DEFIANCE OR DETERMINATION? – Marilyn Armstrong

So I found this question on Facebook and it brought back a deluge of memories.


Hey moms, I’m in desperate need of help. I’m at my wit’s end with my lovely little defiant child. I love him lots, but enough is enough. Every morning, my son wakes up at 3 in the morning and refuses to go back to sleep. He will literally be up for the entire day. I’ve repeatedly tried putting him back in his room. I’ve tried time outs, taking away his privileges. Tried having him do chores. Nothing works. He talks back, makes faces, or just laughs at me. I literally don’t know what to do anymore.


My mother used to tell stories about me as a baby. How I’d be up and wide awake by 3 or 4 in the morning. We lived in a cheap apartment on Rose Street in Freeport. When I got up, she would get up too. She’d put on her overcoat and wait until the heat came up, which wasn’t until around seven.

She eventually figured out that I needed to be busy. Crayons, paint, and lots of paper were big items in my world. I didn’t sleep as much as most kids and when awake, I needed to be doing something. Ultimately, reading took over a lot of that time, but until then, drawing (the three-year-old version of it) and other crafts filled the time. That and running around outside. Knowing me now, it’s hard to imagine what an active kid I was.

Sisters playing by the river

Eventually, I learned to read books, write stories, and draw. Life got better.

Even as a toddler, I went to bed hours later than the “official” bedtime for little kids. I never slept as many hours as other kids. Garry recalls being much the same. Of course, these days, there’s no such thing as too much sleep, but we are long past youth, much less childhood.

Defiance is an overused term these days. Any time a child doesn’t want to do what mom or dad wants him or her to do, it’s defiance. My theory is that it’s more like boredom than defiance when a box of crayons and paper can cure it!

Smart kids need challenging activities and they can be hard for caretakers. Especially hard for working mothers who are already tired by the time they get home.

Pop psychology can be dangerous.

Don’t label your children. Smart kids hear what you say and figure out what you mean. Just because he or she doesn’t “behave” doesn’t make him or her defiant. These days, with so many mothers working and convinced that “outside” await predators waiting to snatch your kid, every minute of the kid’s time is programmed.

I shudder imagining growing up like that

A BIPOLAR LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My first husband, Larry, was bipolar, but he wasn’t diagnosed until thirteen years into our 25-year marriage. However, the ups and downs were a part of my life from the beginning. Larry could be fun, smart and affectionate. He had a wicked sense of humor (including clever puns), tremendous energy (sometimes too much, manic energy), a great “joie” and endless enthusiasm.

Larry in a jocular mood

He loved to read and was interested in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from physics and biology to history and sociology, to law and mysteries. He also loved the arts, particularly the theater and at one point we had five theater subscriptions at the same time. In addition, we also went to Broadway shows quite often, which kept us very busy and very up to date on the theater scene of the day.

One of Larry’s passions was shopping and when manic, he was a true shopaholic. He couldn’t resist buying anything that tickled his fancy, which was a lot of stuff. On the other hand, I loved it when Larry would shop with me in my favorite stores; craft shops, art galleries and jewelry and clothes stores. He would even come into the dressing room with me and help me pick out what clothes to buy. He had wonderful and sophisticated taste, though his taste was often a lot bolder and flashier than mine.

I really shouldn’t complain, because Larry loved to buy things for me. However, when he was manic, he would overspend and buy everything in sight. I was in charge of the budget and it was frustrating to see all my budgeting and saving go out the window with Larry’s shopping sprees. It got to the point that I would pretend that I didn’t like things we looked at because if I said I liked it, it would be mine in no time flat!

Two pendants with matching earrings Larry bought for me on trips out West

Once my son, David, then around twelve, went to an electronics store with Larry. Before they left, I pulled David aside and instructed him to try to keep his father’s purchases down. They returned with not one, but two VCR’s and I asked David why he had failed to rein in his dad. “Hey!” he said. “I talked him down from three, so don’t complain!”

Another positive side to Larry’s love of shopping was that he was always an active partner with me in decorating our homes, helping me choose everything from wallpapers and fabrics, to furniture and window treatments to bathroom fixtures and door knobs. We also designed our house in Easton, Connecticut together with the help of an architect. It was a wonderful, shared experience and the house meant so much more to both of us for the experience we had in creating every nook and cranny and picking every design element. I remember jumping out of bed late one night to draw out a new plan I had just thought of for the kitchen/breakfast room area. It was a wild idea and it was the design we eventually used in the house. I still love it 30 years later!

The kitchen design – with rounded eating area and round sunroom off of kitchen island area

Larry exhibited his sense of humor and fun one Christmas when he and David, like many other Jews, went to the movies on Christmas day. Before the show started, as a joke, Larry stood up and started singing the Jewish classic “Havanegela”. To his delight, the rest of the audience joined in and Larry acted as conductor for the group sing-along!

Larry didn’t sleep much and was always on the go. I needed a lot of sleep and ample amounts of downtime, which created much conflict between us. On weekends, he would get up early and want to go out and do something, get something to eat or just window shop. David was also not a morning person so we would take turns appeasing a very persistent, and often annoying and inconsiderate Larry.

Larry playing with David, 6 and Sarah, 1

One day, when Sarah was about eighteen months old and couldn’t talk yet, Larry got up and started pestering David, who was six and a half, and me to go out with him. Suddenly, our toddler ran into her bedroom, grabbed her coat and then ran to the front door. It was her way of saying “Take me, Daddy! I want to play with you!” Now Larry had a new playmate for his early weekend excursions and David and I were thrilled! When Sarah could talk, she’d say to Larry, “Let’s go sopping!”

Larry and Sarah continued their ‘sopping’ trips for the rest of Larry’s life (he died shortly before Sarah’s 21st birthday). He and Sarah also traveled and went to lots of shows and movies together from early in Sarah’s life and it was something wonderful she shared with her dad. Those memories are important and comforting to her now.

But there was a dark side to Larry’s bipolar disorder. When he cycled manic, as he did every year or so, he became volatile, paranoid, angry and agitated. He would fly into rages about the slightest thing, real or imagined and he would become verbally abusive. To our frustration, he would often ‘forget’ these episodes as soon as he calmed down. He was what is called a “rapid cycler.”

A classic example of that syndrome happened one Thanksgiving when we were supposed to drive from New York to Larry’s sister in New Jersey. In the morning, Larry was curled up in a ball on the bed, refusing to even get up. I eventually got him up and we started to drive to New Jersey when he suddenly went berserk over something.

I don’t remember what it was on that occasion, but once the kids were making too much noise in the back seat of the car and once I left the dirty dishes in the sink. To Larry, that proved that I didn’t care about him, that he didn’t matter, that he wasn’t important to me and that I was a bitch.

The four of us when David was 13 and Sarah was 8

On this Thanksgiving drive, Larry pulled the car over to the side of the street and stormed off, refusing to come back to the car. David finally talked him down and got him back into the car, because, as usual, Larry refused to even talk to me. We eventually made it to New Jersey, but Larry had gone from paralyzing depression to raging mania in the course of one day.

Another holiday in New Jersey ended badly because of Larry’s manic overreactions. He stormed out of a lot of rooms, houses and cars over the years, often on major holidays with family. But this one was special, even for Larry.

We were playing a game with Larry’s sister, Robin and her family, my kids and Larry. Larry was being hyper-competitive and was trash talking everyone constantly, which I think he thought was funny. After asking him to stop several times, Robin finally got exasperated and told him to shut up and Larry snapped.

The four of us when David was 16 and Sarah was 11

He stormed out of the house, but this time he took our car and disappeared. We eventually got a call saying he was at the train station and was taking a train back to New York, even though he was supposed to be going back to Connecticut with me and the kids for the long holiday weekend. Robin had to drive David to the train station so he could drive our car back to Robin’s so I could drive back to Connecticut with the kids. Robin talked to Larry at the station and they patched things up, but Larry still insisted on taking the train to New York, disrupting and appalling everyone. I was mortified and everyone else was shaken and upset. This was not an uncommon situation for me, but each time it happened, it was like a punch to the gut.

In some ways, it would have been easier for me if Larry had always been abusive and impossible to live with, but he wasn’t. He was eventually put on Lithium, which worked well and contained his mania, but he kept going off the meds.

I loved the non-manic Larry, so the hope that Larry would get help, and then that he would stay on his meds, kept me with him for 25 years.

APRIL IS ALMOST SPRING – Marilyn Armstrong

FLOWERS IN APRIL – FOTD – 04/22/2019

Speaking of changing, what a month! For that matter, what a couple of months this has been. Crazy weather.

The Sunny Gallery

It has been raining relentlessly forever, it seems. We get a couple of nice days … then a week of gray weather and pouring rain. No worries about dry rivers this year!

Red-bellied woodpecker and his friend, the Tufted Titmouse
Bright Goldfinch

Not that crazy isn’t an inherent part of our New England weather. Our weather is unpredictable, especially as winter tries to turn into spring — and usually fails, until May when suddenly, it’s summer.

An Easter bouquet

It was lovely here Monday and Tuesday. Blue skies, warm weather and the song of the Carolina Wren can be heard all around the property. Today the gray weather showed up again, but it’s not supposed actually rain again until Friday and Saturday. But no sunshine, either.

Tomorrow, there will be rain and wind — but after that, I’m hoping to clean up the garden before the rest of the flowers open. It’s hard to rake when the daylilies are blooming. And half the rhododendrons are dead and need cutting back.

REDACTED READING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Hoopla

I did a preliminary read on most of the Mueller Report last night. Not every word, but I did a speed read of most of it. I will have to revisit parts of it and read those sections more thoroughly. But it’s easy enough to get the drift.

After yesterday’s hoopla about redactions, most news organization have calmed down and realized that the majority of the report is not redacted. Most of the significant parts of the report remain intact.

Donald Trump and William Barr
(Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Despite Barr and Trump’s victory dance and braying about how there’s “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION,” there was a lot of attempted collusion and obstruction. That almost everyone in the White House isn’t in jail is that Trump’s illegal orders weren’t carried out.

They come, they go … The temporary cabinet of Trumpinski

Trump’s gang didn’t follow his orders. He ordered them to do something illegal, after which they outright refused, passed it along to a subordinate who dragged his or her feet and it never got done … or said “Sure, Boss,” but never got around to it.

What you get out of the report is:


A) Trump is a terrible president and everyone knows it
B) The people who work with him don’t respect him
C) The White House is a chaotic mess
D) Everyone knows they are working for a man who is clueless and quite likely stupid.

It’s not a flattering portrait of our orange president. That none of the Republican senators and other bigwigs are standing up to him will sooner rather than later make the Republican Party a non-Party. The shameless spinelessness of high-ranking Republicans is more shocking than the asshole president.

One asshole? We can deal with ONE asshole, even if he is supposedly the president. But a whole SENATE full of assholes? That is way over the line.

Ironically — and this may go beyond irony into hilarity in a dark way — Putin and the Russian Gang are disappointed in Trump. They wanted chaos, but they never imagined a presidency so awful they can’t even get in touch with anyone. They won’t talk to Pompeo. They want people who know what they are doing.

Hah!

They can’t make deals, they aren’t getting a “better relationship” with the U.S. If anything, it’s worse. The sanctions are worse, we are sending tanks into the Crimea (which Obama refused to do) — and you can’t trust anything Trump says.

What an embarrassment! You corrupt a country and instead of getting advantages, you are humiliated and wind up getting less than before. In fact, everyone gets less than before.

I guess they picked the wrong president to corrupt. They should have chosen to corrupt someone with a sense of honor. Corrupting someone who can’t be trusted to keep your secrets? Oops.

I thought the MOST fascinating part of the document was the appendices where there were virtually no redactions. You get to see all the questions Mueller asked and you can read for yourself that he felt the prez had either “forgotten,” “failed to have a clear recollection,” and “had only a vague memory because’ so much was happening.'”

Mueller felt he’d gotten as much information as he could from others who work with Trump. Since the prez “couldn’t remember anything,” there was little to be gained from having a major constitutional battle to get his testimony when (1) he couldn’t be prosecuted anyway (under the current “unofficial” rules), and (2) Trump lies all the time.

The ultimate question is a big one: where are all the honorable Republicans standing up to say that this man is unfit for public office, much less President. Where are “the good guys” in the party? Where are those people who care about the nation more than their party leader?

And as for the Democrats, get your act together. Figure out where you stand. If you really don’t know what you are doing — and a number of supposed people running for office obviously don’t know nothin’ bout’ nothin’ — we already have a moron in office. Don’t try to give us another one. Been there, done that.

I strongly doubt this country could stand another round of presidential idiocy, regardless of party.

The guy on Colbert last night (sorry, forgot his name) commented that being too incompetent to be properly corrupted or successfully collude has historically never (previously) been used by a president before.

We are so special!

IT TOLLS FOR THEE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Partisan


PARTISAN (pronounced: pardezan)

Noun
Synonyms:  Supporter, follower, adherent, devotee, champion, backer, upholder, promoter, fanatic, fan, enthusiast, stalwart, zealot, disciple, votary
2. A member of an armed group formed to fight secretly against an occupying force, in particular, one operating in enemy-occupied;

(can be named a terrorist by the opposition)

Adjective
3. Prejudiced in favor of or partial to a cause or policies.
Synonyms: biasedone-sided, colored, discriminatory, preferential, interested, bigoted, sectarian, factional, unjust, unfair, inequitable, unbalanced.

These days, I think this description fits almost everyone I know. What is more curious is how many people it does not fit. While we may be frantic and fearful about what is happening to our world, the vast number of people are completely apathetic. They don’t watch the news, don’t read a newspaper (on or offline) and essentially don’t care.

They do not believe that current events matters.

No man is an island - john donne
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions – John Donne

While this may be momentarily true, ultimately, the mess will smack them in the face. When their expensive college degree turns out to be nothing more than a gigantic debt they can’t afford to pay and their master’s degrees aren’t enough to get them a job that affords them the price of a rental apartment, it may dawn on them that what has been going on affects everyone.

When they turn on the water and mud slithers out and it’s beach weather during February in New Hampshire, it will matter. When Florida is not warm but has become a super-heated rain forest, it will matter. When all of our ocean is too polluted for swimming or fish and you have to wear a mask to breathe walking to your car, it will matter.

I have become weary of the uncaring.

They do not care not because they are too stupid (though we have plenty of them, too), but because they are too lazy to bother knowing. Mind you, within the same group of people, are some of the smartest potential young leaders of this world. But right now, I think the apathetic own the majority.

The apathetic majority remain non-partisan because they stand for nothing. Maybe it’s our fault. Maybe we failed to teach them that being involved matters, that “no man is an island.”

EASTER AND PASSOVER: JOINED AT THE HIP – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: EGG

Last night, I made French toast — pain perdu — for dinner. I don’t know how they serve it in France, but here, it gets served with bacon on the side and real, Vermont maple syrup on top.

It is delicious and more like dessert than dinner.

Dinner or breakfast, it’s delicious

Over the years, eggs have been good for you, bad for you, terrible for you, good for you, excellent for you … and here in New England, brown ones are supposed to be healthier than white ones. I have no idea if there’s any truth to that because I always buy the cheapest eggs I can, but always large ones because one day I came home with medium-sized eggs and my granddaughter refused to even speak to me.

My Easter eggs never looked this good!

She really loved eggs and she though buying small eggs was cruel and unusual breakfast.

A very modern Seder plate
It can also be pretty funny

This week is Passover and Easter. They always come at the same time because “The Last Supper” was a Seder during Passover, so this is one of those times when Christians have to examine (if they think about it and I’m pretty sure most of them don’t) their Jewish roots. There are hard-boiled eggs on the Passover table too, by the way. Just so you know, this is a very eggy week.

A Seder table – More work than you ever imagined for a single meal!

Personally, I ignore warnings about eggs. I don’t eat them every day and never did. Also, I figure a house that has eggs and bread will never be hungry.

The eggs of the bunny?

Happy whatever you celebrate and happy whatever you do not celebrate. And enjoy your eggs. I add a hint of vanilla extract to the beaten eggs and it definitely adds a certain “Je ne sais quoi” to the French toast.

Oh, almost forgot: I shake a LOT of cinnamon on the bread as it is frying. How wrong can you go with vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup?