Sunday, June 10, 2018

Movie Fun-Horse Race Won!

Yesterday my wife was supposed to take this guy to see the movie Solo.  They had planned the date for quite a while.  Unfortunately she is very sick and on extra strength antibiotics for what turned out to be a double ear infection, throat infection and sinus infection.  A true trifecta of non-fun!

KC was devastated.  Apparently when you are a young teen you must stay off social media to avoid spoilers in the movies you are interested in.  The thought of at least another week in media black out had him having conniptions.

Being the kind mom that I am, I offered to stand in.  I sweetened the deal by offering to have him bring a couple of friends--aka people who might actually know what is going on in the film.  The kids could meet us, and we agreed on a 7 p.m. show.

It is a testament to my devoted parenting that i did not bail on this gig.  Because what I had forgotten in the haste to resolve the family crisis was that Saturday was the last leg of the Triple Crown race.  I am a Triple Crown horse race fan since I was about 7 and wanted to be a jockey.  The race would run at 6:30 and there was no way I would be home to see it. The movie theater is about 20 minutes from our home.

I sucked it up and adulted and went to the movies.  The movie was actually good.  The kids enjoyed it and chatted among themselves, totally not minding I was there.  My wife, bless her, taped the race for me so at least I can see Justify win the Triple Crown!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

We are all gifts.

In a week where two celebrities committed suicide, my social media feed is once more filled with PSA announcements on the lines of "hey someone cares, if you feel like this call this #" Or, friend to friend announcements of "I'm always there if you (and this is the general you as it was not intended to one specific person" want to talk.

And this is good.  But what I am wondering is what else do we do? Because i am willing to be the fashion designer and the chef who just died had friends.  In fact, as is also sadly typical, their friends and family posted on how they did not know something was wrong. That they had seemed so happy etc.

I know there are times when you know someone is going through a bad patch.  I have reached out to friends and coworkers who I can tell are stressed or upset.  But did I say enough?  Was the situation more emotionally painful than I realized and chatting over that cup of Dunks or on the lunch break was too superficial to matter?  I don't know.  And my natural New Englander reserve squirms at the idea of going back to them and trying to check further.

I seriously can't think of a way that doesn't sound super weird to start a conversation up again.  I mean do you just ask everyone who is having a really hard time if they are considering self harm?  And would people answer honestly or would they be offended?  I know I would ask my children. I know I would ask my spouse.  I am not sure I really would be comfortable asking anyone else.

I'll own that suicide puzzles me.  That level of psychic pain is thankfully something I have never experienced. And I believe profoundly that we all have a purpose on this world and gifts to give. Gifts we may not even know we are sharing.  So maybe part of my issue is  because I have never been in this emotional place? 

What I do know though is that we need to somehow do more.  I don't think Facebook posts will change anything.  I think a lot of people who kill themselves are really expert at hiding the level of pain from people who love them.  So I don't know what the answer is, but I sure hope someone comes up with something better than the memes I am seeing on social media. I want to be someone who helps; but I am truly unsure how.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Happy Birthday Rob June 2nd

Rob turned 22 yesterday.  It is hard to wrap my mind around that. The mom in me remembers the dinosaur themed birthday.  The year we had the bowling party with his friends.  The skateboard party and on and on. . But years have rolled by with increasing speed and he is a man now. And a good man.  No one is perfect and he certainly isn't but at the core, he is a just so good.  He is loving and caring.  Never will he be one for lots of words, but he is there showing his caring by the way he acts.  He's the kind of guy who gets his girl flowers just because.  Or who choses to make supper on a night he knows I have had a tough day.  Or who buys his brother and sister cool kicks because mean mom caps out the shoe budget at what I believe is a reasonable figure for growing feet! He is beloved by his siblings and we were all together to celebrate his day.  We had a lunch out at a restaurant of his choice and the meal was filled with lots of laughter and smiles and silliness.  (That is KC cracking up in one of the pictues and Fiona and Chet are laughing in a couple others.)  Lissa considers herself far too cool to giggle with abandon if there is a camera around!  It was special to be able to celebrate with Fiona here.

She and Lissa had a manicure first and Fi got her ears pierced after that.  So the lady folks were  all stylin by the time it came to lunch out to celebrate their brother.  After lunch we went home and had cake and gifts which left him a large part of the late afternoon and the evening to go and hang out with his friends.  Late that night he and his friends returned to our house for a campfire in the back yard.

The years have also woven birth and adoptive families together.  I always tag his first mother in the photos as well as the other first family members that I know.  I am friends (both IRL and via the internet with many of he and Fiona's first family but not all.) Those that I know continue the tagging of photos spreading news out to those in other states who want to know this child we share has grown, has thrived and is ready and eager to embrace all the world offers.

I feel lucky every time that we can celebrate with Rob.  I know that there are probably a finite number of such celebrations left to us.  He is fledging slowly but surely and is increasingly less consistantly available.  He has a wide circle of friends. He is a hard worker and I know in my heart that there will (and indeed, should) come a time when he will decide to take an apartment with a friend.  Someday birthday congratulations will be by computer and telephone so every moment we are able to celebrate together is precious to us all.  Happy birthday son.  Remember always that you are a most precious gift to your family and the world.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Land of the Free?

When I finish my latest mystery novel I plan on reading a book I just took from the library today.  It is called The Heritage  by Howard Bryant and focusses on black athletes, and the politics of patriotism in the sports world.

I am deeply disturbed by the recent NFL ruling that players on the field must stand for the national anthem.   White folks are telling POC once more to do what they are told. The "yes massa" mentality reeks in this decision.  These men can be paid highly for their skills but this decision makes it clear that they are performing at the whim of white owners.  White owners can make them wear pink accessories for breast cancer month (and frankly, I think there is nothing that looks stranger to me than guys playing football with pink socks and gloves) They can wear things to honor our veterans.  None of these are bad.  My point is that they are expected to put forth the agenda of the owners and the NFL. They are not allowed to use their positions to put forth respectfully, an agenda of their own.

The rise of nationalism in our country all ready scares the be-jesus out of me.  I have friends who have been stopped at checkpoints while on vacation in the Northeast.  They were stopped strictly because the family "didn't match."  They were relieved they carried birth certificates showing they were related.

Really?  In 2018 in the USA we need to carry papers.  There are no words for how this chills me.  The "real ID" license also chills me.  I will have to get one.  I need to get into federal buildings for my work and as of 2020 I can't without it.  But the whole national data base things runs counter to the foundation of freedom that exist(ed) in our country and which I interpret as the intent of the much touted founding fathers.  "Having papers" sounds a lot more like Nazi Germany to me and makes me worry for my children and their future.  Somehow all this feels intertwined to me and I hope that reading this book will be part of helping me sort out my feelings and opinions more cogently.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Happy Anniversary!

Today was a big day in our house.  My wife and I celebrated 40 years together.  We began our lives together in 1978 and knew we were committed to each other and to the life we would make together.  In 2004 we were able to legalize that commitment and formally married.  But we did it on the same day we privately pledged to each other initially so that our anniversary date would always be the same.  The picture above is special because of two things.

The first is that KC created the arrangement (and in fact many decor arrangements around the house today).  He knows that I love to change out the decorations on our sideboard and the tops of cabinets as the wheel of the year turns.  As a gift to K and I he did this for us today.  I love the colors and all that he did.  The fact that it was his idea makes it especially meaningful.

The second thing that is special in this picture is the candle set.  This was made by a friend of ours as a special commission requested by my wife.  One candle holder is blue tones representing my wife. The other is the yellow and orange tones that I gravitate towards.  The holder itself is intertwined as we have become over years of laughter, tears, wonder and the magic of knowing it isn't all rose petals and swelling soundtracks.  We have been there for each other in the messy and in the exultant times.  Here's to 40 more!

Mum's Birthday

Time flies by.  I see the evidence of this nearly daily.  My computer runs through all my old picture files when I am not using it because the slide show is the screen saver.  Tiny KC tapping on the keys of a computer when he was still a toddler.  Tiny Lissa challenging the slide at the park. Rob at 8 playing baseball, and at 12 when he began to skateboard.  Blink and the next photo is Rob at prom, and Lissa as a Junior Girl Scout and KC as a confident teen in one of his many dance classes.

But time has not just flown for them.  It has also flown for our aging parents.  I noticed when my FIL came out for the dance recital this year that he looked --well, older.  He still bowls and is active but there is a new frailty somehow.  He does not look robust.  The years are whittling away at him. He has always been so vital and vibrant, that this new proof of mortality chills me.  He is my dad in so many ways, much more than a father in law to me.

Yesterday we went to Maine to celebrate my Mom's birthday. She turns 85 on the 29th  She too, is seeming older.  Movement is at times more challenging for her.  Her energy is less constant.  She has recurrent health issues that take her attention and energy.  Which is not to say she is helpless or on the verge of stepping through to the summerlands.  But I have the feeling that our time with both of them is precious and finite.

So today's trip was very special as Rob had the day off from work and was able to come with us.  So the entire clan was there, including Lissa's dog Luna who has captured my mom's heart--celebrating, laughing and of course, eating!

She enjoyed her gifts, but the best gift of all for her was that Rob could be there.  Often now, when we go up, he is at work and not able to be with us.  Her smile was a mile wide when he walked through the door.

I am really lucky that by and large my kids have always gotten how important being there for family is.  They make a lot of effort to be there for each other and for our extended family and I am so grateful. Likewise, extended family have been there for my kids.  Attending dance recitals, calling on birthdays, coming to visit and just always being interested in them.  It matters so much.  It really is a village that raises a child and I am blessed and my kids are blessed that the inner core of our village is so loving and constant for them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Another trip around the sun for KC

This guy is 14 tomorrow!  The celebrating began this weekend with a trip north where we celebrated with my mom and her companion.  I feel so lucky that not only were they part of the festivities, but that this is what KC requested we do.  His connection to family is real and deeply felt.  It was a really fun visit and he was, as you can see, very happy.

There are odd little family traditions with a trip to see Nana.  There is my wife rolling down the windows and greeting the Saco River as we drive over it.  No matter the weather, no matter what.  Every.single.time.  The kids and I laugh about it if we go up alone as this is not something that any of the rest of us do.

There is KC's love of a specific brand of orange juice that can't be found down here.  He has to buy three bottles of it every time we visit.  And my wife loves a specific 1 1/2 per cent milk that she only finds in Maine.  We all have to eat Amato's pizza because it is the best pizza ever and isn't found here in Mass.  None of the above are the reason for a visit, yet they are woven into the weft of the fabric of our journeys there; part of the memories that my kids will take forward into the world as adults.  It is the littlest of things we often remember most clearly.

KC is an amazing young man.  He is artistic and creative with a strong sense of what is fair and just.    I love that he is open and able to talk with me about the things in his heart, whether it is chatter about dance, his friends, or deeper issues of concerns about racism or questions about adoption. 

Over the past year he has matured so much.  Physically he is much more a young man--taller now than anyone else in our family, and getting his first razor just a month or so back!  He is also just a very gentle guy; so kind with younger kids.

He has volunteered this year with our library for the boys bookc lub.  He creates a game each month for the boys to play based on the book.  He puts a lot of time and thought into this. And although time management is NOT one of his great gifts (which means a lot of 11th hour scrambles to complete his vision) he still manages to come up with some great ideas.  He has made bingos and jeopardy games, a board game and this month a riff on the game of Headb*ndz.  He sets the room up for the meeting and puts the room away afterwards as well.  The boys really look up to him.  He is a "cool" looking young guy and yet stays approachable as well.

Tomorrow we have a small celebratory family supper planned and later at the end of the month a group of his friends have planned a rather extensive celebration for him.  A movie outing, a sleep over and allegedly an epic lip synch and dance off battle.  One of his friends is making a cake, we are providing snacks and other foods but mostly it is being done by friends for him.  At first I was a bit put off by this.  After all, I LOVE to plan a party. I would totally be down with doing this.

Then I stopped and told myself to shut up.  How wonderful is it that he has such a group of friends?  That is such a good friend that they want to do this for him?  How amazing is that? He is, as are all my kids, that which I am most grateful for always.  A greater gift I can not imagine