Sunday, December 1, 2013

Still here

Heyyyy, folks. I figure that now that I'm pursuing a more writing-based career, I should really...write. There's just so much that has gone on, but I'll try to recap the big events since April:

  • 6th wedding anniversary for DH and me
  • J turned TWO at the end of June and I still can barely handle it
  • On August 28, in the morning, J got tubes in his ears because it turns out that the grandparents' suggestion of actually getting an ENT to look at them proved vastly important because...he needed tubes
  • On that same day, in the afternoon, my former employer let me go. Quite the day, although T pointed out that he'd rather J had a good day and I had a bad one, and I couldn't disagree
  • Almost immediately after the surgery, J had a major language explosion. Roosters that formerly said "dat-dee-dooo!" now say "cock-a-doooo!" or even "cock-a-do-doooo!" Funny enough, we parents miss the first one, although we're ecstatic that he's come so far. He speaks more in full sentences and knows how to ask for things properly, although he'll still try, "Milk? Milk? Milk" on repeat.
  • He also now has glasses and they look pretty cute, plus he realizes they help him see, and it's en entirely new world.
  • I've started to look once again at my career path and where it will take me
That last part has remained pretty daunting for so many (obvious) reasons. As of January 1, we have to find money to pay for day care ($1000/mo) and health care -- I have supported Obama thus far, but from what we've gleaned for ourselves, "affordable care," my ass. It's all very real and very frightening. I'm fortunate to have a few nibbles as of late, and I'm hopeful that if I keep plugging and networking, something will come up. Never have I realized so fully that I'm simultaneously the master of my own destiny and at the mercy of other people: Nobody's going to give me a handout -- although we have had tremendous generosity thrown our way -- I need to reach out to anybody who can help and keep up my skills and learn new ones. Maybe I'll end up somewhere different than I had expected, but so many of us take only one path in life, that it's a bit exciting, even while it's frightening.

And I know I can do it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I apologize for the unintentional hiatus--my friend Rachel sent me a sweet message asking how I was doing and mentioned I hadn't updated the ol' blog in a while, and I thought I'd get on it. It actually coincided with a recent thought that I, indeed, had something I felt like blogging about. Life has moved at a rather hectic pace lately, and I just didn't feel inspired/like I had the time to update, but I realized I have some very worthwhile points to throw out to my readers.

Pride has so many layers. Religion/society/your mother/yourself all tell you not to be prideful in terms of boasting. It goeth before a fall and all that. I think that's mostly with tooting your own horn--and if you've done something that's truly terrific and worthwhile, toot away. That's the other side of the coin: Pride gets such a bad rap that too many of us duck our heads and stay quiet about our accomplishments. Today I want to gush about my boys because I think they deserve it. I'm going to play the role of proud wife and mama.

To start, T has done so much, so well over the last seven months. From when his Transitions Life System program started in September, he's lost almost 90lbs. He looks fantastic and feels even better. Thank goodness for consignment shops--we have an entire wardrobe's worth of clothes to give them, and he's found some great pieces that actually fit right since his old clothes practically fall off. From that he's gained health and a self-confidence that I always knew hid somewhere inside him, waiting for the right catalyst to come forward. I find it so gratifying when T looks at himself with this expression of pleased awe; as he told me recently, he still doesn't recognize his own reflection. But he will because this is who he is. He's even signed us up for a 5K in June, something neither of us has done on foot (as opposed to a rowing machine, which is where we did most of them) in a loooooong time. I see a new light in his eyes, and I'm just so proud I could burst.

Now onto Mr. J. Sure, parents sing their kids' praises, but I truly do think J has earned them even with my significant bias. In February he had a major speech therapist diagnosis where it came out that his expressive (spoken) speech indicated a "moderate" delay (he was behind by about five months), but his receptive (understood) speech was actually ahead for his age, which told us that he understood plenty but just didn't say much. Had it been the other way around, we would have had cause for worry. He works with a speech therapist at day care twice a week, and he's made significant progress--even the therapist said so, so it's not just Mommy projecting her hopes. He's reached that stage where if one us points to something and ask him to repeat it, most of the time he'll try...and most of the time he'll come out with something recognizable as what we said. I never thought the word "waffle" could give me such excitement.

Yesterday also gave me a big reminder of how far J has come: Another boy in his class, P, on his second day there, had the sudden realization that yes, he was going to be in this new place ALL DAY and Mommy and Daddy weren't coming for him. First day was fun; second day was the reality check, poor guy. When I came in, I saw the little guy sobbing in the teacher's arms, wailing for "mama," and it reminded me of J's extremely rough transition to day care. We had two weeks where he'd cry for almost half the day and freak out when other kids touched him. Now when I drop him off, he barely has time to say "bye-bye" because he's busy with his toys or the books or his buddies. I wanted to call the parents up and assure them that their little P would make the adjustment. While of course I have that part of me that feels bad that I can't be with him, he truly has flourished from spending so much time with other kids and his teachers. Again, my heart fills with pride.

So I think I've successfully acted as cheerleader for my boys.  I've supported them and done what I could from my end, but ultimately they've done all the work.

Monday, February 25, 2013

(Secret?) Identity

Last week at work I noticed one of my younger co-workers (she's in her early 20s) anxiously looking at a bottle of salad dressing, wondering just how long it had sat in the refrigerator and whether she could safely put it on her lunch. I asked to take a look at it and reassured her it hadn't gone bad and that she could safely use it. She replied, "Thanks, I just needed a mom to tell me it was OK to eat."

That struck me and gave me a huge smile. Of course, I'm still trying on this mantle of motherhood and feel like a complete newbie at least half the time. I haven't done it with my own child for too long, although I've always tended to mother my former students, my friends and my younger sisters (in both loving and hectoring ways, truthfully). Yet this marked a first, probably because this co-worker has only ever known me as somebody's mother. She didn't know me before I had J; to her, my identity has always included that of a mom. And because of that, I have the power to accurately and safely gauge condiment edibility. I could have told her that the dressing was safe, had I known her two years ago, but this whole motherhood gig gives me added cache.

I thought about it, and I believe, to some extent, that rings true with me. For example: I need to get my engagement ring fixed. Who will I ask about the best place to take it? My mother and my mother-in-law. Whom do I call when I get sick (aside from dear T, of course)? Mom. When my sister M had her daughter five months before I had J, I tended to call her first with my newborn questions--after all, she knew what to do. And she probably felt about two steps ahead of me in her own Mom Knowledge, if that.

I'm not saying in any way that women without children don't have authority. Some of the most motherly women I know don't children of their own and give excellent advice, and I know some mothers I wouldn't trust to tell me water is wet. But for good or ill, me having J has apparently imbued me with an invisible badge of Experience and Knowledge. I'll do my best to earn it.

Now, wear your hat--it's cold outside. Yes, I can fix that; I just need some string. And don't worry--a little baking soda and vinegar should get that stain right out.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Type-A Woes

So I'm trying to streamline my Pinterest boards with regard to food. So far, I've created "Slow Cooker Recipes", "Soups and Stews", and "Desserts". I think I also created something about "Sides".

But where to go next? Vegetarian/Chicken/Beef? Salads and Appetizers? Make that two categories? Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner? Just how narrow do I make this? I will take suggestions, people.
How on earth do you organized folks do this all the time? I find myself getting actually concerned about this, and slightly paralyzed. I'm only half-joking. And yet, I do love the feeling of organizing. It's sucked me in. Hell, I've even tried to do CleanMama's routine of cleaning: Bathrooms on Monday, dusting on Tuesday, vacuuming on Wednesday.... Except I got home yesterday at 6, ate with my dad who's in town, and then plopped down on the couch because I just did not want to vacuum (or exercise) at 8pm. I had a sore throat, a lot on my mind, and zero motivation. So I sat down, started the DVR (Once Upon a Time--it's a little silly, but I love it), and crushed a bunch of Goldfish, which do not fall anywhere on good food for my eating plan.

I guess I have to forgive myself and take a day off, and recognize that organizing a bit at a time actually takes time to set up, but once in place, it works.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

As Others See Us

I put this together for my company blog, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

Every day we wake up, rub the sleep out of our eyes, and make a decision about...what to wear. Some of us plan ahead and lay out the clothes the night before in order to avoid that last-minute rush that can end up surprisingly agonizing (and time-wasting): Khakis or cords? Dress or pants? Why is it that the ONE SHIRT I want has disappeared from my closet?!? Don't even get me started on shoes.

Some simply throw on whatever's right at hand and...cleanish. But for others, that choice can inform the entire day. We base it on weather, mood, places to go that day (meeting? yoga? lazy Sunday?), who we'll see. Clothing is an extension of how we view ourselves and how we want others to view us. More than once I have looked at strangers walking by and wondered, "What process did he use to put that exact outfit together? What went through his mind?" This question arises for choices that range all the way from gorgeous to spectacularly bizarre.

I have just entered the world of advertising and marketing as an insider and not merely a consumer. Yet I realize that I've asked those same kinds of questions of certain ads I've seen, although it often goes along the lines of, "If they chose this ad, what on earth did they leave on the cutting room floor?" That, combined with the sheer volume and quality of work my colleagues put in to make sure their clients get exactly what they want, makes me realize anew just how much stock we put in perception. Whether it's choosing the color of one's socks or what font to make a tagline in an advertising campaign, each resembles a specific choice made by someone (or many someones) to promote a certain look. With clothing, sometimes we only focus on how we perceive ourselves; with marketing, a firm creates something for an entire, often very specific audience. 

As a proofreader and editor, I have the privilege of fine-tuning what my colleagues have successfully created, going over not just grammar and copy but also graphics and style so the vision--the desired perception--matches what the client wants. It's both exciting and daunting, as I often have the final say before it goes out into the world. So whether it's my own shoes or a new campaign for the Bills, I get to have a tiny bit of control over how others see that. And that's pretty amazing to me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


On January 3, my grandma M passed away. She was 97 years old with a birthday coming up in April. Every year for as long as I can remember, I've gone to her house on Christmas for the afternoon, and this past year was no exception. But this year was different. I knew as soon as I saw her that this would be the last Christmas with her, the last time I saw her. She was alert enough to receive my kiss and give me one of her own and to see her great-grandson wave at her. I unwrapped our gift to her, a framed piece of J's artwork, and put it on her dresser where she could easily see it, placed in front of the brilliant red amaryllis someone had given her. She commented on how lovely it was and how she'd never had one before. When we had to go, I hugged her goodbye and told her I loved her. She did the same. A little over a week later, she closed her eyes at home in her own bed, which was what she wanted.

As I said at her funeral, as a kid, I didn't appreciate her. What did I know; I thought she was kind of fun but old. But as my mom reminded me, she regularly took me to the art gallery: as an artist herself, she wanted me to appreciate the colors and shapes and various forms that art took. I realize now that my love of that art gallery started with her. I also remember going to lunch at a little place near where I used to live that had land and a pond in the back, and we'd always take our Saltines to feed the ducks.

Growing older, I began to see that Grandma, while still old, had a razor-sharp mind and a quick wit, which she often used to tease my father with. I didn't call or visit as often as I should have, but when I did, we always had fun and good conversation, and I knew I better brush up on current events because she certainly knew and had an opinion about what was going on in the world. She read avidly, even teaching literacy classes to adults, and we discussed books often, a trait that I believe has been passed down to J as he grabs a book and plops himself down in my lap with increasing frequency. Before I met T, I had a relationship with The Wrong Guy. At the time, we lived together in Kentucky, I had no job, and I was trying to make something work that I really just needed to walk away from. I know Grandma worried about me and wanted me to break it off, but she never quite said that. What she did say, almost every time she talked to me, was that I needed to look in the mirror every day and tell myself, "You're a good person." Although my parents might argue with me, at the time she was my biggest fan and advocate. I'll never forget that.

She raised three children alone from 1963 on, never remarrying after her husband died of a heart attack (yes?) at 42. They met during WWII in North Carolina, and as a veteran, she received a beautiful and powerful military send-off at her burial that will remain etched in my memory: The sunshine, the cold, and the silence as we watched two young men in dress blues solemnly and properly fold an American flag and hand it to my father along with three bullet casings representing Duty, Honor, and Country. The three-volley shots echoing on a January day.

At her funeral everyone spoke about Grandma's intelligence, her interest in and love for others, and the fact that she had absolute principles that didn't waver. And she'd let you know: She would always support but sometimes say, "Just so you know, I don't approve of this." I suspect I may find myself saying the same one day to my own child...and I'll have to try not to smile as I realize Grandma adds one more part of herself to me.

I will always miss her, but I will make sure to follow in her footsteps in terms of the life she lead: Unwavering principles, love of art and literature, and support of her family. Right around the time of her death, I came across something stating that instead of fearing growing old, as our culture seems to, we should embrace it: It is a gift to live long enough to grow old. It means a long life, hopefully filled with many experience and memories and loved ones to share in it all. Grandma had that in spades, and she recognized that gift every day.

Christmas will be different next year, but I know we'll spend it remembering her and making new traditions, which she would have loved and appreciated. As long as we celebrate together, she'll be a part of it all.