Apple Butter, My Grandmother, and The Cops…Nothing to See Here

It was two days before Thanksgiving, and my family was all a flutter.  We love Thanksgiving; it’s always been my favorite holiday of the year.  It’s such a simple holiday, just a meal with the ones you love.

For the past few years, the boys and I have made goodies for our friends and family as little “Thank You” gifts, and although I wasn’t feeling well, this year was no different.  The day before, we were busy making apple butter and pecan pie muffins, and now it was the fun part–delivering the goodies!

Just a few of our goodies, packaged and ready to go!

Just a few of our goodies, packaged and ready to go!

We also had plans to drive 45 miles to a nearby town to visit my grandmother.  I wasn’t going to be seeing her for Thanksgiving, and the boys and I were going to meet her for lunch to get some quality time in.

The day went on as planned.  We started off with Mass in the morning, delivered apple butter and muffins to our loved ones nearby, then headed off to meet my grandmother for lunch.  We visited with her for a few hours; the day was going so well!  The weather was very cold and wet, but our hearts were warm and happy.

But then…disaster.  (Not really, but wasn’t that dramatic?  Cue the music…)

We had to go to the church to meet a friend who was donating canned goods for The Younger Boy’s food drive (more on that later), and I was running late.  She was going into Adoration, and I wanted to meet her before she entered the chapel, so as to not disturb those praying.

Now, there is a road in our town that is a well-known speed trap.  The speed limit is ridiculously low, and there are usually cops hiding on the side of the road.  I know this and am usually really good about watching my speed, but I failed terribly on this day.

As I’m racing down the road (really not meaning to), I see the familiar white hood of a police car.  I uttered a “Crap!” under my breath and hit the brakes.  And, at first, I thought I had slowed down in time.  I passed the cop, holding my breath, and he didn’t turn around.

He didn’t turn around at first.

Soon after I passed him, I looked in the rearview to see him quickly coming up behind me. I’m watching to see if he’s going to put on the lights or siren, but so far, nothing.

Nothing except my kids acting like nuts.  They’re both on their knees, turned around, waving like maniacs at the cop.

Yeah, something like that.

Yeah, something like that.

“What are y’all doing?!?  Turn around and sit down!  He’s going to think you’re not wearing your seat belts.  You are wearing your seat belts, aren’t you?  And quit waving at him, we look guilty!”

We kept on for quite a little while, and I really thought he was going to let me go.  So, I pull into the church parking lot (which is where I was going anyway), put the car in park, then notice he has followed me.

And now he decides to put on his lights.

You’ve got to be kidding me.  Really???

The ringing church bells signaled 4pm, which is what time the rectory closes.  I quickly look in the direction of the office, which has a full view of the parking lot, and I see that the lights are still on.  Any other day, they would’ve been gone already.

Great!  Now, I’ll get a ticket in front of my friends.  This just keeps getting better.

The cop signals for me to meet him between the cars, and he asks the usual questions:

Hi Ma’am, you want to tell me what your hurry is?

I’m sorry.  I was trying to meet a friend here for 4, but as you can hear by the bells, I’m late.  (Shut up Amie!!!  He does not care that you are late!  He’s about to give you a ticket, you dummy!)  At this point, I actually considered telling him that I was picking up food for my 8 year old’s food drive, but I figured he would never believe me.  Plus, I was speeding, so I guessed I would take my ticket like a big girl.

I know the speed limit is low on that road, and I’m usually really good about not speeding on that road, I just wasn’t paying attention.  Oh, dear Lord, shut my mouth!  I am now admitting to the cop that I usually speed, just not on this particular road.  I swear, it was like I just couldn’t stop my mouth.  I guess my filter was broken.

Hmmm.  Well, you were going 40 in a 30.  I need your license and proof of insurance.

I turn to go back to the car to get the requested paperwork, and I can see my two kids waving at the cop like he was some long-lost family member.  Didn’t they know he was the enemy?

Plus, I see the rectory lights are still on, as well as the Ninja-Priest-Friend’s office.  Oh Geez…  I will never live this down–isn’t he supposed to be on vacation this week?

I get into the car, and now I have to deal with the kids’ questions:

  • Mommy, are you getting a ticket?
  • He’s not going to take you to jail, is he?
  • What did you do?  Did you run over someone?  (What?!?  Why would this even be a question???)

Guys, please be quiet.  Mommy is a little busy right now.  I’m getting a ticket because I was speeding.  It was my fault, I should’ve been paying more attention.

After I say this, I noticed the cop had appeared at my window, which was down and heard what I said.  He smiled.  Hmmm…maybe an admission of guilt will win me some brownie points…

So, the cop is at my window, I’m frantically looking for my proof of insurance, and the kids are still waving at said cop, even though they thought he was going to haul my butt off to jail just seconds earlier.

And, of course, in true Amie fashion, I cannot find my proof of insurance.  I had just paid the bill online, so I knew it was in good standing, but apparently we never printed the proof last time we renewed it.  The cop tells me he’s going to run my plates, and I tell him that I am calling The Husband to see if he knows where the proof of insurance is.  Of course he doesn’t–I love him, but he never knows where anything is.  He did, however, take the time to point out that I always criticize him for speeding down that same road.  Oh hypocrisy, you are an ugly one!

While the cop is running my plates, I tell the kids that they can go inside the chapel to get the food donation–the whole reason we’re here in the first place.

Then the phone rings.  It’s the Ninja-Priest-Friend.

Amie?

Yep.

Are you ok?

Oh, yeah.  I’m great.  I just decided to get humiliated today, and I felt the best way to do that was to get a ticket, and to get that ticket in front of my friends.

He laughs.  Ok, well do you need any help?

Nope.  I can handle this one all on my own, thanks.  Cop’s back, I gotta go.

Cop: Is that your husband?

No.  That’s actually my priest calling to see why I was getting pulled over in his parking lot.

Kids come running out of church, laughing and giggling, carrying bags of food donations.  The Older Boy yells “Hi Mr. Policeman!” as he hops in the car.

Cop looks at me a little crazy.  I’m thinking there is no way he is believing any of this…he pulls me over at the church, a priest is calling to check on us, and my boys are acting as if they are trying to win some “friendliest kid” award.

Well, I ran your plates, and your car is actually flagged as not having insurance, which is illegal in this state.

Are you serious?  It has to be a glitch!  I really do have insurance, and it is currently paid in full!  Can I–

So, what I could do is to give you a ticket for speeding, give you a ticket for no insurance, put a neon sticker on your car marking it illegal, and you’d have to go to the DMV to get it fixed.

I am fighting tears at this point.  All I could think of was “how much is this going to cost?”  I cry easily, but there was no way I was going to cry in front of this guy.  I was just so angry at myself for being so careless.

He continues:  That’s what I could do.  But I’m not.  Your record is clean, I’m off for Thanksgiving, and I’m in a good mood.  Here’s your license.

Wait, what?  Is he really letting me off???  This kind of stuff never happens to me!

Thank you so much!  I’m really not lying, we really were coming to the church.

I know.  I figured that when I saw you actually park in a spot.  Drive carefully.

Whew!  That was a close one!  He was a little arrogant, but I didn’t care.  I truly was thankful that he let me go.

He drove off, with the kids still waving to him.  Except this time, I was waving as well.  If I’m going to be viewed as crazy, I might as well live it up, right?

As we drove off, and I was starting to regain a little bit of pride, The Younger Boy tells me, “You know why you probably got off?  Probably because the people in the chapel prayed for you.  John went in there and told everyone you were getting a ticket.”

And, pride was gone again.

Thanks God, for the lesson in humility.  You always keep me grounded.

Not So Ordinary

It’s November, which means one thing: my Facebook feed is riddled with “today I am thankful for… posts.”  And, although I think these are great for the most part, for some people, I’m like,

november 2

I know.  I’m horrible.  Pray for me.

I very passionately think that we should be thankful every day for the blessings in our lives, regardless of how big or small, and I try to instill this belief into my children.  However, since being thankful is the theme of November, we do have a similar tradition in our household that we started last year.

Behold our family Thankful Tree of 2012:

Our tree from 2012

Basically, every night at dinner, each family member writes what they are thankful for that particular day on a leaf which is taped to the tree.  Here’s a close up:

2012 tree top

My favorite from last year was The Younger Boy’s leaf that read ‘Ninja Turtles.’  Because who doesn’t love the Ninja Turtles?!?  He also had a leaf for ‘good things that God made,’ showing us that once again how exceptional our then 7-year-old is.

This year, the kids were so eager to start the Thankful Tree again, that at the end of October, they were pestering me to cut out a million construction paper leaves.  We had to be ready for November 1!  And, we were.  Here’s our tree so far for 2013:

IMG_6073

And, as usual, my boys don’t disappoint.  On day 1, The Older Boy was thankful for cats.  Not us, not other family members, not his friends.  No.  His cats.  Which reminds me of this post.  Geez…that kid is so obsessive.  Is there such a thing as ‘cat detox?’  But, don’t fear, ‘cuz he’s also thankful for popcorn.  Hallelujah!!!

The Younger Boy is thankful for pilgrims and indians, as well as dolphins and sharks.  Apparently, he is in a contrasting mood lately.  Also, the leaf that reads ‘Jeremy,’ which is his father/The Husband, has devil horns and a tail.  I’m not sure yet if I should laugh at that one  or schedule therapy.

Kids are wonderful creatures.  They love everyone and everything, and sometimes they love these things equally.  My mom?  Awesome.  My cat?  Awesome.  Popcorn?  Aaaaa-mazing!!!

So, taking a cue from my kids, I’ve decided to list some of the not-so-obvious things that I’m thankful for.  God, my husband, my boys, my Church are a given, but there are many things that I am truly thankful for that may not seem so obvious to some.   Plus, after being so sick this year, you do gain a new perspective on things.  Things that I count as blessings today are things I took for granted yesterday.

Without further adieu, here are just a few of the things that I’m thankful for:

  • Every day that I feel well.  People always say that they are thankful for their health, but lose it, and you will really gain a new perspective.  I got dressed by myself today! Like a big girl!  Woo Hoo!
  • Razors.  No, I’m not joking.  The Husband is participating in ‘No Shave November’  and has had a full beard since November 3.  I’m currently resisting the temptation to shave him in his sleep.  So, yes, I’m thankful for razors.
  • December 1.  I know it’s not here yet, but this will be when The Husband, willing or not, will shave his face.  Come on, December!
  • I’m thankful that The Older Boy is oblivious when other kids are making fun of him.  I’ve personally witnessed other kids picking on him for being a special needs’ child.  It breaks my heart; I become enraged; he doesn’t even notice.  He is confident in who he is.  I’m thankful that these little jerks aren’t changing who he is, aren’t making him question his own greatness.
  • Soap.  I’m a germophobe.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Incredible people, who for a lack of a better word, I guess I will just refer to as friends.  These people seem like so much more, I even consider many of them family at this point.  Topping the list would be the Ninja-Priest-Friend, who has been ever-present, bringing Communion when I couldn’t make it to Mass, hearing confessions in my home, and giving spiritual advice when I felt like I was on the brink of a spiritual meltdown.  In addition to him, we have many friends who have surprised us by cutting our grass when we just got out of the hospital, brought us meals, babysat my kids, and called or texted me just to check in.  They have made this whole ordeal a little more bearable.
  • A twisted sense of humor.  I have laughed at myself more this year than I should probably admit.  It should be sad…but it’s not.  Life’s too serious.  Lighten up.
    • For weeks, I couldn’t feel my fingertips, so I went around saying, “Who’s got 2 thumbs that she can’t feel?  This girl!!!”  
    • My left leg was dragging for a little while in October, so I was trying to figure out how to fit it into a gimp costume of some sort.  
    • I had to sort all of my meds into a million-compartment color coded pill-box to keep them all straight, and I laughed about how I could hang with the geriatric ward.  (A week ago, I kid you not, I was visiting with The Husband’s grandmother, and she asked me how many medications I was on.  We had a whole conversation about meds.  Kindred spirits!)
  • I’m thankful that The Younger Boy is a little freak.  I’ve always been a little weird, and apparently the freak apple doesn’t fall far from the weirdo tree.  For example, the kid went to the library a few weeks ago and looked for a biography on Alfred Hitchcock.  You should have seen the look on the librarian’s face; I’m sure he doesn’t get many requests from 8 year olds for that sort of thing.  Philip is so different and unique, and I pray that he remains that way, regardless of how his peers may view him.  He’ll be one cool adult.
  • Indoor Plumbing.  Because, eww.
  • Headphones.  As much as I love my children, and as much as I like spending time with them, sometimes I just need to drown them out.  Enter the headphones.  God bless whoever created them.
  • I’m thankful that I’m thankful.  No, I haven’t lost my mind.  Just stick with me for a moment here.  Gratitude is a virtue, and I believe that true gratitude is a very important part of being a true Christian.  To be grateful calls us to be aware of the gifts that God has bestowed upon us, whether they be big (like family and wonderful friends) or small (like soap and razors).  It calls us to see the things around us not as entitlements, but gifts.  It is quite humbling to realize that we are so fortunate to live in an area that has indoor plumbing and running water when there are areas of the world that do not even have clean drinking water.  So yes, I’m thankful for being thankful.  I’m grateful that God has opened my eyes and shown me how fortunate I am.

There really are many more things that I’m thankful for, and I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Not because I’m worried about boring you–see how considerate I am–but more so because my little blessings are about to get off of the bus and utter chaos is sure to abound the minute they enter the house.  In a few minutes, there will be screaming and crying.  Tantrums will be thrown about homework and chores.  Fights will ensue.

And that’s just me.

So, share with me.  What are the not-so-ordinary things that you are thankful for?

“All that is good, all that is perfect is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with Him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change.”  James 1:17

Stupid Pumpkin Pie

As a child, I thought that only kids daydreamed.  I assumed that once I was an adult, I would no longer get lost in imaginary worlds.  What a crock!  I still get lost in my imagination.  I still daydream.  Sometimes reality is so intense that I need to escape to a place more heavenly, where there is no loss, no pain, no disease, no hurting children.

I tend to get lost in my own little world.  Often.

My mind also races from one subject to another.  I can start off thinking about what I need to get from the grocery store and end up thinking about muppets.  My husband finds this sometimes fascinating, sometimes frustrating.  I find it exhausting.

Apparently, I have a very distinct look when I’m in La-La Land, because The Husband will ask, “Whatcha thinking about?” with the curiosity of a child who finds a new toy.  And, although I know his question is genuine, I never know how to answer that.  Does he really want to know that I’m wondering why did we have to take trigonometry in high school?  Who uses that?  Or what is the big deal about bacon anyway?  Do I need to water the flowers at the church today?  I wonder if John Edward will be able to live independently when he grows up?  Who will take care of him when I can’t?  I love “The Labyrinth”…I really want to watch that movie when I get home.

So, while driving yesterday, he asks me his usual, “What’s on your mind?”

My response?  “Pumpkin pie.”

pumpkin pie

Since my thoughts are always all over the place, he was content with this answer, but it wasn’t really an accurate truth.  It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t a full truth.  The truth was that I was thinking about a meltdown that I had just a few days earlier.  I was making a list of the things that I needed to get together for Thanksgiving.  (Oh, Thanksgiving!  My favorite holiday of the year!  Such a day of simplicity, just a day with loved ones, celebrating the things that we are thankful for.)  I was making a list of the ingredients needed to prepare the dishes that I always bring for Thanksgiving when I got to the pumpkin pie: 2 pumpkin pies.  One for the family.  One for my grandfather to bring home.  Then the realization sunk in.  No, just one pumpkin pie this year.  This is the first Thanksgiving without my grandfather.

The last picture I ever took of my grandfather, exactly one year ago today at Philip's Veteran's Day program.

The last picture I ever took of my grandfather, exactly one year ago today at Philip’s Veteran’s Day program.

I lost it.  Thank God I was at home.  I know that we should be prepared to lose older family members; I know it’s all a part of the circle of life, but it amazes me how it’s the smallest things that make me miss my loved ones.  Like stupid pumpkin pie.

Overall, it’s just been a crappy year.  This will be a Thanksgiving of many firsts.  Not only did I lose my paternal grandfather, but I lost both maternal grandparents.  So, I only have one living grandparent left.  I love her dearly, and I am petrified of the day that will inevitably come when she too will be called Home.

Also, my parents got divorced.  Old friends will be surprised to hear this.  My parents will probably not be happy to read this.  (Sorry Mom and Dad.  I respect your privacy, but this is my story too; I have a right to tell it.)  So, things are different.  I’m getting to know my parents as individuals and not as a couple.  Sometimes it’s great; sometimes it’s saddening.

Health wise, it’s been a really hard year.  My doctors (of whom there are many) pretty much all agree that I have Multiple Sclerosis, but there is not enough clinical evidence of it yet, so no one has given the definitive diagnosis, which means I am on no treatment as of this writing.  (For any medical buffs out there, I don’t have enough lesions on my brain/spinal cord–I only have 2 lesions on the brain. I’ve had signs of MS show up in my spinal fluid and had an abnormal VEP.  Apparently, this isn’t enough for them.)  Of 2013, I have only enjoyed a few weeks of the spring, August and September, and I have been feeling very well the past 2 weeks.  That’s it.  I’ve spent weeks in bed at a time and have had moments of honest hopelessness.

With that being said, this is not a “woe is me” post.  Things are hard; I’m not denying that.  There are definitely days where I have a hard time making it through without locking myself in the bathroom and crying like a baby.  My faith has wavered this year, especially through this last relapse–I’m working on that with the Ninja-Priest-Friend.  I’m angry that my children are suffering.  I’m angry that their childhood is rifled with such seriousness.  I’m saddened at my perceived abandonment of God.  (Note the word perceived…I know that He is with me.  It’s something I’m working on.)

No, I am not in a state of self-pity.  I do wish that things would be different.  But they are not.  I don’t know why this is the hand I’ve been dealt, but it is.  This is my life, and I’ll live it to the fullest.  I am truly thankful for every day that I have.  I am truly thankful that I am writing here today.  I am thankful that you are taking the time to read my ramblings.  I am thankful for you.

And I am thankful for pie.  Even stupid pumpkin pie.