Forgive us our trespasses

Forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.

HT works a second job, part-time at a small compounding pharmacy. The owner of the pharmacy is generous enough to treat his employees to a nice dinner around the holidays, his way of expressing appreciation for all they do. We were having a fine time Saturday night. People had a few drinks. Dessert had already been served, things were winding down. I couldn’t really hear much from the other end of the table, it was so noisy, but then it happened. The husband of one of the employees, started making fun of someone with Tourette’s. This guy is generally the life of the party, joking around; he has people in stitches with his stories.

I don’t know how it started, but he was suddenly mimicking the tics of a grown person with Tourette’s, someone that he knows. Like he was doing a comedy impression. It went on for a bit. Then he talked about how the guy he knows, with the Tourette’s, was abused as a child, insinuating this caused the tics, or made them worse.

I waited for my husband to say something.

He didn’t.

The man quickly shifted his topic to being a (his words) “deplorable” Trump supporter. He was loud and proud about it.

I looked at Todd and what I told him with my eyes was IT IS TIME TO LEAVE.

We got up and walked to the other end of the table, to the owner of the pharmacy, who seemed so happy to have everyone gathered. As we said our good-byes I stood inches away from the “deplorable,” and had a vision of flicking him in the head as we walked past. That vision seriously came to my mind. What would happen if I just picked up a cloth napkin off the table, and twirled it tight and snapped him in the head with it, like a towel in a locker room?

We stood outside the restaurant waiting for the valet, our eyes met and HT said, “What?”

“You know what! How could you not say something? Were you expecting me to handle it? These are YOUR people.”

“Do you want me to go back in?” he asked.

I glared at him.

The valet pulled up with our car.

Taking out my phone I pulled up a photo of our son. The one with tics. The one that can suddenly, overnight, look like he has Tourette’s when a virus or bacteria causes his immune system to over-react and attack the movement area of his brain.

Shoving the photo in HT’s face I asked, “Don’t you feel kinda like you just betrayed your child?”

Eternity went by in his one-second pause. He bowed his head and replied quietly,

“Yes. I do.”

His willingness in that moment to be honest and vulnerable, turned the ship around. Had he gotten defensive it would have been so much worse.

It was a long, 45 minute drive home, and we fought some more, (with me texting a friend for support behind his back) but the edge was off. We were getting back on the same team. Once home, around 11PM, we walked the dogs, and we talked more. I acknowledged that this was a big night for his boss. And that confronting the “deplorable” would have ruined it, especially so late in the evening when there wouldn’t be time to recover the mood. HT said he would address the woman who’s husband caused the scene, and tell her how hurtful it was, when he saw her on Monday. Not that it’s her fault, what her husband says, but she was giggling along with it, and so were some others. I forgave him for not knowing what to do in the moment. The truth is, I didn’t quite know what to do either. I was stunned.

While I was glad he planned on talking to his co-workers, I felt the need to say some things too, as a mother. I wrote an email, describing who our son is, and what his struggles have been. I attached photos of how little he was when his PANS started, and photos of him now, because I wanted them to see his face. I wanted them to know that making fun of someone for something they can’t control is ignorant and cruel. I sent it to HT’s boss asking him to forward it to everyone that had been there. I hoped that even if the “deplorable” didn’t take my message to heart, maybe someone else in the group would. Maybe it would be an opportunity for learning.

Driving to teach a yoga class the next morning, I thought about times I have inadvertently offended someone. When you know better you do better, and there have been times in my life where I didn’t know better yet. Maybe he didn’t know better. While I feel it was the right thing to do, to address this, I also have to look into my own heart and know, without a doubt, that I have been on the other side of this equation. And undoubtedly, there have been occasions I’ve offended people without even knowing it.

This passage from The Lord’s Prayer said over and over in my childhood, my grandmother’s voice, with mine mumbling underneath it in church,…and said every night at bedtime prayers…..repeated in my mind,

Forgive us our trespasses, 

as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.

HT’s boss called the next day to apologize for not setting the tone at the dinner. The “deplorable’s” wife apologized via email and in person to HT on Monday. Another colleague also apologized via email, and in person.

I have gone back and forth about whether it was necessary to address this, in this way, and if I let my ego get the best of me. Could I have been a bigger person? Would it have been better to take him aside and talk to him privately at the dinner? Perhaps, but I didn’t have that presence of mind at the time, because I was upset. Because I am human. Because I was stunned. HT was too. Some people think it is cowardly not to address a person face to face, but those are usually people that have the words, right there, in the heat of the moment. They are good arguers. Quick tongues, quick on their feet. I need to think first. As a special needs parent, I’ve come to respect different learning styles, and different ways of expressing. I express through writing.

Forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.

In the heat of the moment, I freeze and can’t talk. Or I cry. I’ve gotta feel really safe to express myself when I am upset, and I didn’t know this guy. And he didn’t seem all that safe to me.

So, that’s how it all went down.

I felt like if we didn’t address it we were betraying our child and others like him.

Trump might have won the election, but it is still my country too. I don’t want my world to be a place where making fun of people with disabilities goes unchecked.

I didn’t flick the guy in the head. For now, that’s going to have to be big enough.

Cheryl Strayed on Dancing With the Stars?

The new season of Dancing With the Stars started this week. If you are new here, you might not know how much it means to us, so yes…I’m going to link to this post. I’ve linked to it a million times before and I don’t care who knows it. I love my Hot Toddy.

Anyway…our whole family loves DWTS. Ask us anything about the Rumba, the Cha-Cha, the Waltz, and now Contemporary. We’re experts, in our own minds. We’ll be walking through Target, and Riley will say of the music playing overhead, “This would be a good song for the Quick Step.” I’ll tilt my head, listen and nod. She’s right. She’s always right.

So at the dinner table last night we were talking about this first week of the new season. We all agreed the judges were too hard on Andy Dick. We all thought his dance was charming and entertaining. It was unexpected for me because I didn’t intend on liking him. I always unexpectedly like someone. Happens every season.

We discussed the other stars and the pros. No eye candy Maxim Chmerkovskiy this season. That’s okay, because his brother Val is there and he is not only dreamy…but sensitive. #iloveval

We discussed who we would want to see on the show in the future, and I said I would like to see a literary star. Wouldn’t that do great things for books? For literacy? Why are only athletes and actors and reality show people stars?

“Cheryl Strayed would be perfect,” I said.

And the kids wanted to know who Cheryl Strayed was. And so we had a nice discussion about Wild, and about The Pacific Crest Trail as we ate our tacos.

I don’t know Cheryl, but I have friends who know her. I’m wondering if she would be at all interested?

“I should start a Facebook page to campaign for Cheryl Strayed to be on Dancing With the Stars next year!” I say. “I want a writer to be a freaking star, and who’s hotter than Cheryl Strayed right now?”

Todd looks up from his plate, and says, “Of course, that might be borderline stalking.”

He can’t possibly get it.

He’s not that into books.

When I was growing something wild and unruly….

I miss the Dixie Chicks. The kids and I have been listening to their CD’s in the car lately and my heart just soars with every song.

I read somewhere recently that Natalie Maines said she doesn’t think the Dixie Chicks will get back together. She kind of gave up, saying their last tour wasn’t a success because they lost their huge country music fan base in the whole calling out G.W. on his shit moment, and she’d rather go out on a high note than sputter.

What about the true fans that weren’t necessarily country music fans to begin with, but were Dixie Chick fans through and through? Don’t we matter? Aren’t we enough?

Natalie?

The Dixie Chicks to me represent a time in my life when I was falling in love. Big love. It was the first time I let someone truly care for me. Cowboy Take Me Away (pharmacist, take me away…it works). I had gone back to school for nursing. I was leaving behind a lifetime of pain and starting to fly. I searched that summer for a pair of cowboy boots, and after weeks of looking, I found them. Black. Had to drive an hour to find the right ones.

The Dixie Chicks are the soundtrack of that time in my life.

Todd convinced me to stop going at a crazy pace (I was on track to become a nurse in one year through an accelerated bacclaeurate program) and enjoy our first year of being married. It wouldn’t matter down the road if I completed it in one year or two. Don’t miss our first year. I dropped back to regular time and felt totally sinful for not being stressed to the hilt. Contentment? A concept so foreign to me. I made him dinners. We spoiled our puppy. For the first time in my life, I felt relaxed, and beautiful.

Oh those early years! I loved Natalie Maines and her feisty “let it rip” in your face, attitude. I could relate to that. I loved the soulful ballads and I loved the balls to the wall songs. Hole in my Head. Sin Wagon! Their humor, Good-bye Earl. Emily with her banjo was OMG before OMG. Martie commanding emotions with her fiddle more than words ever could. Natalie’s comment a few years later on the verge of the Iraq war didn’t surprise me. I didn’t see why it was such a big deal. It just got turned into this huge propaganda moment by the war machine and the un-thinkers in the country music world. Part of me is like, So what Natalie? Where’s your fight? Why do you care? Screw them.

And part of me knows that people like Natalie, such big big personalities are often very sensitive on the inside. The toll the whole thing took on her, had to be immeasurable.

She’s given us enough already, even if she never sings another note. She owes no one anything.

But I miss them. I miss their unparalleled synergy and talent.

I took it for granted at the time.

I’ll forever be appreciative to The Dixie Chicks for accompanying that sweet blip of time in my life when my only responsibilty was to study a bit, make a nice dinner for my man, and let him love me.

 

A Writer’s Guilt

I’m up in my office fretting that I should be downstairs. Feeling guilty about holing out in my room. I’ve not done much writing today. The family pull, the feeling of obligation is strong. I’m half downstairs anyway, even when I’m up here.

I give in. Downstairs, Seth is happily playing Wii. Riley is watching him. Todd is playing solitaire on his computer.

I walk over to him.

“I feel guilty.”

“Why?” he asks.

“For being upstairs,” I say.

He looks around at the peaceful scene behind us. Riley on the couch with a blanket. Chihuahua curled up on her lap. Seth happy with Wii remote in hand.

He says the nicest thing anyone could possibly say, “No one misses you.”

Relief washes over me and I laugh, “Thank God.”

I head back upstairs.

Fifteen Years of Hot Toddiness

He’s happy because it’s our anniversary. That’s not actually why he was happy. He was stepping outside to shovel/snow blow after working from 8-4:30 and driving home in a blizzard. And yet, look….happy.

It’s a look of “If you’re going to take the picture, which there’s no way I’m stopping you, will you take the picture already, please, so I can head out the door, because I really, really need to clear our driveway, our sidewalk, and possibly the elderly man up the street’s driveway and sidewalk….but I love you so much I’ll never truly be mad at you, even when you annoy me.”

That’s what I’ve lived with for fifteen years, (and dated two long years before that….he kept me in an excruciating wait. One year dating, one year engagement, some rigid rule in his head). Who came up with all these rules?

If we had a nickel for every time he’s talked me off the ledge, we’d be wealthy by now. He’s pure good.

Our marriage has been through some trying times, but he’s always full-on there, willing to do the work to make it better. He is willing to stretch in places that are uncomfortable in order to come through on the other side.

There are things only he and I know. Dark scary places, and places of indescribable mind bending joy. He is the one person on earth who has seen it all with me. And I with him.

One time when I was single, I sat by the water in Georgetown at night, looking up at the sky, feeling lonely. It was a Friday night and things were happening. I’d just walked past a street performer doing flip after acrobatic flip after flip. The night was alive.

As I looked up at the sky in this city by myself, I felt a longing for someone I didn’t know. I’m tempted to think it was a knowing, a longing for Todd, the person who would love me.  The one I would share my life with. It’s as if, I could actually feel him out there, our destinies heading toward each other. I was young and believed another would actually complete me.

What I found is not that. I found a person who loves me. Who helps me to not to be so hard on myself. Who can’t do it for me, but who gives me the opportunity to complete myself. He has loved me so well. He has helped me heal. He has shown me what true love, unconditional love is.

He doesn’t waver. I’m so thankful.

Happy anniversary, Love. We’re just getting started. Amen.

Some Things I Like About My Husband

1) He fixes my Kindle when it freezes up.

2) He often fills up my gas tank without me asking (I would never ask…I know how to fill up my own tank…but it is nice when he does it).

3)He gives me as much space as I need and I never feel him pining away for me when I’m holed out in my little office, but he’s happy to see me when I return.

4) He gets what I do. Truly gets it. Appreciates it. Validates it. I mostly don’t even know what the hell I do, but he does, and he gets it.

5) He loves our kids as much as I do. They are his #1 priority.

6) He’s very open minded.

7) He’s smart.

8. He thinks I’m smart.

9)He will eat pizza any time, as many days in a row as it needs to happen. And he’ll be happy about it.

10) He does not drink and is happy to be designated driver.

11) He does the garbage and the taxes and the lawn mowing.

12) He doesn’t notice, or blame me, if the house is a wreck.

13) He’s good with the one-liners.

14) He thinks I’m hilarious.

15) He’s a wicked hard worker, and he’s competent and efficient and responsible.

*This list was compiled after I was flooded with appreciation when HT fixed my Kindle. He’s magic like that. Amen.

I check my look in the mirror, wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face

So I was all gung-ho for my 10:00AM hair cut appointment yesterday. I got Riley out the door, made a plan for Seth, jaunted off to my appointment excited and nervous. I checked in at the salon. Sat down, flipped open a magazine and my cell rang. It was the school and they needed me to come get Riley ASAP.

Buh-bye hair appointment.

I went to get her, not knowing what the problem was. Turns out she was sick. We think it had to do with the bus (van) ride in the morning. A ten minute trip to school is turned into fifty minutes, and she has to get up super early to get on the van at ever earlier times (it’s moved gradually from 7:20 to 6:55AM) and well, it’s just too much. Not a good day for her.

But my hair.

All the wind got knocked out of my sails. I wasn’t sure I was even going to go through with it. I couldn’t fathom driving across town again to get back to the salon. I was in a slump. Then I remembered another stylist very close by, who gave Riley a great hair cut once a couple of years ago. I called. She had a one o’clock.

I still have a few hair cuts to go before all of the artificial color is gone. You can see the gray right at the roots. My initial response? It isn’t as gray as I imagined it’d be. We’ll see in time. I’m not sure how I feel about the cut for me, but I think it’s okay. I’m not devastated. It’s nice not to have a ponytail headache. It’s fun to try something bold and new.

Note to spouses who might be reading: If your significant other comes home on her 44th birthday with a super short hair cut, and you say, “You look like Courtney Cox in the Dancing in the Dark video,” it is very, very good move.  It doesn’t even need to be true. It’s a smart thing to say. File that under Hot Toddy, and you’re welcome for the tip.

Lovingly yours,

MO’N

Random Snapshots

Friday, the alarm woke me up and I stumbled into the bathroom. Riley was already in there, brushing her teeth. I grabbed my toothbrush and joined her, me in boxer shorts and a white t-shirt. She in her pj’s. She spit in the sink, looked up at us in the mirror for a long moment and said, “We look like zombies.”

It’s true. We did. Hair everywhere. Puffy faces. Especially me.

~~

She came home from school happy, three days in a row. It was a getting to know you/getting to know the school time. Next week actual academics start. It’s been a wonderful re-entry into school for her thus far. She loves the organizational part of school. She likes her agenda, having me sign it, being responsible.

~~

It’s strange for Jingle, Riley being at school. She greets her when she gets home tail wagging in big full circles, sniffing her up and down. She’s never had Riley leave by herself to go anywhere. Both kids went to camp, but Jingle didn’t greet her so wholeheartedly and thoroughly when they got home everyday from that. I wonder if she felt Riley was safely protected by Seth while at camp? I wonder if she just smells all the school smells. Jingle’s function is so different now than when we first got her. Riley rarely has a meltdown anymore. Still, it’s sweet to see them eat each other up when Riley walks through the door.

~~

I got a book in the mail I can’t remember ordering. I don’t remember winning it. I don’t recall agreeing to review it? No note. It came straight from the publisher. Not from Amazon, or from an Amazon re-seller. It’s called Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel. It’s fiction. It’s cute so far. Any ideas why I have it here? Refresh my memory if I stumbled across it on someone else’s blog and sleep ordered it? Anyone?

~~

Seth woke up with a sore throat last week and his tics are flaring right now. Yesterday we went to a doctor of Chinese medicine. He’s got poor Seth drinking nasty tasting tea twice a day, and ingesting another awful tasting powder we mix in honey.  I ordered blank gelatin capsules to at least spare him that part but they aren’t here yet. I’m having to be firm, or Seth will whine for an hour before taking it. Seth sat on my lap in the doctor’s tiny office. The doctor listened to Seth’s lungs and looked in his throat and up his nose and while he did this I closed my eyes and silently blessed this man, as he endeavored to help our boy.

~~

Few things as glorious as long leisurely conversations with girlfriends. I had two this week. Lucky lucky me.

~~

Todd and I start spooned, I get too hot and flip on my side facing him. He takes my hand and I pull his hand to my lips and kiss it. He pulls mine to his lips and kisses it. Often enough, we fall asleep holding hands, facing each other. If you looked at it from an aerial view it’d seem we’re about to arm wrestle in our dreams.

Salt & Pep!

Skinny HT


I know I usually write nice things about Hot Toddy, and generally he’s a great guy. But we’ve been married almost 15 years and it isn’t always perfect. There is one thing I have endured all this time, day after day, year after year. It is something that would drive many a woman mad.

At any meal, if there is a request to “pass the salt,” or if he is in the kitchen on his way to the table and I ask him to bring the salt, or if I say, “Seth might need salt on his chicken,” it happens.

Some sort of loop in HT’s brain won’t let him handle, think about, taste or deliver salt, without saying, “Salt & Pepa…!” in the same inflection you will find around the 40-50 second mark of the song Push It.

I thought you should know what I go through.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Lovingly yours,

Effie

Bite Your Tongue? Or Save the Cheese?

“He’s a smart man. I don’t get it?”

I was talking to Amy about HT. Lately, after almost 15 years of marriage, he’d taken to leaving blocks of cheese in the fridge drawer, unwrapped.

Amy was sympathetic. She shook her head and said, “Phil would never do that. Cheese means too much to him.”

“I know, right?” I sighed.

Every time I happened upon a block of cheddar, the end all rubbery and unusable, I’d shake my head, and take a breath. I rationalized, there are lots of things I do that probably make him nuts. I leave a wad of hair in the shower drain. I never replace the soap. He doesn’t complain.

But cheese is like, five bucks a block! He’s wasting it. And why now? What made him get cheese lazy after all this time?

Finally I could take it no more. Very gently, I approached the subject.

“Um, Honey? Why do you keep leaving cheese un-wrapped in the fridge?”

He looked at me like I was high, as Seth quietly skee-daddled out of the kitchen.

Sometimes it’s good to bite one’s tongue. My gramma always said, “If you can’t say something nice….”

On the other hand, it’s good to talk and air things out. How many blocks of cheese would have been sacrificed had I not brought it up? 

Seth never just went into the fridge and helped himself to hunks of cheese before. Apparently, now he does. Who knew?

HT, I apologize for ever doubting you. And I’ll try to be more considerate about the hair in the shower drain.

Love,

Effie

Write Me a Poem

A poetry reading last night. My friend Amy’s husband presented. He read poems about torture, poems about racism, poems about his beautiful daughters and a very gorgeous viscerally romantic poem about his wife.

When I got home, I took HT’s hand and led him to our back yard. We sat on the bench and looked at the stars and I told him about my night. The temperature was perfect. A slight briskness, always welcome after hot summer days. I leaned against him, stretched my legs out on the bench, his arm around my shoulder.

“How come you never write me a poem?” I asked.

He laughed and came up with a title, which was our mutual nickname I’m not allowed to divulge, said in the tone we use with each other when we’re exasperated. We say it with hands in the air, beseechingly. Someone didn’t replace the toilet paper. We say it. Someone locked the other one out. We say it. Someone forgot to put sunscreen on the kids before sending them off to camp. Hands go in the air and we say it.

We say it, but we aren’t really mad. We say it knowing full well it could have been us, just as easily as the other, making the same mistake.

HT’s read three books in the 16 years I’ve known him. He’s not a writer. But there is poetry in his love for me. Poetry in him standing at the stove at 11PM, making Seth’s homemade ketchup, (when he has to work at 6AM) just to take the edge off the things I need to do  tomorrow. Poetry in him folding laundry while he watches Sports Center.

Poetry in his ability to remind me Who I Am when I forget.

I’m not going to lie. And I probably “shouldn’t tell,” but we did some kissing on the bench in our back yard under the stars last night.

His steady love. His devotion, all the poem I need.

The Call

Today is the first day of summer camp for the kids. I had an appointment for an educational evaluation for Riley, so Todd dropped them off. He said our girl bopped right in, introduced herself to new counselors, greeted ones she knew  like they were old friends, initiated conversation, and was 100% bubbly tween adorable.

Walking in the house from my appointment he tells me all this, and we sit at the kitchen table, chit-chatting happily about the morning.

Todd goes up to take a shower (he works evening today) and the phone rings. Caller ID says it’s the camp.

The wind is sucked out of my sails. Son of a bitch.

Todd sees it on the caller ID on the phone upstairs. He runs downstairs to listen in as I answer the phone.

“We got too cocky,” is what he said he was thinking.

It’s the camp’s administrative office. They overcharged us by $94.00 and would it be okay if they wrote us a check, because they delete the credit card info after transactions occur and no longer have it on file to credit our account.

The lady on the line has no idea the heart attack she has just induced.

Yes, please, send us $94.00.

That would be great.

I hang up.

We meet each others eyes and release our breath.

Our Mini Vacation in Hocking Hills

You could barely see our cabin from the one lane dirt road you drove up on to get to it. It was the perfect combination of comfort and rustic. Nothing fancy. And yet, it had a full kitchen (complete with coffee maker, crock pot, blender, etc.) and a screened in porch and a very clean hot tub. The beds and pillows were comfortable. The blankets were old, but  clean and soft. The place was not perfect, but perfectly cozy. This was the view from the loft the kids slept in.

This was the view from the screened in porch. I spent a lot of time here, watching the hummingbirds. Watching my breath. Feeling nature tend to me.

We did lots of hiking, but the trails were not terribly strenuous. Riley did well. Below she is bravely conquering her fear of heights, going up a super steep set of stairs on the side of a cliff. It was touch and go. It wasn’t easy for her. She still has depth perception issues and still has anxiety, but she did it. Jingle did it too, and I think she was just about as scared as Riley.

There are so many trails to choose from in Hocking Hills. We only hit three of them, Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave and Conkle’s Hollow. It’s otherworldly there. Everything is so rich and lush and green. The air is so clean and breathable.


The second day, Todd and I got into a fight. The roads were one-laners, dirt, super curvy, tons of blind hills. He insisted on driving just a little faster than I would have. In situations like that, I think the person who is afraid should have final consideration or say. If I feel terrified, you should slow down. And we got a little lost, which makes him crazy. It’s the end of the freaking world if Todd is lost. Honestly, I don’t know how I live with this guy. If only he weren’t practically perfect 99.9% of the time.

We made up in the hot tub. Not in a “let’s get it on” way…. but in a relaxing, my head on his chest, so relaxed we’re almost asleep way.

I’d forgotten my bathing suit, but after a long hike, while the kids were busy watching TV, I went in naked on top, underwear on the bottom. After all, we were out in the middle of nowhere. Who would see?

I’ll tell you who would see. The dude who comes by to maintain the hot tub, that’s who. Ask me how I know. It kind of hot tub traumatized me.

Oh well, at least the kids had fun in it while we were there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had birthday cake for Todd and played cards. The kids drew in their sketch pads, and played with some new little cheap toys we picked up in town. I read. Todd watched a little sports. It was just totally low key.

Vacations don’t have to be big. They don’t have to be Mexico or Alaska or the Caribbean.

This was just three hours away. Just three nights. We made all our meals ourselves. It was so good to unplug from the Internet and the phone and the iPods (yet still get to cuddle up together and watch Dancing With the Stars).  It was so good not to deal with the stress of travel. It was a vacation, but not a production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I re-enter daily life calmer, and more appreciative, and just filled up with the beauty of the world, feeling so very blessed.

In My Mind We’re Fred and Ginger

Did I mention Hot Toddy and I are taking ballroom dance lessons?

For one hour on Wednesday evenings, we meet in the cafeteria of a local high school. Our instructor is Mitzi. She’s a senior citizen. She’s about five foot. She’s got an eastern European accent. She wears her hair in a bun at the top of her head, and a floral wreath encircles the bun. She often wears blue eye shadow. She wears sweat shirts and running shoes. She’s in better shape than any of the couples there. When Mitzi pulls you out of the group to demonstrate something, you discover she’s strong as an ox. When she leads, she leads. I adore her.

So far she’s taught us the basics to The Fox Trot, the Rumba (in which she complimented HT on his hip action…he beamed), The Cha Cha Cha, Swing, and The Waltz.

Since the class is in a cafeteria, and there are tables, and it’s only an hour, we bring the kids and let them sit at a table and play on their iPods.

I love dancing with Todd. We have so much fun. We have a long way to go before we aren’t looking down at our feet, or missing steps, or getting it wrong, but we are laughing. He doesn’t know this, but deep in concentration while we’re dancing, he presses his lips together and tilts his head. It’s cute. He’s discovered the secret of leading, which has a lot to do with a firm signal from his right hand on the back of my ribs. And oh…how I need someone to lead something. Someone, just tell me what to do, and don’t make me think, okay? I love it.

Every now and again, I look over Todd’s shoulder at the kids, and they are watching us. Riley smiles, Seth will give me a wink. On the ride home, they are still on their iPods and they are replaying “us” dancing. They weren’t playing games, they were recording. They’ve added special effects. They speed it up, and slow it down, and make us different colors, and they giggle. And I feel good about this family. I feel good about kids watching their parents dance. And mess up. And laugh. And love.

14 Years

I was out doing some Christmas shopping and Todd was home with the kids. A song came on the radio, and Riley leaned over to Seth and out of the corner of her mouth said, “If Mom were home, she and Dad would be slow dancing right now.”

The song was on our “must play” list 14 years ago today at our wedding reception. And Riley was right. We’d have dropped what we were doing and been slow dancing in the kitchen. And soon a little guy in a fedora with a Chihuahua in his arm would have globbed onto one side of us, and then a beautiful tween, not wanting to be left out would smoosh onto the other side, and maybe even an Aussie/Shepherd mix would be encouraged to stand on her hind legs and join the sway. It isn’t a graceful dance, but it’s ours.

Happy Anniversary Todd. Thank you for your steadfast, unconditional love.

I could never do without you. You are my love, my treasure, my gift.

Appreciating HT

My husband knows every word to every M*A*S*H episode. Every word. He loves the show. So of course, he “had a moment” over Colonel Potter dying this week. RIP.

My husband’s favorite movie of all time is It’s a Wonderful Life.


He knows every word. Every single one. We attempted to watch it our first holiday season together, but we got to neckin’ and missed most of it. True story.

When we were dating, I asked him who his favorite actress was, who would be “on his list” if you know what I mean, and you know what he said?

Susan Sarandon. Not some Hollywood bimbo, but a talented and smart woman of substance. Well played HT.

I think a guy who loves M*A*S*H, and It’s a Wonderful Life, and Susan Sarandon(and dolphins) is a real catch.

I’m just glad I’m the one who caught him.

 

Snapshots

I’m going on a date tonight with Hot Toddy. It’s been a rare thing for us over the past eleven years, though hopefully it will become a more regular occasion ’cause a friend and I are experimenting with a monthly child care swap for date nights. To celebrate, I am posting some fun snapshots. Frankly, I could use a little more fun. I’ve been a bit Yellow Wallpaper lately (though I realize I am the only one with the key to the door).

So far, my funk doesn’t appear to be affecting the children.


This next one isn’t recent, but IMHO you can never get enough of HT in the Hannah Montana wig. It’s like, sacred.

Todd: I notice there are no pictures of you on this post.

Me: Get your own blog Blondie, and you can post whatever you want. 

Did you know Chihuahuas are made of rubber? True story.

Tanya has to hide in a drawer to get any peace. And even then, it’s no use…. (I know how she feels). Seth is very, very, very, VERY, needy these days. The PANDAS thing. Clingy Mc Clingerson. 24/7.  Still getting to the bottom of it. We WILL get to the bottom of it.

At least I can entertain myself with his very elastic cheeks.

I love the boy. I do.

But I really need this date.

Lovingly yours,

MO’N

Self-care

Todd has today off and is not working until tomorrow afternoon. With his encouragment I am at a hotel two seconds away, and for the next 22 hours, I do not have to answer to anyone. No one will demand a thing of me. I’ve got my Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups. I’ve got my Limeaide. I’ve got my O Magazine. I’ve got my iPod with all my meditations.

I’m going to take a long hot uninterrupted unhurried shower. I’m going to snuggle up with Oprah. I’m going to catch my breath.

Fighting the urge to justify it by telling you what I don’t spend money on, that so many women do. But you know what? To hell with that. I’m rocking the hotel and the peanut butter cups. I need it. We can afford it. I’ve already spent too much time on this short paragraph.

See ‘ya later alligators. I’m ’bouts to get all rejuvenated.

All you unmarried gals, see what you’re missing?

Drying off from my shower, HT is stretched out on the bed. We’re chatting, all light hearted when I catch a glimpse of toes. His toenails specifically.

“Your toenails are atrocious, and they’re a hazard,” I scowl.

“A hazard to whom?” he feigns innocence.

“To me.”

“They’re not a hazard.”

“You’re not the one having to go to the ER for stitches.”

“You haven’t needed stitches.” He chuckles, then adds, “Yet.”

Swear to God, he’s sleeping in socks tonight.

Bitter Sweet Father’s Day

The Bitter

About five years ago, after over a decade of total estrangement, I began allowing my father in, just a tiny bit. Having a little boy gave me empathy about what it must have been like to be “little” him, in the volatile environment he was born into. As I’ve worked on healing myself, my anger toward him has receded. Our relationship was far from close, but he was sending gift cards for birthdays and Christmas, and maybe once a year or so we’d talk on the phone and maybe once a year or so, I’d see him at a family function and I was okay with it. During the time of our estrangement, I could not tolerate being in the same room with him, so this was improvement and I felt comfortable with it. I heard he’d been reading my blog, and though it made me a bit uneasy at first, I got used to it. After all, the blog is public. Anyone can read it.

Last week, my father made a request I did not feel comfortable honoring. My immediate reaction was NO. I sat with it overnight, and still felt like it would not be in my best interest, so instead of leaving it hanging there, I wrote him and told him why I was choosing not to honor it. I told him what was true for me, in as kind a way as I possibly could.

He responded, telling me there is something wrong with me, and I should just consider him dead to me, because he can’t take it anymore, and that obviously nothing has changed. He vowed not to visit my blog anymore and said I wouldn’t be hearing from him.

That night, I curled up in the arms of my husband and cried. Not for me, but for him. I have a photo of my father when he was tiny, maybe three or four years old. I pictured him that age, and cried because he was hurting. My denial of his request hurt him, and that little boy just wanted to be included, and I felt so sad I couldn’t honor it without forsaking myself. I’ve worked long and hard to cultivate my inner guidance, and I know not to ignore it, but I don’t enjoy hurting anyone. Ever. It pains me.

[little+dad.jpg]

The whole thing brought up the notion of forgiveness. Did setting a boundary mean I had not forgiven? I had to look at that. I believe I have forgiven. Actually, I believe you can’t ever accurately judge someone and be in a position to “forgive” them, because you have not ever walked in their shoes. That doesn’t mean I forsake my own intuition to please someone with active and severe and never addressed addiction.

Anyway…it’s a sad situation. And as sad as it is, there is a sense of relief.  And I know his little written explosion was a gift.

He said nothing had changed, and while that may be true on his end, I can look at that statement and know for certain, it isn’t true of me. On this Father’s Day, I feel no anger toward him. That is a big change. I wish him peace.

The Sweet

So today is Father’s Day.

Todd and I were friends for about six months before we ever started dating and I liked him. I remember thinking, “I want someone like that for my kids.” Not him, of course. Why, that’d be crazy! We were both dating other people, though not seriously. He was just a pal.

What did I see? What was that fatherly quality? He had a certain steadiness about him. We worked together, and if he was the pharmacist on duty that night, I felt somehow protected. Like, it was going to be a good night, because Todd was working, and he could handle any situation the hospital threw at us. He was unflappable. Capable. Reliable. And funny!

Oh, the funny.

At first, when you meet him, he’s quiet. But once you get to know him, the one liners come sailing out. His comedic timing is spot on. He’d create catch phrases, and soon the whole department would be saying them, and people wouldn’t realize he was the one who initiated them, because he was so quiet. He didn’t need a whole bunch of glory.

He had this cute face, with a great smile, perfect teeth, dark expressive eyebrows that said so much with just a fraction of movement. After a while I started liking him, liking him. A lot.

Anyway….here we are 16 years later and man, was my intuition about him right. He has proven to be such a good daddy. Nothing has been off limits. Poop. Throw up. Wait…I take it back. Nail trimming is off limits. He refuses. Eleven years into parenting and he’s still afraid he’ll nick their little fingers and toes.

He loves our kids fiercely. He honors their mother. He’s held me up so many times over the years, and has taken good care of me, so I can take care of them. His passion is this family. He works for us. He lives for us. He always puts us first. He never lets us down.

All that comes naturally to him, but he’s also really worked to be a good dad. We had a kid who could not be parented the “typical” way…and it wasn’t easy to switch from traditional society’s “I say jump, you say how high” but he sure did it, because it was what his child needed.

I adore Todd. There is no one I’d rather spend time with. No one else can make me laugh like him. There is no one I trust more. There is no one else I’d ever want to be with on this parenting trip.

I love you so much Mister.

Happy Father’s Day.

I thank God for you.