a (hundred)thousand thoughts

sometimes i wonder just what exactly goes through my head all day. there are moments where i feel that i am brain-dead because nothing that is filtering through makes sense. it is a simple flooding of random ideas, notions, thoughts and feelings. nothing is discernible. that feeling is immediately followed by the complete opposite notion that i am utterly and completely insane because of the sheer number of thoughts going through my head all at once.

i just spent at least half an hour trying to track down “the average number of thoughts in a day”. there is no factually comprehensive answer with scientific data provided as proof or foundation. in fact, every article, blog post, and entry found on the topic was followed by a barrage of comments about the validity of the information and the qualifications of the definition of thought, idea, and consciousness. it made me light-headed. but the overall concept is that our minds are so filled with “thoughts” that we have a separate one almost every second (tandem with the idea that we are capable of having multiple layers of thoughts at one time). whoa.

as stated by Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now, “Thinking has become a disease”. i’ll say! a thought every second? on top of a thought at the exact same time..? one of which will draw our attention while another exists unconsciously on a plane that we aren’t even cognizant of? can you think of anything more elaborately constructed than the human mind, it’s psyche, and the intricacies of consciousness??? i cannot. the fact of the matter (in my humble opinion) is that the thoughts are not the disease. the disease is our human desire to validate every thought with feeling and action.

every thought doesn’t need acknowledgement. every idea doesn’t need validation. it is this neuroses that has brought MINDFULNESS to the forefront of “self-care”. we are so powered on, so consumed, so involved with every little thing that we have had to remind ourselves how to slow down and breathe. literally. mindfulness is centered around ignoring the tsunami of thoughts, following our breaths — in, down, up, and out, and actually being PRESENT in this place, in this space, in this time — right here, right now.

sometimes i dream about conversations i’ve had or want to have, letters i’ve written or will write, or even future blog posts. i have my best work related a-ha moments in the shower (when i’m not at work), or as i’m drifting off to sleep — prompting me to send myself an email at work. i do my best dinner recipe research during my lunch break (when i’m not at home). and i write best when i’m too tired to finish (as there are always more than a dozen “draft” posts in my cue — this will be the third post published today that was started not today; a feat i have never accomplished before). i secretly dream of and plan my children’s futures on the nights when i’m restless and cannot sleep. and i peruse memories of my grandmother when i’m home, in my kitchen, preparing a meal.

everything that i listed in the paragraph above takes place when i am not there (except thinking of my gramma). my whole thought process is void of mindfulness. i’m thinking about work when i am at home. i’m thinking about home when i am at work. i am seldom thinking about what i am doing when i am doing it. i have actually thought it through hours or even days before… making my mind available to obsess (TO OBSESS) about the next task while i am still trying to conquer the task at hand.

i put forth a conscious and concerted effort to be present when i am spending time with my kids. it’s hard to not give children all of your attention. as a single parent, i do have the task of planning ahead for most everything. particularly meals and outings. we have a pretty solid schedule through the week and on the weekends we throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may. but as of late, i’ve been making a point to not plan ahead. to just sit down and let them clamor over me. to lay on the floor and play with them. to let them pick the books i read, and to turn the pages. it allows for so much more conversation and interaction. they grow so fast…

i try to track my thoughts. when i’m at work i make endless lists to assist me with task completion. i actively use Outlook, and Evernote. i also use Notes, and Reminders on my phone. for a few months, i was also using a bullet journal, which i’d like to get back to, but requires a little more time than i have readily available. and with all of that, i still forget things. sometimes big things. perhaps if i just slow down, breathe, and focus on the current project i’ll be more productive. i mean, what good is an unchecked task list?

here at home my dishes are piled up. the laundry, both clean and dirty is also piled up. the storage closet is filled to the limit with clothes and shoes that are too small and need to be donated. the refrigerator could use a good cleaning. and the pantry could use a purging. at least the beds are made and the bathroom is clean. my eyes wander about the apartment looking at the flaws and problems. then i see this knee high stack of books. library books. that is where i will let my thoughts settle. we check out 33 books from the library two weeks ago. we read them all. i read them for, with, and to my kids. it was time and laughs that we shared together. those are the thoughts that mean something. those are the thoughts i will validate. this is where i will let my obsession rest… in the gaze of my beloved children.

a life better than what we had

isn’t that what we always say? especially when we are accused of doting on or spoiling our children? we want them to have a life better than what we had. we want to give them more than what we had. we want them to want for nothing because we wanted but couldn’t have. if that’s truly the case…when do we stop? which generation will be the ones to say “i struggled, i wanted, i craved, and i never got… BUT i’m just fine”!

i know i’ve said those words. i know i’ve held (and hold) those very feelings. but is that a founded desire? are my children lacking in anything? their recital every single night of our three stanza prayer will tell you no. they are not lacking in faith. their smiles, size, clothing, hair, and shoes will tell you no. they aren’t lacking. not in love, food or hygiene. their desire to read book after book after book at bedtime will also tell you no. they are not lacking. not with reading, not with mother-child interaction. in fact, i don’t see any position in which they are lacking. they’re all very well cared for. they’re safe, happy, loved, well, and thriving. what more could I be looking for?

i think that’s the question that fuels parenting. i think wanting for them, and living vicariously is what makes the next generation the “leaders of tomorrow”. if we didn’t want for them, push them, challenge them… where would we be? not we as in us the parents, but we as in society. where would society be if there wasn’t a newest youngest brightest on the verge of something spectacular?

but do we honestly have to give them more or better? in all honesty, we turned out fine… with less. is giving more what we what? i don’t, not really. i don’t want to provide more. i want to provide better. better quality. better substance.

i want my children to have a strong faith in God. i want them to see and believe His purpose for them and their purpose for Him. i want them to exhibit honesty, confidence, grace, generosity, and kindness. i want them to stand out among their friends, among their classmates, and in the world. i want them to be better than me… in all ways. i want them to have character, be characters (they’ve already got that one checked off the list), and be utterly unforgettable.

enjoying your children

after the fourth grade field trip, i picked up the twins, went home and freshened up, left to pay a bill, went out for pizza, and ice cream, and then to our local small town grocer for organic fruit and granola. all, minus the filed trip, with three kids waddling behind like the little ducklings they are. after loading my herd of kids into the car, and watching to ensure that the ten year old returned the shopping cart without damage to neighboring vehicles or injury to his person i turned to get into the car. there was a lady standing by my driver’s side headlight. she said “i just wanted to tell you, it was nice to watch you enjoying your kids, that’s all”. i said thank you. but after starting the car, her heartfelt words had a moment to sink in, and they surged to my core. i looked for her and pulled up next to her parked car. i rolled down my son’s window and told her that i really appreciated her kind words. i explained that i often (and was currently in the midst of the) struggle with that very feeling and motherhood can be so “consuming” she said. she said thank you for the thank you and i left. that brief but endearing interaction made me feel really good.

i was recently reviewing my blog posts and realized that there are three major themes: parenting, mothering, and my kids. needless to say, these are the themes of my actual life. i live and breathe kids. and as with normal parenting, normal mothering, and normal kids… i sometimes wonder if i’m doing the right thing. i have been told (many times) that my children are beautiful, well behaved, and kind. my eldest was taught to hold open the door for those following him. he does it, (impressively) to a fault. we have left many establishments, only to be stuck standing outside the door because my sons chivalry won’t let him close the door if anyone is within a football field length of the exit. as often as i’ve been a little irritated, it has been immediately dismissed by the compliments given to him (and me).

tackling a day of errands with three kids in tow requires a super hero cape, a utility belt, and the kinetic power of patience. sometimes it seems like an insurmountable task, but what’s a mama to do? not shop? not pay bills? choosing to not doing anything for the good of the household is NOT an option. ya gotta do whatcha gotta do. kids need to see their parents, up, dressed, out, and active. they need to watch you interact with the world, see how you handle yourself, and listen to your words as you speak with others. you are their role model, after all.

sometimes it’s hard to find joy in the endless monotony of parenting. there are times when we need to be selfish, but the guilt of even wanting to care for ourselves outweighs the need to do so and we don’t. sometimes we need to exercise discipline and the guilt of having to be the bad guy makes us feel mean and sad. there are times when one more load of dishes or laundry might push us over the edge. the numerous spills and sticky fingerprints alone is enough to drive anyone absolutely bonkers. but in the midst of it all, the greatest good you will ever do is accomplished. the greatest good any of us can ever do is raise (and contribute to the raising of) kinder, smarter, dedicated individuals who strive for stronger faith, a larger sense of family, more empathy, greater acceptance, and peace — above anything else. the occasional compliment from a total stranger is just the fuel we need.

Mmmmm Chockit

I asked Margo if she wanted some chocolate chip banana bread. No, she said. Two minutes later, I could see her great big eyes over the counter.


 She was looking at a wayward chocolate chip. 

“What’s that?”

“A melted chocolate chip, it fell out of the bread.”

“Can I have that?”

“Sure”

…. she tiptoed and grabbed the chip with her tiny LittleLady hand. Gobbled it up, quickly. One whole minute later I saw those eyes again.

“Mom?”

“Yes, SweetHeart?”

“Can I have more those chockit chips?” 

“Sure”.

I pushed the stump of leftover bread toward the edge of the counter. The tiny lady hand swiftly snagged a chip and shoved it ever so sweetly into her little lady mouth. I don’t think she walked away this time, but stayed put with her hand on the counter.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Rae?”

“I can have that bread?”

“Yes. I asked you if you wanted some, but you said no.”

“Yes. I want it.”

“Here you go, sit down.”

“Mmmmmmm chockit!” …. 

Each night, after we read, and before we say prayers, we share the “best part of our day”. 

That was the best part of my day! 

NoParent

CoParenting: sometimes referred to as cooperative, parallel parenting, or even platonic parenting. Simply stated: it’s when you and the other parent work together and devise a plan and support each other for the good of the child(ren). You maintain open lines of communication, make agreements, and involve the other parent in decision-making, educational goals, and disciplinary action — even though you’re no longer in a personal loving relationship. Your goal is to parent your child(ren) together; to the best of your abilities even though you aren’t “together”. Nothing between you and the other parent compares or can get in the way of the shared love, guidance, and hopefulness that you both have for the child(ren) you share.

It is extremely disheartening to discover that anyone wouldn’t want the joy and pain inherent to raising a child. Alas, not everyone was meant to be a parent. You can love a child, entertain a child, spoil, enjoy, and care for a child and STILL not be parenting material. How can you parent your child with a person that has no interest in the child, no interest in being a parent to the child, or participating in the love, growth, guidance and success of the child? How can you agree to anything when you can’t stand to look at, be near, or communicate with the other person? How does one CoParent with a non-parent?

Do it yourself, you say? Yes. A noble concept, indeed. But often times; easier said than done. The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is far from cliché. It really does take a village. The support system required to raise children is vast. And if you’re trying to man the stations alone; the vastness multiplies and gathers levels of difficulty, confusion, and exhaustion along the way. Quadruple that factor every time another child is brought into the mix. Single parenting is not for the weak, faint of heart, or challenge-challenged. You not only have to be strong, you have to be knock-down drag-out resilient. You have to take the punch after the punch and just keep swimming. When you parent alone, there’s no down time. There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself or wallow in any type of self-pity or grief. Your kids need you, ALL. OF. THE. TIME.

I have learned some hard parenting lessons (like everything I just mentioned) the very hardest way: trial and error (more error, than trial). I have struggled with all of the feelings and emotions that come with first time motherhood, single motherhood, and failed motherhood. I have felt blessed, elated, happy, sad, exhausted, doubtful, confused, amazed, anxious… you get the picture. Parenting brings out a person’s instincts, intuition and emotions that are complex, deep, and strong. Most of us need that village to help us cope with what goes on inside of us; much less the laundry, dishes, and cleanup. We need to hear that we are doing a good job and that we haven’t screwed up our kids for all time.We need someone there, even when we are trying to do it all alone. It is paramount that you understand that single parenting means that you are: mother, father, good cop, bad cop, disciplinarian, nurse, doctor, playmate, therapist, chef, maid, and barber. You are it. You are all that there is and you cannot take that job lightly.

We also need those village horror stories. We don’t necessarily need to hear someone’s pain and get relief from it. More so, we need to hear and know that someone can survive an absentee parent and still be loving. Or that someone else survived an abusive parent and can have and maintain a safe and loving relationship. We need to witness someone crawling out of the shadow of their parent’s depression, obsession, or mental illness to still turn into successful people. We just need to know that even though we’ve made mistakes, our kids still have every loving chance on the planet to be the people who God intended for them to be. We always need to be reminded that they are here for their purpose and not to fulfill the dreams and expectations we once had for ourselves. We must remember that we are ushers; guides — and our job is to “teach them well and let them lead the way” (thanks, Whitney).

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Every person walking down the street has an opinion on how to raise kids. They give you unwarranted advice and tips that they’ve never practiced but heard so many times they just pretend it’s the gospel truth. However, every child is different, just as every parent is different. Sometimes the personality of the child is so prominent that you can see it before they are born. Their stubbornness and tenacity leach out of their mother’s womb the way hot grease dripping from a piece of fried chicken seeps into a napkin. No one can parent your child better than you. God gave you that child, and He would not expect anything from you that you didn’t have the talent and resources to provide. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

We all make mistakes. We make mistakes in every way every day. But if you accept the position and title of parent (I say “accept” because there are a large number of persons in the world who think that birthing a child is a CHOICE and not a God-given duty and BLESSING), you damn sure better learn from your mistakes and up your game! Get better. DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR CHILDREN. Do not. As with anything, there are always situations and exceptions to the rule, but those instances have to be examined very carefully when your children are involved. Children seek their parents for support and guidance in virtually all things. Don’t be the parent that turns your back or the one that requires that your child raise and support you. Know your role. Admit your wrongs, polish your method, and do the best you can — today and always.

Parenting is a sacrifice. There’s no way around it. You will sacrifice your body, your memory, your breasts (you know, if you’re a woman), your sleep… oh the sleep; I miss it so much. You sacrifice your friendships, work relationships, and every party you ever thought you’d throw or attend. AND IT’S WORTH EVERY BIT OF IT. Every shoulder covered in vomit, shirt that’s been sneezed on, pinky finger that’s plucked a tiny booger… it’s worth it. Every night that’s spent sleepless, pacing, worried, and scared because you’re not sure you’re doing it right… it’s worth it. Children are worth the battle. Children are worth the dreams, nightmares, scars, and adventures. They are miniature funnier cuter replicas of you and they will never cease to amaze you.

Some people know in their hearts that they don’t want children and they make a concerted effort to maintain a childless status. There are others, who don’t consider being a parent until someone says “my period is late” and they still manage to be fervent, and competent in the parenting arena. And then there are the others… the ones who just don’t. Nothing sways them from their perch atop the “I don’t wanna” soapbox. They use any and every excuse, if they stick around long enough to be questioned. They are children, in adult bodies who’ve created a child but somehow managed to deliver themselves from the parenting role. And nothing and no one can make them change their mind. Not even their child. They’re missing out, but it doesn’t matter to them. It only matters to the child who has to learn to deal. Most of those kids are better off without the person so selfish as to not give up any piece of themselves for their son or daughter. The child learns early on that not everyone can be trusted or believed in.. and that even a parent can let you down.

How do you succeed; alone, in a job that was meant for two?? I can only tell you how I try to manage: I do what I can myself, and I try to utilize my village. I keep on keepin’ on. You should too. You just press on and do everything you can and everything you need to raise that child as successfully as possible. (While simultaneously harboring no ill will, hatred or bad wishes against that other non-existent parent). You do your best to be both parents, the good and bad cops, and you do it with a smile. The child needs every effort, every ability, and every bit of your loving care to fill in those gaps. I am nowhere near perfect. At times, I doubt that I am even “good”. I do my best and hope that each day I get better. I pray that everyday my kids grow and learn and find happiness in their home and in my heart. I have plenty of pity parties and occasionally find myself filled with doubt and fear, but I don’t let it stop me from continuing to do my job as Mother.

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Margo (L), Miles (M), and Kenneth (R).

I am proud to be someone’s mother. Three someones to be exact. I revel in their hugs and kisses; and find the ultimate joy in their devouring anything homemade. I enjoy knowing that they look for me when they are excited, hungry, or scared; because they know that I can provide support, food, or comfort. i get a warm fuzzy feeling when they demand “reading and prayers” before bedtime. Knowing that my kisses provide more relief than a band-aid makes me smile. And feeling my kids climb into my bed because they want to cuddle makes my heart sing. I have made mistakes, and don’t claim to be anything other than a parent doing her best; but I’m here and I try. I AM HERE, AND I TRY.

Allergic to Allergies

My son has every allergy you can imagine. It’s a lot of work. He went into anaphylactic shock three times before the age of three. He has sneezed more and produced more mucus than the rest of my entire family put together. And while that fact is funny, it is no laughing matter. As exhausting as it is for me, I can only imagine how incredibly deflating and tiresome it is for him. He’s proven to be quite a trooper and is famous to my friends and fans as SuperBoy. Boisterous you think? No. let me explain.

Kenneth was born at approximately forty weeks to the day. He came out with a push and a half. He was more than eight pounds, almost two feet long, and had a faint mustache. At three months old, he would scream after every bath. I thought he didn’t like to be nudey in the breeze. No, he had eczema, and the lavender bath soap and lotion that I was using was torturing him. I didn’t know until one night when I only had cocoa butter at my disposal. After smoothing it over his little man body, not only was he not screaming, he was relaxed and comfortable. His skin needed that moisture and oil and he was pleased. At his next check up the doctor said: eczema. Eczema? Ok, I can handle that. No dyes or perfumes and plenty of cocoa butter. CHECK!

He trucked on through those next few months without incident. His skin was soft and smooth and his hair was super-curly-awesome! He was handsome and happy. I nursed Kenneth for seven months and when I switched to formula, a different set of problems started; sneezing, coughing, runny nose, congestion. So. Much. Congestion. After about a month of formula, Kenneth was transported by ambulance to the hospital. It was Christmas Eve. Pneumonia; the doctor said.

I watched as my infant child was held down by four adult women and then given an IV. I stood by as he was wrapped in towels and had his nose suctioned to remove the excess of mucus. I was witness to him receiving breathing treatment after breathing treatment after breathing treatment. And he still struggled to breathe. We spent his first Christmas in the hospital, sharing a twin sized hospital bed and slept at a 30-degree incline. I was broke, had no prepaid minutes on my phone, no charger for my phone and no change of clothes. At the time, I received a few visitors and I received a pair of fuzzy pajamas and socks. i also received a beautiful painted glass tile that doubled as a comforting nightlight. It was a really rough time and those few items helped me to feel at ease trying to help him feel at ease.

When we were finally released from the hospital, I went home and cried. Kenneth was almost back to himself, but I was exhausted. I called friends to see if someone could come and watch him while i tried to nap, but i wasn’t that lucky. i cried more. It took almost two weeks for his arm to heal from the adult-sized IV needle that was jammed into it. The bitch nurse that did so laughed at me for crying while i watched her shove a needle the size of a McDonald’s straw into his arm. She smirked and said “are you going to be alright?” and then smiled at the other nurse that was helping to hold my child down. I wanted to punch them both in the face. I will never forget her rude, inconsiderate, wrinkly mug. I hope i see her another day so i can tell her just how ridiculous and subpar she was during such a sensitive and traumatic moment in our lives.

Pneumonia, huh? It came on so suddenly. He hadn’t been sick or outside. It was December but it wasn’t cold (I mean, this is Southern California). But ok. Pneumonia, I guess. No dairy for a few days, no exposure to the cold, keep him hydrated and take all of his medicine. Got it. Pneumonia? We can handle it! CHECK!

Kenneth returned to the hospital emergency room just two months later. This time they said bronchitis. Bronchitis? Isn’t that one symptom shy of pneumonia? Good grief. But ok. We didn’t stay. I refused to be checked in or admitted. We got our diagnosis, our prescription and went home.

This became a cycle that went on for about two years. Kenneth was either at the doctor, or at urgent care. There were also a few emergency room visits. He was transported by ambulance again, when he was about four. We’d actually gone to the doctor, but his blood oxygen was so low that she called 911. Devastating.

Every episode was a bout of coughing, sneezing, snotting, choking, and pure misery. Sometimes his eyes would just scream “help me!” It was just murderous to watch. I always felt like I’d done something wrong; done something to him. I wondered if I’d inadvertently made him sick. But how, how do you give someone bronchitis or pneumonia? What set of skills do you need to have to impart such a condition? I felt guilty, and like an outsider. I had to stand back, step out-of-the-way, and watch other people care for my son.

I didn’t know what I was in store for. I had no knowledge of food allergies or their impact and effect on my infant/toddler child. I spent days, nights, and weeks watching my son struggle to breathe. He would not eat because he couldn’t breathe and there was just so much mucus that every swallow would lead to choking. He was miserable and I was too, twelve times as much. No one wants to see their child suffer through any kind of illness. It makes us parents feel helpless and ineffectual. We are the care providers and we are outdone and undone by a “bug”, a flu, a pneumonia. It sucks.

As time went on, Kenneth’s flare-ups would become (what I thought was) somewhat predictable. But then there were also times that they came on suddenly and unexpected. It was a life-or-death guessing game. Russian roulette… with an unknown weapon that had a hair-sensitive trigger. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, something would pull that trigger and I’d be back to square one. At some point the pediatrician said that Kenneth had asthma. Just “asthma”. Did I mention that he was diagnosed with eczema at just three months old? Yeah, so there was that, and now the asthma. Inhalers! Nebulizer! no cold, no wind, no dust, no pets!! asthma? CHECK!

The worst part of any and all of this was watching my son have to deal and adjust. He received shots, syrups, chewables, breathing treatments, inhalers, and steroids. STEROIDS! You know the culprit: prednisone! awful stuff. I mean, an absolute God-send in the way that it targeted his swollen bronchial tubes and allowed him to breathe. but HORRID in the way that it turned him into an emotionally unstable toddler HULK! He was bouncing off walls one minute, crying the next, and anywhere in between at all times. One morning, I had to get him ready for our morning commute. At that time, I just got him dressed and put him in the car. He never woke. But one fine morning, he did wake; and he cried and cried and cried. I knew it was the prednisone taking hold of his emotions. He was inconsolable and it ripped my heart out. So, considering all that he had been through and was going through, I had to decide if I should actually give him the prescribed medicine that he needed to make him better: TO HELP HIM BREATHE. Or I had to watch him struggle with every breath. Whatta crock!

I called the pediatrician and described what happened. Kenneth was prescribed an alternate course of medication that had zero to no effect and nearly had us back at he hospital the next week. Again, I realized the gravity of this drug induced torture upon my child. Kenneth became so disagreeable and defiant. And moments later he would be crying. To make matters worse, I had to leave him at childcare on some days knowing that his heart was broken and that he didn’t feel good. I really don’t know how I kept a job through those years.

During all of these bouts of asthma and eczema flare ups, my son would have allergic reactions to particular foods. At almost 3, he nearly died from exposure to peanuts. And that was the THIRD time that he’d been in anaphylactic shock. I have no idea what was the cause of the first two situations. He would vomit when he ate eggs, wheeze when he ate marshmallows, and all dairy products would descend upon his sinuses and create a constant and steady congestion that would surely lead to urgent care. I missed hours, days, and weeks of work. I spent many nights watching him, holding him, and administering medication at all hours of the night. I was tired for me and exhausted for him.

We have come a long way, but we didn’t do it alone. Kenneth is nine years old now. He is tall for his age, and slender for his size. He destroys a pair of shoes every two months and could eat his weight in pizza and ice cream. He spends his spare moments drawing, reading, chasing Pokemon, and doing those things that classify nine-year olds as exactly that. It took years for us to get to a point where he could just live his life comfortably. I blogged about her some time ago, but his health and well-being is due in part to our pulmonologist. She prescribed a strict regimen of maintenance medication that makes it possible for him to run, jump, and ride bikes without a hospital trip. He still has flare ups and complications now and again, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.

I joke that “I’m and untrained, unlicensed, unrecognized respiratory therapist”. But it’s the God’s honest truth. Kenneth went to camp this past summer — for a whole week! The thought of sending him away gave me anxiety. I had to load his medical history and medication profile into the camp’s online registry. It seemed arduous at first, but I simply sent the prescribed medications in their proper containers with their pharmacy labels and all things went as flawless as if I’d been there myself. His school, our church, and camp are all very considerate and helpful. Our camp liaison returned with kudos from the nurse stating “he was awesome”. He didn’t have any flare ups while camping. 🙂

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Photo courtesy of Forest Home Christian Camp: The Village Summer Camp 2016

I belong to and monitor several support sites: Food Allergy Research and Education, Kids with Food Allergies, and suggest that everyone support and protect their allergy sufferers with awesome products like the ones available at AllerMates.

My twins had shown some food sensitivities in their early days, but luckily it appears they’ve dodged that bullet. They just turned three and we can have them tested to know for sure. While I certainly want to know if they have any allergies and avoid all near-death experiences, I dread the blood drawing and the possible bad news. I’ll credit their mostly organic diet for their improved health. Our household is predominantly organic, and we do our best to avoid those dangerous agribusiness foods like: high fructose corn syrup, food dye, food color, and most preservatives. I am certainly not perfect at any of that, but each effort and experience is worth it to know that my kids won’t glow in the dark next week.

As the title states, I am allergic to allergies. And I mean that. I myself have airborne allergies and what appears to be a sensitivity to shellfish. I also battle a mild case of seasonal eczema. But I consider myself armed and dangerous when it comes to food allergies, asthma, and eczema. I have a wealth of knowledge, a library of pamphlets, and assorted literature, and have spent a MINT on prescriptions, over the counter, and other support products to aid my ailing child(ren). I know my  children’s medical history word-for-word by heart. I have their medical profiles and current medications loaded into my telephone and have established heartfelt personal relationships with their doctors, nurses, and specialists. I hope you’ll do the same should you find yourself in this predicament. You’ll thank me later.

Recognizing Great Writing

 

Literature is amazing and the world is filled with it. The written word – whether handwritten, typed, printed or transported electronically – can consume a reader’s conscious thoughts, redirect their paths, and open their minds to fantasies that are beyond their own imagination. Word by word inventions, recounts, and the sharing of stories, both real and fantastically unreal, fills the halls and shelves of libraries and most of the Internet. There are so many categories and types that there is surely something for everyone. From literary classics to comic blogs, writers carry their readers to a place where only the two exist; the two, of course, being the writer and the reader. Literature is a historic form of expression, communication, and entertainment that, even today, is used for those same purposes, yet has evolved and elevated itself to a level that can hardly be tracked.

With that said, what makes a written work worthy of being read? What makes a classic a classic, or a bestseller a massive crossover success? There are so many qualities to a writer’s work that draw us in, keep us in, and call us prisoner. But what makes that writing stay with us? Could it be the title? Maybe the first page, the last page, or the character list? Is it the plot, the unexpected twist, or the way a particular work of fiction mimics our own lives? Could it be the vocabulary, the wit, or the absurdity?

Some writers write for themselves, others write for their readers. Whomever their audience, writers are capable of producing something grandiose, infectious, effective, and (hopefully) legendary.

Title and cover art work are the fragrant aromatics that catch a reader’s attention, like the wafting smell of just fired fajitas or fresh baked brownies. Void the concept that the reader has a preference for author, genre, or publishing company. While perusing a bookshelf, the title and artwork are the perfume trails that grab our attention, either attracting or offending us as the potential reader. A title can be intriguing, straightforward, or abstract. The reader doesn’t get to discern which until they read the work. Artwork can be explanatory, provocative, or irrelevant. The combination between the two can draw the attention of an unsuspecting reader and lure them into picking up the work, surveying it, and in less than ten seconds deciding whether it’s what they are looking for. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an acceptable and realistic idiom.

Just inside the cover, a writer transforms a reader’s mind with their words. They paint pictures of scenery, situations, and characters by creatively weaving their words throughout hundreds of pages, consuming hours upon hours of a person’s time. There are many items that contribute to the grandiosity and staying power of a piece of literature. Some of the most important categories that separate “great writing” from basic reading material include subject matter, relatability, literary voice, and a formidable vocabulary. As well, a great piece of writing will draw it’s reader in and captivate them quickly and efficiently. Some readers feel that if reading the first page entices them to peek at the last – with that last page inciting questions, wonderings, and wide-eyed bewilderment – then the book is a keeper. Other readers just want to be sucked in. Their desire is for the first few pages and chapters to be so enthralling, their only choice is to make a pot of coffee and read from cover to cover.

Whatever genre, subject, or author fascinates the reader, the relationship that ensues is paramount. Each participant relies on the other, and that is the basic foundation and premise of the author -reader relationship. They need each other. The author needs the reader (even if the reader is the writer) to be open and accepting of their message, and the reader is dependent upon the author to provide them with something that opens their mind and exposes them to something new. One does not exist without the other, and coincidentally, they do not want to exist without the other.

Great writing permeates and pickles the being of its reader, leaving behind the perfume of its characters and scenes. The reader wreaks of literary tone, voice, and phrase. They are often drunk with the heart-wrenching prose designed by their favorite author, only to suffer the most intense and draining book hangover when they’ve read the last paragraph. Neither the reader, nor the writer would have it any other way. And that is just part of what makes it great.
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