Monday, March 25, 2013

Snow? NO! Drums? Absolutely!

If you are reading this from somewhere in the Midwest, you are probably like me: looking out your window at an obscene amount of snow and dying a little inside because it's March 25th and SNOW isn't supposed to be on the radar. Sad panda!

If you are reading this from somewhere else and you are not like me and you are all "what is this thing called snow?" let me just say that you should keep your questions to yourself. The only dumb question is the one you just asked about snow. Or something.

Today, whether it's 75 and sunny where you live (boo! hiss!) or 25 and still snowing (really, I feel your pain), I hope that this video will make you smile the way it does me.

My daughter's 2nd grade field trip to Bongo Boy Music last week. The kids had an hour long drum circle and it was fabulous--full of pounding, unfettered joy. They offer a free family drum circle on Thursday evenings and let me tell you, we are going. I need some pounding, unfettered joy in my life.

Especially after all this snow.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We Already Have A Dog. We Don't Need A (Big) Cat.

Break is coming soon. It's hard to be very excited. Unlike last year, when we had super mild--even hot--temperatures, this year temps are below normal. When the sun is out, you think that it's lovely outside. And then you step outside and it's 34 degrees. This causes an immense amount of suckitude. It feels more like November than March. And since we aren't traveling to someplace warm, like every other family in our town,* it's a little difficult to get enthusiastic about having a week off from school only to stay holed up in the house because the weather is stupid.

My kids are excited to be going to their grandparents' for the annual Easter egg hunt and The Bashing of the Pinata, but their excitement is subdued, because their cousins won't be there for the first time in well, ever. They are always happy to visit their grandparents, but they are a little less happy for only having their siblings to hang around with.

We've decided that because Easter falls at the beginning of Spring Break this year we would hang around another day for a day trip from my hometown. We are going to head to St. Louis for a day and play around. Aside from Maggie going to a rally at the convention center once, my kids have never been to St. Louis. This is weird, because it's only about 90 minutes from my hometown. We've just never thought to spend some time there with them. But now we are remedying the situation and taking a day to play in the Gateway to the West.

You know that after last year's Spring Break Planning Fiasco that this means I was on the computer checking things out and making sure that the places we want to go will be open while we are there. I mentioned to Mary, my animal lover, that we may head to the St. Louis Zoo. She was, of course, very excited by the prospect and asked to look at the website. I gladly handed over the seat at the computer and headed over to the stove to start dinner. Maggie and I were chatting while I was clattering around with pots and pans and shortly we heard Mary talking to herself.

"Ooh! Lions! They have lions! I love lions. Lions are my favorite! They're so majestic and their cubs are soooo cute! Wait. What? That doesn't make any sense!"

Maggie and I turned to look at the computer and Mary, still looking at the screen said to me, "Mom?Why would anybody want to adopt a lion? That doesn't make any sense at all. I don't think that's a very good idea! Adopting a lion? I don't get how you would make that work."

Maggie and I looked at each other with barely suppressed grins. "Darlin' that doesn't mean what you think it means," I responded. I then went on to explain how zoos used the word "adopt" when they were just talking about sharing in the care of the animal through financial donations. Mary nodded and said she now understood. Her eyes got very big and she said with great relief, "Whew! That's a much better idea than letting random people adopt lions from the zoo." Then she paused a beat and said somewhat wistfully, "But it would be pretty cool..."

Yeah, kid. I kinda feel the same way about otters.

*This is how my kids state it. Every other family in our town is going someplace warm while we are staying here. My answer is to state gleefully, "Think of how uncrowded the grocery store will be with everyone in our town out of town!" This is met with eye rolling and sullen stares. Mission accomplished! I win.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Last Week: Or Seven Days Of Excuses About Why I Couldn't Blog

I know it seems like I've been completely lame about posting and I'd like to say that my last post sucked all of my creativity and you know, making with the words out of me, but really it's just that my life has been extraordinarily ordinary lately. My life has been like watching paint dry. Except that watching paint dry is much more exciting and interesting than my life. Also, the last week has been fraught with roadblocks to blogging. To wit:

Sunday: I spent 7 hours in various waiting and exam rooms in doctors' offices and hospitals with my eldest. She has a pain in her ribs. She had x-rays and blood work (because of which my poor sweetums became white as a sheet, nearly keeled over, and immediately barfed up the juice the nurses gave her. Girl doesn't do blood work.) and probably a total of 40 minutes with various medical personnel. We spent the rest of the time either waiting in rooms or lobbies, moving from one building to another, or moving from one room to another, or doing paperwork. The results? Um, inconclusive. They know what it isn't, but can't tell us what is causing her the pain. The moral of this medical adventure? The weekend urgent care clinic is probably not the best place to seek out care for this type of problem. We should have waited a little and gone to her regular doc. I'm guessing we could've skipped a few steps. Oh well, at least I wasn't stuck in the laundry room for 7 hours.

Monday: Because of the activities of the weekend--namely Maggie's Medical Adventure in Hospital Land-- I spent 7 hours in the laundry room. But at least we were all in relative good health.

Tuesday: I spent the day in bed trying not to expire from The Worst Cold Ever. Seriously. It was the worst. I'm sure it was worse than any cold suffered by any human in the history of the world. Do you know why? Because it was happening to me. Duh! Anyway. It was nasty. And gross. And horrible. But at least it wasn't a migraine.

Wednesday: I spent the day in bed trying not to expire from The Migraine From Hell. This sucker came roaring in about the time I took Mary to the bus stop. She looked at me and said, "I can tell you don't feel good. Does your head hurt?" When I barely nodded my aching noggin, she said, "Oh I'm sorry! But at least you didn't throw up!" So naturally when I got back to the house, the vomiting started. Migraines are horrible. Vomiting is bad. But combining the two is a rather specific sort of hell. You can't keep your migraine meds down because you're vomiting. And because of this the pain continues, which leads to more nausea and vomiting. It's delightful. And by delightful I mean I spent a very long time wishing that God would just kill me already before my eyeballs exploded from the pressure leaving a nasty mess for someone--probably my mother, because goodness knows the people I live with wouldn't know what cleaning up was like--to clean up. I was finally able to time the medication just right with the waves of nausea and passed out in my bed with the heating pad covering my head. I couldn't think straight, but at least I had the power of speech.

Thursday: I woke up Thursday morning after 36 hours of fighting The Migraine From Hell and felt much better. But I sounded like Barry White. After he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Except for when I had no voice at all. It was extremely sexy. I alternated between a squeaky whisper and a very bass rasp. It's no wonder that my husband, upon returning from a business trip gave me an air kiss in the area of my forehead. While holding his breath. Lucky guy. I had been stuck in the house all week, but at least I'd be getting out tomorrow for lunch with a group of friends.

Friday: Lunch with friends was lovely. Unfortunately it was a very small group, as a couple of the girls discovered at the last minute that they couldn't come. Still, lunch with friends is always a good thing. And this lunch was great after the week I'd had. I was out of bed, I was out of the house, my head felt normal, I could breathe, (well, sort of. Every breath made my sinus cavities feel like they do after you snort water.) and I had my voice back.

Saturday: Who blogs on Saturday?

Sunday: I finally found my kitchen island! It only took two hours of picking up, wiping down, disinfecting, vacuuming, and mopping, but there it was! Smack in the middle of my kitchen, right where I'd left it. Then there was shopping for shoes for prom with my daughter. And then shopping for a cape for my eldest son. Yes, a cape. I'm not sure why exactly, his explanation had something to do with his English class,  Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, and Batman. I'm shaking my head even as I type that. Then it was time for dinner, followed by the daily round of a little game I like to call "Who Has Homework?" wherein the various contestants tell me if they have homework, why it sucks, and why they shouldn't have to do it. This is followed by several rounds of a game I call "Do It Now Or I'll Continue To Make Threats I Won't Follow Through On." Then the movie "The Breakfast Club" was on and I had to stop and watch it, because, hey, it's "The Breakfast Club." Then, after editing my daughter's paper that she had to write for Geometry (yes, they make them write papers in math class. Ah, for the days when math class was spent doing, um, math!) I fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Today: I get to do laundry and you get this mess of a post. We're ALL winners!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I am four or five years old. The purple light of an early winter evening filters through the half windows of the unfinished basement in my parents' century old house, muting the hues of the multi-colored tiles on the floor and tinting the white painted brick walls with a tinge of blue . It smells of sawdust, newspaper, and damp. Up the stairs, I can hear the clatter and thump of my mother preparing dinner in the kitchen. I am crying. My brothers and I have been playing an indoor version of basketball in the low-ceilinged basement and I have been hit. My motor skills are not as well-developed as those of my older brothers. There is no actual basket so I have thrown the basketball up at the spot on the beam that has been designated the basket and it has bounced back and hit me on the bridge of my nose. I am surprised by the hit. And then I am angry and embarrassed. Then comes the pain. I am certain that my nose is bleeding. My brother Todd runs after the errant ball. My brother Jon comes over to check on me. He reassures me that my nose is not bleeding. Then he starts to say silly things. Suddenly I am trying hard to maintain my anger and tears. He continues to say things to try and make me laugh. He is successful. Tears are still sliding down my cheeks, but now I am giggling and feeling better. Todd hands me the ball and I try again.


I am twelve. I am in my bed, aching and feverish with yet another bout of strep throat. My throat feels like jagged pieces of glass have been embedded in it and swallowing is agony. Jon comes in. He has just come home from his job at Baskin-Robbins. He hands me a milkshake. It's mint chocolate chip, my favorite flavor. I take a sip and enjoy the taste and relax as the shake slides down my throat, cooling the rawness.


I am eighteen. I am in the front hall of the house. I am holding a long, white, rectangular box. As I slide the top off, a sweet and earthy scent escapes. Inside are a dozen yellow roses accompanied by a note telling me to "break a leg" in the play that night. The flowers are from my brother who is living in Texas, attending graduate school. I am delighted and touched by this, knowing that he is thinking of me and that he has spent money out of his very small budget to send me flowers.

The flowers sit in a vase on the piano in the front hall. They sit there even after their beauty and fragrance has faded, because I can't bring myself to throw them away.


I am twenty-three. I am standing in the narthex of the church I have attended my whole life. I am wearing my wedding gown. I am excited and happy. My brother, wearing a gray suit and a ponytail, approaches me. He gives me a hug and tells me he is proud of me and that he loves me. I am incandescent.


I am thirty-one. I am sitting on the green and maroon striped couch in the family room of my own home. My three and a half year old daughter and my 16 month old son are playing on the floor. I am wishing I was anywhere but here. I am at the edge of tears. I can't assemble my thoughts. I am feeling guilty because I am watching the children that I love, but wishing for the son I lost. The phone rings and it's my brother Jon. He is calling to find out how I am doing. I lie and tell him I'm doing okay. He tells me he wishes he could be with me. I start to cry. We talk some more and he tells me silly things. Tears are still sliding down my cheeks, but now I am giggling. He tells me he loves me and the phone call ends. The hole in my heart is still raw and ragged, but somehow a little less injured for having shared the pain.

I leave my children in the care of their grandmother and go to my room. I lay down and sleep for hours.


I am forty-three. I am in a room pulsing with music and crowded with people. I am at the class reunion for my brother and husband's class. I am talking with people I knew and looked up to when I was younger. I feel weird. It is unsettling to be on level ground with people who knew me as "Jon's younger sister." I look across the room and see my husband throwing his head back in laughter. I grin. As I glance around the room, I see the photo booth that has been set up. I walk over to the small circle of people where my brother is. I grab him by the wrist and yell in his ear. He nods and smiles. We walk over to the photo booth and part the curtain. I grab a pink feather boa and a cowboy hat. We take turns wearing them and mugging for the camera. We are laughing.  The camera stops flashing and we wait for our prints. We shake our heads and chuckle at the ridiculous poses we have been caught in. He kisses my cheek and heads off to talk with his friends.

When I get home, I put the photo strip on my refrigerator. I smile every time I glance at it.


I am forty-five. I have been in airports and on planes since 8:45 a.m. It is 6:40 p.m. as I shoulder my camera bag and guide my wheeled bag onto the escalator. As I head down, I glance to the baggage claim where my sister-in-law said they'd be waiting. I see him, sitting on the floor, looking at his phone. He doesn't know who he is at the airport to meet. He isn't aware of my presence. I weave my way through the crowds gathered at the baggage carousel and I say his name: "Jon!" He looks up and glances my way. I see the surprise flash across his face and then as he strides toward me, his face breaks into a grin. "Happy birthday!" I say. We hug, separate, and then hug again. As we walk toward the parking garage, we are talking and laughing. I climb into the car and I can't stop smiling.


He has memories of a time in his life without me. He remembers when it was just he and my brother. But this is exactly the opposite of what I remember. I cannot remember a time in my life when he and my brother were not there. Like my parents, they have just always been. And even though he lives a thousand miles away and we only see each other once a year, he has a permanence and a weight in my life. His presence has been imprinted on me and influenced me in ways that he can't imagine. I have been so very lucky to have him as an older brother and friend. I hope his next 50 years are abundant with blessings and joy.