Friday, December 23, 2005


There is an Eddie Murphy skit from SNL that keeps ringing through my head. I think he was making fun of Mr. Rogers neighborhood. He's saying "Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord. C-I-L my landlord."

My MIL has decided that she has "too much to do" and isn't coming today, even though she had plans to make bread and buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate) with my two children today. They are disappointed as well as wired and tired. My DH, on the heels of 5 day out-of-town convention that included last weekend, has to work all weekend. Wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't the one who makes the schedule AND he scheduled himself to work last Christmas day too.

The house is a mess, there's baking to be done, gifts to wrap, grocery list to make, dog to wash AND me to bathe. Where's the joy?

C-I-L my family.

At least the Christmas cards are in the mail.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

B4B - My Sunshine, JG

This was a post that was inspired by a post at a couple of weeks ago. I am way past the deadline (and hardly articulate enough to compete) but I wanted to post it anyway. The contest was to write about someone you have chosen to be a part of your family....

She showed up at my door,zucchini bread in hand, shortly after we moved in. Several months later, she was back again to welcome our newest son home from the hospital. It wasn't long before I was at her door holding my offering of soup and condolences for the death of her husband - good southerners always bring food for the grieving.

Those were difficult days for me: new town, new baby, few friends, absent husband, and it was winter. Plus I had a two year old experiencing the same. I was grieving my old life. Multiply that by a thousand and that is what she must have been feeling.

She became a favorite of my 2 year-old. He loved going to visit her and I was so drawn to her, I encouraged frequent visits. I can't even imagine the unbearable pain she carried, her partner gone from this life, but she always welcomed us, no matter what she was doing or feeling. She literally was my sunshine during that first winter, as I was depressed. She offered to keep my son occasionally, but I usually declined as I didn't want to burden her, even though she was the one offering. I couldn't just take her offer at face value, a product of my relationship with my passive mother. My mom would make such gestures out of obligation or pity and then complain about them later. I have spent a lot of my life trying to read between the lines, enabling this behavior.

She later joked with me, that I was afraid to leave my son with her; she knows the truth now. The first time I left my boys with her I attended a mom's get together across town. When I returned, she informed me that she had fed my 7 month old peanut butter and honey, two no-no's before the first birthday. He was fine, but she was so embarrassed that she swore me to secrecy. However, it wasn't long before she was joking about the time she tried to kill my son. I trust her implicitly with my children, despite the murder attempt. She has rescued me, countless times, when I needed child care, not the least of which was a midnight call to watch one son while we took the other to the emergency room. She was at our house within 5 minutes.

Beyond loving and caring for my boys, she has become a dear friend, although I often feel it is one sided - she listening to my less than succinct monologues of religion and spirituality woes, child rearing issues, broken friendships, mother-in-law angst, dealing with death- the list goes on and on. She never fails to really listen, without judgment. She always has so much to offer, especially in acceptance and advice, but she never gives me the impression that she feels burdened to "solve" my problem. It is a gift she has and I have asked her to share it often.

Over the last six years we have enjoyed lots together, just as girlfriends should - pedicures, concerts, lunches, laughs, hikes, games night, etc. It didn't seem like a normal week if I didn't see her several times. We always felt at ease to drop in on one another, unannounced, although I was at her door more often. I would be treated to a beer or glass of wine, while my boys were treated to bubble gum. Sometimes I would bring her dinner, one my family refused to eat, and she would rave about how wonderful it was. I'm not convinced she was that enamored of my cooking skills; she knew how much I needed affirmation.

We moved across town 8 months ago, and we don't see each other as often. We both are busy with our "work". She spends countless hours doing community work but she just added something else to her plate: her first grandchild. Now she is traveling 500 miles one way, to share her love with the babe. Its beautiful to hear the joy in her voice, see the glow on her face, during this stage of her life.

I'm glad she has shared her life and love with us. We are better for it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Meet John Edwards

This weekend we visited some friends in Chapel Hill. My DH had a conference in the area on Friday so I yanked the kids from school and took them with. I thought the Moorehead Planetarium would be a good gig for our Friday education, only when I decided to leave I discovered that my DH had take off with the keys to the van. So we hung out and the kids played with our friends Xbox or something like it. They thought that a better gig anyway, and I was able to catch up with my friend Vanessa.

DH showed up in the late afternoon and we geared up for the neighborhood Christmas Caroling event. I can sing fairly well, so I was looking forward to this. Vanessa put me in charge of the singing. Hardly difficult - we just have to sing a few tunes from this Caroling book.

Our first stop? John Edwards' house. No joke. He is living in this community in CH as he has a position at UNC-CH. The lights were on, and i mean EVERY light, and no one was home. We moved on to the next house, noting as we passed JE's house that his garage doors were even up. Maybe he thought our singing less that desirable?

We didn't care. We had a few drinks on board and we were happy. Oh, wait, that was later. Anyway, we went to the next house and proceeded to sing as we rang the bell. A family trickled to the door to hear our humble tunes. I kept my head down watching the children sing. When I looked up there was John Edwards, smile as big as Texas, joining our caroling, along with his wife and small children. Rock on Senator Edwards. I wish i could call you Vice President.

We finished our diddys and moved on as we sang "We Wish You A Merry Christmas". I soooooo wanted to sing, "We wish you were Vice President. We wish you were Vice President. We wish you were Vice President but Dick Vader is".... Oh, and by the way Mr. Edwards, your wasting eletricity next door.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

1. Chips and sour cream and onion dip.
2. The Apprentice. I'm just waiting for someone to ask the Donald "What the hell are you thinking with that ridiculous comb over?"
3. Naps
4. Seeing my son's friend E get hit by another friend for his smart mouth. I know, I know - this is BAD.
5. Reading ASHVEGAS' lewd comments to other bloggers. OMG!
6. Sam's club. Loved going there, despite my disdain for Walmart. The guilt outweighs the pleasure here, so I haven't been in some time.
7. Massages - only the ones i pay for.

There are more so I'll be back. And Yours?

Monday, November 28, 2005


My just turned six year old likes the song 1985. I'm not sure who sings it but I'm guessing that some day 10 years from now they'll have a segment on VH1's one hit wonder groups. Anyway, it's hilarious to hear his him sing his interpretation of the song.

He sings "Cici, Madonna, way before your mama there was tu tu and Blondie and shu shu shu shu she TV" when actually it's "Springsteen, Madonna, way before Nirvana there was U2 and Blondie and music still on MTV."

He's been asking me what does cici sing? It's Springsteen, i say. Pink Cadillac.

When I was in high school I had a girlfriend who thought Billy Idol's song, Eyes Without A Face, was Hows About A Date? No joke.

Everyone gets the words mixed up on a song at some point in their singing to the radio career. What was yours?

Friday, November 25, 2005


My neighbors were over yesterday for a wonderfully fun Thanksgiving gathering that included 5 adults and seven kids. Near the end of our enchanted evening my neighbor, Trent, diapers and wipes in hand, asked "Where can I change Liv's diaper?".

"Your house", I replied.

Monday, November 21, 2005

At this moment...

Favorite sounds are:
1. Legos being foraged through in the lego drawers; my kids are being quiet and engaging their minds at the same time.
2. The puppy running through the house.
3. My sons' feet as they hit the floor first thing in the morning.
4. My boys telling me "I love you, Mom".
5. My Jack making up songs while he playing.
6. Hearty, uninhibited laughter, especially from children; it's contagious
7. My Graham, practicing the Piano
8. The Dixie Chicks singing "God Speed"
9. Silence

Favorite smells:
1. Fresh cut Christmas tree
2. Hot Apple Cider
3. The summer air just before a thunderstorm
4. Burning wood emanating from a chimney in the winter

Favorite touches:
1. My boys' hands inside mine.
2. Hugs, from anyone i know and love.
3. Back rubs
4. Foot rubs
5. From my DH - but i won't go there.

Favorite tastes:
1. Chocolate Sin from the Chocolate Fetish
2. Open face portobello Mushroom sandwich from The Corner Kitchen
3. Tofu Scramble from The Early Girl Eatery
4. Vegetable Plate (with a biscuit of course) from Tupelo Honey
5. Highland Gaelic Ale, draught of course, from Barleys Taproom

Favorite sights:
1. My children's smiles
2. The trees that line Kimberly Ave during Autumn
3. Old friends at my door
4. Old friends at their door
5. A starry sky on a clear night
6. The blue ridge mountains at sunset

I'm grateful
1. To be alive
2. For my voice, no matter it's lack of articulation
3. For my family
4. For my friends, who have had to endure me droning on about MIL. There is ALWAYS a story!
5. For Asheville. I can't imagine living anywhere else.
6. For my bum. Thanks to tennis it looks pretty good in my jeans:)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

She Brought Flowers

"Congratulations!" my new friend, Karen, said as she handed me a dozen pink roses. She droppng her son at my son's 6th birthday party; I didn't understand. "It's Lili's idea" she said. I was confused. The only Lili, I knew - barely, had died of pancreatic cancer almost two weeks ago. She recognized that I was lost and went on to say that at Lili's memorial service last week (the one that I missed because I was out of town for a team tennis tournament) someone stood up to tell of Lili giving flowers to the mom when she dropped her son at a birthday party. How beautiful, I thought. Her legacy lives on. It brought tears to my eyes. I was celebrating my son's birthday, one that Lili's own son couldn't attend as he was away for an out of town memorial service. It just didn't seem right. But then I moved on. I "stayed in the moment" of the birthday celebration, soaking it all in. Her husband, just weeks ago, had sent out an email encouraging us all to do the same. So I did.

After the memorial service, we (all of us who volunteered to help this family) received this email from a hospice worker:

Dear Tiffiny and Lili's Team,
You all are magnificent! It was very moving to hear your tributes to Lili..and to see your demonstration of love in action. I only got to know her near the very end and once the team had formed, chose to remain in the background and not overwhelm the family with another stranger. When I met her, I was (of course) struck by her enormous eyes and great physical beauty. When I heard you speak of her, I realized what a remarkable spirit she was/is and why so many of you came together to help her and to celebrate her. It is apparent what a shocking loss you are all experiencing and it is also very clear what a gift Lili was to each of you.
Your team moved with such coordinated grace, making sure that all of her needs were met... and that the boys were lovingly cared for throughout this time. You formed a community that nurtured each of you as well as the family. That was apparent during the service on Saturday...your tenderness toward each other is a wonderful legacy. Throughout your lives, you will remember this journey - walking with each other, holding Lili. Even though it was very difficult and painful, you held her through her dark nights and stayed faithful to the end. You have amazing courage and deep abiding love.
I thank you for coming together. It was so inspiring to walk in the room for our first meeting and see 30 people there! You all are GREAT!! You did this as if you have always done it, as if you have always known how to come together as a community to care for one of your own. You have much to teach the world.
If there is ever anything I can do to support you all, please call me.
Thanks for being on the journey with me, too.
Bright blessings,

She was only 34 years old but so many learned so much from her and her illness, including me. I'm grateful our paths crossed, even though ever so briefly. I am better for it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Gouchos and Prairie Skirts and Ruffles, Oh My!

Last night I attended a dinner/auction to benefit a local AIDS organization in town. I always skip these events as the cost of the tickets, babysitter plus buying "something to wear" is prohibitive - to me anyway because I'm cheap. However, some good friends treated us to the event, so I only had to shoulder two out of three expenses.

On Thursday I hit an upscale department store for an outfit. I'm not a fashion Diva by any means. I prefer my jeans, button up shirt and my mules to just about anything else, however somewhere between entering the store and taking my next breath it hit me. Oh Todo, I thought, we're not in Asheville anymore. Gouchos and prairie Skirts and Ruffles, oh my! Gouchos and prairie and Ruffles, OH MY!!

Off to see the Wizard, and quick, before the wicked department store turns me into Laura Ingles Wilder or Grandma.

I decided to wear what was in my closet instead, so I only had to pay for the sitter. Told you I was cheap.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My First Bra

I was 11, in sixth grade, when my mom bought me first bra, a training bra. Why the word training? Not sure, it's not as if wearing a bra could actually cause your body to wake up and say "Hey, there's a bra out there. Time to grow some breasts to fill it!" Believe me, this did NOT happen. As a matter of fact, I was the southeastern president of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee until I had my first child, and then they kicked me out. Mammary madness.

To be sure I didn't need a bra yet but I was at an age where I was trying to shake my tomboy image - I wanted to stop looking like a boy. Yes, I did look like a boy. My mom cut my hair in the same bowl cut she gave my three brothers. I wore mostly Toughskins - remember those from Sears? - and only wore a skirt, not a dress, to church.

I wore that bra right out of the store, like most would only wear a new pair of shoes. Cue Donna Summer because I thought I was hot stuff in my Toughskins and new bra that showed through my cowboy scene t-shirt. My mom and I got into her car at the strip mall. Our next door neighbor walked by with her 14 year old son and my mom got out to speak to them. Here's my chance to be noticed, I thought. I hopped right out and puffed out my chest like a peacock. I don't know why I thought he would notice and even if he did, surely I didn't want him to say, "Hey kid, nice bra", because there were clearly no boobs behind it.

I wore that bra for sixth months straight. It never occurred to me that it should be washed occasionally. Besides, it was evident that my breasts needed more training.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween's Haunt

It was our first Halloween in our "new" home. My neighbors told me to expect 20 or so children. I ran out of my 40 (bags of popcorn) treats within 30 minutes. Luckily, a new(er than me) neighbor came to the rescue with some candy.

My 5 year old almost lost his trick-or-treating privileges, actually he did lose them - for about 15 minutes. He was hitting his older brother and I told him "If it happens again, you will lose your trick-or-treating privileges and I'm not kidding." Didn't take him long to cross that boundary and then he was off to his room yelling and crying. After the crying stopped, I let up, and told him he was just going to miss the first 30 minutes. So he did, with much protest. But finally he relaxed and became a "door man" for the visitors yelling "Popcorn, get your popcorn here". I left him alone on the porch while I finished cleaning the kitchen, still pitching "Popcorn", like he was a baseball stadium vendor. When I returned, I found him telling a couple of kids "only one per family" to which I gently pointed out,"Everyone can have one". No telling how many families he had already rationed. Bet they are thinking,"Great, the new neighbors are cheap." Guess I have him to thank that my treats lasted 30 minutes.

My oldest once lost Easter Egg hunting privileges for hitting his brother. Today my friend, LeeAnne, told me when her daughter was 5, she lost her trick-or-treating privileges for 30 minutes too. It's good to know that I'm not alone here (ie misery loves company). What is it about the Holidays that brings out the worst in (most) kid's behavior?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Honey, Grab the Vacuum, I'm in the Mood!

Last night, I zoned out on a reality TV show, Wife Swap. Sadly it's not the first time. This show, along with the Nanny show make my kids and Husband (and, ah hem, me:)) look like dreams, so I actually enjoy watching them occasionally.

This particular episode had the farm mom from Kentucky swap with the city girl from I don't know where, but it didn't matter, as ABC, no doubt picked a woman who personifies the stereotypical city girl -she dresses hip, parties and has fun. The Kentucky mom was a stereotype too- dowdy, selfless, conservative and boring. I realize the networks are doing all of us girls an injustice by perpetuating these stereotypes, including this southern, liberal, loud, halter top wearing, not so selfless girl. However, I was reading between the lines in this episode, so hear me out.

They portrayed the city girl as a "diva" whose husband did all the chores and the farm girl as the selfless one who worked her bottom off, along with her children, keeping the farm in order while the husband was absent.

Of course, the VERY UPTIGHT farm girl couldn't believe that the city husband did most of the chores and didn't "have control" of his woman. I've got a news flash for you sister: City Husband "Gets More" From Doing Chores. He WAS in control and getting EXACTLY what he wanted: Good lovin.

It's no secret that men who do more household chores "get more" in return. There is scientific proof - somewhere, that says it's true. But me and my girlfriends don't need science; we have our own proof. So boys, grab the toilet brushes and vacuums and get to work. We think it is SOOO sexy.

Good Life

It's a nasty, cold, windy, rainy day here; something we haven't had in quite some time. But it has been so unbelievably gorgeous and warm here that when days like these blow in, it's good to embrace them. Time to get some indoor chores done, ones I just couldn't bring myself to do, not while the Indian Summer was still glowing outside my door.

We are just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and a plethora of hiking choices. Outside of the parkway, there are many other hiking, biking, rafting, camping, festival, museum, craft, music, restaurant (insert your passion here) choices within an hour's drive, if not closer.

Honestly, although I haven't had the opportunity to travel much in my life, I can't believe there is a better place to live. One could make a compelling argument that my opinion is skewed by where I come from. I grew up in a small military town of around 100,000 people, the commerce driven by 19 and 20 year old males. It is anchored by chain restaurants, bars, movie theatres, and a big mall. Nothing wrong with it, if that's what you like. Certainly, there are many, many towns and cities like it across the U.S. But once I tasted the originality of this eclectic town, I knew I was "home".

It's the first place I have lived where being a vegetarian not only is common (and not a side freak show at the circus), but accepted. Many of the (original) restaurants have vegy choices beyond a salad and soup with chicken stock (yes, I have had many people ask of my vegetarian lifestyle "Do you eat chicken?" "No, you bone head, chicken IS meat" - at least that what I said on the inside).

My sons go to the most amazing (to me) public elementary school. There are plenty in town with (those damn) test scores as good (or better) as this school. The draw is way beyond that. There is an palpable energy there that just can't be contrived. The student population is economically and culturally diverse. The school community is deeply involved in the welfare of each child. Most impressive is that students learn by "hands on" experience. Certainly, I would have benefited greatly from learning this way, instead of having my butt in a seat for 6 hours.

Well, it's stopped raining, no chores have been tackled and the puppy is whining (another blog) to get outside. I can file tomorrow (it's been on the list for six months anyway, what's another day?). C'mon Patch, let's go find the sun.

Pocket Treasures

In the past couple of days the temperature here has dipped into the 30's overnight, initiating the clothes exchange in the closet: shorts away, fall is here to stay. Each fall as I make the clothes transition, I discover little forgotten treasures in my various coat pockets. Messages, if you will, from my life six months ago.

I suppose that I am giving my self away, in that I'm not one who washes all my winter wears before "putting them away" for the spring. In this southern mountain town, Spring doesn't grace us with her warmth, at least consitently, until Mid May. By then, though, i just want to soak up the sun, and leave winter, dirty, in the closet.

So far my treasures have been: a pair of sunglasses (hmmm, I lose them so often that I'm sure I didn't miss them long), five dollar bill (woo hoo! I always like a little unexpected cash windfall), candy trash (this must of been from my boys, handing off their trash to me as if I am the trash can), and a receipt from The Early Girl Eatery (favorite lunch spot in town).

What pocket treasures have you discovered this fall?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

School Pictures

About a month ago, I left my children in my DH's capable hands to visit my friend Ann, in Atlanta. The catch? It was during the school week. As I was preparing to leave, I realized that picture day would happen while I was gone. I quickly perused the boy's closets for something suitable to wear. Damn, only t-shirts; exactly what they wear ALL the time. There has to be a nice button down shirt here somewhere, one someone handed down to them, I thought. I gave up. I told, ok asked, my DH to make the 3 minute trip to Steinmart and hit the sale racks for a decent shirt, ignoring that fact that all they wear are Pok-e-mon, Sponge-Bob, and various event/camp/charity t-shirts. There's something about my upbringing that screams "DON'T WEAR A T-SHIRT WITH WRITING FOR YOUR SCHOOL PICTURE"

The pictures arrived recently. I have to hand it to DH. He didn't spend any money on new shirts; he used what was in the closets. Of course, they DESPERATELY needed ironing. The pockets, collars and button holes were ALL turned up, dying for a little water and some heat to tame them.

Oh well. It will be a funny story. Some day, anyway.

Friday, October 14, 2005


My Kindergartener was writing rhyming words last night. (Stop rolling your eyes; this isn't a bragging blog.) DH was doing all the spelling then he would write them down. He first wrote the word "truck" then "stuck", and then (yes you guessed it) *uck. Of course, he didn't get a chance to write that one. DH quickly pointed out "That isn't a word."

Reminded me of the time I took my oldest to his 4 year old well appointment. He was on the floor playing with some legos while his pediatrician asked the typical developmental questions. Can you count to 10, do you know what color this is? I was thinking "Buddy, that's old hat" but instead I said, "G knows how to rhyme. Hey G, what rhymes with door?" Without hesitation, he said "Whore".(Of course he didn't know what it meant, he just added a different beginning sound to "or") Ah, I didn't teach him that, I thought, feeling the blood burning up into my face. I looked up at the pediatrician who smirked and said "I guess I shouldn't ask him about duck then should I?" No sir. Little did I know, that his brother would eventually have that one covered.

Friday, October 07, 2005


I met her about 18 months ago. She came to a neighbor's house to teach our preschool children Spanish. I never spent time chatting with her; I just observed the lesson and then always had to jet off to get my other son from school. She is definitely gifted. The lessons were always engaging and she had a gentle, calm, spirit that kept the children's attention.

When she told us, it literally took my breathe away. She needed to take the summer "off" to focus on her health. Pancreatic cancer. I can still remember the look on her face. That can't be, I thought. She couldn't be more than 30 years old and she has two young kids. It just can't be. But it was.

Pancreatic cancer has no cure. They gave her three months. I wanted to help, but I was paralyzed. Of course, I prayed but it didn't seem enough. I wanted to call her, but I didn't want to be intrusive. After all, I didn't really know her. So, my son and I wrote her. He drew her a picture and I wrote his get well message. I offered "help in any way" but I didn't hear from her. I didn't really expect it, after all she knew less of me than I of her. Since I had her address, I thought of sending money, even showing up at her door, but I didn't. Paralyzed.

My neighbor was persistent in calling her until she was able to speak to her. She spoke of trying alternative therapies, her faith, and that in a way she thought of her illness as "a gift" that brought her family closer. Amazing, I thought. I can't imagine getting to that place, thinking of a terminal illness as a gift. I could only discern that it was faith that brought her there.

Life happens and I let her slip from my mind. It's easy to do as who wants to think of something so tragic? Shortly after Kindergarten started this year, I realized that her son was in my son's class. His teacher said that she wasn't well.I spoke with Jack about remembering her. We played the Spanish tape with her voice on it and then took it into school to share with her son and the class. She has already beaten the "odds" but what consolation is that?

Today I learned that Hospice is now involved. The end must be feared near. I cried. For her. For her children. For her husband. I dried my tears. They came back. I projected her situation into my life and cried, again. I'm not sure why I'm so deeply affected. She's not my friend. But she's my contemporary. A young mom of two small boys, making her mark in this world, never imagining she wouldn't live to see her son graduate from high school, much less Kindergarten. I think about all that she will miss, her kids will miss, with her gone. It's tragic, unfair, frightening and deeply saddening. It sucks.

Today, I also learned of a young mom, a stranger to this woman, who apparently just "showed up on her doorstep" to offer her assistance and she took her up on it. She organized a meeting today of those who want to help. Why couldn't I have done that, I thought? In the beginning I did think about it but I was paralyzed. It would have been awkward, for her and me, to just show up. I should have just checked my insecurities. I'm thankful someone else could and has been able to help. You live and you learn.

I can't help but think that it's Divine intervention that has reconnected our families. We were meant to help; in what way, remains to be seen, but my paralyses abated, I'll be ready to move.


Most parents like to think their children are blessed with intelligence, right? Well this week my two, 5 and 8, demonstrated theirs. My DH told me that the boys didn't have a hand towel in their bathroom, so instead of walking to the linen closet, which is all of 15 feet, to get one, they "made do" with what they had. The path of least resistance? Their clothes? No,their mama raised them better than that! They used the shower curtain. Hey, it's pretty darn close right? What's the difference? I'll tell you. The shower curtain is white,was white. Turns out, washing your hands doesn't guarantee the dirt will come off. Brilliant, kids.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


My friend, Ann, was recently very ill. In intensive care for 10 days. She feel ill as she was about to go on vacation to Holden Beach. We were already there. We had planned our vacation at the same beach, same time, so we could spend time with her and her husband Michael while they were there with her family.

We first met them in Atlanta, 15 years ago. Since moving away 12 years ago, we have been on vacation with them just about every year, if not every. It's one of those rare couples relationships where the chemistry works for all of us. When we are together we always enjoy good food, wine, conversation, but most of all hearty, uninhibited laughter.

Certainly when you move away from one city to a new one, friendships fade. Its just impossible to maintain them all when you are making new ones. But ours with Mike and Ann has grown, deepened. Perhaps it is the distance that makes it work better. There's much to catch up on when you haven't seen each other in many months. We don't really do email or phone calls. It's just better to save it for when we meet. There's always been security in that. We will meet again, it's just a matter of time.

Ann lives with an AVM, a malformation of her brain that can bleed at any time and cause excruciating pain not to mention threaten her existence. She had her first bleed in 1984 just after she met her husband, Michael. In the last year she has had two bleeds, the most recent being this past July.

Three days into our beach trip we got word from Michael that Ann was in intensive care. Michael seemed upbeat and positive about her condition, but there was something that he wasn't saying that bothered me. I hung up and cried. DH encouraged me to leave him there with the kids and fly down to see her. But I couldn't get in touch with Michael until we returned home on Sunday. By this time she had been in the ICU a week. "Don't come" he said. "She's miserable, in a lot of pain, on morphine and really doesn't want to see anyone. Come when she is out of the hospital. She'll have a lot of convalescing to do and she'll need someone to do it with her". Later, when she was home, he sent an email that said,"It was touch and go" while she was in the hospital. I knew there was something he wasn't divulging.

I felt guilty asking my mom to drive the five hours to help with my boys while I went to convalesce with Ann. I wasn't sure I could even be helpful, but I felt like it needed to see her and taking the family with me wouldn't be helpful.

I did help a bit here and there, but in the end, it was me who benefited most. I got to see my dear friend, alive and mostly well. Since she is still recovering, we had to time to catch up. She's different, understandably, and she recognizes it. It's something she will no doubt learn to embrace, you can't live through that kind of trauma without changing. "I thought I was dying" she said, just before I was to leave for home. Heavy, stuff. I didn't know how to respond. It's inconceivable to imagine.

I drove her to her doctor's appointment on my way out of town. As she got out she looked at me, tears in her eyes, "Thank you" she said. "You are like a sister." Since I don't have a sister and she has three, I was a bit stunned and took it as a deep compliment. I've always wanted a sister, but this has to be better- no family baggage.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bloody Katrina

It's not good for, Bush, a man who wears his Christian "ethics and morals" on his sleeve, to have blood on his hands. Again. HELLO? Whatever happened to the basic Christian tenant, Do this "unto the least of these?" Could the man at least have gotten off his vacationing a** to actually do something more than a photo op in LA.?

And now that the WH realizes that their inaction has caused possibly thousands of deaths, what do they do? Admit it and get to work? No, they are shoring up the PR and pushing the blame on state and local governments. C'mon!! Most of the US has wised up to the lying and spinning that comes from the WH. The rest are just blinded by the "Christian" president, cause by God, democrats can't have any morals. They support "baby killers" (pro-choice). Never mind thousands upon thousands have died in this ridiculous war. Never mind that most of those who oppose abortion are proponents of adoption but never actually adopt themselves because they are too busy having 5 birth children of their own. Then they have to buy a polluting SUV to cart them around in. Where's the global thinking here? We are NOT the only nation in this universe. Indeed not the only one blessed by God. But I digress..

It makes me SOOO sick to think of the devastation on the gulf coast. It is hard to fathom that two days after the hurricane hit, one day after New Orleans was 80% under water, Bush returned to Crawford for his last day of vacation. While looting and violence was rampant in the Big Easy, Bush was kicking back on his ranch. (Even if he was there doing work, he and his staff are dense not to realize how the public would perceive it. Ever heard that perception is reality? Apparently not) But not to worry, his FEMA chief was "on it". Once the city finally began to fill with water, something they knew was inevitable, he THEN dispatched his team to take action. Immediately? No. They had two days to get there. I'm sorry but if Palm Springs or Beverly Hills were in crisis, do you think we would have waited until things were dire before we made a move?

If it weren't for the individuals, churches, non- profits taking action, the US would be a lost cause. It's an absolute travesty that we have a government who can get away with this and we aren't totally outraged. Maybe the rage will come later as I like to think that at this moment in time, we as individuals have more important things to do. We have disaster victims to care for. The WH could take a moral cue from it's citizens.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Slapper Letter

I've written previously about "The Slap", where a "friend" slapped my five year old across the face. I haven't heard from this man or his wife, Charlotte, since it all happened. Luckily, they live in another state, so we don't have to interact with one another.

But Charlotte called me last week and although we tried to avoid the subject, it wormed it's way in. So I told her that I was concerned for her and the children. If Jimmy can hit someone else's child, what is he doing to you and the kids? It's not a big leap to go there. Her answer, which seemed rehearsed, was that he had never hit her and in fact she was the one who spanked more. ( I just don't get spanking. How in the world are you supposed to teach your child not to hit, when you hit? - but that's another blog).

Anyway, Charlotte had said that Jimmy had tried to call several times to apologize but didn't reach me. Ok, we have caller ID. He called once. But it doesn't matter, as I wouldn't have spoken to him. She said he still wanted to call and asked would it be ok. I told her yes but after thinking about it I couldn't stand the thought of it, so I wrote him a letter. I ran it by my friend, Amy, who said I was too nice and that I should sit on it for a few days before sending. So I will "sit" it here. I edited the "nice".


I felt like I was moving past the violent beach incident until I talked to Charlotte. She said that you still intended to call me which I thought would be fine but I find that thinking about the incident again and anticipating talking with you has caused anxiety so I will write down what I would like to say and then I think I can move on.

I know that you have apologized to Jamie for hitting Jack and I believe that you are sorry. What stung more than slapping Jack was your indignant behavior and self- righteous comment after it happened. We left the house because I was frightened of you. You had just slapped my child across the face, hard, and moments later, when I couldn't talk to you, you took a verbal shot at me. You were justifying your behavior; something for which I could press charges. I was stunned, angry and deeply hurt.

I know that your behavior is not defined by this one incident, but unfortunately for us all, it has defined your relationship with me and my family. As difficult as I believe it is for you to focus past Jack's negative behavior, it is exponentially difficult for us to focus past yours.

I know that it is something that I can forgive but I can't forget it. In some ways I wish I could as I would hate to loose Charlotte as a friend; but I just won't get over it. This whole thing has made me sick for weeks. In the end, as terrible as it all is, I have learned and grown in a positive way from it all. And Jack has learned that some people hit back. I had hoped he would learn this from someone his age, but, sadly, he didn't. And even more sad, he has never received an apology from you.

From Kahlil Gibran's , The Prophet
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes you spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous,
look deep into your heart and you shall find
it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful
look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth,
you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at you board, remember that the other is asleep upon you bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between you sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weight his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Life and the List

My youngest is off to Kindergarten, without any fan fare, trauma, or tears from me or him. Since I am a SAHM (stay at home mom) I have more time to myself now. I feel this pressure to DO something with my extra time. He has only been in school a week and a half though, and it seems I've spent most of my time doing things on "the list". The list that has grown exponentially over the summer, as I figured I'd have time when school started.

I've always been a list person. There's something very gratifying about accomplishing things on the list and then "checking" them. My list style has evolved over time. I used to write them on the backs off envelopes, scraps of paper and then loose them, only to find them weeks later stuffed in the seat of my auto.

When I went to work for a transportation company in the early 90's, the folks there were rabid about their Franklin planners. Once one of the managers lost his planner and was close to panic when someone called to say they found it. Apparently, he had put it on the top of his car and drove off. He wasn't the most together dude. In fact, the only thing I saw him organize well was the work softball team. And he was fired shortly after I started. So he wasn't a good endorsement for Franklin planner. However, as a rite of passage, I too, soon had one. I even got to pick my cover. La de da de de. I began to use it some. NBD, I thought. It didn't take long to become dependent on it. It really did help me stay organized and juggle many balls at work and home. And I was able to sleep at night knowing that the next morning I could count on the "list" to help me prioritize my day.

Even after I quit work to stay at home with my first son, I dipped into the tight budget to order another "year" for my FP, to stay on top of things. Of course, the content of the list changed from work related issues, such as "Preventive maintenance on tractor X" and "call references on applicant x" to "get diapers" and "call pediatrician". I joke that if I didn't write "brush teeth" on my list, I would forget, however, I can honestly say that I have never put it on my list. Sadly, though, in the dark sleep deprived days after my first was born, the teeth were sometimes neglected until noon.

Now the list is on Outlook in my computer. Way better than FP. And I have a palm that I synch with outlook so my list can be with me at all times. The list likes it that way:) Your probably wondering what in the world a SAHM needs with a list? How hard can it be? Yeah, I'd be asking the same question if I were in the working world. Here's a sample of what's on my list this week: call carpenter about attic fan, call draftsman, reserve t courts, new mattress, door installation, call about guardian ad litum, pay bills, schedule Dr appt, boys journals, video tape house contents, look at will info. The last two have been on my list for years. Ok, nothing earth shattering, but getting them out of my head clears it for other things, like sweet dreams.

The rest on the working world may have passed me by these last eight years, but I do know one thing skill I still have thanks to the list - organization.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

2 moms do Hootie

My friend L called earlier this week at 7:30 p.m. She had forgotten that she had Hootie and the Blowfish tix for the night. No time for a sitter for her and DH, so she called to see if I could go at last minute. DH said, "Go", and he got the kids to bed for their first day of school today.

I didn't even know Hootie was in town, playing at a small but popular music venue. Waiting in line, I wondered if Hootie would sing his little ditty from the Hardees commercial - the one where he is decked out in a cowboy outfit singing about a "tender crisp bacon cheddar ranch" with hottie girls writhing all around. It's like Hee-Haw meets burlesque. I was kind of disappointed to see Hootie pitching a fast food joint. But hey, everyone's got to pay the rent, right? Besides, Hardees, is a southern joint, for good reasons, so most of the country won't ever see it.

The concert was great fun and I enjoyed every second of it. The music was great. I liked the stuff off of the newest album much better than the old. Maybe it's because it hasn't been overplayed; i think the band has suffered from that.

I must say it's much different than when I went to concerts 20 years ago. For one thing, I was relatively sober. And standing for 4 hours can be hard on my back. I tried bouncing up and down like the bass player, but having birthed two big headed boys my bladder had other plans. Suffice it to say the bouncing stopped.

Next concert, i'll bring Depends.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


On the heels of putting sweet Syd to sleep, my husband surprised me with a birthday party. Not what most would expect for their 39th birthday. He had help from several of my friends but nonetheless it was quite an undertaking and it was fun to hear the details of how he pulled it off.

Like, the invitations went out by email (and if you are a friend who doesn't "do" or have email then you didn't get invited) and since we share a home email account, he had to cut and paste all the addresses and send them to work. He also arranged for me to have the day off and the night away the day before my birthday so my friends, J and S, could prepare the party. Unfortunately, after putting Syd to sleep, I didn't want my time away; I wanted to be with my family and mourn. But I did agree to leave the house at 6:30 p.m., so DH made the secret calls to keep my friends informed.

We arrived at one of my favorite restaurants at 8:00 pm. We were both terribly hungry- it was WAY past our dinner time, closer to our bedtime. DH left me at the bar to hit the bathroom. Gone for quite some time, I had plenty of time to chat with the bartender. I asked for a birthday drink - his choice. He obliged with an apple martini,and proceeded to seek his tip and flatter me with "You don't look 39". Since DH still hadn't returned he added, "I hope you have someone to celebrate with you". Well yeah, I DID but he apparently needed to primp in the bathroom. Finally, he appeared but my tongue warm with martini, didn't question his time. Later I found out that he was making futile phone calls back to the house, checking the party progress. No one would answer; they feared it would be me.

We spent the night away at this beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast in town. The decor was fantastic but the bed we slept in was AWFUL. Granted, we both had difficulty sleeping since we were emotionally spent after putting Syd to sleep. BUT, every time DH moved, the bed rocked and creaked. Maybe the mattress was from the Victorian era too. Maybe that's supposed to be part of the charm. I wasn't charmed. I looked in the guest book to see if anyone else had the same trouble. Nothing but accolades, however, no one commented that they slept like a baby.

I caught a whiff of this surprise earlier in the week, so I called my friend, J, and asked her. She hesitated. "I just want to know if I need to clean my house", I said. Without hesitation, she said "No". So, I figured that the surprise would be at J's house, as she is famous for hosting parties.

We headed home at 11:00 am, as DH said the babysitter had to get home. We arrived to our boys in the front yard with two of our friends, theirs the only car visible on our street. We knew they were coming to pick up our oldest for a playdate, so their presence reinforced that things were status quo; the surprise must be later. We parked in the garage, hiked up the basement stairs and I heard a suspicious hushed buzz as I topped the stairs, heading to my room to unload my arms of my tangled belongings. When I came back down the hall, there they all were - my friends, yelling "Surprise", crammed like sardines in the dining room. The next few minutes were a blur. I do remember everyone singing "Happy Birthday" as my oldest tried to play along on the piano; MC, my youngest's friend, dancing wildly around me; my tallest friends, tennis buddy K and her taller boyfriend, and T & G, from the old neighborhood. Once the crowd dispersed, I began see my (shorter) friends emerge. The crowd mostly belonged to one of three different contingencies; old neighborhood, new neighborhood, and tennis. There were a few friends there from our former church, a family we know from elementary school, my real estate agent turned friend, one of DH's work friends. What a great feeling to have all those gathered to help me celebrate.

I think DH did an amazing job of employing my friends and pulling the whole thing off. I've had a difficult time this summer. I'm restless, as I have said, and he feels it. I think this party was his way of acknowledging this, trying to draw me out of my funk. It's a Venus/Mars thing. He's trying to "fix" it. It does feel good to be so loved and it has helped, at least temporarily, but as I told him last week when he asked me what he could do to make me happy, "it's not your job to make me happy, I've got to figure this out". Unfortunately, it means he has to endure my distance.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Slap

Just 9 days ago we were winding up our beach vacation with friends when an incident occurred that shook me to the core. Our (not anymore) adult male friend, Jimmy, slapped my 5 year old son across the face, HARD, in front of a multitude of people. The circumstances are of no matter, as he could never justify his impulsive behavior to me. I was shocked, horrified and scared of this man. After uttering a stern "You do not hit my child" to my defiant 'friend', I scooped up my son and headed outside to escape. I was so angry I couldn't even comfort my child. I put him in the van and walked towards the garbage.

When I looked up there was Jimmy asking my son if he could talk to him.
Son, who was still crying, slammed the van door to his request. (Way to go son, I couldn't have said it better myself.) He then turned to me and asked if he could talk to me. I told him I just couldn't that I was too angry and that what he had done to my child was 'unacceptable'. His chilling response stung more than the slap, "You're right, your son's behavior is unacceptable". I was stunned. Speechless, which was good as I couldn't say anything that I would regret later. Shocked that he couldn't take responsibility for his actions, that it was a five year olds fault.

Yes, there was some history there between my son and his, who considered themselves best friends. But they also knew how to push each other's buttons, as five year olds do. And my son did hit his son earlier in the week, maybe Jimmy thought he was giving my son a taste of his own medicine. The difference is, my son is five with impulse control issues and Jimmy is 39 with the same issue. Who has the problem here?

Sadly, it's a friendship that is busted, forever scarred. I'd love to remain friends with his wife, but I'm not that hopeful. I'm afraid for her safety now. If he can't control his impulses in front of all of us, what is he doing behind closed doors?

Sweet Syd

Sweet Syd

My Basset Hound, Sydney, of (almost) 12 years has died. We actually put her to sleep which my 8 yo son took issue with. "Why did you kill her?" he wailed through his tears, several hours after we put her down. Just before her 'sleep' we were trying to reassure him that she would be better off - in Heaven. "But how do we know if Heaven exists?" Tough questions at such a tender age, my age I mean. I'm not ready to tackle these yet but I muddled through and I think I passed; it's hard to know.

Sydney was the queen before the kids came along. She slept in the bed, under the covers. She enjoyed regular walks, belly rubs and lots of friends. After our first son arrived, she lost her regal status and was relegated to just a dog. The walks and belly rubs less frequent, she managed to adjust and soon realized she could get away with more mischief as our attention was diverted. She was a hound through in through, sniffing out anything appetizing (to her) and woofing it down in seconds flat, including a whole raw steak, stick of butter, cherry pie, bag of Easter chocolates including the aluminum wrapping, many dirty diapers and of course a daily snack of her own excrement. Gross, I know, but somehow endearing to me now.

I'll miss her waking us first thing in the morning, with the clickity, clickity, click of her (too long) nails rapping the hardwood floors. What I'll miss most is her smell - no matter how doglike it was- it was 'home' to me.

Sleep tight, sweet Syd.