Friday, June 30, 2006

Heart On A String

In lieu of "Most Quotable Friday," I am posting a very special poem in honor of my very special son, who turns 11 today.

Heart On A String

For years I kept my heart
Hidden and set apart
From pain, feeling it was best
To hide it from the rest
Protected, shielded and tucked away
Deep inside where it would stay

From the day that God sent you
I knew just what to do
Into the depths of isolation
I journeyed without hesitation
The fog began to lift
As I came upon my treasured gift

I placed it on a tiny thread
And I heard the angels sing
Since that very day you’ve had
My heart, on a string

As you grow
My heart grows with you.
When you are sad
My heart fills with your tears
When you are hurt
My heart is seared with pain
When your heart breaks
My heart shatters a thousand times
But that little string remains

When you are happy
My heart smiles
When you learn something new
My heart swells
When you are selfless and brave
My heart soars
Right there on its string

I used to hide my heart
Deep within, but apart
Until the day my world was graced
All the loneliness erased
By this tiny little being
Who will forever hold my heart on a string

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


So, I’m sitting at the park watching 7 y/o Buzz ride his bike around (and around and around and around) the black top/basketball court area. Why is this significant? Because he just learned how to ride it and I was proud and in awe of this “ah ha” moment he was having. The smile on his face every time he passed me was worth a thousand pictures. After a while I got up from where I was sitting to check on Woody who was in another part of the park kicking his soccer ball around with his buddy G.

Left alone with my thoughts I began thinking about all the changes going on in my life. Right in front of my eyes, I thought, is Buzz out there riding a bike for the first time and becoming so grown up. I thought of Woody, days from turning 11, starting to prefer the company of his friends over me and grown up enough to be without my immediate supervision. I thought of my (step) son, whom I fondly raised from the age of 10, freshly out of the house and in his own apartment. I thought of myself, just a month shy of my 40th birthday. I thought of friends in our life, two different families actually, who are both moving away this summer. One to the other side of the country and the other to a completely different country. And what is, perhaps, the biggest change of all, my (step) daughter, whom I raised from the age of 4, is having a baby. She is due the first week of December. I used to always joke that I would be a grandmother before I was 40, so I guess I wasn’t to far off the mark ((sigh)).

I haven’t talked too much about my daughter on this blog. To say that it's complicated is probably too simple of an out. If I would have started a blog 3-4 years ago it would have all been about her. I probably would have named it “Drama & More Drama.” To try and summarize her life, our relationship, her relationship with her father and her relationship with her bio-mom, would be to overwhelming to even attempt. I won’t even try. What I will say is that she left our home on her 15th birthday, got married at 16 and now at 18 is expecting her first baby. Now you are all up to speed! Please feel free to fill in the gaps with your imagination. I’m sure what ever you come up with cannot be more “out there” than the truth.

And? I’m sorry if I sound glib, jaded, or heartless... but, wow you just really had to be there. I had a lot to let go and get past in order to be available to raise the two boys. They were getting caught in the crossfire and it freaked me out that the dysfunction of it all was “normal” to them. But? The main reason it was so difficult (for me), was because when she was good, she was really good. She was helpful, thoughtful, funny and poured herself into loving her little brothers. However, when she was bad, she was over-the-top-how-do-we-even-live-under-the-same-roof (?) bad. I kept trying to “save” the good but they came as a package and in the end, didn’t want to be saved.

Why does everything seem to change all at once? A few months ago it seemed like nothing was going to change. Or maybe I just didn’t see it. But now? It is as if a wave of changes is forming and if I’m not careful, I just might drown.

Oh, and please... no "grandma" jokes.

More Aquarium Photos...

... are posted here if you are interested. Especially for Zephra who requested to see more!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wedding Anniversary

In Honor of our fourteen years together...

A Reflection of Love

Every day you touch me
In some profound way
Every day I see something new
That I wouldn't have seen alone
Your love is like a presence
One that lives within
I feel it
I sense it
A reflection into myself

A kind word
A gentle hand
Soft lips
Can't express to those
Untouched by love

When we are apart
You are with me
Engrained in my senses
The background to my thoughts
I converse with you in my mind
Imagining what you might say

Your spirit sings to mine
A song all its own
My heart is open to the world
For all to see where it belongs
Your love sees me through
The lowest moments that I feel
When my strength is none
And my will is gone
Yours is there to carry on

Surrounding us is chaos
I rush to join in
I hear you calling me back
Whispers in the dark
There to keep me sane

Your love is a blessing
That God has given me
I am forever humbled
To have your eyes to see

Never question
Never falter
Your belief in me
Look into my reflection
Look at what I see

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Our vacation in pictures

I had last week off to spend with the kiddos. Here are some photo highlights from the week. Enjoy!

On Tuesday we went hiking. These are photos from the Mission Peaks trail in Fremont, CA.

We didn't quite make it to the top. The heat started getting to us and we had to turn around.

These guys had the right idea.

These spiders and spider holes were everywhere. We shot a short video of this one catching a cricket. Which only served to remind us it was lunch time and we were hungry.

On Thursday we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Aren't the penguins cute?

Not Nemo. Not even looking for him...

You can hide, but we will photograph you.

From the jelly fish exhibit... like watching a lava lamp

Well, it looks like blogger won't let me post any more pictures. I had a couple more nice ones from the aquarium, a few from the drive around beautiful Monterey and a few from Friday when we went to the beach. It was really hot around here for most of the week so we spent a lot of time at the swimming pool. I'm back to the office this week and the kids are off to their camps. I have another week off in August just before they go back to school.... so? Back to the grind.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Ha ha ha ha ha... Hubby found my blog! I don't know what he thinks about it yet. (So what do you think honey?) He hasn't told me he found it, aside from the subtle hints that I pretended not to pick up on... Hmmm, nick-names for the kids? I don't have any nick-names for the kids!!! Why would you ask me that? Or me? Do I call myself something... like Babaloo? Hello! Where would you get that? Hmmm, what do I really think about #91 (which is not a nick-name) moving out? Well, we've talked about it a million times. Did you, umm, read something different somewhere that I haven't expressed verbally?

Okay... I did feel very bad the other day when you asked me if I was "talking" to somebody online (Ewe!!) I would never do that. N-E-V-E-R. Besides being wrong on so many levels, it is just plain yucky. Yes, I have this blog. It is something I started doing at work for fun. I never meant to keep any secrets from you. It's just that there aren't many things in my life that are just mine. You know? Besides, I didn't think anyone would ever really read it.

I wish you would have waited a few more days because I have something special to post for our anniversary and I was going to send you a link so you could read it. (((Sigh))).

Okay, so I came clean. Now you come clean and tell me you read this!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Most Quotable Friday

"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the
bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
-Anais Nin
"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose."
-Lyndon B. Johnson
"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."
- Oscar Wilde
"Believe those who seek the truth; doubt those who find it."
- Andre Gide
"Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength."
- Eric Hoffer

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It took 24 years, but he's finally leaving the nest

Or... "Two Down, Two To Go..."

#91 is moving out. This weekend! It is real, I even saw it. A key! That isn't to my front door. A key that opens a different door. A door that opens to a different home. A home where I don't live. I finally have my washer and dryer back. I have my Diet Cokes all to myself. If I run out of bleach or laundry detergent... it's because I used them! I will have a parking spot in my driveway. Every day! OMG, when we come home late and go to the refrigerator to heat up leftovers for dinner... There. Will. Be. Leftovers. In the fridge to heat up! No more cursing the emergency mac & cheese! Oh, and when I buy tuna, I'll actually get to use it. There will be a normal number of towels in the bathroom, two! One for each remaining child. OMG, the kids can now keep their towels in the bathroom. Why? They couldn't before because #91 required three towels for himself (which took up all the towel rack space). I can't explain why he needed three towels to take a shower, it's not like he alternated them, he actually used all three after each shower. I won't have to stress out when I go into the garage and see freshly laundered t-shirts hanging all over (on the backs of chairs, my treadmill, the bicycles, the kids' hockey net) for days and days until I can't stand it any longer and gather them all up in a pile and put them on his bed. If there are dishes in the sink or lying around, it will be because I used them. I'll never have to worry again about how many eggs I have left in the carton. I could go on... but I won't.

You, internet, who take these little things for granted, have no idea the freedom I feel right now.

(((Sigh))), I guess here is the part where I should get all nostalgic and remember all the good times and what #91 means to me and what I will miss not having him live under my roof. Well, okay. I love my (step) son. I have raised him as my own since the age of 10. But? I just don't feel that at the age of 24 I (we) am doing him any favors by having him live here anymore. I feel like he is 3 or 4 years behind the learning curve on living on his own, budgeting his money, paying rent, food and utilities. He has always been a late bloomer so maybe logistically this makes perfect sense. He has been in and out of community college since his graduation from high school and nothing has seemed to take with him. He has a truly altruistic job working with special needs kids and he is really good at it. However, sometimes I just get the feeling he thought he would be living with us forever.

For example, the following is a conversation between him and hubby on Father's Day:

#91: "...yeah, but you know in Mexico (hubby is from Mexico and #91 was born and raised there until he was 9) you stay at home until you're like 30 or 35."

Me: wincing at the anticipated verbal onslaught Hubby is about to bring...

Hubby: "Yeah, but your whole paycheck goes to your parents, you are available 24/7 to whatever is needed around the house. If something needs to be fixed or someone needs a ride you are there to take care of it. You don't stay out all night, sleep all day and you certainly don't have your own room. Where does your paycheck go son?"

#91: "Umm. Nevermind."

Hubby: "Are you going to wash my car for Father's Day?"

#91: "Uh, I have to go somewhere right now. Can I do it later?"

Hubby: "mmmm..."

So? He has his key. He is moving to his new place this weekend. And? We all start on this new phase of our lives. In my case, with all the Diet Coke I can drink, 24/7 laundry priveleges, and my own parking space for the next 5 years until Woody starts driving, doing his own laundry and, God forbid, starts drinking Diet Coke.

Yes, life is good...

Monday, June 19, 2006

End of school Lunch...

Aaahhh... last day of school. My kids and I have made it a tradition that on the last day of school we go out to lunch and see a movie. This year being no different I picked them up at 12:15 on their last day and off we went to our traditional "lunch and a movie."

We decided on a lunch establishment close to the movie theater. Midway through our meal I glanced at the time and realized we were a bit pressed if we wanted to catch the movie we had picked out. I finished quickly and urged the kids to do the same. I found myself scolding Buzz for playing with a toy car instead of eating and noticed a man glancing, repeatedly, over at us.

He was dressed in a suit and was seated at a table for two with another gentleman also dressed in a business suit. I was a little embarassed because I thought perhaps we were disturbing his important business lunch. I looked around and took note of the noise level and excluded the option that we were too loud. I noticed other tables with like aged children and even some with younger ones as well. So, he couldn't be annoyed that my children in particular were bothering him and his client. The place was about 3/4 full with a mix of different people. I didn't get it. What was his problem?

Why did his glances turn in to dirty looks when we made eye contact? Because my son's car "crashed" to the floor a few times? I picked it up, put it in my purse and told him to finish his lunch. What else could I possibly do? Why did this guy seem so pissed? We finally finished and were heading out the door when I realized the silliness of the whole situation. So? I gave the well dressed business man one last glance and as our eyes met I gave him a raised-eyebrow-get-over-yourself-you-pompous-ass-because-your-lame-ass-dirty-looks-are-not-going-to-ruin-my-traditional-end-of-school-lunch-with-my-kids look and walked out gracefully.

Did I mention we were in a fucking McDonald's? What an ass.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Most Quotable Friday

To look at something as though we had never seen it before requires great courage.
- Henri Matisse

People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun's out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within.-
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
- Carl Bard

If you want happiness for an hour—take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day—go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month—get married.
If you want happiness for a year—inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime—help others.

- Chinese Proverb

Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.
- Golda Meir

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

9/11 A Fifth Anniversary Tribute


Dale is putting together a wonderful project that we all can be a part of. I don't have much traffic on my blog, but I know some of you that occasionally visit have a lot of readers. It would be great if you could promote it on your blogs to help get the ball rolling. He is asking for 2,995 fellow bloggers to join him in paying tribute to each of the 2,996 victims who died in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Everyone participating will recieve a name of someone who died that day and your job is to write a tribute to that person and post it on your blog on 9/11/06.

The fifth anniversary already, can you believe it? I got my name yesterday. Go visit his sight if you are interested and pass it along. Right now he has just over 200 participants so he still needs more to reach the 2,996 mark. There are graphics and links for you to use for your tribute... So PLEASE check it out.

***update*** I should have mentioned previously that I first heard about this project from TKW on her blog "The Kept Woman." Thanks TKW!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Road Rage?

According to this article some “doctors” say that road rage is an actual mental disorder called intermittent explosive disorder. And? Maybe in some cases they are right.

The article says “road rage, temper outbursts that involve throwing or breaking objects and even spousal abuse can sometimes be attributed to the disorder, though not everyone who does those things is afflicted.”

Also from the article: “By definition, intermittent explosive disorder involves multiple outbursts that are way out of proportion to the situation. These angry outbursts often include threats or aggressive actions and property damage. The disorder typically first appears in adolescence.”

But? I also think there is another disorder going on out there on the roads that isn’t covered in the medical journals. I call it Entitlement Driving Disorder (or EDD). It is defined by someone who, while behind the wheel, acts on feelings of entitlement and self-importance giving them the distorted view that they are above traffic laws, basic driving etiquette and that their final destination is more important than anyone else. In other words, sufferers of EDD own the road, and the rest of us are just renting.

Here are some real life (mine) examples. Please answer either a or b depending on what action you would take in the following situations:

1. You are on the freeway in somewhat heavy (commute time) traffic. As you near your exit you see cars starting to slow down in the right lane. Knowing the lane will soon turn into an “exit only” lane do you a) merge immediately into the lane behind all the cars already slowing and take your appropriate place in line or do you b) speed up, pass all the slowing cars and cut in front of a large red SUV at the last second to exit the freeway.

2. It is your morning commute and you are on the expressway heading toward the exit for the freeway. Your lane (to enter the freeway going north) is bumper to bumper. The other lane (to go south on the freeway) is flowing at a nice pace. Do you a) stay in your lane and wait your turn to enter the freeway or do you b) get into the lane that is for the southbound entrance, bypass all cars heading for the north entrance and force your way in front of a large red SUV at the last second to get into the northbound lane.

3. You are merging on to an expressway where eventually (as in not immediately) you will need to move over four lanes to get to the far left lane in order to make a left turn. Do you a) merge immediately and move over one lane at a time when space is available or do you b) wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait (yes, there is a line forming behind you including a large red SUV that is backing traffic up) and wait and wait and wait and wait (and wait) until ALL four lanes are clear and then “merge” onto the expressway and cross all four lanes at the same time?

If you answered “b” to any of these examples (and I don’t mean you did it once because you were rushing someone to the hospital or weren’t familiar with the area and didn’t know which lane you were supposed to be in, but that you do these things regularly because you truly believe you are entitled to exhibit these behaviors) then you suffer from EDD and I hate you.

I think in some extreme cases that "road rage" could be in fact intermittent explosive disorder. But mostly? I think it just us plain old average folk, standing up to the EDD people and saying “We are tired and we’re not going to take it anymore!” "So, wait your fucking turn, don’t fucking cut me off and oh BTW if you check your owner’s manual you’ll find that little knob thing on the left hand side of your steering wheel ( I know you probably don’t want to touch it with all the "yucky" layers of dust it must have on it), it’s called a blinker and we’d really fucking appreciate it if you would USE it once in awhile."

That is all.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Good thing I'm planning the schedule

I had the kids at my office for an unusual 2 hours the other day. Usually they are there for no more than 15- 20 minutes for me to wrap up and then get them to their practice. But, with school finishing up and their after school program ending (two weeks before school, what is up with that?) I picked them up from school and brought them to work. I knew I would have to get them busy with something or they would start bickering or playing soccer with balled up printer paper. I'm all about the proper office etiquette, and I'm pretty sure the boys rough housing wouldn't quite be considered "proper."
Fortunately, Buzz had homework. Unfortunately, Woody did not. I had to find something for him to do, and quick. I gave him a piece of paper and told him to write down his ideal summer schedule.
"What do you mean?"

"I mean, use your imagination and create the perfect summer schedule for yourself."

"For every day?"

I was losing him. "No," I said. "just do it for the one week in June and the one week in August that I have off that we are going to spend together. Write down everything that you want to do during that time and I'll take it into consideration when I'm planning out our schedules."

"Oh. Okay."

So, I gave him my little desk calendar and he sat down to do his task. Here is what he came up with:

Week 1:
Sunday- beach
Monday- walk dog & run (we take the dog on a walk and run laps at the middle school nearby)
Tuesday- library
Wednesday- Six Flags
Thursday- movies
Friday- Raging Waters (water park)
Saturday- bike ride

Week 2:
Sunday- bike ride
Monday- miniature golf or glow in the dark golf
Tuesday- walk dog
Wednesday- bowling
Thursday- real golf with friend "j" or anyone else that plays golf
Friday- Great America (amusement park)
Saturday- bike ride

He proudly handed me his schedule for me to read. After a few minutes he asked if I liked it. I told him it looked good and gave me a lot of good ideas for things to do. Which was true, I want to make sure we are all on the same page and I'm not just doing things that I think they want to do but would really rather be doing something else.
To which he said, "yeah, do you like how I balanced out the educational stuff with the fun stuff?"
I looked at it again, thinking maybe I missed something. "Um, what do you mean?"

"I put down going to the library." He said

"Yeah. One day. Out of fourteen! Where is the balance?"

"Well," he said thinking quickly. "There is a lot of physical fitness stuff too. So, that with the library and the fun stuff, is a good balance isn't it?"

"Yes, you are right," I said knowing that when I make the final schedule it would be a little more balanced but that that would be a battle for another day and today I would concede gracefully, "good job."

(ha ha, I said "that that")

Friday, June 09, 2006

Most Quotable Friday

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
- Mahatma Gandhi

The most difficult thing I have ever had to do is follow the guidance I prayed for.
- Albert Schweitzer

Swallow your pride occasionally, it's not fattening.
- Frank Tyger

Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water.
- Swedish Proverb

If you are losing a tug-of-war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope.
- Max Gunther

Thursday, June 08, 2006

No more human development movies for you!

(prelude: Woody just got through seeing the human development movies, you know where the girls go off and see their own movie and the boys stay and watch the boy version... remind me to tell you how excited he was to recieve a free deodorant sample. why was he so excited? I have no idea, he's been wearing deodorant since he was 9.)

Since when are there cheerleaders in the NHL?

The kids and #91 were watching the end of game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals the other day between, cough, Edmonton (who aren't the Sharks) and Carolina. I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready (and also not watching the game because it wasn't the Sharks and I just haven't been able to watch a game since they lost to, cough, cough, Edmonton a few weeks ago and were eliminated).

I guess it was a good game cuz I could hear the three of them "oohing" and "aahing" at different plays. "Turn it down!" I said. "Why do you have to have it so loud?" Hee, hee. We have it 3 times louder when the Sharks are playing. But, that doesn't matter, because this wasn't the Sharks and the volume was annoying me. I have to concentrate when boiling water for pasta.
"Mommy, come and see this play!" One of them said.
"Please? Hurry! You are going to miss it!"
"I'm busy." (the water was about to boil)
"Ugh. okay. what is so spectacular?" (that wouldn't be better if the Sharks were playing)

Flash to cheerleaders (wtf?), cheering for the team (that wasn't the Sharks) that just scored a goal (that I didn't see because I was boiling water).

"He-llo!" said (soon to be 11) Woody (yes, in that guy-oooogling-a-hot-babe kind of way)


"That's it! No more human development movies for you." (And turn off that game. That the Sharks are not playing in.)


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

5 Months Without Chocolate

It has been 5 months since my last real taste of chocolate. Yes, you read that right. Say it with me. "5. Months. Without. Chocolate."

Why, you ask? Surely I must have been diagnosed with some rare allergy that would kill me or put me through terrible physical suffering and pain if I consume chocolate? Or, I must be one of those people who doesn't like chocolate? It could not possibly be that I willingly gave up chocolate by, like, choice? Noooooooooooooooooo!

Wait. It gets worse. Worse? How in the Hell can it possibly get worse than that? ((sigh)) It isn't only chocolate. It is all sweets in general. Chocolate is just what I miss the most. And ice cream (Ben & Jerry's Phish Food). And cheese cake. And cookies. And doughnuts... But I digress. It has been 5 months since any of this sinful food has touched my lips.

It started as a New Year's resolution. Now, if you knew me in real life, you would be laughing your ass off right now knowing that doesn't mean anything. Umm yeah, me? Not really a resolution person. However, 2005 was a year of many gains. Mostly on my scale. I stopped checking at twenty. I had to buy new pants (2 sizes bigger). So? I needed to do something and giving up the sweets is what I had to do in order to get healthy. Now before you get all "she should be nominated for sainthood" on me (cuz, you must be thinking that. I would) I haven't cut out all junk food or (not so) low fat foods. In fact, I do allow myself salty snacks. I know, I know, but in my chocoholic world it makes perfect sense. Chips, peanuts, popcorn... yeah, all that stuff is fine. Why? Because I can stop eating that kind of food. Don't get me wrong, I love potato chips (salt and vinnegar, please!), tortilla chips (pass the guacamole!), popcorn (extra butter for me), peanuts (forget about it). But after a prolonged period of consumption, I'm over it. I. Can. Stop.

Now, try that with a big bag of M&M's (no, not the wussy King size, I'm talking about the big bag you find in the bulk candy section... you know the kind you buy for parties (ha ha ha ha, parties!). Put that in front of me and I will eat to my heart's content. Until I'm sick even. Maybe (maybe not) I'll get tired of them and stop eating them, cuz, you know they're making me sick and all. But? An hour later I'm over it and back in the bag (or the second bag, you know how it is!) Halloween? OMG that holiday is a nightmare for me. All those varieties. And they're so small... it's just a mini chocolatey, sugary smorgesborg. And the older my kids get, the more of it they bring home!!! And I can't let them eat it, what with it being bad for them and all.

So, I'm not going to lie and tell you how easy it was and how after a few days I didn't even miss it. That's just bullshit. I mean I gave the stuff up, but my family and the rest of the world did not. There have been times. A lot of times where I've been all alone cleaning up the kitchen, and come face to face with an open bag of Oreos. Oh, the dilemma. To do the right thing? Or? Dip those beautiful little cookies in a glass of milk and... yummmm. Or there was the time hubby took the kids to 7-11 and they bought me a King size Hershey bar. That was back in February. I still have it. I keep it in my desk at work. I deemed it my "emergency" chocolate. My son doesn't believe that I can have it sitting there every day and not eat it. Every time he comes to my office he opens the drawer to see if it's still there.

I didn't really have a goal in mind or a certain amount of time. I certainly didn't give the stuff up forever. I just wanted to feel better. So, one week turned in to two, and then a month turned in to two months... and here I am at five whole months. I've lost some of the weight I gained last year. I've been running on the treadmill and recently I bought some new pants in my old size!

Before this the longest I ever went without sweets was 3 months. I have a birthday coming up in July. Well, not just any birthday. My 40th birthday. I think that will be a good day to indulge.
So, with 52 days (and counting) until the big day, I'm going to start planning my "Chocolate Birthday Menu."

Out of curiousity, what would you have if hadn't had chocolate (or your favorite dessert) in 7 months?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Birthday Remembrance

Today is my mom's birthday. She would have been 64 today. She died a year and-a-half ago in December 2004. It is very difficult for me to define our relationship. Which may be why it has been a strange journey for me since she has passed away.

Our relationship was not a close one. Let me try to explain. I loved her and I know she loved me in the best way that she was capable. I believe that she was a good person. She was a wonderful cook. She sewed beautiful dresses and clothing for me when I was a child. She was my Blue Bird / Camp Fire Girl Troop Leader. My friends adored her. She attended all my sporting events and extra curricular activities. She was always there and my brother and I never went without. She wanted the best for me and she wanted me to be the best. But? She also had her demons. She was an alcoholic. She was one of those functioning alcoholics that never drank during the day, but once it hit 5:00, the wine started pouring. I remember she would get antsy if we were out and wouldn't be home by 5. She also could be very critical of me. I was a reflection of her in her world. If I disappointed her, it made her look bad. In my tween years I began to overeat. A lot. I gained a lot of weight. My weight became a battle between she and I that has left me scarred to this day. As I grew up, became an adult and took ownership of my body, decisions and choices one of them was to distance myself from her. I attended Al-Anon and made a somewhat successful journey to physical and mental health. We still talked and visited, but I chose to keep things on a very superficial level. She never stopped drinking until she became ill.

My saving grace, or what finally brought a peace between us was when I made her a grandmother. The mutual love we had for my children gave us some neutral ground. I can't lie and say it brought us closer together or made our relationship stronger, but it did give us something in common.

It was Mother's Day two years ago when she first told me she was sick. At that time she didn't know what it was. She had back problems and her doctor told her it was arthritus (sp?). But, she said, she hadn't been herself since February, had lost her appetite and had lost a lot of weight. She also had not felt like drinking. The fact that she had stopped drinking was bittersweet. I knew something was terribly wrong. But, quick to be in denial, I let her assure me that everything was fine, that her doctor was running some tests and she was starting to feel better. Her and Dad had moved to Arizona some years earlier so I had to take her at her word that she was seeking help. We had plans to see her later that summer. My cousin was getting married in Portland and a big family wedding was planned for July.

When I first saw her that summer I was in complete shock. She had lost so much weight (she was not a large woman to begin with) and where there once was animation in her presence was now replaced with an almost sad-like quality. I just could not believe this was my mother.

Summer turned to fall and before I knew it Thanksgiving was upon us. I spoke to her on Thanksgiving and she sounded very tired. She didn't cook up her traditional feast and I was told she was on the couch most of the holiday weekend. About two weeks after that I got a call that she had been admitted to the hospital. She had passed out after leaving her doctor's appointment. They put her on oxygen and took her to Emergency. This was on a Monday. I called her that night at the hospital and she told me they diagnosed her with double pnemonia. I called the next day and she said they were going to drain fluid from her lung. I called Wednesday and she said she felt better after they drained her lung. When I called Thursday she was too tired to talk to me. By Saturday I was on a plane. I drove the two hours from the Phoenix airport and when I got to the house my dad met me outside. He was in tears. He couldn't talk. He choked out "she's dying. She has cancer. It's in her lungs." By Tuesday she was gone.

I know how everyone deals with death differently and everyone mourns in their own way. For me, the mourning and the missing my mom has come in waves. The first wave was taking care of my kids and seeing to their needs and answering their questions. The second wave was dealing with the holidays. Then? I don't know. I expected this big storm to erupt from within, but in never came. When Mother's Day came around, I thought, well this is it. This is when I will lose it and have a breakdown. Mother's Day came and went and with that was sadness and memories but not the storm I was expecting. Soon after that was her birthday. I, again, thought that would be the day and dreaded the days leading up to it. The day came and went. I mentioned to hubby that it was her birthday and he asked if I was okay, and? I was sad, but more than that I started questioning why I wasn't more... something, anything. I wondered why I was okay. It had been nearly six months since my mother, the woman that gave me life, had passed and why didn't I feel anything? I thought there was something wrong with me. I decided to just let it go. I couldn't force feelings or emotions out that weren't there.

A couple of weeks later on June 30th, my son's 10th birthday, I was driving to work. I still had a lot of last minute details to attend to for his birthday celebration, so I was going over a mental-checklist while I was driving. I remember thinking (among a hundred other things), "okay, I need to make sure we are home before 7:00 so we don't miss mom's phone call to wish Woody a happy birthday..." Almost as quickly as the thought crossed over in my mind I stopped. I felt my heart leap up into my throat and I couldn't breathe.

There would be no phone call. She wasn't calling. There would never be another birthday phone call. I started crying hysterically. I actually had to pull the car over. The storm I had been waiting for finally erupted.

I miss her. I do. Sometimes it hits me harder than others. Sometimes I miss the relationship we should have had, but never did. Mostly, I just miss catching her up on the kids and what has been going on in their lives and their activities. I know, whether real or imagined, I didn't live up to the dreams she had for my life. But, I am satisfied with knowing that I could bring a smile to her face just by sending her a photograph or passing on an antecdote about one of her grandkids.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Most Quotable Friday

Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth... Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.
- Noela Evans

First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
- Thomas a Kempis

Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.
- Charles A. Dana

Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else's can shorten it.
- Cullen Hightower

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Scary hormones strike early

The scary hormones were raging this morning. The good news? They didn't belong to anyone in my family. The bad news? They belonged to my neighbor. My very PREGNANT neighbor. My I'm-going-to-pop-out-this-kid-any-second-now-and-I'm-enraged-because-my-7-year-old-can't-find-his-shoe-and-is-going-to-be-late-for-school neighbor. Who, under normal circumstances is the sweetest, most doting, neighborly mom you'd ever want to meet. Really. You would love her. Anyone would.

She has two boys, the previously mentioned 7 year-old and a 3 year-old. This one is going to be a little girl. She is due on Saturday. Her husband leaves early in the morning for work and they only have one car, so for the duration of her pregnancy she has been walking "Johnny" the four blocks or so to school. She was doing fine up until about a month or so ago when she finally accepted my offer to take Johnny with me when I drop off my kids. So every morning I send one of my boys over to get him and off we go.

This morning I sent Buzz over to get him because he was the first one ready. He came back a few minutes later with a confused look on his face. "Where's Johnny?" I asked him. "Umm, I don't think he is going to school today." I asked if he was sick. "No, he can't find his shoe. And..." And what? "And, um. His mom is yelling at him. She told me he is not going to school."

This was definitely not about a missing shoe. I figured she would probably find his shoe and then try and take him to school herself if we left without him. I did not want that on my conscience all day so I sent Woody over to follow up and to see if we should wait. He came back a few minutes later with a very sad and weepy Johnny.

I felt so bad for him! Poor guy. So young to be a hormonal rage victim! I tried to tell him that his mommy is just really ready to have the baby and she's not really mad at him. He nodded, but I don't think he quite believed me. Then I made up a story about once when I was pregnant I threw one of Woody's shoes out in the street because I was mad that he couldn't find the other one. That got a smile. However, I'm sure he was probably planning how to find every single pair of shoes he owns and line them up next to his bed.

Just in case.