Living out loud

Some years ago, I was on the phone with my friend Joanna from Philly.  As she filled me in on goings on at her office, in the background I could hear her boxer, Bella, making trouble. It sounded like paper was being shredded and Bella was alternately play-growling and victory-barking.  Joanna continued her update, undeterred, weaving in a few cheerful threats pointed in Bella’s direction.  It sounded something like this: “I never imagined running into this kind of thing in my career, you know? BELLA!  It’s just not something you’re ever prepared for.  BELLA, GIVE ME THAT!  I wasn’t sure if I should say something or just keep it to myself, you know?  BELLA, KNOCK IT OFF!  So I went home and figured I’d take a night to think it over.  BELLA, I SWEAR TO GOD!  This morning, I was still really conflicted about it.  BELLA, I’M GOING TO EFFING KILL YOU!!  So that’s kind of where things stand.” A decade later, I now find myself carrying on similar conversations with her while making thinly veiled threats at my own dogs and kids.  Much of pet and human parenthood involves managing multiple tasks and conversations like this at once, translating unspoken requests for animals and little people, trying to prevent illness and injury, summing things up in 10 words or less… Marriage and parenting require putting the needs of others above our own, and significantly changes the...

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Asthma

This week/past weekend/past few months have been stressful, tiring, and life circuit draining. My two boys have been showing more and more signs of asthma. They’re on the nebulizer with breathing treatments, medications and what seems like a continuous dose of amoxicillin. Eli just wasn’t his loud playful self on Sunday morning (Father’s Day) and by 11am his face was turning purple and we were headed to the ER. His oxygen levels were low and couldn’t stay at 92 without help from a flow of oxygen. This little boy with such a big personality laid there helplessly as his cough just overtook the rattling of his little chest. We settled in for our first overnight visit to the ER and week of maintaining wellness through the ups and downs. Asthma is a very ‘new’ journey for me as a mom. I was expecting challenges and experiences that would be talked about at every dinner party. Like when I was a child with an immediate life affecting reaction to eggs. This provided my parents with the dinner story of the ER staff ripping my body from my mom’s arms and rushing me in to give my limp-less body Benadryl. This was a life-giving medicine that allowed the ending of hives on the inside of my throat, as well as outside of my mouth. After that experience, I was fine and really never...

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“Family Only”

Last night my wife Dory and I went to visit our good friends, Luna and Dan, and their brand new baby. She is so precious! I have been craving baby and this fix hit the spot. Four more months til ours is on the outside! The new mom and dad were inviting “family only” to the hospital and we were honored to get the invitation. We’re Auntie Molly and Auntie Dory even though there’s no blood relation. But the thing is, there will be soon. Dan is our sperm donor. Our baby and their baby will be biological half-siblings. Since our friends will go by Aunt Luna and Uncle Dan for our kid too, we’re calling the babies “cousins.” When Dory and I first started about starting a family (seven years ago!), we hated the idea of a sperm donor but it was a necessary evil. We looked at adoption and foster care very seriously, but in the end it came down to what we could afford (and which process we were prepared to put ourselves through). An anonymous donor seemed like the best way to go though we were uncomfortable with some stranger having such a big impact on our child’s biology and identity. Would she want to meet him? Would she see him as her father? The idea was very threatening. We wanted our baby to have two parents: us....

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Wisdom From My Thirties

When I was in graduate school, I worked for a wonderful woman who, at the time, was in her late thirties. I was newly engaged, dirt poor, and having the time of my life living in a new city with my favorite person. Despite my happiness, I would look at my boss’ life (great job, loving husband, adorable kids, nice home in the suburbs) and I couldn’t WAIT to get there.  At some point I told her just that and she looked me right in the eyes and said, “Honey, enjoy your twenties. Your thirties will be unimaginably hard.”...

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Family, Love, Addiction, and Loss

On May 14, my brother Kyle died of a heroin overdose at 29 years old.   I have been struggling with how to write this article, to bring light to the constant struggles of those with mental illness and addiction, while at the same time honoring his memory, because he was so much more than his illnesses. In her blog A Mothership Down, Liz reflects on the loss of her mom with these words “The sum of my mother’s life was so much more than the hand that cancer dealt her in her last difficult years. The sum of all of...

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The Bunk Bed Debacle: My Craigslist Fail

In March I was on the market for a bunk bed. I wanted one with a full-size bottom , and twin-size upper. It could serve as a guest bed when family visited (we don’t have a guest room), specifically when they visited in May. I did some online scoping, and found one I liked, but I didn’t love the price tag. So I moseyed over to Craigslist, where I’d had so many successful years of buying used – and generally awesome – furniture, cars, sports equipment, and kids’ gear at a reasonable price. Upon searching “bunk beds”, I found a woodworker based in Rhode Island. His website was no great shakes, but he boasted a catalog of custom furniture, so I emailed him about my project. Joe was responsive, and seemed like a salty ol’ carpenter who ran a small woodshop with his wife. I’d sent a photo of this Pottery Barn bed and asked if he could make something similar, with a drawer. He agreed. We volleyed about the type of ladder and its placement. I told him our ceilings are a low 7’, and he should scale the bed accordingly. He even asked about tight turns or stairways in our home. He seemed to know what he was doing. Our exchanges about the size of the bed, project timeline, and type of low-VOC paint I’d chosen indicated he’d worked with clients...

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This is What The Truth Looks Like: I Suck at Self-Care

According to a Google search (because of course I had to Google what exactly self-care is): Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health. Good self-care is a challenge for many people and it can be especially challenging for survivors of interpersonal violence and abuse. It can also be an important part of the healing process. Intentional actions I take to care for my physical, mental and emotional health? *Crickets chirping* I’ve realized lately with everything I’ve gone through in the past 2 years, between a divorce, selling a house,...

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Kids Cook Dinner Night: An Experiment

via GIPHY Summer is in full swing at our house, and that means new routines are replacing our school year ones. There’s no homework at night, and evening commitments are nearly nil. We are excited to fill this free time with things we wouldn’t otherwise have time for. There have been more art projects, more hours outside, and (lots) more trips out for ice cream. This week, we’re attempting a new tradition that my sons have wanted to try for some time now: Kids Cook Dinner Night. Both of my children really love to cook. They’ve been helping out in the kitchen with simple tasks like chopping, mixing, and pouring since they were tiny, and both of them have some respectable culinary skills, given their ages. They are convinced they could easily prepare dinner for the four of us with only some adult assistance to put things into the oven and take them out again. They looked at the list of our “usual” dinners and debated what they could do, and settled upon making individual pizzas for us. I grabbed their requested ingredients at the store, and I am setting them lose tomorrow evening for their first attempt as the new family chefs. If all goes well, i.e., nothing catches fire and we find ourselves with edible meals, this could end up being a great new weekly tradition! They...

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Here’s Why Some People Are Quick to Blame the Parents When a Child Is Killed In a Horrific Accident.

In the wake of a string of very bad news this week, it would be nicer to shift our focus to a more pleasant subject. But I would be remiss if I did not heap massive kudos upon the author of this Scary Mommy post for pointing out why we need to show compassion, not shame and blame, toward other parents when terrible things happen involving their children. I need not recount this devastating tale; chances are you know of it already, and if you don’t, well, the article tells you all you need to know. Melissa Fenton’s post said everything I was feeling in my heart when I heard that some people on the internet were being less than compassionate to these grieving parents. But I also had to ask the question – why are some of us so eager to find fault with a child’s parents when that child succumbs to an awful and devastating accident? I remember when an acquaintance of mine had his apartment broken into. Right down the freaking front door, apparently in broad daylight, with valuables stolen and the house turned upside down. I remember immediately searching for a reason why this had happened to him – why he was surely at fault for allowing this to occur. Maybe, for example, he had left his car on the street with something valuable inside,...

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You’re Doing Great! Keep it Up

The other day I read a crazy statistic that said that said that 55% of moms felt they were not doing a good job when they compared themselves to other moms. That’s more than half of all moms! Do we  have so little confidence in ourselves, or do we just think that everyone has it so much more together than we do? It’s easy to feel that you don’t measure up. I mean, just scroll through your Facebook feed – there are moms who actually get all their kids to smile in their family photo…at the same time. There are moms with defined abs who run marathons (or at least a triathalon or two), and those whose husbands actually call make a point of tagging them in a photo while proudly declaring what an amazing partner, cook, or parent they are. And then there are the rest of us. The moms who can’t get out of the house in the morning without yelling at least once, whose idea of exercise involves picking up laundry baskets or sprinting into school with a pair of left-behind eyeglasses. Nobody posts that on social media. You have to dig deep to find that type of honesty – admit it, that’s how you found this site! I will openly admit that in my 13.5 years of being a mom, I don’t think I’ve ever...

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