December 31, 2009

Bou's Decade in Review

I was over at Helen's Shannon's and she had a great post with the last decade of her life. Whereas mine has most certainly not been as crazy as hers, I thought it a fun idea, and decided to try it.

I've spent most of the day thinking of the past decade.. what it brought me. The best two pictures are at the end. Honestly though, I've never had a post with so many pictures of me in my life. Feels... Odd.

We rang in this decade with the death of my Mother in law. Actually, we rang in the New Year at my sister in law's home in Delray (now Lauderdale), something that I remember seriously pissing me off. I had three kids, 6 mo, 2 years and 4 years (they had none), and we were driving 35 minutes to celebrate New Year's Eve with drunks on the road and with my functioning on no sleep. We ended up having a fantastic time with my being so happy we did it, as it was the last holiday spent with my Mother in law, and she spent a good portion of it loving on my children.

By 6 Jan she was dead, a massive cerebral hemorrhage. She died on the altar of the local church, leading the rosary on the day of the Epiphany.

It was to be a defining event for the next 10 years, something I never would have expected and in retrospect, something that brings my blood to boil, as it highlights the vast selfishness of my father in law. Her death has... nearly ruled our life.

Whereas my Mother in law probably spent all of a fleeting second in purgatory, should you so believe in such a place, surely my Father in law will spend lifetimes, contemplating all he has taken from the rest of us, for the last 10 years. He has never allowed the rest of us to grieve.

I have said often that I could blog exclusively on him and his assholery, but I will sum it up here and then move on to the rest of the decade: her death, his vast grieving and refusing any kind of counseling, selling their home immediately since he couldn't live there without her one second more, we went through her things (he did nothing), moved him out (he did nothing), moved him far from us at his request (far from their home together), although he still demanded our time, open heart surgery, hip replacement surgery, near death due to a drug overdose by healthcare workers... still his fault but you have to know the situation to understand why, car wrecks, Parkinson's, being hit by a car, brain tumor, calls to 911 "I've fallen and I can't get up!", loss of license, girlfriend, girlfriend hates us (we're so OK with that...), loss of girlfriend, assisted living facility (we did all that work too, including selling his home, researching a place to move him... three times... fixing his home, moving him out, moving him in)... I guess that's it in a nutshell.

Those events are not in order and I read them and laugh. Most of it never ended up on here because some was before I started blogging and the rest... this is my happy place. We just... went with it or as Bones would say, "It's how we roll."

But Pop single handedly tried to monopolize our lives and manipulate his children for the last decade.

We all came out stronger. The relationships of the siblings came out better (my sister in law in Ft. Lauderdale and I are thick as thieves)... although there was concern on my part between two of my husband's siblings who nearly killed each other this past March when moving him out... fighting over a jar of jelly.

Yeah, that didn't make it here. What a scary weekend that was...

Off of him, and onto what truly happened here... in this home... the mostly happy times.

My Mother in law dying was a catalyst to my asking Company X to lay me off early. I was working 20 hours a week, driving 30 minutes each way to what we called, 'The Swamp', and I had three kids. Ma was my 'go to' girl and I couldn't cope with her death, my three babies, my father in law... and life.

The company was closing down and I was targeted for August, but my boss was good enough to push it to April. My girlfriend, Son#4's Mom, looked after Bones while the other two boys were in preschool during these last four months of my working... Jan-April. An angel from Heaven she was... and also Bones' Godmother.

In April 2000, I became a full time Mom... the best and hardest thing that's ever happened to me.

The early 2000s are a blur. I remember good times, but I call this, 'my dark period'. I fell into a pretty dark place, I was probably clinically depressed. It was induced by lack of sleep, the sheer busyness of having three small children, and no help. I have no family in town and my husband was always at work.

9/11 was the following year and that marked my turning off the TV. My already overloaded and sleep deprived life went into a deeper funk, and I just couldn't take it anymore. So by October, I'd turned off the TV and never looked back.

I read and write now.

In 2002, I took up Karate with Ringo. We took Shotokan for three years. It was an excellent outlet for me... a good way to burn off the angry energy and although I don't miss it AT ALL, it probably saved my life.

In competition. I think I took First place here although my stance is too high, obviously. I enjoyed Kata, hated sparring. I'm as limber as a brick. I am, however, very focused.

Ringo enjoyed all of Karate. Extraordinarily limber, he did very very well. He can get so focused, he makes me look like a scatter plot.

Sometimes, Mr. T took as well.

I was working out 15 hours a week, between cycling, running, biking, weight lifting, and Karate... the endorphins kept me in a much happier place. I officially became an endorphin junky. During this time I also listened to a lot of self loathing music very very loud to block out all thoughts and it was probably the catalyst for what I suspect is the beginning of my hearing loss. (I don't wear iPods anymore... I protect my hearing.)

Anyway, by Feb 2005 our dojo imploded in dojo drama as Ringo was getting ready to test for Black Belt and I was about 9 months away. It closed. A black belt in our style once told me I'd forever regret not getting my black belt.

Not only have I never regretted it... I have never looked back. I'll take a gun instead.

I became a gym rat after that, using the elliptical and lifting weights. It worked until... I started having shoulder problems. I quit lifting in December 2007.

In late 2004 I received a call from some former co-workers asking me if I'd like to come back to work outsourcing to Company X. I told them 'no', that I had a family now, a life, and they came back at me with 'name your terms' and I came up with something absurd like, 'I make my own hours, come and go as I please, no more than 10 hours a week, summers off, $xx/hour" and... they called my bluff.. said "Yes, send us your resume and you start in 2 weeks".

You have been with me as my boss has fought cancer, the bookends nearly had heart attacks, and I've spoken of my Tech Lead... a man I've known for over 20 years... I often say, "We grew up together." He is known to take a lot of deep breaths as I reverberate in his cube at times. It is for him that I developed the expression, "It does not matter how loud you think, I still can't hear you." I could not ask for a better Tech Lead. I think he deserves a medal.

I've been there ever since, although now that my kids are older I work more like 20-25 hours, but I still come and go as I please. They even give me raises...

In 2004, I was also asked to be the Treasurer of my kids' school. It was a 2 year gig that turned into 6... this being my last year. Although there have been times I've been frustrated with it and with certain people, I've never regretted staying on this long and I attribute it to some great relationships I've made with some amazing people, including a teacher I suckered into doing a marathon... and has become a friend.

My eldest started Kindergarten in 2000 and is now in 9th grade. My 2nd son was in preschool and is now in 7th. My youngest was just born... and is going into Middle school next year.

I spent the last 10 years raising my children. There have been ups and downs, great highs and great lows... but overall, I'd do nothing different.

I love my babies.

My favorite picture of Mr. T's Eyes.

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Classic Bones.

Viking Ringo, circa 2006.

I have had a lot of loss this decade. I lost the grandmother closest to me in 1999, but in the last 10 years I lost my last grandmother, my uncle to pancreatic cancer at age 53? (my Dad's younger brother), my great aunt (my closest grandma's sister), and some good friends.

It was a decade of funerals... some celebrated and some so sad I thought I might crawl in the casket with them and die of heart ache.

From the awful premature death of my Uncle came the reacquaintance with his daughter, my first cousin, 14 years my junior. None of this was blog fodder then and it still remains off limits, but I will say that she was estranged from us through no fault of ours or hers (or my uncle's really), but in seeking out more about her Dad, she found us... and we love her dearly. We love her husband... and their new baby. Through the loss of my Uncle... we found more family.

I took up quilting, and marathon running. Y'all saw me through that last gig. How insane was that?!

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Mile 26.1. I looked way too happy... I couldn't walk for four days, literally.

In the last 18 months, I filled up my closet with running shoes that look to be in perfectly good shape, but have literally hundreds of miles on them... so they aren't good for running anymore. I'm looking to get them to some homeless folks.

I think one of the biggest life altering events for me this decade, however, was my taking up blogging. That was in 2004 as well. Dang what a busy year 2004 turned out to be!

Y'all have seen me through most of it... starting at my old home HERE on blogger. I was there a year before I found my new home here.

So half of this decade... has made the blog... from rats in my car, to The Life of Bones and all that he's been up to, to Ringo and his violent Stick Figure drawings, to Mr. T and some of the crazy school projects, to mold in my bathroom, to losing my gall bladder, to my husband's nasty car accident, to five hurricanes (that includes my folks getting hit by Ivan and Tammi by Charley... we took the other three hits).

Y'all saw me through some seriously crappy weather.

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TGOO with debris from Hurricane Ivan... this was pretty much in his front yard, the circle in his cul de sac. He is facing their home, you can see the driveway.

Dang. You don't get much sexier than this.

You saw me through pets... four hamsters, a few fish and a dog that lasted a week. You saw me through their deaths (the hamsters and the fish, not the dog, although that was a close one) and the start of the Hamster Cemetery in my back yard... Who knew that for $35 you could have a hamster euthanized???

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Our first Hamster: Fiona, named after Princess Fiona of Shrek. This was her death vigil... letters of love from my boys.

In this decade my sister got married, bringing Flam into the family, and then they had my niece, The Great Flambina in January, the next love of my life. My brother in law and his wife had two kids this decade, the latest being my nephew born in May, who also has managed to steal a part of my heart I did not know was up for grabs.

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I call this Spun Sugar. The Great Flambina sleeping.

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We call this one, "Boy Mom" as I was watching her and let her get all dirty. I think under that pacifier may be more dirt...

Y'all saw me through all of this... and I met bloggers. I met some amazing warm and funny people... people I have come to call friends... people I would call on in a heartbeat if I was in need. That says a lot coming from me.

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Taken for a Guest Post at Elisson's.

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Taken preparing for our First Real Family Vacation... skiing this past Feb in Colorado.

Mostly though... everything is ground noise. Mostly, this was the decade of raising my children.

The below were all taken the year I started to blog, to give you a reference in how much they've grown.

Ringo 2004.jpg
Ringo 2004 in Review

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Mr. T 2005 in review.

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Bones, 2005 in Review. My favorite is that goalie picture in the center. Could we get any more serious about the game?

And so I give you this picture of us taken in January 2000 as it was my husband's 40th birthday gift and a picture of us taken today... nearly 10 years later.

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January 2000... ages 34, 2 (a week short 3), 7 mo, and 4 (two mo short of 5).

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December 2009... ages 44, 12, 10, and 14.
Obviously not a formal setting. I had my husband snap this an hour ago. (The hair will be donated within the next 30 days. I can't take it anymore!)

Happy New Year to all of you and may God Bless. May this coming decade go well for all of us. I always have... Hope.

Posted by Boudicca at December 31, 2009 11:55 PM

Your post got me to thinking about my past 10 years. Ten years ago my boys were the same ages your boys are now. It's hard to believe that they are grown men now (ages 24, 22, and 20). Savor the moments good and bad. The years slip away in a "blink".

Posted by: Sticks at December 31, 2009 09:40 PM

What a wonderful recap. It has been one heck of a decade, hasn't it. And one of the highlights, for me anyway, was you talking me through my first hurricane and then getting to spend an evening with you and the boys.

And just so you know, sitting on my desk at work, is my favorite picture - you and I at Eric's that first get together. I love that.

Happy New Year Bou.

Posted by: Tammi at December 31, 2009 11:18 PM

Wow, you started blogging in 2004, I remember when you blogged on the old site, so that must mean I've been lurking (very occasionally commenting) for at least 5 years, where does the time go! No matter how crazy busy my life gets, yours is one of the only blogs that I make sure I still read.

Hope one day we can meet, till then,



Posted by: Amanda at January 1, 2010 06:35 AM

Happy New Year! I'm glad our paths crossed, and I look forward to more launches, fires, and conversation.

You are the Czar of Juggle.

Posted by: Yabu at January 1, 2010 08:51 AM

hmmm... should i try to do a decade recap? don't know if i can do it.

so honored to call you a friend.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at January 1, 2010 10:26 AM

Wow, wotta post. With colander, yet!

Thanks for sharing this with us - not easy with all the personal travails. And I'm glad you decided to post the photographs... seeing how the boys have grown over the past ten years is... awesome.

May the next ten years be the best ever!

Posted by: Elisson at January 1, 2010 11:15 AM

Happy new decade to you - the next will have major changes as well, college will be here in about a week and a half so hold on to that colander...

Posted by: patti at January 1, 2010 11:27 AM

Happy New Year and New Decade to you and your family. Like the pictures, amazing how much kids can grow in ten years. And like you, took my inspiration from Shannon and did my own quasi-review of the decade at my place, though I consider it inferior material compared to yours & Shannon's.

Posted by: diamond dave at January 1, 2010 01:16 PM

Wow Bou! Wonderful recap... and great job with the pictures.

Posted by: GaMongrel at January 1, 2010 01:19 PM

Wow! Wonderful post Bou - and fabulous pictures!! Here's to the next 10 years! :)

Posted by: Richmond at January 1, 2010 04:18 PM

Holy smokes. I wonder if I can remember much of the last decade. I think I'll have to try or not. There is much I don't want to remember. I'm not one for looking back. Never have been.

I love your pics of your boys though. I think the last one is the very best. Can't wait to see what you look like with short hair. LOL

Posted by: Teresa at January 1, 2010 08:34 PM

Awesome retrospective. I love it. And you and your boys are gorgeous! I am so very glad to know you.

Posted by: oddybobo at January 1, 2010 11:02 PM

Sticks- That is funny as I was just thinking that this is the decade of my children leaving. What a different phase... I suspect I'm going to be very ready, but my husband will not be.

Tammi- I was going through photos and found the one of you and me sitting in your kitchen at my first blogmeet... at your big girl table! It fit you perfect... I felt kind of hobbitish!

Amanda- It has absolutely been that long! It's been half a decade... and sometimes it doesn't feel that long and other times it does. The last few days as I created that post, it felt pretty long!

Yabu- I am laughing! The czar of juggle! I may steal that...

Writerblock- When I saw Shannon do it I really wondered if I could. But after a bit of thinking about it... all that happened, I realized, 'Yup... I can." Without the blogs, we'd not have met each other!

Elisson- I had to put the colander picture up. :) I think what shocked me when I started to think... was exactly where my kids were in 2000. I just hadn't thought about how they were just babies. And my oldest will be starting to drive in 3 months...

Patti- Good Lord, ain't that the truth. I'm going to blink and they'll be in college and blink again and I'll be a grandmother.

Dave- I loved your post! There was nothing inferior about it.

GaMongrel- I am the master of the scanner as of now. It was kind of fun going through all those pictures. I spent hours sifting... and remembering. I don't do that often! I don't have time!

Richmond- I have HIGH hopes with this next 10!

Teresa- I don't live in the past much. It doesn't help me get through. I am the type that mostly moves on. So this exercise was really kind of fun!

Posted by: Bou at January 1, 2010 11:10 PM

That was, quite simply, a wonderful post.

Posted by: Jim - PRS at January 2, 2010 02:44 AM

Wow, just realized that this was the mom decade. My mother started the decade being found to have frontial lobe dementia and ending the decade dying (pick's disease as it turns out). I was the primary caregiver through it all. Maybe soon I will come out of the fog.

Sorry, but my point is that I have been a lurker here for years and you have (and I am sure will) be an inspiration.

PS Do you boys beat each other up as mine?! :)

Posted by: Jilly at January 2, 2010 08:31 PM

Oddy- It is we who are lucky to know you. Thanks for being such a good friend to both me and Ringo.

Jimbo- Thank you!

Jilly- Fight? They either love each other or are trying to beat the ever living snot out of each other. As I type, I can hear the arguing in the background. I have retreated to my lair to escape the noise. I only come out should I suspect blood shed or I hear crying. They stop short of making anyone cry now... they don't want to risk it with me. Deep down inside, they wonder if I am insane. ;-)

As for your Mom, good Lord. Caregiving is a tough tough gig. My MIL was my FIL's caregiver for their entire marriage, but the last 10 years being so very hard as he's a real b*stard and he had myriad health issues. We think that is ultimately what took her so early. My heart goes out to you.

Posted by: Bou at January 2, 2010 09:57 PM

What a fantastic post...with photos! You are doing a fine job raising those boys. You are such a great Mom and friend. I'm glad we met. You are what my Dad would call "a good egg".

Posted by: Jerry in Indiana at January 2, 2010 10:04 PM

Bou - I am so glad that I met you and I am honored that I am one of your friends.

Posted by: Denny at January 3, 2010 09:22 PM

What I loved about your post was the fact that it practically sung "Happy" all over it, in the photos, in the writing, and in its ending. Well done, babes. Well done.

Posted by: Shannon at January 4, 2010 03:25 AM