Tag Archives: children grow too fast

Year in Review: Most Popular Posts


Hi all —

It’s that time of year when we look back to look forward. Use the data and the lessons and the knowledge we have acquired over our fleeting lifetimes to learn what works and doesn’t work for the life and year(s) ahead.

I don’t do a ton of self-promotion. I’m a big believer in the tried and true, simple notion that if you’re good at what you do, word will get around. The organic growth I have witnessed on my blog (almost 10,000 views!) since joining WordPress in May has been encouraging. I tell myself to not get too mixed up in numbers, that this is not a popularity contest (despite what Facebook and other envy- and 15-minutes-of-fame -breeding “services” obviously push) and quality is something that builds on itself.

Starting with the best of intentions means you must work just as hard.

Writing, blogging, sharing, posting… all of these “arts” are hit and miss. The thing that keeps me going in this 21st Century world of self-disclosure is that I’m not alone: there will be posts that simply hit every mark I strive for: humor, candor, mindfulness, reflection and self-awareness. There will be some that also totally miss their marks, but I will be honest: these are posts that aren’t ready to be written or are those to which I am so close to the content that it’s hard to separate myself from it in any meaningful and translatable way.

I’m not big on fiction writing (publicly), so all my posts are true.

Enough stalling.

The top 10 most popular posts since May 27, 2012:

For the Ladies – Living and Thriving with PMDD – this humorous, candid and lengthy post written to help those who are afflicted with very deep PMS or “premenstrual dysphoric disorder” (PMDD) symptoms. I give a pretty clear picture of how PMDD manifested in me, some advice on how I deal with it and active links to help those people affected by it. PMDD is real, it’s scary as hell, and it can be managed.
Hoping the Mayans are Right – this was my post written after the Newtown murders where I hope that 12.21.12 was the “death” of the age of myopia, blame, selfishness and isolation.
Parents, Protect Your Children and My Letter to the School. – true story: I ended up “shadowing” a little kid to school one day because she was all alone on the path one morning.
After the Storm – this was written the day after “superstorm” Sandy decimated the east coast. I was utterly disgusted by the lack of awareness, the rabid and continual self-promotion on Twitter and some Facebook pages. This post is image heavy and candid (shocker).
False F(r)iendship, Feeling Unseen, Unheard and Dressing Very Old Wounds – everyone goes through life feeling like a doormat or a piece of furniture. Sometimes it’s a recurring theme in a lifetime. Here’s a way to recognize it, know you’re not alone and hopefully move on.
real – this was my “coming out” post where I shed a couple layers of my protective armor to let the world (or both my readers) know I’m not always blithe and living some fabulous life; that I have a story too.
Who – this is one of my “pages” on the blog (I have several at the masthead: who, what, when, where, why, respect, thanks and about). It’s just more about me… blah blah blah…
Justice for the Little People – I felt like William Wallace (Braveheart) when our school finally got what I’d been working my butt off for the past few years to get for the roadway in front of it. It feels good, despite the fact that the school administration is still mum about it.
Angry Rain, OldMan Car, and Tiger Mascot Suits – this is a melange of my observations one day. It includes humorous comments about the weather, my husband’s Toyota Avalon and a poignant observation of a dad returning from Afghanistan to be our school mascot.  I believe it was the beginning of what I ended up calling “Tuesday Morning Press.”
Respect – another “page” about my blog.

Collaborative posts

No blogger can exist in an island. We are a tribe that empowers and encourages our fellow tribe members… here are some of the great posts of the year written by other bloggers and me, other bloggers as guests or me on other bloggers’ sites:

Guest Blog: DeBie Hive’s Photographic Eye Turns to Fall – A nice pictorial essay on what autumn means to one of my favorite people I’ve never met.

Yesvember: Gratitude Expressed in 100 Words or Less – six brave souls and mine endeavored to write what gratitude means to them in 100 words or less.

Dome Life – How to Paint “Prince Charming” – ever wanted to know how to paint a rooster? Here’s a blog post that shows you how the famous Lillian Connelly paints one anyway… and I got to keep the piece.

Guest Blog: Breast Cancer Awareness & “Sensitarian” – my friend Sharyn shares her letter she wrote a year ago, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

Guest Blogger: Good Geek Ranting – I have mad respect for Shua Smith — the dude wrote a book, “The Rise of the Dragons,” and that’s not easy. He’s also a very clever and funny writer. His blog is one of my favorites.

Go here to find me there

Go to Good Geek Ranting to Find My Guest Post … this is probably one of my most funny posts; there’s something about being on someone else’s site that is liberating for me. I get to be a little crazier, I guess. But if you didn’t see this one – please go. Especially if you like Alice Cooper without makeup.

I’m Guest Blogging Today at DeBie Hive – lots of pics; this explains why I row and what I get from it. It’s about the meditative effects of the sport and how it feeds my soul.

Peevish Penman Post: How Forcing NaNoWriMo Can Break a Barbie – I’m thrilled and flattered to have been asked to be a regular contributor to a great writer’s blog called “Peevish Penman” and I will always link to it on my blog. This particular post is about my tarrying over NaNoWriMo this year. It involves putting Barbie’s head in a vise. Jealous?

My favorites

This is actually pretty hard. I’ve had a blog for almost two years and the posts are stacking up. My timing is random, my “themes” are random, but I’m seeing some patterns and that’s fine by me. I don’t know how to pick just a few. But I’ll give you some really old ones that remind me of why I started this in the first place.

taking my own advice. – my first post ever.

when you’re five years old – every 5 year old should feel like this is familiar territory; and the parent of five year olds need to remember what it’s like and not foist absurd expectations on to their kiddos.

shopping cart from hell – that’s right. read it.

raffle basket and beans – what happens when you look away.

perfect mother? no. not even close. – oy. I love my mom, but our relationship is not the easiest; we boast two totally different personalities. I am glad to have learned over the years that I’m not alone in that realm.

When the Bough Breaks: Forcing – this post earned me an award and was one of the last ones I wrote before I almost gave up on blogging due to some really insane and childish behavior by someone “in the field.”

Dear Things 1, 2 & 3: Don’t Tell the Neighbors, but Your Father Lives – I love my husband. He’s a great dad. Here’s why.

the toothpaste aisle from hell – yes. Don’t tell me you’ve got that aisle all figured out.

Marvelous Monday: Amazing Things – this is me: “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleanora Duse. I talk about it, my fascination and gratitude for “the everyday” in this post.

Go With Your Gut or What Happens When You Don’t – all i have to say: when your intuition says “don’t do that” — DON’T DO THAT.

she missed his final breath. – my neighbor died of metastatic lung cancer. this is about his surviving wife.

Two posts caught the eye of other bloggers the most this year. A Brie recipe, for obvious reasons, so here’s that… http://wp.me/p2tc3X-19k

And a quick post I wrote about some parent’s confusion between online sharing and jeopardizing their children’s safety. Just my opinion: http://wp.me/p2tc3X-ZU

There. This is all I’m gonna throw at you. Although I’m not big on self-promotion, once I write that book, I’ll have to be better about it. In the meantime, I’m going to try it stone by stone. What’s up for 2013? Some cool stuff actually: I’ll be posting fiction on Fridays and in January, I’m going to be part of a fiction writing prompt. I’ll be here, doing my random thing. I’m going to endeavor to keep all posts to less than 1,500 words. (I’m six shy now).

Thank you so much for joining me here.

In the Donzerly Light

In the Donzerly Light

I just missed him. He’s out the door now and I won’t see him until 2:45 when he lumbers through the door with his big feet; sifting through the mail like he knows what anything means, looking for a New Yorker or a The Week to talk about their covers, one of our favorite past times.

It’s quiet now; it’s 6:35 and he left while I was getting a cardigan. I thought I had more time. I just went upstairs for less than a minute, the water was still pouring into the pitcher to make more lemonade. I thought he didn’t walk out the door until 6:35. He left at 6:32. His interest in leaving earlier and hugging less and hiding out more in his room is increasing. The Washington Post has a fantastic photo on the front page of a bald eagle, his favorite raptor when he was younger, scooping a fish out of the water near the Shenandoah and left it by his oatmeal. I don’t know if he saw it. I wrote this post about him and his staggering growth almost two years ago.

His brothers wanted me to wake them up a half-hour earlier to take a shower. I’m feeling selfish. I like the quiet. It’s either right now or super late at night when I get to be alone. Did you see the moon last night? It was gorgeous. I just saw it again when I brought in the papers.

I don’t normally do this 5:50-6:32 a.m. shift with my Thing 1. His father does, but his father is upstairs sleeping off his wrist surgery. He injured himself during an age denial or flat-out age rejection activity at his parent’s beach house the last week in August. 500mg of Percocet and 25 mg of a pharmacy-grade antihistamine making things easier, supposedly preparing the body for the transition from when his nerve block wears off. Mr. Grass Oil is a wonderful father, better than any I knew when I was growing up; he is a blessing to me, to us all.

I tip my hat to single mothers and to those whose spouses have ultra-demanding jobs. I don’t know how they do it. We came home from the hospital and my stitched-up husband was greeted by the boys like a hero returning from war. Lots of small jumps up and down, “Daddy! You’re home! How are you? Daddy!” sweet strokes of kindness, awareness of his injury, ushered in by gentle and sincere excitement. I looked at them all with gratitude. After the flurry, Mr. Grass Oil went up to bed and surrounded himself with pillows in much the same fashion as I did when I brought home a son from the labor and delivery floor at the hospital and insisted on its sleeping on my chest for weeks.

It grew quieter, the boys were still pinging off the excitement from our arrival.

Nervous chatter, gentle taps from Thing 2. “How was your day, Mama? Was your drive home ok?  … Thing 1 was mean to me, Mom,” is what I got.

“The day was good, thanks! You know, I read some of the paper, I went to yoga, I went to –”

“He told me to get off the PS3 when I wasn’t ready to…” he interrupted.

“After yoga I took the car to the shop for inspection and then your fath–”

“I was in the middle of a mission. I had my new cheat-codes book and everything. Just because he’s oldest …”


It’s one of my pet peeves. Don’t ask me how I’m doing, don’t feign interest in a conversation if you’re not gonna listen to my story. And that fight with the badger was epic.

“He didn’t even give me a countdown, like you do… He just came in and said, ‘Get off. Now.'”

“I saw it out by the garbage. It had already killed a beaver because it was wearing its pelt as its own, but I knew it was a badger because of how it loped and beavers don’t have claws like that. They’re supposed to be endangered… or something, right? So I walked up to it with my dustbuster and I said, ‘Badger, get your stupid claws off my garbage can. Now.’ And you know what she said? She said, ‘Honey badger don’t care.’ Just like that! She talked just like one in the youTube video…”

He started to laugh.

It’s how I try to defuse fights around here.

It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I get sucked in, like a hurricane feeding off the weather systems as it approaches land. It’s hard to fight that draw. To be able to vent whatever frustrations you’re feeling at the moment or whatever comes to mind, frankly, based on the energy of someone else’s rant on the sting of inequality. Single moms work hard. I’m just 18 hours into this gig and it’s not fun. I can do it, and I may end up enjoying it because it’s so early and quiet, but every day, even on the weekends? And those parents whose spouses are in the military… mad props, peeps.

It’s 7:03 now. I better go. It’s time for my official shift to begin. If Things 2 and 3 are late they make it hard for the rest of the day. Thing 3 is always the hardest to wake; he’s a night owl like me. Getting him a Kindle with a lighted cover for his birthday two weeks ago wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it wasn’t the smartest either. Look at the book review he gave at 10:37 the other night which posted to my email because all the Kindles are on my account:

Thing 3's online review of a knock-off book.

His little apple doth not rolleth far from my tree.

It’s 7:06. I better go. I don’t want to, but I have to. I have a couple more things to say on here, but I’ll put it together at another time. This was nice, writing in the silence.

Thank you.

PS – for being such good readers, here’s the Honey Badger video on youTube … it’s quite funny.

Get to Know Your Kids – When They’re at School


So today Vietnam Veterans of America is coming for donations and I completely forgot. Again.

Naturally I go to the playroom to unload toys, but some are sacred: Monopoly, Clue, “Skittles” and a bunch of Fisher-Price “Little People” collections. I still have memories of my own children playing with those toys that can be imbued and enabled by the nubby hands of my still young niece and nephew who visit fairly often.

So I go to the bookcases. Horrors, I know. I’m lying to myself. I actually laughed aloud at my approach to them all because even my children know, if there’s one thing you don’t throw out (and sometimes I confuse donating to charity with throwing out — depending on the media) in this house, it’s books. But there are some books I’m willing to part with: the learning series books sold door-to-door by aspiring college graduates. These books have titles like, “Are My Bones Bendy?” and “What Has Wings and Why?” – I suspect they were written and edited for waiting rooms. They’re like People magazine for children. Into the box they go.

I ventured into Thing 1’s room. He is almost 14.5, he is taller than I am and he weighs more than I do now. I walked into his room, contorting myself amongst the multiple Chinook helicopter models he has on his dresser and desk and bookcase, ducking beneath their blades and refueling booms and serpentining my way through his clothes which always missed the hamper.

His bookcase is robust with books I’ve heard of in passing, Artemis Fowl, and some teen books by Jack Higgins. Not surprisingly, he has books about The Beatles and classic rock bands, his latest obsession other than the Chinooks. He has books on Ferraris and Lamborghinis resting among his Lego car models of the same name.

What I didn’t expect to see, and this is my fault because he’s growing up so incredibly fast, is that he’s a sentimental kid, he’s a romantic and a sweetie: he has his favorite childhood books in this collection of gunships, fast cars and rock bands. Many of the handful of these books were inspired by me to have. It sort of blew me away: he’s 14, and he still has some of these wonderful, innocent and beloved titles. I won’t share the titles because it’s personal and throughout all my writings about my kids, I will always endeavor to protect their privacy inasmuch as it allows me to paint a dimensional picture of them.

I was humbled when I saw these titles. And so proud and yet I felt like a stranger because I haven’t seen that boy in a while. It made me hungry to spend time with him, to let him show me who he is.

We 21st century parents think we have to raise our children in a way that engenders their independence and tech-awareness while also keeping them close at hand at the same time, like watching them through mirrored lenses so they don’t see us seeing them. It’s a delicate balance. We hear all the time about keeping an eye on them, but not crowding them. As if somehow the children — and 14 is still a child, albeit an older one — of the 21st century are any different somatically and spiritually than we are, than our grandparents were. No, they are not: they are still flesh and blood with needs and insecurities and fears and interests that require our hand, our embrace and our presence. Especially our presence.

I will admit that I’ve been playing 21st century parent too much. I’ve been undervaluing the meaning of a night of board games and outdoor patio fires in favor of letting them go on YouTube to watch comedy videos or playing a computer game because that’s How The World Is Now.

But when I was in his room today, I felt the pressure of his speedy ascent to the next phase of his life and I have to say, I don’t like it. There’s a dance at school this weekend, a homecoming dance and he’s not going. He seems to not care for that kind of stuff, the public preening and stress involved in being “acceptable” to his peers. I like that and I hate that. I want him to be more outgoing, but he’s really pretty introverted, so I have to be OK with that; it doesn’t mean he’s depressed or suicidal which he isn’t any of those things; he’s just careful. That’s OK. I wasn’t careful and I regret that sometimes.

I watched about 35 minutes of the 2nd presidential debate last night and I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take the rhetoric, the barbs, the finger pointing and the poisonous, desperate and conceited jetsam spewing from either of those peoples’ faces. I decided to go upstairs and listen to T1 play some Clapton on his guitar and let him show me his remaining fish in his tank, “This is the most spoiled fish in the world,” he said. “It has a 10 gallon tank all to itself because everyone else died off.” I nodded half consciously but not really taking it all in. Too busy thinking about what’s in my own head: writing, networking, thinking about friends, rowing, stuff.

He’s at school taking a practice PSAT right now and he’ll be dismissed early. Next year, it won’t be for practice. In three years he’ll be staring down the barrel of college admissions or rejection letters. I need to slow down. Not fear what’s coming in three years so much that I miss out on the next 1,095 days. When he gets home, I’ll feed him a grilled cheese and we will go on the water in a double and get to know each other some more.

If being a 21st Century parent has taught me anything, it’s that we might have to live in the 21st Century, but we don’t have to be OF the 21st Century. So while they’re at school, go into their rooms and just sit and look. Look at the things they’ve put on display because that stuff’s important to them. Really look at it and take it in. You don’t have to snoop, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about learning who they are –truly– by seeing what they let you see. And then getting to know them from there.

When your kids get home, unplug. Really. For the rest of the day. If you’re anything like me, all this online stuff — which is not even a salve on the wounds of our own feelings of disconnectedness — can really wait.

One more thing and I’ll try to make this short, honest. I have had some back pain of late, in the lower sacral area. I’ve practiced yoga for almost all T1’s life and I have studied the chakras — the (mostly) seven energy centers in our bodies related to various human experiences and conditions — and that pain in the lower back corresponds with the first chakra, the “root” system which corresponds to my feeling connected and rooted in my personal systems: family, friends, important relationships. Broken down further: whether these relationships are true or am I lying, contorting and twisting myself to make them work?

For most of my life, it has been the latter. I have twisted and contorted myself to make them fit. In the last several months, I have shed many, the “strays,” the ones that either don’t serve either person or the ones that hurt me. The pain has lessened. But last week, I made a conscious decision regarding that first chakra and it’s so simple and elemental that I’m sort of embarrassed to say it.

I made a radical shift in how I see my roots. I have been thinking about the roots of The Wrong Tree for too many years. Obsessing all my energy and hopes on the wrong tree — the tree from which I came — instead of the tree that I’ve been blessed with creating and pruning: the one I have with my husband and my three FANTASTIC children. There is nothing I can do about the tree that I came from: it has grown and shaped itself and as a child and even an adult child it was never mine to prune. So I traded my shears for some fertilizer and water and have turned my attention to the tree I am growing and you know what…

The back pain is gone and my energy is focused on my children and my own tree. Tend to the family tree you can actually help; tend to the family tree that wants it. Tend to the family tree that needs it.

Just a little nugget for you to consider in case you too might be focusing on the wrong things. I’ll write more about the chakras later; it’s a hard subject to start because it’s so involved, but I’ll try to break it down.

Thank you.