Damn you, picture day.

Tomorrow is picture day at school.

I hate picture day with all I am, and all I will be.

Each year, I spend a ridiculous amount of money for school pictures, of which I give away just a couple. It just never occurs to me to carry around pictures of my kids to give away. It almost seems like a bit of an odd tradition, considering we now have cell phones with amazing cameras where we can take spontaneous, candid, amazing photos. Still, I shell out a stupid amount of money for my children to force a smile and inevitably not look quite like themselves, and me to get documented proof of this. Yet that’s not even why I hate picture day.

Picture day is a day where we break out of school uniform, and somehow that makes it seem a bit more special. On top of that, I have a young daughter who loves clothing and fashion. Her style can best be described as Vegas with a touch of redneck. She loves all things sparkly, bright, and leopard print is an ultimate favorite. She also loves cowboy boots and flannel shirts. Things don’t have to match with her, and growing up if she was allowed free reign on her clothes she would look like she stepped out of a carnival. Add to that the fact she is stubborn and strong willed, we have had our fair share of disagreements when it comes to picture day choices.

This year, I decided to cave a little. I wanted to be the awesome mom. I wanted this year to go smoothly and to make that smile on picture day a bit more genuine.

I decided to step back, and allow my little girl to go pick out an outfit from the store. Her choice. She was beaming as we hopped into the car.

An hour later, I was consoling her and wiping away tears.

What set out to be an awesome bonding experience where I could allow her to express herself (and also I could learn a bit about what her style really is before the holidays roll around) turned out to be rather defeatist and upsetting.

You see, folks, she’s built like I was when I was a kid. As a little kid, I was short, stocky, and I had a little belly. I was solid. I envied those tall, lithe girls who could fit in anything and always looked stylish. I never grew that tall and frankly, I’m still a little stocky. Now, full disclosure….I’m about a size 10-14 depending on the brand and the item. I like to joke I’m a potato body. I suppose they call it an apple body. I have big boobs, a bit of a pooch, and sort of a flat butt. My legs are pretty thin, and I’ve always gotten compliments on them, but if you ask me, they don’t quite match the top of me. Now add to this the fact I barely hit 5’3. For the most part, I’ve come to terms with my body and am actually quite amazed at all it has accomplished and gone through. There are moments, however, when I get frustrated at how difficult it is to DRESS this body, because sometimes what I like is not what this body looks good in.

My daughter is petite, has a little belly and is solid. She has a little round butt I would have loved to have had when I was a kid (and would still love to have as an adult!) and of course, puberty is around the corner. Her body is strong and fierce. It does splits, handsprings, cartwheels, and balances on a beam. It stands tall in the stirrups and holds a sense of confidence on a horse. When she sits in the saddle, the horse relaxes as they feel a tiny, solid and confident little person up there. She has long, curly blond hair with streaks of the summer running through it, greenish blue eyes, and a huge smile. She is all the things I wish I was when I was her age.

Yet when we went from dressing room to dressing room, trying on all types of items and sizes, my girl felt like her body didn’t fit in. The jeans all were too long. The shirts were cropped and boxy, which weren’t flattering. If it fit in one place, it didn’t fit in another. And my sweet girl began to cry.

“Mama, I’m fat” “I’m too short, and too fat”.

And my heart shattered into a million pieces.

I try to be very careful about how I speak about myself to my kids. They often make fun of how short I am, and both have outwardly said they hope they get my husband’s height. I have always been quite unbothered by being short, and tell them so all the time. In fact, for me, I’m happy being short (except for the fact I have to find an evening gown and NONE are cut for short people). I’m usually ok about my body, and I always promote being healthy and strong over being skinny. Of course, I have had my bad moments. I got really hard on myself the other week after gaining some weight, and when I said something my husband jumped on me about it, reminding that she hears me and I shouldn’t say things like that about myself anyway, but certainly not in front of her. I sat down and had a long conversation with her about it. I explained I was upset with myself because I wasn’t treating myself well, and wasn’t being as healthy as I should. I regret my initial failure though, because I’m sure some of it stuck with her.

The girls on tv, in magazines, online and everywhere around her, well they are all sort of typecast as tall, thin, stick straight girls. Everywhere she looks, and even in the stores, the world is telling her that tall and thin is in. It’s no different that being a grown woman. The clothes are all for taller people, skinny people, and really not cut for me. She tried on item after item, and nothing made her feel great. She cried. We talked.

I explained that she is beautiful and strong. I went over all the amazing and difficult things she can do with her body. I explained how I wish I had her butt, her long beautiful hair, and her strength. I also explained how her body is gearing up for changes, and that the next year or so might get a little frustrating clothing wise, but she’ll find her element. We also discussed marketing, and how companies photoshop people.

She thanked me for taking her. She thanked me for the shirt she picked out, and we planned her outfit together. I think she was happy. I’m just sad that what could have been a great experience was frustrating, exhausting, and sad for her, as well as me.

Side note, I’m hardly on Instagram but I did find a cool page called (I believe) @beauty.false. The page shows you the unphotoshopped version and the photoshopped version of people. It’s pretty eye opening that what we see isn’t even what we are really seeing.

Now where can one get short length jeans for a young girl?

In the meantime, I hope that the positives of today outweigh the negatives, and that my girl has a big, real smile on picture day. I think she’s beautiful just the way she is.

Watch Me.

Today I was hard on myself. A project I was doing at work had some technical glitches and didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped (although I got it done. My daughter was a bit upset by an interaction with a teacher in the car line when I picked her up. I had to race out to the orthodontist and stores after work. Dinner was late and I ended up having my son help me with it. I had a bunch of jobs to do like ordering school pictures, trying to gather items for the Closet project. I’m tired. Tired physically and tired of garbage humans who are just shitty people. I looked around at the chaos in my house and felt overwhelmed. I started getting frustrated with myself that I couldn’t get it all done and do more around the house.

Then I took a deep breath. And another. I sat back and watched a mental replay of what I had done all day.

I began to realize that I was too busy giving myself a hard time and wasn’t acknowledging the successes I had today. Some were small, but they were wins as far as I was concerned.

That project? Well, I got it done, and learned a whole new software in the process. I got another big project on my dreaded to do list accomplished as well.

I worked a full day and got a lot done.

I coordinated kids getting home.

I turned my car around in the car line and went to speak to the teacher who had upset my daughter. It was a misunderstanding, and I ended up really liking her and sorting it all out where everyone was happy.

My daughter, who has shed many a tear at the orthodontists, looked at me when I told her “you’re a big girl now and you can communicate what you feel needs correcting and you can rock this” and did just that. She handled it like a boss and walked out proud without a single tear being shed.

I got the items I needed from the store.

I ordered school pictures.

I was able to coordinate getting the shelving units I need for the Closet Project with the help of a friend, for free, donated by her neighbor. This is HUGE because currently everything is in random bags, boxes and bins making it near impossible to find what you need. I also found clothing racks for cheap and purchased a couple. I’m excited to now get it set up.

I coordinated a few more donations of clothing and toiletries.

I took a moment to ponder how grateful I am for the internet and the volume of things I can accomplish by using it.

I scrubbed the tub and toilet quick.

I delegated some jobs to my son, who was a rock star and cooked dinner.

I got a load of laundry done.

I did a load of dishes.

I fed all the pets.

I saw a woman say something vile and called her out as the asshole she was.

I saw a lurker lurking, sighed, and wrote this post anyway.

I did some good deeds.

I made calls I had to make and sent emails I needed to send.

I gave out some compliments. I laid out some truths.

I took out my esthetician’s equipment and helped my son with a breakout.

I gave goodnight hugs and kisses. I sent two happy kids to bed.

In other words, I did a LOT. I did some small things, and I did some big things. I did lots of things and I handled my business. So my house is messy. I work full time, run a major project to help kids, raise two kids, and manage a household often on my own since my husband works different hours. I kicked some ass today! I’m proud of myself and my kids told me they are proud of me too. I often find myself being so hard on me, never taking the time to just stop, breath, and recognize all the things I DID accomplish during the day. Sometimes I need to step outside of myself and watch all the things I have accomplished, and all the things I did get done.

Are you watching me? Because I’m watching me, and I kicked some ass today!

Ridin’ Out of Summer

And I’m back!

It’s been a super busy few weeks, but it feels like summer is officially over now (even though technically it’s not.) Between work, projects, summery events, travel, and some other things, the summer blew past me. I felt like I spent my summer either running around like a mad woman, or melting in the heat. Sometimes it was a combination of both.

So where have I been? What have I been doing? Inquiring minds want to know. I’ll give you a bit of an overview and then will post again with more specifics soon.

The Closet project has been steaming ahead and almost got a bit away from me this summer. I was super fortunate and was able to pick up a lot of clothing donations. The bad news was, we lost our space at the school. For last year, we were able to the old dental room. Originally, the health department had a special room at the school in the nurse’s suite where they would come and do free cleanings etc. Once they privatized it, the new company never bothered to come in. That is, they never bothered to come in until we used the space to create the Closet space. Well, at the VERRRRYY end of the year, the company showed up, rather displeased we had taken over the space they failed to use. Maybe it was a snub of “well, if you’re not going to use it, we will” but they have arranged to start coming back to the school, which is GREAT for our students. The bad news is, we had to move everything, and unfortunately the school is packed. Luckily the principal is amazing and find me a small space. It.s not ideal, but it shows she stands behind the project and I was inherently grateful for it. I was getting calls throughout the summer from parents in need, and at times was out late at night doing dropoffs of items. You know, this project really highlights the best in people. My goal every time I step out to help someone is to refrain from any judgement. It’s the only way the project will work. When I tell people about it, people often say “how could parents not have XYZ for their child?” but it’s important to simply go with purpose and not judge. Hard times can fall on anyone, and in a town where you have a mix of rich and poor, people often forget just how tough times can really be for some of us, or how good people don’t always get a fair shake. Judging others does us no good. A big reminder of this was a late night drop off I did the other night. I asked the dad what his daughter’s name was. As soon as he went to tell me, his whole body language changed. He stood tall, and clearly, happily and lovingly told me his child’s first, middle and last names. You could see the pride. You could see the love. To be honest, that simple moment was everything, and it was the best moment of my day. I loved seeing the pure love for his child on his face. Hard times can never diminish that.

I also made the decision of a mad woman to do our family vacations the last week of summer. Meaning, I left on a Saturday, came home on Wednesday (the day before school started), sent my babies off to school Thursday and Friday, before we headed back out for a family reunion from Saturday to Monday. PHEW! Are you tired yet? I sure am!

Trip one was a trip with some family members to a Ranch in Upstate New York. We had such a good time that the trip deserves it’s own post. For now I will say that each family member found something they loved to do, we ate constantly, we all tried new things, and I came mentally relaxed and physically bruised. Better than the opposite, if you ask me. I had bruises on my legs from horseback riding and riding a bananaboat, and I couldn’t lift my arms up over my head from the soreness of all the kayaking I did.

It was heavenly.

We enjoyed ourselves so much we booked it for next year as well. Again, I’ll write more on that trip later.

The only tough part of the trip was getting a call from my dad on the drive up there that my grandfather wasn’t doing well. It was touch and go for a few days as far as whether my dad would be able to attend the reunion or not. In the end, he called and said he was flying out to go look after my grandfather. I think he felt bad about not seeing us, especially since we haven’t seen my dad hardly all year, but to be honest, I felt glad he was going to look after my grandfather. I told my dad not to worry, and I would see him soon. We still headed up to the lake house to visit the family, and it was a wonderful time. It’s laid back, easy going, and always great to watch the kids all fall right into step with each other. They all come from different states but as soon as they land in the same house they all run off like old friends. I really missed having my dad there but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. We spent a day at the lake, a day at a country fair, and a lazy morning before packing up to head home.

Once I got back home, I decided to treat myself to a guilt free nap.

It’s funny because I feel guilty when I nap. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s that I always feel like I should be doing something, or running somewhere, or looking after people. So for me to say…”I’m gonna take an hour and have a nap” was a big deal for me. It was awesome. I slept for an hour and woke up feeling lazy and useless, but it was perfect.

And so begins fall. Fall schedules, which are a bit more hardlined. Sports begin again. New projects begin. Existing projects get streamlined. Pro football starts. Food gets more comforting. Pumpkin everything. Coffee. Just, coffee.

My house stays messy…because while I’m an eternal optimist, I’m also a realist.

Sadly, I think that has wound up most of our travel for this year, outside a day trip here or there. Of course, I never rule out more. The past 12 months have been outstanding in so many ways, but most of the best moments were because of travel. I’m excited to plan for next year!

Astraphobia and “The Incident”.

I remember the days when I would love to curl up in bed and watch the thunder and lightening outside my window. I loved the way the sky would light up in such a way I could see the silhouette of the tree branches blowing in the wind. I found it relaxing. Fast forward to my late teens and that feeling changed into fear. Now, the fear is real, but it stemmed from what is now a pretty funny story. Y’all know I love a good self deprecating story, so here we go. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself, how can you laugh at other folks (easily is the answer, btw).

Now, I can’t remember if I was living with my parents full time when this happened, or whether I was home from college. I know I was in my room at my parent’s house at the time, which we jokingly refer to as “the Big House”. The Big House was so named because it was a pretty big place that was, in all honesty, far bigger than the 3 of us in our little family needed, but my parents chose it when we moved to Virginia so we’d have plenty of space for people to visit. My room had it’s own bathroom, which I loved. (What I loved less after we sold it was finding out there were walking paths behind the house which I never knew about. Since the house backed up to protected forest land, I never worried about shutting the shades. I’m sure I gave some walkers a scary sight as I shuffled around my room in my underwear.) The house itself sat on a cul de sac in a nice neighborhood.

Anywho, it was the middle of the night, and I awoke having to use the bathroom. I shuffled into the bathroom, and turned on the low light. I sat down to pee, and was sort of leaning with my chin in my hand because I was groggy and half asleep. I was faintly aware of what sounded like rain outside the window that was right behind the toilet. (Why would you put the toilet right in front of a window?) but the shade was down so I couldn’t see anything. Suddenly there was a bang. Not a little bang, might you, but a BANG that would have scared the crap out of me, except for the fact that I felt something hit the back of my head with such force it knocked me out for a second. I opened my eyes and realized I was laying on the floor.

Now, I’m not sure if it was being half asleep, being clocked in the head, or what, but I pulled up my pjs and began to scream…..that I had been shot. My parents, awokened from a sound sleep came running from down the other end of the hall, terrified. They didn’t know what had happened, only that was screaming I had gotten shot in the back of the head. With no blood, no physical signs of being shot, they weren’t quite sure what had happened, and tried to calm me down, thinking perhaps I had a nightmare. I noted my radio had turned on by itself. my clock was flashing. My dad went in the bathroom and found the cause of my injury. It turns out that lightning had hit the house and traveled through the duct work. It hit my bathroom exhaust fan and blasted the cover off, which smacked me in the back of the head, knocking me out,

So there’s that.

Aren’t you glad you kept reading to see my embarrassing story lead to that?

The cover itself and a black flash of a soot mark on it.

My awkwardness holds no bounds, I tell you.

Flash forward several years, and lightning hit the house again. This time, it hit while my mom was home alone, aside from an electrician. My parents had decided to renovate and sell the house so they could retire, travel, and be closer to me. Unfortunately, as soon as they started the demo on the master bedroom and kitchen, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My father wanted to halt everything, but my mother persuaded him to keep going with the reno, thinking he may want to sell the house anyway after she died. With their room being under construction, and me having moved out, she was staying in my old room. An electrician was down in the basement working on the panels and during the storm, he saw a fireball on the side where the chimney was. Panicked, he ran upstairs and threw the door open to the room where my mom was. She calmly got up and went to see what had happened, checking on the master bedroom. There, a giant mirror on the wall where the chimney was had exploded. Glass was everywhere, and the frame was smoldering. She put it out. She looked out the window and the deck on both sides of the chimney was smashed up, with bricks lying everywhere. The lightning had blown about 3-4 feet off the chimney. All the electric on one side of the house was shot. It was a mess. “Is anything on fire?” she asked the electrician. He responded no, and she headed back to bed. The electrician was stunned. “Not much I can do about it. I’ll call my husband and have him call someone” she said, and got back into bed. The electrician was so freaked out by it all he left. To this day I am so grateful she was in my room, and not hers, as with all the flying glass it could have been a very bad situation.

It didn’t occur to me that these events had triggered a fear in me until a few years ago. My husband and I were in the car during a bad lightning storm, and I had a full on panic attack. Frozen in place, I couldn’t exit the car. I burst into tears and had trouble breathing. He looked at me shocked, as he’d never seen me in that state, but calmly talked me down until I felt like myself again. I used to suffer from anxiety when I was younger but now panic attacks are almost non existent and I feel like I finally have a grasp on the anxiety to where it no longer bothers me much. That moment shook me. I’m not used to having that kind of fear anymore.

Now all that being said, I have kids. And kids pick up on our thoughts, fears etc. This means I have to hold it together as much as possible and not freak out when there is a bad lightning storm. I don’t want them to take on that fear if possible. So I plaster a smile on my face and get through it. They know I’m nervous around lightning, but they don’t know how deep the fear runs. As I’ve been writing this, a big storm is passing through, and my cat and I are giving each other knowing, uncomfortable looks every time the thunder booms and the sky lights up.

Still better than thinking I got shot in the head though.

Birthday girl

Tomorrow, the little one turns 9. I’m not prepared at ALL. Sure, we had a fun filled family party, and her gifts are almost ready for tomorrow, but what I don’t have ready is this mama’s heart.

You know, when I had my son, everyone told me the old “enjoy him while he’s little” advice, as well as the “time is going to fly by” jobber. And I laughed sometimes, because sometimes, the days seemed interminable. There was always so much to DO. So many errands, so many diapers, so many meals, so many floors to sweep. Half the time I didn’t get it all done. Ok, MOST of the time I didn’t get it all done. I was a tired mama. My husband worked until late at night so I was on my own a lot. I was domestically challenged. It was a recipe for disaster. Only I didn’t follow the recipe.

I picked my battles. Housework lost far more often than I am willing to admit. Sometimes, long chats in the car (my kids often become the chattiest in the car) far outweighed in importance than dishes in the sink. We got through the milestones one at a time. In a blink of an eye, he was 5, then 10, and now 13. He is almost as tall as me, 13 in all its angsty glory, and if he doesn’t remember deodorant, he stinks a bit. He’s a smart, kind, and gentle soul with quick wit and a sarcastic dry sense of humor. He’s exactly the child I needed for my first child. The advice was right all along though, folks. Today he is begging me for rides to his friend’s houses. in 3-4 years, he’ll be driving. In 5 years he heads to college and becomes and adult. My mama heart isn’t ready for that. Not one bit.

The little one, well, she started out in the world as a challenge and she kept going. We never quite knew if she’d make it during pregnancy, as I spotted for months and months. I ended up hospitalized after my gall bladder went bad while I was pregnant. We made it through. My daughter was diagnosed with strabismus and alternating amblyopia before she was 1, and went in for corrective surgery. It worked for a few weeks, before her eye dropped back in. She had tonsils out, oral surgery to fix teeth that were coming in in the wrong place, and she has braces. She managed to get through each surgery or problem with a smile. She is my cuddly, huggy lovebug but she also my tough little warrior girl. I watched her see an elderly woman walking towards a restaurant with a cane, and my daughter, unprompted, ran to open and hold the door for her. I was so stinkin’ proud, but I also got a bit emotional because I see how grown up she is getting. I’m trying to embrace the little in her while encouraging her to grow. Every weekend she crawls onto my bed in the mornings to cuddle and giggle with me, and I try to soak in every moment because I know one day it will be her last to climb up, and I shall miss it every weekend thereafter.

I’m not ready for them to grow up.

I feel like these kids are growing up so amazingly, but I’m not ready for them to spread their wings and fly. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. Life will be pulling on me, kicking and screaming to that point. I know it’s coming, I just want to push it off. I want to enjoy the little moments. The giggles, the belly laughs, the cuddles, the jokes, and even the awkward moments as we navigate growing up and all entails. I want to take pictures and videos and savor it all. I want to hold on to the memories, while making more and more of them. In the words of Aerosmith “And I don’t want to miss a thing”.

That advice is true. It goes so fast. It goes so fast and you don’t even realize it.

So tomorrow, I’ll be trying to savor it all, and to take it all in. I’ll be that mama watching her girl get a little older, a little wiser, and a little more independent, while still trying to eek out the moments of her being little.

Lazy Days of Summer

I’m not cut out for summer. As a super pale British lass, who is probably the only person in the entire family who doesn’t tan, I’ve never been one for sun and sand. Only if I wanted burn and aloe, that is. As a kid, I tanned. Long days at the beach with my mom or at camp turned me blond and golden skinned, but as I grew, something switched and I am now pale, freckled, and I burn far too easily for my own comfort. I remember my parents taking me to the Caribbean as a child, more than once. Despite slathering on sunblock and wearing a hat most of the time, I got sunstroke and got violently ill. They, excited to take me to new places, also took me to Mexico. I woke up suddenly unable to see. I thought I had gone blind, started screaming, only to determine my pale skin had forsaken me, leaving my eyelids burned shut. Heck, despite a week in Vegas, slathered in sunscreen, I burned promptly once I returned to the Northeast and dared go outside for an hour. The sun is not my friend.

I’m also, to my husband’s frustration, reincarnated Goldilocks. I hate being too cold, or too hot, but mostly too hot. I can always throw on a sweater or jacket if it’s cold, but it’s not as easy to cool down. It’s certainly not cheap either, as my electric company tells me daily via emails that I am spending too much money to run my window unit AC’s just at night so that I don’t melt into my bed. The heat leaves me tired and drained, and if I’m honest, my neighbors probably have disdain for me this year, as yard work in 90 degrees isn’t happening, folks. Nope. Not mowing my grass when stepping outside makes my skin crispy. It’s starting to look like Children of the Corn out there, and while I feel inherently guilty and sigh sadly about it, I don’t get upset enough to drag my pale, overheated ass outside. Well, I haven’t, but today that may be a reality.

Today we planned to take the new kayaks out as a family. I figured since we live 5 minutes from the water, that would be an easy task. My husband, however, is determined that sharks are everywhere and that we would be best served heading to a lake. I was A-OK with the plan, until I woke up this :morning to a news story that at 7:30 AM all the State Parks were nearing or at capacity. WHAT? Folks packed up for a full day of July 4th partying and outside time at friggen 7:30 in the MORNING? The showered, got themselves ready, got kids ready, packed food, drinks, beer, and all the accoutrements needed for a full day out, packed the car, drove and arrived at a park by 8 am? Savages, I tell you. My goodness, folks, it’s like people don’t know how to celebrate the glory of a lie in on a day off. My ass slept in and I am still, at mid day, enjoying a lazy cup of coffee.

I’m a lazy asshole sometimes, is the point of this post.

For all my posts about my chaos, which is usually self imposed and keeps me busy, yet usually very gratified, my heart is lazy. My family, my pets (which are family), my projects, my work, it all keeps me insanely busy. And then a day rolls around where the joy is in the lazy. At least for a little while. Then antsyness will arrive in all it’s glory, and I will feel guilty about the laziness, and will need to MOVE, to have a PLAN, and to feel at least a teensy bit productive.

For now, I need to go hunt down oodles of sunblock and a hat, as well as another coffee to get me through this beautiful day. Happy fourth y’all!

A Sailing I Will Go (Well, Kind Of)

After arriving back from Vegas, I swear I have been out of sorts. The time change, the sleeping hour changes, and staying busy have kept me losing track of time and feeling kind of always tired. I compounded these feelings by taking on some extra stuff, so I certainly have been busy.

The week after we arrived back, my best friend who I went to Vegas with went in for her knee replacement. Everything went really well and she is doing better than she anticipated she would. That being said, she is pretty much out of commission. She does the cooking in the household, so I stepped in and made about a week’s worth of meals for her and her husband to get them through. I walked in the door with loads of single portion servings of all the things she loved me making when we were roomates. Her husband looked tired and anxious, but oh so grateful for a hot meal that he didn’t need to really “cook” other than heat up. The next day I stopped by to drop off a treat for her and walked into her having just vomited, her husband looking like he hadn’t slept a wink all night, and lots of tangible stress. The visiting nurse was sorting my friend out, so I offered to run to the stores and pick up anything they needed. After a grocery run, I came back, cooked them lunch, sent her husband for a nap while I sat chatting with her, and then heated up dinner for them. I left them both smiling and feeling much more relaxed. I know they were super grateful, but to be honest, it was me who felt grateful to be able to help.

The same day I was helping them happened to be the 13th anniversary of my mom’s passing. Some years I cope really well, some years I don’t. I had tried not to commit to much that day in anticipation that the day might swing either way. I woke up feeling heavy hearted. I miss my mom, but mostly I miss having her celebrate all the amazing things that have happened. I miss having the chance to have her be a part of my kids’s lives. I know she would be so incredibly proud of my kids, and would delight in the role of grandmother. She’d spoil them rotten in all the best ways, and I know she would play a very active role in their lives. The fact she has been deprived of this has been especially difficult for me, and is a bit of a raw subject. My mother defied all the odds and lived far longer than estimated after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I have no doubt her determination to meet her grandchild was a big defining factor. My kids are very lucky to have other people who have stepped into the role my mother had to leave behind when she died. My husband’s brother’s mother in law is a champion and treats my kids as though they were her biological grandchildren. She asks to watch them, spends time with them, has them sleep over, and does activities with them, especially my daughter. When I went to Vegas, she graciously offered to back my husband up with caring for the kids around his work schedule. My son has reached the teen years and likes to be alone or out with his friends but still enjoys hanging out with her, and my daughter LOVES to hang out with her and goes every chance she gets. My step mother also plays an active role in their lives, albeit from a geographical distance. The very best part is that they extend the offer with no hesitation.

I miss my mom’s advice, her laugh, and her sing song “hello sweetheart” in her heavy British accent. I miss her dirty sense of humor that always seemed out of place from such a posh accent, making people blink a few times in wonderment if what they heard was really what she said. I miss the cheeky ribbing she gave me, her endless support, and knowing that no matter what happened, she had my back. I miss her stories about the family. I miss her. If she was here I’d tell her I’m sorry for all the times she asked me to rub her feet and I declined because I felt feet were kind of gross back then. I would have been a less angsty teen and I wish I could have listened more and not been so damned stubborn. I wish I could tell her that while I look horrible in yellow, and it was never much a color I liked too much, I now gravitate to all things yellow because it reminds me of her and the sunshine she brought wherever she went. I would tell her I miss how things were when she was here. It’s different, and not bad, but a bit of the sparkle has left with her. I always have loved a bit of sparkle you know. I’d probably be better domestically too because I’d constantly worry she’d be shocked at how messy the house gets some days. I’d say I’m joking there, but I’m not.

I had started the day feeling not my best, as I mentioned, so I felt determined to turn things around. It is important to me that my kids know how much I miss my mom, but also how great she was. I spend time telling them silly stories about her, and trying to create a “visual” so to speak of who she was. I need to make her more than just someone who died. I started the day by coming down for my normal coffee, but then grabbing a box of little creme brulees I had gotten from Costco. I set to work with my little torch, doing the sugar on top until it was a crispy topping. My kids walked in and stared….were we having creme brulee, a favorite, for breakfast? Yes indeed we were! I said that in honor of my mom it was a special breakfast day. This kind of bit me in the ass when I went to drop the little off at her friend’s house. The mom asked if she had eaten, meaning lunch. My girl announced excitedly “Yes! I had creme brulee for breakfast today!” Oh well. We can’t all be perfect moms.

Looking after my friend was cathartic in so many ways. She knew my mom, loved her too, and she also lost her mom to lung cancer. We get each other and get how those anniversaries can be. As I puttered around in the kitchen, we chatted about the tough days. It felt good to be around someone who understood me so well. While I was there, I got a text from my husband.

A bit of background, I grew up on the water as a kid. When we came to America we always lived within a short drive to the beach. I instantly took to the water, always wanting to swim. Eventually my dad got a motorboat and I loved being out on the water. I’m not sure why he ever got rid of it, to be honest. As a young kid, my parents saw my love of the water and enrolled me in sailing school. I had my boating license many years before I could ever drive a car. I then took further classes, and before long I was sailing, windsurfing, and spending my summers in the water. We never got a boat or a windsurfer, but I sure loved them. As I got older and had kids, the idea of buying a boat was out of my price range. I did want a kayak, however. My dad and I had mulled over each of us getting one. He lives on a lake, and I live near the beach. It’s something we talk about every time I visit but neither of us has gotten one. For me, it’s not the kayak itself, but all the “extra” stuff that was daunting. My husband isn’t much into boating, so it would be something I’d probably do mostly on my own. Transporting a kayak was the biggest reason I never got one. I’d have to get a rack for the car, and to be honest, I’m so short I doubt I’d ever be able to safely load and unload a kayak on/off the car myself. It just wasn’t feasible. I don’t have the upper body strength nor the height to make it work. While at my friend’s we were chatting about it, and I found a bright yellow kayak that was inflatable on amazon. It was cheap, inflatable, came with a paddle, and an air pump. Even better, it was about a quarter of the price of a basic kayak. The reviews were great. Instead of grappling with fitting it on the car and buying racks etc, I could deflate it and put it in the back of my SUV! It was yellow, which is a color I associate with my mom. It called to me. I sent the pic to my husband, saying I might treat myself in the next few weeks. I got a text back a little while later that said “It will be here by Monday. I wanted to treat you today.”

He’s the very best, I swear.

Best of all? It’s a two person kayak, which means I can take one of the kids with me if I want, or my husband.

The other night, the husband and I were chatting about the 4th. What to do? He mentioned the kayak and said we could go out. After mulling it over, I went back on Amazon and bought a second one. Now there is room for all four of us!

Another cool thing is that my nephew just got a kayak. I’m hopeful that once I get comfortable, I may be able to go out with him on the kayaks and have something cool to do together. I’ll have to see if he’d be up for that. First I have to build up some arm strength to keep up.

If you see the girl with a big old smile, spending time on her yellow kayak, it may be me…just puttering away. The fact my husband knew it was the day I lost my mom and chose to mark the day by fulfilling a little dream of mine, in bright yellow fashion (my mom drove a yellow car and always said yellow was the color of life) was the very best gift he could have given me. It’s also the reason my mom felt he and I were such a perfect match. He gets me, he really does.