I am having so much trouble finding things to write about in this space.  I think the problem is because I started this blog telling stories about big events, that I look at it in that vein.  There just aren’t a lot of big things (except for my impending grandmotherhood, which is still impending and not here yet) going on day to day for me these days.  I still haven’t gotten the knack of transitioning this space into a stream of consciousness, write about daily life, whatever strikes my fancy type of place.

But in my fitness blogging, I came across a blogger who had put some writing prompts out.  Maybe that’s what I’ll try for now, until I get my footing of writing about my current days, even when nothing seems like a big enough deal to write about.

So, thanks to Running with Spoons for this blog prompt.  🙂

Current book:  None.  I’ve been so terrible about reading anymore.  I am in a book club, of sorts, but we hardly ever choose books to read and we get together, if we’re lucky, twice a year.  The real readers who were the impetus behind the group forming have all moved away, and now it’s really just a social thing.  I don’t have a lot of time to read these days either, so most of what I am reading amounts to blogs on the internet.  And reading is one of the things I love!  OY!  Must find a book and time to read it.

Current music: I just downloaded a few new tunes for my race playlist:  Peace by OAR, Glowing by The Script, Classic by MKTO and Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I’m actually paying more attention to current music because of my bootcamp classes.  Before I was filling my playlist with slow, angsty music that really didn’t do much to get me moving.

Current guilty pleasure:  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I liked me my OC girls and my NYC ones but never got into the truly over the top BH ladies until this season.  Now I’m freakin’ hooked.  Dammit.

Current nail color:  clear and chipping.  With the amount of work I do on the computer my nails never really can get very long; they’re right on the edge at this point.  I go in phases with the nails.  I bite, they get short, I get a manicure, I like the way they look and feel, they grow.  Rinse, repeat.

Current drink:  fruit flavored tea.  I’m back on the weight loss train and trying to fill my belly in the afternoons with something other than plain water.  Also helps with the bone chilling cold here in the northeast.  Peach is really my favorite right now.  🙂

Current food:  my newest favorite thing that I’m eating is tortilla pizza for lunch.  It’s easy, you can put anything on it, and it’s healthy.  Feels somehow more filling than a salad, but that could be my salad bias.  Somehow salads just make me mentally go blech.  I eat them but they are never my first choice.

Current obsession:  started my half marathon training today.  Yes, you read that right.  Me, who has never been athletic in her life, has signed up for a half marathon after two and a half years of dragging my slow self through 5Ks and 10Ks.  It’s the next logical step for me.  I know I’ll never be a fast runner, but for me it’s about completion.  Not many people run, and even fewer complete much more than 5 miles on a regular basis, so I really want to reach this milestone.  I am sure the next three months will be spent researching, talking about it, reading about it, and generally annoying the crap out of everyone about it.

Current wish:  that my grandbaby would get here!  My daughter in law is due on Friday and the waiting is killing me!  I’d like to travel to be there if at all possible, and the logistics of that get dicier every day with having my two younger kids involved in all sorts of activities.  So I’m hoping for a safe, healthy delivery sooner rather than later.

Current triumph:  seriously cutting back on my wine habit.  I was drinking 2+ glasses a night, more on the weekends.  I managed last week to drink only 2 glasses on two days out of the seven.  That was a big deal!

Current bane of my existence:  teenage girl drama.  My daughter is truly testing my patience.  I want to love her and share things with her and she is truly unpleasant to be around these days.  It’s so hard to figure out how you can love someone so much and still dislike their behavior so intensely.

Current indulgence:  new iPhone.  Best Buy was having a deal where you basically turned in your 4s and they gave you a 5s for free.  I wasn’t sure I needed one but now I’m very glad to have a spiffy new phone.  🙂

Current procrastination:  finalizing sponsors for the 5K I plan.  We have to close them out asap and I haaaaaaaate approaching people for money.  Hate it.  But it’s so necessary to making the race successful.  I have two more to deal with and six days to do it.  Must not put off any longer.

Current blessing:  work!  I have more and more website jobs which i am truly excited about.  I love the work and I’m learning something new with each project.  Also, money.

Current excitement:  grandbaby!!!!!  Can’t wait to know if it is a boy or a girl, what its name is, what he/she looks like, and hold the baby!  I can’t wait!

Current mood:  content.  Other than the teenage girl drama, things are going well right now for us.

Current link:  MyFitnessPal.  With me trying to lose weight again, this is my most used link these days.

So that’s where I am currently.  🙂


Baby Watch

Well, it’s finally time.  Well not quite time, but close to time.  Close enough that it’s getting all very real in my head:  I will be a grandmother in a few days, a few weeks at the most.  Could be two days, could be twelve, but it’s not going to be likely too much longer than that.  I still can’t quite wrap my head around it, but it doesn’t matter, because regardless of where my headspace is at, this is happening.

At first, when “the kids” announced my daughter in law’s pregnancy to me, I was hesitant for them.  They should have waited, they needed more time.  More time to be young, to be a married couple, to enjoy life.  I suppose this was in some ways practical, but in other ways totally reactionary:  I became a mother at age 18.  I know first hand how much that altered my course, how difficult some things became.

But they’re not 18.  They’re 24 and 25.  They aren’t in school, they’re well beyond college and working.  They’re not living at home with a parent, they’re married and on their own.

As the months have progressed and I’ve watched my son’s baby become a visible presence, I’ve kind of marveled at how mature he is.  How much he’s grown up, while still retaining his youth and fun and whimsy.  He’s a kid at heart, but he’s also a 24 year old adult, and he’s acting like one.  He’s saved, scrimped and prepared for this moment.  They have planned and set up their life to be ready for this baby.  Everything is in place.  They have read, they have researched and they have done everything they can do ahead of having the child to be prepared.  They’re ready.

Even if I’m not quite all there yet, they most definitely are.  And I’m kind of awed and amazed by it.

So this morning, my daughter in law sends me a text.  I knew she was going to the doctor today  and they would “check” her to see if she was moving along.  Last week they’d reported she’s been having contractions although she can’t feel them, so this week was the telling moment:  would we be waiting three weeks or more or not?

The text said:  “3 CM!!!!”

I know you can walk around for weeks at 3 centimeters dilated.  I’ve never personally experienced 3 cm anywhere but in a hospital, but I have heard it happens.  So it’s happening.  Could be this weekend.  Could be next week (please don’t let it happen on Monday when we’re predicted to get quite a nasty storm….and so are they).  But it doesn’t seem likely that it will be much beyond then at this rate.

My grandbaby is coming.  I (finally) can’t wait.

The End of Another Year

It’s the last day of 2013.

I haven’t chronicled much of my life in this space this year.  Having started this blog nearly four years ago with the purpose of telling my life story, bit by bit, in short remembered pieces gave it a purpose that at one point kept me blogging one post a day for months at a time.

It took me nearly two years to do it, to write down the memories that shaped who I am.  It was a crazy thing to do, and once it was over, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I wrote about births, deaths, illnesses, boyfriends, lovers, marriage, abuse, rape, adultery.  I wrote about my hopes and dreams, my crushes and my losses.  When I look back and read some of those posts now, it’s like revisiting that time in my life, like visiting an old friend, or an old wound.

I’m glad I did it.  I’m glad I took that journey.  Some day I’ll admit to those I know and love that I have done this, and share it.  Some day.

This year was a big and small year.  A year of big events and small steps.

In January we were still reeling from the shootings at Sandy Hook here.  When I think of that month, it still seemed so dark and raw.  The kids from Sandy Hook came to school in our town; the media were everywhere.  So was kindness and love.  A highlight was that I ran a 10K in Central Park, spending time with my husband’s cousins from Spain.

In February I quietly “celebrated” the twenty years it has been since I lost my mother.  I still am shocked that it has been so long.  Most of my friends still have their mothers, even now, twenty years later, although some friends are starting to go through that loss of losing parents now that we’re older.  I miss her still but somehow this year managed to realize I look back more with love and longing than sadness and loss.

In March my daughter took center stage.  She celebrated her 13th birthday and performed in our local school’s production of Little Women.

In April my son was married.  It was a hugely emotional event, with family and friends from near and far in attendance.  He married a woman who is as deeply religious and traditional as he is.  I wonder sometimes if his tendency towards that conservative family model is because, while he was raised most of his life in a two parent household, he knows and can never forget that he has never met his biological father.  It still is a raw wound of sadness in the back of both of our minds, but his wedding was beautiful and perfect in every way.

In May we were busy with my preparations for the race I was putting together and the kids’ school.

In June my 5K happened, the culmination of 6 months of work.  It went off without a hitch and it raised $11,000 for local charities.  It also marked the beginning of my partnership with one of the Sandy Hook family foundations.  My kids also closed out another school year and we entered into summer mode.

In July my daughter attended theater camp, winning the role of Young Fiona in a local theater company’s production of Shrek. My young son and I did summer school work at home and visited the town pool while she went to her camp.  My husband continued to travel for work.

In August my daughter had her big performance.  The day she was done our entire family joined my husband’s parents and sister for a family trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  It was a hot week at the beach there, and his Spanish speaking family loved it.  I felt a little lost frankly, but consoled myself with the sun and the sand.  After we returned, we visited my son and his wife in the DC area, having a nice time learning more about her family.

In September I ran in Central Park again, meeting up with my father for the weekend in the city.  The next weekend I went to visit my 90+ year old grandparents in Delaware.  My son and his wife came too and shared the news that they were expecting my first grandchild.

In October my husband traveled a great deal, being gone nearly every week.  I campaigned for a spot on our local board of education by eschewing signs and using social media only.

In November I won the BOE seat.  My daughter performed in another school drama production, “Usher”.  I continued my freelance website work that I have done all year in fits and starts.

In December we returned to Florida for our annual trip at Christmas.  We have gone in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005-2013.  That’s pretty much our tradition now.  My son and his pretty pregnant wife also were there, as were my husband’s parents.  It was a lovely time of relaxing, reflecting and looking forward to what’s ahead.  My husband worked less than he ever has on the trip, which was a lovely surprise.  We all talked about next year there being a baby with us.  We counted our blessings and enjoyed each other’s company.

2014 will be another year of sameness coupled with some big events.  My day to day world will feel the same but much will change.  Each year I get a little more able to really appreciate all that I have and be content rather than worry about what others have that I don’t.  I’m not there yet, but I have made a lot of progress towards it.

I hope that everyone out there has something to celebrate tonight, and something to look forward to next year.  Happy New Year!

Closing Doors

Someone I know is pregnant.

This statement is becoming increasingly rare as the years keep marching on in my life.  It used to be that everyone I knew was in a couple.  Then, couple by couple, everyone seemed to be getting engaged, and then married.  Back in “my day” (intone the Old Lady In Me here) this was around age 23-28.  Most of my close friends were good and married off by then, which I know isn’t exactly the case with kids that age these days.

Then the babies came.  Each time I was pregnant I shared my pregnancy with at least someone else I knew.  In my eldest’s case, these women were my older sister’s friends.  But with my younger two there were any number of contemporaries that were either in the same family way, or who had just had a child within the last year, or who would find themselves pregnant shortly thereafter.

My youngest was born when I was the ripe old age of 31.  At first, we weren’t really sure if we were done having kids.  I stubbornly packed up all of the tiny baby clothes as he grew out of them and put them in sturdy plastic bins in the basement; the kind that would last.  I put the Pack and Play and the swing and the crib down there with them. We kept thinking….maybe.  Maybe just one more.  But it never seemed to happen.

As M’s issues came to light, we actively avoided the idea of a fourth child in our house.  We had too much on our plates with him and his issues and needs.  So many therapy appointments and meetings at school and worries.  It wouldn’t be fair to bring another child into all of that. And then, after we felt like it might be an option again, our eldest went to college.  He turned twenty.  And then twenty one.  By then, it just seemed preposterous that we would give him a brother when he was old enough to be a father himself (Lord help me that I’ve actually put that in printed form).

That door has been closed for quite a while now.

But then, I heard about this woman I know who is pregnant.  She has two adopted children from China, hard fought adoptions after years of infertility issues between her and her husband.  It had been universally assumed that they couldn’t have children, and their two perfect cherubs made them all the perfect family from the outside looking in.  Except that around Christmastime, the woman somehow found herself inexplicably pregnant.  The weeks wore on, everyone quietly waiting for doomsday to occur, but it didn’t.  She is nineteen weeks pregnant, and forty four years old. It is an amazing thought, after all of this time, that she and her husband will have a biological child.

It makes me wonder if my door is truly closed, as well.  There have been times in the last five years, perhaps six or seven, when I thought I was pregnant.  A few times so sure that I purchased pregnancy tests and took them.  But each time, the test slowly turned negative before my eyes.  And each time, I was a little disappointed.

I do wonder.


Michael Turns 2

After Christmas, I spent all of my available time on my computer getting the Shock Street Team up and running in advance for Rick’s new CD release in late February.  I decided to divide up the duties geographically, since most of the tasks I’d delineated required local people on the ground to visit stores, call radio stations, show up at promotional events.  I’d reached out to fans all over the country to ask them to be managers of their regions; I now had twelve people in charge of their local areas, all of whom would work directly with the fans.  My job then became more to get the information from the higher ups at the record company, decide how to proceed with it, and let those underneath me do the heavy lifting.  Meanwhile, I designed a whole new website for the new record, complete with the all access reward area for our teamers. It was a ton of work,  but R wasn’t around to complain about it because he was doing his year end close. That also meant he wasn’t around to pitch in and help, either.

Which is how I came to be alone one morning at the pediatrician’s office for Michael’s 2 year well child check up.  I’d dropped off my daughter at preschool, this time enjoying the luxury of having only one child in tow as I sat down in the waiting room.  I put down the diaper bag and set Michael in the toy area by the trains and busy beads and puzzles.

A few slow minutes ticked by as I watched my little boy there, looking silently at the toys in front of him and not interacting with them at all.   I hadn’t had time to slow down and watch him much lately;  as the minutes ticked by, I tried to imagine him as the doctor might.   I showed him how to move the beads up and down and all around the colored wires, but he wasn’t interested at all.  I showed him the puzzle and started fitting the pieces together one by one.  I felt a sense of relief wash over me as he finally reached out for one of the pieces.  There wasn’t anything wrong with my sweet, smiling little boy, I admonished myself.  He was just fine.

I looked away and let my mind wander until our last name was called by the nurse.  As I bent down to pick up Michael and the diaper bag, I realized what had kept him so occupied for the last five minutes.  He hadn’t been putting the puzzle together at all.  He’d taken every single puzzle shaped car and lined it up with the next one, so each end was touching, in a perfectly straight line across the floor.  “Let’s get this cleaned up before we go back there,” I told him sweetly, but he was not amused.  The fussy noises escalated to full blown meltdown screams, and the rest of the waiting room started to stare.

“Just bring him back and don’t worry about it,” the nurse said kindly as my face grew redder and redder.

I struggled to contain the wriggly mess of my son as we rushed into the labyrinth of examination rooms. He was fighting against me, not understanding at all the sudden stoppage of his play, but I was finally able to sooth him and calm him down through a combination of juice and cheerios.

“Any special concerns today?” the nurse asked brightly as my head swirled around in a mass of thoughts.  Why did my little boy freak out so much?  His tantrums were loud and embarassing to the point that we had stopped going out to eat to avoid them in public.  But then he could play literally for hours with just a few favorite toys, repeating the same actions over and over and over.  He didn’t talk yet, he didn’t point, he didn’t wave hello or goodbye.  I hadn’t realized any of this as I quickly went through all of the questions I knew the doctor had asked at our eighteen month appointment.  In fact, if I had to say so, I would say that my son probably hadn’t progressed at all intellectually in the last six months.  Melinda, at this age, was learning so fast that we thought it was like magic.

I could feel a turn in the pit of my stomach.  Something was definitely wrong here.  “Yes,” I answered the nurse.  “I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels like Michael isn’t learning as fast as my other two children did.  He still doesn’t talk, at all, not a single word.  He gets really upset sometimes, he’s super picky about food, and he does the same thing over and over and over all day long.”

“Alright then, I’ll make a note in the file so the doctor can talk to you more specifically about your concerns,” she answered, as if I’d said that I was worried that my son’s hair was too curly or that his cheeks were too pudgy.  I’d just put words to the nagging feelings I’d been pushing down for the last nine months or so, and it was a note in our file?

“She’ll be with you in a few minutes,” the nurse said as she closed the door behind her.

I looked at my sweet blond boy, who sat on my lap chugging apple juice.  “Well, we’ll see,” I said in a consoling voice, knowing exactly who I was really talking to.

Look Who’s Not Talking

“Is he walking?” Michael’s pediatrician asked, one of the long litany of questions she posed from a written list on the computer screen.

I answered the questions distractedly.  It was warm and Michael was fussy; Melinda was crawling on the floor rifling through the diaper bag for the stash of Cheerios she knew was in there.  “Yes, of course he’s walking.  He’s been walking since 12 months.”

“You understand, these are just routine.  I’ll get through them quickly,” she smiled, nodding at my girlie in the corner.  I pulled the plastic baggie out from the pocket where I kept them and started handing them to her one at a time.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “It’s just a little crazy now with the two of them so close in age.”

“I understand,” said the doctor.  “OK, so next, has he been saying no and throwing temper tantrums?”

I thought for a moment.  The temper tantrums, definitely.  When Michael was stopped from doing something he wanted to do, or put in a situation he didn’t want to be in, he would scream and thrash and throw himself on the floor.  We were slowly learning his triggers and trying to avoid those situations: keeping his favorite toys with us, making sure we didn’t have to wait too long in a waiting room or restaurant, always having something he would like to eat with us because he didn’t like so many things.

But did he say no, or even shake his head no?  I honestly couldn’t remember.  He made his displeasure clear in many ways, but in those two specific ways?   “Michael is very agreeable and easy to manage when everything is OK in his world.  But when he doesn’t like something, he definitely throws tantrums.  But now that you mention it, he doesn’t really say no.  He just cries and gets mad.”

The doctor typed in a few sentences and then went on.  “Is he talking a lot?”

I knew this would be the next question.  All two year olds said no.  It was a classic hallmark of the terrible twos.  But not my son.  “No, he’s not talking a lot.”

The doctor looked over at Michael.  Indeed, he hadn’t made any sort of words or noises since she’d been in the room.  Melinda overpowered the room with her mindless chatter about the Cheerios, the books in the corner, the paper on the table, the Pooh Bear on the diaper bag.  But Michael was silent.  He smiled as I lightly held his hips while he sat on the table.  The doctor scrutinized him for a second.  “Is he talking at all?”

My heart sank.  I hadn’t even really noticed it with everything going on; he should be talking now.  But he wasn’t.  He had absolutely no words, nothing.  “No, he’s not talking at all.”

Her fingers, poised over the Y and N buttons before, began typing whole words into the computer.  “Can he understand language, respond to a simple command?”

Again, I had to stop and think.  The last few days replayed themselves in my head, getting meals for the kids, playing in the little blow up pool in the back yard, driving to the grocery store.  “No, I guess he doesn’t,” I realized aloud.  “That’s not good, is it?”

The doctor typed more in the computer and then met my worried gaze.  “It could be completely fine.  Boys develop later than girls, so you can’t really compare them even though they are so close in age.  And also, since they are, it could simply be that she does so much talking that he doesn’t really see a need to do so.  Do you know if you or your husband were late talkers?”

“I was,” I responded instantly.  I remembered the story my mother always told of how I didn’t speak until age 3, but when I did, I said a complete sentence:  “I want a cookie”.  Before then, my two older siblings were always there to communicate whatever I needed and interpret as well.

“Well then we’re probably fine.  I will go ahead and put Michael on the waiting list for speech therapy.  He might not even get to the top of the list for six or nine months, but by then we’ll know whether or not we’re dealing with a simple delay or if there is something more at work here.”

Something more at work here?  “What else could there be?” I asked, trying not to sound too panicked.

The doctor smiled warmly at me, the smile that I am sure she was taught in medical school.  The “let’s not worry until we have something to worry about” smile.  “Likely nothing you need to worry about.  We’ll see you in six months, ok?”  She shook my hand and walked confidently out of the room, leaving me with my two kids, a mountain of worry and a mess of Cheerios all over the floor.

Little Boys and Big Tests

“But what did he say?” I groaned into the phone.

I couldn’t believe it when I had started vomiting the night before Michael’s scheduled hydrocephalus check at the Children’s Hospital.  I had never felt so ill in all of my life.  I spent the evening on the sofa in order to not infect R, who took charge of Michael.  Melinda had been throwing up the whole day before, but I’d never caught the stomach bugs that sometimes plagued our home.

I’d positioned buckets and blankets strategically all over our quarantine area since neither one of us had been able to make it to the bathroom; I’d been lucky enough to make it to the kitchen sink, which left me so exhausted that I passed out for a while around 2 am on our linoleum kitchen floor.  I felt tingly and hot and all churned up inside.  But the worst part of it all was that I knew, based on when Melinda finally had stopped looking like a character from the movie “Psycho” that there was no way I’d be able to accompany my sweet baby Michael for his appointment tomorrow at the hospital.

R had left that morning, truly the first time he’d traveled alone with the baby, along with Zachary to keep him away from us sick girls, the forty five minutes downtown to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  Melinda lay listlessly on the sofa watching her new favorite channel, “Noggin”.  It was supplying an endless round of children’s programming to keep her from being bored while she slowly sipped the Pedialyte to regain her strength.

I chewed my nails and positioned the phone an arm’s reach away from my perch on the other end of the sofa, hoping that by the time R called with any sort of news that I wouldn’t be praying for death to come and relieve the awfulness that was making my insides want to be on the outside.

The hours passed slowly; first the commute time was calculated in my brain, then the wait time, then the time of the appointment.  An hour passed after that, and while Melinda was starting to munch on plain saltines and I was brave enough to take a second sip of ginger ale, the phone finally rang.

“But what did he say?” I repeated to R’s initial speech of first they did this, and then they did this, and then they performed the test.

“The doctor said there is no evidence of water on the brain, no hydrocephalus.  He said the head is large, for sure, but that there were no abnormalities that he could see visible on the ultrasound.”

I could feel my shoulders relax for the first time in the week since I’d taken Michael to the pediatrician.  “Really?  I mean, there’s really nothing wrong with him?”

“Well of course he gave me the usual ‘we’ll have to monitor the head size’ and all of that blather, and that some things couldn’t be seen with an ultrasound, but no, he said that at this time there was no need for further testing, that he appeared to be a normal, six month old baby.”

My hand was sweaty from grasping the phone so tightly.  “Oh thank God,” I whispered, remembering my promise to take everything in much more stride if Michael turned out to be OK.  “That’s great news.”

My little boy was going to be OK.

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