Friday, May 29, 2015

23 Questions about Me by Olive, Maxine Jane and Elijah

A high school friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I thought it would be fun to do with my youngest three children:
Without ANY prompting, ask your child these questions and write down EXACTLY what they say. It is a great way to find out what they really think. 

I got a kick out of some of their answers. Elijah doesn't like being put on the spot so he refrained from answering a lot of the questions. I came away feeling pretty good about me as a mom from their eyes. I also know now that Olivia is a jerk.
Olivia age 13 
Maxine Jane age 10 
Elijah age 7

1) What is something mom always says to you? –
Olivia: Clean your room.
Maxine: Stay outside until you dry off.

2) What makes mom happy?
Maxine: Me! Playing with Blueberry.
Elijah: Being with her children.

3) What makes mom sad?
Maxine: Liv and I fighting.
Elijah: Watching a sad Disney movie.
Olivia: When she has to work on her day off.

4) How does mommy make you laugh?
Maxine: Making old jokes.
Olivia: You’re not funny.

5) What was your mom like when she was a child?
Maxine: I have no idea.
Olivia: Ditto.

6) How old is your mom? –
Olivia: Old.

7) How tall is your mom?
Maxine: 5’3”. I’m actually right? I just guessed.
Olivia: 3’2”

8) What is her favorite thing to do? –
Maxine: Cuddle with us and with Blueberry.
Elijah: Exactly what Max said.

9) What does your mom do when you're not around?
Maxine: Exercise, work, sleep.
Olivia: Killing her enemies.

10) If your mom becomes famous what will it be for?
Olivia: Being the shortest woman on earth. I mean, being a famous author.
Maxine: Being a cuddle buddy.
Elijah: The woman who thinks she’s 16 because she blogs on her phone.

11) What is your mom really good at?
Max: Making bunnies!
Olivia: Playing the ukulele.
Elijah: Drawing pictures maybe?  

12) What is your mom not very good at?
Elijah: Playing on the trampoline because it makes her dizzy.
Maxine: Playing in the water because she always has her phone on her.
Olivia: Running.
Maxine: What? That’s not really nice.
Olivia: Have you ever seen her run?

13) What does your mom do for a job?
Maxine: Typing.
Elijah: Work on the computer.
Olivia: Transcription and research.

14) What is your mom’s favorite food? –
Maxine: Sushi.
Olivia: I got nothing.
Elijah: I got nothing too.

15) What makes you proud of your mom?
Olivia: Absolutely nothing.
Maxine: That’s not funny Olivia.
Elijah: Yes, that’s not funny.
Maxine: That she works all day for us and puts up with Olivia.
Elijah: Making food for us every day. Every day breakfast, lunch and dinner.

16) If your mom were a character, who would she be?
Maxine: The elephant from Tarzan. “Are you sure that water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me.”
Elijah: Princess Peach!
Olivia: The mom from Tangled.
Maxine: You’re a jerk Olivia.

17) What do you and your mom do together?
Maxine: Play outside together with Blueberry and you watch TV with us and play games.
Olivia: We do memes together.
Elijah: Watch movies together.

18) How are you and your mom the same?
Olivia: We both like music
Maxine: We both have the same hair color
Elijah: We both have hazel eyes, right?
Max: No!
Elijah: Ok, we both have brown hair.
Maxine: You’re copying off of me. 
19) How are you and your mom different?
Elijah: This is really confusing
Maxine: You don’t like to play in water
Elijah: You don’t like cold water.
Olivia: You play instruments and I don’t

20) How do you know your mom loves you?
Maxine: You feed us and care for us.
Elijah: When we’re sick you care for us.
Olivia: You don’t leave us in the middle of the forest like Hansel and Gretel

21) What does your mom like most about Jeremiah? –
Olivia: His hair.
Maxine: How he is a cat lover. Can’t hug every cat.
Olivia: His sense of humor. The fact that he likes to skateboard.
Max: He likes you, that’s why. You like him because he like you. 

22) Where is your moms favorite place to go?
Elijah: Sushi.
Olivia: Nowhere. She wants to stay at home.
Max: You like when we went to North Carolina on a vacation

23) How old was your mom when you were born? –
Elijah: There’s so many of us, how are we supposed to know this?
Olivia: How old are you right now?
Maxine: 24! I win!

Thursday, May 28, 2015


I'm allergic to bees. It's a constant fear of mine and I waited with trepidation while three of my four children were stung with no ill effect other than the usual sting and slight swelling. Elijah, my youngest is allergic to penicillin, like me, and has never been stung by a bee...I cringe every time I see one around him.

They say allergies aren't hereditary but my Pappy is allergic to pencillin and bees, Elijah's paternal grandfather is as well and so am I. Regardless of what the self sure medical professionals say I would say that there is probably a good chance Elijah is too.

My two reactions to bee stings have wound me up in the hospital and have been harrowing and horrible. Despite this I'm quite cavalier about the whole issue. My mind always tells me that I've already been stung twice, what are the chances it would happen again? 

This past weekend I was working at a local state park at a farm market and it was a beautiful day. Sunny and warm and yes, the area was teeming with bees. But for some reason especially bumblebees. I had made some comments about being allergic to the woman who was working at the market with me and how I never remember to bring my epi-pen with me ever like the hapless forgetful fool that I am.

Just as we were joking about how we were sure someone there would be better prepared than me and have an epi-pen I swatted bumblebee from my general area and sat down in a chair...directly onto another bumblebee. I felt the buzzing under my left thigh and then the painful sting. I sat up immediately with shock, rubbing at the back of my leg and the alarm spread over me.

"Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!" I looked with panicked eyes at my co-worker and she looked pale. I started pacing and inwardly taking stock of how my throat felt, how I was breathing. The pain spreading through my leg was pretty bad and I knew that couldn't be a good sign. Practically shaking my co-worker quietly yelled out, "Does anyone have an epi-pen! Benadryl? First aid kit?!" her voice wavering.

I was surprised when my throat still hadn't closed up but I did feel the familiar swelling on each side of my neck and a tickling in my throat.

A woman at a table a little bit from us noticed our frenzy and came over to us. She announced herself as a nurse and asked if she could help. I told her I was stung by a bumblebee and she calmly said, "Are you allergic to bumblebees?" I told her that I hadn't been stung by a bumblebee before but had been stung twice by honey bees with an anaphylactic reaction. She looked relieved and told me that the two aren't definitely interchangeable, that someone could be allergic to honey bees and not bumblebees and vice-versa. I paced for a little bit longer and the horrible squeezing in my throat never came.

The back inside of my left thigh was burning and angry though. I went into the bathroom and stared in shock at the softball sized thick welt forming around the sting. I was shocked at how hot it felt rubbing against my other thigh. Needless to say I was afraid the stinger was somehow still in my leg and wet paper towels to swab at the welt.

After three days of applying hydrocortisone and calamine lotion the swelling finally went away but left a large, raised oval on my skin that a week later still stings. 

I filled all of my epi-pen refills at my dad's pharmacy the next day after being stung. I stowed some away in my change purse, my glove compartment, Jeremiah's glove compartment and replaced the ancient ones at my parents' house.

I won't be so cavalier about my allergies anymore. I also will always look before I sit down forever...or until my mind starts telling me I'm invincible again.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Drifting, Floating and Crying.

And on the river things are different. The water makes me feel stronger, more alive and maybe more capable. The sun makes me golden, true, intense and lazy all at once. 

Today Kate and I sat in a three person tube for hours. I leaned back and dipped my hair in the water over and over and once or twice we freaked out over a spider or a bug that found its way into our raft. The sun was perfectly baking us and the river was incredibly cold and daunting, the current was swift. 

It was lovely and intensely wonderful. I spend so much time just loving being with Kate it's hard to believe that most of my life I didn't really like her all that much. 

We talked about dogs and the kids and our lives and I told her about how I have been feeling lately. A mix of happy and unhappy and comfortable, unsure and uncomfortable, anxious. She didn't say anything for a really long time and I started to think she was annoyed with me. Finally she said, "well what are you going to do about it?" 

And I said, "Well at some point I made a decision and that's all there is. I am a mother to four children, a daughter to two and a sister to four and I am just that. Just that Kate. And it's final." 

"Oh," she said "that's too bad." 

And then Gordon jumped off the boat and we were soaked with cold clear water. He climbed into the raft further soaking us. 

"What are you girls talking about!!???" 

"Nothing. We are just happy to be together and here." 

I put my head into my sisters chest and cried and cried. When I lifted my head we didn't say a word. She put her arm around me and we just were. My little sister comforting me in the sun and the water and the bright gleaming world. 

It was a beautiful day. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Each Day, Each Day, Each Day

Sometimes I think I'm not going to be able to handle this anymore, this life, these huge responsibilities, these unending struggles.

Sometimes I think, god, what a drama queen, things aren't so bad.

Other times I think how is it possible I'm so blessed, look at the sky and at my family's beautiful faces and insides and wow, every day is a gift.

Yesterday Elijah got off the bus with a scowl on his face and red eyes. He didn't say anything on our walk home. He handed his book bag to me as he usually did but didn't laugh when I put it on my back, obviously too small for me. He didn't "Aw Mom! Stop!" when I ruffled his hair and told him how much I missed him during the day. Obviously something was bugging him.

We got into the house and he sat down at the table and started to get his homework out. He got a pencil and started at it without my prodding and pressing him to start. Under different circumstances I would have been pleased. But I knew something was wrong. I felt myself hoping that it was something trivial and not serious.

I had been really excited for him to come home from school and had a small plate of chocolate covered pretzels and a glass of cashew milk sitting in the fridge chilling for him to snack on while doing his homework. While he was writing and thinking I brought it out and put it in front of him. His eyes met mine finally and tears streamed down his freckled cheeks, red rims around his beautiful hazel eyes.

"Oh MOM!" He sobbed. I held him and after a few minutes he pushed me from him. Too tough for me.

"What's going on Lijah? Did something happen in school?" I sat close to him, preparing myself for something wretched.

"I am the hungry caterpillar PROP for the end of school musical! I was THE Little Elf for the Christmas one but I'm just a PROP for this one. And I told her I wanted to be a puppy or a cat and she made me a PROP. That's not what I want to be." He looked at me now with less grief and more anger. I sifted through my parental options here. One the far end of the spectrum, one that I barely considered was calling his teacher and telling her how he felt about having a different part in the musical. I decided against that almost immediately.

I decided to go with this approach, "Well baby, the teacher picked you for the biggest part in the Christmas play so she probably wanted to give someone else a chance to have a bigger role in this musical. You'll still have fun being the Caterpillar."

He wasn't biting. "But I'm not even the Caterpillar because I don't have ANY LINES."

"It will be OK Lijah. There will be a ton of other plays you'll be in and someday you'll try out for them and be able to pick your parts! Right now the teacher is just trying to make everything fair for everyone." I'm trying here, folks.

He seems to get it a little bit. Gets out of his grump mood and finally lifts his head, becomes aware of his surroundings, scowl leaves his face, deep wrinkles leave his brow. "Thanks Momma. I love chocolate pretzels."

"I love you Elijah."

"I love you more Mom."

So in those moments everything was OK, the clouds parted and the sun warmed our hearts and put our minds at ease.

Are these moments enough for me or you or anyone? Can they sustain us through the rest of our days?

I hope so. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Compare and Contrast


They tell us not to compare and contrast in focus groups so as not to bias our opinion of a product. Their marketing research should be based on our impressions of the product in front of us and not of other similar ones. Or dissimilar ones of the same general product type.

Like children. Don't compare your children to each other. Trust me, it's dumb and potentially hurtful.

But I can't help but constantly and consistently compare the three men I have loved in my 34 years to each other over and over again. It's like some kind of running clickety clacking old timey film roll, silent films, black and white and color and fleeting shots of this man's hands, this man's eyes, this man's shitty disposition, this man's hurtful words.

I know I am extraordinarily lucky. I have been graced with four amazing, healthy, loving children who fill my every day with challenges and joy. I have four siblings who make me laugh, let me down, pick me up and give me the strength that only blood ties can give you. I will never be alone.

But I also am lucky to have experience immense amounts of passion, romance, incredible moments of happiness and yes, even lucky to experience all of the crappy things as well. Because although cliche everyone will wade through the mire's good to have some experience mucking through the slime of life instead of just being thrown into the Bog of Eternal Stench without any idea how to escape from it.

One man I loved ended up not loving me. It's much, much more complex than that of course but in the end despite all of his sameness and words and my complete and total belief that he was my soul mate he did not choose me. That being said my two published pieces were written about him. Some of the most incredible thoughts I've ever made in my sometimes lacking mind came from the time we spent together. When I compare him to the two others I think for sure he is the most like me. We would chide each other often about our "sameness" and when things got bad between us and he pushed and pushed he used it against me...that we were too alike, that it could never work. He had told me once in an effort to help me grieve after losing someone I had loved fiercely that it would always hurt but that the hurts fades over time from a thumping throbbing pain to a vague aching feeling. He was right.

One man I loved for a very brief time. He was so different from Jeremiah the disparities are profound. Jeremiah burns red, yellow, orange, even when he's mellow he shines. Even in the banality of our everyday existence and its completely non-passionate routines his eyes search me out and I know how he feels about me. This Other Man is cool and blue, white, clear clouds and gentle lapping waves and tiny drops in translucent puddles. Jeremiah's hands are blunt and powerful, marked, strong, the Other Man's long, lean, soft and cold.

After periods of silence Jeremiah's voice makes me jump, look around, search for him in a crowd, miss him after a few hours. The Other Man's is silence, planning and plotting and I did learn for a short, very short time to enjoy the silence, to plan and plot a little myself instead of jumping, throwing myself into the ring.

The first time he spoke to me the Other Man looked surprised at himself and I thought it was endearing. It took a lot for him to make a simple comment to me, a stranger in a coffee shop. It was a bold move for him, this quiet, thin, Other Man with his thoughtful nature. He considers everything before he does it, his clothing is nice and he plans out what he is going to wear, what he should wear. He has many, many things just in case, kits and repairs and Kleenexes and water and first aid and extra everything. Jeremiah is a creature of comfort and of supplying his initial needs. He wears the comfortable clothes of his youth, always the same skate shoes he buys over and over again in different colors and styles, a cap of some kind always to pacify his wiry, curly mess of a head of hair. He is never prepared for anything and is most comfortable on the fly. Last minute life.

I have been a fairly fickle human and at times I've paid for my inability to be constant and sure but in the end (and that's what really matters) I knew I wanted to spend my entire life with one man. Jeremiah might not seem like the surest bet, but he's my fifth favorite person on the planet. When I'm not with him all I think about is how I can be. In the end I wanted not to be taken care of, to be sleepy and secure and content. I wanted to be in love forever. I want it not to fade away.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mother's Day for Me From UncommonGoods

Mother's Day is never too big of a deal for me. The kids usually make something very special and adorable in school and sometimes they'll have Mother's Day activities and really that's what itcomes down to...hanging out with the humans that made you a mother.

So aside from the tissue paper flowers and wee potted plants I don't get bought gifts per se and that's OK.

Until this day Tom from UncommonGoods sent me a very special Mother's Day gift! And by sent me a gift I mean he sent me goods to review for the UncommonGoods website but eh, whatever makes me happy, right?

Although I did get free items in exchange for a blog post I have shopped at UncommonGoods before and was super excited to learn about their company...came away a little surprised at their standard practices and initiatives they have supported and started.

"Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is an privately-owned retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. We run all our operations out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including our warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage. We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials. At the core of our company is a great respect for the integrity of the creative individual and the belief that it is our responsibility to use our business to impact the world in a positive way."

More information about this and more on the UncommonGoods blog.

And now onto my Mother's Day "gifts":

Once upon a time I'd be eying up ceramic handmade yarn bowls on Etsy and low and behold the mysterious Tom sends me one from UncommonGoods and it's beautiful! You can find it and more Mother's Day gifts here:

Also with the bowl came an adorable Stitch Encyclopedia for Embroidery. It's so well done and helpful with step by step stitch instructions. You can find it and more excellent Mother's Day items here:
Mother's Day is coming very, very soon and Thursday is the last day to order from the UncommonGoods site for shipping before Mother's Day so get on the ball and buy your Momma a gift, or buy yourself a gift because you don't know when Tom will ever contact you about reviewing Mother's Day gifts. That Tom is a fickle, sometimes considered mythical, beast of fate and fortune.