If you want to fail miserably, try raising two children by yourself. It doesn’t take long to realize that no one is capable of succeeding at this endeavor. I somehow allow myself to forget this from time to time. Indeed, it’s probably how I remain sane.

But reality always returns, and it stings. Rediscovering life as a single parent is a trying and lonely affair–especially after a travel-induced period of giddy denial filled with grandparents and cousins who gladly watch your children while you chum with old friends.

But now we are home and it is back to reality again. Manning The Okey Dokey Ranch with the help of only a seven year old (no matter how precocious) and a five year old can get downright depressing in short order.

Although Marley started school two days after our return from Minnesota, Avery did not. So I had to bring him on all of my home renovating errands–a major drag for both of us.

Combine that with absolutely no freedom to exercise or adults to talk to and, voila! You have the perfect ingredients for a mental breakdown. I spend most of a sunny Saturday in bed crying.

But miraculously, Sunday was a glorious day, despite heavy rains.

Marley and I made a batch of muscadine jelly. I made a chicken dinner. And Flash stayed overnight, tipping the household vibe into positive territory.

The boys joust in the man cave.

The boys joust in the man cave.

He set up a “painting zone” in the basement, now under heavy construction (click here to see the vid of Flash doing his thing), which will eventually house his personal space and occasionally his daughter CC and along with them our newly-formed household.

The fabled blended family.

Anyway, Flash thought it would be fun for the kids to paint the floors and walls before he completed the rooms. So fun that he joined them. He started painting words on the walls and saying that he was “channeling,” which made me flash back to a time nearly two years ago when me, my mother and my dear friend Suzanne Kilpatrick painted similar words on the walls of the basement following Mike’s accidental death in the man-cave.

Suzanne felt that writing positive, loving words on the walls would help cleanse the space and help us heal. We did this, and about a month later, I knocked down the walls on which we wrote and painted the remaining walls blue. Suzanne also said she saw the corner of the basement eventually becoming the creative hub of the house.

I distinctly remember thinking “never.”

But now it is becoming just that. And somehow, Flash just knew it. So, on that rainy day, I joined him and the kids and painted a bit, too. And finally, things felt like a nice Sunday at home with my family.

Thanks, Flash. I love you more than you could know.

Marley paints the subfloorMarley paints the subfloor
Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.

Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.

Flash loves Christine :)

Flash loves Christine 🙂

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It’s been a long, difficult labor, but the house I’ve been renovating at 4022 5th Avenue is 98% finished. And I’m such a proud parent! You have got to see the before and after photos.

4022 5th Avenue South after GreenSpace did a total renovation.

4022 5th Avenue South after GreenSpace did a total renovation.

4022 5th Avenue South Before GreenSpace.

4022 5th Avenue South Before GreenSpace.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wishes upon a star

August 19, 2009

As we sat on Mike’s dad’s balcony overlooking the St. Croix River in Wisconsin, we saw several  shooting stars blazing across the night sky.  Both kids made wishes. Read the rest of this entry »

The Missing Goodbye

August 10, 2009

I have a recurring dream, although I am not sure if it really is a dream. It happens in that space just between consciousness and deep sleep and happens most frequently during afternoon naps, but sometimes as I fall asleep at night.

I’ve come to think of this space as my time with Mike, or perhaps something else altogether. It feels as though some energy, some force is working on my heart. As I try to describe this “heart work,” it seems less and less real. A mirage.

All I know is that it has felt healing at times. But this time, the message was different. Loud and clear. “But you didn’t even get to say goodbye.” Again and again. Read the rest of this entry »

New Digs

August 6, 2009

Averyoffice

Have I talked about how much I love my new office?

I always knew the house at The Okey Dokey Ranch was too small for us from the day we made an offer on it back in 2004. Mike and I always had plans to finish the basement, and later, just before he died, we were about to put an offer on a commercial building to house our businesses in, which would have helped the not-quite-enough-space-in-our-house issue.

So for almost two years after his death, I continued to work in cramped quarters. Marley and Avery shared a bedroom, and things were crowded, but that was the least of my problems.

Enter Flash. He came, assessed, and decided that what I really needed was a new home office. And a slip and slide. (Flash built one at The Asylum last year.) It’s all on video, check it out at:

The Red Mountain Express

Then he announced The Plan: enclose and finish off my screened in back porch and it would become my office. Then Avery could move into my old office and Marley would have her own room.

Instant Nirvana.

“Wow,” I thought, “all this meditating and yoga that I’ve done, and the true secret to happiness is building a new office and giving the kids their own bedrooms. Why have I been wasting my time?”

As soon as the kids and I left for NM, Flash was on it, tearing down the back porch. He spent much of the month of July working long hot days to finish off the space before the kids got home. It took until the final weekend of kid-free living, but he finished construction and I finished painting and we moved everyone’s things to their respective spaces. Between his work ethic and building skills and my color schemes (which I honed trial-and-error from the dozen houses I’ve renovated in the past few years), the room looks downright smashing.

For those who are wondering, my new favorite green paint graces the walls: Independent Gold from Sherwin Williams. I used flat no VOC Harmony Paint. Good stuff. No harmful fumes.

Now the office is a draw for young and old alike. The chaise in the corner next to the three giant picture windows is a magnet for young nappers, wine sippers, and midnight bloggers. I am going to make it my mission to figure out how to make a living sitting in this chair with my laptop.

I told Flash that everyone who comes to visit is drawn to my room. An absolute people magnet. “Just wait until I get my hands on the rest of your house,” he said. But the slip and slide? Alas, I think we’re going to have to wait until next summer to enjoy that. He’s got the basement to tackle now.

Need a project done around your house? Call now and book a few months in advance. This man is in demand.

Deathoughts

August 4, 2009

Five years ago, a young couple—friends of friends–died in a freak car accident while traveling to their 4th of July vacation spot in Asheville, NC.

Their three-year-old son lived. I remember being blood-curdlingly horrified by the story.

The woman had once been a teacher at The Redmont School, where Marley was attending preschool. That was the extent of our connection–two degrees of separation.

I worried for their son, bargained with fate to undo what had been done, obsessed about the unfairness of it all.

And finally, I spent several hours in bed, paralyzed with fear about what could befall my own children, seriously considering never taking my family out into the world in order to protect them. Then I realized that even at home, an airplane could fall from the sky and hit our house, or a meteorite could pulverize us anywhere on earth. The realization that I am not in control hit me hard that weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Hail to the Queen(s)

August 3, 2009

queen bee

So we found the queen today. Make that two queens. My friend Julie and I gingerly pulled frames out of our new beehives , looking for we weren’t quite sure what. But we did know enough to look for the queen in each hive.

We purchased the bees last week. At that point I knew nothing about raising bees. But since I try not to let lack of knowledge keep me away from a new adventure, I heartily agreed that we ought to put some hives in the back 40 at The Okey Dokey Ranch, since serendipity was nudging us in that direction anyway.

Julie had met this guy named Paul at Crestwood Coffee a few weeks back who was looking for a home for his bees due to an impending move to Houston. She and I had talked about raising bees in the past, with no real plan. But here they were, practically falling into our laps!

I figured it was time to take the plunge—kind of like getting pregnant. If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never do it. Read the rest of this entry »