Tuesday, December 31, 2013

News Year's Reflections

Lily keeps asking us to write our New Year's Revolutions. Instead, I am writing my new New Year's Reflections. This has been a year of great joy (my niece Willa was born) and great lows. My little family has continued to grow.I am so proud of the girls' hard work. Despite pitfalls they continue to amaze me everyday.

We had a nice break. We took the girls and Cristhian to New York City for 2 days. They got see Times Square and some of Central Park. The rest of the time we just hung out around home. It was hard, but we are trying to start some new traditions without changing too many. I got to end my break by experiencing a new parenting "crappy milestone." Head lice! Thanks to Google and some realistic and comforting mom bloggers, I now know that it is not the end of the world and washing everything that Lily came in contact with was probably not necessary. I do believe that I have done more laundry over these past two days than I did during the norovirus epidemic of 2011. I attacked the problem with my usual combination of determination and education. My family is not as thrilled with my new found lice expertise. They call my methods aggravation. I did make up a fun "die, lice, die" for Lily's entertainment. I am also pretty sure that I might be one of the first mothers to vacuum the coach and spray the "anti lice spray" while yelling "die you little f!@#ers!" Then again, probably not.

I am not sure what is in store for us in the new year. All I know is that I can handle it. Hopefully, it will be a good one. No matter what, I am not wishing away a single moment. They are all precious and make up our lives, even the bad ones.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dancing Such an Odd Tango

I became as story teller as a way of dealing with the oddness that is my life and the subsequent oddness that dwells in my brain at all times. On a daily basis, I pass as just like everyone else, but if people could see inside my head, I think they would run for it. I am sure this is why I loved Alice in Wonderland as a child; a trip inside my mind is like traveling through the looking glass. Everything that seems right is wrong. I am pretty open and honest about my wackado brain. Sometimes having a learning disability and being a successful functioning adult is empowering. Most of the time, though, having a brain that betrays you at every stop is exhausting. When I am tired and sad and run down, it feels like being lost in an abyss. Add anxiety to that and then add the basic facts of heredity and finally add the fact that my genes could very well have cursed my child.

When I met Rob, he fascinated me. He was part of this world that I had always envied. He was Gifted. From my point of view, everything seemed so easy to these kids. The same kids were together year after year, learning amazing things, doing amazing things. Man, I always wanted to be there with them. Rob has since told me that more often than not they were annoying the hell out of each other and nothing amazing was going on unless, you feel listening to people whine about deserving better grades amazing. Still, I thought that if we had children, we were guaranteed two things: height and smarts. We got: height and huge blue eyes. I've said before that my kids are smart in unconventional ways. Caroline has taken that and the most advanced work ethic and turned it into success.

Lily is a completely different bird. I spent the entire summer worrying about her social skills. I think there has been a great deal of success there. As I battled though this summer, my only comfort seemed to be this idea I had in the back of my head that she was brilliant and misunderstood. I was raising the next Sheldon Cooper. I was so very wrong. School has been so hard for her this year. Things that she seemed to always be able to count on are completely scrambled. For the first time in her life, she is not learning. She is confused and frustrated and stressed. Her mantra this year is "I don't get it." We have studied and studied, only to have her barely pass tests. At this rate she won't pass her state assessments. That means summer school and more anxiety. Each round brings a new nervous habit, eye brow picking (right before school pictures, thank you very much), nail biting, lip chewing... She is a mess. She is happiest here in the house with us where she can joke around and be her goofball self.

Rob and I have managed to create such a hybrid of us:  his introversion and anxiety with my processing and anxiety. We are going to meet with her teacher in January. I have my suspicions (LD or ADD), but want to hear what her teacher thinks. I used to think staying up with her when she was so sick and little was the worst thing, then I thought it was watching her get stitches after she got bit by a dog. Those things were all temporary. If I am right this is not temporary and it sucks. Well, I taught her how to navigate crowds (we managed to go all the way through Times Square at night last week without her losing it), I can teach her how to remember facts, and add, and spell... I think I might need some help this time, though.

I know that I need to look at the big picture. Lily has so much to offer the world. Caroline struggled and is now doing so beautifully. I also know that there are so many more qualities that I have given my children besides processing difficulties. I also know (better than most) that a learning disability does not mean unintelligent. As a matter of fact, I would argue that learning to navigate the world in a different way makes you more intelligent. I also know that most of the time when people find out about my learning disability they look at me in a different light. They perceive me as somehow less or damaged. Actually, I have proven time and time again that I am very smart. I have learned to fight and scrap and stay polite through it all. The trick is to teach Lily to do all of this without being bitter and angry.

Comfort in Words

I have always found such comfort in words. It doesn't matter if I am reading them or writing them, they always help.Caroline has this same outlook. Honestly, she needs words like oxygen. Early in the winter, when things seemed to be spinning out of control, I found time to meet my friend at the library and look for books. My system for finding books has always been so random, and yet I always find what I need for just that moment in time. Every since I first learned how to read, I have tended to go through the library alphabetically. I find an author that I like, I read everything available by him/her and then move on to another author on the same shelf. Lately, I have found myself in the B's. The first one was The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. This is why I needed this book:

For Lillian's mother, every part of a book was magic, but what she delighted in the most were the words themselves. Lillian's mother collected exquisite phrases and complicated rhythms, descriptions that undulated across a page like cake batter pouring into a pan, read aloud to put the words in the air, where she could hear as well as see them.

Oh, Lily, her mother would say, listen to this one. It sounds green don't you think?

And Lillian, who was too young to know that words were not colors and thoughts were not sounds, would listen while the syllables fell quietly through her, and she would think, This is what green sounds like...............

Not surprisingly, when it came time for Lillian to learn to read, she balked. It was not only an act of defiance, although by the time kindergarten started, Lillian was already feeling toward books private surges of aggression that left her both confused and slightly powerful. But it wasn't just that. In Lillian's world, books were covers and words were sounds and movement, not form. She could not equate the rhythms that had insinuated themselves into her imagination with what she saw on the paper. The words lay prone across the page, arranged in unyielding precision. There was no magic on the page itself, Lillian saw; and while this increased Lillian's estimation of her mother's abilities, it did nothing to further her interest in books.

What a gift it must be to be a writer, someone who loves words, and yet to be able to put into words how it feels to be betrayed by them. I swear this must be how it feels for my Lillian. She loves to listen to books. She can follow and pay attention to some of the most complicated plot lines. This is how she developed her amazing oral vocabulary (well Rob, Caroline, and I also helped). And yet, she hates to read. Lately,  I seem to have hit pay dirt with Ivy and Bean, as long as she reads them on the Kindle.

Next from the B section came A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards by Ann Bauer. Yes, I needed that too. No, I am no way in the same situation, however, it describes so perfectly the lengths a mother will go to fight for her child, all while explaining in painful detail how agonizing that fight can be. It was bittersweet in the most perfect way. Someday, I will make a book club for people who can see and appreciate the beauty and absolute necessity of the bittersweet novel.

Ironically, the next two books from the B section had main characters who died from cancer. I guess, both books were necessary in the fact that I proved to myself that I can read books about cancer without falling apart. It seems kind of like poking an open cut, but it works for me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Steady as She Goes

It seems like I have composed dozens of posts while sitting in traffic, but the reality of day to day life has kept me from typing them out. Throughout the past months everything from newsy reports on the girls to philosophical musings have crossed my mind. This has been the most difficult of any grieving process that I have been through. The hardest part is that the world at large has gone on around me, often needing me to be an active participant. It is hard to convince people that it truly takes me longer to do things and grief makes that all the more complicated. It feels like every time I sit down to work, someone comes into my room seeking information, or an ear, or chocolate. I come home grumbling that I need to "turn off the lights, lock the door, and work with a miner's helmet on." The truth is most days I don't mind listening or finding or sympathizing. The other truth is, holidays suck when you have a hole in your heart. It is all I can do to push through for the girls.

There was a period of intense anger on my part. Everyone that I have lost died due to life style choices. That's the harsh reality. It feels like blaming the dead, but it is the truth. Sometimes when it is quiet and my brain has too much time, you can hear a little girl in the back of my mind stomping and yelling "What about me?! Aren't I more important than a cigarette, a drink, more and more food?!"

I have some predictable patterns after death. One of them is the need to make the holidays magical. I am running around creating "memories" and being a general pain in the ass. Of course every time it blows up into a fiasco. I have come to realize this is one of those "outcome based" life moments. As long as you get what you intended (or some semblance), and you have broken no laws or done anything immoral, than who the hell cares how it came about? For evidence of this, simply go to my Facebook page.

Two things have drawn me out of my most recent fog, first, family is coming here for Christmas. Never under estimate how happy planning menus makes me. Now I have a holiday party with my friends, cookies to bake for my neighbors, snacks to make for Christmas Eve, Christmas breakfast, and Christmas dinner. There is a reason that so many people use denial as a coping mechanism; it works.

The other is that Lily got really sick. She had a 103 fever on and off for three days and did not eat for four. I slept next to my furnace of a child and prayed and prayed. Of course my first instinct was to call my mom. I couldn't really seek out the advice of my brother and step-father. They are great guys, but not fever experts. My step-mother is in the middle of moving, so this one fell to me. I dug back through all of the advice that my mother and grandmothers gave me and proceeded forth. I gave her ibuprofen and bathed her with cool cloths. I carried her very large, scared self to the bathroom at 3a.m (and forgot to put on my glasses and bashed my knee in the process). I soothed her raw blistered throat with flat Sprite. I took care of her like they took care of me. She is better now (it was coxsackie virus). I know that I can do this, it won't be easy and it will often be sad (Mom has already missed Homecoming, Lily's first violin concert, Caroline's Academic award, me meeting her boyfriend's parents....). I can use everything they taught me to be the "matriarch." I can make sure everyone has their favorite comfort food, I can listen calmly, and I can fight fiercely. Just like they did for me.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I have always known that I am becoming obsolete. The kids don't understand my pop cultural references. Tapes, videos, and CDs are things of the past. I was comfortable with these things. After all, I am solidly into adulthood. I have no delusions of being young, hip, or trendy. But this week, I discovered that two things that I was solidly confident in were blown out of the water.

It all started with studying math with Lily. We were working on the study packet for her big unit test. I was shocked to discover that Lily did not understand place value. She had been earning good grades in math, and we hadn't seen her class work since it is in a log that stays at school. I tried to show her how to add with regrouping. She looked at me like I was writing in Chinese. I dug out the example guide and quite honestly, I couldn't figure out how to explain the examples to her. This time I was the one reading "Chinese." After she went to bed Rob asked me "What the hell was that? What ever happened to just doing math?"

The next night I took Caroline to her mandated parent-student driver's education presentation. Low and behold, I have been driving incorrectly for the past 24 years. Both my hand positioning and mirror placement are inadequate. After hearing repeatedly that I am the most important influence on my teenager's driving, I felt obligated to mend my ways. I am fairly certain that I am the only parent who left the presentation, got into my car, and adjusted my mirrors. I then spent the drive home being surprised by the lights in my mirrors.

Well, we'll see if the Mom 2.0 upgrade works.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Oh fall, such a melancholy season. I think the reason that it is such a breathtakingly beautiful time of year is to hide the reality of how damn sad it is. Most nature based religions view this as a time of reflection for a reason. It amazes me how a season of death and ceasing can be so lovely. This year has been particularly stunning. Usually, I relish and thrive in the bittersweet moments. This year, I am choking and drowning. I am so very overwhelmed and so very sad. I am working out a plan. Mostly, I am faking it. My usual "fake it 'til you make it." approach just isn't working.

I am not quite sure of the next step. I'll figure it out. I am plodding through each day doing what needs to be done. Filling out reams of tedious paperwork, driving children places, grading papers, cleaning up messes, planning lessons, and so forth. I have been faithfully posting the 30 Days of Thankful on Facebook. It has helped a little.

Hopefully, I'll have time and energy to post more later.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


A Facebook post that I made last week, unintentionally was the starting point for a war between my cousins on my newsfeed. I didn't mind it, as a matter of fact it was a nice distraction from my own sad thoughts which hit hard at night. The post all began because Rob, the girls, and I are rarely apart. Because of this Lily watches somethings that might not really be so age appropriate. In this case that was Fox news.

Let me clarify, that it was Rob who left it on. His right wing tendencies have mellowed after years of marriage to me (on the same note, my liberal tendencies have softened as well). He still likes Fox news for the money reports. He left it on when he went to shower and Lily continued to watch it, probably because she loves gossip and well, have you watched Fox news? That night the conversation went something like this:

Michael Douglas flashes across the screen and the newscaster says "Micheal Douglas believes he might never have had throat cancer." I quip "I don't want to hear anymore more about what has gone into that man's mouth" (wink wink nudge nudge). Lily very thought fully asks "Does smoking cause cancer? If you drink marijuana, will you get cancer? I know you will become a drug aleck." I choke and don't know how to respond. Caroline looks up from her phone and says "You smoke marijuana, not drink it." Thanks for your help Caroline! Rob and I explain that yes smoking anything can cause cancer and you shouldn't smoke things. We also add (this is a point of parenting pride with us) that we have never smoked anything in our lives (now don't ask me about Boone's Farm Strawberry wine). I finally asked where this was coming from. She sweetly says "It was on Fox News. Dad left it on this morning."

Of course, this had to become a post. My very funny cousin posted something snarky about what happens to children who watch Fox News, my other cousin was offended by his word choice, and "Cousin War 2013" was born. I tried to be diplomatic and end it, but it finally died down on its own.

I have been thinking about my little family a lot lately. I think that one of the reasons that my girls gravitate toward Latin American friend is that sense of family. The Latin American families that I know here are very family centered. Their children are everything and they spend as much time as possible with their families (this includes extended family). It is nothing to bring family from their country of birth to live with them. Not because they are trying to take over the world, but because they are trying to take care of their family. La familia is everything. I love to listen to how loving Caroline's friends are over the phone to their families. Even the boys have no qualms ending with I love you. When one of my father dropped off his little boy to school, he said "Besos" (kisses) and his little guy ran to kiss him good bye (no embarrassment or cheek rubbing).

Rob and I feel the same way about our girls. We enjoy their company. I really hope to live near enough to be with them as adults. The family across the street from us has their young adult married children living with them. I love watching how they enjoy their time together. The have cookouts and built a snowman during our first snow (then excitedly took a family picture).

Here's to family.

And So On

It is hard to believe that it has been a month since I lost my mother. I want to talk to her everyday. It still doesn't feel like she's gone. Life has gone on despite it all. My brother, step father, and I have been grieving in our own ways. I have thrown myself into working and activities, staying as busy if not busier than usual. Underneath it all, I am very fragile and very tired. I just don't show it.

The girls are the girls. Caroline and I went shopping for a homecoming dress. It was sad and strange. We found a nice dress. She and Cristhian are going next weekend. She earned an academic letter for her freshman year. The awards ceremony is on November 9th. I am so very proud of her. Her classes have been tough this year, but we knew that going in. I think that she is doing a wonderful job. She also got a job taking care of a 15 year old German Shepard after school. Yes, doggie hospice seems to be the perfect job for my girl. Rob and I being us, explained in detail what to do if the dog dies. Caroline being Caroline quipped "Yeah, I guess you can't call 911 for a dog." Lucky doggie, she gets to spend her last days with the sweetest of girls.

Lily has struggled a bit as well. She has the same spelling curse as Caroline and I. Math, however, she loves. I still haven't figured out how to get her to read more. Violin is going fairly well. She is going to play in a concert at the Mormon Cathedral (I think that's the right word choice) for Christmas. I am so excited for her. She is finally sleeping in her room and through the night. As a reward she got a Beta fish. According to Lily, he is also afraid of the dark and needs the lights on. So much anxiety in this kid. I have come to the realization, though, that laying down rules with her and sticking to them lessens the anxiety. It makes sense, trying to control everything makes you anxious (just ask any parent).

As a family, we have laid low this fall. The weekend that we planned on having a fun family outing was rainy. Most weekends have been soccer and violin and errands and cleaning. All the regular stuff. Life goes on, even with a hole in your heart.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Things I Want to Tell You

Caroline's friends took her to buy a dress the day after you died. These are two newer friends, bold and sassy, but they love our girl for who she is. They don't hang around her because she is sweet and listens. They don't go to her only when they are sad. They like her for herself, moods and all. They haven't given her a label. When you were in the hospital, they brought her snacks. One of them gave her an infinity necklace after you died. She found a wonderful dress, taupe with a bold black tribal pattern. She tried it on and carefully said "It made me think of Gramma." She wore it to your funeral with black tights, combat boots, and her funky glasses. Cristhian came so she would have someone who was there just for her. Together they looked like the poster for young "hipsterling" couple. When she started to cry, I unknowingly pushed his hand away and held our girl. He didn't mind. He stayed by her side the entire time, except when he took a break to play with Lily.

The weekend before you passed, she got into a shoving match with a girl during her soccer game. The girl kicked her on purpose, and Caroline wasn't going to take it. I wasn't there to see it. She texted me to tell me about it. I was secretly so very proud! Right after I read her text, Lily caught a huge catfish (remember, when I left your house, I said we were going camping?). Lily held it in her arms and let it go back into the lake all by herself. Our girls are so strong!

Work is really overwhelming right now. It feels like I can't do anything right or on time. I spend all this time doing something only to be told that it didn't need to be done after all. I find myself getting bitter and losing my temper. I know I can I figure out a way to handle it. I would figure it out quicker if I could talk to you, but I know I'll figure it out.

Lily joined chorus at school. She is so excited! She has been chewing her nails to the quick and licking her lips raw again. It was so exciting to see her step outside of herself and do something new, take a moment to stop worrying. She makes connections in her violin lessons that astound me. She stays late at group classes to watch the older kids play. She still hates to practice, though. It's all baby steps.

Caroline got to go to her first music festival. A couple of college boys were flirting with her. Luckily they left before I hit them with my backpack.

Caroline and Rob ran a 5K today and then she went to her soccer game. She is so tired, but the running seems to give her a release.

My class is sweet and funny. No one is running away from me or trying to choke me this year. Yesterday, when I was explaining how our evacuation drill works, one of my little guys raised his hand to tell me "I growin' a mustache." I bit my lip not to laugh and remembered that there is so much more to my job than paper work.

This is going to be a beautiful fall. The leaves seem so bright this year. Rob went out front and used the leaf blower to make a leaf tornado for Lily and her friends.

I miss you and love you so much. I am trying to take care of everyone here. It's a lot harder than you'd think. For someone with such tiny feet, you left big shoes to fill.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lessons from Grief

 Most people cannot understand the way my brain works. I do appreciate their trying. I also really applaud those who have been with me the longest and nod their heads while thinking "WTF?"  I really don't process or think like most people. Many brain is like a bucket of bobbing apples, one thing after another bobs to the surface. There is no rhyme or reason. I make lists because it is the only way to hold on to one apple or another before they sink or float away. If I tried to explain my thought process to people, they'd be bewildered. I know I am and I live in this head.

There is one odd constant in my adult life. Death has hung out by shoulder like some sort of bitchy "frenemy." I can't seem to shake the SOB, ever since the terrifying dream that I had in college about Rob dying in a car accident. I spent my 20's waiting for the jerk to finally play his hand. He waited until my 30's. It's like The Seventh Seal. I picture myself running across a field hand in hand with death.

It just occurred to me that everyone who really knew my past is gone. I was telling Caroline about this summer school class that I got to take about the history of NYC during my last summer in Connecticut. I couldn't remember if it had been one week or two. I said "I'll ask Mom." Then the next words out of my mouth were "Well, fuck! I can't, now can I?" How does a person with a brain full of bobbing apples remember her past? At the memorial I was able to tell my cousins the oddest clearest memories of them, but I can't remember my own stuff. This is why I write, I am sure of it. This is my brain's way of imposing order and clearing things out so I can function day to day, so I can sleep.

Things that I have learned (This is my experience, I am not a trained grief counselor. I could never be a counselor. Eventually, I always say the thing that people don't want to hear. I can be too blunt.):

1. Forgive. There are a few things that happen in families that are unforgivable. For the most part, though, most things can be forgiven. No one ever gets a prize for being right or holding onto a grudge the longest. My father and I had such a difficult relationship. The crummiest thing is that the week after he died, all of the sudden, I was able to understand his story. I got it! It was like someone turned on a switch. This knowledge would have been so helpful when he was alive. All of the times that my mother hurt my feelings or frustrated me hardly matter now.

2. For God's sake take pictures! Get them off of the computer and don't let it crash. The everyday moments are the magical ones. What are you waiting for? My greatest regret is the only picture that I have of Lily with my Gramma is when Lily was born. She died when Lily was 2. I feel like such an idiot. I could say in my defense that I was stressed and battling depression, but I still suck.

3. Accept the condolences. People want to help. Let them say sorry. You will hear the same things over and over. Accept it. They are trying. You feel like crap, but there is no need to spread that feeling to others.

4. Stuff does not equal the one that you lost. Hording the belongings of the person you lost will not keep them alive. Your memories and stories do. Lily talks about my father like she knew him. She was born 1 1/2 years after he passed. It was the stories that taught her about him, not the boxes of clothes and junk that I horded. The only thing excluded from this is pictures. See number 2. Pictures help.

5. Create a new normal, but don't change too much. The sooner that you get back into a routine the better. It will feel strange and almost disloyal. It is not, trust me. Some routines are harder to break. I really want to call my mom. Tonight, I want to tell her that I am reading a book that she would like. Every night there is something different. Until I get used to this, I think that I am going to start a new journal just to jot down what I want to say. What I want to tell her is never profound and yet it takes up a profound amount of room in my mind.

6. Yes there are 7 stages of grief. They start the minute you find out the person that you love is sick or has passed away. In my experience, they do not follow an order. It is not a list to check off (wouldn't that be nice?!). They come like an unpredictable roller coaster and they seem to follow you for the rest of your life. Grief doesn't go away. You don't get over it. You learn to cope. Most of the time you cope well. Some days you don't cope at all.

7. No one type of death is better than the other. If you lose someone suddenly there is no closure. If it is a prolonged illness, you watch them fade away. Sometimes you are relieved that their suffering is over. Most of the time you feel cheated no matter what. It isn't like in the movies with final wishes and tender moments of sharing (at least for us). It is not pretty. I guess if you lost someone in their 90's it would feel like a life well lived. Except for my grandad, no one in my family has lived past their mid 70's. My dad was 52. My mom was 62. I feel cheated.

8. You will feel sad. You will feel sad a lot. It is normal. No need to apologize, but don't let it take over your life or define you. See number 5.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Grieve

I should be so good at this by now, but some days it hits me in waves. We had Mom's memorial service today and it was perfect. Just the right sort of service for my mom. I was so surprised and touched by how many of my friends came. I was also so surprised at how many family came from so far away. Big family events are hard when you are shy and really bad at small talk. Let me write you an essay and we are on. Expect me to track a conversation and ask the right questions and not so much. The girls are the same way. In the car on the way we practiced what sort of questions they'd be asked (How are you?) and the correct response (I am ok. Yes, Gramma was amazing). I wish that I did not have to give them etiquette lessons in grieving. For being so emotional, when it comes to public settings my kids can either be stoic or try to hide/blend in.

For me the hardest thing is I can't call my mom. The very first thing that I wanted to do after the service was call her and tell her all about it. I used to call her when I was making dinner or stuck in traffic. I just can't wrap my head around the fact that there are going to be dozens of small occurrences everyday that I can't share with her.

The crummiest thing, is even if you wish it would stop, time marches on. Before you know it it will be time for Caroline's Homecoming and Lily's violin recital. All of these things will happen without my mom. I just keep thinking of the following poem by W. H. Auden. I can write all of the eulogies in the world and tell people that I am ok (because ultimately I am) and I am supported (which I am), but sometimes I just want to shout:

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Thank you all for coming today. We have been so touched and our hearts so warmed by all of your love and support.

It was never in my mother's plans to become a wife and mother at the age of 19. Her plan, in fact, was to become a social worker. Instead, she found herself with a young troubled husband and a baby. It is true that the start of our little family was a rough one. However, that has never colored my life, it only tinted it and that is because of my mother.

 She took motherhood and made it her own. She figured out the aspects that were the most important to her and left the rest behind. Many of the traditional "mother-type activities" confounded my mother. She didn't bake. As a matter of fact, the one time she did try to bake me a birthday cake, one of our dobies climbed onto the table and ate the middle of the cake. Mother replied, "Well, I won't be doing that again." She was not know for her culinary skills (chicken covered with canned pineapple still in the can shape) or sewing ability (my pants were hemmed with Elmer's glue). There is an infamous story of an argument I had with her when she was getting ready to go into my Kindergarten class. I put my hands on my hips, took one look at her patched bell bottoms and faded Crosby Stills and Nash tee shirt, and demanded the she "dress like a mommy!" After she stopped laughing at me, she asked "How does a mommy dress?" I replied "she wears dresses and skirts." Mom went to my kindergarten class in her patched jeans and faded concert shirt, she also added some aviator sunglasses.

I might have longed for June Cleaver, but what I had was so much better. My mother would do anything and everything to make sure her kids had what they needed. Often times, she made sure we had things that we didn't even know we needed. My mother was our cheerleader, except instead of pom poms she wore boxing gloves. We were her everything. When my brother was an infant he ended up in the NICU with bronchial pneumonia. Mom stayed with him the entire time. I truly believe that it was the force of her will that made him better. I imagine she scared the hell out of the germs.

Her love wasn't limited to us. We grew up in a household were you "take in strays." It could be animals (there were always dogs, cats, sometimes birds and fish, and once briefly a rabbit and gerbils). You also took in people. If someone needed a place to stay, be it just for a holiday or for a temporary home, they had it. Our home was their home.

Recently, when I spoke to my moms' friend and former boss, Connie, she said "Your mother was the best employee. She just got things done. She never talked about it or asked questions; she just did it." That was my mother to a tee. If it needed to be done, she got it done. You had two choices, help or get out of the way. When teachers and administrators saw her coming into a building they hopped to. It meant that her kids needed something and she wasn't leaving until it was done. I am one of the best examples of this. I was diagnosed with a Learning Disability at the beginning of second grade. At the time, I could barely read, didn't speak in school, could not write, and was confounded by numbers. I had amazing teachers who helped me and by fourth grade I had made a great deal of progress. When we moved to Virginia at the beginning of my fifth grade year, she thought the stigma of being labeled and pulled out of the room would be too much. I was already in a completely new place without much of my family. So she "lost" my IEP and enrolled me as a regular student. She figured that she could make sure I got extra help at night. The rest of elementary school and middle school went like this: Mom would work all day, come home, make dinner, and sit with me at the dining room table to go over my work. She would persist, I would resist, she persist a bit more, and finally I would knuckle under. By doing that she taught me that I could do anything that I wanted. I might have to work a heck of a lot harder than most kids, but I could do it. That lesson gave me the confidence to ask/demand that I be switched into advanced classes in high school. Much to the surprise of many of my teachers and classmates, I did very well. I went onto college and earned my master's degree. I am doing my best to pass this same determination onto my girls.

My mother wasn't just a fighter. She loved us very much. You don't realize until you have your own children how much their heart is your own. You can't separate the two. When I was 17, my first boyfriend was too afraid to break up with me, so he had his mother do it over the phone. I was on the phone crying "Ok, Mrs. Anderson..." when mom walked through with a basket of laundry. In a matter of seconds she had thrown the basket, channeled her inner track star and hurtled over the couch while yelling "Mrs. Anderson?! Give me that goddamn phone!" I had the sense to hang up the phone before she got there. That night, while I lay in bed crying like my heart would break, my mother's heart was breaking. She didn't know how to make it better. She paced and cried and quietly threatened the boy, until Chris sent her to bed and stayed up with me rubbing my back.Later that night he told her that this was just a small drop in the bucket of my life. He was right, I went onto date other boys and it is a very funny story. But in another way it showed me how very much my mother loved me. I could stand here all day and give you example after example of that love.

Later, after we'd grown up and left, Mom was able to use that fierce love and practical organization in other ways. She volunteered at church and the woman's shelter. She also got the chance to put herself first and have some long overdue fun. She and Chris found an awesome group of friends and became known for throwing some fantastic, over the top dinner parties. They also got the chance to travel. Mom really enjoyed exploring her spirituality. I also think she secretly enjoyed how much her ideas befuddled my gramma. Mom had never really rebelled and here was her chance.

I think one of my mom's happiest stages was becoming a grandmother. Many woman feel torn at the idea of becoming a grandmother. They might feel old or like a stage of their life is ending. Not my mother. She embraced it. This was during the period when she was learning about female based religions. Upon hearing that I was going to have a baby she gleefully proclaimed "I can't wait to enter my crone stage!" Being a grandmother gave my mom three little girls to love without needing to worrying about fighting for them. That was their parents' job. As far as my mom was concerned what her granddaughters needed was what ever they wanted. For the first time, my mother had extra money to spend on things like music lessons, instruments, American Girl doll clothes, full fancy back to school wardrobes etc. The first time she returned from taking Caroline shopping, I was floored. All my life my only clothing choices were what was practical and on sale. For Caroline, it was only the hippest and coolest:) The look on my mom's face when Caroline put on a fashion show for gramma and I was one of pure joy. My mom wanted to make sure that her granddaughters knew the importance of creativity. She took them to countless plays and concerts. This had a profound effect on them. My mom also loved to crochet. She made scarves, funky hats, matching girl and doll blankets, and the most amazing baby layette ever for Willa.

I know that my mom was hoping for a grandson. I think that it was perfect that she ended up with a gaggle of granddaughters. She has left behind a legacy of women who will carry on her lessons of strength and compassion.

Monday, September 23, 2013


She wasn't ready.  I wasn't ready. None of us were ready. And still it happened. My mom passed away on Thursday. The last week has been a blur of driving back and forth to the hospital, parenting through texting, juggling school and activities, worrying about profoundly stupid things (hair cuts, baths) because you don't want to think about what is looming right in front of you, and caring for my mom and step-father. The whole time all I heard from people was how strong I was. First of all, if you were raised by someone like my mother, you have no choice but to be strong. Most importantly, I am strong because my family has given me a foundation of strength and my friends give me the support. Without these things, I am nothing more than a crumbling building.

I am always surprised by how many people I have behind me. When things hit the fan, I am never alone. Some days, I might feel like a one woman army, but there are tons of invisible troops right behind me holding me up. I have lost the strongest member of that troop, so I'm going to have to rely on the others to ban together.

It goes without saying that my family has been awesome. Rob has been so patient. He's put out more fires related to the kids and the house this week and never once got annoyed by the fact that I blew up his phone texting him to check on the status of these things. My brother, my step-father, and I have held each other up. It is so much easier to decide how to help someone you love when you have a team. My aunt came immediately and stayed with Chris. She has been in touch with me all summer checking on us and making sure we were ok. Then there's my step-mother, my friends, my in-laws, my cousins, the rest of my family, my scout family, the list is endless.  It is like being hit with a lightning bolt of love. And of course, there is always my girls. My beautiful amazing girls.

Our church community has been phenomenal. My parent's friends were there until the bitter end. Cancer is a nasty, dignity stealing disease. The end of my mother's life was hard and not at all what she deserved. We could not have gone through it with grace, if we did not have people right beside us showing us the way. Her nurse was quiet literally an angel on Earth. I can never thank her enough for treating my mom like the amazing woman she was and making sure she was never scared or humiliated or in pain.

My school family just took my breathe away and filled my heart. Early on I established a rule of only communicating about my mom through text. That way, I didn't cry at work and could always focus on the kids. My teammates pitched in and made sure I had the best sub, wrote my plans, and checked on me often. They sent me silly stories and pictures. They even updated me on what was going on at school. My job is therapy for me. If I focus on one thing too long I get tunnel vision. Thinking about work and my mom and the girls gave my whirling mind enough to stay on track. I stopped by school on Thursday, mostly to get a boost of joy. I got hugs and laughs and love. I am so glad that I did because I needed all of that to pull from when my mom passed away a few hours later.

If I forgot to mention someone, I am so sorry. I have been running on adrenaline and sweet tea. My brain is addled, but my heart is full because of all of you.

People keep asking me how they can help and what do I need. You all have given me everything already. I've got the little stuff covered (food, the girls, the house) because you all already gave me the strength.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's the Time of the Season For.......

Did you think loving you? Then you too were raised by hippy parents! School is as usual crazy amounts of busy. It seems like every year there is more on my plate at work. I am team lead this year and well, me being me, I am taking it too seriously. I don't believe in doing something if I can't do it right. It really is the worst case of self imposed type A personality. Did I ever tell you that after spending all of high school and college thinking I was Type A, I took a quiz that showed I'm actually Type B acting as Type A. I see it as an off shoot of growing up LD. You screw things up enough times, you become determined to not let it happen again. Well, maybe that is only if your LD with co-dependent tendencies. Ok, enough arm chair psychology.  What it all boils down to is stress.

It seems so much more pronounced this year because I am sad and tired. I didn't get my usual rest this summer (I never made it to the gym or even took one nap). I keep thinking that I should snap out of it, but given everything that is going on in my life right now, a little sadness is normal. I don't let it color my day, but it is there in the background like a dull persistent toothache. Rob has been awesome trying to pitch in. He took next Tuesday off  to take care of various household jobs. Job 1: have the heating company come out and check the furnace for the winter. Job 2: take the dog to the vet. The dog did something to her jaw. Rob said if I took her, she come home with braces. Job 3: take my car in to get the left turn signal fixed again.

I have two things at the front of my mind. 1. Be the best teacher that I can. 2. Be the best mom that I can. It is really important to me that the girls have a normal a time as possible. We have had something every night this week and last. There's violin lessons, scouts, soccer, and back to school nights. Last weekend I took Caroline to her teen scout encampment. This weekend Rob is taking Lily horseback riding with her troop. Caroline and I are going to see my mom, then going to her soccer game. After her soccer game, I will meet Rob at the stables, switch kids, and camp with Lily's troop. Next weekend, Caroline and I are going to an all day music festival with her boyfriend and my cousin. I am really excited about that! In the midst of all of this we have out grown fall clothes and there are surprise school supplies that need to be purchased. Throw in homework and housework and work work and, well, it all seems so much. I am just taking it bite by bite and day by day. I don't always do it with patience or grace or even good manners, but it gets done. And in the tradition of our family, that is "good enough."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spread Her Wings

We seem to have reached a stage were Caroline is going off more and more. She has less need for me (except for funding and transportation). We are getting along really well and enjoy each other's company, but she wants the company of her friends just as much or even more often. Her boyfriend has become a semi-permanent fixture in our house (so much so that he now feels comfortable enough to come into our house and head to the fridge first thing to find a soda).

Last weekend she was invited to a friend's Sweet Sixteen party. She asked her boyfriend to go with her. He told her that he wasn't able to do something on two Saturdays in a row (they are going to King's Dominion next Saturday). An hour before I was supposed to pick up her friends for the party, she texted him and told him that all of her friends were bringing their boyfriends. He responded "Oh, I should have asked my mom then." She bit her tongue, he asked his mom, and was ready to be picked up in an hour. I picked up Cristhian and teased him about waiting until the last minute. Then I went to pick up Caroline's best friend (and my scout daughter) and her boyfriend. After a brief photo session (I wasn't the only mom with a camera), we piled into the car. I am used to teenage girls and the silliness that accompanies them. My ears have adjusted to high pitched giggles and screams.

I am not used to teen aged boys. Truly my expertise in all things boy mostly ends at age 7. Suddenly, I was in a car full of after shave and rumbly voices. Both boys carried on parallel conversations. Caroline's boy friend kept turning around to talk to her about a band or tease her. Her friend's boyfriend waxed poetic on topics such as the importance of having two suppers a night, guns, life guarding, and his worst injury all summer. Both girls listened and nodded. This girl, tried very hard not to tease or laugh. At one point, I dug frantically through my purse searching for gum so I could do something with my mouth besides laugh.

We finally found the club where the party was being held. I wasn't sure which entrance they should go in, but they assured me they could figure it out. As I watched them walk away,I felt a pang of longing. I watched my oldest child move one step further towards adulthood. She looked so beautiful all dressed up. I watched as she grabbed her boyfriend's arm and pulled him along away from whatever distraction that had caught his eye. I watched her move that much closer to making her own path through life.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I took the dog for a not so brisk walk and in the process, thought of an awesome blog idea. Unfortunately, the very moment I stepped into the house, it flew clear out of my mind. I have lost many ideas in a similar way. The best ideas have disappeared in the clearing of shower steam, haze of dreams, or lurching halt of traffic. I am not sure of the solution. Maybe I need to become one of those strange people who walks around reciting ideas into a tape recorder. Then again, I don't think they exist anymore (the people or the tape recorders). I used to keep a notebook by my bed. I misplaced it, though. Someone suggested that I text myself, but most of the times these ideas occur when texting isn't an option ( have they come up with a shower proof i phone yet?).

Losing things seems to be a chronic issue in my house. I spend more time looking for a kid's lost shoe, a favorite sweater, the correct freakin' charger, a book, a scrap of paper with an important series of numbers, the remote control, the phone, the list is endless. The amount of time that I have spent looking for those things is also endless. We here in Simpsonland are stuck in the timeless loop of  "MOOOM, have you seen my......?" I fall into the trap time and time again.

It doesn't help that as a whole the beings who inhabit my house are perpetually absent minded. They pick up something and carry it with them when something shiny in the next room catches their eye. I have found remotes in the bathroom and boxes of cereal in the fridge. You never know where missing things will surface. If I didn't know better, I'd swore that we had an infestation of naughty little elves. Elves would be less frustrating than my family.

The current object to have fallen victim to the Simpson Black Hole is one of my favorite CDs. I just finished loading all of my CDs onto my i pod, when I noticed one was missing. The soundtrack to Juno seems to have just evaporated. Caroline borrowed it. It has become one of her favorite summer soundtracks. I guess she loved it into oblivion. I know it will turn up. The Curious George soundtrack was missing for a full 8 months before it returned from it's adventure on top of the computer desk.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How Introverts Cope

It is a well established fact that we are a household of pretty set in our way introverts. We are each introverted in our ways. Some of us are linguistic introverts, some are mathematical introverts, and some are "factoid" introverts, or a combo. What I mean is our strengths are how we comfort ourselves and process the world around us. Can you guess which kind I am? Rob? Caroline? Right now I am a teeming mass of raw nervous energy. I have a valid reason, but I need to do something with it. The doctor says exercise, others say medication, others say wine. Right now, I say words. That means lots of music, reading, and writing. Being introverted (and stressed) I want to do these things on my own. That way I can center and breathe. The problem? I have my own introverted offspring strapped to my ankle, leg, waist, arm, mind, whatever she can get a hold of.

Lily defies definition (is this a theme?). She is very introverted in crowds, but at home, to quote the youth she is "all up in our grill." I love my girl and really she has made progress this summer. She is sleeping and apologizing for hurting feelings. She comes to me after blow ups and can tell me what she needs to do differently. Lily still gets so overwhelmed, she just can't calm down and lashes out. When I am able to convince her to go off on her own and play, she always comes back calm, focused, and delightful. She loves to play with her dolls and legos. She just forgets? I guess like everything else, I need to teach her when to go off and find her space. I never had to teach Caroline this. I think this might be because when she was Lily's age I was so busy with Lily that she learned to go off on her own and read. It was that or be bored.

Lily doesn't have that "go off and read instinct." She seems very verbal and has that "linguistic edge." Her vocabulary blows me out of the water and her ability to figure out words in oral context is amazing. The problem is she can't sit still and stay focused on a book. This baffles me. How can my kid not like to read? Watching her read is exhausting. She's upside down, she's shouting out facts, she's asking questions. She likes numbers and facts like Rob, but that doesn't seem to be her driving force either. The nearest I can tell is it is talking (explaining the need to follow me everywhere). She even talks to herself when she's riding her bike or swimming. I guess it is noticeable. My sister in law pointed it out when we were on vacation. I can't really fault her. My new young teammates have made a joke out of coming into my classroom, hearing me in a full conversation, and seeing that I am all alone. In college, I used to go into a room by myself and talk my way through studying.

Now the trick is to teach Lily to utilize this. All I know right now is she's going to camp for part of next summer. I am more tired now than I was in June:) My ears are exhausted!

More Happy Music

I seem to have finally figured out how to make i tunes and Windows 8 work together, at least long enough to get some new music on my i phone and i pod (I keep it for going on walks). Upon success, I executed a victory dance and war whoop worthy of a touchdown. I was also able to load all of my CD's and started buying my favorite songs from my college years (my tapes fell apart, how much of my income was that?). I think I've already mentioned my love of The Lumineers. They have this old time quality that is just beautiful. My newest favorite is The Mowgli's. They are the happiest hippy dippy summer music. I can't listen to the album without smiling. Which is good because I am now under doctor's orders to take a "brisk daily walk" (more on this in the next post).

Falling Apart or Getting Old?

The downside of scheduling all of your doctors appointments in a two week span is that you get to hear from all of your doctors in a two week span. Apparently, I now need to "change up my flossing routine" (honestly I didn't really have one to begin with) and floss three times a day in order to protect my back teeth which are mostly composed of fillings. Really, it is a miracle that these fillings have lasted this long (some were put in in high school). If I lose them, it's a root canal, and I'd like to avoid that. I have also been told that I "am still young, but getting old." Huh? Yesterday, my internist suggested that I add more exercise in order to prolong my life and alleviate stress (he's worried about the fact that my dad passed away at 52). He went so far as to pantomime taking a "brisk walk." This is the same very serious doctor who must have given himself a daily note to smile upon exiting the room because every time he leaves me he turns and flashes the quickest, most awkward smile. He also went onto to list carbs and suggest that I avoid them. If I wasn't so overwhelmed by his concern, I would have explained that I read Redbook and know just about every diet plan. I was so trying so hard to take it all in that I forgot to ask him about the knee x-ray that had done last week.

I guess, like everything else in this house, I am still in working order, but need more TLC. I draw the line at literally kicking myself, which seems to be the best way to get a lot of things around here to work:)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Inner Peace

Ok, here's my new motto: "One day at a time, let it be, carpe diem, que sera sera..." I think you all get my drift. I don't do well living in a constant state of worry with the anticipation of sorrow or impending doom. I end up paralyzed in my favorite chair obsessively messing with the computer while slowly flipping between HGTV and Food Network, all the while slowly falling into a candy induced stupor. I have worried on 5 pounds this summer. I was supposed to reinvent myself this summer and lose weight. Although to be fair, that has been my goal every summer since the age of 13. Most people have new year's resolutions. I have new school year resolutions (or is it aspirations?).

Well, so far I seem to be keeping the worry at bay (is that the right bay?). I give a lot of credit to Doctor Who. Yes really. If you haven't watched it, what are you waiting for? Even my stick in the mud husband watches it. It's the only show he watches that isn't a sport or doesn't have people finding and pontificating upon their old junk.

Anyway, back to Doctor Who. The most recent episodes that we have watched have focused on a "fixed point in time." Ok, so if there are fixed points in time, my hoping, wishing, and worrying about them won't help. Right? So, I'm on a campaign of living in the moment. I don't know how long this will last, but I'll do my best!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Days Like These

When I am old and gray, it will be days like these that I wish to remember. It was just a plain day, nothing big organized or planned, but perfect in it's simplicity. Caroline and I went over to my mother's house to help her pack for our upcoming trip to Florida. She is feeling better and we laughed and joked with my step-father, just like normal.

I came home and went with Rob to Kohls to use my Kohls Cash. We walked through the store holding hands listening to Ho Hey over the PA system and testing out the softness of towels. We departed the store into a rainstorm allowing us the perfect chance to test the absorbency of the new towels. I strolled through the parking lot wrapped in my new towel happy and laughing.

After dinner, I pushed Lily through violin practice and actually got 10 minutes of beautiful focused music out of her. She has learned to make music instead of screeching. We ended the evening giggling over highly inappropriate potty themed jokes (it is what we do best), then finally settling down, happy and tired, to watch Doctor Who.

Simple perfection.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


This summer has been such a contradiction. All at once it has been full of sorrow, frustration, and moments of intense breathtaking wonder. I've written about the sorrow and frustration, but there has also been such joy that I just want to stop and yell "Freeze! I need to memorize this moment."

Watching my best friend play with my restless goofy daughter and then make both girls giggle with inappropriate jokes.

My awesome cousin staying with Lily so Caroline and I could go visit my mother in the hospital. That same cousin's brilliant suggestion that we spend that evening watching Sharknado.

Meeting up with old treasured friends at a local bar and remembering that I am more than simply an overwhelmed teacher, exhausted mother, patient wife, and loving daughter. Also, remembering that it is okay to laugh when your heart is breaking, as a matter of fact it just might be vital.

Dancing with Caroline and my other best friend in the rain at a Fun. concert. Feeling like the most awesome mother in the world as we screamed and high fived.

Watching Lily leave her frustration and confusion behind to make her baby cousin laugh. I don't know which child glowed more.

Introducing my oldest to the brilliance that is Sufjan Stevens.

Spending the afternoon wandering the mall with both girls and getting Caroline her coveted "hipster glasses."

Sure preceding or following each moment there was frustration, sorrow, or both. Last week, a friend posted the following "To worry is to meditate on the negative." Okay, so positive it is.

Monday, July 22, 2013


The other morning, Caroline woke up and told me that she had a dream with a soundtrack. I love that! Often as I am driving around, I create a soundtrack in my head. I have even chosen theme songs over the years. I am especially moved when I am driving on a long trip and the music makes me feel like I am in an independent film. Caroline and I like to turn to each other and declare "indie film moment!"

Music is a huge part of my life. I have always loved alt rock and folk, regardless of the decade. There seem to be certain albums/artists that remind me so much of pivotal moments in my life. Unfortunately, most of those revolve around death. Ironically, hearing them doesn't make me sad; it makes me happy. Even though I listened to them at some of the saddest moments of my life, they trigger the happiest memories. It is especially wonderful when I hear the songs unexpectedly.

My father loved U2. We played a lot of U2 the weekend after his passing. To this day, whenever I here "With or Without You" it feels like a special hello from my father. The summer before my Gramma Hill passed away, I was hooked on Illinois by Sufjan Stevens. I spent the whole time driving around CT listening to it. On a side note, it is one of the most brilliant albums I've ever heard. That March, Cat Stevens' Footsteps in the Dark was in the CD player. I listened to it all the way to the hospital. There was a surprise March snow. I remember how ironic it was the I was driving through such a beautiful scene, listening to beautiful music, on the way to one of the saddest moments of my life.

 This summer it has been The Lumineers. I first listened to the album when I was driving to GA. It was the perfect "indie film moment." Lily and I were driving down a tree lined southern highway, finding pictures in the cloud and listening to fun acoustic music. You can also add Fun. to that list now. Last weekend, Caroline and I went to see them with one of my best friends and her daughter. It ended up storming and we rocked out in the rain, feeling like the coolest mothers in the world.


Apparently, I have a parenting style. Up until now, I've thought it was "slacker/attachment parenting with bursts of irritability." I have also described it as the "Miss Havisham's Garden Method". Caroline has described it as the "Mom Does Not Give Two Fs Approach" (let's say the Fs stand for "flying figs). After reading the awesome post "The CTFD Method", I guess I am a minimalist parent. Mind you, I have done minimal research (cue snare drum) into the method, since I have better thing to do than look into my parenting style. I am busy, wait for it, being a parent.

 In the summer, a lot of that involves me encouraging the children to "figure it out." I am terrible at entertaining my kids. As I have stated over and over, when I have a moment to myself (that is when I am not cleaning, organizing, or driving) I can be found reading or messing about on the computer. The fact that I expect my kids to go outside and play without coming in and whining seems to classify me as a minimalist parent. Well cool beans, I am part of a movement!

Note: Click the CTFD link, it is awesome!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


My final text to my brother last night was "I love you. Now get some sleep." It is so much easier to give that advice than to take it. I don't have much trouble going to sleep, but without fail, I wake up at 4:00a.m. with my head swimming. I worry about my mom, my students, Lily. Sometimes these early morning "fret-fests" can be productive. I can brainstorms lists, and once soothed, with a plan my brain can relax and let me get some more sleep. This week that isn't an option.

My mom is in the hospital. She has fought so hard and been so very optimistic, but I don't think that will be enough. It might seem like I am at peace with this, but inside there is a very angry little persons stomping her feet, bicycling her legs, and yelling "No!" I am not ready to lose my mother. Call me arrogant, but I feel like I've lost enough people. I've lost pretty much everyone who raised me. It makes me so angry that they aren't and won't be here to help raise my girls. I grew up in a big "crazy" family with a group mentality in raising children. Whether it was by choice or necessity, I don't know. It was pretty awesome to have had so many people loving me and believing in me. I used to think that being born into such a young family meant that they would be around for a long time. Now I think that I was born into a young family because they weren't going to be here for long.

Losing my mom never for once seemed like an option. I need to let this happen on her terms and with dignity. As always I will be reasonable. It is not a very exciting personality trait, but it has been the one that has served me the best. There is nothing that I can do to stop this. That is the hardest part. I am always in control of so many things. When they get out of control, I can usually spin the situation to work out anyway. Maybe that's why I have spent so much time watching HGTV this summer. I can't control my world, so I am going to watch shows where people can take control and change everything.

I need to let this go and turn over control. As much as I want to know why and I want to shout about the unfairness of this, there is nothing that can be done. Sometimes the answer is simply an unsatisfactory "because."

Monday, July 15, 2013

How Far We've Come

There really isn't much on T.V. these days and I can't possibly watch anymore news. It really doesn't help me stay focused or positive. I remember when Rob and I first moved into together, he would come in from the late shift at the restaurant to find me on the coach crying and in a mild panic. He was greeted with "We can't eat fast food hamburgers anymore!" or "How safe is our checking account?" Without batting and eyelash he'd calmly ask "Which news show were you watching? How about you just stop watching news shows?" That eventually morphed into "Enough of the freakin' news shows! They just upset you!" Rob has always had this ability to appear calm. I know the true Rob, but he puts on the best front. You would never catch him running around in a tizzy about all of the potential dangers in the world. That is probably because he's too busy ranting about baby boomers or the 1%.

Anyway, here I go off on another tangent. The point is that instead of watching the news, I have been deep in the blogeshere. I have found great blogs that are new to me. They have much jazzier than mine, but still speak to me. In all of this time, I still feel like those in the blogesphere are my friends (no need to question my grip on reality). It helps to know that I am not alone. I am not alone in being a tired wife, overwhelmed teacher, exhausted parent, or worried daughter. But more than the sad stuff, I am not alone in keeping my sense of humor. So many of the blogs that I've linked to have been started from loss and great pain, but have found joy and humor in the daily craziness of being human.

I have also looked back at some of my earlier posts. I am still proud of everything that I have written. I am most proud that my humor has remained intact. It has been over five years of silly stories, bad spelling, questionable grammar, and me hanging my laundry out for all to see. My focus and station in life has shifted some. There might not be as many funny Lily stories (She's still pretty damn funny, but totally inappropriate. There is some laundry that is best left in the hamper. ). I think what started out as a blog about being a mother has turned into a blog about a mother. I am interested to see where the next five years go. I know it will be bumpy. I am pretty sure that I am ready. The only thing that I know for sure is my grammar and spelling probably won't improve. Hey, in the world of cross stitch we say "It's the flaws that make it one of a kind." Ok, I made that up, but it should be a quote!


There are these moments when it feels like everything going on in the world is upsetting and scary. I know that bad things happen all the time at all points in history. Some days I either must be more aware or more sensitive or the media is just in my face more than usual.

Case in point, this weekend. I crawled into bed Saturday night. Rob opened one eye and asked "What's up?" I replied "Well, George Zimmerman got off and the washer flooded. I'm surprised you didn't hear the cussin'. Oh and they shut down Rt 28 because a cow is running up and down the highway." Rob rolled back over and went back to sleep. I have to admit, after being so upset over George Zimmerman, Caroline and I had a good laugh at the idea of police chasing a cow on the dark highway for over an hour. Was it funny because we were upset or because we have a sick sense of humor? Both probably. Mopping up gallons of cold washer water was a nice distraction as well.

I have been following people's opinions about the case via my Facebook and Caroline's Twitter. My frustration is that the man was told not to chase the boy in the first place. It feels like vigilantes have been given the go ahead. Think back to you as a teenager. Were you always approachable? Always polite? Did you look normal (come on '80's folks)? I can remember all the hassling that my long haired "hippie freak" brother got when he flew down the country roads driving his car covered with Grateful Dead stickers. That same "delinquent" is now a wonderful husband and father.

Teens tend to go through a period of flat out "dumb-assery." At times they seem like frightening alien beings. The fact of the matter is they are still children. Sure, they think they have all of the answers. No one has stronger convictions and opinions than my 15 year old daughter. Sometimes she is right, sometimes she is not. This is her time to form herself and develop her opinions. Rob and I provide her the guidance and safety she needs for that, but every time she leaves our house I am so afraid for her.

My child hardly looks like a threat. She is a self-proclaimed "blond-haired, blue eyed bookworm." However, she does have quite a mouth. If I recorded one of the many heated conversations that have occurred here behind closed doors, you would think that she is a willful, spoiled rotten brat (she would use a different b word). We live in an amazingly diverse area. Consequentially, Caroline friends span various classes, cultures, and races.

I am very naive. I thought that living here, it would never be a problem. Such a dreamer, am I. Caroline's boyfriend is from Bolivia. He is a sweet, bright boy. He makes stupid "boy mistakes" that piss Caroline and I off and make Rob laugh. Whenever, I share his latest stupid move, Rob laughs and counters "rookie mistake." However, he clearly really cares for my girl. She picked him because he listens to the same indie rock, watches sci-fi and action movies, and loves super heroes. Together, they move along through the suburbs waiting for the day to spread their hipster wings.

When she first told me that they were catching flack about being a couple, I shrugged her off as being dramatic (she is a 15 year old girl after all). Then came the 7-11 day. Her boyfriend has a very dark complexion and a "Roman" nose. I guess I can see how an idiot would make assumptions about his racial background (notice the word idiot). They went to get Slurpees at 7-11 and the clerk had to make a point of asking where he was from. He is used to this and politely responded "Bolivia." Then the clerk had to look at Caroline and make a loaded point "Well, I guess you aren't from Bolivia." Remember Caroline's mouth? Remember what I said about our guidance? Well she knows enough not to use that mouth against adults because she simply replied "You're right." She was upset, but her boyfriend is used to it. I am glad that she knew enough not to show it because then he would have felt the need to defend her honor etc. Just recently, one of her friends grabbed the phone from Caroline when she was talking to him and yelled that he should go back across the boarder to his own country. Caroline was outraged, I was three kinds of pissed, and he let it roll off of his back. He told her he's used to it and doesn't let it bother him. I have decided that he is a pretty good kid.

Both times, I wasn't there. According to Caroline that's a good thing. "Mom," she says "you need to calm down. Getting all pissed only makes it worse." I guess going through my "hippy phase" during her formative years payed off.

I am not sure what all the answers are. Rob isn't as upset; he can list a dozen or more worse things going on in the world. He's right, but I can't turn a blind eye to a teen who was killed because of assumptions and wrong headed perceptions. It is our job to protect and guide our teenagers. To see them into adulthood. That opportunity was stolen from Trayvon Martin's parents. They will never get the chance to see him grow up and all of the possibilities that were there.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hope, Faith, and Reality

I'll keep this opening paragraph short in keeping with my philosophy of not telling others' stories.  I must admit this is a hard policy to keep since the lives of so many people overlap with mine. My mother's cancer has returned in her shoulder. She needs to start chemo again right away. She had such difficult time with the last round. I am worried about her. I am also concerned because the cancer returned so soon after stopping treatment. I guess, I am hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

I should be an expert at grief by now. I am not. I have lost so many people that I love in so many different ways. It never gets easier. There is something about grief that brings out platitudes in others. Honestly, they don't know what to say, so they say what they have heard or what feels comforting or what makes them feel less uncomfortable/less helpless. There is the tendency to feel that you must comfort and assure those who are comforting you. Your heart is broken in ten million pieces and you're assuring people that you are fine and they don't need to worry about you. It is almost worse with strangers. You wish that you had a sign to wear as you wander around the store like a zombie. I can see some of the reasoning in the old custom of wearing black when you are in mourning. It seems to have given a universal symbol of tread lightly/leave me alone.

Thanks to modern technology, I was able to update the few friends who were following with me via email/text. I ended with "I am not ready to talk yet." I was not trying to be rude. I just needed to get out the facts without getting sidetracked by emotions. One friend called me immediately to tell me stories of my students during summer school. That did the trick. I need to keep my mind busy and not dwell on what-ifs. This is the hardest thing for me. I have this convoluted idea that if I pray enough and do enough good things everything will work out. This is just another one the character traits that I blame on my early reading of Pollyanna. How can one book be such a positive and negative influence? I am the living proof.

For now there is nothing to do but stay busy. I am crafting and cleaning like a fool. I know that sooner or later I will crash hard. There will be an epic melt down over the stupidest thing. I would like to apologize in advance to every who will be caught in the crossfire.

P.S. Mom, I am not even sure if you still read this. Please don't be upset with me. I process through writing.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Stages and Phases

Pretty much from age three on, parenting seems to truck along smoothly. There are behavior hiccups, but the biggies (sleep, potty training, walking etc.) have been covered. When Caroline was an infant, I read child development books religiously. By three, it seemed like we had it down. I switched over to craft magzines and kicked back and enjoyed my kid. Things weren't perfect, but it wasn't anything that I couldn't handle (Rob keeps reminding me of this with Miss Lily). Then the next phase hit: teenager!

There seems to be countless magazines, books, shows, and advice about infants-toddlers. Teens? Not so much. Last month I was looking through Catherin Newman's blog Ben and Birdy. She recommended the special teen edition of Brain Child Magazine. I ordered it and it was brilliant!!!!! I feel like I found dozens of new best friends who had seen right in to my house. It was mostly full of essays chronicling different aspects of parenting teenagers.

I get asked by friends and acquaintances "What's it like having a teenager?" Honestly, I am pretty lucky. Caroline is sweet and a bit of a homebody. She is so very bright (however don't tell her that, she seems to be allergic to profuse praise) and motivated (in her own narrow focus of film, literature, and music). She is unbelievably witty and such a smart ass (I should reprimand her more often, but I am too busy trying not to laugh). After a very rough patch last year, we have reached a common ground. There are still times when she drives me crazy (could the same drive to know every independent music artist be channeled towards dishes? laundry? spending time with her sister?).

One of the most poignant essays was about letting go. That's where I am now. Most of my major adult stages passed without a hiccup. Thirty? No big deal, I was born thirty, it was just a coming of age. 40 didn't really bother me either. However, I can already tell that Caroline going off to college is going to hit me hard. Ever since she got to tour VCU, she is determined to go there. She worked her butt off this year to get good enough grades (which she did and then some). I know that leaving her at school is going to break my heart. If we do our jobs as parents well, they are ready to leave and be successful. Rob and I have given parenting our all, so it stands to reason that both girls will leave and soar. This summer feels so bitter sweet and is flying by. Three years will pass in a blink.

Friday, July 5, 2013


I've been a little anxious lately. Between working with Lily (up and down process) and worrying about my mom, I have been feeling a little "twitchy." I am trying to direct that excess energy in a more positive way. I am trying to exercise a bit more ( I have "stress eaten" back every pound that I've lost) and working on the house.

I have gone through every upstairs room performing the yearly "gut." I've cleaned and organized. I have also talked Rob into painting. We bought 5 gallons of paint for Lily's room, our room, the kitchen, the guest room, and touch up in the living room. It's my HGTV moment! We started Lily's room today. It looks so cute!

I'm also going to try to do a little bit of pampering next week: new glasses tomorrow, pedicure with a couple of friends next week, and a haircut. Baby steps, baby steps.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tour Guide for a Martian Child

Summers tend to be the time when I bring the kids and house back in line. This summer's project is Lily. I have often alluded to the fact that Lily arrived in this world without the manuals for her or us. We don't always know what to do with her and she doesn't know what to do with people in general. If you don't know her, she would seem like a brat or a snot. The fact is there are two Lilys. There is the charming, hysterical, bubbly Lily that we see at home. She is the reason that I began this blog in the first place. The second Lily is wary, overwhelmed, painfully shy, and angry that just as she learns the rules, they go and change.

I have been bringing her into public situations that make her uncomfortable. I stand back and watch her scan the room. She seems to go through her mental list and figures out what to do first. There are many adults in the world who seem to understand my girl and give her room to figure things out. However, there are just as many who seem to think they know how to "fix" my kid. They alternate between bullying and joking. That is exactly the wrong thing to do. You can't push Lily into a situation or out of a mood. She needs time to collect her thoughts and formulate a plan. The quickest way to lose her trust is to change from moment to moment how you interact with her. I think this is part of the reason that she has so much trouble interacting with kids her own age; they are too unpredictable.

I have the same approach to parenting that I do to gardening. Every spring, I buy my favorite flower seeds, scatter them in the garden, and then get out of the way and let them grow. My garden is different every year in a delightfully quirky "Miss Havisham" way. The same philosophy goes for my kids. As long as they are kind, helpful, and do their best, I stay out of their way. I never pushed Caroline, she just did her thing and turned into this awesome person. I have caught flack about my methods before. For most of her early years, other mothers implied that Caroline wasn't quiet up to par. Now she's in advanced classes, so I guess I did know what I was doing.

The same applies to Lily. She'll need more direction than her sister. I lay most things out as rules to follow. Of course for every rule she learns she encounters 30 exceptions. I am well aware of what many mothers are probably thinking as we walk away. While I'm walking her to the car praying that she doesn't lose it because she overwhelmed, looks are being exchanged. Once we're gone I am sure there will be "If she were my child...." She makes progress everyday.

Our family has a long history of having one child per generation who walks a harder path than most. I think with patience  I can guide her down that path. My family isn't alone. There are scores of children who march to the beat of their own drum. People seem to be more aware of this than ever before. Just look at popular T.V. You've got Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory and Brick on The Middle. I seem to have built a career out of guiding "Martian children" through life. I guess I am the Pied Piper of the pissed off and confused:) I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's Time

It's time. The air is so electric, you can see the sparks.
I can't grade one more paper or write one more line of plans.
 They can't read one more book (that's not of their choosing) or write another word.

We are aching to sit outside on the patio and sip iced tea. We're ready to fill each pore with sun, sand, salt, and even chlorine.

 It is time for lazy days and lazier nights.
It is out until dark catching fireflies and swatting mosquitoes time.
 It's time to throw caution to the wind and have nothing for dinner but cucumbers and ice cream.
 It is time to wake up, roll out of bed, eat cereal, and watch cartoons.
 Time for the neighborhood to be filled with children running free in a pack, wild like nature intended them (at least until someone starts to cry).
It is time to crash into bed sticky with popsicle juice, sunshine scented and content.

Summer is almost here. Let's say goodbye to friends and promise to stay in touch. Let's plan to go see Blockbuster movies and finish long put off projects. I'll organize the junk drawer, the medicine cabinet. You clean out your room, even under the bed.

Let's recharge.

Heaven knows we deserve it. Let's grab childhood while we can and hold on tight. This seems to be the last uninterrupted place where we can just be.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I. Am. So. Tired

I am so unbelievably, freaking tired. I have given everything I have had to this school year. I have nothing left to give. I am tired of driving kids places. I am tired of answering kids' questions. I am tired of smiling when I really want to say "Are you kidding me!!!!" I am tired of telling children what to do and encouraging them to use the sense God gave them. While we're on it, I am tired of taking kids camping ( guess what I am doing this weekend?). I am tired of driving kids places and listening to them argue, complain, or tell me how stupid I am. I am tired of listening to rants and obsessions. I am tired of arguing with kids about studying and instrument practice. I am tired of telling kids to brush their teeth, change their damn underwear, and pick up their crap.

I am trying to dig down deep and make to the end of this marathon, but Holy Cannoli it is hard. I have miles and mounds of work to do. There are teacher gifts to get and loving notes to write to my kiddos. I don't want their last memories of first grade to be a strung out crazy woman. I over did it this year. I now know what is my breaking point. Useful information, but the question is will I use it? Will I prevent this from happening next year? What do you think? Here's a hint: next year at my school I am team lead, on the PTA, Literacy Committee, and helping out with the parent education group. For Lily we have scouts, violin, and school advisory council (school level and superintendent level). Caroline we have scout leader and everything that goes with high school.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Our Gang is Alive and Well

Our Gang is alive and well and taken up residence in my driveway. I am most likely dating myself with an arcane T.V. reference (much like the failed Mr. Kotter reference at our staff meeting). As a child, I would wake up before everyone else. The only things on T.V. were scary yelling T.V. preachers, Davy and Goliath, or Our Gang. Davy and Goliath, while a cartoon, was a bit too preachy and made me feel guilty. Our Gang, however, knew how to have fun. In today's era of technological jaded children, you would think kids tearing around a neighborhood would be a rarity.

Well, it looks a little different (more like the UN), but somethings are the same. It is a little blonde kid with a faux hawk showing up on our doorstep carrying a turtle like a pizza delivery box. It is bike races up and down the court (hopefully the rest of the neighbors look up the melee with fondness for their own youth and don't see the herd of screaming children as annoying. It is enough water balloons to turn a yard into a swamp (I dodged hosting that mess. My apologies to the family up the street.). It is some odd dance of little girls in princess dresses with cheetah print heels and umbrellas (this prompted a "What the heck?" from my teen. This one looked more like a black and white French film than a slice of Americana.). It looks like my teen frantically dodging her adoring fans as she sprints from mailbox to house. It sounds like yelling, fighting, making up, bossing, laughing, giggling, screen door slamming, doorbell ringing, dog whining.

It is the kind of childhood that I always wanted for Lily. How lucky she is!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We Aren't Normal, Are We?

I could not make these these things up. This week the following was overheard or occurred at my house:

Lily "Don't be a bleep-ass." That statement was followed by a look of horror when she realized that she bleeped the wrong word. Rob has now adopted this phrase. Nice job being a positive role model sweetie!

Caroline (in typical cranky spring fashion) was annoying me and I opted to communicate with her solely via text for the night. I texted "Take her out." (as in take out the dog). She responds "You want me to kill someone?"

I asked that someone "please bring me two Advil for my headache." Caroline countered with "Bring me three." Rob added on "I'll take two. Now, how many would that be?" Awesome, family math problems through pain management. That isn't at all weird or slightly dysfunctional.

Rob and Lily were engaging in their nightly round of potty humor. Caroline wonders aloud what it would be like to "live with a classy family for awhile." I shoot back "What do you think I've been trying to create here?" She did agree with me. Of course, two minutes later, Rob was bugging her in the kitchen and poking her with a pink spatula. She counterattacked with a wire whisk. This resulted in a high speed chase with kitchen tools around the house. I felt the need to comment on the "classiness" of said chase. Rob laughed, got whisked in the knee, and responded "Now my knee is light and fluffy." At least Caroline laughed.

At the end of this all Lily yells "We want people to think we're normal. We can't do this. Wait, we aren't normal, are we?"

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waiting for That Shoe to Drop

Well, Rob is out of town. That generally means freaky weather or the collapse of a major appliance. I have handily avoided these scenarios by a. the luck of gorgeous spring weather and b. vowing to use the appliance sparingly and with the utmost respect ("Oh thank you great dishwasher for delivering sparklingly clean dishes to me, your humble servant."). So all is hunky-dory, right? What's that you hear shouted from my house? "Boys are stupid!" That's not the teen daughter, nor is it the eight year old. No, it is the frustrated mother of said teen daughter. Somewhere over the course of time, boys became moodier and more complex than girls. The Boyfriend would fall into this category. It doesn't help that modern teens communicate solely via text which can be read dozens of ways. I guess it is all ironed out now. I just get tired of other teens hurting her. My tough cookie is not always as tough as she seems. Especially, during test time.

The amazing thing about women is how quickly we bond. I shared the tale of woe with my closest friends at work. Oh, the "Stupid Boyfriend" stories they drudged up. The ultimate outcome, though, was wise words of encouragement for my girl, our girl. There was even calls and texts checking on her. I don't think that boys have that, a circle of wise and caring elders surrounding them (even when they aren't there). Maybe that's why boys are so damn confusing. There is no one around to share tales and encouragement.

Monday, May 13, 2013


I am all over the place lately and I blame it solidly on the weather. Usually, I can count on the warm breezes and spring flowers to give me hope during the most stressful time in the educational year. Instead, I am freezing my buns off. My body doesn't know what to do. It is light out longer, but cold as heck. They're calling for frost tonight, in May! My flannel pjs groan every time I tug them out of storage. My body has gone into round 2 of hibernation. I am supposed to be gearing up for bathing suit weather. Everyone has the same tired line "We'll be wishing for this come August."

I am very stressed right now (what else is new), but have so much to be thankful for. I have my amazing girls, my sweet little niece, my wonderful husband, and the list goes on. My mom goes for another scan at the end of the month and we see were to go from there. At least she has a little more energy right now. Rob and I went to go see my favorite high school English teacher's band on Saturday night. As I tend to do while watching live music in dark theater, I ran my own little montage moment through my head. I have led a rather full life in a short period of time. The trick is; can I slow down and enjoy it?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pie in the Sky

I have a quote that I tell my girls; I attribute it to my mother, but I could have dreamed it, or even read it, who knows. Anyway, here it is "Sometimes, your best defense is your own good manners." I am tired, I am stressed, and I am in hyper "Mama Bear" mode (for my girls and my students). Last week, I got po'd at the drop of a hat. I had co-workers chase me down to say "Breathe first, just breathe" as I charged down the hallway to right one wrong or another. This week, I have slowed down and calmed down. Exhaustion and long stretches of time spent by myself in hellish traffic have given me no other choice.

Last night, there was a very long PTA meeting with a very long sidebar about funding a club that my friend sponsors. The bottom line is that the PTA can't afford to sponsor every club (I know that). Some suggestions were given to create scholarships and we will look into that. It seemed to me that another parent was being unreasonable. I made an impassioned (and voice cracking) plea on behalf of one child who had benefited from this club. I explained that he was in my first grade class a few years ago. He was the kindest and sweetest boy who wanted nothing more than a piece of paper to take home at the end of the day so that he could draw. He never demanded prizes or stickers or any other treats. He was so excited this year to join this club because it was free. I went on to explain that it was the only activity that he'd ever had because his family couldn't afford any others. I had thought that I had wasted my time and made a little bit of an emotional fool of myself.

That same parent just messaged me and asked if she could buy a yearbook for this little boy. I am sitting here crying and so moved. Now, I am even more in love with my job, my school, and the community that it serves! Life is so much better when I keep my pie in the sky Pollyanna outlook and refrain from judging others. There must be a quote in there for my girls.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Hate Spring

Spring used to be a time for new life and renewal. Now, thanks to No Child Left Behind, it is a time for testing, and cramming, and, if you live in our house, panic. The only thing worse than watching your 15 year old hyperventilate over test anxiety is watching your 3 year old get stitches. I should not have to explain panic attacks and hyperventilating to my child. We should not be talking about strategies to stay calm and not keel over on the floor.

I think that I have established that my child is wildly creative and thinks outside of the box. Some days, she thinks outside of the factory that builds the box. People like her (and me for that matter) don't test well. She has A's in advanced placement classes and writes better than most college kids. She was recommended for AP Western Civ and pre-AP English. Isn't that proof enough? What the hell? This entire system sucks. I am watching the downfall of creative thinking and problem solving. We are creating a generation of robotic Jeopardy contestants who are so stressed that they panic or explode.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Now for a brief post because tomorrow is field day. If I haven't mentioned it before my class is composed of 16 little boys and 8 little girls and half of those boys are powered by sugar rolled in corn syrup or rocket fuel or some sort of amazing compound that makes The Energizer Bunny look likes he's asleep. And yet, I love this amazingly, quirky, and profoundly creative group of kids. They make me want to pull my hair out one minute and the next I am filled with tears of joy. Daily,  I realize "This is why I am became a teacher, just to meet these guys and touch their lives." Corny, yes, but I dare anyone to come into my classroom and leave without that feeling. However, teaching with this much raw emotion is draining. My stores are used up early, and I am beyond exhausted. I keep hearing suggestions of a mental health day, but how can I leave them? Co-dependent personalities should not become teachers.

Well, tomorrow we will have a morning full of sunshine and fun. Something bizarre will happen, but that's okay; I'll just spin it into a story. That's what I do best; take frustration, anxiety, insanity and weave it into the stuff that legends are made from. I have made a life, a career out of fostering quirkiness. I am Alice creating her own Wonderland. No, I am not under the influence of anything other than exhaustion. Time for bed.

P.S. I'll take my camera to school tomorrow and take pictures of my kiddos' latest projects. Seriously, they are amazing:)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Let's End With a Laugh

Such a crappy week. The hardest part is explaining it to Caroline. Anyway, let's end it with a few laughs:

1. I was listening to the radio and heard an ad for a new program to reverse hearing loss. I turned it up thinking "That would be nice; Rob and the kids are sick of me misunderstanding them and gee, I would love to be able to understand things again." It turns out the ad was for a new program to reverse HAIR loss. Cue drums! This is true. So basically,  my life is a bad vaudeville routine.

2. It is not advisable to have a dinner of Chai tea and two glasses of Moscato wine, even after spending two hours stuck in horrible traffic due to a terrible accident. It will lead to random dancing and your oldest child shouting "Help Dad! Mom is broken!" Of course said father is also suffering from his own hearing loss and missed the child's remark.

Now that you've laughed, let's hope/pray for a better week. The traffic today was caused by a man who stepped in front of a tractor trailer truck on 95. I can't imagine feeling that hopeless. That poor man and his poor family. I take back every swear I uttered while stuck. Life is too short to get hung up on little things like traffic. There are people in the world dealing with much bigger problems. Keep looking for the positive. Even if you have to poke fun at yourself.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Faith in Humanity

No wonder I have headaches, my emotions are all over the place. Over the past two days, I have gone from heartbreak to elation and back to heart break again.

Today, I took Caroline on a tour of VCU with our Girl Scout Service Unit. I was so thrilled to see her excitement and to picture the future ahead of her. She is absolutely in love. VCU has everything she wants. I loved it there and it is even better now.Then I got home...

I rushed to the computer to finish my report cards and Caroline came downstairs to whisper the news about Boston in my ear. My first instinct was to mentally rage against the world, to scream in my head: "The world sucks! I hate people! I hate fate! I hate cancer" (can you guess what has been the most pressing thought on my brain?). And then a wise friend posted this from Patton Oswalt:

 "Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.  

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

And another wise friend re-posted this (she had posted it after Connecticut in December):

 “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

So there you have it, I need to stop raging against the world and fate and everything that I can't control. I need to have faith in humanity, faith in the future. There is no better way to restore your faith, than to spend it with your child. I watched Caroline today and saw all that she will become. She is so ready for the world.  I have raised this amazing and compassionate young woman. She will do great things with her life. She will be one of the "helpers." What more could I ask for?