Hey Look Ma, I Made It

My big kid graduated from high school! Milestone events like a graduation create space for reflection, and I’ve been taking a hard, long look in my rearview mirror this past week. I see my son on his first day of school, I see him performing flawlessly at his first piano recital and drumline competition, I see him as I drove off after delivering him to summer camp, I see him in 2018 wearing his blue “Class of 2022” high school orientation tee shirt, I see him looking so dang grown-up in his light grey prom tux. I remember these major milestones and wonder at all he has experienced.

I also see him in a million quiet, unremarkable moments in between. I see him lying in the grass petting our sweet Izzy-girl when she was still with us, I see him perched atop our coffee table strumming along to every Jack Johnson song on the Curious George movie soundtrack start-to-finish, I see my elementary school-age author and illustrator drafting his own Titanic and tornado tales at the dining room table, I see him asking me if MD meant he was going to lose his walking.

At my eye exam last week, my optometrist, father of three under five years old, asked which stage of parenting I thought was the best. It didn’t take me long to reply that every stage has been the best. God, I miss his sweet, squishy little face, how his first-blue-then-green eyes would light up when I walked into a room. But I also love that he’s created a life apart from me, forging friendships, developing his own internal compass, his own beliefs and opinions.

Lots of parents share memes about their teens’ attitudes and I recently shared with my graduate that seeing those moms-group memes made me realize that neither he nor his younger brother have ever pushed back for no good reason. This is not to say they’re perfect and that they’ve never given me even a moment’s grief, but it’s mostly true: they’re good humans with an infinitesimal amount of attitude. I’m lucky but I’ve also been an active, present parent, so I think I had a little something to do with it, but honestly, I know they are caring, decent young men of their own accord. Blind to the heaps of laundry and mountains of crap on the floor, oblivious in the ways of cleaning their bathroom, and for the love of god take out the trash without being reminded!! sure, but good at the core. Graduation made for a good time to notice the good.

Taking it all in, it would seem!

Prior to the ceremony, I told my son I would behave in a dignified way, that I wouldn’t whoop and holler when they read his name, but that I would internally be bursting at the seams, likely dissolving into a puddle of tears. I’m such a liar. My kid looked so. damn. happy. and was having the time of his life down on that arena floor. I was unable to contain my exuberance and oh yeah, I hollered and cheered. And he smiled and kept smiling as did I. As AM I still.

The fifth grader who, back in 2015 asked me if he was going to lose his walking, walked across that stage as a member of the Class of 2022, his face the purest expression of happy I’d seen. I did not cry last Tuesday, but I am now. For all the exceptional highs, all the heartbreak and devastating lows, and everything in between, my eyes well up, but not over. I believe this is what joy feels like.

Their recessional song was Hey Look Ma, I Made It by Panic! At The Disco, a perfect fit for the occasion. My kid tossed his cap and bopped his way out of the arena still smiling. The downtown street in front of the arena was temporarily shut down to make space for the grads and their families. We reunited after fifteen or so minutes to congratulate him and his friends and to say that we’d stick around waiting for him as long as he needed to take it all in. What was to have been an evening of thunderstorms ended up picture-perfect, near eighty degrees with a warm breeze–I don’t think anyone wanted it to end.

Hey Look Ma, He Made It

I am not sure how to close out this post, the right words just won’t find their order. His school invited families to write a “senior send-off,” messages that would be printed and shared with each senior at their graduation practice, so I’ll leave you exactly as I left him.

When I think about your high school years, it’s easy to think about what you didn’t get to do. Your freshman year ended with Dad’s accident, sophomore year ended abruptly with the scary, uncertain, apocalyptic feel of the pandemic closures, you didn’t even get to attend one live class your junior year, and senior year has been fully masked so you’re still not exactly experiencing a normal year in the way you “see” your friends. But instead of what didn’t happen, I hope you remember the incredible things that DID.

Attending Reagan opened so many musical doors for you. I don’t know if you can even remember how excited you were about Radio Reagan freshman year, but I do. I was entirely blown away by your participation in the competition drumline! I could barely believe my ears and eyes the first time I saw you perform. Auditioning and being chosen for Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra was another accomplishment, and I was stunned again the first time I heard your Calypso ensemble. I know how much you wanted to be part of the Pit (so glad you got to this year!), and you just don’t know how exciting it was for me to hear musical compositions YOU wrote being performed.

You met kids whose families come from all over the globe and through your classmates gained a broader worldview than I ever had during my high school years. Your IB classes opened your mind to conversations, experiences, and opportunities I would still love to engage in myself. I’m so proud of you for selecting and sticking with Full IB. Through your challenges, you learned to reach out for help and I KNOW how hard that is/was for you. Be grateful for your teachers whose gifts they freely shared with you. You connected with a number of adults at Reagan–recognize what it was in them that made you feel safe and cared for and try to return that to others in your time, in your way.

I don’t expect you to have all the answers as you head off to college, but I hope you keep asking questions. I can’t wait to find out what it is that lights the fire for you as you move forward in this world. I’ve got this feeling that you are exactly where you are meant to be as you head to a university 299 miles away from home. I can’t imagine how quiet our house will be while you’re at school, but I know that you’ll be forging YOUR path, the path you’re meant to make and follow. Remember the joy you felt at prom. Remember the good friends you’ve made. Remember the classmates and teachers who’ve inspired you and left an imprint. And know that all that and more still awaits you. Endings are hard, so I won’t tell you there won’t be some sad moments mixed in with the incredible excitement, happiness, and pride you should feel as you graduate–the word “bittersweet” exists for this very occasion. I love you more than you’ll ever know and I’m proud of you, Kid. Love, Mom

And now, let’s have a party, what do you say?

Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday was my younger son’s birthday, the sweetest of sweet sixteen-year-olds, that one. My delight in celebrating my kids’ birthdays far surpasses any excitement I could possibly muster for my own anymore. I can recall as if it were yesterday the overwhelming joy I barely contained when my big kid completed his inaugural orbit around the sun. Like the sun, I radiated, there is no other way to say it. I could not stop smiling, and it’s quite possible I glowed. I wanted everyone I encountered to know that my baby had turned one, like I had been part of this magical, unique experience no one else could possibly appreciate or understand, which I guess I was. It wasn’t as if I had accomplished anything really, though I guess keeping a tiny human alive for a year is something worth celebrating. High five, me! Nice job!

Anyway. . . my little one–I’ve said it with frequency and intensity: the world is a better place because he is in it. I mean that with all my heart.

For whatever reason yesterday, I found myself remembering two events I don’t much think about anymore. Between the births of my two sons, I was pregnant twice more. Neither pregnancy lasted terribly long. I miscarried early, twice. Women don’t talk about miscarriage often, but in fact, I was surprised to learn that 10-15 in 100 pregnancies are lost during a woman’s first trimester (statistic from marchofdimes.org). You’ll forgive me for not citing per the APA style guide, I mean no one’s grading me here on my own silly blog, which, sure, is not the same as saying no one’s judging me here on my own silly blog, but whatever, it’s OK.

Do women not speak about miscarriage because it occurs with the frequency with which it does?  Is it such a commonplace occurrence that it barely warrants mention?  I think not.  I can speak only for myself, but I can remember feeling much like I did on my big kid’s first birthday only in the saddest 180-degree possible way—my experience was so unique and special, I must be the only one who’d ever lost a pregnancy.  I must have been the only one because I never heard anyone in my circle of friends or coworkers discuss it.

No. It’s just so devastating that you can’t imagine finding the words or strength to talk about this profound loss in polite company. You love this baby so immediately and completely, even though this baby feels kind of theoretical so early on, I assure you it’s not. Your hopes and dreams for this baby begin to take shape the moment you learn you’re expecting. And then all of the sudden you’re not. You lose not only a baby, but that hope, that “I wonder if her eyes will be blue or brown, I wonder where she’ll go to college, I wonder if she’ll be funny.” The loss of a pregnancy is real and as painful as any, but women don’t talk much about them. Until much later, say, like 16-17 years later.

I don’t remember a great deal from this period in my life, mainly because I was busy chasing my toddler around, I rarely slept well or at all, and my hormones were hijacked. I wasn’t at my critical thinking best, it’s fair to say. But I do remember speaking to my body, willing it to hang on to those babies. Come on body, I’d say (not out loud, probably not, maybe not out loud), please hang in there. I want you to be here with me so badly, and I can’t wait to see you! I’d hold my abdomen, physically hugging my belly in a futile effort to coax her into picking me. When those maybe-baby girls didn’t pick me, I cried. A lot and hard. There were a couple days I didn’t want to get out of bed. It hurt physically a little and emotionally a lot. Sadness. Misery. Grief. Anguish. All of it.

I say “her” because I’m certain that each of those pregnancies, had they been viable, would have been baby girls.  I remember my doctor saying that when pregnancies end themselves this early on it’s likely due to the baby’s significant health problem or genetic abnormality.  After my older boy’s muscular dystrophy diagnosis, I became convinced that those two baby girls would have been affected by MD so profoundly that they knew how tough things would be on the outside, that by not choosing me they chose better.  I’m not saying there’s science here.  Obviously there is no way to know this.  I just know, you know?

My doc prescribed some heavy duty hormones while I continued to try to get and stay pregnant.  I wanted to barf pretty much 24/7 on an average day, so I knew immediately when I was pregnant again because then I REALLY wanted to barf.  Good times.  I sincerely didn’t think I was going to make it with #2.  Between the hormones and toddler chasing. . .  I was a mess. 

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.  Unquestionably.  When #2 was visualized via ultrasound, and all his pieces and parts had been counted and measured and I hit the halfway point in my pregnancy, my doc said I could stop with the additional keep-him-in-there hormones.  I’d like to tell you that I felt immediate relief once I stopped the dosing.  I didn’t.  Honestly, I felt like puking up to and including the day he made his entrance into the world.  But I would do it all again, endure worse, way worse, whatever is the worst of the worst, just to make sure this baby could be born.

As flip as it may sound now, and I sincerely hope I don’t sound flip, I knew I was meant to be a boy mom. I’d convinced myself the universe, wrongly, had given me girls. I no longer felt that crushing, paralyzing sadness over those lost pregnancies.  I was fortunate to have been able to carry this baby full-term, so I didn’t have to suffer an empty crib, that unknowable, unfulfilled wish.  Unlike too, too many women who suffer the despair and/or depression miscarriage and loss usher in, I got the prize in the end.

And so did you. 

No one holds the future in their hands or can know what their child will ultimately be capable of and bring to the world, but I know with assured certainty that my child is meant for greatness. He may never be famous, so maybe he doesn’t play in the NFL or win elected office, so what? My son’s circle is small. He’s quiet and doesn’t let people in without careful consideration, but once you’re in, you’re in for life. His sphere of influence in this world may not be one on a global stage, but those lucky enough to be in his inner circle get a most remarkable gift.

My son got the most remarkable gift himself for his birthday. His best friend, his friend from the first day of four-year-old kindergarten, drew and had framed this picture of and for my son as a Pokémon trainer.

His BFF, artistically talented obviously, is also the brightest, most academically talented kid I know. But read these comments between them on his Instagram–that’s the stuff that tells me what really matters about their character. Take that, toxic masculinity! These two are both going to do great things in this world, one great and big and the other great and small, and I get a ticket to the show.

I knew I was meant to be a boy mom. I was meant to be my second baby’s mom–we need his kindness, his pure heart, his “he’s probably my favorite student” approach to school, his lean in to hug his mama. . . His “Love you too” to his best friend. I almost never think about the what might-have-beens anymore. Had either of those pregnancies come to term, we’d never have known this special boy, and the world needed this one. Happy birth day to me. Happy birthday to him.

Friday The 13th

I’m not superstitious–just a little stitious (that one is for fans of The Office), and actually, it’s Saturday the 14th now anyway. I’m able to mark myself safe from any catastrophic outcomes the second Friday the 13th in 2020 might have delivered. The first Friday the 13th was my last day at the office before the entire world shut down last March. I stopped to pick up PPE for testing on Thursday and felt a pang. Who knew? It’s possible to miss sitting at my cramped, utilitarian desk in my ancient, unattractive office building because of course, it’s not the physical space, but being apart from the people with whom it’s shared that knocks the wind out of me.

It’s 2020, which means that it’s perfectly acceptable to wear slippers when giving a presentation for my SLP colleagues. Normally I’m a heels kind of gal when I present, but what the hell? It’s not like anyone saw any of me further south than my clavicles.

Friday the 13th was just another workday in the bizarre string of everything-looks-and-feels-the-same days of virtual reality. I sat perched atop a yoga ball rather than standing at a podium for my presentation yesterday, and had to repeat the same info in two consecutive Google Meets. I’m much better in the “one and done” world of professional development, but hey, on the upside? I didn’t have to straight-up memorize 50 minutes of content material.

Though it’s cited as something feared more than death by many people, I discovered that I much prefer public speaking in public. Speaking into a webcam is shouting into the void, and I do better with the feedback of an audience. I was already working two screens and keyboards, and couldn’t manage a third to make the Google audience visible to me. I wanted at least to see who was tuned in, but all I heard was pure, absolute silence. Well, there was that one SLP who left herself unmuted. Her open mic sounded to me as if she were doing dishes, and it nearly drove me to distraction. This is the modern workplace, and hey, you got dishes needing a soak? Have at ‘em. I wouldn’t have enjoyed listening to me drone for an hour or so either, but probably I’d have been more discreet. ‘Cause, see, you don’t announce that you’re only minimally working-working, you mute yourself.

The activities on my calendar this week have unveiled to me a number of personal revelations. They don’t all land on the namaste-spirit “quest for personal improvement” pathway. Revelations don’t always or exclusively land in the positive column. Sometimes the light shines on the sunny side of the street, and sometimes it illuminates just how big a weirdo you actually are.

Politics and news were pummeling me, and I couldn’t both engage and remain not nuts. I felt quite a lot like heeding the words of David Rose, one of my favorite television characters of all time: trying very hard not to connect with people with right now.

Some of the revelations, revealed in no particular order:

I learned that my younger son has been paying attention. Kim Ng was named the first female GM in Major League Baseball this week, and he proclaimed it to be a “very powerful moment.” How I love this child.

Mine is not a book review blog, but I learned that it’s possible to love Fredrik Backman’s writing so much that I want to plow ahead at warp speed and devour his work because he is So. Damn. Good. But I also never want it to end, so I find I must pace myself. Anxious People is genius in the way Backman reveals the relationships between and connectedness of the characters. To date, I’ve read 53 books in 2020, a personal record.

My children are lonely, no real-life school, and no extra-curriculars, no social engagements. I suggested they read more than their required texts. I shared with them how books have always transported me, provided the needed getaways I could never make happen in my real world. That I’ve read so many volumes this year probably speaks to my desperate need to dwell in a reality other than my own. My own social engagements are few and far between, and I’ve never felt like more of a misanthrope. Is it even possible for a loud person to be both an extravert and an introvert? (Yes, yes, it is.)

Throwing caution and self-esteem to the wind, I found myself on my bathroom scale this week. I want to lose those last five pounds (again), but not as much as I want to enjoy nightly cocktails.

In related news, it’s November, the only 30 days that Kopps Frozen Custard makes available my favorite sundae, maybe my favorite food in all eternity, available. Two weeks into the month, two Almond Boy sundaes polished off. Two more pounds added to those five. . .

I LOVE loud music, but loathe loud television. Even in this world of isolation, I still seek quietude. It makes me fucking bonkers when my husband or sons walk into a room in which I’m reading or working or writing and blast on the television. I mean sure, my husband’s ear was ripped off his head, and hearing loss resulted from the neurological damage occurring with the crush, but jaysus, that’s loud. Remember, I didn’t say all the revelations were good ones.

This shirt was a gift from Rebecca, one of my dear coworkers, and I absolutely love that she couldn’t wait to give it to me.

Orange and fuchsia are my favorite colors, but I learned that the Milwaukee River, while not the cleanest body of water, sparkled in the most electric, hopeful shade of blue. That particular shade of hopeful blue is my interim favorite color.

I’ve discovered that denying myself something I want is both possible and crushing. I can want and want and not get and not get and that’s just the way life is. It’s a paradox of adulthood: what you want that’s wrong can seem perfectly justifiable, and what’s sensible and reserved can leave you feel like you’re missing something.

I want my children to visit their grandparents and my parents to see their grandchildren, but I am not prepared to carry the burden of the potential spread of the coronavirus to my parents if I arrange for the kids to visit.

My friend Dena, who is probably my biggest blog “fan” if my having a fan is even a thing, became a widow recently. Neil’s funeral was shared via Facebook Live because grieving the loss of friends and loved ones is yet one more human ritual affected by stupid COVID. His was a beautiful service, and I felt connected, however unconventionally, having been able to attend from a distance. I wanted to support my friend in a less tech-y way, so this week I delivered dinner. I see pretty much no one these days, still it was a stunner to realize as we chatted how my social skills have deteriorated.

Dena told me that she missed the frequency with which I had once written here in this blog, that she missed my voice, because reading what I wrote was like listening to me talk, which is about as nice a thing as you can say to someone. I wish I had more to say, I wish I had more to offer my fan (yes, fan, as in singular!)

I felt more clear-headed when I wrote more regularly. That’s the revelation on which I’ll close. Will I do something about it though? I mean, with all the drinking and frozen custard crowding my agenda, where will I find the time??

An MDA Kind of Week

I received an email from a member of our Milwaukee area Muscular Dystrophy Association chapter last week, checking in on our family after our tumultuous 2019.  To say that a black cloud has followed us the last year is not high drama.  Even my most optimistic, glass is always half-full friend recently allowed that maybe my family was due to catch a break, and that is saying something because Nicole is exactly the ray of sunshine everyone needs in their life.  Anyway, the MDA was kind enough to wish us well while also checking in to remind me that the annual Muscle Walk team registration had opened.

Our family has participated in the annual fund raising event annually since my son’s 2015 diagnosis.  You’ve helped me raise over $10,000 to support kids and families affected by muscle disease, including the incredibly near and dear to my heart summer camps.  I’m still a bit stunned that I asked, because I HATED asking, and even more stunned and humbled that you answered.  Our walk team was consistently among the top five fund-raising teams in the Milwaukee area, a statistic I’m proud to notch.

COVID-19’s global takeover has changed everything we know about how we navigate our 2020 world, but even if not for pandemic, we wouldn’t be participating in this year’s walk.  I responded to her inquiry by circling back to the accident.  Honestly, every damn thing in my life since May 7 just relates back to May 7 anyway.  I told her that when my husband was injured and in the months after, we were incredibly fortunate to have had people from all corners of our world take care of us.  People fed us, cooked meals, and/or bought gift cards or groceries for us.  People sent us money to help bridge the gap so we could pay our bills.  I just didn’t feel the time was right for me to ask those very same people to support our fundraising for the MDA this year.  Our friends, family, and neighbors had done so much for us, and I felt that to ask any more this close to the accident was beyond my comfort zone.  It took a good three or four rereads of my email draft before I could summon the strength of my one little index finger to hit “send.”

And then I wanted to throw up because I felt I was letting them down.

Later that very day, I received another email from the national MDA organization containing the news that this year’s MDA camps had been canceled. Given the state of the world, news of its cancellation was not exactly “news.”  Many kids suffering muscle disease endure accompanying systemic health problems, compromised respiratory and immune systems surely among them.  Nobody’s going anywhere these days, least of all kids with multiple health needs and the crew of volunteer medical and counselor staff needed to support a camp such as what the MDA produces.

My son had elected not to attend camp this summer.  He is close to aging out of camp, and he barely acknowledges he’s got the disease (a topic for another day), but more directly had hopes of a summer job on top of his volunteer gig.  Actually it’s probably more closely aligned with his “Who, me?” stance on this progressive, ugly disease.  I’m not sad that he chose not to attend camp, but I understand well the disappointment and sadness many kids and families are expressing with camp having been shut down.  Camp touts itself as the kids’ “best week of the year,” and I know that to be true with my whole heart.

I’ve enrolled in a course–gotta do something productive these days!, and one of the required activities was to complete an assessment about your perception of your character.  More on this to come, but my number one character strength based on my responses was kindness–doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.  I can’t say it’s wholly accurate, but I do know for sure what kindness looks like.  It’s not what I see when I look in the mirror, but in the reflection of the people I see around me.

Be safe.  Be patient.  Be kind.

And in a totally random non-sequitur, check out the colors in these downtown murals.  Since part of our “home schooling” has been a classroom behind the wheel of a car, I’ve been able to view the city from the passenger’s seat.  It’s terrifying and reassuring at once that my kid insists on driving through downtown and other densely peopled areas of the city as he logs practice hours.  He seeks the experience, and I see the city from a new, beautiful perspective.


Sometimes I almost forget my baby is colorblind.  Being colorblind does not mean that he sees the world in black and white, a common misconception, but his world looks much different than the world looks to most people.

When he was very small, we used to play a game called Cariboo.  Cariboo has since become the hottest of speech pathology commodities, and the two games I’ve got in our basement will someday fund my kids’ college tuition.  Riiiiiiiiight.  Like speech-pathologists have this fancy, lucrative career where money is no object.  Most years, I have to fully fund my stash of materials and supplies, so nobody in the speech therapy game is getting rich enough to pay what I want for my coveted Cariboo games.  Anyway. . .  Cariboo is an early education game targeting preacadmic skills such as letter naming, shape recognition and naming, color identification and the like. My kid always struggled with the green and red cards, so that was our first clue.

I remember observing a game of I Spy he played in speech therapy.  I didn’t get to many of those preschool sessions because I work full time, so was I able to take him to the university clinic just once.  I observed him with his therapist, Ms. Christie, whom he LOVED, and who is now my colleague, as it happens.  Ms. Christie had cards hidden around the room, and E was supposed to employ fluency-enhancing speech behaviors in the construct of “I spy something that is red” or “I spy something that you can throw” for example.  Everything he spied was purple or brown.  Ms. Christie did not have cards with any brown or purple items on them.


OK, maybe this sweet combo should have been a clue, but he was three and we exploring the idea of letting our kids make their own choices!

We took him for a vision exam when he was in kindergarten, not strictly due to the suspected colorblindness, but we were picking up on soft signs around the house and then a school vision screening strongly suggested we should.  Shortly thereafter, he was fitted with his first pair of glasses, and I cried real tears when he, for the first time, understood that trees had individual leaves and not a green blob on their branches.  Did you know a bunch of grapes is comprised of literally a bunch of grapes?  Of course you did, but he didn’t.  He saw a blob.

Colorblindness isn’t terrifically handicapping, but he does experience periodic frustration, to be sure.  We tell his teachers about it every fall–if a test has a “Measure the green line” or “What is the perimeter of the red trapezoid?” he’s at a distinct disadvantage, so it matters.  Otherwise though, he’s learned what I call the Crayola 8.  He has learned by association that classic red is red and classic purple is purple for example, but shades of anything in between are a wild guess.  “Mom, where’s my grey shirt?” could return something that’s neon, high-vis yellow, aqua, forest green, or if we’re lucky, actually grey.


This shot of the bench was the only photo I took today. My kid is the giant on the end, and next to him is his best friend. They’ve been best friends since their first day of 4-year-old kindergarten, and his BFF today was finally able to get in the game after a nasty ankle fracture the first football game of the year. This boy, who I love right along with my own, has shown up for every single practice and game since getting hurt. Knowing he can’t play, but showing up for his teammates says to me everything you need to know about his character. Every one of us should be so lucky as to have a friend (and a friend’s mom) like my son has.

At his basketball game this morning, colorblindness was handicapping.

His team’s jerseys are black, and the opponents were wearing a crimson shade, burgundy, maroon, whatever you prefer.  He approached me at halftime, which you JUST DON’T DO, his face completely serious.  “Mom, I’m having a hard time today.  I can’t tell whose jerseys are whose, they all look alike to me.”  It was the most unexpected thing to hear, and it’s not like I forget he can’t see color accurately, but yeah, you kinda forget until it’s in your face.  It hadn’t occurred to me that his coach would need to know, and there you have it, another lesson learned.  He got back in the game, but didn’t get a ton of playing time in the second half.  That’s OK though–he might not have anyway.  The good guys and girls came home with the W in a game delayed thirty minutes by snow.  Can’t play without a ref or official scorekeeper, you know.

Legally, my boy cannot be an electrician like his dad, he can’t be a commercial driver or a pilot, and I guess it’s some bizarre relief to know he’ll never be a called to defuse a bomb.  And though it’s not profoundly life-altering, I was reminded that colorblindness is a little life-altering.

I see those widely shared videos of boys and men, for colorblindness occurs primarily in males, who are gifted with those colorblind codebreaker glasses, and feel like the world’s shittiest parent.  Universally, when these guys see how the world truly appears in its glorious rainbow of color, they shed serious tears, like ugly cry tears.  They’re shocked.  They appear stunned to the point of disbelief.  I wonder if they wear their glasses constantly.  I wonder if they feel cheated when they’re removed.   I wonder if they’ll ever develop contact lenses with this technology.  I wonder how much they cost. . .

Early Bird

If you’re open to it, sometimes nature/the universe/some higher power/I have no idea what I’m talking about here gives you a sign or a gift.

My little one (I say he’s my little one, but in reality, he’s a six-foot-tall thirteen-year-old adolescent) departed for his class trip at the crack of dawn yesterday.  On social media, I shared a photo of him and his dad, with this caption:

And just like that, your baby is six feet tall, heading out for a week on his class trip.  Before you can blink, and whether you’re ready or not, your babies spread their wings and take flight (or a coach bus, in his case).

It’s Monday, where I arrive at my school about an hour before most of the rest of the staff.  Not that they’re slackers or anything like that, it’s a late start school.  Since I have to get my big kid to his bus stop at 6:44 AM, I’m off like a shot in the morning.  I appreciate the quiet, early morning vibe here.  It’s a calm start to my work week, providing me time to lay out my lessons and gather/organize the materials for my therapy sessions.

This morning, this early bird definitely got the worm.

No, not this literal early bird–ME!  This bird here?  He clung to the screen outside my window, casting its shadow through the window shade. I quickly grabbed my phone, and snapped several pictures of this tiny, winged creature from my side of the window.  I never got to see the bird itself, just its shadow, but that was enough.

And just as I sat down to type a quick thought here, I received a text message from my son’s teacher/group leader saying the class trip kids were great, the weather was in the 80s, and they were heading into Monticello.  Like this bird perched outside my classroom, my little one’s got wings.  And sunny skies under which he can shine himself.

I know it’s what you’re supposed to want for you kids–for them to find their way and fly–and I do want that for him.  But sometimes I just miss his pudgy, little toddler face or the way he used to climb in bed with me (though, OK, I don’t miss the way his formerly little self commandeered an entire king size bed, sleeping on the diagonal).  I miss his constant use  of “ninnercrommie” and “shimmy hommer boaker” and a litany of other made-up words that still make me giggle.  I miss my boy–not my baby/always my baby.

Top Fan

Why is everything a contest these days? Why do even the most non-competitive of life activities (enjoying music and live shows, for example) have social media rankings attached?

I received a Facebook notification yesterday.

Well, obviously. I mean, have you been paying attention here, people?

But it’s silly, right? There is no prize, no greater good for society in being so recognized by a social media platform, I assume for the number of times some algorithm has calculated I’ve included the text “Barenaked Ladies” in my comments or “liked” a status. I cracked wise about my “badge” on my FB page (because who wants a badge when a sash is still on my list of must-haves?) but really? This does not have to be a competitive sport. And if it must, I don’t think I want to play. I just want to keep enjoying my concentrated hobby in my car, all by myself, competing with no one and nothing but which song makes me feel happiest. Clearly, I’m not meant for the Major Leagues.

It’s Opening Day!! This IS major league!

I digress. But the Brewers are undefeated, you guys. It was a good day at the ballpark. It’s always a good day at the ballpark.

You know what would be a worthwhile recognition? Acknowledging people whose real life accomplishments made lives better.  To recognize acts of goodness and kindness and generosity and give those individuals gold stars or top fan badges.  So in the spirit of not-competitive do-gooding (good-doing?), I present not-awards, and since Facebook cornered the market on “badges,” from me, you get a sash.

And The Sash Goes To. . .

I’m a super top fan of these people, who, early in the process, lent their financial support to our MDA Muscle Walk team and/or volunteered to show up on walk day.  Much gratitude and love to Allison Schley, Jenna Stoll, Rhonda and Mark Weir, Laurie Stilin, Sue Doornek, and my incredible friend Sally Warkaske.  Wanna be on my Muscle Walk Top Fan list?  Join or donate to Team Greater Than Gravity by clicking here.

We Rate Dogs, a Twitter feed (@dog_rates) that rates dogs and their antics/gifts on a scale of 1-10 should get a sash for their sweet, sunshine showcase of mutts in their noble canine deeds.  Many dogs get rated 11/10 or 13/10, which I consider simply marvelous math.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) deserves a galaxy of gold stars for his Gmorning, Gnight Twitter pep talks and pretty much everything else he’s ever said, written, sung, or rapped.  I suck at Twitter. It would be best if I deactivated my whole Twitter account entirely, but We Rate Dogs and L-MM’s genius are enough to string me along.  I just need to shut my mouth there and stay the hell out of political threads.  The rabbit hole is deep and dangerous there, y’all.

My final sash du jour goes to a Milwaukee firefighter. Last weekend, my little guy and I were shopping, and I noticed a familiar face in the shoe section. I approached him, inquiring if was an MFD firefighter, and his response was, “Yes, and I was at your house a few weeks ago.” He was one of the crew dispatched to our home after the Curious Incident of the Ice at the Bus Stop. He asked after my son, and wished him well. I thanked him for providing calm reassurance during a distinctly not calm time. I didn’t want to bother him as he enjoyed his Saturday, so I tried to split pretty quickly, but he recognized having met me!! And that never happens–no one ever remembers me, so extra gold star.

Liking or appreciating something should not be a competitive event, but it’s not a bad idea to point out good deeds and good works.  Rewarding me for being a fan isn’t going to make me a more rabid enthusiastic singer-alonger.  But maybe someone being called out for just doing something nice might encourage more of that just something nice.  A girl can hope anyway.

I still wouldn’t mind having my own sash though.

I Was Gonna

As I crested the Hoan Bridge, the first leg of my freeway commute to work one morning this week, I was positively taken by the pastel cotton candy swirls of lavender, tangerine, carnation pink, and indigo the sun was painting as it rose over Lake Michigan.  I consciously thought, “I need to write about this, maybe snap a photo of these colors dancing off the mirrored exterior of the Northwestern Mutual Life office tower.  I need to find the words to capture this breathtaking, Monet palette sky.”  Grateful by Better Than Ezra was streaming through the Bluetooth, the perfect complement to this sky.  This SKY, you guys! I had a moment.

My song ended as I made the 90-degree turn west, and with it ended that moment of zen.  Heading west alters the view from “sunrise over Lake Michigan” to “the way to work,” so I needed reinforcement.  I remembered I’d downloaded an audiobook, Theft By Finding, David Sedaris’ most recent collection.  Siri sent it to my Bluetooth, stepping over the last notes of my powerful little pop song abruptly.  Within my first few minutes with Mr. Sedaris, he read of culling through decades of his diaries, what he noted as sufficiently remarkable about his days and nights.  That when he did not find something of import on a given day, he resorted to recording blandness like the weather or how the sky looked that day.

Buzz.  Kill.

So I was gonna share with you the majesty of the sunrise, but pulled back.  I’m no diarist of Sedaris’ caliber, but when someone of his caliber calls it out, maybe hacks like myself should take note.

Any random Thursday, there are a million things to do, but lately I find myself thinking or even saying aloud, “Shoot, I was gonna. . .”  Because I’m an anxious individual, my mind races.  I caution my children against this very behavior, but often, too often probably, I miss being in the moment.  My anxious brain, strategizing seventeen steps ahead, often misses these sublime sunrises because I’m calculating whether I have enough gasoline in the tank to drop #1 off at school, drive to my own school-then to my office-then to a different school-then back to my office-then to a third school, then stop at the Post Office along the way before picking up #1 from school and shuttling him to his bass lesson.  Don’t even ask me about picking up the few ingredients needed to complete my dinner recipe.  Let’s just have breakfast for dinner tonight, OK?

Here’s  a quick sampling of I was gonna tasks I’ve been forced to enlist Siri’s help to complete.  No.  These are tasks I’m resigned to have to enlist Siri’s help to remind me to complete. Or not.  Because even with the list, I was gonna reigns supreme over actual execution of many of the tasks I need/want to do.  And, keepin it real?  Some days I even forget to consult the list created to help me not forget. *sigh*

Get a battery for my car key (Nope)

Add money to kids’ college accounts (No.  I mean I would if we had extra money, but the notion of extra money is absurd).

Look for a new lanyard for T (Does “look for” mean actually “purchase?”  No?  Then no.)

Buy Andrea a Christmas present (Sorry Andrea, nope)

Check out Catastrophe (YES, and YES you should too.  I have laughed out loud and snorted several times per episode.  It’s wildly inappropriate, and I L.O.V.E. this show.  Sharon Horgan is my new hero.  Her delivery of pretty much every line she’s got is perfection.)

Cancel T’s Songsterr subscription (Dangit, another $5.99 down the drain)

Change the bank password (No, because in case I die unexpectedly, the existing password is probably the only one he’d think to use.)

Check my pension beneficiaries (I sent an email, and they sent an email back saying I had to call them to confirm.  No, I haven’t called.)

Send email to the department about Friday’s meeting (YES)

Text Pamster happy birthday (Sure did!)

Order checks (Yes.  With online bill paying services now, I write so few actual checks that I don’t pay much mind to how many I have or when I need them.  I need them.  My not-electronically inclined creditors don’t care about my personal banking strategy.)

Call the dentist (Yes, and I even WENT TO THE DENTIST!)

Buy ingredients for slime for K’s speech graduation party (Yes.  Can’t let my students down.)

Call doctors (Yes.  Can’t let my kid down.)

Look for family photo for Shelly (Seeking is not finding, and then there’s just giving up.  I looked once, does that count?)

Get my Kindle (Yes)

Get a card for Jenna (Yes)

Go to Walgreens (Yes)

Go to the library (Yes)

Get a card for P.J. (Yes)

Leave the door open for Ciaran (He stopped coming over before school months ago, you dope, you can delete the weekly reminder now).

Cancel Apple Music (Yes)

Reinstate Apple Music (Within hours, yes.  MAKE UP YOUR MIND, child!)

Go to yoga (No)

Go to yoga (No)

Go to yoga (No)

I wish this list was something I made up just for fun, but I was gonna is a too-frequent refrain.  I think, I’d like to think anyway, that the people who rely on me would report that my I was gonna has a higher hit rate than the percentage I’ve included here (67% success for those keeping track).  I’m more inclined to follow through for others than I am for myself, which is mostly good, right?  My kids get to their appointments, bills (sometimes mostly almost always on time) get paid, my family eats balanced meals, I show up for the people I promise I will show up for. . .  I wish I didn’t need the reminders though.

And I can’t help but think that this wouldn’t even be a post if David Sedaris hadn’t steered me way from prose drafted in favor of the sunrise. He was wrong though. I snapped this picture a block from my school, and though woefully inadequate in quality, this photo proves the sky merits its due attention.



One never knows who lurks next door, does one?  But good lord, one needs only to belong to a neighborhood social media group to experience by proxy the very worst in human behavior lurking right out there in the open.

Earlier today I sat down to pay the bills (and I swear on all that is true in this world, eleven hours later, I’ve done a million things today except pay the bills!).  Because I’m easily distracted though mostly because I don’t enjoy paying the bills, I checked my email (but also, some of my bills arrive electronically, so checking my email wasn’t exactly a complete waste of time toward the bill paying endeavor).  Anyway. . .

Scrolling through my junk email, deleting quickly as I clicked through 50-60 junk messages, I’m stopped by an email from the Nextdoor app with this subject header: Kid at door at 8:30 Sat. Morning.  I mean, I knew it wasn’t my kid up and at ’em by 8:30 on a Saturday morning, but for some reason, I clicked.  For the uninitiated, Nextdoor is a social media app used by residents to report on neighborhood goings-on, including critical news blasts such as this:


“I am not donating because they woke us up.” To quote my friend Maureen, “Way to take a stand.” Sorry about the picture of a screen.  Super low-res of me–bad blogger, bad blogger.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I lost my darn mind over this post.  The natural response to online garbage in 2019 is to fire back aggressively and IN ALL CAPS, which of course, I did not do myself on the app because that would expose me as this person’s equal.  Instead, I took my crabby pants show on the road to Facebook, like a responsible adult does.  Bah!!  I know, I know. . .

How do people behave in such incredibly dim-witted ways?  How does an adult post a photo of a child not of his/her own in a ranty, pissed-off, online what’s going on in the neighborhood app–the kid’s full face, you guys–and not give it even a moment’s pause?  I thought it was probably a screen grab from a video doorbell, which, unlike my tech skills here, was quite high-resolution, quite clear.

I circled back at the Nextdoor post after a couple Facebook friends responded to my post, confirming my WTH-ness.  I noted that the post had been edited.


See I blocked out the picture of the child who is not mine from my public forum.

You can see the tone had been ratcheted down a notch.  I considered maybe replying with a somewhat, “Have you considered how much this child’s mother and father are going to flip their shit when they see this?” comment, but I chose not to, and do you know why I didn’t?  I don’t want a person who thinks this is OK to know where I live.  Fear.  This is my neighbor???  Yikes.

Shortly thereafter, a sweet and wonderful neighbor whom I actually do know (not of the misanthropic variety) informed me that the Nextdoor post had been deleted.

I marinated in my crabby juices all morning over just how gross people can be.  How insensitive, unkind, vengeful, and, and, and. . .  I felt no end to the abyss of negative adjectives I could attach to such a creeptastic post.  These are my neighbors, you guys, the “jury of my peers,” as it were, and it hurt a little bit to think that such rottenness lurks so close to home.  Literally.  After a while, I decided I had to be done with it. To assuage the icky aftertaste of meanness, I would do something good.  No, not enjoy a margarita, silly friends, it was still morning!  I’ve decided to do some trolling of my own, trolling for donations.

Rumor has it that by June 1, Wisconsinites can reasonably expect that snow will be melted and the daily average temperature be above zero.  Mother Nature’s current pattern of behavior notwithstanding, June 1 weather is expected to be lovely.  June 1 will mark our family’s fifth annual MDA Muscle Walk.  It’s the one “MDA family” family reunion I’ve attended since my son’s diagnosis, and since Team Greater Than Gravity’s inception, you’ve helped me raise nearly $10,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  You can click here to be directed to our team page.  Join us for the walk in person or by plastic–I’ll take support however you’re willing to share it.  For your preparation, I’m a total wreck the day of the walk, but I show up.  I do my best for my kid, WHO, by the way, is getting better by the day since his close encounter with black ice.  Navigating slowly, but better with appropriate medication, time, heating pads, and some kickass get well swag from Nikki, Dena, and Ann–how I love you all–has helped.  Physical therapy begins next week.  Fingers stay crossed!

And?  If some cute little Cub Scout or Boy Scout visited your door this morning, tying a plastic bag onto your door latch?  Fill it up, won’t you?  You have an entire week until those same youngsters will be roving your neighborhood to retrieve the bags, hopefully filled with non-perishables next Saturday.  Let’s show them we’re better than one bad apple.

And? No. I still haven’t paid the bills. *sigh*

A Block South of Petrified

Stopped just short of petrified is how I feel about the full day of school my son faces tomorrow.

Hello October.png

The world has again shown us its kindest, most compassionate side while my boy has convalesced this past week.  Tomorrow?  I am not sure he is ready, except he has to be; I am not sure I am ready, except, being the adult, I have to be too.

Whatever it is you do to send good vibes out to the universe?  Please do that for my son Monday, won’t you?  I don’t know another way to describe his gait and posture but that of a 70 degree angle from the waist up.  He’s like the right side of a capital “Y.”  OK, I guess do know another way!  He’s stepping gingerly, oh-so-slowly, but he is moving on his own with the help of his pediatrician, an orthopedic specialist, a badass/compassionate PA, the right meds, and well, inertia.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion and all that.

My husband has been an exemplary physical therapist/cheerleader/motivational speaker/pill dispensary/personal health aide for our son.  He’s made our kid get up and at ’em (relatively speaking, of course), forcing him to maneuver outside his comfort zone of flat-on-his-back-in-his-bed.  I believe my husband has missed his true calling.

This last week has been a challenge for us all.  Though not the one who sustained the serious injury, I am weary.  As I watch my son fight to complete such daunting tasks as, oh, let’s say stand up or sit down, requiring midday naps (yes, naps, plural) to recover from the exertion, my maternal anxiety meter is pinging in the red.  How is he going to spend a whole day at school?  Can he possibly spend a whole day at school?  At what time will I get the “Come pick me up?” call??  How will he make up the three tests, myriad assignments, and Solo & Ensemble competition he missed last week, and under what time frame?

I can solve none of these problems for him; he’s on his own at school.  I don’t need to be reminded that’s how it’s supposed to be; I know. *sigh*