A Little Quiet Before the Storm

Every now and again, it’s important to breath, clear one’s head, and take a moment to just….BE.

In the midst of the chaos, the time to just be, work through your troubles, and come out the other side is incredibly important. While I haven’t ever been one to officially meditate, I have to say that now and again, I need to empty my racing brain and reset, recharge and relax.

While I have the vacations coming up, I long for a few moments to recharge. It always makes me come back feeling invincible. Some of my favorite recharge places:

The beach. Breeze blowing, sun shining, and waves crashing methodically into the land is one of the most calming places for me to be. Nothing like the beach to bring everything back into focus.

In nature. Again, we all spend so much time indoors, that the break to nature is one that jars us back into peace.

The car. The car is where I do much of my thinking. People laugh because I either have music blaring or drive in utter silence. The silence times are when I am mulling something over, and preparing myself for next steps.

With the nearly constant rain the past few weeks, I guess the car it will be today. Lots to mull over, plans to make. As soon as I can get myself out in nature though, I will.

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Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign

I love impromptu plans. Just a flight of fancy or interest that takes you on a whole day of exploration. Today was just that type of day. We were at a party last night and someone mentioned the idea of going to an indoor flea market today. It was decided we’d all make the trek, and despite a late night last night, we roused early and headed off for a day of looking for treasures.

We left with three places on our list. One, to get coffee, and two indoor flea markets (perfect for a rainy day). Coffee was a grand success, which fueled us for the drive ahead. The first flea market turned up to be closed, due to open later in the month. We ventured on to the next one, which was further than expected, but quite a great place. I had been perusing my phone while my husband drove and something came up referencing Mother’s Day. Now, Mother’s Day is quite a strange day for me, filled with love, and happiness, but it does strike a bit of a cord since my mom died. It’s always a little bittersweet, but my husband and kids always make the day super special for me, even moreso because they know I miss my mom terribly.

Now, I’m of the opinion that when someone dies, there is a time for grief. And then, I am a believer that the best way to honor your loved one isn’t with tears and misery, but with retelling their story, creating happy memories in their honor, and really celebrating who they are. My mother would have hated if the only stories her grandchildren knew about her were surrounded in sadness and grief. It just wasn’t her way. So instead, I tell them happy, silly, or funny stories about her. I tell them stories where she helped people. I tell them she liked to bust people’s chops in the best of ways, and had a booming laugh. In turn, they see her as someone they would have loved to have known, and I find them often seeing something or in a situation and bringing her up. “Nana would have LOVED that!” my daughter often says, quite accurately, which brings me joy considering she never physically got to meet my mom. It keeps the essence of who my mom was truly alive, and honors her memory.

Today, as we headed into the flea market, my mom was on my mind. I thought to myself “well, I wonder if I will find something that will no doubt remind me of mum” as I stepped in the doorway. Perhaps I was asking for a “sign” but really I just wanted a moment to feel close to her. We wandered the aisles. Everything was very organized and well placed. My daughter held my hand and my husband meandered off to a massive comic book section with our son.

“So, I am going to be looking for something that matches the rose china” I said, “or maybe something that Nana would love”.

The story of the rose china is simple. It was my parents’ wedding china, and was the Royal Albert Old Country Roses pattern. It was used for “best” which means we used it at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and an occasional Easter. It was pretty, dainty, with roses and gold around the trim. It’s a little old fashioned, definitely British, and it reminds me of all of our special holidays together. As a kid, when I saw my mom get the roses china out, I always knew a great meal was ahead, and it would be a special day. It’s funny the traditions we lock into when we are kids, but this was one I clung to. I told my mom that one day, I hoped she would leave me that china. Neither of my parents could ever understand why I loved it so much. For me, it stood for happy memories, family time, and special time together. I also thought it was beautiful and dainty. But then it accidentally got sold during the Estate sale after my mom died and my dad wanted to move. I was devastated. It sounds silly, but it was like a piece of my childhood left, but also, like losing a tiny bit of my mom again.

My husband knew the story, and he knew how sad I was about it, so for Christmas, he got me a 4 place setting of the rose china. I was beside myself, and THRILLED to put it on the table. He also got me a matching coffee mug. Whenever we go to antique shops, flea markets, or anything similar, I always look for pieces of the set, even to have as extra. It’s become a little quest of mine.

Now, as I said, I wandered into the place today with my mom on my mind, and a definite hope that with Mother’s Day around the corner, I could find something that would no doubt remind me of her. As we wandered down to where the dishes were, I saw it. It took me a moment to really figure it out, but there it was: a little tea pot, and the top had a tiny teapot, creamer and sugar bowl on top…..and it was in the rose pattern, part of the set!! It was little, dainty, and perfect in every way! I’ve mentioned it before, but we’re British. My mom always seemed of the belief that no matter what ailed you, a good cup of tea would start fixing it up. This little pot would make me feel closer to her and lift the blues of missing her.

I don’t know if it was a sign, but it sure felt like one. I picked up my tiny teapot, and saw it was only $8. That $8 made my whole day. I immediately paid for it, and walked out with a huge smile on my face. My daughter looked at it and said “Mama, it’s just PERFECT. Nana would LOVE it”.

Yes, she would.

We finished out the day with a delicious meal filled with laughter, more coffee, some shopping, and a quiet evening at home to relax. The little pot has kept me beaming all day.

Proud Mama

In the midst of all the chaos, us mamas often question our choices. Kids don’t come with an instruction manual, and it’s often tough to determine if we’ve got this whole parent thing down. For all the work my husband and I do, it’s often tough to see if the lessons we are trying to teach are landing.

Yesterday I took the girl child to the orthodontist. The whole process has been incredibly stressful on all of us. While I know kids get braces all the time, she had to have surgery where they cut her gums open to create little “windows”, applied brackets, and gold chains. Those chains then get attached to her braces, and slowly the links are taken off to tighten the chain, thereby pulling down her impacted teeth. It’s scary for an 8 year old, and frankly, it’s scary for me. One side didn’t heal as well as the other, and it’s been a tough process for her. Yesterday I took her in and they did the first tightening. Tears ensued and I had to hold her hand and talk her through the discomfort. She cried, but in all honesty, she handled it pretty well.

Outside, we headed to the car, and she still had big fat tears that were slowly dropping down her cheeks. She didn’t say much other than “mama, that really hurt”. I promised her ice cream and we went to get into the car. A man passed me with a walker. I sensed something was off…maybe a stroke had happened, maybe an impairment, but it was slight. He asked me for bus fare, and I told him honestly I had just given my last $5 away to the school. I felt bad. Suddenly, my daughter pipes up that she has some money in her bag from her change for buying me a mother’s day gift at school, and she offered it to him. He immediately felt bad, and apologized, shuffling away saying “I can’t take her money”. She would hear nothing of it, and handed me her $2.50. I asked how much bus fare was, and he replied “$3.00”. So I scrounged in my car for the remaining fifty cents. I came up with it and handed it to him. He didn’t make eye contact, but thanked me. We hopped in the car and left.

Now, here was my dilemma…I was so proud of her for helping. After all, I have spent many hours trying hard to instill kindness and the spirit of helping into my kids. I’ve often blogged about my successes, but especially my fails, where I tried real hard but it bit me in the ass so to speak. I was so stinking happy to see it stuck, that she saw a way to help, felt able to, and made the effort. That being said, I also had to impart a little bit of realism and explain that bad people don’t look bad, and that she had to be careful of strangers. We discussed stranger danger. An incident this week that my daughter was witness to about a stranger had frightened her, and I had to tread lightly. After all, how do you teach a child to love and trust, when reality is that bad people DO exist, and some strangers ARE bad? I had to explain that when it comes to this type of situation, it’s probably best to let her dad and I make those decisions and do the talking. I did repeat, however, that I was so impressed and proud of her kindness.

She responded that she could tell the guy just wanted to the bus to get home, and he wasn’t walking so well, so the bus was a better choice. She then told me she saw he REALLY needed the bus, so she knew she had done the right thing. I paused, and asked for clarification. It turns out that when I looked away and went to hunt for change, my daughter saw the man pee his pants. A huge puddle had appeared at his feet. She said he probably needed the bus to get home to the bathroom and to clean himself up.

I looked at the sidewalk. Indeed, there was a big puddle, and a set of wet footprints walking away from it. “eh, it happens to the best of us, kiddo” I responded, and she agreed.

Not so long ago, she had wet her pants at school after a substitute wouldn’t let her leave class to use the bathroom. She had been really embarrassed. When I put the pieces of the story together, I was even more proud of her. I have always told her that even kids can make a difference, once step at a time. She saw an adult who was struggling, saw them REALLY struggle, and said not a word about the issue in public, but instead extended her heart, her hand, and her last $2.50 to make his day a bit easier.

If only more people were like her, what a better place this world would be.

I’m so incredibly lucky to be her mama.

Oof.

Have you ever gone back and analyzed a situation from beginning to end and thought “what the hell was I thinking?” or “why the ever loving heck would I put myself through all of that?” Well, after ages of saying I’d put fingers to keyboard and write the full story of what I’ve been dealing with the past few years, I’m doing just that. Once I started going through the timeline, the screen shots, and seeing it all written down, I am FLOORED that I put up with so much for so long, especially as the situation kept repeating and spiraling. I swear this is like the new “Abducted in Plain Sight”. The signs are there, the crazy is there, the situation gets more and more bizarre and yet I tried to be nice and get along WAY longer than I ever should have. I’m 3/4 the way done and I’m shaking my head.

Happy Is As Happy Does

It’s funny, after weeks of not writing, I’m back with an awful lot to say, but don’t want to word vomit too many posts. I have a few posts in process (one is long, complicated and detailed) but while I’m working on the heavier posts, a little lightheartedness is in order. They say the key to happiness is someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. I suppose that explains my mood lately…I’m giddy. I’ve currently got all three.

I came into 2019 with an itch for change. A change in look, a change in the daily, and a change in scenery. So far, all three have been in process. I cut off over a foot of my hair, there have been super positive changes at work, the school project, and now I have some things lined up in the future I am looking forward to.

So, the Vegas trip? I. CANNOT. WAIT. I am unable to hide the excitement of a new experience for a few days with my bestie. We have a few thrill seeking activities in the works, and maybe a show or two. Honestly, I am looking forward to hitting the pool and wandering the strip. I was in need of a new swimsuit, and happened to find a new one (with tags) on Poshmark that I fell in love with, except it wasn’t my size and the style is discontinued. After a long, arduous search, I found the same one on Ebay, new with tags, in my size, cheap! Thrilled to pieces I bought it. It’s the little things sometimes that bring a huge smile. Hopefully I don’t look like a sausage when it arrives, but even if it looks bad, I have time to resell it and call it a day. I am realizing more and more how much I really do want to travel. I saw a meme on facebook the other day that talks about how people spend 10 bucks a day on lunch, not realizing that it works out to close to 900 bucks in 3 months. Those little extras add up, and if we cut out a few things, travel is in our reach! My goal is to take the family on a vacation somewhere every year, or maybe even two trips. There’s nothing like a fresh location to put things in perspective.

Also on the list to look forward to is a big family vacation. This one is super important because I think we could all use some downtime before the hectic season begins. This year we decided to team up with some other family members and go for a week of relaxation a little closer to home than our England jaunt. I won’t lie, I definitely want to get us all back to England (my kids haven’t stopped raving about that trip, even saying they preferred it over Disney) but I think a change in scenery is in order. Maybe next year we’ll head back. This year we’re headed for a week on a ranch near a lake. A little bit of land activity, a little bit of water sports, and something for every one of us. I’m looking forward to having downtime with the husband. He busts his ass daily and I know some relaxation would do him good. He often doesn’t get the credit he deserves for all he does, and he works insanely long hours. Time off does him good.

I managed to book a late fall trip to see a favorite drag performer of mine, and splurged a little to get a meet and greet. I always said if this particular person comes around, I’d want to do the M&G, so I stuck true to that. I’m going with one of my favorite people, and I know it will be a great time. I love a good comedy show, and I love drag queens. This is the perfect combination of both.

The combinations of trips and a show has me excited for this year. I’m excited about how well the school project has come together. I’ve got a great tribe of easygoing, no bullshit people in my life. My husband and kids bring me joy. What more could a girl ask for? Of course, life isn’t perfect, but I choose to be happy, and I always keep something on the horizon to look forward to on those tougher days.

Viva Las Vegas!

The other day, I was chatting with my bestie of probably 30 years. We met in school and have been firm friends ever since, even buying a house together when we were younger and before we each got married. We’ve done many an adventure together over the years. She was the one that came down to make the drive with me once I moved up north. We got each other through bad dates, bad boys, good time, the best of times, and the worst of times. Through it all, we’ve rarely had falling outs, and the friendship is an easy one. While we’re both married, I have kids, and she doesn’t, but she loves my kids and understands that my first priority is being their mom. That sometimes makes getting time to go adulting a bit difficult.

She was asking about what I’m up to, which basically revolves around marriage, kids, the project with the Kindness Closet, and all the usual mom things. She was telling me she’s itching to go on a trip to Vegas (she loves gambling, and if I’m honest, I do too, I just don’t have the extra funds these days), and asked me if I want to go. After all, we’ve talked about going to Vegas together for probably 25 years now, but we’ve never managed to go. I told her that of course I would love to go, but I can’t swing it now. After all, we have a family trip coming up that I am saving for, as well as a ton of expenses for camp etc that were all hitting at once. There was just no way I could swing it. “Do you WANT to go?” she asked? “Of course!” I replied. “Is it just finances?” “Well, yes, and coordinating with the kids.” “Ok, you coordinate the kids, I’ll pick up the flights, hotels and excursions” she said.

I blinked. “WHAT?”

She explained that since she goes out there quite a bit, she has a ton of points that she can use for free items. Miles, points, and other offers that she can take advantage of. She then went on to explain how my parents had always helped her out when we were younger, that I was always there to help her out, make meals when she had surgery, color her hair for her, and other stuff, plus I always help people. She said this was a way to turn the tables and help me. I’m stunned, floored, and honored.

And so, a girls’ trip has been planned, just the two of us. She handed me a list of things to do and said to pick a couple. When I squealed and said “They have DUNE BUGGIES?” she squealed “you’d do that? I’ve always wanted to and nobody would go with me!” Needless to say, we’re dune buggying it up! For her, this is a way for her to showcase a city she loves, and for me, it’s a chance to decompress and relax, while having some bestie time and seeing new things. I am GIDDY.

The other day, I was in the orthodontist office with the little and while trying to make an appointment, I started having chest pains. I won’t lie, it frightened me. A LOT. I made jokes about it, and the staff looked clearly panicked. I asked for some Tums, assuming it was just severe heartburn. Turns out that’s likely what it was because it eventually disappeared. When I recounted this to my husband he pointed out that I need to find ways to relax because I am always stressed and with a million things on my plate. I told him he was silly, and he just looked at me and started doing something he knows I do when I get very stressed. Ok, point taken.

I told my friend that while she goes gambling, there is a good chance I may wander around and people watch, or even better, park out by the pool for a while. I think the downtime is going to be amazing, but am excited to see all I can and do a few crazy things. Honestly, I have the best friends a girl could ask for. I simply cannot wait!

If you’ve been to Vegas, let me know your favorite things to do and see!

Lost Dreams and Broken Mamas

The area around me has been in quite an uproar lately over some local teens getting caught and arrested for committing a series of crimes. As news of the crimes came to light, people surmised just who and what had happened. Some people thought the crime was committed by the homeless. Some folks surmised politicos had a hand in things, and some just shrugged, unsure what to believe. When the news broke that it was teens who had committed the crimes, I think most people were in a bit of shock. It just seemed so ODD that kids had done what these teens were being accused of.

Because some of the kids were 17, and therefor underage, their names were initially withheld from the public. People nearly lost their damned minds about it, demanding names, knowledge, and the harshest sentences possible. I admittedly was disgusted by what they had done, and I too said they needed harsh jail times…to be removed from society. I am a firm believer that some folks just don’t want to help society, they want to hurt it, and they should therefore be removed from it.

Yesterday Facebook was aglow with article after article, comment after comment about what had transpired. The news traveled far and wide. Names had been released. I clicked on an article and read what had transpired. The teens admitted they had gone out in the middle of the night, committed a crime, grabbed some food and gas, and headed home. They told a few people what they had done, and swore those people to secrecy. Silly teens don’t know that people love to talk, and one of their moms came across a snapchat message about the crime, and went to police. I get the impression from the article that she may not have initially known her son was involved. Days later, he was arrested, charged with class A felonies, and she watched helplessly as it became clear her son had just destroyed his own life. The news quoted her outside the courthouse, saying she was “devastated” and apologizing profusely for what her son had done.

I read that article a few times. I was so angry at what these teens had done, but her words bounced around in my head over and over. I put aside my anger for a bit and just let myself mull over this woman’s predicament.

After all, those of us who are parents…we’re winging it. We get no manual. They don’t teach us and give us a test before we have kids. We have a kid and we sort of make it up as we go along. There’s a lot of trial and error. Sometimes we pat ourselves on the back when we get it right, and we cringe when we realize we got something wrong. Parenting is no joke. At the end of the day, most of us do our very best. We try to raise kind, considerate, loving, happy children who will go on to be successful, happy adults. Sometimes it happens the way we plan, and we rejoice. And sometimes, we end up like this mom.

I’d like to think my kids are smart. My son in particular tests out in the top 98th percentile for his grade level for the country. And you know what? He does dumb shit like every other kid his age. Maybe I’m more surprised by it because I know how intellectually smart he is, he gets great grades, and has a superb vocabulary. He also does things that make me look at him and wonder wtf he is doing. It’s part of being a kid. Both kids have moments where I wonder what they are thinking, because they do stupid stuff sometimes. Then I laugh because I’m an adult and sometimes I do really dumb shit too (hello, did you read the post where I tried to jump a car and forgot the simple process of turning a key?). Sometimes, we all make a poor choice or two.

No doubt this mama did her best. There was mention her son was an honors student, had great grades, and had a career path planned out. Yet all those smarts, and he did one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. In the process, he threw his entire life away. Forget no prom, no graduation. This kid won’t have a life outside of a jail cell for a long time. He could get life in prison. And with that throwing away of his life, he also threw away every one of his mama’s hopes and dreams.

Every time my kids leave the house on their own or with friends or family, I am aware that a piece of my heart has left the house. Each one carries a part of my heart, and I can’t imagine losing them to prison or death. The thought alone gives me anxiety. The mama side of me wishes I knew the mama of that boy, because I’d be there giving her a hug. While folks call for the harshest sentences for her son, blame her for his actions, and worse, I am left just heartbroken. I am heartbroken for that mama. I am heartbroken for all her hopes and dreams for her baby boy that have been lost. After all, no matter how old they get, they are always our babies in our hearts. I am heartbroken for a life not really yet lived, for a person who hasn’t truly even figured out who they are yet to have made such a life devastating decision.

There is no good in any of it.

I pulled my kids aside and told them all the things. I told them they carry a piece of my heart with them wherever they go, and I need them to protect it by making good choices. I explained good friends sometimes make bad choices, and they need to stand strong and make good choices. I told them how one bad decisions can lead to a string of them, and that they need to break that chain. I explain that while I wish all my lessons I impart, and all the mama love I can give them will keep them safe and raise them properly, that they need to make good choices. A bad choice, especially one like the one this child make, can destroy not only that person’s life, but everyone else’s who loves that child.

I worry about that boy. I worry about his mama too. I’m not sure if his dad is around or not, because they only mentioned the mama. I can’t stop thinking about her pain, and it’s hitting me hard.