Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom,

Since I can't pick up the phone and hear your voice, or get one of your cards in the mail, written in  that unique handwriting I always struggled to read, with paper-clipped coupons attached, I'm just going to send the words I would say to you out into the universe. Why not? 

Every morning, when I come out to the living room, I look at your picture and say, "Good morning, Mom! I miss you." You know the one of you at your 80th birthday party, looking up at someone and smiling with such joy that you look like you're glowing? Next to it is one I took of you at Birch Bay -- you're wearing that soft, lumpy gray sweater you liked so much; the one with the pockets, where you always kept wads of kleenex that could be whipped out at a moment's notice -- your transition lenses are as dark as sunglasses, the water is blue behind you, and you are wearing a grin which makes me think that Foster was probably making rabbit ears behind my head when I was taking the picture. Nothing could make you grin quite as much as your mischievous, loving, complicated youngest grandson, eh? Just so you know, he still talks about you all the time. You had such an influence on him -- You let him know he was loved, completely, even when his behavior wasn't always so lovable, and he was struggling to figure out how to get along in the world. You were so worried that the boys would forget you, but there's not a chance of that, Mom. Every night, we clink our glasses and toast you. The "How Tall Am I" tapestry you and Dad made still hangs on the door of our kitchen, even though Spencer has reached all the way to the title, so we can't really measure his height from it anymore. Pictures of you hang all over our house, and we still say "Pengwich!" when people sneeze, instead of "Gezundheit!" This morning, Spencer made hot chocolate in one of the speckled blue mugs you and Dad kept here for your visits. You are everywhere.

Right now, I've got the card table you and Dad gave me set up in the living room, and we're working on a puzzle. That, too, reminds me of you and of growing up. We work a puzzle the way you and Dad did -- I start with all of the edge pieces, and I can't do any of the rest until the border is complete. John, on the other hand, immediately starts grouping pieces together, randomly. Guess that makes us a great team... Fos will get caught up in it and sit for a long time. Spence comes in and does his one or two pieces, then he's off to his room to create starships, planets, wonderful inventions, and entire adventures with that amazing, imaginative brain of his.

The boys are doing so well this year, Mom. Fos joined the running club, and he's loving it! He's got a lot of natural athletic ability, but he works hard at it, too, so he really excels. It's so nice to see him brimming with confidence. He looped up with the same teacher, so he didn't need to go through that rocky stage of re-establishing a relationship with another adult, testing the boundaries, etc. It's been such a smooth start to the year. He does well, academically, but he doesn't work as hard at it as he could, so he's not getting the results he's truly capable of. But, no major issues with other kids anymore. He seems to have finally learned how to ignore people who are pushing his buttons, instead of reacting. Whew! (Of course, that doesn't apply to his brother!) Spence is SO tall and skinny. His last year of elementary school! How did that happen so fast? He's scientific, writes amazing fiction, is obsessed with both Star Trek and cars, and he's got a nice little bunch of peers who are also a little on the fringe of 5th grade society. But, he notices the "popular" kids, and it affects him, which makes me sad. Other kids have made fun of him, called him "geek" and "nerd," and it hurts him deeply. He doesn't yet know how amazing he is. He'll come in, late at night, and ask me to snuggle with him. That's when he talks about it, and I never feel like I have the right words to say. Kids sure can be cruel, but I know that both of my boys are going to learn tough lessons that will help them be stronger men, someday. I guess that I just need to love them through it all and to be their safe harbor when the storms come...Just like you and Dad have always done for me.

Yesterday, before the girls got here, John made the boys nachos. Thinking I'd be hilarious, I covered up Foster's chip and said, "Put that down, that's nachos!" (You know, as if I was saying "not yours?") Without skipping a beat, Spence looked up and said, "I don't want to taco 'bout it Mom, it's nacho business." We all cracked up laughing...A nice moment. I pictured you sitting at the table with us, cup of coffee in hand, laughing along.

Mom, you would have LOVED this weekend! I invited the girls to come up and spend the day with us. I try to do that a few times a year, so I can keep our relationship with them strong. Otherwise, I'd only see them once or twice around the holidays, most likely, and that's just not enough. We offer up free babysitting, and Barb and Ken drop them off at our house for a few hours to go hang out with their friends. So, yesterday, we immediately put everybody in our new family car -- a sassy blue Honda Pilot I named Amelia (after Amelia Earhardt, of course). She has HEATED seats! Imagine that! My buns are toasty every morning! -- and off we went to our favorite pumpkin farm.  This place is a wonderland -- Huge pumpkin patch, apple grove, a corn maze you can get lost in for an hour, farm animals, a cozy fire pit, playground, the most amazing fresh apple pie (with ice cream and homemade caramel sauce), tractor rides -- Really a lovely place to spend an afternoon. It was pouring rain first thing in the morning, but the sun came out for our trip, as if it was meant to be. As we drove out into the countryside, the sun lit up the changing leaves and covered the landscape with a blanket of gold. We sang all the way to the farm, and everyone remarked on the beauty all around us. "Look at the leaves!" "Look at the mountain!" "Look at the goats!" "Horses!" All four kids got along famously, and the giggles were nonstop. The boys took turns giving Hailee piggy back rides, and Ella skipped around in little-girl heaven! We saw rabbits and baby chicks, and she did exactly what I used to do when I was little -- She crinkled up her face, clasped her hands to her chest, and said, in that same sort of sad, yet awestruck, tone I used to use, "Ohhhhhh, look at them. They're sooooo cute and little!" John and I both started giggling, because it seemed like she'd pipe in with, "The poor things!" at any second, just like I used to do. She didn't use those words, but, believe me, the tone was the same. You would've cracked up, Mom. The girls are getting so big as well. Hailee reminds me a lot of Fos -- sassy, opinionated, challenging, with a mischievous gleam in her eye! Ella is smart and funny, wants to control everybody around her but is more shy than her little sister, with these big, sensitive blue eyes and a smile that show a depth of feeling below the surface, that I think we'll see a lot more of as she gets older. They're wonderful, and we had such a nice time all together. We were supposed to come home and all make and decorate sugar cookies, but we were having so much fun that we spent the whole time at the farm. I was sad to see them go, although our little home seemed quiet and peaceful with only two kids in it, instead of four...The four of us ended this glorious fall day by making a batch of sugar cookies, cutting them into leaves, pumpkins, and turkeys, (using the cookie cutters you gave me - some of them the exact same ones we used as kids) then cuddling up in the back bedroom to watch an episode of Star Trek before bed. What a wonderful day!

This morning has been so peaceful. I woke up at the crack of dawn, as usual, and came out to the living room to read, snuggling up on the couch. Fos came out and curled up at my feet, playing with cards. Spence was next. He came in, wrapped up like a burrito in his favorite Cars blanket -- the super-soft one Gerry, Austin, and Ali gave him when he was just a little tyke -- and snuggled up on the floor by the couch. We all talked and giggled for a while. Finally, my blurry-eyed, rumpled hubby came down the hall. Now, he and Foster are playing Magic in the kitchen, Spencer is looking through his coin collection, Lucy is sacked out on the floor nearby (her muzzle is gray now, and she's slowing down a lot, but she's still as affectionate as ever...), soft classical music is playing in the background, and the whole house smells like cinnamon and sugar cookies. I am so lucky. Lucky to have been raised by you and Dad. Lucky to have taken the turns in life that brought me to John. Lucky to have these wonderful, growing boys in my life.

I had a nice phone conversation with Dad on Friday night. You know how he always makes boats, whenever we're near a body of water? That hasn't changed. He told me that he just made a boat and wrote on the sail, "For Jean." On the other side, he wrote, "In memory." He's going to take the canoe out to the reservoir very early in the morning -- the best time to see beaver -- and launch your boat when the sun comes up... I picture someone days or weeks from now, walking around the reservoir, finding that boat, and wondering who "Jean" could be and who loves her enough to make a boat with that inscription on the sail. Maybe they'll even relaunch it. It's lovely, really. You are still very much a part of his life, and of our lives, and you always will be...

I love you, Mom. 


Monday, September 22, 2014


This Saturday, I found myself doing something I never imagined I'd ever do...Performing a funeral service for a large black beetle. A beetle? Yes, a beetle. And, before you judge us as hard-hearted parents who will only let their precious older boy have a pet insect, rather than something cuter, like a goldfish or a hamster, the beetle came from school. Last year, Spencer came home from school with a live black beetle, roughly 2 1/2 inches long. His teacher gave it to him! Apparently, the class had been studying this type of creature, and the teacher offered one to any student who wanted to take one home to raise as a pet. It came with instructions stating that it is not a native species and is considered a pest. We were cautioned, therefore, not to set it free into the environment. (There was, by the way, no parent permission involved in this "gift" of a beetle. It just came home. Spencer had already named it "Austin" after his cousin. How were we supposed to say "No!"???)

So, Austin the Bess Beetle became part of our family. Thankfully, taking care of him involved giving him an old piece of wood to chew upon and spritzing his plastic tank with water every few days. That's the extent of it. No handling necessary by Mom, thank goodness. Spence did a great job meeting Austin's limited needs, checked on him every day, and thoroughly enjoyed his unique little room pet. 

Until Saturday...

Spence had been gone on a 3-day, 2-night field trip with his 5th grade class. He got home Friday night and went to sleep without checking on Austin. Saturday afternoon, he lifted the piece of wood to check on his little bug buddy, and here's what happened next:

Spence came up to me in the kitchen and whispered, "Mom, can you please come into my room with me? But, please don't tell Dad or Foster. Just come." So I wrapped up what I was doing and followed him in.

Entering his room, I found him curled up on the floor by the side of his bed, clutching his favorite soft blanket, his eyes welling over with big, fat tears, lower lip trembling...

"Sweetie, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"

In a whisper so quiet I could barely make it out, he said, "Austin died while I was gone." And, the floodgates broke. He broke into great wracking sobs and threw himself into my arms. Poor kid.

We snuggled on the floor for awhile, as I reassured him that he had been a great owner for Austin. I pointed out that Bess Beetles are only supposed to live for 10 or 11 months, and Austin had lived to the ripe old age of 14 months. I murmured that he was lucky to have had that much time with Austin, and that Austin was lucky to have had such a wonderful boy taking care of him. We hugged for a long time, while my heartbroken little boy cried his heart out for his dead bug. 

Then, he said, "Please don't tell Dad or Foster."

"You don't want them to know? I think they would want to know and be able to comfort you, don't you? They both love you very much."

Sniff. "Mom, I just can't handle anybody else knowing right now. Just you, OK? I want Dad and Foster to find out on their own and ask me about it when I'm not feeling quite so sad." Sob, sniff. 

Is it wrong that I felt a little thrill knowing that the only person he wanted to pour his little heart out to was me? It's not that I wanted him to feel sad or to experience this loss, but something in me was filled with joy as he snuggled close to me for comfort in his time of need. Perhaps it's the recognition that these precious times are fleeting, and that there will be a time, soon enough, when the person he goes to for comfort is not his Mom...

So, trying to help him find some closure over the loss of Austin, I suggested that we find a nice place in the garden to bury him while Dad was dropping Foster off at a playdate. Spence wrapped him gently in kleenex and chose a spot in the garden. I cut a few flowers, and Spencer picked a couple of pretty rocks to use as a marker. Spencer placed him oh-so-gently in the little grave, and we solemnly covered him with dirt, laying the rocks and flowers on top. Spencer looked up at me with huge eyes, swimming with tears, and said, 

"He was a really good beetle, wasn't he?"

"Yes, sweetie. A very good beetle."

"And, I'd rather have had the time I had with him and lose him, than not ever have him at all."

"I feel the same way, sweetie."

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you, too."



Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Doodle" This!

Have you noticed how many people now have "Labradoodles?" I'm probably spelling it wrong, but it's a half-labrador/half-poodle, and they're everywhere. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a dog-lover from way back. (Although I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of chihuahuas. In my opinion, chihuahuas don't actually qualify as "dogs." To me, they fall more into the category of say, a guinea pig, or a pet rabbit.)

It didn't start out this way, but the Labradoodle craze has really taken off, and the way it's going sort of cracks me up. They're really great dogs -- Sweet, smart, loyal, good with kids, don't shed very much, blah, blah, blah. I totally get that. I have a friend who bought a Labradoodle, because her son suffers from severe allergies, and he's been a wonderful addition to the family, for all of the right reasons! But, the part that kills me, is how many people are starting to get snooty about having one. I hear it at the dog park, on walks, all over the place. It's like the "cool kids" are the ones with the Labradoodles. High School cliques revisited, only with big, fluffy dogs, instead of name-brand jeans:

"My friend's Labradoodle had a litter, so my Spin Cycle class all decided to buy one of the puppies at the same time. They are SO cute! They cost $800 each! We named them Duffy, Muffy, Buffy, Fluffy, Scruffy, and Snuffy. We leave the kids with the nannies, put on our yoga pants, and all get together to take the puppies out on walks after our morning latte. They have matching bandanas! Isn't that precious? Everyone stops and stares! Only Shelly didn't want to buy one, because she wanted a mutt from the Humane Society. She says that mutts make the best pets. A mutt! Can you believe it?!!! We're thinking of booting her from our group. She doesn't really fit in with the rest of us anyway."

Um....Two different breeds mixed together resulting in a puppy that's a blend of both...Doesn't that make a Labradoodle just a very expensive "mutt"? And, didn't breeders choose those two breeds, because mutts really do make the best pets?  Hmmm...

There are so many wonderful mutts (not to mention cats, horses, and other animals) in Humane Societies all over the country, just waiting for homes and families to love. I hope that, someday, the really cool thing to do is to adopt dogs from there, with bragging rights going to the people who have absolutely NO idea which breeds blended together to result in their unique mutt..."Even our vet can't tell WHAT sort of dog Sparky is. Not a clue. Maybe Rhodesian Ridgeback, with a mix of Beagle and German Shepherd? Who knows? Isn't that great?"

By the way, for the Labradoodle owners who may have chosen that particular dog just to jump on the "cool kids" bus....I was informed by a man at the dog park last weekend, in a very hoity toity manner, that "Goldendoodles" (half golden retriever/half poodle) are far superior.


As I write this post, my old mutt, Lucy, who is some blend of black lab and who-knows-what-else, is lying on the floor next to me, paws twitching away as she dreams a doggy dream...She's a great dog and has been a wonderful member of our family for almost 14 years. And, to all of the other wonderful Humane Society mutts who've been in my life since I was a baby -- Heather, Duchess, Max, Sam, Lady, and my sweet little Cosmo -- Thanks for the unconditional love and for all of the happiness you've brought into my life. I'll love you forever!

Now, everybody go pet your dog!  (Or cat, or bunny, or iguana, or...)



Monday, July 21, 2014

If I believed in the Devil, his name would be "Technology"...

I would like, first, to admit that the title of this blog sounds completely inappropriate considering that I'm, y'know, "blogging" right now, which would be using technology to share my thoughts with those I love, as well as any strangers who may happen upon my little technological ranting site...Kinda makes me hypocritical, don't you think, calling technology "The Devil" and all??? I don't give a rip. Call me a hypocrite. The issue isn't really "technology" anyway. The issue is people. Humans. Flawed. Easily distracted. Clueless. Selfish. Idiotic. Discourteous. (I sound like a Star Trek episode, don't I? Some alien species describing the human race...Well, I'm not gonna lie. These days, I feel like the human race is not always something I"d LIKE to be part of!)

Anyway, as usual, I digress. See "easily distracted", above. 

I hate Facebook! Sorry, Facebook. I know you went public and all, but you suck. There might have been a time when I could have come to love Facebook, if someone could have taught me how to get ONLY the information I really want to see from it, instead of pages and pages and pages of bullshit, which is most of what I used to see on there when I had an account. Which I shut down, after going on a computer-free diet for a little while and realizing how much time I was wasting in cyberspace...Surveys, what people had for dinner, changes to people's "status", and other crap that is truly of no interest to anyone other than the person posting it. I liked some of it....I liked the pictures of people's families, but most of it was just garbage. I don't want to spend my time scrolling through the garbage to get to the good stuff. If there is truly "good stuff" and the person posting it is an important person in my life, then I should already know about it. I shouldn't have to hear about it when the rest of the world does, by randomly checking my Facebook page!!!

So, if you have ever read any of my blog, you know that my social life consists of occasional nights out with the girls, rare dates with my husband, and....yeah, that's the extent of it. (Does "work" count as a "social life"??? No? Yeah, that's the extent of it, then.) But, last week, I spontaneously invited a couple of old friends I hardly ever see over for wine on my back porch. Miraculously, they both came! One showed up first, and here's (roughly) how the conversation went:

"You weren't at so-and-so's fundraiser."
"I wasn't invited."
"Oh, it was on Facebook." 
"I'm not on Facebook." 
"Oh. Do you know what's going on with her business?"
"No, I haven't heard from her." 
"Oh my gosh, there is so much going on....."

This turned into a long conversation about the incredible challenges that had been going on in my friend's work life...NONE of which I knew about, because it's all been posted on Facebook!

There. That's the problem, in a nutshell. I understand, if you're doing a fundraiser for your business, you might want to put it on Facebook to get lots and lots of folks at your event. BUT, if its important to you that your friends attend, you MIGHT want to invite them, personally, via a phone call, or email, or even a text. That's a helluva lot more personal than just posting it on Facebook and calling it good. Why is it that, who-knows-how-many-people know about the intimate details of the struggles my friend is having, but I haven't heard a word? 

This sparked a conversation about Facebook, in which my friend (a wonderful, creative, intelligent woman, who is in NO WAY being disparaged here -- Just a difference in opinion, and quite a few years in age difference, which might have something to do with it...She incorporates technology in a whole different way than I do) said that you basically just need to embrace it, if you want to be connected, 'cuz that's the way the world is. Hmmmm...

All due respect, I 100% disagree! (Which could be the reason I don't have much of a social life, but so be it.) Because, here's the thing. Having lost my Mom to a horrible battle with pancreatic cancer what feels like yesterday, but is actually over a year, my priorities are very different than they used to be. I don't want to spend time with people just to kill time and be around "people", y'know? I want to spend the limited time I have with people who really matter to me. AND, I want to spend time with people to whom I matter, as well. So, if you care enough about me to want me at your event -- I should get a phone call or a text or an email, personally inviting me, and you can expect the same from me. If you just throw it out into Facebook cyberspace and cross your fingers that I'll get the message -- I'm not important enough to you. That's how I see it. I think that Facebook has created a culture of laziness. A culture in which people don't take the time to make that truly personal connection with someone who's important. There are multiple times I have missed fairly major events in "friends" lives, because I didn't happen to check their Facebook page. Sorry, but that's a load of crap. I shouldn't have to spend 2 hours online, scrolling through Facebook pages, to find out that someone I thought was a "friend" got divorced, or married, or had a 15th wedding anniversary, or got diagnosed with breast cancer, or was throwing a party... If I'm important enough to you, you'll take the time to let me know. If I'm not...then it's a cold, harsh dose of reality for me, and a humbling message that I'm not nearly as important to you as I thought I was. But, I'm not willing to accept this new reality so many people have enthusiastically adopted...People have said, "Well, if you really cared about staying in touch with your friends, you'd get on Facebook." That's just more crap!!! It's not healthy, it's not personal, it's not the way I want to live my life...

That's how I see it. So, my message to my boys is this...Stay connected with the people you care about. In person. Take the short amount of extra time it takes to let people know they mean more to you than their 200 other Facebook "friends." At least send a personal email or a text. Better yet, make the time to call them and hear their voice, or stop by to let them know you care. Because the future I see is a grim one. A future in which people don't really take the time to personally connect with anyone. They'll just put all their business out into cyberspace and consider that good. Friends who are truly just strangers on the other end of a computer network. Not a future I want for my precious boys. Not a future I want for myself. And, if I am the ostrich hiding my head in the sand, then call me an ostrich!

Ultimately, I may miss out on lots of social opportunities. But, if I wasn't important enough to invite in person, than I probably shouldn't have been there anyway. 


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Men Really Are From Mars....

So, the other day, my hubby and I were going out on a very rare event -- A real "date", babysitter and everything. I spent extra time getting ready, which is unusual for me, and I have to admit that I thought I was looking pretty good. The hair was doing what it's supposed to do, which is pretty rare these days, as it's in the process of growing out from a very short haircut and is in that stage where it's not short, not long, and going every different direction. Anyhoo....The hair was looking good, I had managed NOT to smear my mascara this time, and I was rocking' a black dress with just the right bra to create a little interest, if you know what I mean...And, I got no response from hubby. None. I walked out of the back room thinking I'd at least get a big smile and an appreciative once-over, but nada, zippo, zilch. He just said, "Are you ready to go?" The sitter told me I looked great. The sitter! 
And, he still didn't say anything...

But, just now, I walked out into the kitchen after working out on the exercise bike, wearing my old scummy workout shorts and a pit-stained t-shirt, face bright red from the ride, hair plastered back with sweat, and hubby starts grinning at me from the table where he's playing Pokemon with Foster. 

"What?" I say.
"Nothing," he says, still with a big, fat grin on his face. 

"What?!!!" I say again. "Why are you looking at me like that?" 

"You just look really good right now, that's all."

Seriously? THAT'S when he tells me I look good? Men are so weird...



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Words of Wisdom for My 10-Year-Old

Ten! Ten years old today. How did that happen so fast? A decade has gone by already? Ten years ago today, after an unsuccessful labor and a truly terrifying emergency C-Section ("Don't cut yet! I can still feel my feet, I can still feel my feet!!!"), our skinny little 6 pound 5 ounce, 27" long son made us a family of 3. Now, he's in double digits. Wow! And, what an amazing person he is becoming. A natural scientist and mathematician, with a brain that is constantly analyzing, theorizing, and operating much, much faster than my own, or my husband's, for that matter. A skinny, wiry little body that can run amazingly fast, but isn't too coordinated on any sports field. (He gets that from me, I'm afraid.) Constantly distracted, incredibly messy, and a total packrat, whose room always looks like a tornado blew threw it, even AFTER he's cleaned it up. Sigh. A cartoonist and passionate writer, with multiple fantasy/science fiction/spy sagas already under his belt, who would probably rather read a book than do anything else in life except eat chocolate. A Calvin and Hobbes fan and Trekkie, currently obsessed with The Next Generation, who spends a great deal of time drawing complex, detailed pictures of The U.S.S. Enterprise, as well as his own starship designs. A sensitive boy, who worries too much about what others think of him, and who shies away from expressing difficult emotions, such as sadness, loneliness, and fear, unless it's to me, when we're all alone, usually late at night. Never the most touchy-feely kid, yet in the early morning hours, when he's just awoken, loves "snuggles" and tells me that I'm the best Mom in the world. He is, quite simply, wonderful. I feel so fortunate to be his Mom.

Recently, at a celebration for our outgoing 8th grade class, my principal asked me to speak to the students and to offer them advice. I realized that the advice I gave to my 8th graders is no different than the advice I offer to my boys, so I am including it here, as I think about helping Spencer navigate through his childhood and into adulthood. 

For what it's worth...

2014 8th Grade Celebration Speech

Our Principal, my boss, asked me to come on at the end and to say something “inspirational.” That’s a little hard for me, because my advice has always been less on the inspirational side and more on the practical side.

I say things like: 
  • “You only control yourself, so quit worrying so much about what everybody else is doing or thinking” 
  • “If you want more people to like you, quit being such a jerk.”
  • “When the seagull of life poops on your head, brush it off, and keep going.” 
  • “Don’t date in middle school. “
Things like that….

So, I thought about a few things I’d like to say to you as you head out of middle school, and then I got online and looked up the words of people who are far more inspirational than I am to help me say it.

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Work hard: 
  • “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Vidal Sassoon
  • “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers
  • “If you think your teacher is tough, wait ‘til you get a boss.”  Bill Gates
When you make a mistake, don’t give up. Learn from it and keep going
  • “Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.”  Al Bernstein
  • “Mistakes are painful when they happen. But years later, a series of mistakes is called experience, and that’s what leads to success.”  Anurag Prakash Ray
  • “You’re going to fall down, but the world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.” Aaron Sorkin
Choose your friends wisely -- they can either lift you up or drag you down:
  • “A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” Dave Barry
  • “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”  Oprah Winfrey
Attitude is everything. Be appreciative, optimistic, open-minded, and believe in yourself:
  • “The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best things…they simply appreciate the things they have.”  Warren Buffett
  • Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford
  • “Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.” Thomas Dewar
  • “It’s all about the ‘tude, dude.”  Spencer Bacon
  • Put away the phone or the ipod or the laptop, take a look around you, and really appreciate the moment. 
  • Make eye contact and smile at someone, instead of typing an emoticon. 
  • Really experience the world around you, instead of just taking a selfie and posting it online.
  • You’ll be happier for it. 

And, in the immortal, and very inspirational, words of Dr. Seuss:  “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  Good luck!

So, to my 10-year-old boy, I offer the same words. And, my unconditional love! Forever. Happy Birthday, peanut! Thanks for everything you bring to my life. It is infinitely richer, because you're in it.


Sunday, June 8, 2014


On the weekends, I love to get up early (before my busy little family awakens), make a cup of coffee, go out to my porch swing in my pi's, wrap up in my blanket, and watch the world slowly catching up to me...Love watching the robins start to hunt bugs on my lawn, cocking a cautious eye in my direction every 2 or 3 steps, just to make sure I'm not a predator, love the sounds of the other birds waking up to their day and going about the business of doing whatever it is birds do, love the smell of the fresh, early morning air, before cars start spewing exhaust into the air, before various smells start to float out of windows and doors, and before my neighbor comes out for his early morning hit of marijuana, (which is followed by his mid-morning hit, lunchtime hit, lunch dessert hit, mid-afternoon hit, and so on and so on and so on, until he goes to bed...No wonder he lives at home with his mother). I love watching the sway of the trees and the movement of the clouds across the early morning sky as it brightens...Maybe it's a little romantic and cheesy of me, but I do love it anyway.

And, while I enjoy the serenity of the very early morning hours, I also love to hear the sounds of my neighborhood coming to life. By the end of each day, I usually feel pretty disgusted with people in general. The rudeness and selfishness that pervades our society in so many ways, both large and small, frustrates and confuses me. But, in the morning, my optimism flourishes. It feels like a fresh start each time. A chance for everyone to be better, to do better...

There's my elderly neighbor walking down to buy his morning paper around the corner. We always wave and smile, but we never speak, maybe because neither one of us wants to be the one to break the morning silence. There's the sound of the little girls across the street, 3 houses down, starting to giggle and argue and play. There's the increase in traffic on the street perpendicular to our quiet little cul-de-sac, joggers and cyclists passing by, people walking their dogs.....Ahhhhh, there it is -- the smell of bacon. Someone's always cooking bacon. There's my friend across the street, bringing her new puppy out to "go potty." She looks sleepy, still in her pajamas, rumpled from the night before, not yet ready to really begin her day.  The puppy looks like she's ready to roll and probably has been since 4am. That is, after all, how little ones of all ages and species tend to be, isn't it? Speaking of little ones, I can hear the high-pitched voices of my boys, mixed with the rumbling baritone of my husband inside my cozy little house. They're up. It's only a matter of time before the chorus of "Where's Mom?" begins. And, here come the wafts of my neighbor's morning marijuana breakfast drifting over the bushes....Time to go in. Optimism intact.

Cheers!  Beth

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Old Friends

I am a big fan of books. Y'know, books? They're roughly rectangular-shaped, usually come with colorful covers, and have pages that you actually turn by hand. They have a unique papery, inky smell that improves and deepens with time. Sound familiar? By the time my kids are reading this, I'm afraid  that books may be a thing of the past, like LP's and floppy discs. Everyone will just be glued to his or her electronic device, be it Kindle or iPad or, more likely, something brand new that hasn't been invented yet...People won't be able to hand off a well-loved book with coffee stains on the cover and dog-eared pages to a friend. We won't be able to buy a book from a musty, dusty secondhand book store, smell that uniquely "book-y" odor, read the personal dedication written on the inside cover and wonder about the backstory..... Who is "Aunt Marge" and is "Veronica" her favorite niece? Is that why she sent her this particular book? Are "Liz and Amy" still "Best friends forever"? Do they still share favorite books back and forth with one another? Is "Cheryl" still "Mark's one true love, always and truly"? (I get a kick out of imagining the stories behind the dedications!) You just don't get any of that from an e-book.

Now, in the spirit of brutal honesty, I have to admit that I have read a couple of books on my husband's Kindle and a couple more on my iPod. The convenience is nice, I'm not gonna lie. The back-lighting that means you don't have to turn the light on in the middle of the night when you're up with insomnia is kind of a sweet perk. And, at my age, being able to make the font bigger, so I don't have to find my elusive glasses or do that telescoping thing, where you're constantly moving the book towards you and away from you in little increments until your eyes can focus, is also kind of a sweet perk. Sigh. And, eBooks do save trees. It's hard to argue with that one.

But, it's just not the same... If you're escaping from life with a hot bath, a glass of wine, and a good book, and the book falls in the tub....No worries. It'll dry out, and the pages will have that nice, wrinkly, bumpy thing that will remind you, forevermore, of that relaxing time when you dropped it in the tub. You can't do that with your Kindle! And, as mentioned, above, you can't hand off a copy to a friend or leave it in the coffee shop or hotel for the next person to enjoy, which is one of my favorite things about books! You can't put it on a bookshelf with other well-loved tomes, where you can take a glance at your collection and immediately be transported back in time to the memories associated with the first time you read each one. Look, there's Watership Down, snuggled in between The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World and The Stand. And, there's The Far Arena, right next to The Lord of the Rings and Outlander. (Ahhh, my heart still flutters when I think of red-haired, Scottish Jamie...)

So, I guess I'm a hybrid. I will occasionally go the eBook route, but my heart will always belong to solid, old-fashioned, paper books. And, with that in mind, on this early Saturday morning, I'm going to put away my laptop, grab another cup of coffee, and curl up on the porch swing with my well-worn copy of Misery, which I'm reading for the umpteenth time, because Stephen King's writing just gets better the more you read it, as I watch my sleepy neighborhood (and my sleepy family) wake up and come to life...


Saturday, May 31, 2014

A few new ones for the Bill of Rights...

Americans talk a lot about rights. Right to free speech, right to vote, right to bear arms (don't get me started on that one -- Guns in playgrounds, libraries, and bars? Really? A rant for another time...), etc. I think, in this new age of selfishness and narcissism, we should all have some new rights. Rights that help to protect us from the rudeness, insensitivity, and stupidity of those around us. (Or, at least make us feel a whole lot better!)

For example:

Shouldn't I have the right to run over the idiot who walked right out in front of my car, without even looking up from the cell phone on which she was furiously texting? Seriously, shouldn't I? It wasn't even a crosswalk, people. Just a curb on a busy street. I had to SLAM on my breaks, scaring the hell out of myself and my little guys. She didn't even look up from her phone. C'mon, should I really be blamed? Really? My fault, or hers?

If a guy throws his disgusting, smelly, smoking cigarette butt onto the sidewalk right in front of me and my little boys as we're walking into Crazy Mike's to rent a movie (Yes, we still do that local business right? It's not ALL about Netflix, people! Engage with the world! I digress....), do I have the right to pick it up, run up to him, say, "Hey, buddy, you must have accidentally dropped this litter on the planet we all share. I'm sure you actually meant to throw it away, 'cuz you couldn't possibly be that selfish and you go!" and hand it back to him, preferably burning ember side first??? Or, better yet, follow him to his house and dump my trash on the floor of his living room?

If I'm waiting in line behind a young woman at the grocery store, after a long, hard day at work, and her turn comes up, but she continues to just stand there yakking on her cell phone about the "fat, hairy, OMG, you have no idea how disgusting he was!" guy she went out with last night while the checker and I just stare blankly at her, waiting for her to pull her head out of her a** (yeah, true story), shouldn't it be within my rights to just walk around her and take my turn? Or, "accidentally" just slam into the back of her legs with my shopping cart? A slightly more violent alternative...

If a neighbor stands in his front yard, talking and laughing with his buddies, while his dog runs into our front yard and drops a big, heaping, steaming pile of poo in the middle of it -- while he stands there and watches -- and then he just goes back inside his house, do I have the right to pick up that steaming pile of poo with a shovel and spread it around on his front doorstep, so that HE can be the one to step in it, instead of one of my kids?

I'm thinking that I might be on to something here. Reasonable, courteous people of the world unite! Let's demand our right to live in a world where people actually give a rip about those around them, or at least suffer some consequences if they don't, eh? Who's with me???

Cheers!  Beth

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Totally Self-Serving Post!

I have noticed that writing is sometimes a really great outlet for pent-up frustration. And, it's a lot quieter than yelling, cussing, and screaming, eh? With that in mind, this post will be short and sweet....

AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Clueless Husbands!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Negative Co-Workers!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Parents enabling their kids!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Children who complain when you put a nice dinner in front of them!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Dog diarrhea on the carpet!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Working full-time while trying to raise little kids!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  I can't fit into my pants anymore!

As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I have to say about that!"
I actually feel a little bit better.



Friday, May 23, 2014

A harsh dose of reality...

So, last night I went to a conference with a group of my students. The crowd was mixed -- Students from 6th - 12th grade, college kids, young adults, and a few older folks as well. Among the crowd were members of the Nooksack Tribe, representing several generations. They played traditional ceremonial music for us to open the conference and then welcomed us to visit the buffet. As we moved along the tables, one of the tribe members got on the microphone and asked the younger generation to step aside and invite "the elders" to fill their plates first. I paused, thinking to myself, "What a lovely thing to do." Until the 20-something, perky little blonde in front of me, turned around with a big smile and said, "Would you like to go ahead of me?"

Good lord, I'm an "elder!"



Thursday, May 22, 2014

OMG. Sometimes dads are so clueless!

So, Father's Day is coming up, right? As moms around the world shop for something special to give as a gift to the father of their children and help their kids work on cute art projects and cards and such to celebrate his special day, all while also planning something special for their own fathers (and fathers-in-law), I can't help but reflect back to another recent special day....Mother's Day. Personally, I can't complain one bit about the treatment I received this year. My hubby and kids rocked it! Early morning donuts, super-cute cards hand-made by my little guys, late morning brunch, hanging flower baskets for the front and back decks, and a relaxed, geeky evening spent all curled up in bed together watching Star Trek Next Generation reruns...I felt very loved, appreciated, and special. Which is the way it should be for all moms. Which brings me back to the point of this whole diatribe.

The week following Mother's Day, I found myself talking with a neighbor, a very nice man with two small boys and a lovely, hard-working wife. As we made small talk, I asked him if he had spoiled his wife for Mother's Day. His response? Wait for it..... "Well, she's not MY mom!" The moment the words spilled out of his mouth and he saw the look on my face, he knew he had spoken them to the wrong woman. I could see him mentally trying to rewind what had just happened, even as I took a deep breath and prepared to give him the verbal beating he had earned for making that comment. Poor guy. He deserved it, but still...I feel a little bit sorry for him. We're still friends, but the "Wrath of Beth" isn't pretty. Following is a rough, reconstructed transcript of the conversation that occurred:

Me:    "What did you just say?!!!"

Him:  "Umm....what?"

Me:    "Did you just say 'She's not MY mom?'"

Him (In a defensive, whiny little boy tone of voice):  "Well, she isn't my mom."

Me:    "Is she the mother of your children?"

Him:  "Yes."

Me:    "Does she take good care of your little boys and nurture them and cook healthy meals for them and take them to the doctor and teach them how to be good people and have a happy life?"

Him (Miserably):   "Um, yes."

Me:    "And, does she take good care of you as well? Does she make you feel good and support you and have your back? Does she do something special for you every Father's Day and get the kids to do something special too?"

Him: (Almost inaudibly):  "Yes."

Me:    "And, do your little boys need to appreciate and respect her for all that she does? Do they need to show her how much they love her and take time out to thank her for being their mom? Hmmmm? How are they supposed to learn that, if you're not modeling it for them?!!"

Him:  "Um..."

Me:   "And, here's another thing! There are 5 days minimum where you need to make an extra effort to show love and appreciation to your wife."

Him:  "Five?"

Me:    "One -- Her birthday. Two -- Your anniversary. Three, Mother's Day. Four, Christmas or Hannukah, if you celebrate it. Five, Valentine's Day."

Him:  "But those are just--"

Me:    "If you are even thinking of saying that those are just holidays invented by greeting card companies to make money, you'd just better zip it right now! Doesn't your wife deserve to be celebrated and appreciated on at least 5 days every year? Shouldn't she be able to count on a little extra love and effort on just 5 days? 5 days out of the 365 days she spends taking care of you and your family? And, so what if greeting card companies are making money on it? They make it easy for you -- You get reminders, gift ideas, and you can even buy a card that says all the loving things she deserves to hear but you don't ever say! Seriously! There's NO excuse!"

Him:  "Uh --"

Me:    "And, one more thing....You'd better not stop celebrating her on Mother's Day when the kids are grown up and gone. She is still the mother of your children, and you owe her love and gratitude for the rest of your life for all of the blood, sweat, and tears she has poured into helping you raise them!"

Him:   "I feel really bad. I used to be more romantic."

Me (No mercy!):    "You should feel bad. Fix it! Take her out for a nice dinner or something. Better yet, you and the boys clean the house, do all of the laundry and empty the dishwasher. Then, hire a sitter and take her out to her favorite restaurant. And, start being romantic and appreciative on those 5 days, at least. You'll end up reaping the benefit in the long run. You know it's true."

Him:   "I know. I'm gonna do it."

Me:    "Good! You'll feel better too."

He sort of slinked away, shoulders down, looking like a guilty little kid, while I stood there full of righteous frustration for moms everywhere. Later, he came and told me that he did take her out to dinner and apologized for not celebrating her on Mother's Day. Baby steps...

So, I fight the fight for moms around the world! (And, by the way, it's just as important for us to celebrate and acknowledge our partners on those 5 days, at least. So, before you go getting all cocky, none of us are off the hook...)

Happy Romancing! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You Say It's Your Birthday, da dum dum dum dee doooo....It's my birthday too!

So, it's my 46th birthday. Happy birthday to meeeeee......Happy birthday to meeee.......Happy birthday dear meeeeeeeee......Happy birthday to meeeeee...... I have to admit that I am a little tipsy as I write this. Thank you to my lovely blonde amazon friend, who took me out for a post-work glass of wine (or two -- I'll never tell) and a big birthday dose of healthy belly laughing (burns calories and lowers your body's production of cortisol). I decided that our waiter looked like he should be from Scotland, shared this piece of information with him, and he then did his darndest to speak in a Scottish brogue the whole time he served us. He even did a little semi-strip tease with his apron, as we chuckled about what he might wear under a kilt.... Lucky me, after this bout of friendship and laughter, I then came home to a family who covered me in hugs and kisses, a husband who handed me thai food and a glass of champagne, a tail-wagging doggy, and a shed that is NOT going to be worked on tonight, in spite of best intentions several hours ago at work, when I loudly proclaimed, "Even though it's my birthday, I'm going to work on building the shed tonight. Have to take advantage of the sunny weather, you know!" Whatever! Seemed reasonable at the time...

I sit, now, at my kitchen table, glass of champagne to my right (not too close to my laptop, brother mine, don't worry! I am aware of your rule: "NO FOOD OR DRINK NEAR THE NEW LAPTOP!"), looking out onto my back deck at the pieces of the shed we are constructing scattered throughout the backyard as if to say, accusingly, "Why haven't you painted me yet? Why haven't you put me together yet?", while the boys get ready for bed and hubby cleans up the dinner mess. (!) Just got off the phone with the most amazing Dad in the world, who never shies away from calling me out on my crap, but continues to love me unconditionally, in spite of my myriad flaws. Missing my Mom like crazy and wishing I could hold her hand and hear her laugh, but feeling incredibly lucky to be living the life I live. Did I mention that HUBBY is cleaning up the dinner mess??? Birthdays are great!

Seriously, birthdays ARE great! I have friends who hate birthdays, bemoan the passing years, lie about their ages, and just want to hide until the day is over. Not me, man! I say, "Bring it!" Most days, I embrace the philosophy that every single year we have is a gift. I'm not "46 years old." Instead, "I have the gift of 46 years!" Now, maybe I won't feel this way at 50, I dunno. And, there are times where I look in the mirror and feel a bit sad about the ravages of gravity.....But, I hope that I continue to view aging with an overarching attitude of gratitude. Maybe it's losing my Mom to cancer that has me feeling so appreciative of every year, maybe it's having little kids at my "Advanced Maternal Age" keeping me young, who knows?  (By the way, A.M.A is a real thing. When I was pregnant at the age of 37, my OBGYN said, "Do you know what A.M.A. stands for?" "American Medical Association?" I asked innocently. "No, Advanced Maternal Age." Seriously? How is that good for an expectant Mom to hear, I ask you? You're an old fart who shouldn't be having kids at your age???
That's helpful, doc. Anyway, I digress...and blame it on the champagne.)

Here's the thing, though. I embrace each year, because I have a wonderful life. I am the luckiest person I know! In spite of my frequent whining and complaining, I have a husband who happens to be my best friend, a genuinely nice person, and easy on the eyes, two fascinating little boys who keep me guessing and inspire me to be a better person, a career that fills me and feeds me and makes me feel like I'm giving back to the world, a small group of wonderful friends who keep me laughing through the tears, family members who'll be there for me in a pinch, a big brother who looks out for me and respects me and sees the best in me, and parents who taught me to be resilient and optimistic and fearless! Yes, I have strange health conditions that give life some extra challenges, but they also make me stronger. Yes, I lost my wonderful mother to that bitch, "Cancer", but how lucky I was to have been raised by someone so special. And, while my job sometimes makes me want to chuck it all and move to an island, especially this year, it helps me to make a difference in the world, and at least I'm not cleaning toilets for a living. My house is so small that the walls start to close in from time to time, but it's full of love and singing and giggles. And, yes, I would like to have buckets of money, but we have enough to keep a roof over our heads, pay the bills, go on dates from time-to-time, and even go on the occasional family vacation. That's more than most people have.

So, lucky, lucky, lucky 46-year-old me. Happy birthday to me, and may the rest of you have a year as full of love and laughter as I'm going to have...

Cheers!  Beth

Saturday, May 10, 2014

When Animals Attack!

Have you ever seen that show, "When Animals Attack!"??? It's full of stories about people being bitten by sharks or attacked by cougars...shocking, super-gruesome stories! I know you're gonna think I'm one sick puppy for saying this, but I think it's awesome! So, do my boys. Chips off the old block...It's all very exciting, but nobody usually dies. They just get horribly maimed. Plus, it's usually someone doing something ridiculously stupid, like walking up to a bison after ignoring all of the signs that say, "Stay away from the bison! DANGER! DANGER!"So, you're kinda rooting for the animals...Nature cleaning up the human gene pool by weeding out some of the stupid, y'know?

Anyway, we have our own version of the show going on in our backyard. Not too gruesome, though, and the humans really aren't doing anything stupid. Our chapter of the show would be called, "When Hummingbirds Attack!" Stop giggling! Seriously! Have YOU ever been dive-bombed by an irate male hummingbird defending "his" food supply? Ever felt the brush of buzzing hummingbird wings against the side of your head and heard a terrifying sound, like the buzz of a miniature chainsaw or some giant, mutant mosquito, mere millimeters from your tender, exposed earlobe? Ever had to dodge and weave, narrowly missing dangerous backyard deck hazards, like BBQ's, cheap patio furniture and a variety of potted plants, as a small, sharp-beaked jet plane, glowing red like Katniss in "Girl On Fire", attempts to drive you away, while your black lab mix cowers in fear of the terror from above? (So much for defending your masters, dog!) No? Well, it's traumatizing. And, sort of hilarious at the same time. Especially when the damn bird is attacking you while you're trying to get to its feeder to fill it with more nectar!

Wait just a minute...We keep feeding it, even while it attacks us? Now that I think about it, maybe the humans are being sort of stupid in this scenario...Go Nature!

Cheers!  -Beth

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"What happened to Chicken Nugget Mama?" or "Where the hell have I been the last 2 years?"

Hi there! I've been gone awhile. Just logged back on and realized it's actually been a LONG while - much longer than I thought. Why, you may ask? Did I leave blogging to write a best-selling novel? Did I win the lottery and move to a tropical island to live out my life in a constant state of zen? Did my big mouth and opinionated, obstinate personality finally get me punched, resulting in a serious concussion and a long battle with temporary amnesia? None of the above. But, things got a little hairy there for a bit. I was feeling really negative, and I was getting sick of the sound of my own whining. So, I thought I needed to take a break from writing until I had something positive to say. Had to go find my optimism and get reacquainted!!! I am happy and relieved to say that I did find it. My optimism, that is. It was way, way, way back in the bottom of my closet, underneath the cowboy boots I just had to have, but almost never really wear, and the shirts that won't ever stay on their damn hangers and slip off into the bottom of the closet so many times that you finally just give up and leave them down there. Anyway, I dusted it off, reattached it, and I will never allow myself to lose it again. Fact: Life is just easier when you can look at it through an optimistic lens. Doesn't change that s**t happens, but it makes it a little less smelly!

Some good things have happened. Like, hubby finally got a new job. An 8 to 5, normal job, with weekends and even some holidays off. The boys and I (aka "the three musketeers") finally got him back! It has been absolutely amazing having my partner & best buddy around again. Those nights, weekends, and holiday hours were really hard on us. And, let's face it, part of the reason I was so stoked, was simply because I needed some help around here! I did the "single parenting while working full-time" thing for 4 long years, and I was full-on, sob-in-the-kitchen-while-trying-to-put-away-groceries, sleep-with-your-clothes-and-make-up-on, pass-out-while-in-mid-sentence-with-your-friend-on-the-phone, exhausted! And, frankly, way too tired for any sort of - ahem - intimacy...if you know what I mean. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, "Say no more!" (That last comment, was for all the other Monty Python fans out know who you are!) Seriously, though, y'know how you get so friggin' wiped out and so sick of taking care of everybody else's needs that sex starts to feel like just another responsibility to check off your to-do list? Pick up groceries - check, make kids' dentist appointment - check, throw laundry in the dryer - check, have sex with hubby before he explodes - check.....No? You honestly haven't ever felt that way? Then, you are either blessed with the sex drive of a 17 year old, testosterone-fueled teenage boy, are in a new relationship, are under the age of 35, or have no children!!! Bless your little heart! Hope it stays that way for you.....Anyway, after a fairly bumpy adjustment period, during which we had to figure out how to operate as partners again without committing spouse-icide (is that a word?) we muddled our way through and got back to being best friends, who also happen to be in love. Awwwwwwww....cue the sappy music. Anyhoo, all good there. We are a walking advertisement for sticking together through those tough times where you don't really like each other all that much but are committed enough to trust that things will get better over time. Woot woot! Yay, us!

Other good things? My boys are amazing. Now, almost 9 and 10, they are so much friggin' fun at this stage! They're at that age where they still need me, still love on me and hug me and snuggle with me, still give me a smooch in the car and flash me the "I love you" sign when I drop them off at school (Well, only Foster does that last part. Thanks, Fos. Makes my day every time!), BUT they can also entertain themselves for long periods of time without destroying the house, the dog, or each other, get themselves a snack, and even help out -- without being ASKED -- once in a while. I actually had a full 30 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time last weekend! No one saying, "Mooooommmmmmm......he touched me!", "Moooooooooommmmmm.....I'm bored!", "Mooooooooommmmmmmmmm.....I'm hungry!" So, even though I didn't NEED a full 30 minutes in the bathroom, I stayed in there anyway, just 'cuz I could, reading all about George Clooney's new fiancé in peace and quiet. Shut up. Trashy entertainment magazines are one of my coping mechanisms. It's a guilty pleasure. Don't judge me!

My job is going......well, it's going. I can honestly say that this has been the worst professional year for me in 14 years of being a school counselor. I'm hanging in there, though, 'cuz even though I kind've hate my job this year, due to lots of circumstances and events that would bore you to tears, I also know, in my heart-of-hearts, that I really do love what I do, overall. Maybe not this year, but overall. It fills me, it feeds me, it makes me feel like I'm giving back to the world and helping guide some really precious young folks along the way to adulthood. So, I will not let one truly crappy year drive me away! We'll see what I'm saying at this time next year, eh?

But, here's the other reason I didn't write for so long. My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer (pancreatic, in case you're wondering), and I lost my mojo. As I struggled to guide and support this wonderful, gentle, kind, funny woman through her last months of life, I tried to turn to writing to cope...but I couldn't make the words come out. Simply couldn't do it. When she gave up her valiant fight on February 15, 2013, I sat down again to write about her. I wanted to pour my heart out in homage to the most important woman in my life. I wanted to tell the world about how she never really enjoyed a meal, because she was so busy watching to make sure everyone else was enjoying theirs, how she put everyone else's needs above her own, how she could talk endlessly to a complete stranger and make them feel like they were her most important priority, how she unconditionally loved - and truly understood - my challenging younger son, patiently teaching him how to crochet, never giving up on him, ferociously loving him, even when he was at his most challenging and unlovable, how she would tell me that I'm a good mom, when I was bawling my eyes out and feeling like I didn't know what the hell I was doing and was probably wrecking my children for life, how much I loved her twinkly blue eyes and her hands -- thin, delicate, fingers that were almost always freezing cold but could make me feel so comforted and safe... I wanted to say all of that and more. But the words wouldn't come...So I stopped trying.

Now, here I am -- Two years after my last post, three days before my second Mother's Day without my own mom, still missing her every single day, but finding myself suddenly ready to write again. So, watch out world, 'cuz Chicken Nugget Mama is back, to record my stubborn opinions, random thoughts, and the events of my life -- the exciting and, more frequently, the mundane -- for my boys to read someday. When they're older. A lot, lot, lot older. And, for friends and random strangers to read, if they feel like it. 'Cuz there's something kind've cool about throwing your thoughts out into the universe, knowing that maybe somewhere there's another exhausted, flustered, stubbornly optimistic mom or dad, who's just trying to muddle through the best they can, same as me...

Cheers!  -Beth