Aug 22, 2011

Is It Back to School Time Yet?

First day of school 2 years ago

It's officially that time of year again. The time when I hate all of my children. The time when summer has begun to wind down and we're all really REALLY getting on each other's nerves. I love my children, but the thought of not spending every waking second with them, well... that sounds fabulous. 7.5 hours of peace and quiet -- that's totally worth the homework battles and bullying and parent-teacher conferences.

Not only am I sick of them -- they are sick of each other. All Daniel needs to do is look at Quinn, and Quinn is bellowing, "Go AWAY!!!" We've finally gotten Emily's crying (over everything, and nothing, all at the same time) under control but she and Claire are still locked in an epic competition for... everything. Who can color the most pictures, play with the most Webkinz, eat the most snacks. It's monkey see, monkey do around here.

It probably doesn't help matters that Quinn has been sick for a week, Claire's starting to get sick, and, now that I think about it, my throat feels a little sore and scratchy too. Great. Top that off with I've had to buy clothes, and shoes, and school supplies for four kids and, well. I'm flat broke. Thus -- fun budget is greatly depleted and we need to stick close to home. Never mind that we have laptops, and Netflix, and Wii, and TV, and Nintendo DS, and all the game apps you could possibly want on the various iGadgets around here. Staying home sucks. Poor babies.

I've taken to barricading myself in the bedroom playing Bloons TD4 on the iPad and fantasizing about when they've all gone away to college. Or reform school. At this point, I don't really care which. However, I'm starting to think I need to find a new hiding place because, dammit, they keep finding me in here!  Here's how our day went yesterday...

[Claire] Knock knock knock.
[Me] What?
[Claire] Can I have a snack?

Now keep in mind, the child had just hoovered down a plateful of eggs and toast not 15 minutes earlier.

[Me] Fine.

Approximately two seconds later...

[Emily] Knock knock knock
[Me] What?
[Emily]  Can I have a snack?

(What I'd like to say: "No Emily. We all just really like Claire better than you and we're going to let her have all the delicious snacks she wants and you need to subsist on liver and onions and lima beans.")

What I said...

[Me]  Fine.

Approximately three minutes later...

[Quinn] Knock knock knock
[Me] What?
[Quinn] Daniel keeps touching me and it's really bothering me.
[Me] DANIEL!! Can you come here please?
[Quinn] Oh. And can I have a snack?
[Me] FINE!

[Daniel] Knock knock knock
[Me] Come in Daniel.
[Daniel] Hi Ms. Andrea! I love you very much.
[Me] I know Daniel. And I love you too. Do you keep touching Quinn?
[Daniel] No.
[Me] Are you sure you don't keep touching Quinn? Because he said you are and he said he's asked you to stop a bunch of times.
[Daniel] He didn't ask me a bunch of times. Just a few times.
[Me] But he did ask you to stop. So could you please stop?
[Daniel]  Can I have a snack?


Only 15 more days until I can have a little peace and quiet around here. I'm really hoping I can make it that long. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and eat all the snacks.

Aug 17, 2011

A Prayer for Willem

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. The kids left for and came back from their last summer visit and I always go a little nutty when they're gone. It's hard to write when your inspiration is three states away.

This blog is a little different from most in that I'm not really talking about me or my family -- but I hope that you will stick with it and read all the way through.


I don't pray. I know that's a terrible thing to admit to but, there it is. I'm not going to say I don't ever pray -- I do have occasional "conversations" with God in my head -- my "Are you there God? It's me, Andrea." moments. But to actually "pray" -- that's just not me. I don't know if it's that I don't believe in the power of prayer -- I believe that many other people believe in it. I don't know if it's that I don't feel that God and I are close enough that I can ask Him for favors. I don't even know what version of "God" I believe in -- if any. I guess I believe in some sort of a higher power but I'm not entirely sure what His or Her function is and whatever They're doing -- S/He has better things to do than take requests from me. If God really is the Master of the Universe than I imagine He's got a plan and I've really got no business sticking my two cents in asking for a change. Father knows best.

As most of you know, I'm a bit of a Facebook addict and one of the things I find most annoying is all the people who "claim" to be praying for this cause, this person, this situation. I'm willing to stake a fair amount of my bank account that a lot of those people who are "praying" for this, that, or the other -- the extent of that prayer was typing the message into the Facebook status or comment bar. That irritates the hell out of me. When people ask for prayers, or put out into the Facebook world that they're going through some trying times -- the most they'll get out of me is a genuine, "Sending good thoughts your way."

So, just so you know, I'm not one of "those people" who are out there asking for prayers all the time. Until now.


This is a story about Erin, and Thomas, and, most importantly, their son Willem. I'm going to give my version of "background" on these key players.


I "met" Thomas in that peculiar way strangers meet on Facebook -- through a friend's post. My friend Scott had posted something about... something... that started a very interesting thread. Somewhere along that thread, Thomas made some little esoteric comment using a $5 vocabulary word. Being a bit of a wordy myself, I commented how impressed I was that he (a) spelled the word correctly, and (b) used it properly in a sentence. Trust me -- this isn't something that happens too often in my Facebook threads. One thing led to another and before I knew it -- Thomas had friended me. Since any friend of Scott's is a friend of mine, I accepted.

Being of a curious nature I eventually clicked over to Thomas's Facebook page to find out a little more about my new friend and I notice he's married to Erin. Wait! I know Erin!


I met Erin years ago in the post college debauchery that was my life in my early twenties. She too was a friend of Scott's (apparently Scott has all the cool friends). She was probably the coolest girl I knew. She was smart, creative, funny, introspective. She was stylish. Her home felt like a home -- not a crash pad like mine and everyone else I knew. I remember she had this quaint little wrought iron bistro set as her kitchen table. Her sofa had throw pillows. It smelled good. Erin carried herself with this quiet confidence that I envied. She could wear bright red lipstick and not look like she was trying too hard or the town slut. Oh hell, I'll just say it. Erin was my first girl-crush.

I quickly (giddily) sent Erin a friend request on Facebook and -- through her wall -- read a little about her life. She was married, had three kids, and still seemed like the cool, stylish, creative, funny chick I remember from the 90s.

Thomas & Erin

These two have a love that I am inspired by. It's quiet, respectful, and so so very obvious. To the point that, just about two years ago I was answering one of those stupid little Facebook quiz thingies (I can't seem to help myself even though I know they are trite) and one of the questions was, "Who inspires you?" I listed a few people, including Thomas and Erin. Later, Thomas emailed me asking how so? Two people, one of whom I've never met, and one I haven't seen in years, how do I find inspiration there?

My response: "You guys inspire me in that your love and respect for one another is a true and beautiful thing. It's not hearts and flowers and big fancy words... it's you worrying about her cleaning out the gutters and her missing you because you haven't been there to see what seems to be all of [your daughter's] teeth fall out. It's your concern about her driving in the weather, and her pride in what you are doing."

"I like the simple and sweet messages you leave for each other on Facebook. I think what you have with each other is what love should be all about. And it inspires me."

As a little side note -- Thomas recently re-upped into the military. He is due to ship out to Afghanistan in the near future. We should all be proud of Thomas's patriotism and admire his commitment to his family and our country.


Thomas and Erin's oldest child is Willem. Again, have never met this child and only know him via his parent's Facebook posts. Yes. I admit it. I stalk them. Harmlessly but I suppose I do. I find that I comment on most of their posts, and follow their lives voyeuristically -- but don't we all use Facebook for that?

Willem is an adorable little mop-topped kid with his mother's eyes. He's around the same age as Quinn. They seem very similar in temperament. They have a lot of the same interests. Quinn once checked out a picture of Willem fencing and was all, "Coooool! Who is that??" I told him he was the son of a friend of Mama's and he asked, "Can he be my friend?" They like Legos and Star Wars and are both skinny little brunettes. I wish we didn't live 2 hours away from Erin and Thomas and their kids because I think our sons could be very good friends, as could our daughters.

About 3.5 weeks ago Erin posted on Facebook, "Willem threw up his retainer. That was fun getting out." I laughed. Been there done that.

A few days after that she posted something about how Willem was still not feeling too hot and was worried he wasn't going to be able to go to camp. Having been through something similar with Quinn a year ago, I know how it hurts to watch your child worry they won't be able to do something that you have no control over. I thought, "Poor kid. I hope he feels better soon." And went on with my day.

A day or two after that Erin posted that she as taking Willem to the ER. Okay. This isn't minor anymore. This is heading in to the scary territory. I started paying a whole lot more attention to Erin and Thomas's Facebook pages. Normally I just limit myself to what's on my newsfeed but I found myself going directly to their pages for updates. Willem was admitted to the hospital from the ER. Then they kept him another night. And another night. Then he was being transferred to the children's hospital. Erin and Thomas were meeting with infectious diseases experts. Willem had a "team" assigned to him. He was transferred to ICU.

Holy. Shit.

Quinn came up to me as I was reading an update about Willem on his father's blog. Being a sensitive child well tuned to his mother's moods, he asked me what was wrong. I told him the "boy who fences" was very sick and that Mama was worried about him and sad for his parents. Quinn said he would say a prayer for him. This made me smile. As neglectful as I am in my own religious path, I have at least instilled some level of spirituality into my children.

I began to fanatically watch the blog for updates. No one was exactly sure what was wrong with Willem. Willem spent his birthday in the hospital. He was ventilated. He was sedated. And I found myself starting to have one of my "conversations" with God. Nothing organized or concrete -- more of a "these are good people and I would really appreciate it if you could help them out" kind of thing.

Willem had a GI scope. He had a bone marrow test. I saw a whole lot of diseases being posted on Thomas's blog and Facebook page -- diseases that had initials for names and couldn't easily be researched on Gastroenteritis. Typhoidal Tularemia. Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS). Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).

Holy. Shit.


A check of Thomas's blog this morning shows that Willem is still on a ventilator and is being aggressively treated for HLH. Which brings me to you, dear Reader. I'm asking you to take a moment today, right now, stop what you are doing and say a prayer, send a good thought, happy vibe, whatever you've got, to Erin and Thomas and Willem. These are good people. And, while no one deserves to watch their child go through this -- I especially don't want these people, these good, loving, caring people, to go through this. Please.

I don't know if I believe in the power of prayer, but I believe it can't hurt. And I'd like to believe it would help. So please. Say a prayer for Willem.

Aug 8, 2011

A Little Motherly Advice

I've been facing my mortality a lot lately. I mean, I've always known that no one gets out of this world alive, but I guess in my youth, the concept of death and dying was something I didn't spend a lot of time considering.

A few things have happened over the course of the last few years that have made me realize that my link to this life is tenuous at best. Having recently faced a health scare of my own, I guess I'm trying to come to terms with my date with the Grim Reaper.

Being mostly agnostic, I'm not weighed down with a lot of organized religion's opinions on the afterlife. I don't really know what happens when I eventually end up taking the big dirt nap. And no one can tell me -- since no one knows. We may all meet St. Peter at the pearly gates, or we may just be worm food. Either way I'm not going to spend a ton of time in prayerful supplication in an attempt to garner a seat at the big dinner table in the sky. I live a (relatively speaking) virtuous life, and my "God" and I -- we have an understanding of how I roll. I figure since we're all (allegedly) created in His image, He knows what's in my head and my heart and while I may have some 'splainin' to do -- I'm comfortable with how things will turn out.

My problem is more about the people I would leave behind. You see, as verbose as I am, I struggle with the whole discussing feelings thing. I must have missed the day when they covered that in Girl Behavior 101 (along with lessons on shopping math and crying to get your way). I just plain suck at that stuff. I'm more from the behavior school of: If I like you, you'd know it. If I don't like you, you'd know that too. And if you're not sure -- we aren't that good of friends.

So there's a lot of people who mean a tremendous amount to me: my family, Peter, the whole Alvarez/Anderson crew, a select group of friends. And I probably don't tell any of them often enough (if ever) how much they matter to me. I guess I just kind of hope that they know. But when you're faced with the thought that you may run out of time before you have a chance to really let them know... well... that's kind of overwhelming. I've spent the last few months trying -- in my own way -- to tell those that count what they mean to me.

The bigger thing is my kids. I'd kind of planned on being around for them their entire lives and now, dealing with the fact that I may not have that luxury, I'm struggling to put down all the things I need to say to them. There just aren't enough words.  And since I put every other personal thing on this blog -- I figured that this is as good a place as any to start writing these things down so they may someday -- hopefully many many years in the future -- read my version of motherly advice.

To Quinn:

I didn't know the meaning of absolute love, or absolute fear, until the moment I held you the first time. I didn't know what I was doing or how I was going to do it, but I was fiercely determined I was going to do the best I could by you. I knew I wouldn't always get things right, I knew I would make plenty of mistakes. But I was going to do my best. I look at the boy you are and I see glimpses of the man you will be and I think I've done okay. I am proud of you, always.

I am proud of your honesty. While many children lie easily, and often, that has never been the case with you. I hope it always remains so. You are quick to take responsibility, and I am proud that your apologies are not empty. When you say you are sorry, you mean it. Do not lose this as you grow hardened in this world. It is always easier to own your mistakes, speak your truth, and live with the consequences. Lying is never the answer.

You didn't get your long fuse from me -- I have always been quick tempered. But I wish sometimes you were quicker to ignite than you are. You let people push you more than you should. You don't always have to agree. You, my little negotiator, are more than smart enough to learn how to say no. You can do it nicely, politely, and with a flash of those perfect dimples in your beautiful smile and no one will be upset with you. It is not up to you to manage the emotions of the world. Making yourself sick to make everyone else happy is no way to live. Stand up for yourself in every way.

I love how you are comfortable with your own company but don't let that turn you into a loner. I know it's hard for you to be the social animal your sister and father are, but it's not good to always go inward. People enjoy your company. And you need to enjoy theirs as well. You don't need to be the life or the party, just as you don't need to be the wallflower. Find a happy medium and just celebrate being in the presence of those who appreciate you. You have more to offer than you know.

Don't be afraid of hard work. Test yourself, physically and intellectually. It will only benefit you in the long run.

Don't be afraid to fail. And never, never, never give up. Nothing is insurmountable. 

Always celebrate your uniqueness. You have never looked like, acted like, thought like, or behaved like any other child I knew. I hope you will always remain my perfect little non-conformist. In the words of E.E. Cummings: "To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting." And remember, my darling boy, that dorks rule the world.

To Claire:

You are beautiful. I know I don't tell you that because I wanted you to be more than just a pretty face. But you are. And while I am in awe of your beauty, it is your character that matters. Never cheapen yourself by trying to get by on your looks. You are better than that in every way.

You are the personification of the phrase "generous to a fault".  But remember, there are many people in this world who will take advantage of that generosity. You don't need to give everything away to get people to like you. If someone doesn't like you for you, they are not worthy of your company.  Give because you want to give, not because someone demands something from you, or because you hope to gain something for it.

Let go of your grudges, for they only hold you back. Hatred, anger, hurt feelings -- these all take tremendous energy to foster and, in the end, it's never worth the price you pay to hold them dear to you. Let them go. You need to learn to shake it off and move on. If someone says they are sorry, and means it, be gracious enough to accept the apology and go forward. Live in the present, look forward to your future, learn from and let go of your past.

I love how helpful you are but sometimes people (your brother, your sort-of step-siblings, your friends...) need to do for themselves. And you need to let them or you will have a lifetime of being an enabler.

Don't strive for acceptance from others. The most important acceptance you need is from yourself. Accept who you are and accept that you are fabulous in your own way. Don't spend a lifetime comparing yourself to others. There will always always always be someone who is more than you are, just as there will always always always be someone who is less. Don't be complacent, but don't be competitive either. At least not with others. Compete with yourself. Try to better yourself for yourself.

Dream big. And don't let ANYONE tell you you can't, or that your ideas are stupid. I've heard that it only takes one negative comment to kill a dream -- but not if you don't let it. If someone laughs at you, ignore it. Your dreams are beautiful, and worthwhile, and don't give someone the power to take them away from you. It's okay to not know, but it's not okay to not try. You CAN do anything you put your mind to.  the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway." It is within your power to control your own destiny. Don't give that power away to someone else. Your life is your own.  And you, my darling girl, will go on to do great things some day.


While Emily and Daniel aren't *my* children -- I feel like I have some wisdom (such as it is) to share with them as well.

To Emily: 

Stop being afraid. Everyone who knows you, loves you, believes in you, and supports you. But as we've told you -- you are not perfect. You make mistakes. Everyone does. And there's no shame in being wrong sometimes. I promise you, there is not a single person you know who is 100% right all the time. It's okay. Mistakes are proof that you are trying!  The worst mistake that you will ever make is being too afraid to make one. Don't let your fear of being wrong paralyze you -- there is so much of life you will miss out on that way. Failure is the best way to learn.

Work hard. You can't simply dream about being rich and successful -- you need to wake up and work hard to achieve that. And it's not always about being first -- it's about doing your best. You don't win for being the first one to finish the test but with all the wrong answers.

Learn to love who you -- Emily -- are. Stop trying on other personas -- Claire's, your cousins', your mother's. Each of those personalities are perfectly lovely on that person -- and not such a good fit on you. You are wonderful just being you. Don't try to be anyone other than quirky, funny, beautiful Emily. She's the best person for you to be.

To Daniel: 

Be kind. You have such an amazing sense of humor -- but you need to learn that you can be funny without making someone the butt of your joke. Laughing at someone isn't humorous -- it's mean. And going for a laugh at someone's expense isn't funny -- it's cheap. You are smarter, funnier, and nicer than that.

Words have the power to hurt as much as your fists do. Be gentle with both.

Like anyone -- you can benefit from the following advice: Listen more. Talk less. Your dad and I found a little sign the other day that we thought we perfect for you to memorize:  Before you speak, THINK.

T -- is it true?
H -- is it helpful?
I -- is it inspiring?
N -- is it necessary?
K -- is it kind?

If the answer to any of those questions is no -- don't say it.

To all of "my" children:  Find what and who it is that makes you happy and stick to it, and them. Be good to yourselves. Be kind to one another. I read somewhere that good manners can take people where neither money nor education can take them. Be polite. Be respectful. Be gracious. Be grateful. And most of all, be yourself. I love you with all of my heart.

~~ Mama

Jul 12, 2011

An Ode to All the Nurses

My mom is in the hospital. Again. As she is four years in to a three-to-five year life expectancy with pulmonary fibrosis, this is not an unusual thing. It has happened before and it will likely happen again. Or this may be the last time -- we just don't know. But her illness is one of the reasons I moved back to Michigan -- so my children could get to know and spend time with their grandmother and I am grateful for every moment they, and I, have with her.

This is not a story about my mom. I have told other stories about her, and will likely tell more as there are many stories to tell. This is about the nurses who have cared for her, with humor, with dignity, with grace, and with professionalism throughout my mother's medical ordeal. To them I say, thank you.

I know several nurses, my best friend is a hospice nurse. I don't know what kind of calling you hear that makes you want to deal with the things that a nurse does.  I'm not talking just blood, and other bodily fluids. Bedpans and catheters. I'm talking the death, the grief, the angry patients and angry relatives who, in their frustration and lack of understanding, take things out on you.

My friend Tammi has sat with hundreds of people doing everything in her power to ease people's transition from life to death.  She has cried with family members. She has prayed with them.  She has cleaned their bodies and their homes and done everything she can to show kindness and compassion.  Death is an ugly thing and what Tammi does is beautiful. 

I remember one story. I'm sure I won't get all the details right but the crux of the story was this: a man was dying. He was in his home, surrounded by the people he loved and who loved him. The end was near. Tammi was checking the man's vitals, holding his wrist to track his pulse. His wife of many years didn't want to release her husband, not for a second, so she held Tammi's hand, while Tammi held her husband.  And Tammi sat like that for hours, as a conduit between these two people as she counted down the seconds of this man's life.

I think that's amazing.

I have another friend, Lisa, who is an RN in the stroke unit of a hospital in California. The stress of what she must deal with on a daily basis blows my mind. In her world, she literally makes life and death decisions in milliseconds. The other day she commented on how she had catheterized a patient in 20+ seconds, saving a crashing patient.  And she brushes it off like it's no big deal.

I think that's a VERY big deal.

Throughout my mother's ordeal I have dealt with many, many nurses. They are all amazing. Every single one of them has cared for my mother as if she were their own mother. They have sat up with her all night when we were told the end was very near and kept her calm. And kept her company. And laughed with her. And cried with her.  They have answered my multitude of questions honestly and directly.  They have respected our decisions. They have hugged me and held my hand. They have gotten me blankets, and drinks, and checked to see if we've eaten.  They have cared for my mother spectacularly, and they have cared for me and the rest of my family as well.

These nurses, these professionals, they are overworked. And underpaid. They do the brunt of the work and take the blame when things go wrong, most of the time about things completely out of their control.  They are yelled at. They have been beaten, broken, bitten and bruised by drunk and disorderly patients or the mentally disturbed.  They have been pooped on, puked on, peed on and bled on and they don't miss a beat. They are still in there, fighting for life.  Anyone's life.  Everyone's life.

My mother also has wonderful doctors who have seen to her but it's the nurses who have cared for her. It is the nurses who have done the healing. And while my mother will never be healed, they have certainly not given up on her. These women (and men) are bigger than angels. They are deities.

I don't know when my mother's story will end. Or how it will end. But I know that when it does, there will be a nurse standing by, holding her hand, caring for her right until the very end.  And for that I say...

Thank you.

Jul 7, 2011

Caution -- This Blog Will Offend

I mean it. This one is going to piss some people off.  I know it, and I'm writing it anyway.  If you don't like it, I suggest you don't read it and you can save your nasty comments because I don't care. This is my blog -- you can go write your dissenting opinion on your own blog.

Neener Neener Neener.

Caylee Anthony is dead. D.E.A.D. And no amount of porch light flickering, horn honking, candlelight vigils or status updates are going to change this sad fact. Keeping the balloon floating by posting a picture of a dead baby that you don't even know isn't going to change a damn thing. There will be no "Facebook Posts Reincarnate Dead Child" happening here.  Turning your porch light on isn't a tribute -- it's a waste of electricity.  And wherever Caylee Anthony is -- your porch light isn't affecting her one way or another.

I seriously wonder about my Facebook "friends" whose pages have been filled with posts about Caylee Anthony.  What is your interest here? Is it because it's the leading story on the network news and, like lemmings, you're jumping off the cliff of outrage they're spouting?  Because, honestly, changing your goddamn Facebook status (when you're not busy playing Farmville and liking your friend's 4th of July parade photos) isn't making an ounce of difference in the life and death of that child. Not a bit.

Yes, Casey Anthony was acquitted. Yes, that probably sucks. But our justice system is what it is and all of your outrage isn't going to make a lick of difference to Ms. Anthony either. She's going to make an absolute fortune on media appearances, book deals, and interviews. She's going to be on the cover of People magazine. She's going to talk to Oprah. Her defense attorneys will be interviewed by Larry King or Geraldo or whoever manages to secure the booking. And that's just the way it is. We're the culture who's made an international star out of someone whose only claim to fame was being peed on by Brandy's brother. And Casey Anthony is now a celebrity. Deal with it.

God bless America.

Casey Anthony is an attractive white woman who likely walked away from the murder of her adorable 2 year old white child and she is going to make fucking bank on the tragedy.  Your Facebook and Twitter outrage does nothing except tell the media organizations that our interest is skyrocketing and they should pay all KINDS of money to get Ms. Anthony on their show. Right fucking now.

In my hometown another adorable white female child went missing just over a week ago.  Only this time, we're talking about a 4 month old infant.  Katherine Shelbie Elizabeth Phillips was abducted, allegedly by her father.  He is now in custody but he's not talking.  And the baby has not been found.  Her Amber Alert can be found here.

Sad. Incredibly, terribly, awfully, heartbreakingly sad.

However, since this happened I think I've read about 500 posts on my Facebook about find Baby Katie, pray for Baby Katie, hugs for Baby Katie. No. Just. No. Baby Katie is not going to be found by your Facebook status. Baby Katie is going to be found if you get your ass away from your computer and join the damn search and rescue crew. Walk the fields. Search the woods. DO something.

And for every idiot that posts "Our prayers will help keep Baby Katie alive" I want to scream, "NO THEY WON'T!!!"  Yeah, yeah, yeah. The power of prayer.  I hate to break it to you, but your prayer is not going to keep a four-month-old infant alive. Food, water, shelter... those are what keep four-month-old infants alive. There's only one way that this ends happy -- the father passed the child off to someone else to care for and the authorities eventually track that person down. But if he left this child out in the elements -- she's gone. And all the Facebook status updates in the world aren't going to change that.

2,185 children are reported missing every day. Three to five children are murdered every day by their parents. And yet, I haven't seen a single report where a Facebook status or Tweet has found any of them, or convicted any of their murderers. So -- let's stop with all the hysteria, stop being lemmings, and do something that actually matters.

You want to do something? You want to help? Try here:

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The National Vigil for Hope -- A national coalition to bring more awareness to missing children and adults.

Angel's Wings Air Search and Rescue

Child Find of America

Or simply Google "Help Find Missing Children" to see what you can do.

I guarantee -- not one of them suggest "change your Facebook status" or "Turn your porch light on".

Jun 25, 2011

Criminals Are Getting Younger Every Day

This week a dear friend of mine posted something rather unsettling on his Facebook account.  While he was away on a business trip, and his wife was at work, four neighborhood children, all less than 9-years-old, broke into his house, stole four grocery bags worth of his children's toys (including Wii games, books, arts and crafts supplies... they were choosy) AND the family cat.

These are children my friend, Chris, knew.  They have lived on the block for years. They have been in his house previously. He has fed them, watched them grow up, taken photos of them.  These were not strangers to his family.

Chris's wife, in searching for the "lost" cat (not knowing he had been stolen) heard that these little girls were seen carrying him around the neighborhood.  She went to their house thinking that they had found Mal the cat and were trying to return him. Upon speaking to one of the children's mother, the whole story unraveled and the truth came out.  Most of (but not all) of the stolen items were returned but, sadly, Mal the cat is still missing. This mother, upon seeing her children with a "stray" cat, ordered her little darlings into the house and unleashed her dogs on the cat. No one has seen him since.

These children had planned, plotted and executed a break-in of Chris's house.  They knew when the house would be vacant. They knew what they wanted to steal. They had their cover stories planned (they received the toys from a church giveaway and from a yard sale, the cat was a stray they found).  For an opening foray into criminal activity -- they planned big and they went bold.

Upon meeting with these children and their parents, Chris' wife was assured that they would be punished. There were tears. They said they were sorry. They gave Alexa, Chris's daughter, their ice cream money. And, apparently, that was the end of things.

Ummmmm. No. No no no no NO!  I adore you Chris, but this just simply isn't enough. Not by a looooong shot.

As I said on Chris's Facebook page, "I know this is none of my business -- but I would see these children charged. If it were my children -- I would want someone to charge them. This is more than just a prank. This required planning, plotting. They lied, they stole, and they may have had a part in the death of a beloved pet. Tears and an "I'm sorry" and giving up their ice cream money (when you know their parents will just give them more) is NOT enough."

"I have kids and I would want these children charged. Having two of my own and helping to raise Peter's two I can tell you -- tears and "I'm sorry" come too easy and it really doesn't mean anything. Emm can cry on command. I'm sorry -- but I would have them charged. This is more serious than stealing someone's pencil..."

The more I think about this, the more upset I get. And these aren't my children. Or my cat. But... these are the children out there in the world. And they're getting away with this shit.

No. Just... no.

Peter and I actually sat all four of our kids down and told them this story. And told them that if they ever even thought about doing something like this -- we would make sure they would be arrested.

See... I have a little experience to share.

When I was three-years-old my mother caught me stealing penny candy from The Market Basket.  In my defense I don't think I knew it constituted "stealing". It was delicious candy and it was right at three-year-old eye level.  In the grown-up world they would call this entrapment but in my mother's world this was most definitely thievery and she marched my ass home, parked it in my bedroom and warned me with those most terrifying of words, "Just you wait until your father gets home!"


When my father got home, he came up to my room, allowed me to select one toy, and bundled me off to the car. Having expected to be, at best, yelled at and at worst, spanked, this was a surprising turn of events.  But I took Pinky the teddy bear and my rosary and loaded into the car for destinations unknown.

The destination ended up being the local police department.


I cannot accurately express to you how absolutely terrifying it was to be escorted into the police department at the ripe old age of three.  My father had a friend on the police force.  He spoke to me quite sternly.  I confessed that I took the candy.  He explained to me that was stealing, and it was criminal.  And then he escorted me and my teddy bear and my rosary into a jail cell. And he shut the door. And he walked away.

I really have no idea how long I was left to contemplate my short-lived life of crime in that jail cell. I know it was probably only long enough for my father and his friend to enjoy a cup of coffee and discuss their golf games. But in my three year old mind it felt like an eternity.  And it was absolutely, unequivocally terrifying.  And, it worked. I never knowingly stole something again. I say knowingly because I admit that at times I have walked out of the grocery store and have forgotten to pay for the toothbrush my kids had been chewing on when they were teething infants.  But I have also run back into the store when I've discovered I forgot to pay for the bottled water under my cart.

Police departments these days can't (or won't) do what my dad's friend did. And, frankly, I think that's a shame. There's nothing wrong with a little "scared straight" when you're young and impressionable.

I don't have a funny, clever, or witty end to this story. There's nothing about this that I find funny, or clever. It pisses me off. And I hope, dear Reader, it pisses you off. And I hope that, should your little darling ever do something similar to what these children did, you would do more than take away their ice cream money. As my daughter said, "my butt would be purple!" 

Yes it would, honey. Yes. It. Would.

Jun 23, 2011

Kids Are Not Toasters

My kids, ages 8 and 10, got back yesterday from a week long visit with their father. As usual, they enjoyed themselves, he bought them a ton of stuff, they ate way too much candy and... they came home emotional wrecks. Awesome.

In his defense (sort of) he doesn't mean to make emotional wrecks out of them. I don't think. Actually, he probably does but in an effort to be nice and not scream obscenities at him (again) I'm going to believe he doesn't do it intentionally.  This is truly the key to being successful divorced co-parents -- lie to yourself.  It's kind of like the key to a successful marriage except you don't have to see the person who most pisses you off day in and day out.

I'm not going to go in to what he did -- this time -- since it's really not much different than what he does every time and I'm just glad I can get the kids in therapy. Because, really, that's all raising children is. Fostering them to be productive members of society and hoping you can afford a lifetime of therapy for them.

Most of my evening and morning have been spent undoing the damage that was done (not intentionally intentional of course) over the course of the past seven days.  The problem is, I'm not great at the giving of platitudes, "Your dad and I both love you very very much and we realize how hard this is for you and why don't we discuss your feelings in words, song and interpretive dance?"  But, at least I'm smart enough to NOT say, "Your dad and I both love you very very much and we realize how hard this is for you and I'm sorry your father is a selfish jackass."

Although, in my mind, I'm screaming that.

I sat both kids down and started out with, "Your father and I both love you very very much. And... "  I ran into the wall. What should I follow that with? I'm so not smart enough for this stuff.  So, my "I know this is hard..." speech ended up being a discussion about... toasters.

"Your father and I both love you very very much. And... you want to know something? When you buy a toaster, it comes with a whole book. It tells you how to plug in your toaster, how to make toast with it. It shows you what all the buttons and settings do. It tells you it can also heat up waffles and bagels and what the settings are for that. It tells you how to fix your toaster if it isn't working properly.  It has pages of how to troubleshoot it.  A whole book."

"When I had you in the hospital, they gave me a baby. That's it. A baby. You. You didn't come with a book. You didn't come with diagrams showing me what all your "buttons" do.  No one told me how to troubleshoot you.  I got a baby."

"So basically, what I'm telling you is -- your father and I have no idea what we're doing.  We're just winging it. You didn't come with a book and we're doing the best we can. We love you, but we're going to make a ton of mistakes. It's why God created therapy -- because no one knows what the hell they are doing.  So. We love you very very much and we're just hoping we don't completely screw you up. Because, well... you're not a toaster."

I don't know what the hell I'm doing but I do know that they laughed until they fell down. They hugged me and told me they loved me. And then they went off to play and everything seems okay.

Who's hungry for toast?

Jun 9, 2011

Dear Dad,

My Father. Gary Gordon.

One year ago today, my father was undergoing open heart surgery.  Having never in my life witnessed my father take so much as a sick day, I cannot describe to you, Dear Reader, how this scared the supreme, peewaddling crap right out of me. 

Okay... truth time. I wasn't really REALLY scared.  Mainly because the idea of my father, my cantankerous old fart of a father, actually being a mere mortal was so absolutely unfathomable to me that I never gave much thought to what could happen. I just assured myself that nothing bad would happen.  And that was that.

Of course, my father didn't go the normal path to open heart surgery. Noooooo.  He knew he'd had an under-functioning gall bladder and when he started having chest pains he thought it was related to that.  But finally, when the pains weren't going away, he went to his internist to get it checked. 

Now, a lot of doctors would have looked at my dad, how healthy and active he was, his blood pressure, and all those other things and, knowing his gall bladder was failing, just passed it off as that.  We are very VERY lucky that he has an incredibly conscientious and thorough doctor who dug deeper.  And when he did, didn't like what he saw.  And made arrangements for my dad to go to the cardiac hospital IMMEDIATELY. 

Of course, my dad being my dad, was asking, "Can I go to the grocery store? Can I mow the lawn? Can I... wash the car... trim the trees... pour new cement... re-shingle the house???"

Yeah. It's hard to keep a good man down.  Less than a week before he was rushed to the cardiac hospital he was out in the State Park taking my children on a 4 MILE HIKE!!!  In the middle of the freakin' sand dunes.

When I think of what could have happened out there in the middle of nowhere, with only an eight and a ten year old for help, I absolutely shudder.

Because my dad's cardiac arteries were clogged. And not just a little clogged.  99-100% clogged.  They were so backed up that one artery created its own pathway around the blockage -- something that most people would find excruciatingly painful.  But noooo. Not my dad.  He just complained of "mild chest pains."


I am, in every conceivable way, my father's daughter.  From his anti-social tendencies, to his bluntness, to his unwillingness to soft sell anything -- those are all my traits too. 

I haven't always gotten along with my Dad, mainly because we are two peas in a pod.  But I have always loved him, admired him, and respected him.  He's part of the reason (but certainly not all) that my relationships don't work out so well -- no regular man can match up to who and what my dad is. 

My dad's 72nd birthday is next week.  And with Father's Day right around the corner, I thought I would write a little ode to Dad and share a few of my favorite highlights about my father, much the same way I did with my mother.

I love you, you old coot.


Being a "tween" is an awful thing.  You're not quite a teenager, not quite a child, and firmly stuck between both.  I was no different from any other prepubescent girl as evidenced at Christmas when I was twelve years old.

Several days before Christmas a huge box appeared under our tree.  As in most things, size matters, and that enormous gift drove me crazy.  Who was it for? What could it be? I asked and asked and asked -- to no avail.

Christmas morning, the last present was distributed.  The huge one. To me. I was shocked and surprised, I really never thought it would be mine and couldn't imagine what was inside.

I ripped open the paper, tore in to the box and discovered a very large teddy bear -- gold with brown ears.

At the ripe old age of twelve, I should have been too old and too cool to be excited about a teddy bear.  Except, I wasn't. My father wasn't quite ready to let go of his "little" girl and apparently, I wasn't quite ready to grow up.  I was so touched, I cried.

That teddy bear went everywhere with me for years.  When I would drive home to visit my parents, he would be buckled in to the passenger seat riding shotgun. Years later, my apartment was broken in to a few weeks before Christmas.  The thieves got a little bit of money, a few small pieces of jewelry, and took that bear. Made me cry all over again.  I hope that thief took my bear home to his little girl that Christmas and she loved him as much as I did.

Thank you for my bear, Dad.


Having never been a very good math student, I tended to be a tad rambunctious in my high school algebra class, much to the dismay of my high school algebra teacher.  About midway through my freshman year the teacher, being totally fed up, called my father to complain about my behavior in class, saying I was distracting and controlled the classroom.

My father, in typical Gordon fashion replied, "You know, as a 35-something year old man, I don't know if I'd be admitting that a 14 year old has more control over things than you do. I'd keep quiet about that if I were you."

And hung up.

Thank you for sticking up for me, Dad.


When I was a teenager, my dad used to LOVE to embarrass me by driving through the beach, "cruising through G-Park" as it's referred to here by the locals, where all my classmates and crushes would be hanging out.  Mortifying in and of itself but, to up the ante, so to speak, my father would spot the kids he knew I knew and would honk the horn, reach over and grab my hand, and wave my arm at them.

Thank you for making me laugh (years and thousands of dollars in therapy later), Dad.


Thank you for my Zippo lighter with the engraving of Mickey Mouse flipping the bird, Dad.


When I was planning my wedding 13 years ago, I would ride the train in to the city and practice my thank you speech that I was going to give at our reception.  For five months, I would get through almost the whole speech but would choke up when I would get to the part where I thanked my father.  See, my dad and I are not what you call demonstrative people and we're not much for talking about our feelings.  I love my father, he loves me, but we really don't need to talk about it.

On my big day, it was time for the thank you speech and wouldn't you know it, I got to the part about my dad and started tearing up.  The only way I could keep from becoming a blubbering mess was to immediately move on and make fun of my brother about actually showing up... in a tux.

Thank you for being a man worth tearing up for, Dad.


All my life, on the rare occasions that my dad would call me, he would announce himself by saying, "Yeah, Andrea? This is your father. Gary Gordon."  For years, whenever he called, that's what he would say.  It always struck me as hilarious, but I didn't, not for years, say anything to him about it.  I would just wait to see if he greeted me the same way next time he called. Which, sure enough, he did.

Finally, it got to be too much and I responded with, "As opposed to my father, Mick Jagger?"

I'm not sure my dad even knows who Mick Jagger is.  So I explained how it was funny that he always made sure to tell me it was my father calling. And then say his whole name. Like I couldn't figure out who he meant if he just said it was Dad.  He laughed a bit, not completely understanding why I thought the whole thing was funny.

And next time he called?  "Yeah, Andrea? This is your father. Gary Gordon." 


Thank you for being my father. Gary Gordon. I couldn't imagine any man better for the job.

May 25, 2011

Book Smart Ain't the Same as Street Smart, Kid...

As most of my dear Readers know, I have two children: Quinn, age 10 and Claire, age 8. Both children are, of course, gorgeous, delightful, polite, well-mannered, and extremely smart. No really. They are. Smart that is.

They both test very high and are good students. Quinn's been on the honor roll this whole year (they don't have honor roll for second graders, much to Claire's dismay.) The difference is, Claire's an extremely motivated smart kid, and Quinn is lazy. Typical boy-girl stuff.

When Claire was testing to get in to kindergarten, we were told that she could skip it and go directly into first grade. My thought was, she's smart -- but not that smart. She was simply a determined second child. I'd rather her be at the top of the class she's supposed to be in than struggling in the one she wasn't. I've never regretted that decision. Claire's bright, and she's a hard worker, and that's going to carry her far.

Quinn could be a straight A student if he wanted to. But there are just so many other things to DO like play Legos and read books and Wii and lay on the couch with Mama and watch TV... This is the child who, when he did poorly on his Spanish test, told the teacher, "Yeah, well, I'm not really so much a Spanish kind of guy." So it's a combination of threats, punishments, and rewards to keep him on honor roll. 'Cause it's certainly not going to be his athletic prowess that's going to get him a college scholarship.

One of Quinn's talents lies in his negotiation skills. Ever since he was very young, he had the ability to articulate his position in such a way that I'd forget I was talking to a five year old and find myself having a discussion about something like bath time or bedtime before it dawned on me, "Hey! I'm the grown-up! You do it because I say so!"

I share all that with you to preface the conversation my darling children had on the way to school this morning. I don't know what had occurred prior to them getting in the car -- but the following is the part I witnessed.

Quinn: I know what your problem is.

Claire: Oh really? What's that?

Quinn: I don't want to tell you 'cause you'll punch me.

Claire: I won't punch you.

Quinn: Yes you will.

Claire: I promise I won't punch you. Just tell me.

Quinn: Okay. You're problem is you're jealous of me.

Claire: Why am I jealous of you?

Quinn: You're jealous of me because I'm smarter than you are.

Now here's where I jumped in. I'm not going to have one kid calling the other one dumb.

Me: Actually, that's not true. You guys only scored one point apart in the academic testing you did. You're both above average with only one point difference. That's pretty much the same thing.

And I'll be damned if that little brat didn't come back at me with a point that a lot of adults I know wouldn't have been quick enough to pick up on.

Quinn: Pretty much isn't the same as is.

At this point we'd arrived at school. Claire picks up her backpack, calmly looks at her brother, and punches him -- HARD -- in the arm. Flits out the door, kisses me goodbye, and sashays into school.

Quinn, meanwhile, is slumped over in his seat holding his arm.

Me: Well, you may be smarter, but she's stronger, and next time -- I'd keep my mouth shut.

Book smart just ain't the same as street smart, kid

May 11, 2011

The Sissification of Our Youth

There are many blogs and forums dedicated to this topic.  Many of them say it better and more eloquently than I can.  But... I'm gonna say it anyway.

We're raising a society of wussies.

In this age where everyone has to play fair, be nice, speak softly and not carry big sticks... we're trying to teach our kids to be gentle, well-mannered and kind.

But what happens when one person in the group wasn't taught the same way?  What happens when all the other children are playing fair and one kid isn't?  When one kid steamrolls in and snatches the ball away?  When one child insults, demeans, laughs at or humiliates another?  I'll tell you what.  Nothing.  My kids have no idea what to do.  They can't complain, they can't react, they can't respond.  Every single reaction they would have -- I have told them is not okay.

You can fight back -- it's not nice to hit.

You can't tell -- it's not nice to tattle.

You can't say something mean -- it's not nice to call names.

Well... no more.  Bullies, all bullies, are cowards at heart.  They expect blind obedience and, when confronted, they don't know what to do.  And that's true for bullies of all ages and genders.

I was bullied as a child.  I was small, and awkward, and a non-conformist.  And, well, the world doesn't always encourage the non-conformists of the world.  But, I was smart, and scrappy, with a quick-temper and a big mouth.  And, by god, I knew how to use it.

When the girls (and boys) I went to school with would pick on me, or make fun of me, or shove me, or kick me -- I fought back.  I was quick with the insult and, let me tell you, I could insult someone from the top of their ratty hair to the bottom of their clown feet.  I have total recall of the time in junior high school when I was in the middle of the ring of jeering children with the class bully who was waiting to kick my whole ass, and I made fun of that girl so bad that, once she realized that everyone was laughing at HER, she ran away crying and my ass remained intact.

I remember the time that another girl spent weeks harassing me: kicking my feet out from under me when I was walking to class, pushing, shoving, jabbing.  She was a foot taller than me and outweighed me by a good 50 lbs. and was mad that the guy she liked had a crush on me.  After weeks of this torture, I finally snapped.  Her and her two cronies were walking behind me and she kicked me -- for the last time.  I stopped and spun around, glaring.  She sneered at me and said, "What's your problem?"  I charged, got both my hands around her neck and ran her backwards, choking her.  As I repeatedly slammed her head into the lockers I said, "I think you're a complete bitch. THAT'S my problem." With a final slam -- and a hard one at that -- I asked, "Do you have a problem with THAT?"

She left me alone after that.  Of course, she told everyone I was a complete nutjob but -- I was okay with that.  Better to be left alone as the class psycho than to endure torture at their bullying hands (and feet).

When I had my kids, my plan was, should they get bullied, hire the class bully from 2-3 grades higher than the kid who was picking on my kid and have the older bully go kick the other bully's whole ass.  And yes, I know that's not the most realistic of battle plans, but it was certainly the most satisfying.

My kids are in second and fourth grade and we've experienced no bullying -- until now. 

It wasn't my second grader, Claire who was getting bullied.  Claire is the cute, little, skinny girl in class with the fabulous wardrobe.  She's going to be (god help me) the head cheerleader someday.  But I swear on all things good and holy (and not-so-holy) that she will not be the mean girl.  So help me -- I won't allow that.  At every school conference she's had since she was in kindergarten, I've asked her teacher if she's noticed any mean girl tendencies.  Because, if I EVER find out she's been acting like those bitchy twits I went to school with -- I will shave her head and cut her fabulous wardrobe into ribbons.  And she KNOWS I will. 

Nope, the child getting bullied was Quinn.  Last week my normally smiley, happy-go-lucky son got in to my car after school in a foul-temper.  When I asked him what was wrong, he held back tears as he described a situation where he was picked on by a group of students in his class.  We've had issues with these students all year long.  I would have spoken to these children's parents by now (the grown up thing to do) except -- they don't speak English. Grrreat. So we, the teacher and I, are stuck trying to manage unmanageable children and my child's reaction to them.

To the credit of my kids' school -- the extracurricular teacher did handle the situation as best she could, but not before things got completely out of control and Quinn got his feelings really hurt.  And, later, his homeroom teacher read every student in the class the riot act for their behavior.

It's hard to explain in a simple blog post the type of kids I have.  Quinn is not a whiner, and he's not one to cry very easily.  So when he gets in the car and is literally fighting back the tears -- something is very, very wrong.  Every Mama bear instinct in me was calling out for me to charge in that school and start bashing some heads together.  I'm still fighting back that instinct.

But Quinn needs to learn how to handle these kids himself.  And who better to teach him than me?  Fortunately, Quinn is a pretty confident kid, despite his outward appearances.  His therapist (and yes, he's had one since I separated from his father -- and therapy is a wonderful thing) thinks it's hysterical how very confident my child is.  He thinks he's fabulous.  He's very matter-of-fact about his fabulousness -- he's not cocky, just self-confident.  Thankfully, this bullying -- no matter how hurtful it is -- hasn't affected that. 

Thus I am teaching my children how to fight back with the tools that they have available to them -- their brain and their voice.  And I am raising them to be quick-witted and smart, not mealy-mouthed pushovers.  I don't think it will take much with Claire... she told me later that she happened to walk by the class and saw Quinn getting picked on, saw how upset he was, and almost went in there and kicked some ass.  Okay... actually she said that she wanted to go in there and tell everyone to stop being jerks but I like my version better. My little warrior child.

The next time someone makes fun of Quinn for not understanding the class work, he's going to ask them who's on honor roll, him or them?  And the next time someone makes fun of his jacked up teeth he's going to say that he can get his teeth fixed -- can they get their stupid fixed?

And if that doesn't work -- I've got $50 for the first 6th grade bully who feels like kicking some ass.

May 9, 2011

Dear Mom,

I had meant to do this post in time for Mother's Day but, like all things in my life, things got screwed up.  So here it is, a day late and a dollar short.  Typical.

Everything that I am that is even remotely cool is pretty much due to my mom. And, more than a few things that are not so cool as well.  So in honor of Mother's Day, I'm going to share a few of my favorite Mom stories.  They are in in no particular order. Just a collection of my favorites.

I've shared the story about my bra shopping experience in an earlier post.  But I have other underwear stories with my mom. Mom is quite the seamstress and when I was young, she made a lot of my clothes.  I was a lot smaller than most kids my age and my mom was talented.  I have fond memories of going to the fabric store with Mom to pick out patterns and fabrics.  I certainly had a unique, one-of-a-kind wardrobe growing up.

When I was in junior high (they call it middle school nowadays) my mom bought a yard of fabric to make me panties.  And a yard of fabric makes a whole lot of panties.  It was white fabric with teeny little red hearts all over it. So I had probably 30 pairs of white and red heart panties. 

Skinny, flat chested me hated the communal dressing rooms just as a rule but add in how awful junior high school girls can be and it gets worse. One particularly horrible classmate decided to make fun of me for my homemade panties. This [insert insulting and descriptive term here] decided to announce to the junior high school at large that I wore the same panties every day.  Why she felt this was newsworthy is beyond me but being a 7th grade girl and having your panties discussed is beyond embarrassing.

I never told my mom about how I was getting teased.  I knew she would immediately go out and purchase me a thousand pairs of panties in every different color.  I wasn't going to let that [insert insulting and descriptive term here] know that she'd gotten to me.

Years later, as an adult, I told my mom about the panty incident.  And she hit the roof.  She hates that [insert insulting and descriptive term here] -- and her mother too.  Capital H -- Hates. 

I love her for that.


When I was 19 I was busted at our local teen hang out, the Tiki Lounge, for drinking on a fake ID.  Of course, me being me, I wasn't busted like most people get busted.  My darling ex-boyfriend turned me in and the bouncers confiscated my fake ID and escorted me out. The bouncers were kind enough to not call the police 'til the next day.  So any contraband alcohol had more than enough time to leave my system.

Suffice it to say, I got my revenge on said ex-boyfriend

When the police contacted me regarding the "incident" my parents were kind enough to escort me to the local pokey to be interviewed.  Being a small Midwestern town, I will leave it to your imagination, dear Reader, to decide what our police department looks like.  But think... Mayberry PD.

Anyhoo, I'm dragged in to an interview room with my mom and dad in tow.  This particular police officer was well known to me what with all my meetings with him to discuss my excellent driving.  I'm sitting there in this tiny little room, one way glass, scarred table, bad florescent lighting... with my mother.  And Officer Friendly starts to read me my rights.  And I start laughing.  To which Officer Friendly inquires if I found the proceedings funny.  To which I responded, "Yeah... kinda."

It's at this high-stress moment my darling mother requests to see the fake ID in question.  Officer Friendly gets this gleam in his eye like, "Oh yes, Ms. Smarty-Pants... you're going to get it now!!" and hands the ID to my mother.  She glances at it, looks at me and says in the most disgusted tone, "Oh Andrea. This doesn't look a thing like you!"  Leave it to my mother to state, in the presence of Officer Friendly, that I didn't have a high enough quality fake ID. 

I love her for that.


Ever since I was a teenager, my mother has had open, frank discussions with me about sex and sexuality. Considering her strict Catholic upbringing this makes her a bit of an enigma, but when my friends would discuss how uptight and close-mouthed their mothers were about things of a sexual nature, it always made me appreciate my mom even more.

I can't remember when, exactly, my mom had the sex talk with me.  I do know that she also had it with several of my friends whose mother's weren't telling them about the birds and the bees.  She was up front about the hazards and the pleasures a sexual relationship can have, and clearly defined what constituted a healthy sex life.  She never made me feel embarrassed or weird about my body, its functions, or sex in general.  I haven't required years of therapy to undo any weird misconceptions my mom put in my head. 

I love her for that.

I also love that I have been dinner party entertainment for years when I tell the story about the time that she explained oral sex to me, in great and lurid detail. Or the time when she gave me her copy of The Joy of Sex and told me to read up on things -- that my boyfriends would appreciate the knowledge.

FYI Mom -- my boyfriends, past and present, love you for that.


When I was growing up, my mom made wonderful home-cooked meals every night.  On the rare occasion she tried a new recipe that was an utter and complete failure, we would have to have a family celebration to destroy the recipe.  We'd have to stand in the middle of the kitchen, join hands, and then dance around in a circle.  On Mom's cue we'd have to stop, she'd jump in the middle of the circle and rip the recipe card in half.  This would continue until the recipe card was completely destroyed.

This past Easter my mom decided to try a new deviled egg recipe.  And, let me tell you, those eggs were awful. Disgusting.  Inedible.  She called me a few days after Easter to let me know that she'd had her recipe destruction celebration all by herself.

I love her for that.


About four years ago Mom was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a serious lung disease that typically has a life expectancy of three to five years after diagnosis.  The disease has taken its toll on Mom and we've had a lot of ups and downs since her diagnosis.  This past fall, Mom was hospitalized for over six weeks and we almost lost her.

She'd gone in with pneumonia and, after a few weeks, that was starting to get better.  But because of the massive dosages of antibiotics and steroids, she developed a bleeding ulcer that they couldn't stop.

Due to her weakened lungs, surgery was not an option and her doctors told us she was going to bleed to death in a matter of hours.  We called my brother to make the drive down from Traverse City and we gathered around her bed to comfort her, and ourselves, and wait for her to die.

Except... no one told Mom.

I mean -- she knew what the doctors, nurses, and experts had said.  But she just didn't believe them.  So she wasn't afraid, or particularly concerned.  Which is why when the parish priest came in to administer last rites, she joked, "Uh oh, I'm a goner!"

She quipped, "Well, I guess I don't need to worry about getting new curtains!"

She complained about being hungry. She laughed. She joked. She bossed. She told me I needed to find some ethnic hair-care products to try and tame my naturally curly hair.  She told Peter he should grow his hair out and start shaving less saying it brought out his eyes.  She told my father he needed to get better shoes and nicer t-shirts.  She said a whole lot of things to my brother, which are private, and his story to tell.  She did a whole lot of things.  But she didn't die.

No one, not the nurses, the techs, the doctors, or the surgeons can believe she's still here.  But, she just didn't feel like dying that day and she doesn't feel like dying now. 

I love her for that.


There are far too many stories in my 41 years of life with my mother to get in to detail here. Suffice it to say, I love you Mom.  I always have. I always will. You were, and are, the best Mom anyone could ask for.

I love you for that.