" I feel I am very sane about how crazy I am." -Carrie Fisher
"Own your Crazy." -Kim

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

And just like that...

Our youngest turned 13 at the end of July. This seems impossible. Surreal in a way I cannot wrap my head around. Mary is a teenager. I now have three teenagers and one almost adult. And in March I will have three teenagers and one adult. And next July I will be a stone's throw away from fifty.

It is happening, all this adulting and moving on. It doesn't matter if I am ready for it, it is happening. This summer found our oldest in Bali. Nicole was there to fulfill a college credit and teach English to the children. Her social media is full of lots of pictures. She had  the time of her life. None of the pictures have the non English speaking children, but lots of colorful landscape and colorful drinks.

Our high school Jr. was in New York this summer at a journalism program in Manhattan. It woke Paige up. She is ready now to think about college and leaving home and decide what kind of experience she will have in two years.

The college bound second born has been  home working four jobs before heading to New York for school in the fall. Reagan has a work ethic like no other. It was impressive. It is her time. Going across country is the right move for her. It isn't all rainbows and unicorns as she gets ready to go.  We draw battle lines. She wanting to be an adult. Me wanting her to do things my way.

They are adventurous. They have a bigger picture of life than the small town we chose to raise them in. This was by design. It was what I wanted for them. A big picture view of life and what is out there. It's both exciting and mind numbing in a way that is hard to describe. Because even though this is what I wanted for them, there is also the reality that this is what will lead them all away from us. Which I knew. Which I have been planning for, but still...planning is different than happening.

I quit my job. Some will say I "retired" and that is a nice word. But I was a teacher for 25 years, some of those years part time,  and I am not 50 so the state teacher retirement system isn't going to let me "retire." It's really a system only designed to benefit those that work for many years, in a row, and decide to leave well after 50. It's fine. It was time for me to go. I no longer agreed with the profession I was once so in love with. I wasn't teaching anymore so much as just giving a series of constant tests. With each test I was just saying, "THIS test is the important one!!!" Only really none of them were important. But this is a blog for another day.

I will miss the children. There were a few success stories along the way. A few I made a difference in their lives. Mostly I will miss my grade level partner. He was hard to leave. For ten years I had the best of the best. I do not say this lightly. I had worked with some REALLY good people before Ken. But Ken, he was gold. I did not have even one moment of one day that I was frustrated or angry or irritated or even vaguely annoyed. Every day I showed up, we smiled, we laughed, we enjoyed the day. He understood not to worry about the small things. He understood how to be flexible. He understood what is important. He understood it all. I was blessed.

In my new "retirement" I am subbing. I really love it. I am teaching and enjoying the children, without the stress of any kind of responsibility to the district. It is a good fit for me right now. On my second day of subbing I was displaced to the library. Basically the largest tree in Lodi had fallen on the classroom I was to teach in that day. No one was hurt, it happened in the night. It was surreal to be there on a day that changed the history of a school. It is a small country school and many generations have passed through it's doors and the memories associated with the beautiful tree are deeply felt. I arrived home that day to all of the trees behind my home gone. We back up to a railroad and they are in charge of the land. No warning given. They just cut down all the trees. My beautiful, peaceful, shady backyard. Ruined. And just like that in one day...trees, important, old, huge trees...all gone.

God is speaking to me. He is speaking to me loudly and with wood chippers. I need to quiet myself, be still and listen to what he is trying to say to me. This is not my strong suit. I am more of a "charge ahead and get it done (and done my way) kind of girl." But, even I know he is speaking to me. 

It's all just changing. It's changing and I have been excellent at embracing the changes and letting go, but in reality I was only good at letting go of  the change I had total control over. The changes I didn't have control over, I was hanging on to...tightly, with white knuckles and no blood flow. On tree day...there it was...change, big change I had no control over. Time to let go. So that is where I am and what I am trying to do. Trying to let go of things I have no control over. It's a process. But, you know God is speaking to me so I am working on it...If the trees mean something else, I will let you know.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I Am Exhuasted

I am fucking exhausted. If you are opposed to the F word, I get it, I understand, I will totally not mind if you don't read my blog, talk about me behind my back, or delete me as a facebook friend. I was kind and left it off the title, but the reality is this...I am 48 and I am fucking exhausted.
Not from kids or my full time job or my husband or any of the things that we hear complaints about on any given day.  Although all those things are exhausting. I am exhausted from just KEEPING MYSELF UP! I am working ridiculously hard and paying ridiculous amounts of money to look...OK.

Honestly, if I had put this kind of time and devotion in to myself in my 20's, I think I could have been a super model. At the very least had some kind of B level existence on reality TV or local beauty pageants. Certainly Miss Lodi Grape could have been within my reach if I had only put the time and energy and money into keeping myself up. But, I didn't. I washed my face, I guess. I worked out once in awhile, I guess. I lost weight when necessary to step up my dating game, or fit into my clothes post pregnancy.  But, compared to what needs to happen now, at 48, I did nothing!

My hair is colored. I can't complain about this because there was a time in my life when I had no hair, so it seems wrong to now complain about the time and money needed to keep up the hair I am now lucky to have. I have to buy expensive shampoo and conditioner for the hair I now am lucky to have and upkeep. Now that I am older the regular shampoos aren't good for my hair, they strip away the  expensive color I work so hard to drag myself in for every six weeks.

I wear contacts. Because it turns out middle age, with a little extra push from chemo, left me blind. I pretended I wasn't blind for a few years and just wore over the counter reader glasses for when I really "needed" them. The problem being I really "needed" them every minute I was awake. And because I was exhausted from keeping myself up, and because I had a fear of touching my eyeballs, I was just going to continue wearing the glasses and ignore that I didn't care for how they looked on me. So I wore them in my school picture one year. For those of you adults who do not go through the torture of taking the school photo after 18...it is awful. A terribly mean spirited torture involving cameras that left no one looking good at age ten, let alone in your 40's. It was a terrible shock to have the school picture delivered back to me that year. I left school at 2:15 and went straight to the eye doctor. Contacts ordered by 4:15.

The latest in my long list of middle age fuckery are my teeth. One tooth is a story of come uppance told in another blog post. The gist of which,  after a long winded humorous retell of karma is, I am currently toothless. At first I wore the flipper with a fake tooth out of vanity. Now, I just go toothless until the permanent tooth is installed (a year long process of ridiculousness that I am almost done with). Nothing says, "I am trying to keep up with middle age fuckery" like walking around town looking like a meth addict.The remaining teeth now stain more.  Age, coffee drinking and my recently added intake of red wine were working together to make this happen. My hygienist pointed this out to me at our last visit. I promptly told her, "I hear what you are saying about the wine. I will switch to Vodka."

Clothing is complicated as I refuse to get rid of the ten pounds needed to make clothing less complicated. So there is the need to purchase just the right size, in just the right style, that hits me in just the  right spots. I have committed recently to working out. However, work out clothes...exhausting, for all the reasons listed above, but with the added fun of large hand and leg movements.

I have to get my eyebrows waxed, yes, HAVE to...otherwise wiry short gray hairs will pop in and my brows will start to take on the look of Santa. When I go to my waxing place the lady is always disappointed in me. Often I do not make it in for waxing in a timely manner. I wait too long. This leads to muttering under the breath as she says things like, "Why are we waiting so long?" "This is lots to wax off."  She also wants me to wax my whole face. I don't have time for that, so I will say no. She will then question me, "You do not want to be beautiful?" Yes, yes I want to be beautiful!! But I am out of time! And I am broke from my hair care needs and special clothing constraints!

I am only touching the surface. there is so much more. Pedicures used to just be for pretty toes, now there is a dry skin situation. Lotion for my face and eye creams, mandatory not a fun purchase of frivolity. And the list goes on and on and on and....

It's all just a lot. I am trying to breathe through it. I am trying to be graceful in my acceptance of it all. Some days go better than others.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Family Picture...

Christmas...about four years ago, I had a family picture taken. You know, the nice kind, the kind where we get all dressed up and go to Lodi Lake or some other great nature location (that we don't actually visit in our regular lives) and capture a little moment in time.

The last time I attempted such a thing it was 2002, I only had three children, and it was a horrific disaster of grand proportions that established my belief system that sometimes you need a drink WAY before 5 pm. I don't take posed pictures. There are no three months shots or two year pictures of my children. I have never been to the JC Penny or Sears photo department. I'm just uninterested. The girls all have one formal shot as babies taken at various locations. With Mary I had to go in to her daycare on picture day with a special outfit and beg the photographer to take one of her outside of the regular school pictures so that I would have a baby shot like the girls had. I think the photographer sensed my desperation and in a nice moment of "supply and demand" I may have paid more for Mary's picture than one would pay for say, a new stainless steel refrigerator.

I thought Mary's picture blended well with the other three. That is until  I was finishing our new and improved picture wall. I was attempting to place the baby photos with our new family shots. Mary watched the whole process. It took about a year to get this picture wall done. I cannot seem to commit to decorating, so the pictures first came off of their old wall. They then sat against their new wall for about eight months. It then took another four months to hang them, one by one, on the new wall. I was very happy with the outcome. Until Mary walked by and mumbled, "I don't know who you think you are trying to fool with that picture of me. It is obvious I am like two and the others are babies."

There are no school pictures after sixth grade. I only buy them through elementary school so that the girls will have class pictures to look back on when they are in college. I know this is necessary for when you are drinking with girlfriends and realize that someone you had a crush on is back in town, or someone you did not have a crush on turned out much better than expected. I am kind about buying yearbooks for this same reason.

For dance and sports pictures I have two words for you...Memory Mate. I could not even begin to tell you what is on any order form in terms of packages and what is available to me as a parent and memory keeper of the family. I only scan until I see the words "Memory Mate" (a combo photo set on one page with both a group shot and an individual).

All this being said, in 2002 I had a slight lapse in judgement. I had a moment, in hindsight a ridiculously stupid moment, where I envisioned a really beautiful, formal picture of my three beautiful girls. I should mention that at the time of this less than brilliant vision I was a stay at home mom for the first time in my life and it is possible that I was doing things that I THOUGHT I was supposed to do, not things that I SHOULD actually do in keeping with who I am as a person.

So, I set up the appointment, chose a day when our super sweet babysitter could go with us (since I took the babysitter, I must have had an inclination that it could possibly all go awry) and off we went. The super sweet babysitter is a good family friend. She was maybe 18 at the time. Now she is in her late twenties, married with a child of her own. This sweet girl has NOT forgotten the day, and I don't see any formal pictures of her child on Facebook, so I may have ruined it for her.

I bought ridiculously expensive matching outfits for the girls at a ridiculous expensive children's boutique. Only they didn't have one in my youngest child's s size so I bought her the boy one. Which seemed fine at the time, but in reality was a poor choice. My middle child was in a stage (not too different then the one that we are encountering during her teen years) of everything being difficult and a slight resistance to authority. So, she spent the time refusing to smile, sticking her tongue out at the photographer, and lifting her dress to show us her underwear whenever the camera would click. The day ended with us dragging ourselves home, me pouring a drink and apologizing to the babysitter that I could not offer her a drink at 18, even though I knew she needed one as badly as I did. There would be no formal photo again for 12 years. 

The family photo a few years ago went much better. There was a fair amount of bickering (all out sister screaming and yelling over important things like old brushes and socks), but the girls smiled, there was no tongue sticking out and no one showed their underwear, so there was a victory in that. It was our Christmas card picture that year and I loved it in every way.

Family pictures are not a given anymore. This year I didn't even have one of all of us together for our Christmas card. We were only all together as a family on the fourth of July, and we didn't take a family shot. My hardest "family" shots are in June at our dance recital. Years and years of Corey and I and our four girls. Now there are only three dancers, soon to be two, and Nicole does not make it home to watch the recital every year. It is those pictures, of just the five of us, that tug at my heart, that make me realize we will never be a family in the same way again.

We were together briefly at Christmas, I didn't get a family shot. We had such a short amount of time together I didn't want to harp on the photo. Graduation number two looms ahead of us and I hope to get a family shot then. But really, each year is more a "piecing together" of our lives than a complete puzzle. 

New home. No picture wall yet. It may take years. Maybe with all their senior pictures...I should start taking Mary Anne's now.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Little Red Mama

My life with teenage girls is really just one long book of The Little Red Hen.
Who will take out the garbage? Not I, Not I, Not I, Not I
Who will help me unload the groceries? Not I, Not I, Not I, Not I

That is the more traditional version. My own version is a little more like this.
Who will clean their room? In a minute, In a minute, In a minute, In a minute
Who will put their clothes away? In a minute, In a minute, In a minute
Who will run this upstairs for me? In a minute, In a minute, In a minute

In a minute means...Not I, Not I, Not I, Not I

In a minute is a warped response that has no actual bearing on real time, as in a minute does not mean one minute at all. It means, "I am sort of listening to you, I understand there is something I am supposed to do, but I do not want to put down my crack (aka cell phone) to do it, so I will wait until you ask four more times and then scream it at me like a nutcase on the fifth time" and then the response will be, "Calm down, chill, I was going to do it."

Who needs a check for drill? I do, I do, I do, I do
Who needs a ride to a friend's house? I do, I do, I do, I do
Who needs papers signed for school at 7:55 in the morning? I do, I do, I do

And now the interpretation of time changes drastically. The minute, which above represented hours and hours, quickly dwindles down to seconds. The little Red Mama is expected to respond immediately and efficiently, like a super hero, producing rides and money with a quickness and speed that will save the world.

I created the beast, so it is really pointless for me to complain. We have been over committed for years with dance, basketball, softball, choir, swim...you name it we have done it. Years of rushing from one activity to another, shoving dinner at kids and handing out checks. Always rushed, never enough time. I probably didn't put enough time or energy into expecting help. It always seemed much easier to just do things myself.

The last time I wrote about being over committed, I was nervously preparing for competitive dance with our oldest. That ship has sailed and I am now on competitive dancer number three. A surprise, last minute, competitive dancer who gave up softball and committed when I least expected it. (There's a line, from The Godfather maybe? "Every time I think I'm out they just keep pulling me back in...").  

Life is not as busy for me as it was when I had dancer number one. While we are still over committed, life has taken it's natural course...one child gone to college, another child driving, my husband works in town and helps with logistical rides...not every responsibility is mine. I can, I dare say it out loud, breathe a little. And, the ability to breathe has left me a little more still and in that stillness, I have had the time to embrace competitive dancer number three. 

Even though I went reluctantly to competitive dance with child number one...the moment she stepped on stage, I bawled. I cried tears of pride and joy for probably hours at the competition. An embarrassing cry in front of others. The idea that she had fought for what she wanted, made it happen, and then on top of it all was a beautiful, talented, and most importantly confident dancer made me cry. And after that I supported fully without looking back. She paved the way for the rest, and competitive dance has been a part of our busy lives for a long time.

However, with the first two, I was still busy. Still shoving dinner at people, still driving all over town for three hours after work every day, and still balancing my own schedule and the schedules of five other people. My mind ran constantly with times, dates, lessons, car pool pick ups, and the list goes on. Some of this still exists, but not at the same grand level. With Mary I find that I can enjoy the competitions and conventions. Because  my time is different, it is something we plan and look forward to instead of another thing I need to plan and find coverage for. 

I am sure many would wonder why I invest all the time and money into this. And, as stated above, I clearly did so at the expense of having helpful children who jump up to do chores. I wondered myself in my first over committed blog. At the time I jokingly referenced getting them ready for such aspirations as Rockette, Miss California, and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. Clearly those are all still on the table, but now with six years of perspective on it, I know why I do it. It has been answered for me.

The time and the money didn't go into creating professional dancers, it went in to creating confident girls, and they are, all of them in their own way...confident girls. Confident girls who know how to present themselves, who speak for themselves, who problem solve, who work with others, and who, let's be clear, can tap and shimmy with the best of them. We chose a good dance teacher too. One who leads by example and emphasizes the importance of strong character in her dancers above the importance of winning. 

So this Little Red Mama marches on. Competitive dance and high school swim season are on our horizon as Sr. year drill captain winds down. With my time to breathe and enjoy some things I rushed to and through in the past, I am also trying to curb the "In a minute" responses.  Big sigh...one step forward, two steps...

The idea was always to keep them busy. Too busy for trouble. I may have succeeded. However, in this blog, time to breathe may also mean time for wine. Wine is also handy when the "In a minute" responses are in coming at me rapidly. 

Who will visit mommy in rehab? Not I. Not I. Not I. Not I.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Perspective and I'm Over It

Today I went to our storage. It was drink inducing. If you have things in storage, you know what I am talking about. In my next career I am opening up bars at storage units. A lemonade like stand where you can walk over and order a drink at any moment in your storage experience. Find a box of used kitchen ware you never liked, and may not be clean, but you packed up and you aren't sure why? Go get a drink. Arguing with your husband about keeping a box of loan papers form a house you owned three houses and twenty years ago? Go get a drink. Trying to convince your mother to throw away a rusted metal bed frame that squeaks? Go get a drink. I know I could take a drink with me to storage, and this has been heavily contemplated, but it is a slippery slope. I don't want to end up passed out on the squeaky bed, as then Naomi would have strength in her argument for keeping the bed.

The victory of today's storage trip, well the victory beyond the fact that I am still married and no one is dead, is that I found my extra Lodi High graduation cap and gown. And that I found it before I ordered another one or two this year. Why do I have an extra cap and gown? The same reason yearbooks cost me twenty dollars more each year, the same reason I am at Walgreens hastily printing out a child's picture from my phone to go on the dance wall. The same reason I am paying a seamstress a lot of money as I am saying, "But we need it tomorrow, can you have it done by tomorrow?" In all of these instances there has been plenty of advance warning, but I just couldn't get it done in a timely manner. Three years ago this was the case with the graduation cap and gown for my oldest. Lots of advance warning that resulted in me frantically looking up the company online and ordering last minute. So frantically that two were delivered to us, and I found charges on two different credit cards. Always shooting for the glass is half full approach, I said to myself, "Not a big deal, you are now ahead of the game for Reagan in three years, in fact you should have just ordered four."

Only then we moved. And I put a large part of our lives in storage. So, in reality, I had no idea where the "extra" cap and gown were and as the notices started coming in this year, I thought I would be ordering another set. But, today, while attempting to get a small handle on storage, there it was in a box with a all the Santa hats I have bought over the years for school performances (to be added to the  three I bought this year as I am at storage in January, not December) and old camera batteries for cameras we no longer own or have.

Listen, I am not this way in all areas of my life. In fact I am a pretty organized mom and teacher. I have to be with a full time job and four kids. But, there are things that slip through the cracks. I can't hold it together in every area. I used to. I used to run myself ragged keeping up with it all and making sure all the i's were dotted and t's were crossed. Now, I have some time and age on it, some perspective, and I try not to let it bother me. I just have to do the best I can. I have to laugh at myself and embrace the inconsistency, because luckily, I'm over it.

Perspective is important. It is something I wrestle with fairly consistently. The yen and yang of having it for the right things at the right times. I often have it in my head, but what comes flying out of my mouth betrays me. Lately, the college perspective has been my battle. With the finding of the cap and gown, graduation is upon us. Graduation means college. Good God college. I can go on for hours on this topic, perhaps over drinks at my storage unit if anyone is interested. I have four girls. I think they will all go to college, and they will all have a completely different path in getting there. I am on girl number two.

This is what I have to say about perspective and college. Every kid is going to have their own path, and that path does not need to be the one that is harped upon and discussed ad nauseam in the suburban public school systems. There are colleges, great colleges, out there that do not require you to take a load of AP classes, have a 4.9 and then get wait listed, because maybe someone with a 4.95 will come along. Ridiculous. It took me awhile to get here. I have been on the fence for years with it all. At times tumbling over into the side of  "Push, push, push...do it! You must get all A's in 7th grade to have any kind of life!!!" and then realizing I am ridiculous and jumping over to the side of "Do your best. Do it well. You are smart and fabulous. We will figure it all out." I am attempting to stay firmly rooted on this side of the fence in a permanent manner because quite frankly, when it comes to the other side, I'm over it.

And it is really that last sentence that needs to guide my perspective. We will figure it out. Because you can be smart and fabulous, and not follow the agenda being slammed down your throat. At no time in my attendance at a Lodi High School graduations will I have a seal bearer sitting up front with special recognition. To do that, there is paperwork involved. Paper work with deadlines that need to be addressed in a timely manner. Ahhh...not our strong suit here at the Daniel house. What we learned from child number one is, that if you don't fill out the paperwork then you are not listed or sitting with the seal bearers in the program, however in the regular program you look very smart because the put tons of asterisks after your name to acknowledge your GPA. Each asterisk denotes a higher GPA. It should really denote, "this person is smart, but uninterested in listening to the morning announcements about filling out paperwork."

The AP class and test. Oh, the AP class and test. Advanced Placement. Take the class, pass the test and you get college credit. Wonderful and exciting and a great opportunity. However, you can be smart and fabulous at age 13, 14, 15, 16 and even 17 and not pass an AP test. Because, while passing an AP test is wonderful and has many benefits, it isn't necessary at these ages to get college credits. Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel that is what college is for, getting college credits. One of ours took an AP test, and passed. Fabulous. I was thrilled. She was devastated. Devastated because she did not pass with the highest number possible after all of her studying. Wait. What? No! I was firm, in this house, when you pass and get college credit at age 13 it is a victory, a  success, and we are celebrating, not crying.

I don't want to hear the word vomit that is, "Oh, but some colleges won't take the lower numbers." OK, whatever, but some do and the when you pass, you pass. Any passing at age 13 is a victory. It is a victory because YOU ARE NOT IN COLLEGE. Take the classes if you want, take the test, having the extra units is nice if you get them, but it isn't necessary as a means for determining your success in college. For our oldest it meant a nice comfortable first semester at college where she was able to relax, not load up on units and get used to college, because she had a little wiggle room. I no longer get involved in the decision making to take AP classes. I have been proven wrong every time I encouraged one to take, or not take, an AP class. Now the decision is theirs because... I'm over it.

I don't want to sound flippant when I say I am "over it."  I want to sound smart and fabulous. I am not "over it" because I don't care or want the best for my children. I am over it because I want them to be smart and fabulous on their own path. A path with some perspective. The perspective to know that college (and life) greatness does not have to come wrapped in a package of AP classes and 4.9 GPA's. It can, and if it does, that's fabulous. But college, the precursor for life, comes in lots of different packages and you can get there on many different paths.

Storming this week. No storage for me until our March break. I am chipping away at it, the life we once had, but have moved on from. In between the loan documents and dirty kitchen ware I find treasures. Years of basketball, dance and swim pictures, as well as academic achievement certificates from Elementary and Middle School. Reminders that I met some paperwork deadlines and was organized enough to provide four girls with the experiences that will give them perspective and success...no matter what path they take to get there.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Tooth

I start each and every day the same way. With a three way text that brings together Lodi, Orange County and Dublin, Ohio. We are committed. We are busy, busy, busy...with politics (we don't always agree), children (we always agree, they are difficult, but we are perfect), dating (one of us is single, she does not always like our advice), husbands (we always agree, I won't say about what), and the most important of all...our bitmoji fashion! And each and every morning...we laugh. Though miles apart, sometimes I will spit out my coffee and laugh. We find ourselves to be incredibly funny! And we are! We really are!!!

We met in college. I moved in to my sorority house, a bold move for a basically only child with nervous, insecure tendencies. Harper was my roommate. One of five roommates. She didn't come for a few days, and by the time she arrived, I was sick from sharing a room and starting to rethink this grand idea of sorority house living in a big way. Let's just say I had started to formulate my "exit strategy." In life it is very important to have an exit strategy for all things, and I was planning one quickly. With Harper came my last hope. Maybe she and I would connect, and she would be the answer to my prayers. Prayers were answered at 6:30 our first full morning together.

I am a life long non sleeper who wakes at the crack of dawn no matter what has transpired the night before. Up until 4 studying for mid terms? I still wake up at 6:30.  Drinking until the bar closes? Still up at 6:30. This does not find you a lot of soul mates in college, and my three days in the sorority house had already shown me that the house stayed asleep until at least noon. On Harper's first morning I popped up at 6:30, and there she was, already awake. And that, was the beginning of best friend history.

Witt, our third bestie,  would find her to way to us a few months later and we eventually all settled into the same room. Room one besties. Harper had an unusual circumstance. A circus like quality that made her uniquely interesting. She was missing a tooth. Born without it. Not noticeable to the regular human eye as she had been bestowed upon a magic retainer...with a fake tooth attached. As a three year roommate, I was acutely aware of said tooth. Before you waste any time feeling sorry for Harper as a toothless college student, don't. As sad as it is that she is toothless, Harper has also had a magical set of hair bestowed upon her as well. A luxurious, always blonde (without hair color added), ridiculous to this day at 40+ years of age, Christie Brinkley head of hair, that I am not the least bit bitter or jealous of. Except that I am.

In college, once you are 21 of course, there tends to be a certain amount of drinking, or maybe even over drinking that goes on. The 6:30 wake up was often groggy, unclear, lacking focus for the first few minutes. A collection of thoughts , if you will, a series of quick questions to be asked and answered. And for me those first few groggy moments often occurred as I stared right into Harper's tooth. The tooth had some rough nights. It could be discarded or misplaced carelessly upon arriving home, depending on how the night's activities had unfolded. Whatever the case may be, I was accustomed to waking up to either the tooth itself, or Harper frantically whispering, "Oh God, where is my tooth?"

There are several legendary stories in regards to the hunt for the missing tooth. My college sorority sisters get together once a year, and it turns out that many had been in hot pursuit of the allusive tooth during our years together. The missing tooth was important to find, as in college it is nice to have all your teeth in place when attending fraternity parties and socials.

It is in one such moment, when a hunt for the missing tooth is needed, that I make a fatal and tragic friendship misstep. I do not misstep alone, but do so with Witt. We betray our bestie and go on to face a Karma that I am still living out to this day.

One day the tooth is missing, again. Harper is certain it has been left at 7-11. Why the tooth would be at 7-11 is a question that remains unanswered to this day. She does not? cannot? will not? Is to embarrassed to? go look for the tooth. Witt and I are headed there for the mandatory daily diet and intake of Big Gulps and tootsie rolls, we agree to? volunteer? Give in to? Whatever the circumstance, we set out to find the tooth. Only, when we get there, the task seems harder then it did upon conception. The 7-11 worker is cute, it would be embarrassing to ask about a missing tooth. We are easily distracted, it seems bothersome to ask about the tooth. We are selfish, we don't want to ask about the tooth. It isn't our tooth? Is it necessary to embarrass ourselves and put ourselves out over this tooth? We are young and it turns out, bad friends. Not only do we not ask about the tooth, we return to the sorority house and lie. We announce we have asked about the tooth, it is not there, but we have left our name and number in case it is found. Harper will believe this story for the next 20 years.

Flash forward. I am a mother. I have four girls. I married a man with a genetic history of braces. I am at the dentist and orthodontist all the time. I am also less than observant. At some point, I don't want to say when she is 7 or 8, but it is that late in the game, we notice our third child is missing a tooth. Born without it. Same tooth as Harper. What are the odds? The missing tooth lands me in the orthodontist office where the kind, low talking, sensitive orthodontist begins talking me through the missing tooth and the steps that we will need to take to fix this situation. It is all very serious, except to me it is not.

Because I already know all he is going to say about the tooth. I have lived the life of the retainer, and the bridge, and the missing tooth and I know the steps. And not only that, but as he is telling us the steps...I am not a 30 something mother of four sitting respectfully in the orthodontist office hearing the plight of my poor toothless child, no, I am 20 and laying in my top bunk, looking at Harper's tooth every morning. So, I do what one does in this situation, I start to laugh. I start to quietly laugh, and then I laugh loudly. Which startles the orthodontist. Maybe other mothers with toothless children aren't laughing during his speech of procedures? They aren't. Because when you do the orthodontist, who is unaware of your tooth history, thinks you are laughing at your toothless child.

Well, there it was. My comeuppance. My pay back for the long ago tooth search lie. The tooth betrayal had come back to get me. I would take this bad Karma for both Witt and I. Lie on the sword for us both. Pay thousands for those tooth steps that needed to be followed, smile weakly at the orthodontist each visit when he gave me a condemning look, and yell my apologies each time the tooth was lost and I sent a daughter off to high school toothless. Clearly this was enough to even the score.

Only, it wasn't.

I went to the dentist last summer. A solid visit. Things seemed good. I am a lifelong inconsistent flosser. I know this. I also had gumms that were incredibly sensitive through four pregnancies, and then really rebelled after chemo. I have had some rough dental years, and finally I have my gumms and teeth back on track. And I had been flossing, a lot. I was on top of my dental game. My hygienist, who I think finds me frustrating (and by frustrating I mean crazy...once she told me coffee and red wine were staining my teeth, I told he I could not give up the coffee, but I would immediately switch to vodka and ditch the wine if needed), agreed that my teeth looked great. She was gloating, I was gloating, the dentist came in to check my mouth, he was gloating.

Have you ever seen Law and Order: Criminal Intent? In the early years there is this one detective who always says, "I have just one more question?" It is this "one more question," and it's answer, that will bring down the suspect who previously looked as though he would walk away free. This is what happened in the dentist chair, "Real quick, does this one tooth ever bother you?"

"Ummm, no, food gets stuck there a little, that's why I have been flossing more, but it doesn't hurt or anything. No real problem." And with that we were poking at the tooth, taking more x-rays, and sitting back in the chair. No, no...we were all gloating! We all agreed! Things were good...only they weren't.

I had TOOTH TRAUMA. A rarity. Something seen in professional football players. Very odd circumstance it would happen to me. He doesn't actually see many of these cases. And then began the list of steps that would be needed to take care of this.

Tooth extraction. Healing for 6 months. Post put in place. Healing for several months. New tooth put in. Oh, and a retainer...with a fake tooth...because you will be TOOTHLESS, at age 48, during the healing months.

Well, OK then. Karma was not finished with me. Once again, I would take my comeuppance. I would lie on the sword for Witt and I. Pay thousands for the steps to repair my tooth (insurance only covers tooth removal, not replacement...in case you were wondering). I sadly headed home (insert sad Charlie Brown music here) to text my besties of the cruel punishment that Karma had handed out to me. I texted out the news. Explained my tooth trauma, hit send and waited for Harper to respond unsympathetically, and for Witt to be humble and kind. Protective and sad for me. Supportive as she would know how unfair it was that all these years I, and I alone, had taken all our hits. I had been the one to suffer for the day we had made the tragic friendship misstep and betrayed Harper.

The response from Witt was this. "Oh my God, me too."

 Wait. What? Me too? She must be joking. But she wasn't. At age 48, at precisely the same time, we were both diagnosed with TOOTH TRAUMA. At 48 we are toothless in our middle class suburbias. We are wearing "flippers" like we are 8 year old contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras. The teeth get lost. We have both had moments where the tooth is lost (theater parent club meetings and parent teacher conferences) and we know that there are discussions in which people may or may not think we are meth addicts.

There are many lessons to be learned from this I am sure. Be a good friend. Be a considerate person. Don't lie. The lesson I have learned is...when asked to look for a tooth? Do it. just do it. And also, just maybe, don't mess with Harper...the Karma will get you. Because Witt and I are toothless with mediocre hair at age 48, and Harper has a tooth (dental technology has improved since the 1980's), and still has her Christie Brinkley hair.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


I made a lot of changes this last year and I drug my husband and family along for the ride. We have settled in from that round of change, and mostly my family is done hating me for it. No one is done complaining, but the hatred seems to be seeping out and we are back on track to normalcy. A small break before I start another round of change. However, the next round really just involves me and doesn't impact everyone on the same grand scale. They will still complain, but they really shouldn't.

We sold a big house. A really big house that I  loved for years and that suited our family in a really practical and great way. Everyone had their own space, we celebrated life there with big extended family parties, friends flowed in and out  the door, and it was a great place. Until it wasn't.

At some point I slowly started to hate the big house. Resent it. The upkeep, the maintenance, the empty space once my oldest daughter moved out...and the list goes on and on. So we sold it. That sentence is a very abridged version of the year and half journey it took to get it sold, but that's how I am choosing to remember the process...so we sold it.

We gutted our rental condo, redid it all like we were a show on HGTV and I was the designing star, and now we live here. This might also be an abridged version of how it actually happened, but it is how I am choosing to retell it.

My conservative husband had to be convinced this was a good idea. I won't say that there was an ultimatum given, because that seems unfair to the partnership of marriage, but there was an ultimatum given.

Telling people what we were doing became humorous too. Lots of wide eyes, lots of bewildered head nods, a few "Why would you do this?" "Won't you miss your big house?" "How will you all fit?"

My favorite was always, "But, you will by another house won't you?"
Sure, sure we will. But, I don't think we will. I don't want another house. Maybe we will buy another house or condo someplace else, maybe at the beach or my true love Tahoe, but no I don't feel we need to buy another house here, because I love the freedom of enjoying my home, but also walking away for a weekend or week and not worrying about anything.

It is the simplicity of our home I am in love with.  The rest are learning to love it, but they don't need to love it.  I am not raising them to love their home forever, I am raising them to get their act together and get on out. Go to college, live life, and come back and visit us. And go to fabulous places and we will visit you!

I love the idea of us being a family here. Christmas and New Year's Eve this year were fabulous. We were all together, we did our traditional immediate family things as well as our traditional extended family things. It was holiday perfection. But, things will change, they have already started. Each year we lose a kid to "adulthood." Our oldest was only home just under a week for Christmas. She has a job, and a boyfriend...a life of her own...to get back to. Our high school Senior has a job, she almost didn't make it to Christmas Eve. Adulthood...the curse and the blessing. So thrilled they have a strong work ethic and are contributing...wait! What? You can't run away to Tahoe skiing with us?

I also love the idea of being a family in other places. The places they live in  for college. The places they live with their families. Fun places we decide on as a family. Hawaii? New York? A family favorite, Newport? the choices are endless

I knew I would love the simplicity early on. We were homeless for a brief while after we sold our home, but were still working on our condo. So we found an Air B and B house to rent. It had three bedrooms and one bathroom. Our family of 5 1/2 (Nicole being half as she is away at college) went from three bathrooms to one for about two months. I braced myself. I thought it would be a mess. It wasn't, it was fine, we adjusted. Nicole was even home for awhile and we adjusted just fine. In fact I noticed right away, we even thrived. We talked, spent time together, and interacted. In the big house everyone was just going to their rooms and closing the door. Now we were all in the same space. I liked it.

We live on the east side of town now. We are right off the 99 freeway...I love that. We walk to the football games...I love that. We are five minutes form dance...I really love that. The train goes by our house and it rattles everything...we all love that, except my husband, but he is trying. I love it all. It turns out I should have always lived under a train, I find it soothing.

There has been such a gap in my blog. I started when the girls were little. They were young girls with quirky stories, and I was  a young mother trying to find my truth. Now they are young adults with quirky stories, and I am an older mother trying to live her truth.

Change is not always easy. We probably made this change a year or two before it was necessary. I remember telling my husband, "I just don't want to stay at the party too long." So we left the party early. I have always been a girl who leaves the party early.

Here comes 2017. My changes aren't over, I've really just laid the groundwork for the next party. I lingered at the last party for 19 years. I look forward to year one of whatever party the next 19 years brings.