2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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missing my sweet gran

my grandmother should have turned eighty-nine today. her name is Arlena. i know that the word “should” sounds a bit harsh and implies overwhelming selfishness, but if it had been up to me she would have outlived me and my children. i know in my heart, that the eighty-two years she spent here was more than enough for her and that she longed to be with those that she loved but had passed on before her. including all of her siblings and her only son, my father.

brunch at the mission inn for my twenty-somethingth birthday.

gertrude and i; brunching at the mission inn for my twenty-somethingth birthday.

she’s my favorite person. she was born and raised in oklahoma. moved to california in her twenties, married, changed her name and had kids. she is still Arlena to many people, but i called her gran, or gertrude. i grew up with her. she raised me and taught me a sizable amount of what i know and everything you can’t learn in school. she was always eager to share and maintained an honorable quest for new knowledge. occasionally she would ask me a question, with a hint of mischief in her eye. when i would respond with my answer, she would say “that’s right, but you didn’t think i knowed that didya?” she was a hoot!

me and my gran! shortly after she got legal custody of me. i think i twas about 8, which made her 58. doesn't she look sweet?

me and my gran! shortly after she got legal custody of me.
i think i was about 8, which made her 58. doesn’t she look sweet?

Arlena wasn’t just my grandmother. from the age of seven to almost thirty-two (when i became a mother), she was my world: my hero, my father, mother, sister and best friend. she took care of me, provided for me and filled in the gaps as best she could. wherever there was lacking, my gramma spackled in love. she had an abundance of love. her cup overflowed with unconditional heartwarming, bear-hug type love.

she was a sweet girl full of country charm, southern sass and good ole fashioned etiquette. to me, she was the queen. her siblings called her “Brat”, as she was the youngest of five, born and raised in ardmore, oklahoma!

she said she was about fourteen in this picture. she manicured her own eyebrows with a straight razor! :/

she said she was about fourteen in this picture. she manicured her own eyebrows with a straight razor! :/

she had a sixth grade education, but stands alone as one of the most intelligent people i’ve ever known. she was a jack of all trades, with book knowledge, street knowledge, and the knowledge of experience. she was kind, generous and genuine. there was nothing fake about her and you knew when you met her. i have many friends extending as far back as elementary school that continue to ask about her. the mothers and fathers of those friends attended her funeral and shared their heartfelt love and admiration for her. when people ask about her, i always lead with “she was the best”. she really was.

free from oklahoma! fresh to california. all of twenty years old. and gorgeous (third face from the left).

free from oklahoma! fresh to california.
all of twenty years old. and gorgeous (second face from the left).

below is a photo that i think epitomizes my grandmother’s persona. from left to right is her sister Arlevia, her mother Annie Pearl, her eldest sister Ardailure and her. the front row is husbands, but i can’t remember one of the names, i don’t know who the other guy is and my grandfather is missing from this photo. but i don’t think i need to tell you the difference. which one of these women is not like the others? three old maids grimmacing in house dresses standing next to my smiling glamorous strapless choker wearing sunglassed hottie of a gramma!

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duck, duck, duck, swan.

when the bestie and i were just lil bits, my gramma and shannon’s nanny (from arkansas) used to cure and trade salt pork. do you know what that is? it’s a huge chunk of bacon-like pork with a god-awful ratio of fat to lean on it used to season foods. particularly beans and greens. my gramma used to buy it and put it on the top shelf of the pantry on top of the holiday china. she would leave it there until the white fat turned yellowy translucent. and then she would send it with me to give to shannon’s gramma. seriously. i mean, can you imagine? it used to make me shudder, but they would send them back and forth and be pleased as punch to receive.

during the years that we lived across from shannon’s family, my grandmother owned and operated a group home for developmentally disabled men. i believe she cared for more than a dozen men over thirty years. these gentle souls were once referred to as “retarded” or “slow”. for me, they were friends; the minds of children locked in the bodies of middle-aged men. she cooked and cleaned for and the same five “guys” for most of the life i knew with her. i don’t know where she developed the patience to raise her own children, care for handicapped children that weren’t hers and then love and care for me, before retiring and caring for preschoolers in the local head start system. i can’t say that i know anyone as compassionate as her. it takes a big heart to care for others, especially children, and children with disabilities. she did it all with a smile on her face. i don’t recall hearing any complaints about any of it. not once.

she was also a diehard dodger fan! the woman bled dodger blue! she was a baseball fan, but more of a dodger fan. and she looooooooved Vin Scully. she proclaimed that he was the best sports announcer to ever hold a microphone. she would watch the game on tv, but listen to Vin Scully on the radio. she could not stand to hear another voice pretending to know what they were talking about. through the Special Olympics program associated with her group home, we actually met several dodger players. they came to SBVC and signed a baseball that i cannot find. the players included Mike Scioscia, Mike Anderson and Orel Hershiser. tragic? I KNOW!!! in the last few years before she passed, she would call my friend Alfonso for baseball game information. her eyes were pretty bad and she didn’t have an understanding of the directv channel guide to surf through and find what she was looking for. she would call me to call him, and one time i just said “call him, gran”. so she did. later, he told me how he enjoyed receiving those calls. he said that he looked forward to hearing her voice and in knowing that he’d made her happy.

not a day goes by that i don’t think of her. she passed away (i really hate that phrase) seven years ago, on her eighty-second birthday. she had been ailing for some years. a horrid concoction of long-term hyper-tension, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. but what a marvelous eighty-two years it was! i was a part of her life for thirty-one years and i cherish everyday. my memories of her are abundant, thoughtful and often hilarious. again, i tell ya, she was a hoot. she could always make me smile. she’d been on hospice care for over year at home before we were no longer able to care for her. she was admitted to a hospice facility, and passed away just a couple months later. she was planning a thanksgiving feast.

it took a few years before my aunt and i were able to try and enjoy the thanksgiving holiday. with gran making plans to cook and needing our assistance, we were broken-hearted to say the least. thanksgiving had been a big deal in my younger years. over the years it had dwindled down to just the three of us and cooking a turkey day feast was a serious project that my gran just didn’t have the stamina for. she was excited and energetic about that upcoming thanksgiving. we’d discussed the menu and i was sent out to the garage and far reaches of the house to find miscellaneous pots and pans. old, antique, well-seasoned pots and pans that are part of the family. she’d even asked me to polish the silver (i’m rolling my eyes STILL at that undertaking).

in the last three years or so, my aunt and i have made our own thanksgiving. i don’t think we are “family ready” just yet. we enjoy the shopping and cooking, but it’s such an emotional event. last year i attempted my gramma’s sage-cornbread dressing (stuffing) and it brought tears to my eyes. i have no recipe to go by, so the secret lies within my nose and eyes. i’m looking for a particular texture, color and smell. i did pretty good. the peach cobbler was one level shy of gertrude-tacular, as well as the sweet potato pie. oh how i miss that woman!

she knew that i was pregnant but didn’t make it to see my sweet boy come into the world. i was five months pregnant with kenneth when she died. i desperately wanted them to meet. i could see the photo opp in my head of my sweet gran holding my sweet baby boy. my son named after her son. i’d hoped to share with her the joys and frustrations of my motherhood so she could laugh and heal me with her wise words. and now that i’m bringing the twins into the world, i just can’t imagine what she would say about my shape and size. i would love to hear it though.

while this post may seem somber, i am not as sad this day as i have been on this date in the past seven years. i miss my grandmother dearly, but i feel her love and guidance running through my veins daily. i wouldn’t be who i am without her. she taught me the most quintessential things that make me exactly who i am supposed to be. i cherish the memories of her, the stories she shared and the things she taught me. i wrote about her today to honor her existence in this world, in my life. i wrote about her to share with you the most amazing person i’ve ever known. and in the interest of not completely bumming you out, i will leave you with this:

me: gran, don’t you want a friend or a boyfriend type person? someone to go to lunch or the movies with?

gran: no.

me: why not?

gran: honey, i already get headaches, i don’t need one with a name.

on another occasion, i asked the same question and her answer was:

sweetheart, if i’m going to babysit, i want to get paid. you don’t get paid to babysit grown men at the movies.

BAM! it don’t get much more honest and southern than that! she was a hoot!

miracles of maternity

“a miracle”, “a blessing”, “how wonderful”, “so beautiful”, “you’re glowing”, “you carry it well!, “AMAZING!”

these are some of the top phrases heard by most pregnant woman. each and every statement is true. even the most uncomfortable, miserable, painful and trying pregnancy is still a miracle. a God given, (yet man made) miracle. even the woman who is sick all day, on bed rest, completely uncomfortable in her body, unable to eat or rest and appears to be all of these things — still carries a glow signaling the phenomenal goings on inside her. a woman’s body is made to receive, grow, birth and nurture children. the human body itself is insanely complicated, but the inner workings of a woman’s intricate birthing center are remarkable. pregnancy is astounding.

this week, i am thirty-four weeks pregnant with twins. one boy and one girl. Miles Raymond and Margo Rae. two unexpected, spontaneously conceived blessings. i’m a lucky girl. I AM BLESSED. i have endured far more (emotionally and relationally) during this relationship and this pregnancy than with any other relationship or pregnancy previous. but I cannot look at the ultrasound, hear the heartbeats, see the profiles, faces, and limbs and not feel completely loved and in love. whatever come what may, no matter the hardships and difficulties that the future holds; the blessing of twins is miraculous. i am in complete acceptance of this gift, and i’m grateful.

it is almost five a.m. and i’ve just been awakened by the crushing of my bladder. who can say if it’s stomping, jabbing, or just pushing. either way, there is additional pressure alongside the already full bladder pressure. this is somewhere close to the twentieth time i’ve gone to the bathroom in the last twenty-four hours. it’s an hourly trip made whether i’ve got a full tank or a solitary drop. to me, it all feels the same and carries the same urgency.

as i return to bed and settle into my far too familiar left-side-leg-propped-up-pillow-hugging position, my swollen belly starts to dance. the little people that live in there are awake and active. this will go on for another hour. their motions are sometimes abrupt, sometimes mild but always alien. my stomach jerks and pulsates out of my control. often times I giggle, but other times i squirm and grimace at the shape of my fetal apartment. i am hostage to their whims. my physical person is their home. i have tenants.

so far i’ve gained a little more than thirty pounds. i’ve outgrown my clothes, my first round of maternity clothes and my brazierre (an item that has not changed for more than TWENTY YEARS). i am the girl who ate a watermelon seed or swallowed a basketball beach ball. the thirty pounds appears only in my distended belly and according to spectators, i don’t “look pregnant from the back”. this is a compliment, i’m sure. ;D the rest of my body remains the same as it was thirty five weeks ago…

it is hard to see and feel the movement of a fetus and not be in shock. while contained within me, these two separate people are living their own lives. this isn’t to say that they don’t need me, only to point out that i hold them within but they do what they want. i am their life force. i provide the environment in which they will come to fruition, but they are essentially leeching nutrition from my being and energy from my soul. i am their guide to the universe. through me, they have their first everything. they are nestled amongst my relocated internal organs and are the sole disruption to my altered digestion. still, i cannot control their kicks, turns or hiccups. i belong to them much more than they belong to me.

it is in these times of quiet that i find myself most in awe. i share in the laughter and answer the questions of those around me when they marvel at my size, my shape, my glow. but as i lay here silently delaying my thirty eighth trip to the bathroom — i revel in the reality. what a wondrous time. they are dependent, yet fiercely independent.

ten months, forty weeks, or two hundred eighty days. during that time two microorganisms come together and create a life!! from invisible to visible, and on to touchable, holdable, hug and kissable. from the merging of cells comes the emergence of life. out of complete stillness comes a beating heart, breathing lungs, and blinking eyes. from pulsing blood and combinant DNA comes brain matter — that absorbs, transforms and consumes all it comes in contact with. the forming, growing and birthing of a child is a technology beyond all others. more advanced than any item of invention.

even the technological advancements that have allowed me to actually see the faces of my unborn children doesn’t compare to the fact that they are there. they are alive and everyday they become more alive, more aware, more beautiful, more prepared to tackle the world outside my body. and i will miss them so. as exciting as it will be to enjoy them with all of my senses, i will miss their presence within me.

perhaps this is also what makes pregnancy such an amazing journey. everyday that i am with child, my body morphs and changes to accommodate what is going on in my womb. the anticipation builds ever so slowly as does my size. my weight, moods, emotions, hormones and memory fluctuate in accordance with what my body needs. and i haven’t an inkling of control over any of it. a complete hostage, right down to my taste buds. something that i used to love may only bring disinterest or even nausea. and things i might not have ever liked seem appetizing. i am me, always, but now i’m a different me. forever changed.

i have turned the corner and moved from relatively comfortable to barely comfortable. my shape is awkward and “comical”. it takes time for me to move, as my center of gravity is shifted, my back and stomach are extended beyond their means and this makes me downright clumsy. all of my habits are modified. it won’t be long before i am unable to sit at work for nine hours. and soon thereafter i’ll be a mother, for the second and third time.

hopefully my sweet angel baby Little Miss Margo performs a miraculous acrobatic feat and turns her whole body around. as of two weeks ago, she was breech and blocking the door, while her smaller brother My Main Man Mr. Miles is smooshed into my rib cage. at least he is headed for the exit. either way, my doctor won’t let me go past thirty eight weeks (apparently every day past that can present complications for multiple births). that’s just a month from now. four weeks. in four weeks everything I’ve just written will seem like a dream — a vanishing memory that set in motion a new chapter in my life, my love, and my parenting. my heart is swollen with excitement, anticipation, anxiety, fear and urgency. before me lies the double edged sword of no longer being pregnant, but having to nurse TWO babies at the SAME time (say whaaaaat?). i long to see them, kiss their little faces and nuzzle with them in all ways. it will be nice to see what they actually look like and whom they resemble. but sadly, it marks the end of my pregnancy. don’t get me wrong, i don’t want to be pregnant forever (i’ve pretty much had my fill) — but i will certainly miss my little uterine terrorists. ;D

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allergies, asthma, and aha’s

i was close to twenty years old, living in Hawaii and JUST found out that i had allergies. nothing severe, but enough to make springtime in the island of aloha slightly more annoying than beautiful. for the first time ever, i discovered MY sinus, where it was located and that it was the source of a great deal of distress. dis-STRESS! and it was another ten years before i experienced my first asthma attack. again, nothing major. it came with a bout of bronchitis that had me down for a week. i may have used my aunts inhaler a few times over the next two days. in the long run, it seems i was lucky.

that luck has come in pretty handy when dealing with the one and only SuperBoy! being the parent of a child with allergies is rough business. i am unable to imagine how i could be helpful to him if i didn’t have firsthand experience. that’s not to say that those without allergies or asthma are of no assistance, just that it provides a level of “comfort in knowledge” for he and i. i have more comfort asking him about his pains and ailments and am more able to help him define the specifics of what’s going on.

while mild for me, allergies and asthma are very serious where SuperBoy is concerned. he has been in anaphylactic shock three times, hospitalized on three occasions for other allergy related ailments, and spent the better part of his six years being triaged, diagnosed and treated in emergency rooms, urgent care centers and doctors offices. i have spent his college fund and any vacation monies on prescription and over-the-counter medications. this is, in fact, why i call him SuperBoy. he’s a trooper. he takes it all in stride and embraces the reality of his condition. he doesn’t resist much (‘cept SHOTS) and is quite charming, as always.

today, SuperBoy saw a pulmonologist! a certified professional assessor of breathing (and asthma and allergies as they pertain). she is an amazing doctor who started our visit with a quick handshake and an immediate verbal interaction with my son. he was a bit bashful today and so we moved quickly into the “getting to know you” phase. she simply stated “i see he has a strong history, tell me all about it, I’M HERE FOR YOU NOW“. and that, my friends is what’s known as bedside manner! needless to say, she had the obvious knowledge and experience of someone who’s been helping children breathe and improving their quality of life for as long as i’ve been breathing and alive. her words brought me an instant feeling of compassion and understanding. she’d read his history (as requested of me with the intake paperwork) but exhibited a real interest in the QUALITY of my son’s life.

i led her through the milestones and major events of SuperBoy’s amazing existence. all the while she took notes but rarely took her eyes off of us. she asked what she wanted to know but already knew the answers. she kept her eye on him and soon asked him join her at the examination table. still bashful, he resisted, but she appealed to his gentlemanliness with requests for assistance in opening some drawers that doubled as steps. SuperBoy can’t resist a damsel in distress! she examined him and listened thoroughly to his breathing (remember? he had bronchitis two weeks ago, and the stomach flu last week). she spoke briefly with a young resident (medical school intern student person along for the ride) and returned to the chair next to me. again, she floored me with her understanding of us (i paraphrase):

he’s a good boy. handsome obviously, and smart. his lungs sound good. clear. he has been fortunate, he’s had some good doctors, BUT HE HAS A GOOD MOM. the doctors have guided you along the way, as they should, but you’ve done a good job making the right choices for him and you. my job is only to assist you further in maintaining a good quality of life for him in which he can be a child, be a boy, play and do sports and you’re both comfortable. we need to change a few medications and tweak a few things and it will all go smoothly. we will test his allergies and find out where he stands and keep an eye on everything. tests can only tell us this or that. but what you see with your eyes and what you know is what is true. what you experience is what is true. ok mom, let’s go over his medicine.

a weight was lifted. a weight i’ve been carrying for almost six years. you can never hear “you’re a good mom” enough. i believe the words but have doubts, as i think most parents do. i’ve been told by family, friends, coworkers and other doctors, but this time it really soothed my soul. i’ve spent so much time and energy worrying about my choices to limit certain foods and activities. questioning my own judgement calls. this lady is a doctor of breathing! and she gave me kudos for keeping my son breathing. it was the best pat on the back i’ve received in a looooooong time.

after changing pounds to kilograms, she tweaked his prescriptions, gave me a list of medicines to swap out, requested a phone book sized list of tests, showed me a short video and had her nurse demonstrate a few things, we were on our way. before leaving, i was given the option to request any additional foods to test for allergies. an option? for me??? i’ve been waiting for this!! for three long years!!! to pick and suggest things that iiiiiiiiiii think could be affecting him. happy happy! joy joy!!

perhaps (at this point) you’re (a little) unaware that this may possibly have been the best doctors appointment for me where my sons allergies and asthma are concerned. THE. BEST. after almost six years of battling allergies and asthma, after three long years of dealing with food allergies and reactions, after years of colds turned bronchitis within hours, years of missing school and work and fun — we have someone telling us that not only could it not have been avoided, but that we have been doing the right things all along. HALLELUJAH! she requested a follow-up visit in three months to assess her assessment.

being sick can be hard. having asthma and allergies is harder. and caring for yourself during those times is nothing less than excruciating. caring for a child who is sick because of asthma, allergies and food allergies is one of the most painful things a parent can endure. it’s a sit and wait type deal. you have to watch everything they eat and come in contact with, while trying to keep them as normal as possible. you have to teach them how to protect themselves and deny themselves yummy treats if you’re not there to examine and approve said yumminess. and if something does happen, you do what you’ve been trained to do and then you have to wait. wait for the reaction, wait for the medication to set in, wait for the breathing treatment to work. wait wait wait. all while involved in a life or death situation.

as the parent of a child with life threatening allergic reactions…. you worry, you question and you fear the worst, everyday. you arm your little one with emergency medications, information, phone numbers and the like. and still, you worry. if you’re lucky, you get a doctor who can explain it to you in a way that makes you comfortable, yet informed and prepared. if you’re luckier, you get a doctor who says “don’t worry, you’ve been doing it right all along”. this was that doctor for me and this was that day.

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my first, my little man, my SuperBoy.

kickin’ it in the kitchen

we must have been eight or nine years old when we started spending our quiet time in the kitchen. i would be staying the night at the bestie’s. we would be played, dinnered, bathed and ready for bed. but something always kept us from bed: the giggles. my gran would say that our giggle boxes got “turned over” and she was right. whenever the lights would go out, no matter where we were, we would burst into laughter… the two of us. it was best at nanny’s house. she would let us laugh and talk into the wee hours of the night, always sayin’ “i don’t know what’s got you two girls so tickled”. truth be told, we didn’t know either. something about being in the dark with your bestie is hilarious to your soul. you don’t think so? give it a try. serious. right now, this weekend… invite your bestie over, sleep in the same bed and see if you can possibly resist the urge to burst into tears with laughter over you don’t know exactly what… see?… i told you.

there are things that are funny to us as individuals, and some that are funny on the whole…  but it is only special things, ‘very’ special things that are funny to us.. the “us” being you and your best friend. now, i don’t know how you and your best friend interact, but me and mine? … well, we share almost everything. so, when it comes down to the little things that make us laugh, they are plenty. and we share. we share all of them, so the laughing is fruitful and intense. sometimes including tears, snorting and arm flapping (like a wounded sea otter).  sometimes there is laughter over something, and sometimes over nothing. sometimes we try to share but forget along the way and end up laughing over a nothing that was supposed to be a something. or vice versa.

after thirty plus years of friendship, i would have to say that our inside jokes are deep. not deep like cosmically, but deep in the fact that they refer to something from long ago. not something from last week or last month, but something from years ago that only she and i know about. those “inside jokes” are not meant to be exclusive or instigatory, just historical. we have history. we have laughs that have stood the test of time. there are some things that cannot escape us without a soul-shaking guffaw, and there are others that pass without being noticed. it is the guffaws that i cherish and revel in. it is the guffaws that make the private time so healing. we forget about the world, the problems, the finances and whatever else — and we deal with us, right then, right there.

with that said, our quiet time, our funniest times started in the kitchen. we would have already gone to bed, lights out, giggles on, giggles off and then we would get up and sneak into the kitchen for a snack. there has been a rolling butcher block island since i can remember. when we were ten years old or so, we would sit on the kitchen counters with our feet on the butcher block. there were always snacks left out: the evening’s baked goods, fresh fruit, experiments, gifts or whatever. the kitchen counter always had something to offer. we would often sit with the refrigerator open, for the light, and giggle our way through the next hour or so. what was so funny, you ask? i don’t know. i couldn’t possibly tell you. you’d get a better response from a pair of eleven year old girls than me. but it’s those moments that have bonded us for all of time.

you know her name by now, right? the bestie? it’s shannon.  we’re going on thirty five years soon.  that’s a lot of years to know a person. we grew into, out of and back into each other. we shared everything as children, fought over principles and points of view as teens and have been inseparable as adults and mothers. we need each other. our kids need each other. we have never denied ourselves and we will not deny our kids. we’re family. and even though blood is “thicker than water”, it’s our water that we cherish so much. i love my bestie. i really do.

as adults, our silliness has had to diversify. we cannot stay up until all hours, we cannot stay out all night and most importantly — we have to share what is making us laugh. our kids are interactive. they love and hate each other as well. they get along and want to kill each other as often as we let them get together. and just as expected, they will hold onto each other for dear life rather than be separated. the three of them are of different ages and stages. they need different levels of stimulus and this can result in a social meltdown if not treated properly. the middle ground is the key: not too advanced and not to simple…. but teamwork is required.

i struggle to keep the kids in line. i beg and barter and still have to ask for more. the bestie, well, she’s a teacher. whippin’ kids into line is more of a job skill than it is a special skill. she’s better at it than i am, but since it’s part of her daily routine, we tend to share the responsibility of keeping everyone injury-free. no one wants to do what they do for a living and then have to come home and do it more.

almost everything that we do has something to do with the kitchen. cook in it, eat in it, pass through it… whatever. the kitchen is our hot spot — our homestead.

dear friends… i drafted this post more than a year ago and what a difference a day makes, huh? i’d be remiss not to tell you that shattering events have all but dissolved this loving friendship. 😦 i remain broken hearted over it, wishing that we could have worked it through, came to a common ground and moved on. but that’s not the way it is. it’s been almost a whole year since i’ve seen and shared with my bestie and her kidlets. all of our birthdays have come and pass without a gathering, hugging, sharing, cupcaking, brownie-baking good time. our lifelong friendship is severely wounded and appears to be dying. or most likely — is already dead. there was even character slander and name-calling. i’m so ashamed. i’ll never give in though. i will always be here for her, for them. if you can, fans and friends, never give up on someone. there may be anger, hatred, disappointment, betrayal, lies, fears, compromises and much more, but love conquers all (if you let it). why post the post, you ask? because nothing changes the past. not the now and certainly not the later. back then, we were “we”. now, we are “she” and “me”. things have changed in the present and perhaps for the future. but the past is where the memories are and these are some of my favorites.

to my bestie, her family, her kidlets — to her any and everything: i love you all dearly, and miss you even more. things haven’t been the same without you, without us. should you need or want me, i’m still right here. i cannot change what has happened, where things have gone awry, how we’ve changed or what’s separated us. i can only say that life is not the same without you and i never thought i would know this. we will never get back what we had, but we can always start anew.

~ forever your bestie!

wanted: experienced parent

parenting is a job. no, i’m serious, a J-O-B. it’s no wonder that it’s not listed in the local paper or employment website. the “job description” would frighten even the most confident applicant and cause the weak to piddle themselves where they stand. who, in their right mind, would volunteer for round the clock body fluid cleanup? or unlicensed, never paid, nurse/therapist/doctor/best friend? perhaps that is where the magic lies. in the fact that we only have an inkling of what it takes to be a parent and the true test and real reward come with the learning. so we do the deed, sew the seed and parents we become. or so we hope.

it’s 5am where i reside and i’ve slept only a percentage of what a normal person should. most days (as of late) i would have slept all of those lovely “doctor recommended” hours and would be on the verge of waking to start my day. but, my son currently has bronchitis. he’s coughing, sneezing, wheezing, barfing, whining, writhing, sleeping intermittently and highly feverish. did i mention he’s barfing, vomiting, and throwing up?

in the last twenty-four hours he’s returned everything that he’s eaten, missed school, been to the doctor, and slept like an infant. he’s coughing like a thirty year smoker and just exhausted. at six years old, his tiny man frame cannot handle the force of continually coughing, wheezing and sneezing…so, he’s just pooped out. and without food in his system he is unable to retain his harsh medications so we are in a “break the fever” and “try to get antibiotics into him” limbo. it stinks.

at almost thirty weeks pregnant, carrying thirty extra pounds, i too am pooped. for the last two months we’ve religiously gone to bed about nine and i lazily get up after five to start our day. i think i slept from one to two, and then again from three to four. all the while reaching for him to check for fever. a little after four, SuperBoy woke me requesting water. and soon after “some food”. (hallelujah!)

after giving him some water and having a short discussion on what causes an itchy throat and a noisy tummy we settle on a snack of white rice (in an attempt to keep the body fluid cleaning persona of parenting at bay). after slowly gathering my faculties and balance (a thirty pound belly fulla twin babies makes a gal a little clumsy), i retrieved the rice, more water, the antibiotics, ibuprofen and a napkin. once he was all set, he asked me if he could watch tv. on any given day of the week, he would not be awake at this time, but he’s slept more than he’s done anything else and i know he’s feeling better, and hungry. both are good things and I cannot protest. he looks at me sweetly, with dark circles around his eyes, a grain of rice stuck to his lip and while donning the cutest smile he says “you can lay down, i’ll turn the tv down, i know you’re tired” and he grins again. instantly i became verklempt.

verklmept

SNL verklempt

that. that right there is what it’s all about. that is what makes every other moment worthwhile. the fluid cleaning, pseudo-chef and unpaid unlicensed respiratory therapist that reside within me cheered and high-fived because even the mind of a sweet but sick little boy can recognize my efforts. if you’d explained on the parenting job description that my payment would come in the form of foggy-eyed smiles and the tired but genuine hugs of a tiny man, i’d tell you to take your job and shove it. but in this moment, i couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying payment.

you’re not a parent because you’ve submitted DNA or given your name. pushing a stroller, holding a baby or changing a diaper does not a parent make. parenting comes with the sacrifice. in fact, it is synonymous with sacrifice. parenting is the relentlessness that it takes from an adult to make a child happy and healthy. a parent isn’t born because a child is born. a parent is born when an adult puts a child before themselves. when the adult, after having no sleep, not brushing their teeth, showering, or changing their clothes can drag themselves out of the house with a worse-than-bedhead look and get more juice. a parent is born when you forget about yourself and focus only on the child. sadly, parenting and child bearing don’t actually have anything to do with each other — even though they are directly related (thehellyousay?).

some parents are better than others. some parents have more than others. some people had great parents and role models and became awesome parents and role models. some awesome parents are born from horrible people that shouldn’t be allowed to monitor houseplants, but they change their everything for their little ones. some people are well studied and some seem lucky. some people beg for parenthood and never get the chance. some people don’t want it but are blessed with it, repeatedly. It doesn’t matter how you became a parent. what matters is that you take the job seriously. children are persistent in all things. all things. and they need their parents, guardians, monitors, and providers to be just as persistent — and then some. parenting is for the wholehearted. it’s for the givers, the doers, the encouragers, and good listeners. parenting is not for the weak. it’s for the open minded, willing to learn, compassionate, young-at-heart who don’t have time to think about themselves, because their only aspiration in life is to nurture their child.

the rewards of parenting are not instantaneous or consistent. they are not guaranteed or even measurable. the rewards of parenting can only be felt in your heart — when your baby shows you how your hard work has been absorbed and appreciated. the biggest reward comes from watching your little one become a happy successful person and the look they give you to tell you they couldn’t have done it without you. the reward for parenting doesn’t come from the community, the classroom or the PTA. it can’t be handed to you, gifted to you, ordered or purchased. the real reward comes from your child, the child you care for, provide for, mentor or foster. it’s immeasurable but invaluable. more often than not, you won’t see it coming and that too is it’s beauty. the love, the respect, the appreciation for what you’ve done for that child will knock you flat on your ass, and it is in THAT moment that a parent is born.

let me plainly state, as well, that successful parenting is relative and situational. we don’t all have the same background, aspirations, resources, goals or passions. it is up to YOU (and to ME) to feel and appreciate the success we achieve as parents. we cannot look to another to validate this and we cannot succumb to the criticisms of others. only you know your struggle. only your kids know your parental love. that is a dynamic exclusive to you and yours and no one can take that from you.

i’d also like to point out that we are all human. we are not divine, perfect or flawless. we can and we will make mistakes. learning from them is all that we can do. mistakes in parenting are as constant and consistent as the doubt, love, frustration and satisfaction. it must all be taken in stride. after all, parenting is a lifelong career choice. it is not for a limited time or even for “eighteen years”. loving and caring for your child will extend beyond your imagination. from the first audible flutter of their tiny heartbeat to the day that you draw your last breath — your child, your children, your babies will be evermore the focus of your life. their happiness, pain, fun, love, dreams and desires become your own and you will exhaust yourself time and again doing whatever you can, as hard as you can, for as long as you can to guide, advise and help them. they are parts of you that live independently outside of you and you will forever-ever-ever be in awe of them.

children change you. they change your life, your views, your plans, your thoughts, feelings, and time schedule. they take over your heart and your mind and you go from being your own person to being theirs. you are their everything…but not half as much as they are yours. there won’t be a millisecond in time that you are not consumed with them from every angle, and it is in those moments — when you find the reward: the indescribable and overwhelming sense of love and pride in knowing that you “made that”!

as always, i can only tell you my experiences and share my thoughts. i welcome yours. i sought help with this post through my Facebook world and my friend JBRN shared the written advertisement below. he advised that this was not his own creation but one that he treasured and my prompt allowed him a timely opportunity for sharing. it’s quite ideal. please enjoy. don’t forget to comment, like and share! 🙂

  • POSITION: Mom, Mama, Mother (we know it’s not just moms though)
  • JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.
  • RESPONSIBILITIES: For the rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.
    Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
    POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT AND PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

    • Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
    • Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
    • Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
    • Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
    • Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
    • Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
    • Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
  • PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required, unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.
  • WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.
  • BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for
    life if you play your cards right.

p.s. call your mother and say something nice.

the value of your vocabulary

words have meaning. they have value. they are a commodity, an investment… and for some, an asset. you can trade them, save them, or collect them. you can share them, throw them and overuse them. they can uplift and destroy. words can transcend “space and time” causing us to reflect.. and to dream. it is WHAT you say and it is HOW you say it. but what is IT, exactly? that gives a word it’s value?? can a word gain literary weight?? how do they become obsolete or empty?

words and language are truly a gift from God. my research led me to the Linguisitic Society of America who states there are approximately 6,909 catalogued languages. does that boggle your mind? i can’t even find a clear explanation on the known count of WORDS in each of those languages. but i suspect that number is mind-boggling — squared by infinity. the assimilation of language is nothing shy of a miracle. by six months old, most children have an understanding of about six hundred words. they learn those words from the environment: household, childcare, school, social and family interactions. and again i ask, where does the vaaalue of those words come from?

the meaning and understanding of vocabulary is paramount to self expression and productive communication. both of which are required to be a functioning member of society. we don’t all use words to express ourselves, but it is an understanding of the word (or a word) that brings about a feeling or emotion that can be presented or represented through alternate media. for instance, “pictures say a thousand words” (or more). think of one of your favorite photos. what does it say to you? can you even describe it? it’s the trying — the putting together of the words and the gestures, expressions and tones that provides others with your feeling. your sentiment. and, sometimes… there just aren’t enough words to describe something. none of the words are right. they don’t .. quite.. fit. considering the number of languages and the number of words, you would think that there would be room to express what you think, see and feel. but alas, some feelings are beyond our comprehension and understanding and therefore — outside of our ability to explain them.

i think our words take on meaning and value when we relate to them. and as we grow and learn, their value can shift and mutate. i think a key example in this argument is sarcasm. oh, the beloved sarcasm. the crisp sound of enthusiasm presented against the backdrop of a tone or face doing anything but being enthused. sarcasm is the first to mislead and the first to be offended at miscommunication. it is easy to spot and hard to ignore. do we act on the sarcasm or the implication provided by the sarcasm? how do we know which instance is correct? i’ll tell ya what i think… i think that sarcasm’s influence and understanding is directly related to whom is providing the sarcasm and how well we know or relate to them – directly. someone random could slip you some sarcasm behind a fake smile and phony tone but you wouldn’t even consider taking the same from a close friend.

the same is true for the choice of word and how the word is communicated. no matter what is said, nothing beats face-to-face communication. phone calls are widely accepted because we live in a huge world, and we’re not always in the same place at the same time. now, technology is closing the gap between us and our loved ones. we can do everything shy of actually tasting the dinner that they made for our romantic skype cyber first date pre date date. we can see friends and family and share in events and memories with the blink of an eye. we are closer, and sadly, we are father apart. our mode of communication is phenomenal, but our methods lack personalization and true emotion. even with emoticons 🙂

i’m a “touchy feely” kinda gal. i hug and love all of my friends, their kids, their friends’s kids…:D . i kiss all the babies and pet all the pets. i try to remind my friends, often, of how much i love and appreciate them. but for the life of me, i cannot stand when i say “i love you” and i get back “i luv you”… you what? luv? looovre? you luuuuuuuuuuv me? what’s luuuuuvvv? is that LIKE love, but different?? minor technicality, but one i just can’t respect. all in all i’m ok with slang, acronyms, text jargon, etc., but it is definitely impeding on language and communication. text communication is simple and easy — to me. i, however, still use full words and sentences versus the many shortcuts and abbreviations that can accelerate and amplify any miscommunication.

Einstein

on that same note, i’m a much better writer than speaker and i have been known (accused) of hiding behind my words. i don’t often condemn anyone face-to-face, but i’ll rip you a new one – via text, if you’ve earned it. double standard? yeah, i know. i’m an expressive person. i communicate in many ways and often. i don’t find any one way more suitable than another. i think situations and conversations have to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

sometimes words are better when they’ve had a chance to simmer. writing gives me a chance to think and consider my words, thoughtfully. i can compose a paragraph and implore a feeling in my reader — the receiver. they say actions speak louder than words, but i don’t think that’s always the case. with so many ways to express ourselves, and so many ways to share it… the best proven way to get your point across is to state so. there are far too many words (in the english language) to leave anyone guessing at what you’re saying. all in all, the number of words, languages, feelings, sentiments, and emotions, combined should provide any and everyone with an equally vast array of possibilities to express themselves in a clear and precise manner.

our words needn’t be harsh, brash, profane, loud or abusive to be heard. it is not necessary to use “very” and “love” repeatedly and over-abundantly to express our emotions. for example “very”:

i’m very upset. i’m very hungry. i’m very much in love.

There are actual words, whole individual words, that can express these statements In a more eloquent and sophisticated manner. the same goes for “love”:

i love candy. i love movies. i love you.

this is where the relationship between the giver and receiver really comes into play and this is where i believe words develop their true meaning. a word such as “love” should truly be limited to loving situations. when you state that you “love” everything around you, including inanimate objects, you devalue the word. making it’s true meaning of loving another person very hard to perceive.

how can you looooove me? if you also love toast? do you love me as much as you love toast? do you love me more than toast? do you love anything more than you love me? or toast?

one of my favorite statements about words comes from eminem’s  “Sing for the Moment”:

“But everybody just feels like they can relate
I guess words are a muhfuh, they can be great
Or they can degrade, or even worse, they can teach hate
It’s like these kids hang on every single statement we make”

it is best to “think before you speak”. not just so you don’t offend or hurt, but so that you can fully expressive yourself. ensure that you choose your words and that the words you are using have value — both to you and your receiver. subscribe to a “word a day” from any one of the many sites that will freely enrich your vocabulary. solicit and use a thesaurus to get away from cliche expressions and mundane apathetic quips. if and when you do this, you assure your listener that what you are saying is heartfelt. it’s real and it’s as valuable and worthy as an action. carefully chosen words are one of your most valuable possessions. they live on, so be sure to use them wisely.

oh… one more thing. sometimes (never with me) “less is more”. ;D