Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Mimi has an incredibly sing-songy voice.  It's clear and harmonious and lovely.  And when she asks, "Momma, can me have some new-tell-ahhh?", I sometimes pretend that I don't hear her, just so she'll say it again.  Each syllable goes up another octave until at the end, both he voice and her eyebrows are just about at sky height.   If I say "yes", the next question is, "Momma, can me spoon it by my own?" 

There you have it:  A Big girl, sitting up in her big blue chair, eating a BIG bite of new-tell-ahhh . . .

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Big's Birthday Story

It's getting harder.  When Big was little, there was plenty of time all day long to sit, cuddle & recap her birthday story.  Yesterday, it was harder.  We woke up 15 minutes early to serenade her and pile two priority presents on her breakfast plate.  We served her favorite breakfast and then we were off to school on time.  At lunch, Mimi & I surprised her with her hot lunch from Wendy's -- BLT snack wrap and a junior vanilla frosty.  She was surprised.  It was priceless.  Mimi ate the lunch that she packed. 

After school, she delivered birthday treats of homemade carmel corn & smarties to her favorite teachers and trekked home munching on leftovers.  She pushed through homework and we opened the remaining presents.  It's MOTH's tradition to bring the girls roses on their birthdays.  One rose when they were one.  Three on their third . . .yadda, yadda, yadda.  Yesterday, he showed up with a dozen, shrugged his shoulders and said, "it's cheaper to get a dozen now."  Tee hee. 

We made her favorite dinner & ate (but without Middle, who was at gymnastics last night during the dinner hour.)   We'll drag her birthday out a day longer, since we didn't want to do birthday cake without Middle last night.  Well, and it was just too darn late by the time Big got home from practice last night.  When she came in sweaty & tired, Little and Mimi were already tucked in . . . .


Late last night, I still crawled into bed with her.  I told her, for the tenth year, the story of the day she was born.   Last night, I vowed to write it all down in a form that matches the verbal record.  Sort of.

It was a Monday.  Why I remember it was a Monday, I'm not really sure.  I think becasue I was grumbling about my boss holding a mandatory meeting at 8 am.  I had not worked the night before, so it was a huge pain in the butt to be at work on Monday morning at 8 am, when I had not been there the whole night prior.  Night shift workers are like that.  At any rate, I woke up that Monday morning really cranky and sore.  I remember thinking that everything hurt.  Pregnancy with Big was pretty easy.  I had little weight gain, only about 18 pounds.  But I started to unravel at about 33 weeks.  My back was killing me (now I understand why).  My hips were killing me.  It felt like I was being shoved apart from the outside in.  I was right at 37 weeks, and I remember thinking that I had a long, long, uphill hike coming.  My own  mother went past her due date with me, and she constantly told me that I would, too.  Looking at three more weeks made my cheeks sag.  Thinking about going 5 more weeks made me want to crawl into a hole.

I made it to the meeting at 8 am.   Two of my very best friends, fellow nursing school grads & nurses at the birth center also were there.  After the meeting, we decided on breakfast.  We went to The Olive Branch.  It's the only time I had ever been there.  It was awful.  That's another thing.  My taste buds had gone on vacation  . . . nothing tasted right, nothing felt right . . . I was ten degrees off in all aspects.   And, my hips and back were friggin' killing me.   My nursing school buddies & colleagues surprised me after breakfast with a pre-baby, you can't see your feet anyway, pedicure.  It was heavenly.  We joked about rubbing the labor spot or the vibrating massage chair jostling my water into breaking.   Just joking about the possibility made my spirits lighter.  And my girlfriends were a fabulous distraction.

After pedicures, breakfast and morning meeting, I was craving a walk (I remember really liking to walk through the gutters and kick the crunchy fall leaves) and a nap.  Have I mentioned my back was killing me?  I walked but couldn't get comfortable enough to take a nap.

Hours passed.  I'm actually not sure what I did.  I remember that evening (or late afternoon, for sure), I was standing in Borders at the mall when a pain went ripping through me that just about brought me to my knees.  I think sometimes God intercepts phone calls, becasue as I was dragging myself upright and my husband was looking at me as if I was being overly dramatic, my cell phone rang.  It was my mother.  Describing what happened, she said, "oh, honey . . . that's exactly how you came . . . just one pain while I was standing in the kitchen . . . we barely got to the hospital before you were there . . . the doctor only had one arm in his jacket . . . you better go in . . . I'm getting in the car . . . I'm coming up . .   I can make it there in under three hours . .. ".  I left her rambling into the phone as another pain sliced through me.  When Big was born, my mom didn't live here, so I pictured her driving like a bat out of hell coming over the pass in the early evening.  I sat on the bench by the fountain for a while.  MOTH ran into a man that he works with.  They joked that today would be a great day for a baby . .  it was his birthday, too.  MOTH's parents called.  I was still feeling not-normal.  Surreal is a good word.  Like this couldn't be happening.  I'd worked in women's health care long enough to see busloads of women sent home for false labor.  First time moms ALWAYS wish to deliver early.  They always think, "this is it", until the midwife pats them on the fanny and shows them the door, while the chuckle and mumble, "primips . . . "

We went home.  We watched TV with dogs on our laps.  Like usual.  Achiness stayed around.  Pains came and went.  My back was killing me. 

MOTH was playing a video game.  I remember he used to sit cross-legged in front of this giant TV-box-like contraption that sat on the floor.  It had red speakers on the sides.  Remember those? 

I said, "my water broke . . . we have to go to the center." 
He said, "Now?  She's not due until next month . . . I thought you said it was false labor."  She was due on October 20th - MOTH's birthday . . . .
I said, "She's NOT due until next month.  I DID think it was false labor.  I've just changed my mind."

He made me wait while he put a trash bag on the seat of his car.  It was a white Jeep Grand Cherokee.  We went to the birth center.  Some parts are fuzzy.  Clearly, clounded with pain.  I remember being hellbent to have a natural delivery.  Idealistic, first timer, right?   I remember walking and walking, and walking.  I was walking in the hall, dying with contractions and hanging on MOTH when my mom showed up.  I remember her saying, "what are you doing?  I thought you were supposed to be in bed."  My labor nurse gave her the "times have changed" talk.  MOTH's parents called. Grandpa's birthday is the 28th of September. He promised me new skis, boots, bindings and poles if I delivered on his birthday & gave him a granddaugher AND a birthday buddy.

Some time later, the point of no return came and I asked for an epidural.  "Nope, too late," said my nurse, "it's time to push." 
Parts are blurry.  I remember pushing.  Sort of.  I remember the doctor coming in.  He was a class I, grade A, 100% bonafide asswipe.  And then, at 11:24 pm, there was a baby . . . she looked wrinkly and pink -- and sort of blue . . with cheesy white stuff.  And boy, could she hollar.   I mised the new skis, boot, bindings and poles by 36 minutes.

Fast forward . . . . I tell the story, or some version of it EVERY year on birthdays.  It's just what I do.   Sometimes I add on some of the first weeks, months, years or little memories from along the way.  This year, there is a very big, very heartfelt, very gaze-lifted to heaven, thank you . . . to Big . . . for not staying the rotten, colicky, horrible, finicky, intolerant infant that she was.  Thanks be to God, she has turned into a wonderful, lovely, fabulous child-slash-pre-teen. 
Thanks be to God for eleven years . . .

Monday, September 27, 2010


I'm only on a tiny soapbox.

Caffeine is a drug.   It's a drug we like and we need.  Still, a drug.  I'm not sure I totally believed that until last week.  Here's what happened.

Preface:  I'm not much of a "period talker."  I prefer not to go there.  On a day to day (rather, month to month) basis, I don't start a conversation with, "so, Aunt Flow came again."  I've always been secretly bothered by woman-friends that use "I'm on the rag" as an ice-breaker.  I'm making this exception for the sake of a bloggable moment-slash-story. 

History:  Eighteen months of steroid injections left me with many, many side effects.  One was that having injections mimicked menopause.  Seems like a dandy idea . . . except . . . one period per month is much, much better on many, many levels than night sweats, hot flashes & growing a moustache that makes most Mexican farm workers envious.  So, one year after the end of steroid injections, I'm well into peri-menopause when out of the blue -- kabam -- a period.  I felt like I was 10 years old all over again.  (Yes, 10.)  Wha-bam!!  All of the sudden, I felt like crap and was unexplicably grumpy as hell.

Coping:  I dusted off the top of the Midol bottle and popped a couple.  That, coupled with pain meds I was already taking for the back pain of last week seemed to make a dent in the red spiky bubble ball that swallowed me whole and caused me to grimace with movement.  When bed time rolled around, I medicated and crawled in bed.  I fell asleep quickly.  For about an hour.  And then I was awake.   Hurting.  Breathing.  Can women really have labor every month?  More meds.  And as those Midol slid down my throat with a fat chaser of warm water, I suddenly had a nursing recollection.  Caffeine.   Midol contains a diuretic to help combat bloating.  Caffeine.  In my normal life, I'm down to one cup (of half-caff, even!) of coffee in the morning only.  That's drastically down from close to a pot of java per day.  So taking caffeine in midol threw my system into a tizzy.  I was up at 1:09.  And by 2:15, I was frustrated with trying to sleep, and continuing to fail.  So I got up.  I snuck downstairs and started pushing paperwork.  I did some Christmas and birthday shopping.  I balanced business banking accounts.  I emailed reports.  I generated a roster, updated the website, paid some bills, made some labels and totally, completely, busted out everything on my to-do list that could be done outside business hours.  It felt great.  I was energized and vitalized.  At 5:40, I stumbled back to bed, thinking I should take a nap.  Just as I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, Mimi started calling from her bed, "Mama, Mama . . . I need you."

I was up again. 

When she settled back into slumber, I got up and did 30 minutes of strength.  Then took a quick shower. Then I made a kick-ass school morning breakfast.  I was dancing in the kitchen, flippin' pancakes and singing "boom, I got your girlfriend" to Little, when suddenly, the exhaustion kicked in and I suddenly thought I was gonna die on the spot.  It was 7:11 am.  Oh, damn.

Lesson learned.  Midol has caffeine.  And, apparently, my system is pretty stinkin' sensitive now.  It's been 4 days and I think I'm catching up from my impromtu, unintentional all-nighter.  It's ALMOST too bad I wasn't earning money.  Almost.
"Progress always involves risk.  You can't steal second base and keep your feet on first."

-- Frederick Wilcox
"Encouragment is oxygen to the soul."

-- George M. Adams

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Bad News. The Good News.

I've been a hermit. 
Pain has that effect from time to time.

So, to rewind . . . .

Thursday was rotten.  Friday, I was in panic-mode.  Saturday was more bad than good, and things began to turn around on Sunday.  Much better.  Still, I kept the MRI appointment on  Monday and spent 40 minutes in the magnet tube, deep breathing, trying not to flinch or scratch my nose and imagining this MUST be what it is like to be buried alive.  Very scary in the tube.  It's quite small.  And I'm not THAT big of a person.  I kept the appointment with my handsome, nice-sock-wearing, jazzy-tie-sporting spine specialists on Tuesday morning.  Mimi was adorable during the wait, and the appointment -- and didn't insist on being carried anywhere.  (That's bad, huh, to be seen for back pain and show up toting a 35 pound toddler, while you maintain, "No, really, I hardly EVER lift her!!" )

He started the conversation with, "Bad news first or good news." 

I said, "Well, when you kick it off that like, some bad news has already been shared.  Stay on track."

Anyhoo . . . . The good news is that he didn't send me straight over to the hospital for pre-op lab work.  He also didn't call in a psych consult, slap me into a straight jacket and call my husband to pick me up on the other side of the Cookoo's Nest.   What COULD be interpreted as good news:  prescriptions.  Bad news:  I have a bad back.  In the grand scheme of things, really bad.  I herniated another disc.  That's bad.  If I stopped there, that would be enough bad.  But the BAD news is that the disc that herniated is (and I quote him here), "One of the healthiest, best looking discs" in my back.    I was trying to hold back tears and stay strong as he delivered the "how to deal with this diagnosis" and "how to live, travel and be active", but it's taken a day for the forever-ness and the daunting-ness of it to really sink in. 

Big, giant bummer.  That's what today feels like.  And I'm sore.  And a wee-bit grumpy.   

And there  . . . . is the good news/bad news update.  Har-humph.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Take Cover!!"

It's bathtime at our house.  And because we NEVER do just one thing at a time, it's also Middle's stretching time, teeth brushing, hair washing, jammy-ing and re-cap your day.  We were also talking about what's on the docket for this week, when this little fireball came buzzing through the house yelling, "Take COVER!!!"  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Frickin' Ouch.

It's been a good stretch of months.  Like a light bulb has come on . . . "ah, this is what it's like to live pain free."  No pain meds, no morning stiffness, being able to workout on a consistant basis.  I've felt great. 

So Wednesday afternoon, when a familiar twinge came around totally out of the blue, I was shocked.  And Thursday, when that little twinge increased in intensity and started shooting down my leg, I was horrified.  By Thursday night, when I couldn't stand, had a hard time laying down and definately could not sit . . . I was beginning to panic.  Friday morning, I called my doctor. 

An MRI on Monday will confirm his suspicion.  He thinks I herniated a different disc at a different level.   I'm so devestated, I haven't even cried yet.  I am in total denial.  Shit, damn, crap & son of a bitch.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Holy Bear Shit, Robin.

It's a bear.  Here's how the pieces have come together.

Preface:  We live in suburbia.  There really SHOULDN'T (in a logical line of thinking) be bears in our neighborhood.  But . . .

Evidence 1:  Mama and two cubs spotted in neighborhood next to ours.  It shares a common greenbelt with a creek.

Evidence 2:  Trash tipping.  Mutliple dumpsters on our street alone.  Ours, for instance, was pulled out, turned around and tipped.  It would take a team of 6 foot racoons to accomplish that.  When I went to clean it up, the entire contents was SHREDDED.  Again, it would take a gaggle of coons to accomplish that kind of demolition.  Not even a pack of magpies.

Evidence 3:  Yesterday morning, the most enormous pile of foreign crap in our front yard.  Clearly not of canine-lineage.  It looks like a giant, poorly cooked bundt cake -- with lots of berries and seeds.

Alert to the neighbors.  Secure your trash.  Watch your youngsters, cats & small dogs at twilight and daybreak.  Bring in your birdfeeders. 

Even knowing all of that, I'm DYING to SEE it.  I want to lay eyes on it. Would it be so bad to set up a camera and leave a ribeye on the front lawn?

No, I'm not joking.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A reminder. Amazing . . .

 This is the story ......

of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote. 

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk'.

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. 

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh MY memory. Some women won't vote this year because - Why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

HBO's just released a new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say.  HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco/Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. Strong and brave are not the same as crazy.

The doctor admonished the men:

 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

The -bodies

Mimi likes to include everyone. All the "buddies" is how it comes out most times. She has a Dr. Seuss-like language all of her own. It goes like this:

AirBuddy - that's not the movie with basketball playing golden retrievers. That's everybody.
MooBuddy - that's the dog
YouBuddy - that would be you, as in whomever she is speaking to
WhoBuddy - that's when asking a question

Yesterday, we were sitting at the kitchen bar for lunch. Moose really wanted in, but I had just done the floors, so he was gazing longingly through the window at Mimi.

I said, "look who is watching you!"
Mimi says, "it's MooBuddy looking at YouBuddy, that's WhoBuddy . . . He always looks at AirBuddy!"

That was a mouthful!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Race for the Cure

September 12, 2010. 
7,000 participants.

Alright, seriously.  This is the feeling.  THIS is the feeling that I've been waiting for.  To have again? Maybe.  To DO again?  Maybe.  Maybe it was just a glorious day in the Garden and it just felt good to be giving and doing for a cause that I can believe in.   Maybe I was in an exercise upswing and my time was good (for me).  It felt good to run parts.  It felt realistic to walk parts.  It felt humbling to be a little part of such an enormous larger whole.  It felt empowering to be part of something for women everywhere.  I felt lucky and held blessings when I read the backs of other participants pink cards.  They ran for their mothers, the mother-in-law, their sisters, wives, friends, girlfriends' cousins' aunts' friend from St. Louis.  I was most touched by a little girl no bigger than 3 who walked with her dad.  Their pink dedication cards were pinned on their backs:   "For Mommy." 

Either way and any way . . . whether you're listening to girlfriends or your mother, whether you are reading books on getting your groove back . . .  or whether you've found a new groove.  This is part, yes, a big part of the groove I was wanting back.  This feeling . . . of pride, of completion, of giving, or success, of doing something good for yourself and for other people -- this should be bottled and sold by prescription.

I ran-walked with 16 other people on our "team".  Some are great runners and finished in awesome time.  Some are joggers.  Some are jog-walkers.  Like me.  Lots are walkers.  Fast walkers.  Slow walkers.  The best part was crossing the line and having a body of support waiting for you.   And then, joining that clan and waiting for the rest of the team to come across. 

There's not a part of Race for the Cure that isn't emotional.  From the dedication cards, to the flower garden.  The survivors.  The pink balloons that go up in memory.  My skin prickled with goosebumps a dozen times over by the time we left the venue.    I can't wait to do it again next year. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'm feeling sort-of overwhelmingly compelled to blog about Mandi.  Actually, about people I'm proud to know or stories that testify to the greatness of people.  I'm just starting with Mandi.  Usually I change the names of people in the blogosphere to protect their identity.  But that's not a hard and fast rule.  Mandi doesn't need protection from what I'm about to say, so I'm gonna open the flood gates and let it pour out.

Brief side-trip for personal belief summary.  I believe everyone comes into your life for a reason.  Everything happens for a reason.  There's something to learn from everyone and the true journey, battle, challenge in life is to "get it."  For me, that means dealing with all kinds of people and thinking and DECIDING . . . "that's a great example" or "know I know what looks like from this angle."  Moreover, I believe that events are cyclic and they'll keep on happening, sort of God karmically whacking you over the head while he madly flails his arms around in silent, whole-body animated but speechless Italian -- UNTIL you get it.  Example: abuse.  Until ONE brave person steps up and says "generational abuse stops with this family", it keeps coming around.  Until that ONE brave person educates themselves about their past and believes in the possibility of a better future, it keeps coming around.  There are a million other examples.  Ponder that.

Back to Mandi.  I met Mandi at the end of the last school year.  Without knowing anything about each other, we accepted a big (okay, enormous) role within the school infra-structure.   I didn't know much about the way she worked or thought.  I didn't know anything about how she dealt with people or what her expectations were.  Accepting a position like we did, and agreeing to do it with a complete stranger can be summed up with one of two words:  stupid or trusting. 

Well, Mandi and I have spoken and interacted and shared stories since last April.  Sometimes it's on a daily basis, sometimes weekly, sometimes different intervals of time.  This week, it's been about 80 times per day.  Yesterday, four times between 5 pm and 6:35.   When her name pops up on caller ID, I actually like it.    Twice this week, Mandi has delivered a soap box schpeel to a woman in our presence that has made goose bumps pepper my skin.  We had a meeting this week where one of our "team members" was sliding into the bitterness that can engulf and swallow you whole.  Mandi reached out an arm and a life line and spoke from her heart about our community and the friendships that are developed in this piece of our lives.  "You won't find this anywhere else," is the phrase that rings in my mind.  When I walk up to the school, just before I pull the big blue door handle and voluntarily march into a lion's mouth, I think, "You won't find this anywhere else."

Yesterday, in the drama that we call life, Mandi did an awesome thing.  A truely great, fabulous wonderful thing.  Too much detail will spoil the story, so it will have to suffice to say:  Nobody likes confrontation.  Nobody likes to the person with the balls of steel, that stands up to bullies and makes the world a better place, but she did it.  She did for our mutual friend.  And for our organization.  And for the world.  And I'm so proud of her . . . I'm so proud to know this woman called Mandi.


"You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don't think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.”~Anthony Robbins

I peeled this off of Frankie's Facebook status.  I like it alot.  It's an official addition to the "words I love" tag.  Reminds me of Eat, Pray, Love.  Anyone seen it?  Julia Roberts was PER-fect for that role.  It was wonderful and terrible.  All in the same breath.  A wonderful journey of discovery and learning and living and learning to love.  A terrible realization . . . "Oh, God . . . do people really wake up and just decide they have fallen out of love and don't want to be married anymore?"

I pondered how many couples on the fence will file for divorce.   And if ticket sales to Italy will sky-rocket.

Regardless of whether you've seen the movie or you love the quote.  I do think today and every day is THE day, another day to make a good decision about who you are, who you've become and what you aspire to be.  If you don't like it, the change begins from within, and can't be made for anyone except YOU.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Funeral Day.

I awoke this morning with one thought on my mind:  Funeral. 

I'm no stranger to funerals and/or ceremonies of remembrance.  The first funeral I remember was when my grandfather died.  He was 97.  He was old, old, old.  He lived in a nursing home.  He hung himself from the clothes bar in his closet with the terry tie from his bathrobe.  I found him.  I was about, mmm, seven or eight I think.  I can't remember.  But I remember the funeral was open casket and I wore a denim blue shirt with white eyelet trim.  I remember him looking peaceful.  And I remember that his glasses should have been cleaned.  There were fingerprints on them.

In college, my other grandpa died.  He was terribly ill and what I learned is that death holds a finality that one doesn't feel until they are in it.  And that's how his death was.  I suddenly understood the permanence.   Still, I recall him saying he was ready to go, and that it was okay.  His admission somehow made it easier to handle.

In my young adulthood, my grandma died.  I had two little kids at the time, and we began talking about the circle of life.  She had cancer that ravaged her body and left her weak, exhausted and only a shell of the woman that I remembered from my youth.  She died in hospice care with my mother at her side as her spiritual guide. 

In the last several years, we've been funeral free.  We have several elders in the family.  My dad is 91 now.  MOTH's grandma just hit 100 in May.  MOTH has another grandma that is frail, frail with osteoporosis . . . but is about as old as my dad.

So, when I woke this morning thinking funeral, it was a thought I couldn't shake.  I'm not sure what part -- which aspect -- of THIS funeral was hardest to swallow.  The suddeness.  For sure.  The age.  For sure.  The story surrounding the death and the day of death.  Absolutely.  The idea that the wife is a girlfriend.  Absolutely.  The surviving young teenage son.  Yes, sir.  

Sort of in a daze, I navigated my morning.  I dressed in black and attended the service with a dozen other women, friends of the new-widow.  Gasp.  What a word.  The service was  a Catholic mass.  There is comfort in repetition.  The eulogy was beautiful.  There were two. They were both beautiful.  I loved the stories and the highlights and highpoints.  There were few dry eyes in a nearly full church.  Near the end of the service, the "thing" hit me.  It was this:  I was sitting in a pew full of people all similar age.  We're all between, say, 35 and 55.  That's pretty frickin' close in the span of a lifetime.  We all have kids.  We all have houses.  And cars.  And mortgages.  And activities.  And day to day things that swallow large gulps of time.  And a death like this . . . sudden, unexpected, out of the blue -- and to a young man, could happen to any of us.  Any one of us could be the next survivor.  In that moment, my whole world kind of did a somersault.  The next survivor.  Just think about that.  Say that out loud a time or two.  Horrifying thought, isn't it.

There isn't a way to attend a funeral without coming home to your beliefs.  For me, that's the one and only way to get through loss and grief . . . to come home to the house of belief, faith and the One that has built you.  Do I believe in Heaven?  Yes.  For sure.  And yes, I think he's in a better place.  But believing in Heaven and being in a better place doesn't make joyful noise on weekends and it doesn't fill the emptiness in a king sized bed.  And therein, lies the hardest part for me.   The hardest part and the thing that brings tears to my eyes is hearing MY friend say, "I don't know how to be a single mom"  or "Night is the hardest part . . . it's so quiet.  I want eveyone to stay."  Just imagining the "things" around that will be constant reminders of his gone-ness make elephant tears well up in my eyes.  Golf clubs.  Socks.  After shave.  Deodorant.  Men's underwear.  His reading light.

So my prayers today . . . my prayers this week . . . my prayers, very likely, for many, many days to come will be for those departed AND those survivors.  After all, surviving is no easy feat, is it?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Family Snapshot

What a ride.  The last few weeks have been a complete roller coaster!   As always, the role of family historian has phrases and things to record rattling around in my head like nuts in a bucket.  I'm posting this in complete, unorganized, chaotic stream-of-conscious writing . . . because that's how I feel.  I'll rest well tonight with my brain lighter from this purge.

Big.  Boy, she's getting big.  I think she's grown several inches.  She's stinkin' tall, all of the sudden.  She's not much shorter than I am now -- probably less than a head.  She's wearing women's shoes.  Women's shoes, incidentally, come with a woman size price tag.  I'll never complain about spending $29.99 for a pair of kids' tenny runners again.  She likes Asics.  Kayano.  Cha-ching.  She's playing volleyball on a 5th and 6th grade team coached by her old coach, "Coach Mike" and her daddy-o.  He's having a good time with the girls.  I love that he has some time with Big.  Of all the kids, he's not bonded in an athletic way with her.  Until now.  Big has spelling homework every weekend that includes writing an introspective reflection on a famous quote.  That's where I'm getting all of these single line posts.  Big's spelling homework.  Writing makes her feel pressure, and there has already been tears of frustration shed over these assignments.  Damn.  It sucks to grow up.

Middle is still on the gymnastics path.  She had a rocky month last month.  It's alot.  ALOT.  A-L-O-T.  I know.  "But she loves it," I hear myself saying.  Now, with more staying power.  Last month, the notion of quitting came across my tongue and she slapped it out of the air like a fly.  "I can't quit.  I won't quit."  She was adamant.  So, she's staying.   And doing well.  She's doing solo back walk overs on the high beam now and has a fluid bar set that sometimes takes my breath away.  She's one of the only girls running fast and hard on vault.  This week, she learned to do a punch front over the vault.  It was pretty amazing.   She's doing well in third grade.  She really likes her teacher.  He's funny.  He sings and he named his pointer Charlie.

Little is rocking first grade.  Thank goodness.  He seems to be doing pretty well.  Except for lunch.  I can't seem to find a good mix of stuff he likes to take and likes to eat.  I'm forever battling the brown bag blues.  He loves his daddy.  He loves legos.  He loves it when his daddy builds legos with him.  He's getting to the rotten little brother stage and loves to bug the hell out of the girls.  He bugs them for the sake of bugging.  Bugs them when he doesn't have anything better to do.  Doesn't listen when he should -- just to get them to holler at him.  Bugs for the sake of bugging.  Sheesh.

Mimi watched her first movie.  All the way through.  Princess and the Frog.  And, now she says, "Hey everybody, I made gumbo."  Don't get me wrong.  She's been in front of the TV, but she has no staying power.  She gets bored and wiggly and lasts for about 25 minutes before she's gone again.  She made it though almost all of Marmaduke at the theatre, and brought home, "Wait for it, wait for it . . . ".   She's out of diapers.  Out of pull-ups.  Done.  Yippee.  (Personal song of joy:  I'm done with diapers, I'm done with diapers.)  I can totally find something else to spend that $40 per month!!   She's also just about done with a paci.  She's talking up a storm, has a couple of good friends and is a pretender.  She's into babies right now.  And Barbies and Pollies.  She's obsessed with tutus and self-dresses in one nearly every day.

Ah, I was right . . . much lighter.
"Life is an onion.  You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." -- Carl Sandburg
"Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it."  -- Winston Churchill
"An apology is the superglue of life.  It can repair just about anything." -- Lynn Johnston

Friday, September 03, 2010

Science is fun.

My girls spent a couple of hours in the backyard yesterday afternoon. Playing. What were they playing? Well, ahem, um, they were lighting ants on fire with a magnifying glass. Hmmm. Long pause while that gets processed. It wasn't long before they ran out of ants. The tricky little buggers all went into hiding in the cracks. Which begat the ant trap. Constructed out of play-doh, it was only moderately successful as a trap. But making it was damn fun -- even with the groans & eye rolls from MOTH, who despises play-doh. Baiting was even more fun - and the scrabble cheese-its allowed for spelling word practice, too. One thing always runs sloppy over into the next!! How do ANY of us EVER get ANYTHING done?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Here's what I have to say today . . .

Death can sneak up on anyone, at any time.
Hug and kiss your kids today.
Love your husband.
Say you're sorry.
Make up, even if you don't want to.
Don't go to bed upset.

My heart is aching for a girlfriend who lost her husband in a tragic and completely unforeseen way yesterday, at the tender, tender age of 55.  I'm praying and hoping that God can heal the hurt and time will mend the grief.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My son . . .

My son had homework tonight.  Genuine, true-to-life, 1st grade homework.

The assignment:  make a list of things that come in pairs.

He sat up at the bar like a big boy.  I served him an after school snack, fetched him a piece of lined paper and a sharp pencil.  He began writing and snacking.  Long minutes past.  My curiousity churned.  I was dying to peek over his shoulder and see what he came up with.  He kept writing.  And kept writing.  And kept writing.

Finally, he looked up, smiled and pronounced his "done-ness." 

"Great!!", I hollered, and began pouring on the praise.  "Let me see what you wrote."

And there, in 1st grade writing.  Perfectly imperfect, he had written:

a par uv boobeez
a par uv buttcheecz
a par uv bolls

Yeah.  We had to re-work that assignment.  But, on the up-side.  He's really familiar with anatomy and will make a great physician.