Thursday, November 21, 2013

Over coffee

She came into Starbucks and immediately saw someone she knew. Two Raleigh Bob's connecting over their red Starbucks cups and a noisy wash of "I haven't seen you in so long"s. She's a jewelry maker. Her friend, the one in a meeting across from me, gushed to her colleague about how talented she was.

Then, she said, "This is my dad."

She introduced a man who probably used to be taller than her. His face was the face of a man who obviously used to be healthier. His cheekbones were over pronounced. His shoulders slumped. He spoke softly, but I heard him. He said, "I do like to eat."

The women laughed. He smiled. He still had it.

It was the baseball hat that got me. The random baseball hat that didn't go with the crisp blue jeans that were being cinched to him on the last belt loop. The baseball hat that was a little too casual for the collared shirt he had most definitely had help tucking in before he left home.

The hat was what brought my daddy zooming in this morning - his absence blowing through me like the coldest blast of wind rushing in each time someone opens the door to which I sat to close.

I miss him.

I wished that I could pick him up; take him on my errands with me; stop for coffee; spend the day doing mundane things.

In the end, I only stared, batting back a few tears. I stopped short of leaning over the table and grabbing the woman with the Raleigh Bob and telling her how lucky she was. For all I know, she's quite aware of how lucky she is.

I hope so.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Holiday pajamas available on Etsy!


Holiday pajamas are in season in my Etsy shop! In November, they are only $30 a pair. December, they will go up to $35. Still a bargain, right? 

Little flannel pants with soft, monogrammed t-shirts. Add your kiddos, and you'll have the cutest Christmas pictures on the Facebook timeline in 2013.

Many many thanks to my friend Erin for the fist bump over at her blog, A Parenting Production. Her littles are next up to receive matching jammies for the holidays. 

You know, the whole family can get involved. Last year, I even had Papa in matching pants. It's great fun, and the kids love matching with Mama and Daddy. Cheesy? Sure. But most of the best things about Christmas are.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Gig



This is what I was doing tonight. A gig in Wilson with a group I've been with around ten years now. I love them like family. 

Playing music with a group is a deeply personal thing for me. I have to trust the other members completely. I've grown past feeling like I need to have close friendships wtb anyone I am in a band with, but the fact remains that I would do anything for anyone of them at the drop of a hat. 

The drummer is going to Ethiopia in about seven hours. He teaches kids all over the world how to make beats. It's pretty awesome. 

That was random. I know. 

Anyway, it was a good show, and now that our flute player has spent the night in our house, Colin has declared her part of our family. And that's totally fine by me. 

We would like to play more, but for now, we'll take what we can get. It's just good to get to play with really great people. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

The truth

I'm terrible at blogging everyday. 


It's true. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Kettle balls for shoes

My whole aspiring to go to bed earlier, spend more time engaged with my kids. And getting ready for craft fairs is making NaMoBloMoFo not really work for me so far.


I need a new groove.

I can, however, tell you that I saw one of the oddest performances last night. Kembra Pfahler. She was painted red, wore kettle balls on her feet, had hair teased up the circumference if Saturn, and crawled onto the stage to give her seemingly improvised performance of a song about Bladerunner, the director's cut. 

Yeah. I'm so over art school. 


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Dang near missed it

Tired. So many feels. Got to go out tonight and hear some music. Somebody that I used to know. It was weird. 


Too much for now. 

Sleepy. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Dress up


Every year, I have made my boys' Halloween costumes. It's one of the main reasons I wanted to start sewing. A little trip down the aisles of Target last week though, and Christopher's eyes widened. His voice could barely squeak out,

"Mama. Whoa. Look at that Woooooolverine."

We had already made his costume for this year. He didn't need one, and I wasn't about to spend $20 on a store bought costume. I told him that if it was still there after Halloween, we could buy it on clearance.

I had no intentions of making it back in time to check. I know. Evil Mama.

However, this morning, I had to go pick up a prescription (you're welcome everyone who has to deal with me on a daily basis), so I wandered back through the last row of Halloween things. The sign said "70% OFF." There were two Wolverine costumes left. Both in the right size.

Here's the thing. They didn't need them. But they weren't just 70% off, they were 90% off. So for $4, I had two of the most excited little boys you have ever seen. They are currently sleeping in their Wolverine costumes (sans masks and claws, thank you very much). And they will play dress up, adding this character to the closet full of Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain America, Jake the pirate, Cubby the other pirate, and Indiana Jones.

They love it, and I love watching them.

To top it all off, I picked up a Ninja Turtle and Superman to wrap up for Christmas.

Who says little boys don't like to play dress up?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Dojo Mama

We've become a karate family. The boys and I arrive at the dojo at least three times a week. Usually, we are there around an hour and a half. Christopher is a Deputy Stripe belt (I think. Whatever comes before Green), and Colin has just started in the Little Samurai program.

It is the last thing I thought my boys would do. Well, maybe not the very last, but definitely not the first. It's just that martial arts were never on my radar. Ever.

Last year, when Christopher started asking to take karate lessons, my first thought was to find somewhere that he could "just try out." We signed him up with a pass from a friend at the dojo where their son takes lessons. It was obvious by the second week that this was something he really enjoyed and something he could really benefit from.

All of the sudden, we were signing a year long contract. For a four year old.

Of course, that's not anything I never asked of parents when I was teaching piano. It's a good way to make sure that parents are committed to the program, and while it's nice to let your children try things out, it's better to teach them that there are things in life which take time to learn. Like a musical instrument. Or karate.

So I sit in the dojo, giving up our free time to let our boys be coached, mentored, and taught by the many instructors there. Sure, some days I wish that we could just head to the park with some friends. And I know that some days Christopher is really tired and would like to just come home and recharge quietly and alone, but if he's going to karate, he is happy about it
.

It's been good for them. Colin is only a month in and already asks every morning if he gets to go to karate that day. They are happy to be there, and as long as their coffee machine keeps working, I'm happy to be there too.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Salvaged Jewelry and branching out

Today I did something I've never done before. I hosted a trunk show (and it should be noted that I just accidentally typed "truck show" which is also something I've never done). Sales events masquerading as parties have never set well with me. I mean, as a seasoned introvert, I like to do my shopping online. Usually sans pants. And bra. And with a Diet Coke to my left. And free shipping.

However, when jewelry artist Melissa McLawhorn put out an invitation to host a trunk show for her Etsy shop, Salvaged Jewelry, I couldn't resist. Melissa creates jewelry from recycled things that would probably otherwise end up in the landfill. Pages from an algebra book end up as a pendent on a necklace. The plastic covering for florescent light fixtures adorn matchbook covers in a bracelet.


It's all quite brilliant really.

Some friends came by. I made some snacks. We all did a little shopping. It was fun. Melissa gave me an awesome necklace as a thank you gift - it is purple and features resistors on it. Which is quite perfect for me, as I'm constantly picking up resistors in the studio as Kevin works on building gear.

The crafty part of being an artist doesn't come easy for me. Give me a piano and microphone and I'll be right at home on a stage in front of 10,000 people. It's easy, and I love it.

Opening an Etsy shop last year? Scared me to death. What if I made something and no one liked it? What if it didn't hold up? Who am I to think that people would actually want to spend money on something I've made?

Then, I realized I needed to do something to support this fabric habit I've developed. I set up shop and waited for magic.

Not much has happened. I've sold a few things. Been burned once by someone not following through on a big order. But mainly, it's just given me encouragement to keep making things. And we all know I'm happiest when I'm making something. The creative process and all.

This year, I'm taking it one step further. My friend Rachael and I are going to do a couple of craft fairs together. The first one is coming up in a couple of weekends, and I have to admit - I'm really nervous. Packaging and presentation are not my strong suits, and I really want our booth to look good - be inviting.

If you are in the area, you can come visit us and bring me Starbucks to calm my nerves. Or just come see us. We will be at the Holiday Sip & Shop hosted by Vend Raleigh on November 15 and then at Sanderson High School's Holly Days on December 8 and 9. And? If no one buys anything I've made? Then I'll at least know that I have the kindest, most generous friends who have put up with the creations I've made their children for the past five years - which isn't such a bad trade off, right?


Saturday, November 02, 2013

Joining the Rainbow Loom cult

Two hours of this, and I'm telling you, the drink doesn't need to be Diet Coke. Who thought this torture device up anyway?


Christopher finished his first bracelet, wore it proudly for about 30 minutes, then promptly gave it to a cute girl. My little dude. He is such the love. 

But really? More than the basic bracelet? I'm not sure I have time to go there. Halp.

Friday, November 01, 2013

It's November, when we blog everyday

So as to not ruin NaBloPoMoFo on the very first day, I give you my two youngest in not-a-box. It's a pirate ship, in case you are wondering. 


More writing, less adorable filler to come . . .



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

When your best friend has cancer; Long distance love

A few weeks ago, I posted about what to do or say when your best friend learns she has cancer. It seemed that many people read and took those words to heart, and I want to make sure that it is clear: I am speaking from hindsight. Much of this I got wrong. I wasn't really very good at it, but I tried to pay attention and learn from my mistakes. 


When you live five hours away, it's hard to give advice for the everyday. Impossible really. Susan was so lucky to have a strong church community, school community, blogger community, and some really awesome friends who organized her meals, her childcare, and her transportation when needed. She also has the most amazing husband, parents, and in-laws who stepped in. The only things I know about supporting your friend in person when they are in cancer treatment are these:
  • Don't show up sick. Don't show up if you've been sick in the past week. Don't show up if anyone in your house is sick. Germs are the absolute worst thing to bring them.
  • When you want to help - have an idea. Don't call and say, "Let me know what I can do to help." They shouldn't have to think about it. If you have a skill or an opportunity, then step in and do something. Don't put it off on your friend to think up something for you to feel useful.
  • And please - don't say that her problems make you rethink your own life or make you feel badly for having less life threatening problems. It's annoying to be the barometer of how much someone else's life sucks.
If you live five hours away, it's easy to think that you are useless, and that's not true. In fact, it's a little easier for you to be that person with whom your friend can still be "normal." When you aren't seeing the treatment first hand, it's a little easier for you to be the one who can still call and ask for help with your uncontrollable three year old. 

You can be the one who still needs her. And trust me, she needs to still be needed.

It felt selfish to me - to call and cry to her about my problems. What I learned though, was that in crying to her about my problems, she knew that I still saw her as my friend, Susan. Not my friend with cancer. 

Again, it's about living. The more you focus on the cancer with your friend, the more the cancer takes over. She needs people to still be who they were with her so that she can still be herself. If the cancer is terminal, then you both know it's going to take her life in the end - don't let it take her being while she is still here and breathing.

There will be times when you want to know what is going on with her treatment, and that is alright. Tell her that you would like an update when she is ready to give you one. Remember that she needs time to process information from the doctors and to go over it with her family. She will tell you want she needs you to know in her own time.

Living apart doesn't mean that you never see each other though. Get in the car, on a plane, or on a train and get there. This is the one area where I don't recommend trying to maintain the norm. Get there. Every chance you have to see her that you don't take will be time that you regret. Trust me on that one. Get there every single chance that you can. Take your children with you so that they can know her. Spend time with her children so that they can know you. Be friends with her partner - after all, you chose the same person as the bomb diggity. Of course, I already adored Susan's husband, so that last one was easy, but you get the point.

The phone line only goes so far. Make your choices wisely. Sacrifice. Get there. Because if you are life long best friends, then you may be one of the only people she feels like she can stay in her jammies around. She knows that if she needs to nap, you will amuse yourself or wash the dishes. She knows that she doesn't have to be strong around you - that you can and will handle her pain and her sorrow - because it's what you do for each other.

You won't be doing anything for her that she hasn't done for you all along - it's just in the context of cancer now.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

When your best friend has breast cancer

It's October. Tis the season for everything pumpkin and oceans of pink vomited upon every product known to mankind.

It's October. Tis the season for me to think about Susan twice as much everyday and remember the one equation my astrophysicist best friend taught me that I actually understood:

ACTION > AWARENESS

There isn't much that I can add about what you can do during October that hasn't already been said. Susan said it best, of course, and new voices are rising all the time to remind us that living with breast cancer isn't made any easier by us posting the color of our bras on Facebook or not wearing a bra on October 13. 

What I can add is something for the friends of women living with breast cancer. It's something that I've wanted to write about for years now, but I realized that I wasn't really that great at it, and certainly didn't have enough knowledge to fill a book.

I can tell you what I did wrong, and maybe think of something I got right.

In the beginning . . .

One night, your best friend calls you on the phone. She has a three year old and a five month old. You are pregnant with your first child. Conversations had turned from babies to breast cancer over the past week because her mother-in-law had just been diagnosed and was about to start treatment. With you being the child of a breast cancer survivor, she turned to you to answer questions about helping a family member and dealing with telling the children. 

Only this night, she says, "In my internet research about breast cancer, I found something. Something called Inflammatory Breast Cancer." 

"I've never heard of it," I reply.

"I think I have it," she says slowly.

Here's where you can go right or wrong. 

Wrong thing to say, "Oh, Sus. There's no way you have breast cancer. You have no family history. You're breastfeeding. You're only 34. I'm sure it's just mastitis."

No. Don't do that. Don't dismiss a friend's concerns. Don't slide down a tear filled slope of worry with them, but don't dismiss them. EVER.

Right thing to say, "Wow. That must be scaring you. Have you made an appointment to have it checked? Do you need me to go with you?"

Listen.

Support.

Encourage.

After the initial diagnosis . . .

There will be a diagnosis. A diagnosis is not answers. Let me say that again. The diagnosis creates more questions that you can ever imagine. It does NOT provide answers.

Your best friend will tell you the diagnosis even before she has fully processed the news fully herself. There will be silence on the phone. Stay in it. Stay with her.

Wrong thing to do next is pepper her with questions, "What will they do? Is there treatment? Have you told the kids?"

A question you could ask are, "Do you need me to come?" 

Right thing to do next is possibly cry with her. Calmly. It might be to curse. It might be to apologize for saying the wrong thing the day before. You won't know exactly until you - 

Listen.

Support.

Encourage.

The thing is, with a diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer in particular, everything about what you thought you knew of the future is gone. The appointment you thought would give you answers, the one where you get your diagnosis? That appointment only turns everything into uncertainty.

Living in uncertainty is one of the hardest things to ask someone to do. 

Asking a billion questions of someone living in uncertainty is never helpful. Don't do it.

Something right I learned along the way was to ask in the first couple of minutes of our conversations, "What do you want to talk about? Life or cancer?" 

Most of the time, the answer was "life."

Because really, what your best friend with a new cancer diagnosis wants more than anything? Is to live. 

So do it. Live with her.

Listen.

Support.

Encourage.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Chicken socialization

Chickens are weird.

Granted, so many many species want to eat chickens. If I were a chicken, I would be freaked out all the time too.

I'm not sure how to help them understand that I'm not going to eat them. It would probably help if I kept the dogs from chasing them. Poor Mrs. Weasley lost another mouthful of feathers when Macy Moo slipped by me on Saturday. That fat dog can haul ass when there is a chicken running from her.

But I love the chickens. Even though they are weird. And skiddish. And cause me to have nightmares about finding their poor chicken bodies mauled in the yard by a hawk.

The chickens and I might just be kindred spirits in anxiety.

Professor McGonagall definitely does not want a kiss.
I keep trying though. I'm told that the way to help the chickens get to know you is to keep picking them up. You have to catch them in order to do that though, so I spend great amounts of time bent over, arms outstretched, sneaking around behind chickens. 

Bonnie Raitt might have been singing about chickens when she sang, "I can't make you love me." 

Only time, and the crick in my back, will tell.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

First or second day of kindergarten. Hell if I know.

"Here, Christopher. Try this backpack on and see if it's too heavy for you."

It was the night before what I considered Christopher's second day of kindergarten, but was apparently his first day of kindergarten because the other first day of kindergarten was just a trial run, and I was supposed to figure out that it didn't count as a first day since he wasn't in his real classroom with his real teacher on the fake first day.

Christopher on his fake first day of kindergarten.
We had lugged the first batch of school supplies to the second open house (which was the real kindergarten open house, the first open house was just a preview) last week. It was heavy, but we managed to carry it on our walk.

Last night, the backpack contained his three ring binder, a pack of colored pencils, a ream of white paper, a ream of colored card stock, his towel for rest time, and his Mickey Mouse (also for rest time).

It was damn heavy.

He was damn determined to carry it.

He wiggled his arms into the straps and stood up, slightly convex, and proceeded to strut around the kitchen. His chest was out like a rooster, partly from pride, but mostly from the weight of his load.

"See, Mama? My strong muscles can handle it," he crowed.

"I don't know, Sweetheart. You know, I'm not going to walk you in tomorrow. I'm just dropping you off in the carpool line because I have to get Colin to school too. I think I'll take out the paper. We can take it the next day when I can help you."

"NO! I can do it, Mama!"

"Alright. You can do it. It's not that long of a walk to your room. I know you're strong."

This morning, I slip a small package of fruit snacks and a Capri Sun into the front pocket of his backpack. That snack was apparently the proverbial straw.

As we waited our turn in the carpool lane, I had Christopher climb into the front seat so I could help him into his backpack, and because he was sitting on the wrong side of the car for the carpool lane. I eased his little arms into the straps of his Superman backpack and tried to kiss him goodbye.

It fell off.

The door opened.

We weren't ready.

Oh, shit! We were holding up the carpool lane!

I shoved his arms back into the backpack and told him to jump out.

That is one literal kid. He bounced out of the Jeep. When his feet hit the ground, the weight of that backpack, after inserting one fruit snack treat and a Capri Sun, sent him rolling backwards onto the ground.

He lay on his backpack, arms flailing and legs kicking like a turtle, unable to right himself. I was stuck behind the driver's seat with my eyes wide, mouth hung open, and completely mortified that I had turtled my poor child with school supplies.

From the ground I heard, "MAMA! Why did you put so much in my backpack???"

Luckily, because first impressions don't matter one bit, THE PRINCIPAL rushed over to help him up. She picked up his backpack and said, "Whoa. This is really heavy."

"It's the fruit snacks," I said.

Mother of the Year. Don't even apply for it. It's all me.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Coming home to roost

I have a lot to learn about chickens. And dogs. And not mixing chickens and dogs.

The boys and I brought home our first two chickens yesterday. We drove out to Pittsboro to Hickory Chickery and purchased two Buff Orpington pullets. They are about four months old, but aren't laying yet. However, they are both most definitely hens, and that's what I wanted to start with since we can't have roosters in the city limits. And I don't want roosters. Even though they are gorgeous.

I digress.

Even with trying to keep the chicken cost down as much as possible, I still ended up buying a little carrier to bring them home. I was going to just use a box or a laundry basket, but since we are going to get some chicks in a month or so, I went ahead and bought a small crate.

I think they were pretty cozy.

Meet Mrs. Weasly and Professor McGonagall
Let me stop here and say, I have the nicest dogs. Two of them are bird dogs, granted, but they are old and incredibly sweet. The third is little and a feisty when it comes to squirrels, so I was planning on keeping a good eye on her. But the others? They are such nice dogs.

Nice dogs eat chickens too.

I brought the chickens through the house and let Gibby, the Lab, and Macy, the little dog, sniff and say hello. They wagged their tails and completely fooled me into thinking that they happy to have new friends.

We ventured out into the backyard, and I let the girls out, sending Gibby into some kind of primal hunting dog frenzy. Poor Mrs. Weasly became the target, and Gibby was going to have chicken for dinner. 

Macy Moo and I joined in the chase, Macy just to have fun, and me, screaming, "NO! GIBBY! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I caught up to him just as he got a half a mouthful of feathers. Nearly tackling him, I grabbed his collar and started dragging him to the backdoor, yelling to Christopher to go get Macy Moo away from poor Mrs. Weasly.

On the deck, Macy had chased Mrs. Weasly into a corner, and Gibby had slipped out of his collar right at the back door. I managed to scoop Macy up with one hand and tuck her under my arm. Then, with my knees and my body, I corralled Gibby inside while issuing the dreaded, "Bad Boy. Bad Boy, Gibby."

I gently picked up Mrs. Weasly from the corner of the deck, where she was willing herself to be way smaller so she could fit through the railings. We sat down together, and I checked her for any wounds (there were none) while I sang her one of my boys' lullabies. 

Then, we went to the back corner of the yard where Professor McGonagall had her head shoved through the chain link fence, simultaneously delighted that she wasn't being chased by a 100 pound dog and horrified that she had been brought to such a savage new home. 

She's still kind of pissed at me.

Other than that, they are settling in nicely. We will have to split backyard time instead of having the Utopian dog and chicken playground that I made up in my ridiculous head. But that's alright. I finally have my chickens, and I already love them.

Because, let's face it, I'm more than a little bit crazy.

Mrs. Weasly after a soothing lullaby.
Professor McGonagall snuggling in right on top.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School: and a VolunteerSpot giveaway for Donors Choose

I wasn't all that prepared. No new outfits. I didn't have his backpack ready. I didn't even know for sure what time we needed to leave. As much as the end of the summer has worn my nerves down to the rawest roots, I wasn't ready to send the boys off to school.


Kindergarten is such a long day. It will be so late when Christopher gets home, and we have something everyday after school. I feel like I will never see him anymore.

So last night, when he had a nightmare and came downstairs, I abandoned whatever Kevin and I were watching and went to lay down with him. He fell right to sleep, and I lay with him, watching his eyelashes flutter and his lips twitch. He smiled, he wiggled some, and he cried out a little.

I imagine all of yesterday was filled with many emotions, just like his dreams.

Walking home from school with Miss Katharine. It's the best.

It was the first day of preschool for Colin as well. He has been so excited about "graduating" and getting to go to Arts Together now. I hope it was everything he has anticipated - with the tragic exception of his discovery that his best friend Rory is in a different class. That didn't go so well.

All in all though, I think they both had a positive experience. Because at 6:30 this morning (a morning they don't even have school), they arrived in my room to announce they were dressed. Colin was especially excited. I know this because he arrived in his "fancy clothes." Clothes that I battle to get him to wear once a week to church. He even buttoned his shirt himself.

I think it's going to be a good year.

Why, yes. I am still in bed horizontally taking this picture. It was SO EARLY.

This year, I hope to be very involved with my kids' schools. Last year, I signed up for VolunteerSpot and even used their iPad app. It's been great to get everyone together and organize activities for school. 

VolunteerSpot saves you time and money, and makes signing up easy. They are celebrating back to school month by giving away $50 gift cards for you to use at Donors Choose, my favorite place to give online. If you win, you can use the $50 for any school project you find on Donors Choose - hopefully to help your school!

To enter, just leave a comment. You could tell me about your back to school memories. You could tell me how you would use your Donors Choose card. You could tell me about how you can use VolunteerSpot this year. Or, you could just say hi. A winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 PM on August 31.

Then, while you are entering things, head over to VolunteerSpot and take their Pledge to Volunteer. You could win an additional $1500 for your school!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Backyard projects and a new house for Colin

This weekend was wildly productive. Kevin and I did one of my favorite things - yard work. While that sounds sarcastic, and while sarcasm is usually a good assumption when listening to me - it's not. I do love to work out in the yard. I don't love mosquitoes though, and that makes working in the yard a little tricky here.

But this weekend? Was gorgeous. Not humid. Not hot. Sunny and beautiful.

Our backyard is a blessing and a curse. When Kevin bought the house, it was a waste land of decrepit trees, dirt, weeds, and a scary tree house that had to come down. Slowly, we've removed the trees that were dying and dropping limbs dangerously close to the house. We planted grass. We built a playset.

Over the past year, a lot of the mulch has washed away and Aja the English Setter has decided she's part pig and enjoys nothing more than laying in the mud. She dug holes all along the edge of the house, and Colin helped her out by finding it great fun to turn on the faucet randomly and creating mud pits for her to enjoy.

The first order of business was to clean that up. Of course, we didn't take before pictures.


Aside from the Setter trying to dig to China, we just needed some pretty. A crepe myrtle, some gardenias, and some random purple type plants helped this area tremendously. We are also hoping that Macy Moo will walk further than 10 inches off the deck to pee from now on because holy stank, that was disgusting to weed out and dig up.

Yesterday morning, we let Kevin and Mallory sleep in while I introduced the boys to the flea market at the state fair grounds. They each got a 50 cent car, and I got a metal dragonfly. I was hoping for a metal sculpture for the corner of the dog toilet flower bed, just to fill it up and discourage the pee party there, but all I got was this dragonfly. He's cliche, but cute.


Ignore those random bags of extra mulch. Digging deterrents for right now.

Finally, we got around to doing the project that I've been most excited about since June.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a coop. A chicken coop, to be exact. I'm so excited I could hardly go to sleep last night. Mallory and I have already named the chickens, but I'll wait to introduce them as they come home and I can get pictures.

For now though, here is the chicken estate. Right next to the fig tree, which I'm sure I'll decide was a terrible plan when I never have figs to eat. Of course, Gibson the Labrador has been eating the leaves and flowers off of it, so it's not like I have figs now. I have hopes and dreams of figs, but that's about it.

Casa de la Chickens:


Don't you want to just move right in? It seems that Colin did.


We are looking forward to getting a couple of hens soon, and then maybe some chicks in late September. And by "we" I mean "me" because everybody else in my family is just tolerating my desire for chickens. They'll come around though, I have full faith.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Love Wins Ministries: Feeding Homeless Apparently Illegal in Raleigh, NC

Last night, this post was a copy of Hugh Hollowell's story about what happened near Moore Square yesterday morning. Citizens of Raleigh were trying to feed other citizens of Raleigh. The homeless were being provided a meal on Saturday morning, just like they had been every Saturday morning for six years. Then, out of the blue, the Raleigh Police show up and threaten to arrest the citizens who were distributing food. No explanations other than an ordinance that they couldn't even name.

Last night, the traffic on Hugh's post had crashed their servers. Now, they are up and running again. So please give them the hits. Give them the traffic. Give them the support.

Go read Hugh's story and see his pictures from Saturday on the Love Wins blog.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The picture

“Is that your real smile?” he asked as he raised his iPhone to take a picture of me.

I have never been good at pictures.  It’s as sure as a dog drooling at the dinner bell – the sight of a camera causes me to show all of my teeth, open my eyes as wide as possible, and throw my head back into triple chin territory.

“I guess. I don’t know. I’m no good at this.”

I wished he had snapped something while I wasn’t looking. Something covert. It was my fate to be the first bad picture of a woman he ever took.

We had just watched a parade of beautiful women walk past. Women who had spent hours in hair and make up for the fashion show that night. I had spent less than an hour, as I usually do, on myself. Hair in braids, glasses instead of contacts, minimal make up. I’m alright with that. It’s not a lack of self-confidence that makes me hate to be photographed.

I just don’t know how to look spontaneously happy.

Over the past couple of days, we had talked. A lot. I had been nothing but completely honest with him. I trusted him with things that I haven’t trusted in writing. We talked about relationships, addictions, dreams, and whatever else friends talk about when there are no children or time constraints involved. I never gave a second thought to showing him myself with my words, developing an image that showed the negative and the positive. 

But when he started looking at me, to preserve that image, I felt completely unsure of myself. 

Exposed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Balance

Summer winds down, and I find myself both anxious for fall to really get here and already regretting the things I didn't do over the past couple of months.

A trip to see friends and a new baby didn't happen.

We didn't go to the pool enough.

We watched too much TV when it rained outside.

I didn't get a garden planted.

These things clog up my brain, pushing aside the memories that were made.

Colin learned to swim. And by "learned," I mean, took off his floaties and flung himself across the pool declaring himself independent and capable.

Christopher learned to ride his bike. And by "learned," I mean, I took off his training wheels, and while I was busy turning my back for five seconds, he got on and rode the bike down the driveway declaring himself a big boy bike rider who doesn't need my help, thank you very much.

In June, we drove down to Mississippi and spent a week with my family in which the children played until they collapsed at night, snuggled in Nana's bed to read stories, and got to spend unstructured and unscripted time with their cousins. And as a bonus, I actually stayed the whole time this year with no erupting fights with my brother.

I got to go to BlogHer again and room with two amazing people who just so happened to enjoy hanging out in the room late at night unwinding together - which was exactly what I needed. I met some fabulous people. I saw some old friends. I was inspired - which, let's be honest - if you go to BlogHer and don't leave inspired in some way, you may have no soul.

Good things happened this summer. Momma is still brave, still taking chemo, and still watching it work. It's been harder on her than ever before, but she does it anyway, and I love her so much for doing it.

I don't know what's wrong with my head that all of these good things happened, and yet when left idle, my brain says, "You didn't take the kids to DC," and "You didn't go to the pool all last week," and "You didn't do any of the writing and reading you said you were going to do with the boys." These things, while I wish they had happened, I let them define the summer.

Why is that?

Good things. Bad things.

I need to find the balance.

Friday, August 09, 2013

This.

This. When you've bought the boys a Happy Meal because you didn't have time to get them dinner at home because somebody thought karate for a five year old at 5:30 in the evening was a good idea and then when you get to the karate place, the three year old is completely over his fast food and wants even faster food from the vending machine. Because,

"But I neeeeeeed dessert!"

This. When your three year old never hears you tell him that it's time to eat his lunch, get his shoes, clean up the toys, wash his hands, buckle his carseat, leave the library, come inside, quit touching his brother, wipe his bottom, put his clothes back on, turn off the TV, play outside, take a bath, or leave the dogs alone, but then when you think he's heard nothing you've ever said in the world, he tells the nice lady handing him a sticker at the store that happened to not be the sticker he wanted the one thing you wish he had never heard,

"Dammit."

This. When the boys are so tired of being at home together that you get them suited up, sunscreened down, snacks packed, floaties inflated, water bottles cooled, bag loaded, helmets secured, bikes mounted, and you head to the pool the minute it opens. Then you when you arrive, ready to let them burn off their energy with all the other children there,

"Don't touch him! That's my brother! I'm playing with my brother!"

And no one else in the world will do.


Monday, August 05, 2013

Pee hole

Since we're on the subject of penises (What? I have two small boys. We are always on the subject of penises), there is this conversation I accidentally had and now they know how they got here. Dang.

Colin, the three year old, started it. I had to pee, and I opted to shut the door. Gradually, I'm attempting to reestablish some privacy in this house. When I came out of the bathroom, Colin throws out,

"Did you pee out of your peeeeeeenis?"

He shrieks with laughter, because penises are funny.

I knew that he wasn't confused, but I felt obligated to correct him.

"Colin, Mama doesn't have a penis. Only boys have penises."

Christopher, who is five and always eager to share his vast knowledge of all things potty related, piped up,

"That's right! Mama has a vaginis!"

Don't judge. We are close to the right terms, but dang it. The way he rhymes vaginis with penis is just so cute.

Here's where I could have stopped, but noooooo. I just had keep talking.

"Actually, pee doesn't come out of my vagina."

Christopher raised an eyebrow and asked, "Well, what does it come out of?"

Dang it. All I could think of was "pee hole." Not exactly the right response. I issued a guess of "urethra" and mumbled that we would have to look it up to be sure.

Of course, we weren't done. Christopher was still curious.

"What's your vagina for, then?

Okay. Easiest answer. Go for the easiest answer.

"Well, it's what babies come out of."

The look on that little boy's face was one of pure and utter disgust. He couldn't believe what he had just heard. First came the denial,

"Nuh-uh! I did not come out of your vaginis!"

Oh yes you did, and I have the scar to prove it.

Then came the arguing,

"Babies come from a mama's tummy!"

Right. Wishing I had stuck with that one for a few more years.

Next he went for the potty punchline,

"Ewwwww! You got pee on me when I was a baby!"

Yep, but not from my vagnis, little one. And if you think that's gross, then we certainly don't need to talk about the rest of it.

Finally, the logic,

"But Mama, there is no way I fit through your vaginis."

Sigh.

"That's what I thought too, sweetheart, but here you are."

And as quickly as we moved into that treacherous territory, we moved right out again thanks to  Popsicles and the insatiable appetites and short attention spans of little boys.

Dang.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here's what you can do with your cookies, Governor.

Yesterday, Governor Pat McCroy took a plate of cookies to a group of women protesting outside of the governor's mansion.

They chanted back at him, "Pat, Pat, Pat was rude. Would you give cookies to a dude?"

His spokesperson responded with this comment:

"Sometimes a plate of cookies is just a plate of cookies."

Wait. His spokeswoman released that statement. 

She's wrong. If I take a plate of cookies to a neighbor, it means something. Maybe they've had a bad week, and it's a plate of cookies that says, 

"I'm sorry it's been rough. This is me caring through cookies."

I might take a plate of cookies to our friend's monthly neighborhood happy hour. That would be a plate of cookies that says,

"Thank you for including us. This is me building community through cookies."

Maybe I send a plate of cookies into school when it's my child's birthday. Those cookies say,

"Let's celebrate together. It's a special day, and I'm sharing my joy with you through cookies." 

His spokeswoman knew better. She knows that a plate of cookies always means something. Nothing goes without meaning. Especially in Southern Politics. 

Here are some things that plate of cookies could have said,

"Sorry I broke a significant campaign promise and signed that bill."

"Sorry I signed a bill that we tried to pull off as being about women's health but really will be closing abortion clinics all across the state. Oh, and sorry we called it a motorcycle safety bill. We thought it was funny at the time, but I see now that it was degrading and hurtful."

"Sorry I took time to step out and play catch while you were asking for my time and attention earlier this summer. I should have known you had things to tell me that weighed heavy on your hearts and minds, and that it was my duty to listen."

"Sorry I've done nothing but mock you with my condescending ways and then called you the ones misinterpreting it because I was just being nice and you are too sensitive. I should own my actions and be more honest."

"Sorry I keep doing things that are ruining our state. I just can't seem to help myself. It's so easy to make all this political stuff about me and my buddies. Here, have some cookies to help you feel better."

They didn't say any of that, of course. What they did say was this,

"Aren't you pathetic, still outside my mansion, protesting the motorcycle safety bill. It's signed. It's done. Have a cookie and go home."

"Have a cookie. If you were at home, you could have made them yourself."

"It's not about your opinion on my policies. It's about COOKIES."

"I didn't have time for you when the Legislature was still in session, but look how kind I am now. I bring you COOKIES."

"Here are some cookies. Just because I'm a swell guy. Now go ahead and point out what they really are, and I'll release a statement dismissing you again, calling you overly sensitive. Making it seem like you really just don't understand how things in the big boys' world work."

I'm discouraged. I'm disillusioned. The state I came to 15 years ago is turning into the state I left behind. I can't count the number of times I've been told, "You are just too sensitive. This is just the way things are." 

I'm not too sensitive. I see things for what they really are. And that plate of cookies, Governor McCroy? Well, it would have been far better received if it had come with a main course of stop-screwing-our-state-over.

This is it. This is the time where we decide if we are going to let North Carolina continue on it's downward spiral, or if we are going to stand up and call out the cookies. I'm calling them out.

You will not trivialize this, Governor McCroy. You will not attempt to position protesters in such a way that you can shrug and say, 

"I took them cookies. I'm a nice guy. What more could they possibly want?"

You know what we want. We want our state back. Cookies aren't fixing anything. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Turning "no" into a flight home

By Sunday, I was really ready to come home. There were things I wanted to do - an invitation to the Art Institute or a sightseeing cruise - but when it all came down, I just wanted to see my boys before they went to bed that night.

Unfortunately, my flight didn't get in until 10:00 PM. They would have been asleep for hours.

Having used up every ounce of fabricated extrovertedness I could muster anyhow, I packed my bags and headed to the airport. I took a taxi to the train station and the train to O'Hare. It cost me around $10, mainly because I ridiculously over tip cab drivers.

My first stop was the American Airlines self check in. "I would like to catch an earlier flight home. Can you help me?" I asked.

"No, but you can do that on the self serve kiosk behind you."

"No" number one.

I move to the kiosk and begin typing in all of my information. The kiosk informs me that there are no seats available for an earlier flight.

"No" number two.

There is an American employee standing beside the kiosk, so I smile and ask her if I there is another option to finding an earlier flight home. She shakes her head and told me that the people at the desk have the same information as the kiosk.

"No" number three.

At this point, I was checked in for my late flight home, and I still had four hours to kill. I went and stood in line at the main American counters.

When it was my turn, I stepped up to the man behind the counter and said very calmly, "I would really like to get home sooner, can you help me get on an earlier flight? I know the kiosk said there wasn't anything, but I was hoping you might be able to help me."

He said he would try and began plucking away at the keyboard of his computer. No weather delays. Lots of standby passengers already. There was nothing he could do.

"No" number four.

I asked him what gate the next flight to Raleigh would be using, and he told me. He said I could ask the gate agent, but there wouldn't be anything for them to tell me.

After I made it through a very slow security line, I found the gate with the plane leaving for Raleigh.

FINAL BOARDING CALL the sign blinked above the desk.

I stepped up and smiled at an incredibly tired looking attendant.

"Yes? Do you need something?" she asked.

Pulling out my calm smile once again, I told her that I had hoped that she could get me on this flight to go home. I really just want to go home.

Sigh. "I have too many standby passengers as it is. I'm not putting you on my standby list."

"No" number five.

I smiled and raised my eyebrows at her.

Sigh. "I guess you can wait there and see."

I replied, "I've got nothing but time. Thank you so much."

She went through her remaining list of standby passengers. One by one they boarded the plane. Finally, she turned to me and said, "I guess I can take you, but it will be $75."

"Wonderful," I said. "I could just hug you, although that would be inappropriate."

A quick scan of my card (justified by not spending the money on the cruise or a cab home later that night) and an even quicker text to Kevin to tell him I was on my way, and I boarded the plane with not one, but two seats to myself. Ninety minutes later, I was landing in Raleigh and hugging my boys.

Turns out, they even delivered my luggage to me the next day instead of making me come back to the airport and pick it up. I did a lot of smiling at that guy too.

There are so many times when I'm told "no," and I just give up. It doesn't seem worth arguing or fighting back. Of course, this time I didn't argue, and I didn't fight. I just kept smiling and asking the question in a different way to a different person.

And come to find out, "no no no no no" in American Airlines vocabulary? Actually means "yes."

Monday, July 29, 2013

Me too

Walking through the expo at BlogHer is overwhelming. There are so many people and so many booths and so much of all the stuff in the world. I walk through alone because it's too much for me to be there in all that stimulus and carry on a conversation with a friend.

I stopped to learn about Yiva, a cool looking natural PMS symptom reliever, and the nice PR guy asked me,

"So, is this something you think you would write about?"

"No," I replied.

Simply put, no.

If BlogHer does one thing for me every year, it is to fortify me as a personal blogger. It stirs the desire to write and tell stories. It reminds me that the moments that drive me to blog are, simply put, the moments that make us say,

"Me too."

When Ann passed out these bracelets at the Listen to Your Mother brunch, just hours before I was supposed to head back home and into family life again, I couldn't stop myself from choking up a little. It was the perfect end to the weekend.

Thank you, Ann. Thank you, BlogHer.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BlogHer 2013

It's that time again. Time to pack a bag and head to BlogHer.

I actually have goals this year. Having the honor of producing Listen to Your Mother in Raleigh this year has breathed new life into my desire to write and create a professional presence online. A new website is coming, and this blog will be laid to rest.

I have been blogging here for over seven years - an anniversary that passed without notice or flair. This space will always be missing something now that Susan is gone, and I decided awhile ago that I didn't want to be here without her.

But I do want to write. I want to be a part of this community still. I want to tell you about my children, my dogs, my guppies, the chickens that are on their way to my backyard. I want to share what I'm making because after all, making things is what keeps me going. 

So if you meet me at BlogHer, and by chance, come here to see what I'm doing, the answer is, regrouping.

I'll be at BlogHer honing my writing skills. Gearing up for more posting and less silence. Getting help on moving into my new space. Finding advice on starting a local writers' group. Thanking BlogHer for creating a place to nurture the relationships we have here. Hanging with my friends. Meeting some new people. Enjoying all of the "me too" moments that happen when you share your stories. And probably eating Cheeseburgers while wearing silly hats. Because all work and no play and all that jazz.

I'll keep writing here until the new space is up and running, but I hope you'll follow me on Twitter so that you can come say hello when I've moved. And if you are here because I met you at BlogHer, please leave me a link to make sure I come see you too.

I almost forgot - I'll be in my favorite place at BlogHer, the Serenity Suite, on Friday and Saturday from 1:00-2:00 PM. In the Sheraton, suite 1287. Please stop by this anxiety and alcohol free space and say hello. I'll share a Diet Coke with you, and if you know me, you know I don't share Diet Coke with just anybody. 

One more thing, that's one of my besties up there eating a cheeseburger with me. She's sitting this year out because she has a bundle of sweet goodness named Chase who needs her and her boobies at home with him. You should check out her food blog: A Little Nosh.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

You can't fix this with butter, Paula

Oh, Paula. You've gotten yourself into quite a mess, haven't you? My Facebook feed is full of people from back home who want to "bring back Paula Deen!" They simply can't live without the butter and the ridiculous accent. Girlfriend, I'm with you on the butter, but you are doing your IQ a disservice with your drawl.


We all know you are one smart cookie. Butter loaded, sugar sprinkled, passed down from your Mimi's kitchen cookie.

The thing is, I don't watch your show or read your cookbooks. Nothing personal, I just don't get into them. You have plenty of fans, so I know this little fact doesn't hurt your feelings. My opinion about you doesn't apply to your show, books, or endorsements. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other.

What bothers me is that the conversation so quickly turned to whether or not you should be punished, or persecuted, as many are calling it. It's really not the point. 

The point is that we are glossing over the entire attitude. We are once again, downplaying the fact that the glorification of the Old South is hurtful and does nothing positive for our community. Sure, the dresses were pretty, the houses magnificent, the parties to die for, but it was built on the backs of slaves.

There is nothing about that I can be nostalgic for.

I know what they say. It's heritage. It's our history. We've moved on.  Shoot, even the Supreme Court ruled that the South has worked through their race issues at the polls. Go, us. We have come so far.

So far that when a popular tv personality such as yourself is recorded under oath being nostalgic for the days of old when black men in white coats made an event glorious by reflecting the days of slavery, we simply argue about your tv show being cancelled.

You know, Paula, you are held to a high standard. You should be. You are white, privileged, and in the public eye. Using the n-word and waxing nostalgic for the good old days of slavery are not okay. Turning the conversation to your persecution is not okay. We have a responsibility to teach future generations, and according to the responses, apparently current generations too, that the way our ancestors built their wealth on the backs of others was not okay. That it is nothing to remember fondly or to be proud of. 

I understand that traditions run deep, and I know that food in the Deep South is a connection to our roots and our heritage. But you would do us all a lot of good if you could stick with the recipes and leave the fondness for plantation life in the past.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Loving her isn't enough

Last night I dreamed that Momma and I were shopping. We were in some hip little downtown area, very much like Asheville, and we were in stores like specialty olive oil and dried herb shops. Places you wander leisurely through, wondering how they stay in business, but enjoying the window shopping.

Momma was strong, beautiful, vibrant, and we were having so much fun.

They were shops I had been in before, because the employees knew me. I introduced Momma to each one of them, and they showed her things that I had mentioned to them reminded me of her. It was very much how I often shop, "Oh, Momma would like that."

********************************************

She is on heavy duty chemo again, Momma. It isn't as easy this time around, not that it was ever easy. But it is easy to forget how much harder a weekly injection is than a daily pill. Especially easier to forget when you aren't there.

The boys made her cards. I made her a minky eye pillow with dried lavender in it. She called me when she got it and gushed about the cards. I was proud of my boys. Then we talked about the pillow and how she could heat it or cool it to use on her eyes or head.

She said, "That's so nice. Elizabeth always puts a cool rag on my head with I'm throwing up, so I'm sure I'll be able to use this."

And in that moment, I failed her. Here is your silly eye pillow, when you need someone holding your hand, wiping your mouth, helping you get to the bathroom or bucket in time. I made you a PILLOW. A scented pillow to help you want to throw up even more.

Next week, I'll be with her. I'll get to do those things, but only for a week. It's ultimately not my responsibility. Or is it, and I'm shirking it?

I'm long distance loving her with dreadfully out of touch care packages. Loving her doesn't seem like enough.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On What I'm Teaching Them


Colin and I were on a date. Everyone else had plans or meetings, so the three year old was stuck home with Momma once again. I decided that we should have plans too, so we went on a date.

He chose a hot dog, and I ordered a BLT, knowing that he would eat half the bacon for me. I let him pick out a table. I don’t really remember what we were talking about. He’s three. He rarely stops talking. But we were enjoying being together with no toys, no computers, no phones, and nobody else.

Just Colin and Momma.

As we were finishing up, he said, “Momma, I really like this Kool Aid.”

I laughed. “Of course you do. It’s liquid sugar.”

The gentleman at the table next to us laughed too. He was eating alone and had been privy to our conversation going on behind him. He turned around, smiling, and apologized. He hadn’t meant to intrude, he said.

Then he asked me, “Are you a teacher, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“No,” I replied.

“It’s just that my daughter is a teacher, and you talk to your son like she does her children. Always teaching. It’s so good for them,” he said.

I told him that made my day and that I was going to remember him saying it for a long time, tucking it away for days when I felt like a terrible mother. He laughed again, and then we eased into talking about the weather for a minute or two.

*********************************************************

It was Susan, my life-long best friend, who taught me to always be teaching.

She taught me deliberately, giving me ideas of games and activities to share with my boys. Telling me which toys were good for stimulating which area of brain development. Suggesting books for them and books for me too.

I learned from my best friend that every moment of fun is also a moment of learning for children.

It has been hard to live up to her expectations of motherhood. I fail a lot.

And when I failed, she also taught me that we always get to try again.

Until, of course, we don’t.

Because some mothers aren’t there forever. Some mothers get cancer and die. Some mothers have to pack a lifetime of loving, teaching, and caring into five years of their child’s life. Some mothers like Susan.

**********************************************************

I take a pill every morning. When I decided to start taking an antidepressant, I felt like a failure. I called Susan to let her know how broken I was. How I needed to take medicine in order to be a decent person. That I had depression.

Like every good best friend should, she laughed at me. “Take your pill and move on, Marty. Every mother I know does. It’s better for your family if you take care of yourself. Oh, and you aren’t broken. You have a chemical imbalance in your brain. It’s medical. That’s why they make pills for it.”
She was such a scientist.

**********************************************************

I teach my children. I teach them to communicate. I teach them to be respectful. I teach them compassion. I teach them music, art, story-telling, dancing, singing, and anything else I can squeeze into our days.

I also teach them how to over react. I teach them how to throw a tantrum. How to yell. How to be self-deprecating. How to withdraw.

It is after those moments, the teaching of my own shortcomings that I rely so heavily on the kindness of strangers at next table and the wisdom of my best friend.

You are always teaching your children. Take care of yourself in order to take care of your family. And when you screw up, try again.

Because grace is one of the most important lessons of them all.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Birthday. Yeah, you missed mine again.

I'm not sure how to celebrate a birthday when you aren't here to actually turn another year older.


Cupcakes with big piles of unscientifically created buttercream frosting seem fitting, but I'm trying to cut back.

This is the year you would have turned 40. I did it in February, and customarily, you would just now be noticing because it's your birthday and, "Oh crap! I forgot your birthday again!" You only ever remembered my birthday by the fact that you had one too.

That will never cease to crack me up. You always apologized and never realized that I didn't expect you to ever wish me a happy birthday before April 13.

The other night, I dreamed that all of my guppies were still swimming around the tank, but they were only half of themselves. A head swimming around here, a tail swimming around there. I kept pulling half guppies out of the tank, searching and searching for a whole one. There were no whole ones. 

Sometimes, I wish my dreams were a little less obvious.

I don't know. I think I'll have that cupcake. Call your boys to say hello. Say another prayer for your mama. Feed our fish. 

When I eat that cupcake, I'm not singing. Because even though in my heart, I'll always celebrate the day you were born, I won't be saying "Happy birthday" about it for a long time.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Seventeen

Dear Mallory,

Today, you turn 17. It's a magical age. You are so close to being an adult, but yet you still get to claim childhood. For one more year, that is.

Of course, you have been such a grown up already. By sheer comparison, being the child who could do her own laundry and not poop in her pants made you seem incredibly mature. Aside from those accomplishments, there is also the fact that you really are incredibly mature.

You have the uncanny ability of someone far older than yourself to be able to tell us what you want or need and why. You can discuss how you feel about something, explaining your emotions in conversation many people three times your age wouldn't be able to replicate. It's not your favorite thing in the world to do, but you can do it, which is amazing.

This is the year you have to decide what comes next. You have to balance your last year of high school with figuring out your plans for your adult life. No pressure, right? It's a daunting task, I know. Don't worry though. It's not like you can't change your mind down the road, but you have to admit, there are some big decisions to be made this coming year.

I'm not worried about you. You are the most grounded teenager I've ever met. Lord knows how that happened. You have certainly endured your share of the crazy. And the diapers. And being woken up way before you should be on the weekends. And having to sit next to tiny people with sticky fingers at the dinner table. And parents who quote song lyrics as though they are part of the actual conversation. And  potty talk. So much potty talk.

However, there is something important about 17 that I want you to remember. You will be expected to make grown up decisions and start acting more and more like an adult. We will expect more from you. Your teachers will expect more from you. This is normal and important. You have to grow up, and there is no time like 17 to do it. But here is the important part:

You are still a child.

No matter how grounded and how mature you are, you still get to be a child. Yes, that means you are still allowed some tantrums and silliness if you need it. What it really means is that you can still come to us with anything that you need.

A lot of people will start treating you like an adult now that you are 17. But you have a safe place here. A place where you can still be a child. A place where you can ask for help or support or just someone to listen to you.

I guess that is true for the rest of your life. We will always be there for you when you need us. Just remember that as you become an adult, that doesn't mean that you have to quit relying on your dad and I for support.

Growing up doesn't mean out growing your family.

Happy birthday, Mal Mal. In case you didn't know it, and because you can never hear it too many times, I love you bunches.

Love,
marty


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Hubble Collection

Something spectacular happened today.

LympheDIVAs released a new line of sleeves in memory of Susan. They are sleeves designed using images from the Hubble Telescope - The Hubble Collection.

Not only are they a perfect tribute to her, they are beautiful. Really gorgeous.

For every sleeve and gauntlet purchased from this collection, LympheDIVAs will make a donation to Crickett's Answer for Cancer, a cause very dear to Susan's heart.

Here's what Josh from LympheDIVAs had to say about it:

"In 2010, Susan Niebur of ToddlerPlanet arranged a discussion between LympheDIVAs, manufacturers of medically correct and fashionable compression garments for lymphedema, and the 501(c)3 charity Crickett’s Answer for Cancer. These two organizations with similar geneses quickly realized the potential of a partnership and established a working relationship to help provide lymphedema sleeves and gauntlets to those who could not afford them. LympheDIVAs has donated thousands of dollars worth of garments to Crickett’s Answer for Cancer, but that is not enough. When Susan Niebur passed away last year, LympheDIVAs wanted to honor both her memory, her fight and her legacy and design a sleeve in her honor that would give back to Crickett’s Answer for Cancer."


I know that a LympheDIVA sleeve isn't something that all of us need, but it's something that if you DO need it, then it's very important. So, I hope that you will help me spread the word about these new sleeves. Every woman who needs one deserves for it to be this beautiful.

More than anything, it's a beautiful way to honor Susan's memory, and nothing makes me happier than when people remember and honor this woman I love so much.

Thank you, LympheDIVAs.

Aren't they stunning?





Saturday, February 23, 2013

I get all these years as my own

Here it is. The last hoorah of my 30's. I told Kevin tonight that I was feeling introspective about it, and he thought I meant I was regretting it.

Not in the least.

I was just thinking about where I was in my life 10 years ago as I was living out the last of my 20's. It was a far different place. A far different space in my head.

The past decade changed a lot of things for me. Lost love. Found love. Parenthood. Lost Daddy. Lost Susan. Still have my momma, which is awesome.

I've learned to sew. I've learned to make pirogi. Heck, I even learned to make milk and birth babies. Not in that order.

No. I'm not upset about turning 40. I'm excited. Life just started getting good in my mid 30's and it's only getting better. I'm quite sure of it.

Now, I'm tired. Being 39 has been exhausting.

Peace out, 30's. You were a righteous decade.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's not Connie Britton's hair

Almost a year ago, I stopped coloring my hair. It was partly an "I-don't-give-a-shit" decision, and partly an "I'm-lucky-I-get-to-be-here-and-go-grey" decision.

I was angry. Bitter. We had just said good bye to Susan, and I was about to turn 39 years old. On that day, my 39th birthday, I decided to never complain about anything having to do with aging.

And I stopped coloring my hair.

I also wore nothing but pajamas for several months, but that's not really relevant to this story.

Here's the thing. I stopped coloring my hair as a kind of "fuck you" to the youth loving universe. I wanted to see my grey hair. I wanted to look at it and be reminded that some people would give anything to be here long enough to go grey.

Funny thing about the universe. The universe said to me, "Fuck you back. You're not really going grey."

Meh. I have a few sparkly grey hairs here and there. For the most part though, my hair, my real hair color is the color of the Carter family. My grandmother, who died at the ever so young age of 97, had maybe a dozen grey hairs at the time of her death. The rest of her hair was a light chestnut brown color with a hint of auburn highlights. She never colored it.

My great aunt and her daughters - same beautiful hair. The Carter hair.

Last week, I turned my back towards the mirror in my bathroom and held a hand mirror up to see the back of my hair. I was checking to see how close I was to achieving some Connie Britton style (not close enough ever).

It surprised me. The highlights and the auburn in my hair. The natural color that I had covered for so many many years. I didn't even know what my natural color was until now.

I stood there, staring at my hair, realizing that my hair is nothing but a completely cliche metaphor for life. A ridiculous motivational poster for being yourself.

Stop trying to be something you aren't. You might actually like what you really are.

It will never be Connie Britton, but I'm liking my hair. All curly and confused. Brown and auburn.

Bring it on, 40. Me and my Carter hair can totally take you.