long while. And I knew that at some point, I would make this change and do the thing that needed to be done for my own sanity. But I continued to put it off. Mostly out of fear. Fear of how I’d manage it. Fear of what everyone else would think about me. Fear of what my kids would think. A whole fucking truck load of fear my friends. It was holding me back and keeping me in a sad and unhappy and very ugly place. I was becoming withdrawn (more than my normal low swings) and just plain angry. I didn’t like my life and I certainly didn’t like myself. I was living in that space that many people live in, the whole “sticking it out for the kids” thing that we tell ourselves is the right thing to do. But there came a point where I was noticing reactions in my kids that indicated their own personal unhappiness with life in the current situation. And the day that I saw that reaction from my son was the day I decided that shit needed to change. My Mama Bear instinct kicked in at the first sign of unhappiness and displeasure in my youngest. I could rationalize keeping myself in a bad situation, but I could not fathom keeping my kid in a place that made him look at me and react that way. That was my trigger. After that switch was flipped, I realized that the “staying for the kids” mentality is really kind of bonkers. I found a great quote:

“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”  ~ Jennifer Weiner

And it’s true and it’s what I told my son when I sat him down to tell him what was happening. The situation we had was not good for anyone and was NOT a good example of what a healthy relationship should look like. I owed him much, much better than that. And as unhappy as I was, that was my main reason for finally doing something about it.

And now, here we are. I’m 8-ish months out from being on my own again, for the first time in 20 or so years. It’s scary as hell and some weeks I’m not sure how I”m going to make it, but so far I’m 100% on surviving my days, so I’ll just keep at it. It’s not easy, but it is better. Now, when I feel lonely, it’s because I’m actually and literally alone in my house. And being lonely still makes me very sad, but somehow it’s a much better sad than a year ago. If a better sad is a thing. By and far though, the best thing to come of this is that I have come to like myself. And I’ve started to accept myself for who I am. And most importantly, I’m learning to not give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks about that. The only people right now I worry about accepting me are my kids. As long as they are cool with me … I’m golden. And I ask them. All the time. My son, the non-confrontational, non-decision making, emotion hiding teenager that he is probably hates me for it. But I ask him if I’m doing okay by him. He always says yes, which is his way, so I try to watch for signs. So far I think I’m doing pretty okay at all of this.

Life is different than it was a year ago. We live with less, but we laugh a whole lot more. The time we have together is precious and I treat it as such. Life is different. But life is good.

 

Teenage Mornings

* NaBloPoMo: Day 15 *

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This may look like a giant lump of “gray” to most people, but this is my view most mornings during the ride from the apartment to the high school. The morning I took this, I had to scrape the windows (bane of my fucking existence) and by the time I did that and got in the driver’s seat, he was in this position. He stayed there until we were just a few feet from the drop off area at the high school, which means that he can sense the turns I take getting to school and knew when we were there. A clear indication of how often he experiences the drive to school with his eyes closed.

Don’t let this lump of teenage boy fool you, it’s not that he isn’t a morning person. He’s quite pleasant in the mornings, way more of a morning person than I am by far. True, it doesn’t take a whole lot to be a better morning person than me. But, he can carry on a conversation and has even been known to crack a smile and/or laugh on the way to school. He’s almost always a pleasant person, which proves genetics because he did NOT get that shit from me. #science

But most school day mornings run like this (note that we leave the apartment at 7:20 every time):

6:30 am: I’m usually in the bathroom getting ready at this point and I hear one of his first alarms go off (that shit he DID get from me)

7:00 am: I quietly open his door for the 7 AM time check. He usually mumbles something incoherent back at me while slightly raising his head off the pillow.

7:10 am: I open his door gain, not quite as quietly, and give him his second verbal time check of the morning. This is normally answered by something more closely resembling words from the English language. Never more than one or two syllables though.

7:15 am: I open his door the third time for his final verbal time check and say “you gotta get up pal” and he replies with an “okay” while only sounding slightly irritated, which I give him huge props for. If it were me I’d have thrown something at whoever was at my door by the second verbal time check.

7:17 am (or so): He emerges from his room, dressed with his jacket or hoodie and backpack on his body. He first stops in the kitchen for his daily Clif Bar then proceeds to slip his shoes on (without tying them – nobody had time for shoe laces anymore). Once his shoes are on and his breakfast is in the side pocket of his backpack, he immediately lies down on the couch, fully clothed and WEARING HIS BACKPACK and proceeds to cover himself with whatever blankets are on the couch. This particular morning, there were three blankets, so I had a rather large pile of sleepy teen/backpack blanket covered mess on my couch.

7:20: I announce that “It’s 7:20 … time to go.” and he quietly emerges from his warm cocoon, walks out the door, gets into the car, and assumes the pictured position.

When we get to school (which honestly is in about 10 minutes – we don’t live far) and pull into the drop off area, he will emerge from his hood covered repose and wait until we get up to the doors. When I finally stop, and say “Have a good day pal.” he always (ALWAYS) cheerfully responds with “Thanks! You too! See you later!” and then trudges off to the building. The visual in no way, shape or form matches the inflections of the words coming from his mouth. It’s as if his body and mind and vocal cords are at odds with each other. His body language screams “I want to be in bed.” and his tone says “Hey everybody! What’s up?”

It is exactly who he is as a person. 100% impossible to read. I have not even begun to be able to figure him out and I am totally cool with that. I know he has deep feelings and emotions but he never, ever, let’s them get to him. Well, not never, they do show occasionally, but not often. He will get angry, but he will control it. He will get sad, but not overwhelmed. However, he freely and openly shows compassion, care, respece, and love. He’s one of the most awesome and amazing human beings I have ever met. Morning-lump-of-gray and all.

Failing at Wii Music

On what appeared to be a whim this week, my son dug out Wii Music. A game we’ve owned for quite some time, but I don’t think we have ever actually played.

The basic concept of the game is that you use the Wii Remove and Nunchuck to simulate playing various instruments (66 different instruments to be exact). You choose a song and can play percussion or harmony or melody on a wide variety of things in a wide variety of styles. From the “Galactic Horn” to the Japanese Taiko Drum to the Beatboxer to the Cuica. The possibilities are huge.

He began by actually doing what you are supposed to do. Now, he is the first to admit he struggles with rhythm and we talked about how this could help him with that. However, the entire thing quickly devolved into a game of “how bad can I make this song sound.” He discovered that his subtle rhythmic irregularities, when doubled or tripled or quadrupled by layering several instruments on top of each other, each just a little off in a different way, resulted in some seriously horrific stuff. Hysterical and horrific.

So now, I give you, the first two editions of “Failing at Wii Music”

I can only hope he will continue to build his library of awful music.  We’ve never laughed so hard!

Success

I managed to survive my first “Shitty Single Mom Milestone.”

I made it through two weeks on about next to nothing.

I knew going in that I would have weeks or months like this. Coming off of a short trip to Nashville for the men’s International Convention, followed immediately by a week at Harmony Camp, it was really just inevitable. I don’t get vacation or any paid time off, and while I spent as little as possible in Nashville (I mean seriously … $25 a night for a room!) and spent nothing while at Camp, I also didn’t get paid for almost two weeks. So … it caught up with me over this last week or so.

But, I made it work. I planned out the food for the week. I strategically planned out my laundromat trips. Luckily my main bills fell into a place where they were covered.  Also luckily, I’ve raised my kids to understand that the happiness of life doesn’t come from “things” but from “presence.”

A whole bunch of nights of dinner in and watching YouTube videos on the Chromecast (thank the Lord for Rooster Teeth!) and streaming the Olympics on SlingTV are, really, what we do most nights anyway. So nothing much changed for us. I didn’t get to to the Ohio State Fair this year, the first time I’ve missed it in I don’t even know how long, but my daughter took her brother with her one day, so he got to at least go laugh at the chickens still. Even if I didn’t get to laugh with him (what can I say, the chickens are fucking hysterical). He didn’t get to laugh at the sheep though. A crying shame.

One thing that I did get out of this week that I don’t get out of most other weeks, was the satisfaction in knowing that … I’ve got this. Yeah, it’s gonna suck sometimes. And there will be days or weeks that I don’t get to do all the stuff I want to do, or take my kid to all the things he may really enjoy, but at the end of the day, we have each other and the fact that we can sit on the couch together and laugh at silly people on the internet is pretty damn awesome. I think back to a few weeks ago when he told me he “didn’t need” the XBox at my house and I smile and know that I don’t need a shit ton of extra money to be happy. I’ve got all that I need already.

And that makes my life a success. A pretty awesome success.

 

 

Birthday Week Shenanigans

I already posted about taking Jamison to the Lazer Team movie a week-ish or more ago, which technically was the first “birthday gift” he received. His actual birthday was this past Thursday (Feb 4) and so there were even more birthday related activities this week. Here’s the rundown:

On Wednesday, we did his traditional “birthday dinner” at a restaurant of his choosing, which for the last several years has been Red Lobster. 12662438_10153339274657747_7339156487446772713_nWhich is fine for a 15 year old, but next year I need to introduce him to some much better options in he area of seafood restaurants around town. For reals. We took his sister and her boyfriend with us, since it was the boyfriends birthday this week as well.12669535_10153339274732747_1231850838168027742_n

 

Thursday, his actual birthday, was chorus rehearsal night with The Alliance, which is one of his favorite things and was the perfect place to be. They sang to him and then I let him go out after rehearsal with the guys and he was able to get his “regular” at the restaurant we go to: a bowl of steamed broccoli and chocolate cake and ice cream. Sam, the waiter, didn’t even need to take an order, he gets it every Thursday in the summer.

On Sunday, we had his unofficial “party.” IMG_20160207_121907-01He took a couple of friends to lunch at Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace (highly recommend by the way) IMG_20160207_121846-01and then we went to Level One – a local “Barcade” that has a kids day on Sunday. Games are free, pinball is 50 cents and it was a blast. They played all variety of old school arcade games as well as some Mario games on a big screen. Good times were had by all.IMG_20160207_152051-01

He got a Steam gift card (always the perfect gift for him) and a giant Magic The Gathering box (also a never-miss gift). He spent the remainder of the evening at home building decks and battling against himself. I think I’m going to need an extra room just for his Magic cards.

His friends had fun and he had a great week. He got to dog sit a bit on Saturday, and he loves dogs so he had a blast doing that. We watched Rooster Teeth videos all week long and generally had a great week.

Happy 15 Jamison. Here’s to getting your temps in 6 months. Lord have mercy I’m old.

Lazer Team – Haaaaaaaaay

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To talk about “Lazer Team”, I need to talk about Rooster Teeth a little bit first. I’ll save any in depth talk for a separate post, but quickly, Rooster Teeth is a company that produces online content. From animated series to video game play based series to comedy series, they cover it. If you are a gamer who loves comedy, or a comedy lover who plays video games, I encourage you to check them out. Great, funny, entertaining stuff. For serious.

Now, they have created some online short documentaries and other things, but Lazer Team is a full-length movie, the first of many I hope. After a hugely successful Indiegogo campaign (over $2.4 million in one month – an Indiegogo record), they started production and finally released the film in select theaters worldwide this week.

I discovered Rooster Teeth and Lazer Team through my son, Jamison, who is an avid gamer, and comedy and movie lover, much like myself. So, when I saw that there was an opportunity to see this movie the week before his 15th birthday, They released the movie using the Tugg platform (more info about that here), where the showing of the movie is based upon the interest at the local market. We ended up with two screenings here in Columbus, and the last time I checked they were 50-ish tickets away from a third showing next week. Needless to say, Jamison was thrilled that we were going to get to be a part of this.

Shortly after I bought the tickets, I got an email with a link to limited edition merchandise available only to ticket holders. So naturally, I got two t-shirts for us to wear to the movie.

please excuse my shitty selfie taking skills

Fast forward to last night, and the screening. We arrived early, so we could secure good seats, and I’m glad we did. Both screenings last night were sold out, apparently there are lots of RT fans in Columbus. After sitting, I took the obligatory selfies, much to the chagrin of my son.

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(I am not good at selfies. Clearly)

The movie started and being in that room with all of those fans was pretty awesome. Before the official movie kicked off, we got a nice message from Matt Hullum, CEO of Rooster Teeth, thanking us for being there and thanking any Indiegogo contributors that happened to be in the audience, of which there were quite a few. The movie starts and it was just as I had expected it to be. Now, non-RT fans may not love this movie, but I don’t care, because I love them and I loved it. AV Club described it as resembling “a mash up of Super Troopers and Independence Day, with a smattering of Ghostbusters.” Which is pretty much spot on. I’m happy to report that at this moment, they have a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, which when considering the kind of movie this is, it could be much, much worse. Now, the audience score is at 90%, but it’s a fan driven movie distributed on a fan-driven platform, so that makes sense.

Another perk, in addition to exclusive merchandise, we got some extra footage at the theater. After the movie ended, and after rousing applause, Matt came back and thanked us and then introduced a deleted scene, which was fantastic. And then he came back and introduced the blooper reel – which is one of my all time favorite things ever. I love a good blooper reel, and this didn’t disappoint.

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Every single person sat through all of the credits, naturally. And every single person who contributed to the Indiegogo campaign was listed in the credits. Love that.

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It was a great experience. Some of my favorite moments were spotting all of the Rooster Teeth folks in various cameo roles in the movie. In particular Gus Sorola as “Disheveled Scientist,” Chris Demarais as “Franksen,”  Barbara Dunkleman as “Cheerleader,” and Blaine Gibson as “Hospital Guard #1.”

Also (I think I was alone in my overwhelming excitement at this) Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies was in the movie! Yaaaaaas! He played a news reporter (naturally) and it made my heart so, so happy. (Please refer back to my post here about the Barenaked Ladies to see about their previous work with Rooster Teeth).

Ultimately, I’m super happy I got to share this with my son. Watching these YouTube videos and listening to the pod casts and talking about these people is something we share that is pretty awesome and cool. Being able to share this with him and having him enjoy it so much = very, very cool.

So, thank you Rooster Teeth, for allowing my son and I to have some pretty awesome stuff to bond over. You guys rock!

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(Seriously. I take the worst pictures ever.)

My Girl

Last week I posted about my son, today is about my daughter.senior picture

We have been through a lot the two of us.

We have a very close and complicated and wonderful relationship. I’m not sure what I’d do without her in my life.

So, here is a photo retrospective, a Flashback if you will, to the last almost 22 years with this girl in my life:

 

 

 

She has always been beautiful. Even when she was little and had all those “Shirley Temple” style curls.

baby with phone

 

 

 

 

She was ridiculously cute and was super sassy

Cute and SassyAs she grew she went from just adorable to downright gorgeous.

looking down

She retained her sassy side and developed a great personality. Which served her well when she participated in the theater program at her high school.

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She also developed an amazing singing voice, and currently sings in a barbershop chorus with me. I am honored to be able to see her singing and performing on a regular basis.

 

barbershop collage

big boy

Along with that sassy side, she is also quite silly.

A giant goofball actually.

I mean seriously.

She makes me laugh.silly collage

She has a ton of friends and loves them all fiercely.

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And I am super lucky that she loves her little brother more than almost anything else on earth.

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I credit the 7 year difference and her enormous love for her brother as being the reason she is so amazing with children and why taking care of them is probably what she will do for a living. She’s great at it.

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She and I have been through a lot and will continue to face all of the crap life throws at us together. She is my best friend and I love her to the moon and back.

With Me Collage

She is simply the best. And I love her.

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Lessons From My Son

So last night I had a “date night” of sorts with my son. I won a gift card to a restaurant over the holiday and it’s a place he loves that we never get to go to, ’cause it isn’t a favorite of everyone in the family. So when we have a night alone together, I try to take him there. We also got him some new gloves and had a new key made (so he can get into the house again – until he loses it … again) and generally had an evening to just kind of hang out.

During the driving around and dinner, we were listening to a favorite podcast (Rooster Teeth) and just talking about stuff. Somehow we got on Urban Dictionary word definitions. We got there via talking about Cards Against Humanity … so yeah … it was that kind of conversation.

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He was telling me that he learned some things he didn’t ever want to know by looking up terms from a Cards Against Humanity Game on the Urban Dictionary. Then somehow we got to looking up the definition of your name. I went first and the first couple were funny:

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Okay, I can live with that.

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Truth. I’ve never met Chuck Norris and I’m pretty sure it’s because he is terrified of me.

Then … it got a little interesting:

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Then … it got just plain WTF is going on style weird:

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So … after laughing at a bunch of really strange definitions of my name, and discovering that a lot of people named Kim and have had some strong and interesting impacts on the lives of people who post things on Urban Dictionary, we switched to Jamison’s name. His “Top Definition” started off pretty standard and then took a bit of a turn:

jamison def 1

“… bury you in the woods.” Um … okay then. As I was laughing at this, my son chimed in with a very knowing tone: “You should read the second one!” Now, this obviously means that he’s checked his name on Urban Dictionary and the second definition in the list made enough of an impact on him that he remembered it:

jamison def 2

Absolutely amazing. I like to think that in his heart, my son believes that the first sentence in this definition is the true meaning of his name. Also, that “used in a sentence” example is pretty epic. The middle of this is a bit odd – but the beginning and end – totally my son.

He only had two pages of definitions compared to the bajillion for my name. But there were a couple of note:

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Again, many aspects of this are totally him. It does begin to ramble a bit though.

And then there was this one:

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For all the definitions about how amazing Jamison is … I guess it sucks to live there.

However you look at it .. my definitions all have a common theme and so do his. And his basic theme is true. He’s an awesome person. A friend just recently told me that, even at 15, you can already tell that Jamison is going to grow up to be a basically awesome human being. He has a fantastic sense of humor, he is smart, he is quick, he is kind.

And if you ever play Cards Against Humanity against him … he will most likely kick your ass.